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.
ANA Crowne Plaza Osaka
Best for: Highlights
A contemporary hotel in the middle of Osaka, ANA Crowne Plaza is a great choice for those seeking a convenient base for exploring the city. The hotel has comfortable rooms and good restaurants, including a Michelin star chef in their midst.
To start planning your tailor-made holiday, call us on (646) 934-8916
Located in the city centre, just a few minutes from the station, the ANA Crowne Plaza Osaka is a contemporary hotel with comfortable rooms, providing an excellent base for exploring the city. The hotel provides a complimentary shuttle service from the city’s transport links, which should be booked in advance. The Crowne Plaza has 478 rooms, complete with all the expected amenities. The décor does not hold much character, but the communal areas of the hotel are strikingly designed, with large windows, mirrors and ambient lighting.
The hotel boasts a 24-hour fitness centre, with the usual treadmills and exercise bikes, as well as an indoor pool and sauna. Guests should note that the hotel charges an admission fee for the pool and sauna area and there is no spa.
There are a number of dining options including Café in the Park, which serves dishes of the day in a buffet style. The teppanyaki restaurant, Dojima, offers fresh Japanese beef, seasonal vegetables and delicious seafood, cooked at your table by a skilled chef. The Japanese restaurant, Tankuma Kitamise, has a kaiseki course as well as tempura and sushi. The Chinese restaurant, Karin, is a cosy dining area and Shunka Shuto offers deep fried meat skewers, called kushiage. Maison Tateru Yoshino is a restaurant named after the Michelin starred chef that runs it. Enjoy cakes and wines in the Lobby Lounge, cocktails in the Library Bar, and whiskeys, hors d’oeuvres and cheeses in the Club 24 European Sky Lounge.
When to go
The best and most popular times to visit Kyoto are the climatically stable seasons of spring (March to May) and autumn (late September to November). The highlight of spring is the cherry-blossom season, which usually arrives in Kyoto in early April. Bear in mind, though, that the blossoms are notoriously fickle, blooming any time from late March to mid-April. Autumn is an equally good time to travel, with pleasant temperatures and soothing autumn colours, which usually peak between late October and mid-November. Be warned that Kyoto is crowded with domestic and international tourists during the cherry-blossom and autumn-foliage seasons.
Of course, you can visit Kyoto at any time of year, although the summer, from June to August, can be very hot and humid, and winter can be a little chilly for some people’s taste.
To start planning your tailor-made holiday, call us on (646) 934-8916
Things to do
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.