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.
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.
With its stunning and varied landscapes, Japan is a walker’s paradise. From a self-guided trek along the Nakasendo Highway to tackling the imposing peak of Mount Fuji, there are endless opportunities to get out and about on foot. Here are a few of our favourites...
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.
Osaka, Nagasaki, Kumamoto, Kagoshima, Yakushima, Tokyo
Best for: Highlights, Off the beaten track, Spectacular scenery
This itinerary allows you to explore Japan’s southern island of Kyushu, offering incredible landscapes, intriguing culture and a unique insight into the off the beaten path Japan. A brilliant option for second time visitors.
To start planning your tailor-made holiday, call us on (646) 934-8916
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This interesting itinerary provides a fantastic introduction to the island of Kyushu and is great for second time visitors to Japan and for those that are looking for experiences off the usual tourist trail. Through the adventure you’ll make stops in Osaka, Nagasaki, Kumamoto, Kagoshima and the unique island of Yakushima. With direct flights from the UK, Osaka is a great place to begin and get stuck in straight away into one of Japan’s greatest foodie havens. After visiting it won’t be hard to see why it is nicknamed the ‘nation’s kitchen.’ From here, your next stop will be Nagasaki which is one of Japan’s most interesting cities with an incredible depth of history. Most well-known for its harrowing past, where the second atomic bomb was dropped, there is a beautiful and moving peace memorial park which must be explored. Next it is on to Kumamoto, famous for the castle, Kumamoto-jo. After sadly suffering extensive damage in the 2016, it cant be visited to the same extent however there is plenty to explore in the surroundings including Mt Aso. Moving south, you'll make a stop in Kagoshima where the volcano Sakurajima is one of the most active in the region and can be explored from the bay. Voted as Japan’s friendliest cities it is a great place to spend a few days. For your last stop in and around Kyushu you’ll continue to the spectacular island of Yakushima. With one of the oldest forests in Japan and beautiful, rugged coastlines it is ideal for hiking. To end your amazing adventure you’ll fly to Tokyo, exploring the icons of Japan before retuning home.
Days 1 - 3 : Osaka, Japan
Stay at Cross Hotel Osaka for 2 nights
The first stop on your southern adventure in Japan will be Osaka for two nights. As the third largest city in Japan, built on mercantile classes there is a playful nature to Osaka. Covered in neon lights and jam-packed with incredible food, it is a great place to enjoy on foot with an insider’s gourmet street food tour. As you wander down Dontonbori Street, your guide will introduce you to the best establishments alongside the local hot spots and hole in the walls. Alongside the plethora of food there are some beautiful temples to explore including Shitenno-ji Temple, one of Japan’s earliest Buddhist temples.
On departure from Osaka, you will take the super efficient bullet train system to Nagasaki, via Hakata station in Fukuoka and onwards to Nagasaki. The complete journey will take about 5 hours.
Days 3 - 5 : Nagasaki, Japan
Stay at ANA Crowne Plaza Nagasaki for 2 nights
Nagasaki is best known for the part that it played in WWII as the second city in Japan to be hit by an atomic bomb. Commemorating this sad and harrowing history, we would recommend including a visit to the atomic bomb museum and memorial part. Alongside this, there is a wealth and history to explore in the city.
Aside from this harrowing history, the city has an amazing wealth of history and culture to explore due to the unique multicultural background of this area with influences from China and Europe. Here temples intermingle with shrines making it a truly intriguing city with a blend of influences not seen anywhere else in Japan. We have included a full day with a private guide for you here to bring the history of the city alive.
On departure from Nagasaki you make your way to Kumamoto by the bullet train which will take just over two hours with a change in Shin-Tosu.
Days 5 - 7 : Kumamoto, Kyushu, Japan
Stay at Mitsui Garden Kumamoto for 2 nights
Home to a beautiful castle of which Kumamoto is immensely proud, especially with its designation as one of the top three original castles in Japan. Unfortunately the castle was badly damaged in the 2016 earthquake, but the exterior can still be visited. The city also is a great jumping off point for walking trails and visits to Mt Aso which is the largest active volcano in Japan.
From Kumanoto you'll jump back on the bullet train for just over an hour to Kagoshima where you'll be spending the following two days.
Days 7 - 9 : Kagoshima, Kyushu, Japan
Stay at Remm Kagoshima for 2 nights
Located on the coast of Kyushu, Kagoshima is the island’s southernmost city and has been voted as one of Japan’s most friendly destinations to visit. The crowning glory of Kagoshima is Sakurajima, a constantly, albeit mildly, erupting volcano. Smoking continuously, the volcano erupts multiple times a day. There are many observation points around the volcano to witness the eruptions which can be easily accessed from Kagoshima port by a quick ferry ride.
As a port city, from here you are perfectly placed to access your next destination, Yakushima, a highlight of this region. Accessed by ferry or by plane, through this itinerary you’ll board a ferry at Kagoshima and take the short journey of just over two hours to the island where you will spend the next three nights.
Days 9 - 12 : Yakushima, Japan
Stay at JR Hotel Yakushima for 3 nights
Yakushima boasts one of the oldest and most impressive forests in Japan, known for its beautiful scenery and ancient, giant cedar trees. Wildlife includes deer, plenty of bird life and in certain months even plays home to loggerhead turtles when they come yearly to nest. Being such a small island the easiest and most enjoyable way to explore is by rental car. With just one main road that circumnavigates the entire island it is extremely doable. Here we recommend you spend your days exploring the rugged coastline and enjoying the many hiking trails that wind their way through the mysterious and ancient forest. We have included a guide for you to take you on one of the island's best hikes, tailored to your fitness levels, making sure that you experience the best of the island.
To end the itinerary you will take a flight from Yakushima, connecting through Kagoshima and on to Tokyo where you will have your final two nights in Japan.
Days 12 - 14 : Tokyo, Japan
Stay at Park Hotel Tokyo for 2 nights
As the capital of Japan, Tokyo is definitely iconic and the list of sites and activities are simply endless! Whether it is Japanese pop culture and Manga or samurai history and culture, there is literally something for everyone. Our expert guides will be on hand making sure that you get the absolute most of your time in Tokyo and can even arrange hands on experiences such as a sumo wrestling match (schedule dependent), calligraphy lesson or behind the scenes foodie tour.
On departure, a transfer will be arranged for you from your hotel to the airport as you bid farewell to the beautiful and totally mesmerising country of Japan.
When to go
With high humidity the temperatures can vary drastically between the summer and winter. The hottest months are from July to September, with temperatures in August reaching around 35°C. As a region in Japan, Kyushu does receive significant rainfall with the most falling in June and the driest month being January. January is also the coldest month, with temperatures averaging just 5°C. Like most of Japan, climatically the best time to visit is in the Spring and in the Autumn seasons.
To start planning your tailor-made holiday, call us on (646) 934-8916
From $5101 per person
International economy class flights and airport taxes from the UK
All accommodation and breakfast
Selected transport and some guided experiences
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.