Luxury Japan Tours & Travel
Luxury Japan Tours & Travel
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Nowhere else provides such striking contrasts as Japan. Centuries old traditions and customs meet advanced technology and strikingly futuristic public spaces; soaring mountains and dense forests meet sprawling neon-lit cities; intricate multi-course kaiseki dinners pair with mouth-watering street food and vibrant nightlife. Get lost in Tokyo’s 1000 neighbourhoods, discover a treasure trove of cultural treasures in Kyoto, drink and dine yourself to ruin in Osaka, observe Buddhist monks at their serene work in Mount Koya, walk in rich natural scenery in the Kiso Valley, or soak in the hotsprings of Hakone National Park. Even in the cities, there’s always a lush garden oasis for enjoying peace and tranquillity, while springtime brings a landscape blanketed with the country’s famous cherry blossoms.
Japan is famous for its cuisine, attracting countless foodies who understand that Japanese food is much more than just sushi. Wherever you go delicious food is guaranteed from sashimi and sushi to robata-fired meats. Toss in the soothing onsens (hot springs), Japanese tea ceremonies – a tradition steeped in history, wildlife like monkeys and sumo wrestling matches, and you’ll know this country truly offers it all.
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Tokyo, Matsumoto, Kiso Valley, Kyoto, Mount Koya, Osaka11 NightsFrom $4,271 PPThis tour of Japan journeys deeper, contrasting its buzzing cities with tradition, spirituality, and...
Where to visit in Japan
Our travel experts have collated their top recommendations of where to visit in Japan.
There’s a dizzying array of activity in Tokyo, with neon signs, high-speed trains and a crush of people, although there’s always a place to find a bit of calm and green, in classic gardens and on temple grounds. The city’s intriguing mix of old and new is what can truly take your breath away with the centuries-old temples and shrines mingled among futuristic skyscrapers, world-class restaurants, sophisticated hotels, and some bizarrely themed cafes. It’s a place with delightful contrasts and endless discoveries waiting to be made.
The former capital of Japan, Kyoto is the country’s cultural and historical heart, as well as one of its most enchanting cities. It’s home to everything from spectacular gardens and shrines to ancient temples, geishas, castles and traditional teahouses, while boasting a world-famous sight, a bamboo forest with giant trees, some that tower over 65 feet. Walking through the sea of green, when the sunlight filters through the darkness, you might think you’re walking through a storybook. It’s famous for its food too, a great place to sample all the main classics and sublime kaiseki cuisine.
Hakone National Park, part of the wider Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, is a famous resort area known for its stunning views of Mount Fuji and its natural hot springs. A popular weekend or day trip from Tokyo, visitors can take the Hakone Ropeway, climbing 3,425 feet to soak up a spectacular view of volcanic activity. Sightseeing cruises on Lake Ashi are also a favorite way to enjoy the gorgeous vistas, and there are plenty of art galleries and museums to explore too. Hakone is a home to a wealth of excellent ryokan accommodation – a great option to relax and unwind, while enjoying hot springs and traditional Japanese cuisine.
This modern city on Honshu Island was largely destroyed by a nuclear atomic bomb during the Second World War, but it’s made an impressive recovery thanks to the resilience of the people, and continues to develop as a center for culture, economics, and government. At the plaque marking the site right below the detonation, visitors leave paper cranes and flowers in memory of dead. Peace Memorial Park, built on land that was destroyed by the 1945 bombing, houses a skeleton of a building that provides a poignant reminder. It’s also home to a formal Japanese garden and Hiroshima Castle, surrounded by a moat and park.
Just 15-minutes ferry ride across from Hiroshima, Miyajima is a gorgeous island which makes a great base from which to explore Hiroshima but also to take time out and enjoy a slower pace of travel. All the island’s accommodation – a mix of ryokan and ‘hybrid’ western-friendly ryokan – is located in a pleasant village around the ferry port. The remainder of the island is pure untouched natural beauty: ideal for hikes, hotsprings, and nature walks. Also known as “Shrine Island,” Miyajima is home to one of the country’s top three sights, the famous red torii gate, which appears to be floating on the water.
At nearly 12,400 feet high, Mount Fuji is Japan’s tallest mountain, a sacred perfectly shaped volcano that’s been worshipped for centuries. The most iconic of Japan’s images, its symmetrical form has long been celebrated in paintings and poetry, most notably Yamabe Akahito’s 8th-century verses. On a clear day it can be seen from Tokyo, and countless points throughout the surrounding regions, seemingly assuming a different character from each perspective. The Fuji Five Lakes region on its northern slopes of Mount Fuji offers the best chance for good views due to its proximity.
A cosmopolitan city near ancient Kyoto, Osaka is the second largest metropolitan area in Japan after Tokyo. It’s truly a world of its own, with the people here considered the friendliest and most outgoing in the country. It offers everything from Kita’s underground shopping labyrinths to neon-lit Dotombori and historic Tenno-ji which provides a glimpse of old Osaka, home to Tenno-ji Temple and Shin Seka. It’s also known as the place to enjoy some of the tastiest cuisine and the most unique fashions.
