Only in Japan

People who travel to Japan are usually looking for that special something in its exotic nature, its technology, its food and traditions. They want to experience how an entire nation can immerse itself in the collective intoxication of the cherry blossoms, and how the late-autumn leaves bathe its temples and gardens in a riot of colour. Visitors who are prepared to fly the long distance to the island kingdom want to relax in hot springs, enjoy the freshest raw fish, travel on the world’s most punctual train, the Shinkansen bullet train, experience the symbiosis between architecture, nature and man in its stylish gardens, and gain an insight into the future in its noisy high-tech districts. With Marco Polo’s insider tips you can truly immerse yourself in the unique beauty and culture of Japan.

Japanese elegance, a fabulous garden and excellent dining make a visit to the restaurant Tofuya-Ukai in the beautiful gardens at the bottom of the Tokyo Tower an undeniably successful, hard- to-beat gustatory experience. (Tofuya-Ukai, daily 11am–8pm, Shiba-koen, tel. 03 34 36 10 28,

Dramas about popular heroes and love stories, traditional plays and dances in fabulous costumes are performed at Tokyo’s famous Kabuki-za theatre. The all-male performers enjoy pop star status in Japan. (Kabuki-za, Chuo, tel. 03 35 41 31 31,

Despite the numerous scandals surrounding it, the Japanese love their national sport: sumo wrestling. The atmospheric highlights of this 2000-year-old wrestling match include the summer tournament at the Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium in Nagoya.

The wooden terrace of Kiyomizu Temple, which is supported by hundreds of pillars, is one of Japan’s landmarks, and has the loveliest views of Kyoto.

Chado, the “Way of tea”, is a stylish pastime and Japanese work of art. Even if you have no prior knowledge and haven’t spent hours sitting with your legs crossed, you can experience the special atmosphere during a half-hour tea ceremony at the Happo-en garden restaurant in Tokyo . (Happo-en, daily 11am–4pm, admission with garden from 2000¥, tel. 03 34 43 31 11,

Karaoke is a collective form of entertainment for the Japanese that foreigners are also welcome to share. One venue is the JoyJoy in Nagoya. (JoyJoy, daily, admission depending on room, cabin and time from 900¥, tel. 0522490717)

Buy the Marco Polo Japan Pocket Guide

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Marco Polo Pocket Guide relaunch

Calling all trailblazers! Marco Polo has never been one to follow the crowd: since we burst onto the scene in 2012 and turned the travel publishing world upside-down, we have been pursuing a quest to create the best travel guide possible ever since! And now we are launching 30 ground-breaking new look pocket guides for 2018!


Along with all the regular content updates you’d expect from a relaunch – the guides also contain a new Discovery Tours chapter:

• Each book has 4 to 5 exciting, specially tailored tours helping readers get behind the scenes and head off the beaten track.
• The perfect planning tool – each tour has an overview box detailing the start and end points, distance, plus timing and costs involved – all the information an explorer needs at a glance!
• Each tour is plotted on an overview map highlighting the start point and final destination for easy orientation.
• A detailed flow chart with pictograms clearly shows the way – including distance indicators, sights to explore, views to enjoy en route and plenty of Insider Tips for
relaxing stops along the way.


Free touring app! The Discovery Tours are also available as an app – simply download any of the tours from the web link / QR code featured in each guide. The ultimate navigational tool to enjoy stress-free sightseeing.


Ground-breaking new look covers bring the guides bang up-to-date, so you won’t need to be shy about looking like a tourist! Fresh, simple, cool – the split line typography is designed to make you look twice and the bright colours will get you in the holiday mood!


The guides with Insider Tips! Showing the main sights in detail simply isn’t enough for modern-day travellers. Marco Polo specialises in getting you off the beaten track! Why follow the crowd when you can make your own path?


Relaunch titles available Jan 2018: Amsterdam, Bali, Barcelona, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Corfu, Costa Brava, French Riviera, Hong Kong, India South, Italy, Lake Garda, Mallorca, Malta & Gozo, Mauritius, Montenegro, Munich, New York, New Zealand, Rome, Sardinia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tenerife, Venice, Vienna.

Plus 4 brand new titles: Japan, Peru & Bolivia, Salzburg & Surroundings, Santorini.
All priced at £7.99.


Let Marco Polo show you hidden gems, lesser-known locations and stunning viewpoints where you can make memories to last a lifetime. Brush shoulders with the locals, eat the food that Grandma makes and seek out unique experiences at every turn.

Be a traveller, not just a tourist!

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Marco Polo’s 24 Holiday traditions from around the world – Day 18: Japan Christmas KFC

Marco Polo Japan Pocket Guide

Marco Polo Japan Pocket Guide coming out in January 2018!

It’s Day 18 of our Advent Calendar and the countdown to Christmas has really begun. Today we are headed to a brand-new Marco Polo guide destination… Japan! We are launching our brand-new updated Pocket Guide series in January, with a sleek new design and a bunch of new destinations… but for now we will find out why all of Japan is going crazy for fried chicken on Christmas day. Did you miss yesterday’s post? Check it out here!


Christmas isn’t traditionally celebrated in Japan, and those that do, tend to treat it more as a romantic holiday, treating their partners to romantic getaways and dinners as one would on Valentine’s Day. However, there is also a rough estimate of 3.6 million Japanese people who celebrate Christmas with their families and loved ones by getting a bucket or two of KFC, Kentucky Fried Chicken.

December is the busiest month of the year for the KFC in Japan, and you have to order the special KFC Christmas dinner weeks early or you will find yourself waiting in line for hours.

The tradition is almost fifty years old already. The first KFC restaurants arrived in Japan in the 1970s, and in 1974 the company ran a national marketing campaign Kurisumasu ni wa Kentakkii, Kentucky for Christmas. The Christmas party bucket was an immediate success, possibly because Japan did not have any other Christmas traditions at the time, so people were eager to fill the void. The company also branded their own smiling Colonel Sanders as sort of Santa Claus figure with the traditional Santa outfit and similar jolly white-bearded appearance.

So if you are travelling in Japan during Christmas, don’t be surprised to see long lines outside the KFC. And though we are not likely to pick up the tradition here at Marco Polo, the idea of no Christmas cooking but having a good time with family and friends does sound pretty appealing.


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