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.
Mitsui Garden Kumamoto
Kumamoto, Kyushu, Japan
Best for: Family, Culture History, Off the beaten track
Centrally located in Kumamoto with access to multiple transport links, Mitsui Garden Kumamoto provides a convenient base from which to explore the city. This modern city hotel offers clean, comfortable rooms with a fresh contemporary design.
To start planning your tailor-made holiday, call us on (646) 934-8916
Providing excellent transport links, with both bus and tram stations on the hotel's doorstep and the JR station just 10 minutes away, Mitsui Garden Kumamoto is a great base from which to explore the city. As a modern hotel, the 225 smoke free rooms have a contemporary design utilising clean lines, neutral tones and colour popping accents to give a fresh and modern feel.
The rooms are split into four categories, Moderate Twin, Standard Twin, Comfort and Standard, with the Modern Twin Rooms being our most recommended due to the additional space of these rooms. The Moderate Twin Room is also the only option to allow for an additional bed and all rooms come complete with en-suite bathrooms. For those looking for something a little more interesting, Mitsui Garden also offers special Kumamon themed rooms, highlighting the mascot of Kumamoto, Kumamon.
As a city hotel, leisure facilities are limited at Mitsui Garden but there is one restaurant on site, the Garden Cafe providing breakfast and lunch in a casual setting with the choice of both Western and Japanese cuisine.
When to go
With high humidity the temperatures can vary drastically between the summer and winter. The hottest months are from July to September, with temperatures in August reaching around 35°C. As a city, Kumamoto does receive significant rainfall with the most falling in June and the driest month being January. January is also the coldest month, with temperatures averaging just 5°C. Like most of Japan, climatically the best time to visit is in the Spring and in the Autumn seasons.
To start planning your tailor-made holiday, call us on (646) 934-8916
Holiday ideas including a stay in this property
Osaka, Nagasaki, Kumamoto, Kagoshima, Yakushima, Tokyo
This itinerary allows you to explore Japan’s southern island of Kyushu, offering incredible landscapes, intriguing culture and a unique insight into the off the beaten path Japan. A brilliant option for second time visitors.