Arsenal head to Japan this summer for the Asia Tour 2013 - and ahead of the trip we've picked out some of the amazing sights on offer in the country.
The Gunners face Nagoya Grampus on Monday, July 22 and Urawa Reds on Friday, July 26, and here's a few more pointers for fans making the trip.
Ritsurin Garden, Takamatsu City
One of the most famous and most beautiful historical gardens in Japan, it is situated in the city of Takamatsu. The spacious park features many ponds, hills, historic trees and beautiful pavilions divided into a Japanese style garden in the south and western style garden in the north. The gardens are set in front of wooded Mt. Shiun, which serves as a wonderful background. In 1953, the garden was designated a Special Place of Scenic Beauty. The many ponds and streams are full of koi and the pond at the Tea House has benches where visitors may sit and feed the fish.
Kibune Shrine, Kyoto
Kibune is a small town in a forested valley in the northern mountains of Kyoto City, which developed around Kibune Shrine. According to legend, a goddess traveled in a yellow boat (hence the name Kibune) from Osaka all the way up the river into the mountains north of Kyoto, and Kibune Shrine was built at the site where her boat journey had come to an end. The shrine is dedicated to the god of water and rain and believed to be the protector of those at sea. It has a large rock, known as the boat stone, which is said to be where the goddess' yellow boat is buried.
Gujo Hachiman Castle, Gujo, Gifu Prefecture
Located on Hachiman Mountain in Gujo, the castle was built in 1559 by Endo Morikazu. Morikazu had barely finished the castle when he died, leaving it to his son Endo Yoshitaka. Yoshitaka later became a retainer to Oda Nobunaga and the direct control of the castle fell into the hands of Inaba Sadamichi, who renovated much of the castle. Yoshitaka returned to rule the castle following the Battle of Sekigahara. In 1870, during the Meiji Restoration, the castle was torn down during Japan's attempts to modernize.In 1933, it was reconstructed out of wood. Tourists can access the castle via cable car. While most Japanese castles have cherry or plum trees planted around them, Gujo Hachiman is surrounded by maple trees, making autumn the best time to visit.
Takachiho Gorge, Takachiho, Miyazaki Prefecture
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28 Jun 2013
Takachiho is located in the north-western part of Miyazaki Prefecture, in the centre of the Kyushu Mountains. The gorge is V-shaped, created by the Gokase-gawa River, which eroded the Aso lava. Red-tinted precipitous cliffs rising up on both sides of the gorge extend for a long distance. Manai-no-taki Falls, 17 metres high, is a popular highlight because of the clouds of spray that rise up from the falling water. The gorge has a 600-meter long walking trail, which is decorated with mountain cherry blossoms and the flowers of Japanese azaleas and wisteria from spring till early summer, and red and yellow leaves in fall.