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, Kyoto, Hiroshima, Osaka
Best for: Culture History, Food Drink, Highlights
Designed with foodies in mind, this wonderful trip journeys through Japan with a focus on food. From Tokyo to Hiroshima and from Kyoto to Osaka, this trip takes in the most extraordinary culinary experiences with local experts.
To start planning your tailor-made holiday, call us on (646) 934-8916
From our galleryView all
This delicious itinerary is the perfect choice for food-lovers, travelling to four of Japan’s best culinary cities with numerous foodie experiences to be had along the way. From private sushi making and cooking classes to traditional tea ceremonies, this really is an extraordinary itinerary that makes the most of one of the world's best food scenes. Your journey begins in Tokyo, a city with more Michelin stars than any other in the world and brimming with food markets and sizzling street food stalls. Next you will visit Hiroshima, infamous for its atomic bomb tragedy of 1945, so during your time here make sure you visit the Peace Memorial Park. There is plenty more going on in this wonderful city and Hiroshima is famous for its crispy udon noodles, which you can order with almost any topping you like. From here you will venture to Kyoto where you will have the chance to discover its cultural highlights as well as sampling its best dishes, like scrumptious ramen and Japanese haute cuisine, Kaiseki. The last stop on your culinary itinerary is Osaka, widely considered the food capital of Japan and the pinnacle for food enthusiasts. The downtown Dontonbori area is overflowing with restaurants, street food and sweets stalls, all surrounded by dazzling neon lights. Make sure you try the famous grilled octopus and Okonomiyaki, a delightful grilled savoury pancake.
Days 1 - 4 : Tokyo, Japan
Stay at Park Hotel Tokyo for 3 nights
The first stop on this culinary itinerary is Japan’s capital, Tokyo, which has more Michelin stars than any other city in the country, where you will stay for 3 days. As well as refined, gourmet food, Tokyo also has an abundance of street food, sushi joints and whacky themed restaurants. There are many experiences here, such as visiting the famous Tsukiji fish market, and an evening food tour with a local specialist.
On departure from Tokyo take a direct bullet train to Hiroshima which is the longest journey of the trip and will be a journey of approximately 4 hours.
Days 4 - 6 : Western Japan
Stay at Sheraton Grand Hiroshima Hotel for 2 nights
Hiroshima is your next stop, where you will spend 2 days soaking up the friendly local culture, looking around the cosmopolitan centre, and discovering the city’s tragic past by visiting its humbling peace memorials. Hiroshima specialises in scrumptious udon noodles, which you can enjoy with your choice of topping.
From Hiroshima you will travel back north to Kyoto. Again you will take the bullet train and the journey time is approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes.
Days 6 - 9 : Kyoto, Japan
Stay at Hyatt Regency Kyoto for 3 nights
You will spend the next 3 days in Kyoto, a city that specialises in delicious ramen, but also has several excellent French and Italian restaurants. There are many foodie experiences to be had in Kyoto, including a cooking lesson in a local townhouse, visits to the Nishiki Market, sake tasting, private tea ceremonies, and much more. There is an incredible night scene in Kyoto so make sure you head out at night and get lost in the tiny winding streets that are full of bars and tiny restaurants.
From Kyoto you will take a direct bullet train to reach Shin-Osaka which is a short journey of 15 minutes. Here you will jump on the local JR line which will get you to Osaka station within 5 minutes.
Days 9 - 11 : Osaka, Japan
Stay at Intercontinental Osaka for 2 nights
The last and possibly most crucial stop on your culinary Japan itinerary is Osaka, where you will spend 2 days. Osaka is considered the food capital of Japan, with world-renowned street food, markets and restaurants – the local people even have a phrase meaning ‘eat until you drop’. Make sure you try the local takoyaki, which is grilled octopus. This is one of our favourites.
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
Things to do
Harajuku Backstreet Gourmet Tour
Just a few steps from one of Tokyo’s centres for alternative trends and pop culture sits one of it’s most stylish and up-and-coming areas. Your guide will introduce you to the boutique bars and eateries of Tokyo’s young elite on this evening tour.
