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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.