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: Culture History, Family, Honeymoon
Iwaso is a luxurious traditional ryokan overlooking the picturesque island of Miyajima. Its peaceful location in the woods of Momijidani is beautiful and the ryokan offers fantastic service and authentic Japanese hospitality throughout your stay.
To start planning your tailor-made holiday, call us on (646) 934-8916
Set in the idyllic woodland sanctuary of Momijidani, Iwaso is a stunning ryokan that has been in operation for over 150 years. The 38 rooms are located across three buildings which are all elegantly designed with traditional latticework and Japanese influences. Those who prefer private bathrooms should book a room in the Shinkan building. For the ultimate luxury experience stay in one of the 80-year-old Hanare cottages, which are exquisitely decorated and feature old wooden bathtubs. Those visiting in autumn will experience stunning fiery red maple trees from their balcony in the utmost privacy.
Iwaso has a lovely traditional tea lounge and peaceful library, where you can relax and recuperate. The Momiji restaurant has a riverside veranda, which is open for lunch, but breakfast and dinner are served in the privacy of your room. The cuisine at Iwaso is excellent, with typical meals including fresh seafood from the Seto Inland Sea, such as black rockfish and oysters, as well as produce from the Hiroshima area, such as famous Hiroshima beef, wasabi, miso, citrus fruits and wild mushrooms.
The ryokan has various spa baths that are partly open-air, with peaceful views of the surrounding forest landscape. The iconic deer that roam the area are often spotted from the onsen, on the path outside. The hot spring here is known as Wakamiya and has properties that sooth your body and make your skin incredibly soft. Iwaso is just a ten-minute walk from the famous Itsukushima shrine and cable car station up to Mount Misen.
When to go
Spring and autumn are the best times to travel, with the delicate cherry blossom or turning leaves adding a gorgeous hue to the scenery. The cherry blossom begins its journey northward in mid-March, reaching Kyoto and Tokyo by early April, and finally arriving in Sapporo by early May. The autumn leaves reverse the pattern, touching the high peaks of Hokkaido in mid-October and marching steadily south to Kyoto by mid-November.
To start planning your tailor-made holiday, call us on (646) 934-8916
Things to do
Half Day Miyajima Highlights Tour
A half-day tour to Miyajima Island, the home of the famous floating torri gate. Here you can explore the temples and shrines in the complex and look around the rest of the island before returning to Hiroshima on the ferry.
Full Day Naoshima Excursion from Hiroshima
An experience that contemporary art and architecture enthusiasts should consider, visiting Naoshima Island to explore the Art House Project, Chichu Art Museum and Benesse House Museum, with two exciting journeys on the bullet train.
Full Day Hiroshima and Sake Village Tour
This full day tour of Hiroshima and Saijo takes you to the delightful Shukkeien Garden with its tiny landscape scenes, before heading to atmospheric Saijo to learn about all things sake.
Holiday ideas including a stay in this property
Tokyo, Miyajima, Kyoto, Hakone, Tokyo
This affordable yet wonderful itinerary is fantastic for those on a tighter budget, or for those a little short on time. It takes in Tokyo, Hiroshima and Miyajima, Kyoto as well as Mt Fuji near Hakone. It covers some of the best of Japan.