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Japan History and culture

History and culture holidays in Japan

Introduction

Japan is dotted with temples and shrines, awash with tales of the shoguns, samurai and ninja that shaped its past; to this day, geisha can be spotted gliding gracefully from boarding houses to appointments. But the nation is also modern, fast paced and neon lit, a place where fads disappear as suddenly as they arrive, each one quirkier than the last.

Visit temples and shrines

Kyoto was the imperial capital for more than a millennium, and continues to be the cultural heart of the country. Unscathed during the war, it remains a treasure trove of temples, shrines and gardens, from the Kinkaku-ji temple gleaming brightly with gold, to the revered Kiyomizu Temple teetering on a hillside atop towering stilts and the Shinto shrine of Fushimi-Inari whose 5,000-plus vermillion torii gates lead up a sacred mountain trail. Cultural holidays in Japan yield many temples and shrines, and some of our favourite places are the sacred island of Miyajima and the Itsukushima shrine with its floating torii gate. Or, for a more spiritual experience, you can stay in a monastery on Mount Koya.

Meet geisha and learn about samurai

While many young Japanese ladies like to dress up in kimono when they visit historic sites, true geisha are instantly recognisable. Elegant and mysterious, geisha used to be seen all over the country but today you need to head to Kyoto. We can arrange a walking tour of Gion for you to learn about the discipline required in becoming a maiko (apprentice geisha). Enjoy an evening with a maiko, where she will play music, dance, tell stories and play games.

Samurai may not exist in modern Japan, but their influence lives on in traditional houses, castles and gardens. Some of the most intact samurai residences can be found in the Nagamachi district of Kanazawa and the pretty town of Matsue, where samurai houses are dotted between canals and lakes.

Witness sumo and try Japanese sports

Quintessentially Japanese and with over 1,500 years of history, sumo is an unforgettable travel experience. Most of the year, we can arrange for you to visit a sumo stable in Tokyo to watch the wrestlers do their morning training, and there are sumo tournaments approximately every two months for which we can secure you tickets. There are also a number of other Japanese sports you can watch or take part in, from trying karate in a dojo to taking up a samurai sword.

Delve into traditional arts and culture

Take part in some of the traditions that make Japan unique. Don’t just learn about the etiquette that surrounds the tea ceremony, but take part in preparing the foamy matcha tea yourself. To do this in true Japanese style, we can provide an instructor to teach you the art of dressing in kimono. If you have an interest in art, then we can provide someone to teach the other and history of calligraphy, origami, Ikebana flower arranging and so much more.

 

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Our top itineraries for Japan History and culture

Sensoji, Tokyo, Japan

Essential Japan

10-day tailor-made holiday from £3,805 pp incl. flights

Get a taste of all that this spectacular and multi-faceted country has to offer, with private tours of Tokyo, traditional ryokan stays, trips on Japan's 200mph bullet train and visits to world famous temples.

Mt Fuji, Japan

Best of Japan

14-day tailor-made holiday from £6,545 pp incl. flights

With a rail pass and a host of included tours and traditional ryokan stays, this is your chance to experience the best Japan has to offer as you explore the country's hi-tech cities, ancient temples and spectacular national parks.

Osaka, Japan

Japan's Cherry Blossoms with Silversea

17-day luxury ocean cruise from £10,700 pp incl. flights

Now booking for 2025, experience the iconic beauty of Japan's cherry blossom season on this all-encompassing Silversea cruise, exploring the best of ancient and modern Japan in spring.

An image of Hakone cable car in front of Mount Fuji on a bright sunny day.

Timeless Japan with APT

12-day escorted tour from £5,495 pp incl. flights

Special
offer

Early Bird discount – Save up to £310pp
Book by: 30 June 2024

Embark on an unforgettable escorted tour with Travelmarvel by APT journeying through Japan, where ancient traditions blend seamlessly with modern innovation.

View all itineraries

Top offers for Japan History and culture

An image of Hakone cable car in front of Mount Fuji on a bright sunny day.

Timeless Japan with APT

12-day escorted tour from £5,495 pp incl. flights

Special
offer

Early Bird discount – Save up to £310pp
Book by: 30 June 2024

Embark on an unforgettable escorted tour with Travelmarvel by APT journeying through Japan, where ancient traditions blend seamlessly with modern innovation.

Ginkakuji temple, Kyoto, Japan

Japan's traditions & temples on Seven Seas Explorer

16-day luxury ocean cruise from £10,635 pp incl. flights

Special
cruise offer

Free 3-night pre- or post- cruise land programme
Book by: 30 June 2024

Sail with Regent Seven Seas Cruises to explore the best of Japan's neon mega-cities, gorgeous gardens and multi-tiered temples, all awash in the vibrant colours of autumn.

Cherry blossoms, Kyoto, Japan

Japan's cherry blossoms on Seven Seas Explorer

16-day luxury ocean cruise from £10,965 pp incl. flights

Special
cruise offer

Free 3-night pre- or post- cruise land programme
Book by: 31 July 2024

Join Regent Seven Seas Cruises as you explore the diverse wonders of Japan both ancient and modern, all wrapped in the vibrant colours of cherry blossom season.

View all offers

Why book with Wexas Travel?

At Wexas, we specialise in bespoke travel experiences. Our itineraries are just samples of what we can arrange, and can be changed depending on your precise needs, finances and ideas by our experienced destination specialists.

Contact one of our consultants on 020 7590 0610 to discuss how we can tailor your holiday.

Learn why Wexas is the leader in creating luxury holidays. What is tailor-made travel?

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