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Duration: 11 days Visiting: Japan
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.
Welcome to Osaka, Japan!
Your complimentary, private transfer takes you to your local departure airport. 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.
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. Experience Osaka Your Way as 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, before sitting down to a tasty two-course lunch. With the evening at leisure, ask your Travelling Concierge for local recommendations to explore this exotic city further.
A 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 dish typical of the region. Continue to Kyoto by bullet train where you check in to your hotel, a modern architectural masterpiece located in the centre of the city.
The Temples and Geisha of Kyoto.
Kyoto is Japan's geisha capital, and during your city tour with your Travelling Concierge you will 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 walk through the indigenous bamboo forest. 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 for the rest of the evening, perhaps enjoy the local teahouses, lantern-lit restaurants and bars or simply absorb the electric atmosphere, as you shop for souvenirs.
From Kyoto 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 Sensō-ji 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. During a Your Choice 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.
Mount Fuji is Japan’s tallest mountain standing at 3,776 metres above sea level and is registered as The National Monument of Japan. 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.
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 inn. 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 the site where Aoba Castle once stood before witnessing samurai performance by local artists. 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 discover how Kokubuncho comes to life at night time?
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?
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.
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 and 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-Élysées 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.
Bid farewell to your travel companions and head to Narita or Haneda International Airport for your onward journey. On arrival at your home airport, your driver will greet and escort you to your waiting car for your private transfer home.
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.
Kyoto (Contemporary) - Japan
Hotel Granvia Kyoto is more than a modern hotel located in the heart of Kyoto as it features over a thousand modern and traditional artworks by local, Kyoto-based artists.
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.
Sendai (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.
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.
Our guests rate us
1026 independent user reviews received during the past year.
17 November, 2018
Trip: An excellent trip! Enjoyed every minute
Service: Yes . Evaluation already completed.
07 November, 2018
Trip: See comment above - and this survey is becoming tedious
Service: INTERESTING, WELL-ORGANISED
24 October, 2018
Trip: I think the trip should be a little longer. There is a lot to see in Japan. We saw lots of very nice things and enjoyed the culture. The highlight for me, though, was Hiroshima which was truly a moving and educational experience from a human standpoint. The people are very polite, nice, and helpful. The streets and cities are clean and there is an attitude of civility and consideration built into the Japanese people that makes them very likable. I'd be remiss if I didn't compliment our concierge, Hiromi. She was a very nice, considerate and courteous tour guide who was organized and helpful. It was a pleasure traveling with her.
Service: Wonderful accommodations. Good transportation throughout.
24 October, 2018
Trip: It was very interesting, very fortunate to see Mt Fiji as the mist moved away, enjoyed the bullet train and loved all the places we visited which left me thinking I wish I could of stayed in each longer, especially Kyoto.
Service: Excellent tour guide, good hotels and great sightseeing experiences
24 October, 2018
Trip: great itinerary and guide
Service: Accom. excellent, guide excellent except her English was really good but sometimes we couldn't follow her accent. The overall experience of Japan, its culture and scenery was really good.
24 October, 2018
Trip: Travel by bullet train allowed us to see a lot of the country - would have been impossible with coach travel. The time spent in the north of the island was too short - tried to fit in too much without leaving enough free time in the national park. Tried to cram in too much in the day in Hiroshima which allowed very little time in the Peace Museum. Too much time was allowed for souvenir shopping and not enough free time in cities - eg. no time in Tokyo to visit Imperial Palace gardens etc.
Service: The tour guide was very efficient making sure that people's dietary allergies/religious constraints were taken into account in included meals. All the transport connections (bus/train) were done very efficiently even in crowded stations.
24 October, 2018
Trip: Need to see some city like, they did not show even Tokyo
Service: excellent customer service
07 October, 2018
Trip: I have addressed this in my first comments - found the itinerary quite tiring even though my wife and I are considered reasonably fit - as we weren't arriving back at hotels until after 5.30pm most days. Even though the Shinkansen trains made travelling a lot faster to our destination, we felt we trying to fit too much into the time left in the day before heading back to hotels.
Service: The Hotels were good in each destination, however, would have enjoyed a longer stay at Oriase Gorge and area, which was a definite highlight and less time in Osaka - especially in Typhoon season as it seems to be a target! Customer service over all was good. Shinkansen trains and coach travel very good. Arrival at hotels on some days was a bit late after some of the day's itinerary and therefore made the tour somewhat tiring instead of the easy pace we expected - maybe a little more free time instead of trying to do too much in one day (eg: Hachinohe/Hirosaki/Oriase gorge). Enjoyed the food experiences - particularly the Shabu-shabu or Teppen-yaki in Tokyo. Would have liked to see a bit more of Tokyo - eg: famous cross/walk, City tour or night light city tour or Tokyo Tower at night ( we had our farewell dinner at a restaurant underneath this tower which was beautifully lit up).
01 August, 2018
Trip: From north to south able to see a lot of Japan in 11 majestic days.
Service: Amazing experience. Well planned and organized. Great travel guide. Fabulous hotels. Spectacular extra experiences. Showed off a lot of majestic Japan. Can't wait to do it again.
06 June, 2018
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: We feel that we had a complete experience of Japan.
Service: Luxury Accommodation, best guide, excellent experiences and well planned
19 May, 2018
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!!!