Trip

Majestic Japan (Summer 2018)

Duration: 11 days Visiting: Japan

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  • Itinerary
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A master of modernity and steward of tradition, Japan delights and surprises with neon-lit highstreets, ancient temples and boundless natural beauty. Meet knowledgeable locals, see iconic sites, taste exotic flavours and wonder at Mother Nature, as you journey via bullet train from cutting-edge cities to unexplored wildernesses in luxurious comfort.

See how you travel like a VIP with Luxury Gold

  1. Day 1

    Welcome to Osaka, Japan!

    Your Escorted Journey begins on Day1. Please make sure your flights arrive on or before this day. (Ask about our great deals). On arrival at Kansai or Itami airport, you will be welcomed and taken to your five-star hotel situated in the heart of the city, where there is time to relax. At 20:00 meet your Travelling Concierge and travel companions at the hotel's Rainbow Lounge for your Welcome Dinner. Enjoy stunning views over Osaka while you enjoy delicious Japanese cuisine including tempura and sushi.

  2. Day 2 - Relaxed Start

    Highlights of Osaka.

    Situated in the heart of Japan where rivers and sea routes converge, Osaka is a hub of cutting-edge architecture, exotic flavours and laid-back locals. How you will observe the city’s many highlights is your choice. You can board the chic Osaka Aqualiner to see the national library and 16th Century Osaka Castle, while you cruise on the Yodo River, a particularly beautiful option during cherry blossom season. Alternatively, you may visit the Floating Garden Observatory in the Umeda Sky Building, a landmark of the city offering incredible views in every direction. Then, together with your Travelling Concierge and fellow traveller, discover why Osaka is known as the kitchen of Japan as you embark on a food-tasting exploration along Dotonbori Street with a passionate local foodie. Try local specialities such as Takoyaki, rounds of ground octopus wrapped in batter, and the Japanese dumpling, Okonomiyaki, before sitting down to a tasty two-course lunch. With the evening at leisure, ask your Travelling Concierge for local recommendations to further explore this exotic city.

  3. Day 3

    The Temples and Geisha of Kyoto.

    Journey to Kyoto, Japan’s Geisha capital, and discover why this is the hub of ancient tradition and culture. Marvel at the Zen Buddhist temple of Kinkaku-ji, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and see its famed Golden Pavilion to appreciate its classic architecture, intricate history and expansive gardens. Visit the famous Giouji Temple, situated on a majestic grove of bamboos and maple trees, where you’ll learn about local folklore and explore the temple’s thatched hut and indigenous gardens. Savour a Highlight Lunch of traditional Kyo-Kaiseki cuisine made of seasonal ingredients, whilst you enjoy a performance by a Maiko, an apprentice Geisha. Central to Kyoto culture, Geisha are highly-skilled entertainers, specializing in classical music, dance, conversation and games. This fine art has evolved over many centuries and today attracts visitors from around the world. Embark on a walking exploration of the vibrant Gion neighbourhood, known as Kyoto’s primary Geisha district. With free time to explore, perhaps enjoy the local teahouses, lantern-lit restaurants and bars or simply absorb the electric atmosphere, as you shop for souvenirs. Return to your hotel and spend the evening at leisure. Perhaps ask your Travelling Concierge to make reservations for you at one of Osaka’s many lovely restaurants?

  4. Day 4

    Local Perspective on Hiroshima.

    Experience Japanese technology at its best as you journey to Hiroshima station on the Shinkansen bullet train. On arrival, catch a ferry to Miyajima Island to visit the Itsukushima Shrine and see the elaborate O-torii gate rising majestically out of the sea. Take a moment to stroll around this peaceful island, before returning to Hiroshima on the ferry. Explore the UNESCO World heritage Site of Peace Memorial Park and Museum, the only structure left standing after the first atomic bomb was dropped during World War II. The bomb was the single-most destructive force ever created by humankind and changed the course of history forever. During your visit, meet a survivor who will share insights into this dark chapter of world history. You may wish to finish your visit with a special prayer for peace. For dinner you are treated to traditional savoury pancakes, known as Okonomiyaki, a typical dish of the region. Return to your hotel by bullet train.

  5. Day 5 - Relaxed Start

    From Osaka to Tokyo

    Board the bullet train and journey to the iconic capital city Tokyo, where cutting-edge modernity meets ancient tradition. The city is an economic powerhouse and home to national museums, festivals, theatres and sacred temples. Visit the Sensoji Buddhist Temple, the oldest and most-visited temple of Japan, and wander along the famous Nakamise Street and explore Kappabashi, a local back-street known as Tokyo’s foodie hub. In the evening, you're in for a true local experience with the choice of two hand-picked restaurants, each specialising in local delicacies. You may try either Shabu-shabu which are hotpots of meat and vegetables or Teppan-yaki where rice, meats and vegetables are freshly cooked on a grill.

