Japan tailor-made holidays
In a country where electric car charge points now outnumber petrol stations, Japan wears its conflict on its kimono sleeve. One moment you could be following in the graceful wake of a geisha past feudal era castles, and the next taking a Shinkansen bullet to the heart of Tokyo’s skyscraper jumble.
And, it’s not difficult to read between the lines of Kyoto’s grid system to discover golden lakeside pavilions and moss covered temples. Japan’s ancient capital is home to no fewer than 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. But remember, when it comes to exploring cities, don’t forget to look up. Many a dinner date has been missed despite neon signs covering the entire fifth floor restaurant. And, from Michelin-starred subway station sushi counters to holes in the wall serving steaming gyoza dumplings, Japan is a gastronomic delight. However, step outside the bustle to discover the country’s best kept secret – its natural world. Southern islands feature palm tree fringed sands while northern Hokkaido’s lakes, mountains and coasts are home to sea eagles and iconic Japanese cranes. And, after a day spent on the trails and in the teahouses of the Japanese Alps, return to a ryokan inn where onsen (hot spring) baths, tatami mats and traditional gardens are as welcoming as when they first hosted travelling shoguns. Throughout, you’ll be greeted by that quintessentially Japanese architecture style that favours bold reds and graceful arcs. It’s one that’s lasted from 7th century Nara temples to 18th century Edo period residences.
Main island Honshu forms the insular and cultural backbone of the Japanese archipelago. In Tokyo, Osaka and Hiroshima, it’s home to city superpowers but don’t be blinded by the lights. Kyoto and Nara’s ancient capital heritage, Miyajima’s floating island iconography and its idyllic alpine retreats prove that there’s much more to Japan than skyscraping glamour.
A chance to head off the tourist trail, Shikoku – the smallest of Japan’s four main islands – rewards with hidden valley hot springs, artist island retreats and grand Edo period castle towns. Don’t miss out on its most sacred shrine whose hilltop perch offers views out over pristine farmland to gently sloping mountains beyond.
Japan’s southernmost main island has endured an explosive past. However, volcanoes that once formed its imposing ridges now fuel bubbling onsen baths and timber castles that fought off mercenary samurai today welcome visitors with cherry blossom blushes. Nagasaki has similarly shrugged off its difficult history with picturesque memorial gardens and a thriving food scene.
Swap southern subtropical islands for Japan’s northern borderlands where well-heeled Tokyoites come to get away from it all in vast national park wildernesses. In winter, warm up in lakeside resorts after witnessing crashing ice floes off the coast and, come summer, enjoy walks that take you through patchwork lavender fields and up forested mountains. If you’re lucky you’ll spot a Japanese crane or perhaps a sea eagle, perched on a freshly calved iceberg.
At a glanceSee Japan travel guide
Special offers in Japan
Exclusive tailor-made cruise offer. Book by 31 July
Book by: 31 July 2018
This tailor-made itinerary contrasts Vancouver's natural wonders with city-slicking in Tokyo, exploring Alaska and Japan's epic landscapes in between. Stay in luxury hotels and on the spectacular Silver Shadow, where you'll enjoy opulent suites, endless amenities and all-inclusive dining.
Top itineraries in Japan
Get a taste of all that this spectacular 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.
Experience the best Japan has to offer on this 16-day tour, meandering through the modern hi-tech, natural beauty, and the ancient and traditional. Start your tour off in one of the most modern, efficient and largest cities in the world - Tokyo.
Step out of Japan's capital and explore an alpine world of shrines and samurai frozen in time. Board the mighty bullet train, sleep in timber ryokan inns, stay in hot onsen springs and more on this tailor-made journey.
What our clients say about our Japan holidays
A wonderful trip. The accommodations and itinerary we planned with Alex and the subsequent help and advice from Hannah and people at Inside Japan all made this an unforgettable experience. Like the trains, everything ran like clockwork. Our only regret is that we did not spend longer in Japan - we will have to return!
Tim Tan has been excellent in every way to organize our travel to New Zealand and Japan. All arrangements regarding travel tickets on trains and buses were clear and easily followed. The guides that were arranged for us in various places in Japan were knowledgeable ,friendly and punctual.
Great service from Debbie Mayger and your contacts in Japan. The guides we had in Japan were first class
R A R
Very timely and appropriate responses to any questions we had prior to booking.
Top places to stay in Japan
This ‘Lost in Translation’ centrepiece towers over Shinjuku’s contagious energy and makes for luxury stays in the city centre.
Despite being the first luxury international hotel in Kyoto, fine Japanese dining and clean lines complemented by bonsai trees and tatami mats give this deluxe hotel a real sense of place.
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Where to go in Japan
Japan’s volcanic archipelago offers mountains, island getaways, and the fast pace of some of the world’s most technologically advanced cities. Explore from the northern island of Hokkaido to epic Mt. Fuji, the outdoor haven of Kyushu and subtropical Okinawa.
You needn't travel far from Tokyo's neon-hazed streets to escape the world's ultimate metropolis and uncover a softer side to Japan. The quiet mountain town of Nikko, the seaside setting of tranquil Kamakura and the springtime blossoms of Mito's many plum trees are just some of the highlights.
Japan’s northern frontier and second largest island hosts just five percent of the country’s population, despite featuring 30,000 square miles of volcanic peaks, glassy lakes and icy coastline. It’s a world away from main island Honshu’s cram.
Hakone is well loved for two attractions in particular - the iconic view of sacred, symmetrical Mount Fuji seen across Lake Ashi, and its high concentration of bubbling onsen (hot springs).
What to do in Japan
Perhaps it’s the rich culture of Japan that entices you to visit, or the promise of soft blooms capping rows of cherry blossom trees in springtime, or the opportunity to zoom through the countryside on a shinkansen, or bullet train.
Visit temples and walk through vermilion tori gates, meet geisha for a tea ceremony or learn the intricacies of a tea ceremony on a cultural tour of Japan’s most beloved traditions.
A famous appreciation for nature makes Japan a top spot for outdoorsy holidays. Catch the cherry blossom season, witness the colours of an autumn foliage tour, explore volcanoes on a guided trek, or soak in a mineral bath at an onsen—wherever you go, Japan’s natural beauty is impossible to ignore.
When to go to Japan
The best times to visit Japan are the mild, climatically stable seasons of spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November). Spring is when Japan’s famous cherry trees bloom. Starting from Kyūshū in March, the sakura zensen (cherry tree blossom line) advances northward, usually passing the main cities of Honshū and Hokkaidō from early April. The autumn foliage line reverses the advance of the cherry blossom, starting in the north in October and peaking across Honshū in November. Midwinter (December to February) can be cold, particularly on the Sea of Japan coasts of Honshū and on Hokkaidō, while …
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It's not just the ruthless efficiency that makes the Japanese rail network so appealing. On Shikoku, express trains pass hilltop shrines and ancient burial grounds, while main-island Honshu sees routes skirt dramatic coastlines, wind through the Japanese Alps and circumnavigate great lakes.
Wexas cruise specialist Tim Tan picks out his seven favourite Silversea sailings for the coming months, one from each continent.
With an ever-increasing demand for travel to Japan from the UK, Japan Airlines (JAL) has announced a second daily flight between the two country’s capitals, with the new service set hit the skies from 29 October 2017.
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