We've put together a guidebook with everything you need to know about Japan. Written by our specialists, it details destination information, some suggested itineraries and plenty more to inspire your holiday. Fill in the form below and if you live in UK, your guidebook will arrive by post within the next couple of days. For those who live abroad, we will send you a link by email which will allow you to download your own copy.
Join our exclusive Small Group Tour, fully escorted by an expert Tour Leader to experience the Land of the Rising Sun. Travel around the country by world-famous bullet train and uncover Japan’s unique culture as you discover its ancient traditions fused with modern life including Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines and beautifully-clad geisha. There is plenty of opportunity to sample Japan’s world-renowned cuisine too. Some departures coincide with the iconic cherry blossoms and autumn leaves.
Found across Japan, ryokans are traditional Japanese guesthouses which offer the perfect glimpse into Japanese history and culture. Most predominantly located near onsen towns, they are the perfect place to rest travel weary legs along the Nakasendo Way or as an addition to your itinerary on a tour of Japan’s highlights.
Japanese cuisine has taken the world by storm. And whilst sushi bars revolve their way around eateries in cities across the globe, the original home of this deliciously fresh and seasonal delicacy is a culinary force to be reckoned with. With its humble beginnings in street food, sushi has earned its stripes in haute cuisine and now claims many a Michelin star in decadent eateries across Japan and further afield. You only have to watch a sushi master chef in action in Japan to see why. Japanese food is an art form, it is an intrinsic part of the country’s cultural identity and motivation enough to visit.
Japan is abundant in unique experiences. From learning the art of the samurai sword, sushi or sumo, to dressing up as a geisha, discovering the world of anime, visiting a sake brewery or trying your hand at calligraphy, there are so many activities to squeeze into your Japan itinerary.
Hiking in Japan is one of the world’s best kept secrets. Whether its paving the way from village to village in the Japanese Alps, traversing the Big Snow Mountain of Hokkaido, climbing the volcanoes of Kyushu or simply walking in the hills of Kyoto, there is something for everyone to enjoy. We’ve compiled our favourite walking destinations in Japan, ideal for seasoned walkers and wanderers alike.
The secret world of the geisha has long been lived out behind the sliding doors of exclusive teahouses across Japan. For generations, kimono clad women have been an enduring image of Japanese tradition, culture and sophistication with their elaborate dress, striking appearance and towering wooden platforms. The geisha has become an icon of Japan’s fascinating past, a stark contrast to the country’s sleek, shiny and futuristic present.
Beyond the neon lights, soaring skyscrapers and high-speed travel of Tokyo, Japan is a country where natural wonder knows no bounds. Outside of its cosmopolitan hubs, the country is a patchwork of meticulously landscaped gardens, historic castles, ornate temples and vast national parks. There, ancient walking trails connect forgotten villages, whilst its higgledy-piggledy coastline remains all but explored. Steeped in tradition and with both feet firmly planted in the past, this is a Japan almost unrecognisable from its glorious, glittering cities. Hike along the Nakasendo Way, stay in a traditional ryokan or soak in a natural onsen for the perfect antidote to a city escape in Japan.
Time is precious, but we are convinced that even with ten days to spare, you can really get under the skin of a complex and captivating destination like Japan. Acquaint yourself with its ancient traditions, otherworldly cities and extraordinary landscapes for the perfect introduction to Japan and its fascinating culture.
Whilst ticking off everything Japan has to offer in fourteen days is a near-impossible feat, this curated selection of itineraries showcases the astonishing diversity of Japan. For first time visitors or those returning time after time, these itineraries are just the start when it comes to planning your next adventure to Japenese shores.
Gliding into the forefront of train travel in 1964, the bullet train, or Shinkansen, has continued to wow the world with its blistering speed and soundless stealth ever since. Now linking the very north to the south, the Bullet Train has become the reliable backbone of Japan, joining the rural to the cosmopolitan in the blink of an eye. Snaking its way across Honshu, the largest island in the Japanese archipelago, the bullet train rattles up and down the country at a staggering speed of up to 320km an hour. As synonymous with the Land of the Rising Sun as Mount Fuji, sumo or sushi, the bullet train is arguably the only way to travel in Japan.
Japan is a place of contradictions – visitors often describe it as both comfortably familiar and endlessly surprising at the same time. It’s an intricate blend of East and West, and past and present. The delights on offer range from Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, tea ceremonies, sumo tournaments, and beautifully clad Geisha, to sleek, modern shopping malls, high-tech gadgetry and delectable cuisine – not to mention the raft of intricate customs, etiquette and traditions. We spoke to Pete, our Imagine Asia specialist, who recently returned from this intriguing country.
Think of the Japanese Alps and world class skiing, traditional ryokans and steaming onsens spring to mind. Yet few places are as unique to the area as the Jigokudani Monkey Park, located between the onsen towns of Shibu and Yudanaka and home to Japan’s indigenous primate, the Japanese macaque. Otherwise known as snow monkeys, these playful creatures have frolicked and bathed in the natural hot springs of Jigokudani for centuries, continuing to fascinate locals and visitors alike. A favourite for families, but also amongst active and adventurous travellers, visiting the park is best paired with a stay in a nearby ryokan.
Tokyo, Nakasendo, Kyoto, Yudanaka, Tokyo
Best for: Family, Off the beaten track, Walking Trekking
This active itinerary is a fantastic option for those wanting to explore wilds of Japan along with the best of Japan's cities such as Tokyo and Kyoto. Trek along the Nakasendo Highway, an ancient postal route and cycle through the rural alps.