  6. Day 6

    Mount Fuji.

    Mount Fuji is Japan’s tallest mountain standing at 3,776 metres above sea level. Admire spectacular views from the observatory at the 5th Station, before venturing down to Lake Kawaguchi where you will be captivated by the flawless reflections of the mountain. Continue to enjoy spectacular views of this UNESCO World Heritage Site as you enjoy lunch made of fresh, seasonal ingredients at a local restaurant. In the afternoon, explore the lake-side village and visit the Icchiku Kubota Art Museum with its unique works of art, traditional architecture and seasonal gardens. Return to your hotel where you are at leisure to relax or explore as you wish.

  7. Day 7

    Journey to Sendai in northern Japan.

    Journey north by bullet train, your destination is the Sendai, known as the City of Trees. This is a true locals region, off-the-beaten path and away from the tourist crowds. Enjoy a private cruise along the dazzling Matsushima Bay, taking in views of countless pine-covered islands. The bay has often featured in Japanese poetry since ancient times. Disembark at Katsurashima Island and meet the owner of a local restaurant. Dine as the locals do with a seafood lunch as the owner shares their insights of life on the island. Return by ferry to Matsushima, where you explore Aoba Castle before witnessing an exclusive performance by a Sendai samurai warrior. Continue to your five-star hotel where the evening is at your leisure. Perhaps sign up for a massage at the in-house spa or explore the nightlife of Kokubuncho?

  8. Day 8 - Relaxed Start

    Hachinohe and Hirosaki Castle.

    Journey to Hachinohe via bullet train. On arrival, absorb the unique atmosphere of Hashoku Centre Market. Visit Hirosaki Castle, famous for its bright Cherry Blossom trees that bloom between April and May. Meet a Cherry Blossom Doctor who will explain how his team nurture these beautiful trees from sapling to maturity and ensure all the Cherry Blossoms of the region are strong, healthy and able to thrive during the Cherry Blossom season. As you explore the Tsugaru han Neputa Village you will see the colourful decorations used during the summer Neputa Festival and watch skilled craftsman at work, they spend month lacquering to create the perfect chopsticks. You then enjoy a special, VIP Experience, a private musical performance of Tsugaru Shamisen and Taiko, traditional Japanese guitar and drumming. Your journey continues to Oirase Gorge, one of Japan’s most-revered nature havens. After checking-in to your luxurious hotel, perhaps experience a soul-soothing Onsen, a traditional Japanese hot bath, in the nearby forest?

  9. Day 9 - Relaxed Start

    Exploring Oirase Gorge.

    The spectacular Oirase Gorge is a place of special scenic beauty. Wander along the crystal-clear Oirase Keiryu stream, admire the cascading waterfalls and marvel at the seasonal colours of the indigenous forest. Journey to a local brewery in the Tohoku region to taste Japan's national drink, sake, then enjoy lunch at a local restaurant. Return to Tokyo via bullet train, where you are leisure to relax or continue your own exploration of this intriguing city.

  10. Day 10 - Relaxed Start

    The Highlights of Tokyo.

    Seasonal tea ceremonies date back a thousand years and play an important part in Japanese culture, they are central to good hospitality. Experience this for yourself when you visit a traditional teahouse where you learn how to prepare the perfect cup of Matcha Green Tea. Try your hand at making sushi with the highest-quality fish and discover why it takes ten years to become a Master Sushi Chef, before sitting down to a delightful Highlight Lunch. Spend your free time exploring Ginza, one of the world’s most luxurious shopping districts and known as the Champs-Elysees of Tokyo. In the evening, get ready for a dazzling Celebration Dinner as you venture to the heart of the city. Tokyo Shiba Tofuya Ukai is a famous restaurant with old-world charm and surrounded by a Zen garden. It specialises in tofu cuisine, but you will savour a range of intricately-prepared dishes including simmered eggplant and fried shrimp, fresh sashimi and deep-fried tofu coated with miso, all accompanied with beer or wine.

  11. Day 11

    Farewell Japan.

    Bid farewell to your travel companions and head to Narita or Haneda International Airport for your onward journey.

Highlights

 

VIP EXPERIENCES

  • Hiroshima: Be part of a truly poignant travel experience, as you meet a survivor of the 1945 Hiroshima atomic bomb, which destroyed most of the city during World War II and changed world history forever.
  • Aoba Castle: Witness a samurai performance in front of the site where the castle once stood.
  • Tsugaru han Neputa Village: See the colourful decorations for the summer Neputa Festival and witness an exclusive, private musical performance of Tsugaru Shamisen and Taiko, traditional Japanese guitar and drumming.

