Few days go by in which the word Japan is not heard somewhere. Whether the subject is trade, travel, cuisine, the arts or simply Japanese imports, the country seems to infiltrate a myriad of conversations every day of the year. Still, the fact remains that Japan is somewhat of an enigma to the Western world. What is this tiny country on the other side of the earth? Is it the giant producer of cars, computers, and a dynamic array of sleek electronics that rival those of the west? Or, is it a land rich in tradition where the geisha and the bonsai, the punctilious tea ceremony and the delicate art arrangement signify some of its finest. Is it a land of popular culture, in some ways more Western than Asian, or has it gracefully smoothed its relations with the outside world while retaining a strong sense of its ancestry?
Only in the last 140 years has Japan opened its ornate doors to the Western world, offering a unique glimpse into all that is wonderful about this magnificent country. What visitors will find is a brilliant synthesis of East and West, which sometimes proves overwhelming upon introduction. However, pull one layer at a time and discover the many riches of this amazing country; each layer offering a new surprise.