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: Spa, Walking Trekking
Located on the beautiful Yakushima Island, Sankara is the ideal base from which to unwind. Surrounded by stunning forested scenery and lovely views over the East China sea it has an undeniably serene setting and relaxing atmosphere.
To start planning your tailor-made holiday, call us on (646) 934-8916
Sankara Hotel is the ideal retreat for nature lovers, nestled in cedar forests and sea views in the near distance. With an indulgent spa, fantastic French restaurant, beautiful outdoor pool, Sankara provides a haven for those looking to relax, unwind and enjoy spectacular scenery.
Sankara has a blissful elegance to its design with fresh clean lines a clear affinity to nature. Large panoramic windows feature in most guest rooms which are expansive. Rooms range from standard guestrooms found in the villas to the incredibly luxurious sankara suite, which comes equipped with its own spa treatment room and outdoor bath.
There is plenty of opportunity to indulge at Sankara. The two restaurants at the hotel, Ayana and Okas serve beautiful French cuisine with inspiration from Yakushima as there is a clear focus on local, seasonal ingredients sourced directly from the island. All dishes served our seasonal, providing a commitment to only using the freshest ingredients available. Alongside the restaurants there is a blissful spa providing unique treatments, again with inspiration from Yakushima, with some treatments utilising products such as seawater, marine mud or algae.
Yakushima is known for its incredible beauty and there is plenty to see and do here. The UNESCO listed forests provide a huge array of hiking routes, with their ancient cedar trees and local deer and monkey inhabitants. If you are travelling in the right season from May to August, you may also get the chance to see the famous sea turtles who come ashore to nest.
When to go
Yakushima is known as the one of the wettest islands in the world, however there can be many lovely days on the island. The rainy season lasts from early June to mid July, when the island receives about two thirds more rain fall than other months of the year. The temperatures will be warm at this time, around 28-30 degrees celsius. The summer, even though and it is still possible to go hiking during this period, you will just need to bring your waterproofs! Typhoons do affect Yakushima and the season runs from July until late October. Autumn is the driest period on the island and also when the humidity drops off nicely but the temperature will still be warm in October and can reach the late twenties. Moving through November and into winter, the temperatures will drop and you can expect snow and temperatures of minus 10 degrees celsius. Spring brings temperatures in the early twenties and a mix of sunshine and rain and of course a riot of colour from the Mountain Cherry Blossom.
To start planning your tailor-made holiday, call us on (646) 934-8916