JOURNEY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Osaka: Discover why Osaka is known as the kitchen of Japan during your food-tasting exploration with a knowledgeable local foodie. Taste local specialities such as rounds of ground octopus wrapped in batter, called Takoyaki, and savory pancakes, named Okonomiyaki.
  • Hirosaki Castle: Learn about the meticulous care and nurturing of Cherry Blossom trees from a Cherry Blossom Doctor who ensures all Cherry Blossoms, from saplings to mature trees are healthy and thriving during the beautiful Cherry Blossom season.
  • Kyoto: Discover this hub of ancient tradition and culture. Marvel at the Zen Buddhist temple of Kinkaku-ji, and embark on a walking exploration of the vibrant Gion neighbourhood, known as Kyoto’s Geisha district.

EXCEPTIONAL DINING

  • Tokyo: Savour Tokyo’s finest cuisine, including fresh sashimi, seasonal grilled fish and delicious deep-fried tofu during your Celebration Dinner at the famous Tokyo Shiba Tofuya Ukai. Surrounded by a Zen garden, this elegant restaurant is an oasis in the heart of Tokyo and transports you to an era of Japanese grandeur.
  • Tokyo: Participate in a private sushi-making class in Tokyo and discover why it takes ten years to perfect this 2000-year-old Japanese art before sitting down to a freshly prepared Highlight Lunch.
  • Dining Summary: 10 Buffet Breakfasts (BB), 6 Lunches (L) and 5 Dinners with Wine (DW).

INCLUSIVE LUXURY GOLD SERVICES

  • You will be escorted by one of our fine Travelling Concierges, handpicked to serve as your expert guide, consummate organiser, and friend overseas.
  • Relax in comfort on Luxury Gold’s air-conditioned coach with complimentary bottled water for you to enjoy while travelling.
  • Personal radio headsets give you the freedom to wander during visits to famous highlights, without missing any of your Local Expert's fascinating commentary.
  • We carry your bags for you and promptly deliver them to your hotel door.
  • Hotel and restaurant tips are included - you'll never have to worry about how much to give, nor search for foreign currency. We also include all taxes and porterage charges at hotels.
  • Stay connected with friends and family with our complimentary coach and hotel Wi-Fi (where available).
  • From time to time, your Travelling Concierge will enchant you with a Luxury Gold Flourish, which is a local specialty representing the destination.
  • At every hotel, you'll be treated to seamless baggage handling, with prompt delivery inside your room.
  • Included complimentary, private transfers are available on start and end dates, and when additional accommodation has been booked through Luxury Gold.

Accommodation

 

Imperial Hotel Osaka

Osaka (Traditional) - Japan

With over 100 years of hospitality experience, this five-star hotel places you along the Okawa River in the heart of vibrant Osaka. Stay in the midst of one of Japan’s best cherry-blossom-viewing locations and enjoy a range of state-of-the-art facilities, including a luxury spa and fine-dining restaurants.

Imperial Hotel Tokyo

Tokyo (Traditional) - Japan

The grand Imperial Hotel Tokyo has welcomed royalty, heads of state and celebrities for over 120 years. Stay within walking distance of Tokyo’s most iconic attractions and enjoy award-winning dining, flawless Japanese hospitality and five-star facilities.

The Westin Sendai

Sedai (Traditional) - Japan

Old-world elegance and modern comforts combine to make the luxurious Westin Sendai Hotel an ideal oasis in the heart of the city, within your Superior Rooms.

Hoshino Resorts Oirase Keiryu Hotel

Oirase Gorge (Traditional) - Japan

Exclusively situated moments away from the serene Oirase Keiryua stream, this luxurious resort hotel offers spacious bedrooms, five-star facilities and easy access to natural hot springs situated in the nearby forest.

Guest Reviews & Experiences

Our guests rate us 4.5 out of 5 based on
786 independent user reviews received during the past year.

  • 06 June, 2018

    TRIP:
    SERVICE:

    Trip: Well done, everything as expected well balanced tour and excellent hotels and meals.

    Service: Well organized, top notch hotels, informative guide

  • 06 June, 2018

    TRIP:
    SERVICE:

    Trip: We feel that we had a complete experience of Japan.

    Service: Luxury Accommodation, best guide, excellent experiences and well planned

  • 19 May, 2018

    TRIP:
    SERVICE:

    Trip: The tour sites were great and very informative. But touring did not conclude until 6 0r 7pm if there was not planned dinner . I was not happy that there was no free time during the day. The 7 course tofu celebration dinner was just too much tofu. The food was a little disappointing. No meals were served at an upscale Japanese restaurants. Which are very nice because I visited a couple on my own for dinner. I think the intent was to impart the full Japanese diet experience to the attendees but I think it would have been better to incorporate a few varied meals.

