Japan is a country of exquisite and ancient beauty. Delicate cherry blossoms stir in the wind, snowcapped mountains shelter valley towns, sacred structures whisper of history and lore. Temples that date to the 6th century, castles that cascade in tiers down to earth, and venerated shrines transport you across a grand sweep of time into a colorful, rich, and turbulent past. Bullet trains, meanwhile, shuttle you between these sights, and world-class restaurants, shopping, urban sprawl, and crackling human energy remind you that Japan is a postindustrial giant, a critical player on the global stage. You may find little in Japan that reminds you of home, but you will find much to explain why the Japanese love their country as they do.