Explore some of our specialists' favourite places, all of which can be included in a tailor-made itinerary.
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Book a holiday to Japan and experience a true contrast of new and old. Highlights include immersing yourself in the cosmopolitan atmosphere of Tokyo, viewing traditional Geisha culture in Kyoto and, of course, cherry blossom season.
Akan-ko National Park
Located on the shore of scenic Lake Akan, the Akan Kohan Hotspring Resort is a good base from which to explore the Akan National Park.
The small town of Asahikdake Onsen sits at the foot of Daisetsuzan's highest peak, Mt Asahidake, and is the ideal location to base yourself while exploring this beautiful part of Japan.
Located in the heart of the world's biggest caldera, Aso is a great place to base yourself for exploring nearby Mount Aso.
A very popular resort town with the Japanese, Beppu is famed for its mud baths, black sand and hot springs all of which provide the 12 million visitors each year with traditional ways to relax.
Dewa-sanzan is the collective name for the three holy mountains of Haguro-san, Gas-san and Yudono-san. The area is best explored over a number of days.
Fukuoka City is the main port of access from Korea into Japan by sea and is regarded by many as the cultural hub of Japan.
Overlooked by the famous Mt Hakodate, the port city of Hakodate straddles a small peninsula on the southern tip of Hokkaido Island, looking out across the Tsugaru Straits to Aomori Prefecture in northern Honshu.
Hakone & Mt Fuji
Hakone itself is situated in the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park which also encompasses Mt Fuji, Fuji Five Lakes and the Izu Peninsula. On a clear day Mt Fuji can be viewed from as far away as Tokyo.
Located in the Northern Japan Alps, Hakuba is well regarded as one of the best ski resorts in Japan and staged the Super-G, down hill, and ski jumping events during the 1998 Winter Olympics.
Hiroshima is a city which has risen from the ashes since the horrific events of August 1945 and although these events are justifiably and sensitively commemorated, the city is now one with an energetic and cosmopolitan feel.
The high mountains, crystal lakes and wide open spaces of Hokkaido Island set it far apart from the hustle and bustle of southern Japan. This is Japan’s last wilderness region.
Ishigaki Island is one of Japan's southernmost Yaeyama islands, only 75 miles from Taiwan. The islands are semi-tropical and offer beaches, diving and snorkelling, jungle walks, hot springs and various other resort activities.
The Iya Valley is considered to be one of Japan's 'three hidden regions'. Its tall peaks and deep gorges were historically a safe haven for the Heike Clan after their defeat by the rival Genji Clan during civil wars of the 12th century.
The Izu Peninsula juts into the ocean around 100km west of Tokyo and is home to spectacular, rugged coastline, abundant hot spring baths and some lovely ryokan accommodation.
The Japanese Alps
Much of Japan’s most glorious mountain scenery is to be found in the Japanese Alps of Nagano Prefecture, home to the 1998 Winter Olympics, and linked to Tokyo by a convenient new bullet train route.
For those with an interest in Kyushu’s turbulent history, the warm and friendly city of Kagoshima is a great place to visit. It boasts many historical sites and one of the best gardens in Kyushu at Iso-teien.
Kakunodate is a quiet town in the east of Akita prefecture. The town is enclosed on three sides by mountains, and the Hinokinai-gawa River runs southwards through it. It has a smart, elegant feel and is called the Little Kyoto of Michinoku.
Kamakura City is situated in the southeastern part of Kanagawa around 1 hour to the south west of Tokyo. There are many historical sites for sightseeing, mainly temples and shrines that are scattered around in this 800 year old city.
Kamikochi is a perfect place to stretch your legs with easy walks along the river and hot springs at your hotel. It also plays host to the most exhilarating mountain treks in the country.
The highlight of Kanazawa, within easy reach of Takayama or Kyoto, is Japan’s number one garden, the magnificent Kenrokuen. This is a wonderful place to observe and enjoy the six elements that combine to form the perfect Japanese garden.
Kirishima National Park
Kirishima is the first of Japan's designated national parks and is home to an array of stunning sights, including smoking volcanoes, vast plateaux, sparkling lakes, rugged coastlines and dense forests.
Kumamoto is a pleasant castle town which has its place in Kyushu's turbulent history as the island's major government stronghold during the Shogun period.
Kume Island lies 100km west of Naha City and is accessible by ferry or a short flight. It is considerably flatter than nearby Zamami and Tokashiki but has beautiful, white sand beaches and interesting geological features.
Kurashiki’s charm lies a ten-minute walk away, in the south Bikan district of the town. Here you will find a wonderful enclave of traditional merchant’s homes, old storehouses, museums and galleries.
Kurokawa Onsen is one of Japan's finest hot spring resorts and time here should be spent slowly and without a thought to the outside world. A preservation order has been issued by the local authority to keep the traditional character of the town in place.
Kushiro is located in the Doto region of eastern Hokkaido and with regular flights south to Tokyo can act as a convenient entry and exit point for visits to this less visited part of the island.
Kyoto is the Japan of the imagination: a city of grand palaces, ornate shrines and exquisite gardens, mercifully spared from the bombing of World War II that razed other Japanese cities.
Thought by many to be the birthplace of the Japanese nation, Kyushu is the southernmost of Japan’s four main islands, with a turbulent history matched by its seething volcanic terrain.
Matsue is a castle town situated in the south of Honshu Island on the coast of the Sea of Japan.
Matsumoto is a small, cosmopolitan city on the edge of the Japanese Alps. Its history dates back to the 8th century but it is most famous for its fantastic castle, known as 'Crow Castle' because of its striking black and white design.
