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.
Mie Prefecture, Japan
Best for: Luxury, Spectacular scenery
Located in the verdant Ise-Shima National Park with stunning views over Ago Bay, Amanemu is a luxury retreat with a focus on providing relaxation and serenity amongst beautiful surroundings, as well as fine dining and spa indulgence.
To start planning your tailor-made holiday, call us on (646) 934-8916
Overlooking the sapphire Ago Bay surrounded by woodlands, Amanemu is tucked away and totally private, creating an exclusive and serene experience. The resort is made up of a series of buildings designed to emulate a traditional Japanese ryokan, using natural materials that match the surrounding environment and beautifully compliment the undisturbed views. The authentic ryokan style is blended with modern western elements and the resort is ambiently lit at night, creating a little countryside haven. With just 24 suites and four two-bedroom villas, Amanemu is quite small and can therefore offer attentive and personalised service.
The villas and suites are elegantly designed with clean wood and enormous windows that show off the brilliant views of Ago Bay. Designed to look like Edo period homes, but with a highly elegant and sophisticated finish, each room has its own private onsen and terrace and provides guests with total privacy. The bare wood, authentic screens and simple, crisp white linens add to the minimalist style, yet friendly touches such as fresh fruit and blossoming flowers will make you feel right at home.
The cuisine at Amanemu is excellent, served in a restaurant with charming views over the forest. Expect delicious wagyu beef, the freshest of seafood from the bay and a range of continental dishes, all beautifully presented and of a very high standard. The resort has a heated outdoor swimming pool, but the vast spa is the focal point of the property. Nestled in the peaceful gardens, the spa is centred around a natural hot spring, and the treatments use the healing water and salt from the bay to restore body and mind.
Amanemu is the ideal choice for couples and adults looking to spend a few days during their trip to Japan in total serenity and relaxation, soaking up the peacefulness of rural Japan and enjoying world-class spa treatments, sumptuous food and beautiful views.
When to go
The best and most popular times to visit are the climatically stable seasons of spring (March to May) and autumn (late September to November).
To start planning your tailor-made holiday, call us on (646) 934-8916
Holiday ideas including a stay in this property
Tokyo, Kanazawa, Kyoto, Ise Shima National Park, Osaka
Staying in beautiful hotels and indulgent Ryokans, this fantastic route takes in the neon lights of Tokyo, historical Kanazawa, remote Ago Bay and the refined gardens and temples of Kyoto. Make it extra special with unique and very private experiences.