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.
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.
Japan in Style
Tokyo, Hakone, Kyoto
Best for: Highlights, Imagine Favourites, Luxury
Staying in some of Japan's most stylish hotels and Ryokans in Tokyo, Kyoto and Hakone near Mt Fuji, this spoiling and laid-back journey does not disappoint when it comes to comfort. Choose private and unique experiences to make it truly stand out.
To start planning your tailor-made holiday, call us on (646) 934-8916
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This indulgent itinerary is an exclusive journey to two of Japan’s most crucial cities, Tokyo and Kyoto, with an additional night in Hakone, to soak up the beautiful countryside scenery and witness a different side of Japan. This elegant trip begins in Tokyo, where there are plenty of first-class experiences to be had, from dining in one of the cities fabulous Michelin star sushi bars or chic cocktail haunts, to seeing the city from above on a fabulous helicopter ride. Take a walk in one of the city’s lovely leafy parks or enjoy some retail therapy in a glitzy shopping district. Travelling to Hakone, staying in a glorious modern ryokan, you will have a day to explore the countryside with its famous lakes, walking trails and spectacular views. This area also has some of the finest contemporary art galleries in Japan. The final destination on this stylish itinerary is cultural Kyoto, where you can immerse yourself in the charming atmosphere of a private tea ceremony, have dinner with a geisha, explore the classic sights such as the bamboo forest, and take time for quiet reflection in one of the tranquil Zen gardens. This trip showcases Japan's highlights whilst staying in style.
Days 1 - 5 : Tokyo, Japan
Stay at Palace Hotel for 4 nights
This stylish itinerary begins in dazzling Tokyo, where you have 4 days to explore the very best the city has to offer. Tokyo has a famous culinary scene, with more Michelin stars than any other city in the world, so visit some of the sophisticated restaurants and sip sake overlooking the illuminated city. Why not take a helicopter ride over Tokyo, a wonderfully chic way to see the famous landmarks of the city from the sky, or go and see local sumo training. We can also arrange private guides to take you all over the city, depending on your interests.
From Tokyo you will take a direct bullet train to Odawara which is a short 30 minute journey. Here you can either choose to be met by a private driver to take you up through the mountainous countryside to Gora Kadan which is a beautiful 40 minute drive. Alternatively you will be able to take the local JR line to Gora.
Day 5 - 6 : Hakone, Japan
Stay at Gora Kadan for 1 night
Your next stop is Hakone, where you will stay for 1 day, giving you a chance to tour around the Mt Fuji National Park, with its spectacular views of the snow-capped mountain. Hike through the verdant valleys and hills of the park, and embark on a boat trip on the calm Lake Ashinoko, staying overnight in a stunning contemporary ryokan with your own private onsen.
From Gora Kadan you will retrace your steps back to Odawara station where you will meet your bullet train to take you to Kyoto. This journey is approximately 2 hours.
Days 6 - 10 : Kyoto, Japan
Stay at Ritz Carlton Kyoto for 4 nights
This wonderful itinerary ends in Kyoto, Japan’s ‘cultural capital’, where you will spend 4 days travelling around the city in style, soaking up its authentic yet fashionable atmosphere. From bamboo forests to zen gardens, and from gesisha houses to art galleries, Kyoto has it all. Visiting someone’s home for a traditional Japanese tea ceremony is also one of our favourite ways to spend an afternoon in Kyoto, immersing yourself in etiquette and local culture.
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
Sushi Making at a Local Home
During this half-day lesson, your guide will take you to a local home to learn the traditional art of sushi making, one of Japan's most famous exports.
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.
Visit a Sword Master from Tokyo
The Japanese sword is one of the most iconic images of the country and its Samurai-era past. On this full-day tour, you will learn the basics of the sword-making process and the importance of swords in Japanese culture.
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.
Sword Wielding Experience
A symbol of Japan, the history of the country is intertwined with that of its iconic swords. Today on this full-day tour, you will get the chance to wield a sword and learn some traditional techniques before visiting some of the key temples of Nara.
Kimono Wearing and Tea Ceremony
This half-day tour introduces you to the history and customs of two of Japan's most symbolic cultures, also allowing you have a hands-on experience in a beautiful landscaped garden.
The Philosopher’s Path
Once the commute of an acclaimed Japanese philosopher, this pretty walk through Kyoto’s Higashiyama District passes many small temples and shrines. During this half-day tour, your guide will lead you along the path, exploring sights along the way.
Tokyo Contemporary Art Tour
While internationally known for its classical art, Japan has a thriving modern art scene and no city showcases this as much as Tokyo. This full-day tour will take you through Tokyo’s contemporary architecture and galleries.
Half Day Hakone Arts & Crafts Tour
A great half-day tour in Hakone for those interested in both ancient and contemporary art, gardening, and crafts. Visiting the impressive Okada Museum of Art and Gora Park, with a craft activity included.
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.
Taiko Drum Lesson
The Taiko drums have a long history in Japanese culture and folklore from religious ceremonies, Geisha performances and even wars. This private, hour-long lesson will teach you the origins and rhythms of the Taiko, complete with battle cries!
Full Day Hakone Mt Fuji National Park Highlights Tour
A full day of exploring the Hakone and Mount Fuji National Park area, visiting the sulphuric hot springs of Mount Owakudani, a pirate ship ride and other activities on Lake Ashinoko, and a train that takes you through the green mountains and valleys.
From $6042 per person
All accommodation and breakfast
Selected transport and guides during sightseeing