The picturesque pine-clad islands of Matsushima Bay have been designated one of Japan’s ‘Three Great Sights’, where a gentle boat trip allows visitors to experience first-hand the magical scenery that once is said to have struck dumb Japan’s foremost poet, Bassho.
On the northwestern corner of Shikoku Island lies its largest and most interesting city, Matsuyama. Boasting an impressive castle, hot-spring resort and lying within easy reach of the island's highest mountain, Matsuyama has attractions enough for everyone.
The present incarnation of the Itsukushima-jinja shrine on Miyajima is one of the island's greatest attractions, and the "floating" red torii gate that stands in the shallow waters of the bay remains one of the most photographed views in Japan.
Recently designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Mount Koya contains more than a hundred different temples, many of which offer lodging for pilgrims and visitors.
Nagasaki is Kyushu’s best-known city, made infamous on 9th August 1945 as the site of the second atomic bomb. The understated Peace Park and museum are a likely point of interest for every visitor.
Naoshima is an island in the Seto Inland Sea, located approximately 13 kilometres north of Takamatsu City, Kagawa Prefecture and 2 kilometres south of Tamano City, Okayama Prefecture. The main reason for visiting the island is to see the art museums.
A short train ride from Kyoto is historic Nara, an earlier capital. Nara can easily be visited as a day trip from Kyoto or as an overnight stay for those with more time.
Only a couple of hours to the north of the capital, the small mountain town of Nikko feels like another world. Here stands the fabulous Toshogu Shrine, mausoleum to the first and greatest Tokugawa Shogun.
The Noto Peninsula feels like an entirely different world from the rest of the country. Time seems to have stood still and it is about as remote and untouched as you can get in this region of central Japan.
The Nyuto Onsen hotsprings are home to a number of quaint ryokan with wonderful hot spring baths, both outdoor and indoor.
With a thriving local culture and strong Chinese influences, arriving in Okinawa can feel like reaching an altogether different country.
Osaka is almost like Tokyo’s fun-loving younger brother with a definite taste for all the good things in life. It has an easy-going swagger and a vibrant street life.
Hokkaido’s capital, Sapporo, dates back only 120 years, and this bright, cosmopolitan city, well-endowed with gardens and parks, makes the perfect base from which to head out and explore the island.
Resting in the waters of the Inland Sea, Shikoku is Japan’s fourth largest island and enjoys a relaxed atmosphere and rural landscape. The island’s main city is Matsuyama, home to one of Japan’s finest castles.
For most of their history, the Shirakawago Villages have lain hidden in the deep, snowbound valleys of the northern Alps, under the shadow of sacred Mt Hakusan. The region was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1995.
Shiretoko National Park
The Shiretoko Peninsula is the dramatic, windswept, easterly tip of Hokkaido, with only Cape Nosappu to the south being further east.
Sounkyo gorge in the east of the picturesque Daisetsuzan national park is an area of striking natural beauty with sheer walls of rock, craggy outcrops and some breathtaking views of the rest of the park.
Takamatsu is the capital of Kagawa prefecture, the smallest county in Japan. The main draw to the island are the beautiful Ritsurin gardens, almost 400 years old and covering an area of 750,000 square metres.
Surrounded by the snow-capped peaks of the northern Alps, the traditional town of Takayama possesses a charming old-world atmosphere and fine Edo-period architecture.
The Alpine Route is a mountain lover's paradise and offers not only stunning alpine views of the Tateyama Range and the Northern Japanese Alps, but also many excellent trekking opportunities.
Lake Tazawa-ko is a crater lake which at 423.4 meters in depth is the deepest in Japan.
The northern region of Honshu Island is known as Tohoku, an area that the Japanese equate with a slower, more traditional way of life. The tourist infrastructure is less developed here, but this is part of the area’s charm.
The Kerama Islands, located just 30km west of Naha City, consist of approximately 20 islands of various sizes, with Tokashiki being the largest and perhaps the best to stay on.
There are plenty of shops, parks and cultural attractions in Tokushima but the city is perhaps best known for its traditional bunraku puppet theatre and the annual Awa Odori festival, which takes place during the Obon national holiday in hot and steamy August.
Take an evening stroll through the Shinjuku district of Tokyo and every preconceived image of modern Japan will be there to greet you: crowds decked out in the wildest fashions, towering skyscrapers and flashing neon.
Tottori city lies in the north-eastern part of the Chugoku region and in the eastern part of Tottori prefecture. It was one of the greatest castle towns in the Edo Period.
Towadako & Hirosaki
Straddling the border between Akita and Aomori prefectures is Towadako, one of Honshu’s most scenic lakes, and hugely popular with local visitors during the turning leaf ‘koyo’ season. A little to the north the town of Hirosaki boasts a cosmopolitan ambience belying its location.
Tsumago lies midway along the ancient Nakasendo Highway, the main route linking Kyoto and Edo (modern day Tokyo) in days of the Shogun. It is one of the finest traditional post towns in Japan.
Utoro is a small working fishing port which also doubles as a tourist resort and principle access point for the beautiful Shiretoko Peninsula National Park.
Yakushima is an island situated approximately 60 km south from the southern end of Osumi Peninsula in the southern part of Kagoshima prefecture. One fifth of the island is registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Yudanaka is a hot spring resort which sits perched in the hills intermingled with Yamanouchi town. There are many hot springs here and the most famous is Shibu Onsen at Jigokudani, which is home to more than one hundred Japanese snow monkeys.
Though close in distance to the nearby tourist onsen resort of Beppu, in terms of character and atmosphere the picturesque Yufuin Onsen is a world apart. It is set in a scenic location at the foot of Mount Yufudake, on the shores of the thermally warmed Lake Kinrin.
Zamami Island is one of the smaller Kerama islands and the best for world-class scuba diving, with magnificent clear seas and unspoilt reefs.