Shrines, onsens and classical theatre vie with baseball and hip-hop as Japan’s kaleidoscopic array of culture delights our tipsters on their travels
This summer I visited Hakodate, on the southernmost point of Hokkaido. On steep hills overlooking the harbour is the area where the outside world set up trading and diplomatic missions following the end of policy of isolation in the mid-19th century. You find colonial-style European architecture mixed with Japanese features such as sliding doors, painted scrolls and pine tree bonsai. There is even the sound of church bells from a Russian orthodox church. These buildings feel unique, not just within Japan but the world. You can go inside many of them to learn more: we visited the former British consulate for just over £2, to see historical exhibits, preserved rooms and a well-kept rose garden.