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.
Best for: Highlights, Specialist
Hotel Kajikaso is a large resort-style ryokan just a 10-minute walk from Hakone-Yumoto station and near to local attractions such as the Hakone Open-Air Museum, Hakone Gora Park and Narukawa Museum.
To start planning your tailor-made holiday, call us on (646) 934-8916
The hotel is located in a leafy green area surrounded by verdant hills, boasting views of Mount Fuji and Lake Ashi on a clear day. Most of the rooms are Japanese-style with futon beds, tatami mat floors, sliding screen doors and low tables with cushion seating. Choose from city view, river view or mountain view. The larger family rooms have Western-style beds and there are some rooms with a private onsen on a balcony. The accommodation is fairly basic but clean, comfortable and spacious. All guests are provided with yukata robes to wear during their stay, for a slice of authenticity.
The cuisine at Kajikaso is Japanese-style and uses fresh, seasonal ingredients so the menu changes every month. Food is served kaiseki-style, with lots of intricately presented dishes. Most of the food is vegetable and seafood based, but there are also some meat dishes. You can choose to eat in your room or in a private restaurant but the hotel has strict and early meal times, which is typical in Japanese ryokans. Dinner is served from 18.00 to 19.30 each evening and the Japanese set breakfast is served from 7.00 to 8.30 every morning.
The hotel has two outdoor onsens which are split between male and female, as is customary. The public bath on the 6th floor has beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. Men and women can use the two baths in rotation, so everyone gets a chance to experience the view. The hotel also has a tea lounge, games corner and a karaoke bar.
When to go
Hakone is characterised by a mild climate with high precipitation. The climate here is much cooler than it is in Tokyo. The best time to visit Hakone is from April to November.
To start planning your tailor-made holiday, call us on (646) 934-8916
Things to do
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.
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.
Holiday ideas including a stay in this property
Tokyo, Yudanaka, Kanazawa, Kyoto, Hakone
Brilliantly designed with families in mind, this journey really keeps the kids entertained. From Snow Monkeys to Anime and from cycling adventures to dressing like a geisha, this trip really packs a punch and is sure to impress.
Osaka, Kyoto, Hakone, Tokyo
This classic itinerary takes in Japan's major highlights, such as Kyoto, Osaka, Tokyo and Hakone (Mt Fuji), but is designed with Japan's cherry blossom season in mind as it really makes the most of Japan's beautiful gardens and outdoors.