    Service: The limo service was outstanding. Each driver was on time, friendly and helped with my bags. It was great to have personal transportation service after flying 17 and half hours. All hotels were excellent with excellent customer service. Very large, comfortable, clean hotels and delicious breakfast. The tour guide was very warm, friendly, personable and had a lot of knowledge to share. The business airline reservation that was made for me by Julie Brandstetter of American Express with Insight was truly exceptional!!! I felt like a VIP on American Airlines. Japan Airlines was outstanding in service, food and comfort!!!

  • 19 May, 2018

    TRIP:
    SERVICE:

    Trip: Good itinary for the time the tour lasted.

    Service: Overall, it was very good. I thought the tour director's planning was excellent. I'm surprised that none of the motor coaches did not have wi-fi as had been promised by Insight. The hotels were excellent.

  • 16 May, 2018

    TRIP:
    SERVICE:

    Trip: Because it was all pretty good. By the way, this is the second or third questionnaire I have completed. And I hate questionnaires and surveys.

    Service: Most things were done well. Very little to criticise.o

  • 03 May, 2018

    TRIP:
    SERVICE:

    Trip: Plenty of variety. Beautiful scenery. Great food. Excellent hotels. Efficient transport. Saw all the major tourist sites in all the major cities plus travelled further north to HIROSAKI and Oirase Gorge which were stunning especially at this time of year. As this was the first time that the trip had ever run, there were timing hiccups that occurred on several occasions. On at least two occasions the days were excessively long and exceedingly tiring! Hiroshima was a huge day (7am-10pm) with lots of walking (over 9kms) as was the day at HIROSAKI going to Oirase where we didn't get tothe hotel till after 8pm and the buffet closed at 9pm! Then we really didn't spend enough time at Oirase Gorge the following day! I'm sure that some of the timing issues revolved around bullet train ticketing or timetables and the trains were an effective, fast means of transport. Some changes do need to be made to the itinerary so that the days events are shorter and there are more opportunities for rest between activities. Overall, we had a great time and saw some wonderful sites, ate some delicious food and had some amazing experiences!

    Service: Kept us updated. Door to door transfers efficient. Concierge polite, personable, helpful and maintained her dignity despite some hiccups on this, the first trip in Japan. She was knowledgeable and we were taken to mostly amazingly beautiful or memorable places.

  • 03 May, 2018

    TRIP:
    SERVICE:

    Trip: See above we saw lots of Japan not just the big Cities maybe review some of the big days with travelling out and back like down to Hiroshima and back also, some recommendations about where to eat after a long day if dinner is not on the itinerary e.g. Sendai was difficult we needed a name of a restaurant not just pointed in the direction of the station.

    Service: The tour guide Heromi had a big job and did an excellent job with having to translate and know all the history as well as making sure we were all accounted for. Nothing was too much trouble but you needed to pay attention. On previous Insight tours Spain and Italy there are local guides to support the Tour Guide not so in this case something you may want to look at.We got a really good overview of Japan from South To North this meant that some days were really full with maybe too many items of interest ?

  • 03 May, 2018

    TRIP:
    SERVICE:

    Trip: No Wi Fi on bus. Thought the river cruise in Osaka was ok, better it we went to the castle. 1.5hrs at the Hiroshima museum was too long, 1hr would be plenty. The castle in Sendai, which we had to pretend, was ok, would have referred to spend more time in Towada.

    Service: The tour / accommodation was excellent. But there was no Wi Fi on the bus. Some of the excursions could do a rethink.

  • 02 May, 2018

    TRIP:
    SERVICE:

    Trip: Our visit to Oraise Gorge was too short. We arrived after 8pm and left at 9am the next day. Everyone was starting to feel tired as this was towards the end of the trip and another night at the resort would have been perfect.

    Service: Our guides, Hiromi and Danielle, were always eager to please and did whatever was asked of them.

  • 02 May, 2018

    TRIP:
    SERVICE:

    Trip: I think the itinerary could do with a little tweaking. The trip to the Oirase Gorge took a long time & we were only there for a very short time. Maybe a little less time in the Osaka area would have given us more time in Tokyo.

    Service: I have recommended Luxury Gold to my friends already. I found accommodation & travel experiences to be top quality. My consierge Hiromi was delightful & went out of her way to be helpful.

  • 02 May, 2018

    TRIP:
    SERVICE:

    Trip: We saw all of Japan in a short time, from North to South. Amazing!

    Service: It was the first time Luxury Gold did Japan and my first experience with Luxury Gold. The itinerary was fantastic as well as all the 5 star hotels. I would have liked a better communicator in our director. She was very sweet and gave her all, but often was hard to understand. I would have also enjoyed being turned over to local guides who could speak to us directly. All local guides ended up speaking through our director. I will definitely consider Luxury Gold for my next trip.

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