Luxury Tailor Made Journeys depart on the dates that work for you and feature expert local guides throughout your journey. The itinerary below can be customized to your interests.
ARRIVE TOKYO, JAPAN
Arrive in Tokyo, Japan’s exciting capital. Transfer to your hotel and enjoy the expansive views over the city.
TOKYO | THE SHRINE OF MEIJI-JINGU
Meet your private guide and visit the Imperial Palace Plaza, and then stroll the grounds of Meiji-Jingu, the most popular Shinto shrine in Japan. Established in 1920 and dedicated to Emperor Meiji and his wife, the shrine stands surrounded by more than 100,000 trees that have been donated by people from all over Japan. Proceed to Asakusa Kannon Temple, pausing in the tiny shops of Nakamise-dori. The colorful, pagoda-style temple was completed in 645 and is dedicated to Kannon, the goddess of mercy in several East Asian spiritual traditions. Next, stop in Ginza for the opportunity to browse its many luxury shops.
TOKYO | WONDERFUL NIKKO NATIONAL PARK
The Japanese have a saying: “Don’t say kekko (wonderful) without seeing Nikko.” Today, travel overland to Nikko National Park in the mountains north of Tokyo and discover this lovely region. A blend of man-made and natural beauty, the park features numerous shrines and temples recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visit the 17th-century Toshogu Shrine with its lavish decorations and magnificent wood carvings. Next, view Kegon Waterfall, a beautiful 300-foot cascade that is the only outlet for scenic Lake Chuzenji. Enjoy vistas of the falls and the lake from several vantage points, before returning to your hotel.
HAKONE | STAY AT A TRADITIONAL RYOKAN
Travel to Hakone, among Japan’s most popular hot-spring resorts, and view the forested slopes of Hakone National Park, an area encompassing coastlines, mountains, lakes and more than 1,000 volcanic islands. Embark on a scenic cruise of Lake Ashi, gliding past the wooded mountain slopes that enclose it. Then, board the Komagatake Ropeway and soar through the clouds on this inspiring aerial tramway. Weather permitting, you are treated to spectacular views of Mount Fuji. Stroll the grassy hillsides of Hakone’s Open Air Museum, taking in sculptures and artwork from the likes of Picasso and Henry Moore. Tonight, enjoy unparalleled service and traditional Japanese cuisine at Gôra Kadan, a top-rated ryokan (traditional inn).
TAKAYAMA | BULLET TRAIN RIDE & OLD TOWN
This morning, travel like a local by rail to Takayama, changing trains en route in Nagoya. For the first leg of your journey, you are whisked at speeds of up to 175 miles per hour on a bullet train, while the second leg is a scenic delight, following a series of gorges as it travels deep into the mountains. Upon arrival in Takayama, visit the Takayama Float Festival Exhibition Hall to view the city’s portable parade shrines; the Folkcraft Museum; and the city’s Old Town, where you stroll streets and buildings preserved from Japan’s prosperous Edo period (1600-1868). Later, check in to your accommodations offering magnificent views of the Northern Japanese Alps.
TAKAYAMA & SHIRAKAWAGO | MORNING MARKETS VISIT
Stroll with your private guide through Takayama’s Morning Market, for an engaging look at everyday life in Japan. Next, drive to Shirakawago to explore its UNESCO World Heritage Site, Gassho-Zukuri Minkaen — a well-preserved village of traditional thatched-roof, A-frame “praying hands” style buildings, including houses, barns, mills and a Shinto shrine. Also visit the Edo-period Wada Family Residence, and then survey the ruins of the 700-year-old Ogimachi Castle. Continue to Kanazawa, where you check in to your hotel.
KANAZAWA | LIFE OF THE SAMURAI
Start your day with a visit to Omicho Market, the largest fresh food market in Kanazawa, specializing in local seafood and produce. Then, view the authentic period artifacts on display at the Nagamachi Samurai Residence, a home restored to reflect the lifestyle of Japan’s legendary warrior class. Proceed to the sublime Kenrokuen Garden, which dates to the 17th century. Walk its quiet paths, cross its delicately arched bridges and enjoy its tranquil waterways. Then, contrast past with present when you tour the 21st Century Contemporary Art Museum, viewing eclectic displays by international and Japanese artists that seek to connect people with art and design from many facets of modern life.
KYOTO | CITY OF CULTURAL TREASURES
Travel by limited express train to Kyoto this morning. Upon arrival in Kyoto, set out with your private guide, first visiting the Fushimi Inari Shrine, situated at the base of the mountain of the same name, and see many sculptural depictions on site of kitusune (foxes), considered spiritual messengers and worshipped in the Shinto religion. Next, proceed to Kyoto’s sake district to tour a sake brewery and sample the elixir brewed using the clean, soft water drawn up from underground springs. After a relaxing time, check in to your luxurious hotel.
NARA | JAPAN’S SPIRITUAL HERITAGE
Begin your day with a visit to Nara, where Japan’s first permanent capital was established in 710. Tour Todaiji Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most historically significant Buddhist temples in Japan. Enter its spacious main hall to behold the Daibutsu — the largest bronze Buddha statue in the world. Stroll the grounds of Nara Park, which surround the temple, watching for the deer that roam free there. Next, visit Kasuga Shrine, a renowned Shinto shrine noted for its architecture and the distinctive style of its hanging lamps. Proceed to Kiyomizu Temple, another UNESCO World Heritage Site, dating to 780. Enjoy vistas from the main hall, looking out from its mountain cliff-side perch, and visit the smaller shrines and temples on site, stopping at one to take part in a traditional tea ceremony.
KYOTO | THE GOLDEN PAVILION & BAMBOO GROVE
Today, discover the glittering Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion), covered with gold leaf, surrounded by finely manicured green gardens and set on a lovely, tranquil pond. Later, explore the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, a lush oasis home to monkeys and towering stalks of bamboo. Bask in the magical atmosphere here, peacefully walking a winding path, as sunlight filters down through bamboo gently swaying in the breeze. Later, visit Togetsu Bridge, a picturesque span in keeping with the Japanese aesthetic. Then, stop by the centuries-old Nishiki Market, strolling its five-block-long stretch of shops and restaurants frequented by locals and visitors alike.
After breakfast, transfer to Kansai International Airport or Itami Airport, both located just outside of Osaka, for your flight home.
Enhance Your Journey
Elevate your experience with a host of options available for an additional cost.
Take in Kyoto’s Rural Scenery
Venture northward aboard the Sagano Scenic Railway, disembarking in mountain-flanked Arashiyama to glimpse one of Kyoto’s few remaining rural enclaves. Take in serene temples, thatched minka (folk houses) and the elegant span of Togetsukyo Bridge, exploring further with a rickshaw ride through a bamboo grove. Later, return to Kyoto for a lesson in making local sweets, a fitting conclusion to a delightful day.
Enjoy a Family-Friendly Day of Cultural Exploration
Begin with a lesson in playing traditional wadaiko (Japanese drums) as part of a Taiko drum experience. Continue to the Samurai Museum to learn about the customs of this elite-warrior class while viewing samurai swords, armor and weaponry. Then, head to the top of the Tokyo Skytree, the tallest broadcast tower in the world. Finally, explore the Akihabara district, a center for Japanese youth culture abuzz with anime and electronic shops.