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 | Tsukiji Fish Market
Visit the Tsukiji Fish Market, a bustling hub of daily life, where a dizzying array of seafood can be found. At the Shitamachi Museum, view historical reproductions of living spaces occupied by Tokyo’s artisans and merchants. After lunch at a local restaurant, pass by Shibuya Crossing, Tokyo’s frenetic answer to Times Square. Continue to Tokyo’s vibrant Harajuku district, where the city’s youth gather to see and be seen sporting colorful, eclectic fashions. Next, stroll Omotesando Street, another fashion hub of the local youth culture. Finish your day at the Samurai Museum, where you learn about the customs of this elite warrior class and get an up-close look at an authentic collection of their exotic armor and weaponry.
TOKYO | Imperial History
Today, visit Asakusa Kannon Temple, also known as Senso-ji, to admire its pagoda-style architecture and learn about its history, which dates to the seventh century. Later, pause 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. After a photo stop at the Imperial Palace Plaza, return to your hotel for an afternoon at leisure.
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. Board an aerial tram for stunning 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.
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 & SHIRAKAWA-GO | MORNING MARKET VISIT
Stroll with your private guide through Takayama’s Morning Market for an engaging look at everyday life in Japan. Next, drive to Shirakawa-go 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 from 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 Museum of Contemporary Art, 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 on-site sculptural depictions of kitsune (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-dera Temple, another UNESCO World Heritage Site, dating from 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.
Kyoto | DEPART OSAKA
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.
TOKYO TAIKO DRUMMING EXPERIENCE
Journey to Asakusa for an insider-access opportunity to visit a historic family-owned drum shop, where you learn about Japanese drums and try your hand at the taiko. Learn the ropes from the shopkeepers, whose family members designed the musical instruments for traditional and worldwide events, including the emperor ceremonies and the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.
Set out on a Japanese sake-tasting adventure, exploring the city and sampling the subtle and delicate flavor profiles of traditional Japanese alcohols while learning about their cultural importance.
Take in Kyoto’s Rural Scenery
Venture aboard the Sagano Scenic Railway, which follows the course of a twisting, luxuriantly forested gorge. Then, disembark in Kyoto’s Arashiyama neighborhood, where you continue your day’s sightseeing.
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.