Located in the mountainous Hida region of Gifu Prefecture, picturesque Takayama offers the chance to experience traditional rural life in Japan. It’s famous for its authentic old town, colorful festivals, rich history of carpentry and exceptional high-quality local beef. The star attraction for travelers is the well-preserved old town with its narrow, pedestrian-only streets lined with historic wooden townhouses, some of which now serve as shops and restaurants. Just a short walk east is the Higashiyama Temple Area, with its magnificent gardens and temples.
Located on the north coast of central Japan, Kanazawa was one of Japan’s few major cities that was spared from World War II bombing, resulting in a well-preserved architectural heritage. Often referred to as “Little Kyoto,” it’s jam-packed with history and tradition, including a main street with old wooden tea houses in the geisha district, a labyrinth of cobbled streets and samurai residences in the Nagamachi samurai district and an abundance of traditional crafts. Some of the most beautiful gardens in the country can be found here too, with Kenrokuen Garden one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan.
The charming and deeply picturesque Kiso Valley, set in the low Japanese Alps, houses several small and beautifully-preserved villages – Narai, Kiso, Tsumago, Magome – which are linked by the Nakasendo Highway, an ancient samurai path which was once the main route between Kyoto and Edo, modern-day Tokyo. The section which passes through the Kiso Valley is arguably the most scenic: rising and falling through dramatic ridges and verdant forests as it meanders from village to village.
Mount Koya is the atmospheric center of Japanese Buddhism. This 1,200-year old mountain-top settlement, surrounded by dense forests, houses a medley of monasteries and temples. Accommodation in Koya-san is at simple Buddhist temple lodging: not the most glamourous accommodation, but certainly very memorable! During your stay you can opt to join the evening tour of the Okuno-in ‘necropolis’ – a sprawling cemetery of over 200,000 stone stupas.
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Things to do in Japan
Climb Mount Fuji
Climbing Japan’s most iconic symbol is one of the most memorable things to do here, bringing breathtaking views and bragging rights after reaching the summit. If this is on your list of must-dos, visit between early July and mid-September when the weather is mild, and the mountain is usually free of snow. There are four different routes, with Yoshida the most popular and most accessible.
Meet Snow Monkeys at Arashiyama Monkey Park
Easily accessible by train in Kyoto’s Arashiyama area, the monkey park is home to around 120 snow monkeys. Native to Japan, they’re the monkeys you’ve seen in iconic photos bathing in hot springs. Accessing it requires a brisk 20- to 30-minute hike which will also bring a spectacular panoramic view of Kyoto. Capturing the animals enjoying a soak requires a visit in January.
Get close to deer at Nara Park
Another great opportunity for animal encounters can be found in Nara Park. Considered sacred by the locals, the park is open year-round, home to temples and some 1,200 friendly, free-roaming deer that were once believed to be messengers of the gods. The animals aren’t fearful of humans, providing close encounters, with special crackers available for purchase to feed them.
Explore an island of art in Naoshima
A beautiful, remote island, Naoshima not only offers a laid-back feel with sandy beaches and a sunny Mediterranean-like climate, but it’s a must-visit for art lovers and Instagrammers, home to numerous art installations, sculptures, exhibitions, and art museums. One of the most unique destinations in Japan, you’ll also find magnificent architecture by Tadao Ando which harmoniously blend with the landscape.
Visit Hiroshima's Famous Peace Memorial Park
In 1945, Hiroshima was infamously devastated during the World War II nuclear atomic bombing attack that killed tens of thousands of people. Its Peace Memorial Park was built on land that was destroyed by the bomb, with a skeleton of a building called the A-Bomb Dome, providing a poignant reminder. A cenotaph monument holds the names of the bomb’s known victims.
Visit the Itsukushima Shrine in Miyajima
Accessed via a short ferry ride from Hiroshima, Myiyajima, or “Shrine Island,” holds one of Japan’s top three beautiful sights. Built in the 12th-century, Itsukushima Shrine is the most iconic shrine in the entire country, most famous for its dramatic red gate which, at high tide, appears as if its floating on the water. At low tide you can walk right up to it.
See Japan’s famous cherry blossoms
People come from across the globe to see Japan’s famous cherry blossoms, with the season running from around late March through mid-April in Tokyo. The farther north you are, the later in the season it occurs. A one-of-a-kind experience, the photo-ops are endless, with the trees bursting with color, complementing the magnificence of the temples and the locals’ colorful attire.
Ride a Shinkansen Bullet Train
The public transportation system in Japan is unlike no other, especially apparent while riding the high-speed Shinkansen bullet train which races around the country at nearly 200 mph. It’s the fastest way to cover distances between the sights, getting you to where you want to go in a flash, and it’s so punctual you can set your watch by it.
Hike the Kumano Kodo Trail
A pilgrimage trail that runs through the mountainous Kii Peninsula, Buddhist monks and other pilgrims have walked Kumano Kodo roads for more than a thousand years to reach some of the country’s most sacred temples and shrines. The collection of interconnecting ancient routes lead hikers through stunning landscapes, giant cedar forests, small villages, picturesque farmsteads, and soothing springs.
Experience a Japanese Food Market Tour
Japan is famous for its delicious cuisine, going way beyond sushi, and one of the best ways to experience its culinary scene is to join a food market tour, led by a local expert. Options are available from Tokyo to Kyoto, bringing the chance to sample all sorts of gastronomic delights with insider tips, while learning about Japanese ingredients and how they’re used.
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