After experiencing city favourites, watch as summer’s warmth uncovers lavender fields and volcanoes resplendent in green coats as you stay in hot spring getaways
- Grand mountains peek over dense forests, gentle hills roll in soft lilacs and mauves and waterside hot spring retreats make summer in Hokkaido utterly enticing
- Between private city tours and national park hikes you’ll experience a Japan both rural and urban
- Make use of the country’s famed bullet train network before country drives give you the freedom to explore independently
- 2 Nights Tokyo
- 1 Night Hakodate
- 2 Nights Lake Tōya
- 2 Nights Sapporo
- 2 Nights Biei
- 2 Nights Daisetsuzan National Park
- 2 Nights Lake Akan
- 1 Night Tokyo
City | Natural world | Rail journey | Summer
While Japan’s three other main islands are drenched in subtropical swelter, summer brings welcoming warmth to what is the country’s northern frontier. Grand mountains peek over dense forests, gentle hills roll in soft lilacs and mauves and waterside hot spring retreats make Hokkaido’s summer utterly enticing. On this two-week trip, you’ll see two sides to Japan. Tailor-made, private tours will introduce you to Tokyo and Hokkaido’s city sights while guided mountain hikes, walks through a patchwork countryside and lakeside volcanoes will bring you to its more rural favourites. Along the way, you’ll stay in lakeside luxury, enjoying the best in local dining and hot spring relaxation as you make use of the country’s famed bullet train network before country drives give you the freedom to explore.
Day by day itinerary
Enjoy included airport lounge access before your overnight flight to Tokyo.
On arrival, a private transfer will bring you to your city centre hotel. Perhaps start your Japan adventure with a stroll across the street to your hotel’s namesake – the Kaminarimon Gate. It’s the grand entranceway to what is Tokyo’s oldest temple, Sensoji, completed in the 7th century. It’s an ideal introduction to that signature architectural style that has seen vermillion lacquer and sweeping ebony, timber curves feature from medieval castles through to Meiji Restoration shrines. Alternatively, make use of your included pass to head further afield and discover Tokyo’s more modern sights.
Stay: The Gate Hotel Kaminarimon
Today, a private guide service will help you explore the city further. After meeting with you, your local expert will be able to tailor-make an itinerary to suit your interests. You might like to wake up early to witness the frenetic energy of the Tsukiji Fish Market and sample some of the world’s finest seafood prepared as delicate sashimi. Or, maybe it’s the city’s bright lights that excite as Shinjuku’s neon skyscrapers set Bladerunner imaginations wild. In between, take advantage of your included Tokyo Skytree tickets to summit what is the world’s tallest tower to views over the city.
Stay: The Gate Hotel Kaminarimon
A bullet train transfer will bring you to Hakodate, Hokkaido’s gateway city. First, take the ropeway up its mountain eponymy for spectacular views over the city; it’s just a few minutes walk from your hotel. You might also like to explore its international past. For instance, Hakodate’s 19th century star-shaped fort eschews Japanese curves for Western battlements while merchant houses – some dating back as far as 1854 – bring Russian neoclassicism and Chinese grandeur to distinctly Japanese neighbourhoods.
Stay: Villa Concordia Resort & Spa, Hakodate (Superior)
Picking up your hire car, you’ll make the coastal drive north to Lake Toya in southwest Hokkaido. You’ll have two days to explore its picturesque national park setting, one of Japan’s favourite retreats. Hike up its volcanic author’s forest carpeted slopes, cycle its shores or cruise out to its island centre. At your resort home, you’ll be able to enjoy onsen hot spring soaks with pristine lake views before feasting on a selection of local delicacies and international favourites from its open kitchens.
Stay: Nonokaze Resort, Lake Toya (Deluxe)
Meals: B D
Continue north to Hokkaido’s laidback capital and Japan’s fifth largest city. However, Tokyo this is not; leafy boulevards and cosy cafés remind of European cities. Don’t miss out on its city-splitting Odori-koren Park, Sapporo’s green lung. Once again, a private guide service will be put on to ensure that you get the best out of your time here. You might want to call into Japan’s first brewery, established in 1876, or travel to Mt. Moiwa for skyline views. There are also botanic gardens that will introduce you to Japan’s horticultural traditions and historic villages that let you step back into the timber houses, farms and street scenery of the Taisho period.
Stay: Keio Plaza Hotel (Superior)
Heading northeast, stop off at flower farms on your way to Biei, Hokkaido’s colourful centre. Best known for its summer bloom, postcard-perfect hills, valleys and farms blush pastel-coloured hues making for scenic walks that have inspired countless artists and photographers. Call into a working farm to pick up some of the fresh harvest before visiting one of its many art galleries and studios. Return each night to private rotenburo hot spring outdoor baths and kaiseki meals where local flavours are showcased over several indulgent courses.
Stay: Mori No Ryotei, Biei (Superior)
Meals: B D
Daisetsuzan National Park
Make the short drive to Hokkaido’s favourite national park where wildflower-lined alpine meadows peak out over virgin forests and rocky gorges. Its name translates as ‘Great Snowy Mountains’ – there are 16 over 2,000m in all – and it’s animated by brown bears and skittish deer. Explore it all on a guided hike up Mt. Asahidake with your local expert able to recommend on routes, sights and wildlife. If you’d rather, a gondola can provide a welcome shortcut. Back at base you’ll continue to enjoy Japanese hospitality at its welcoming best. By now you’ll be used to the relaxing hot spring soaks and mouth-watering open kitchen cuisine but you’ll find this stunning collection of topography to be unlike anywhere else in Japan.
Stay: Asahidake Manseikaku Hotel Bearmonte (Superior)
Meals: B D
Your next drive will bring you to Lake Akan, a caldera body of water famed for its onsen culture. End your trip in style with Eastern Hokkaido kaiseki banquets and a stay in one of the region’s best hotels; your room will have views over the lake, traditional tatami mats and a private hot spring bath. Step outside for national park volcano hikes and sightseeing boat trips, complemented by craft markets and traditional theatre performances.
Stay: Akan Tsuruga Bessou Hinanoza, Lake Akan (Deluxe)
Meals: B D
Drop off your car at Kushiro – calling into its famed fish market – before catching a flight to Tokyo. On your last evening in Japan, you might want to relax before your flight or head out to enjoy some of Tokyo’s legendary nightlife. Whether it’s tucking into a kushiyaki grilled skewer and sipping on a whisky highball in an intimate izakaya pub or enjoying Michelin starred delicacies, the Japanese capital’s culinary scene is among the best in the world.
Stay: Park Hotel, Tokyo (Superior)
Depart for UK
Today, after breakfast and a private transfer, you’ll board your flight from Tokyo’s Narita Airport to the Uk, arriving the same day.
Any element of this itinerary can be adjusted to suit your needs. Just contact us to find out more.
16-day tailor-made holiday
from £7,360 pp
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