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Until the mid-19th century, Japan lived in isolation, closed off from the rest of the world, and Yokohama was a mere fishing village. But in 1853, American naval officer Matthew Perry demanded the country open to foreign trade, and Yokohama was changed forever. The city quickly emerged as an international trading center, and while today it is often overshadowed by nearby Tokyo, it continues to be one of Japan’s liveliest, and most international, destinations. With its microbreweries and international restaurants, Yokohama has a decidedly different feel from many other Japanese cities.
From Yokohama, it’s a quick trip to peaceful Kamakura, home to Daibutsu, Japan’s second-largest bronze Buddha, and to the important Shinto shrine Tsurugaoka Hachimangu. Head to Hakone National Park on a clear day and you’ll be rewarded with picture-postcard views of majestic Mt. Fuji.
Tokyo is the largest city on earth and packed with some of the world’s best shops, museums and restaurants, big and small. While the bright neon lights and the bustle of contemporary Tokyo may be what comes to mind when you think of the city, there is another side. Tokyo’s historic gardens and neighborhoods of traditional homes on narrow lanes speak to a timeless Japan that has survived into the 21st century.
Hokkaido’s main land and sea traffic port for the last century, as well as a center for Japan’s steel industry, Muroran is a historical city that today numbers around 100,000 residents. The main harbor—peppered with cement factories, steel mills, oil refineries and shipyards—lends fascinating insight into the nation’s industrial heritage and contrasts with the picturesque hills that surround the city. Explore the port area and take advantage of the dolphin- and whale-watching opportunities. The city also serves as a gateway to the mountainous northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts thanks to skiing and snowboarding in winter and hiking and cycling routes during summer, along with its popular hot springs. Hokkaido’s capital, Sapporo, is both Japan’s fifth-largest city (almost 2 million inhabitants) and one of its newest. It’s a cosmopolitan place to visit, with many lively restaurants and bars. Sapporo was also the host of the 1972 Winter Olympics, so there are many excellent ski slopes and facilities (in summer, take a ski lift to the observatory top of the ski jump for thrilling views).
Known for its markets and deep-sea fishing, Kushiro is also your gateway to Japan’s beautiful eastern Hokkaido region. Wander among the stalls at Kushiro’s Washo Market and sample local seafood specialties; visit the Kushiro Japanese Crane Reserve; and travel through the lush countryside to marvel at the translucent beauty of Lake Mashu in Akan National Park.
Kodiak is all about bears. And what bears! This unique subspecies named for the Kodiak Archipelago where they are found evolved in isolation for around 12,000 years and can reach heights of 3 meters, or 10 feet, when standing on their hind legs. One of the world’s largest carnivores, the bears have a diet that goes far beyond meat (they can sleep for up to eight months, then wake up ravenous to feast predominantly on grass, plants, berries and fish). About 3,500 live on this tiny island, meaning you have a great chance of seeing one, if not many, from May through October!
Shrubs and bushes cover the rolling hills here, giving Kodiak its Emerald Isle nickname. It was once a prime native hunting ground for the Alutiit, but their population plummeted after Russian traders and fur trappers settled the area in the late 1700s. Bought by the United States in 1867, Kodiak grew into a commercial fishing center. Today both the island and the hardworking town that shares its name attract anglers, hunters, adventure travelers and nature photographers. Top highlights include the Baranov Museum, the Holy Resurrection Russian Orthodox Church and the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge.
Immerse yourself in secluded beaches, old-growth forests and Alaskan adventure – the best of Southeast Alaska is yours, including some of the best whale-watching and bear viewing opportunities anywhere.
Rich with authentic native Tlingit culture and near the historic settlement of Hoonah, the area is home to Dall’s porpoises, seals, sea otters and bald eagles.
Take an adventure and cruise to Ketchikan, Alaska. Alaska’s “First City” of Ketchikan is so named because it’s the first major landfall for most cruisers as they enter the picturesque fjords of the Inside Passage, where the town clings to the banks of the Tongass Narrows, flanked by green forests nurtured by abundant rain.
Ketchikan has long been an important hub of the salmon-fishing and -packing industries. Visitors can try their luck on a sportfishing or simply savor the fresh seafood at one of the local restaurants on a cruise to Ketchikan excursion. Ketchikanis also one of the best spots along the Inside Passage to explore the rich cultural sights of Native Alaskan nations like the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian. You can see intricately carved totem poles at the Totem Heritage Center and Totem Bight State Park, while the attractions of Saxman Village just outside of Ketchikan offers the chance to see Tlingit culture in action, with working carvers and a dance show in the clan house. On an Alaska cruise to Ketchikan don’t forget to leave time to explore the sights in the town itself, including historic Creek Street, a boardwalk built over the Ketchikan Creek, where you can shop for souvenirs, smoked salmon and local art, while exploring gold rush–era tourist attractions like Dolly’s House Museum.
Of all the cities in Canada, Victoria may be the furthest from Great Britain, but it has the most British vibe. Between sipping afternoon tea, visiting flower gardens and castles and stopping in at pubs, one could easily forget about the Pacific Ocean lapping at the other side of Vancouver Island. The influence of the First Nations culture is also strong here in Victoria, with totem poles taking a front-and-center position on the Inner Harbour and in Beacon Hill Park. Extensive galleries are devoted to the history of the First People at the Royal British Columbia Museum, too, one of Victoria’s top tourist attractions. Other waves of immigration besides that of the English are evident in the streets of Canada’s oldest Chinatown here, as well as on the menus of the city’s many restaurants, pizzerias and tavernas.
Start your visit to Victoria’s sights and attractions at the Inner Harbour. Whale-watching cruises and sightseeing floatplanes take off and return from their excursions here and government buildings, museums, the Visitor Centre and the grand Fairmont Empress provide a dignified welcome. Just around the point, Fisherman’s Wharf offers a lively contrast with working fishing boats, barking harbor seals and busy seafood restaurants serving up the catch of the day. Take time for a jaunt to the famous Butchart Gardens, a truly stunning show garden developed on the site of a depleted quarry. Enjoy afternoon tea or a walk in the park or a shopping trip to Market Square or along Government Street. However you choose to spend your day here or decide where to go in Victoria, the city’s civilized delights will charm you.
Bounded by the Puget Sound to the west and Lake Washington to the east, and surrounded by forests and mountains, Seattle, Washington boasts a stunning location.
But the largest city in the Pacific Northwest is as much an homage to human ingenuity as it is to natural beauty. From logging to shipbuilding to aircraft manufacturing to modern-day software and biotech development, the Emerald City has worn a succession of industrial hats, birthing the likes of Amazon and Starbucks—not to mention music legends Jimi Hendrix and Nirvana—along the way.
Visitors are spoiled for choice of things to do in Seattle, with iconic attractions like the waterfront, Space Needle, Chihuly Garden and Glass and Pike Place Market all easily accessible. “Local” and “sustainable” are words to live by in Seattle, an ethos reflected in the profusion of fresh-seafood restaurants, independent coffee roasters and quirky boutiques that are dotted around the city, awaiting a taste or visit between sightseeing.