Tokyo Garden and Fire Ceremony Tour
Away from the hustle and bustle of central Tokyo, this half-day tour takes you slightly off the tourist trail to explore one of the city’s finest gardens and then on to a residential Buddhist Temple to witness a traditional fire ceremony.
Tokyo Evening Gourmet Food Tour
Street food is an essential part of the Tokyo way of life and this evening you will enjoy two small areas of the city famous for a particular speciality. A local guide will accompany you and help you tell your Yakitori from your Monjayaki.
Evening Tokyo Depachika and Yakitori Alley
Enjoy two takes on street food as your guide takes you from the underground food courts of one of the world’s most famous department stores, to the winding, smoky street vendors of nearby Yakitori Alley, famous for its grilled chicken skewers.
Half Day Fushimi Inari Shrine with Sake Tasting
One of Japan’s mist iconic and photogenic highlights, Fushimi Inari Shrine’s 10,000 bright orange Torii Gates are simply a must-see. This half-day tour lets you explore the hills around the temple before an introduction to Sake at a nearby brewery.
Kyoto Cooking Lesson in Machiya Townhouse
When a nation’s cuisine gains UNESCO Intangible Word Heritage status, it is definitely worth learning more about. On either a morning or afternoon lesson, you be invited into a local townhouse to try your hand at one of two essential dishes.
Kyoto Home Visit - Tea Ceremony
One of the most captivating of Japanese customs, the tea ceremony has a rich history and importance in both past and present Japan. This experience allows you to practise the ceremony yourself in the home of a Kyoto tea-master.
Countryside Sake and Gourmet Food Excursion
Explore the Tokyo's countryside on this full day tour. You will be guided by a French expert in Japanese food and drink to learn about organic locally produced food and traditional sake production before finishing up with fine dining.
Private Temple Tea Ceremony
The tea ceremony is one of Japan’s most sacred rituals and far more than simply the act of drinking tea. This experience will teach you the importance and symbolism of the practice in the unique setting of a 17th century temple teahouse.
Private Geisha Tea House Experience
The Geisha are one of the most interesting facets of Japanese culture, and often most misunderstood. You will join an acclaimed expert in Geisha culture to explore the streets of Kyoto before meeting a Geisha for drinks and entertainment.
Nishiki Market, Sake Tasting and Cooking Lesson
Three important features of Japanese society come together in this half-day tour. Experiencing Street markets, Sake and Japanese cooking with a private guide make for a fantastic take on modern Japanese life.
Evening Osaka Gourmet Tour
A tour around Dontonbori in Osaka to experience the culinary pleasures of this famous buzzing city. Foodies will love this tour as there are two authentic dishes and a delicious drink included.
Kyoto by Night
Kyoto is a charismatic city and really comes into its own in the evening. With a local resident, you will explore some of the charming lantern-lit back streets as you discover the food and drink that Kyotoites like to enjoy after the sun goes down.
Tokyo Sake Brewery Tour
As iconic as geishas and sushi, sake has been an important part of Japanese culture and traditions for centuries. This half-day tour takes you to one of Tokyo’s oldest breweries to explore the process of making this much-loved drink.
Kyoto Cooking Lesson with Professional Chef
Japanese cuisine is so culturally significant, that it has gained UNESCO Intangible World Heritage Status. Learning the craft can take decades, so a lesson from a profession chef is an invaluable and enlightening experience.
Private Dinner with a Geisha
This evening lets you have an insight into one of the most fascinating parts of Japanese cultures, the Kyoto Geishas. An expert guide will lead you through Kyoto’s historic Geisha districts, before you sit down for dinner and entertainment.
Tokyo Red Lantern Food Tour
With street food experiences in Japan rarely consisting of just one dish, this guided evening tour will take you to five different restaurants and Japanese pubs to sample five delicacies in one of Tokyo’s trendiest yet friendliest night-time spots.
Full Day Hiroshima and Sake Village Tour
This full day tour of Hiroshima and Saijo takes you to the delightful Shukkeien Garden with its tiny landscape scenes, before heading to atmospheric Saijo to learn about all things sake.
From $3379 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.