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.
Join our exclusive Small Group Tour, fully escorted by an expert Tour Leader to experience the Land of the Rising Sun. Travel around the country by world-famous bullet train and uncover Japan’s unique culture as you discover its ancient traditions fused with modern life including Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines and beautifully-clad geisha. There is plenty of opportunity to sample Japan’s world-renowned cuisine too. Some departures coincide with the iconic cherry blossoms and autumn leaves.
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.
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: Family, Highlights
Positioned just across the road from Osaka Station, InterContinental Osaka has an excellent location for exploring the city's sights. The hotel is elegant and contemporary, with Michelin star dining and a tranquil spa.
To start planning your tailor-made holiday, call us on (646) 934-8916
With a location right opposite the station and a joining building with Grand Front Osaka, the city’s stylish shopping mall, the InterContinental is a wonderful base from which to explore the city. Mesmerising Kyoto and buzzing Kobe are only a 30-minute train ride away.
The hotel has a range of spacious rooms and suites, as well as apartments, which are perfect for families. The rooms feature floor-to-ceiling windows with fantastic views of the city. The premium suites and premium corner suites are beautifully designed in a contemporary and sleek style with two touching walls made of glass, overlooking the skyline.
The InterContinental Osaka has two restaurants, a bar, lounge and patisserie, which are all under the experienced supervision of a head chef. Pierre is the French restaurant, which has received a Michelin star and uses a fusion of Japanese and French techniques. Enjoy dinner accompanied by a list of over 400 wines and a range of champagnes. Noka is a roast and grill serving meats with special sauces. Enjoy cocktails in the Adee bar, patisseries, cakes and teas in ‘Stressed’, and great views of Osaka in the 3-60 lounge.
The hotel features a spa and fitness floor with a spa suite, where you can enjoy a range of relaxing and pampering treatments. There is a 24-hour gym with the latest technology and a twenty-meter indoor pool. Guests can also enjoy Japanese-style baths intended to emulate a luxurious, authentic onsen.
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.
Holiday ideas including a stay in this property
Tokyo, Yudanaka, Kyoto, Mt Koya, Osaka
Brilliantly varied and at times getting truly off the beaten track, this journey is a wonderful option for those wanting to see a the more authentic and Buddhist side to Japan, without missing out on Japan's highlights such as Kyoto and Tokyo.
Tokyo, Kyoto, Naoshima, Miyajima, Osaka
For those with a passion for art, this itinerary brilliantly combines some of the best of Japan such as Tokyo and Kyoto with the artistic island of Naoshima. Visit classic and contemporary art galleries, explore gardens and learn ancient crafts.
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.