Japan never considers time together as time wasted. Rather, it is time invested.
Your time in this many-sided, fascinating country is an investment in memories that will endure.
Joanna Lumley's TV series has propelled it back into prominence, showing the country's numerous attractions. The food culture tops anything in Europe; standards of service and overall politeness are unmatched anywhere in the world; and the transport infrastructure is second to none. Oh and its capital is hosting the Olympic Games.
In partnership with Wendy Wu Tours (with whom we have also put together a fantastic escorted tour in our new Inspire Me section), we've put together an itinerary to immerse you in a place of wonder.
British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Emirates offer flights from London to Tokyo Narita. Flying time is around 12-14 hours.
Accommodation is selected for convenience of location, comfort or character and can range from an international business hotel in one city to a family run guesthouse in a smaller town. For a uniquely Japanese experience you can also stay in a traditional ryokan inn, where you are encouraged to wear a kimono, sleep on a futon and eat kaiseki cuisine.
Japanese cuisine is delicious, colourful and healthy. Meals are usually served with a bowl of rice and a bowl of miso soup and consist usually of fish, pickled vegetables and meat. Japan’s other main staple is noodles, most famous being Udon and Soba. Sushi, raw fish wrapped in sticky rice and seaweed wraps, is Japan’s most famous meal.
Japan's transport is well known for being efficient, clean and convenient. Either by an internal flight or on the world-renowned bullet trains, ensuring a speedy and comfortable arrival at your next destination is as quick and comfortable as possible.
When to travel
Japan is a country that can be enjoyed all year round. Cherry Blossom season around the first two weeks of April are the most popular although the deep and rich colours of the autumn are also stunning. You will find March to May and late September to November have milder temperatures, relatively low rainfall and frequent clear days.
Japan is a country that offers a wide variety of attractions and experiences. Here are a few highlights:
Tokyo: A dazzling metropolis and Japan’s capital city. Vast, vivacious and containing every image that epitomises the clash between ancient and modern. Highlights include a trip up the world’s tallest tower - the 634-metre Skytree, a visit to the Sensoji Temple and a chance to explore the delightful landscapes of the Hamarikyu Gardens.
Mount Fuji: With its perfectly proportioned cone, Mount Fuji is Japans most iconic sight. Head up to the 5th station (weather permitting) take in breathtaking views of the Fuji Five Lakes below. Travel to Hakone and take a boat trip on Ashi Lake for more spectacular views of this area.
Takayama: This wonderfully preserved town has an air of old Japan with its traditional houses. Browse the local handicrafts and fresh produce at the Miyagawa morning market.
Kyoto: Former capital for a thousand years and today is the legacy of ancient Japan. Kyoto proudly houses no less than 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites, and around 2,000 Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines. This is the place to see geikos (Kyoto’s name for geishas) in their costumes of flashing silk, admire pagoda-roofed buildings sprinkled with cherry blossom, to catch a performance of kabuki dance drama, or learn to make perfect sushi or tempura.
Nara: Japans capital before Kyoto. Home to many archetypal pieces of early art and architecture. You will also meet the resident Sika ‘bowing’ deer as you stroll through Nara Park.
Osaka: Japans third largest city. Visit the famous Osaka Castle and take a cruise along the Yodogawa River.
Explore the above and more with our selected partner Wendy Wu Tours. Their brand new Japan brochure is available in store now and we have selected a brilliant tour to share and feature this month. Additionally we can currently offer an amazing upgrade to business class for just £99 with their airline partner Cathay Pacific for tours booked before the end of October.
Discover Japan – 13 days from £4,590 Fully Inclusive and fully escorted
This tour is the perfect introduction to this fascinating destination.
Tour Highlights – Feel the rush of Tokyo, admire Mount Fuji, be charmed by Kyoto, experience Zen at Koy-San, explore ancient Nara and see the bright lights of Osaka.
Days 1 to 2: Overnight flight to Tokyo
Day 3: Tokyo
Tokyo is the ultimate 24-hour city, but look behind its frantic, high-tech frontage and you’ll find plenty of tranquil backstreets and old temples to explore. Head to the Tokyo Skytree (Japan's tallest structure) for panoramic views over the city before taking a wander through the district of Asakusa and stop at the 7th century Sensoji Temple.
Visit the Imperial Palace (residence of the Emperor) and the peaceful Hamarikyu Gardens at the mouth of the Sumida River. Enjoy your evening meal whilst cruising along Tokyo Bay.
Day 4: Tokyo – Mount Fuji – Hakone - Tokyo
Drive to Hakone Japan’s most iconic landmark – Mount Fuji.
At 3,776m, this is the highest of Japan's mountains and an iconic symbol of the country. Mount Fuji is notoriously shy and is often enveloped by clouds.
Start at the Mount Fuji Visitor Centre for an introduction to before heading to the 5th Station (weather permitting) for breathtaking views.
Take a cruise across pretty Lake Ashi before taking the Komagatake cable car for spectacular views of Mount Fuji and the lake below.
Return to Tokyo late afternoon by bullet train, which takes 35 minutes.
Day 5: Tokyo – Nagano - Takayama
Drive to Nagano and explore the formidable 16th century Matsumoto Castle. Then visit a wasabi farm where you can try your hand at making pickled wasabi vegetables before travelling to Takayama, nestled high in the mountainous Hida region and home to much Meiji architecture.
Day 6: Takayama
Head to the Miyagawa Morning Market and sample some of the delicious local fruits and vegetables in a place of vivid energy and colour. Later take a leisurely wander round the traditional houses of the area and visit the local museums – Takayama Festival Floats Exhibition Hall, Kusakabe Folk Museum and Takayama Jinya.
Day 7: Takayama – Kanazawa
Travel to the UNESCO World Heritage listed Shirakawago, famous for its traditional gassho-zukuri farmhouses, some of which are more than 250 years old. You will spend 1 and half hours on foot exploring the area.
Later, you can try your hand at making washi paper, a traditional parchment used in origami.
The day concludes in Kanazawa at Nomura Samurai Family House – a restored Samurai residence with a beautiful garden. Nomura was a high-ranked samurai of the Meiji Period.
Day 8: Kanazawa – Kyoto
This morning wander through the beautiful Kenrokuen, one of the ‘Three Great Gardens of Japan’. Visit the 21st century Museum of Contemporary Art.
After sightseeing and lunch, head to Kyoto, Japan’s ancient capital and the home of many national treasures.
Day 9: Kyoto
Start the day with a visit to the Ryoanji Temple and Kinkakuji Temple, also known as the Golden Pavilion, due to its gold-like exterior.
In the afternoon, learn traditional Japanese handicrafts such as origami, ikebana or calligraphy and enjoy a traditional tea ceremony.
Day 10: Kyoto – Nara – Kyoto
Drive to Nara, the former imperial capital and home to 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Visit Todaiji Temple, the world’s largest wooden structure and home to Japan’s largest Buddha.
The temple is at Nara Park which is populated by a large number of tame deer. Also visit Isuein Gardens, known for its natural ponds.
Return to Kyoto, stopping en route at the mesmerizing, 233-metre Fushimi Inari Shrine.
Day 11: Kyoto – Koya-San - Wakayama
This morning, drive to Koya-San, the centre of Shingon Buddhism and the ideal spot to take a glimpse of Japan’s traditional religious life.
Visit the Kongobuji Temple and Garan temple complex. Next see Okunoin, Japan’s largest cemetery. This is home to the mausoleum of Kobo Daishi, founder of Shingon Buddhism.
From there, head to Wakayama to check in to your hotel.
Day 12: Koyasan to Osaka
Your final full day begins with a m