To start planning your tailor-made holiday, call us on (646) 934-8916
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This action-packed itinerary is the ideal choice for those wanting to see Japan’s best highlights in Tokyo and Kyoto, as well as hiking, trekking and cycling through the stunning rural areas of the country, which is a wonderful contrast. After exploring the dazzling and eclectic capital, Tokyo, you will journey along the famous Nakasendo Way, an ancient postal route through the Japanese countryside. You will trek and travel by train, (depending on how you feel on the day) staying in small charming local ryokans along the way. Visit local temples, explore forests and head through tiny Edo period villages to experience a slice of life that dates back hundreds of years. From here travel into the rural alps to Yudanaka where you can cycle and walk through the spectacular mountain scenery. Stopping next in Kyoto, known as the ‘cultural capital’ of Japan, you will have the chance to experience the enchanting blend of old tradition and modern life that the city offers its visitors. From geishas to contemporary art and from serene gardens to glorious temples, Kyoto has it all. End with a night in Tokyo before flying home after the most exhilarating trip.
Days 1 - 4 : Tokyo, Japan
Stay at Conrad Tokyo for 3 nights
The first stop on this action-packed itinerary is the dazzling capital of Tokyo. Spend 3 days in the capital exploring the neon-clad streets, soaring skyscrapers and leafy green parks, as well as experiencing some of the most eclectic cultures on the planet. There are so many experiences on offer in Tokyo, from a tour of a sake brewery, to a fascinating sumo wrestling match. You may wish to simply explore at your own leisure or with one of our experienced guides.
From Tokyo you will take two bullet trains to Nakatsugawa, with a change in Nagoya. The train from Tokyo to Nagoya will take approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes. There will be time to then change trains and to reach your next onward platform for Nakatsugawa. The train time from Nagoya to Nakatsugawa is approximately 50 minutes. Your final leg of the journey will be a short bus ride to Magome which will take about 25 minutes.
Day 4 - 5 : Tsumago, Japan
Stay at Tsumago - Local Guest House for 1 night
Today will find you walking the Nakasendo Trail from Magome to Tsumago. This is part of Japan’s famous 17th century postal route that stretches from Kyoto to Tokyo. You will stay in a local ryokans / guest house in Tsumago, experiencing delightful hospitality. You will journey along authentic cobbled streets, through traditional wooden villages, and into the ancient forests dotted with cooling mountain streams. Dip in and out of teahouses on your way, and soak up the lovely atmosphere of the lush countryside.
Day 5 - 6 : Kiso Fukushima, Japan
Stay at Kiso Fukushima - Local Ryokan for 1 night
From Tsumago to Kiso Fukushima you will continue along the Nakasendo Walking Trail today.
On departure from your ryokan you will be driven the short distance to Kiso Fukushima where you will board a train to Nagano which will take approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes. You will then have time to change trains and platforms for your onward train to Yudanaka which will take approximately 50 minutes.
Days 6 - 8 : Yudanaka, Japan
Stay at Jinpyokaku Honten for 2 nights
For your next stop, travel through mountains and valleys until you reach the hot spring resort of Yudanaka, famous for being the home of the iconic Japanese Macaques. Spend a few days here exploring the traditional highland villages and rejuvenating onsen, as well as visiting the snow monkeys to watch them relax in the steaming water. The Snow Monkeys can been seen all year, but they are at the best in the winter.
On departure from Yudanaka you will take the local train line to Nagano which will take approximately 50 minutes. From here you take the bullet train to Kanazawa which is journey of 90 minutes. In Kanazawa you will have time to change platforms in order to take your onward train to Kyoto which will be approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes.
Days 8 - 11 : Kyoto, Japan
Stay at The Screen for 3 nights
For the next 3 nights you will stay in Kyoto, Japan’s Imperial Capital. This ancient city blends old and new, with a mesmerising mix of shrines, geisha discrcts, and incredible gardens. As well as cycling around the city and seeing the iconic sites, a fantastic experience is a private dinner with a geisha, an insight into one of Japan’s most complex traditions. We can arrange as much or as little guided experiences as you like.
On departure from Kyoto you will take a direct bullet train to Tokyo which will take approximately 2 hours and 20 minutes
Day 11 - 12 : Tokyo, Japan
Stay at Conrad Tokyo for 1 night
At the end of this active itinerary, you will spend one last night in Tokyo before flying home. Experience the city as it lights up at night, try some delicious street food, and maybe even dinner and a show at a robot or ninja restaurant.
When to go
As Japan is made up of a series of islands, the weather varies greatly across the country. The best time to visit is generally in the spring; which takes place in March and April, or in the autumn; which is in October and November. The spring is characterised by the famous cherry blossom, and the autumn by the spectacular colours of the leaves. Both seasons are warm, often sunny with little rain.
November to December is fairly quiet but can get a little chilly. January to March is also cold in Japan, but little rainfall makes it a good time to see Mount Fuji clearly. During the colder months expect snow in Japan’s mountain ranges and in some cities. In May and June, the weather is pleasant and there are fewer tourists, so we feel this is a very good time to visit. Between July and October, the weather can be very hot and humid.
To start planning your tailor-made holiday, call us on (646) 934-8916
From $4174 per person
All accommodation and breakfast
Selected transport and guides during sightseeing
Ask our specialists for prices excluding flights from the UK. This price is as a guide only. The actual price is influenced by fluctuations in exchange rate, time of year, travel class of flights and the use of private versus shared excursions. Single supplements are likely to apply.