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Tradition & Technology: A Japan Cultural Journey

Architecture, fashion, cuisine, design and art are all on the agenda on our fascinating Tradition & Technology itinerary. On this journey, 10 days of luxury Japan travel are yours. Take in Tokyo, Kanazawa, Kyoto, and Naoshima as you learn about this unique culture from an insider’s perspective. Enjoy fashion, architecture, art, and technology specific to Japan.

Highlights   Pricing
  • Watch Harajuku fashionistas teeter on skyhigh heels as you explore this colorful fashion district
  • Soak up modern art as you tour the buildings-turned-works-of-art at the Art Projects on Naoshima
  • Sample exotic, fresh fish at the world’s largest fish market
  • Catch a glimpse into the fascinating Samurai culture in Kanazawa
  • See ancient temples exonerating classical architecture throughout the country
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Day by Day Itinerary

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Day 1

Arrive in electronic paradise as you check out the Akihabara scene - Tokyo’s famous neighborhood boasting the highest end and best-priced electronics in the entire world. Next, check out the fashion houses and colorful shopping in Aoyama. The architecture is modern and clean with cutting angles and cutting edge technology. Take a tour of the Harajuku and Aoyama fashion districts and consider purchasing an outrageous piece to show off at home. Next, visit the Nezu Museum for a more traditional view into Edo Japanese culture. The day is complete with a trip to Meiji Shrine, where the spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife Empress Shoken are believed to rest. Spend the evening relaxing at your luxury hotel - we recommend either the Mandarin Oriental Tokyo or The Peninsula Tokyo.

Day 2

The day begins bright and early with a trip to the morning fish market where the city really comes alive. This is largest fish market in the entire world - step out of your comfort zone and try something you’ve never seen before. Next, visit the breathtaking Imperial Palace where the emperor of Japan resides. Check out 21_21 Design Sight - Japan’s first design museum. The modern art tour continues as you visit the Roppongi Art Triangle Museum that houses striking displays of modern works. 

Day 3

History and culture come to life as you take a day trip to Kamakura. Snap a photo in front of the massive Buddha who sits in the perfect meditation pose. Visit the Hasedera Temple, dedicated to the Goddess of Mercy and one of the five Zen temples. Enjoy serenity and peace as you stroll through a Zen garden. 

Day 4

Travel to Kanazawa to continue your cultural getaway. Watch stunningly beautiful and delicate silk being dyed in the Kaga Yuzen silk-dying studio. Walk in amazement through the Kenrokuen landscape garden, full of cherry and sakura trees, the garden is named one of the top three gardens in Japan. Finish the day with a visit to the charming, historic Higashi Chaya district. Enjoy a traditional feast served by the striking and stoic Geishas after walking along the historic rows of houses. Spend the night in solitude and peace at the quiet, retreat style Beniya Mukayu Hotel.

Day 5

See the fascinating culture of Samurai heroes with your own eyes in the Samurai District. Tour the 21st Century Museum and learn about cultural details unknown to the outside world. Sample piping hot rice wine on a private sake brewery tour. 

Day 6

Make the journey on to Kyoto. The Kinkaku-ji Temple is a must-see with its perfectly-maintained gardens and gold leaf-covered floors. Bigger than the western-adapted deskside rock gardens, the Ryoan-ji Zen rock garden is a place for relaxation and contemplation. Take a half-day trip to the Miho Museum, designed by the renowned Chinese-American architect, I. M. Pei. The building alone is a work of art, while also housing Mihoko Koyama’s exclusive collection of Asian and Western antiques. Check in to your luxury room at one of our two recommended hotels: either Hoshinoya Kyoto, or the Hyatt Regency Kyoto.

Day 7

Take a day trip today to the UNESCO temples of Todai-ji and Byodo-in in Nara. Marvel at the world’s largest bronze Buddha statue in the world at Todai-ji. The Byodo-in Temple actually has a smaller replica built on Hawaii. The temple’s picturesque red lacquer and gold exterior make the temple an ideal example of traditional buddhist architecture. 

Day 8

Fall into deep contemplation as you stroll along the cherry-tree lined canal in Kyoto, known as the “Philosopher’s Walk.” Nishida Kitaro, a Japanese philosopher working at the nearby university, is believed to have taken this picturesque walk to work every day. Stock up on rare traditional handicraft goods in town at the artisanal shops. Sitting at the base of Inari Mountain, enjoy a peaceful moment as you visit the Fushimi Inari Shrine dedicated to the Gods of rice and sake. Visit the independent Buddhist site of worship that has unrivaled beauty during cherry blossom season, the Kiyomizu-dera temple. 

Day 9

Journey to the island town of Naoshima for the final stop on our trip. Tour the Isamu Noguchi and Garden museum, which displays many Isamu Noguchi sculptures and works of art. Visit the lush historical garden Ritsurin Koen and breathe in the fresh island air. Arrive at your home for the night, the Benesse House. This beautiful hotel and art museum offers unrivaled views of the Seto Inland Sea from each spacious guestroom. 

Day 10

Soak in those final drops of culture as you visit the Chichu Art Museum on your last day. This museum overlooks the coast and contains a unique collection of modern art. See the innovative Art House Projects that turn unused buildings into artwork. Using what already exists and turning it into something new, the Seirensho (Inujima Island) turned a former copper factory into a work of art. The last stop is the Lee Ufan Museum celebrating the minimalist painter and sculptor's work. 


Suggested Accommodations

Aman Tokyo, Mandarin Oriental Tokyo, The Peninsula Tokyo

Aman Tokyo

Since its opening at the end of 2014, Aman Tokyo has been one of the most talked-about luxury hotels in the city. The most striking thing about it is its location; spread across the top six floors of a 40-storey tower in the Otemachi business district, the panoramic views are simply incredible. What’s more, all of the 84 rooms and suites take full advantage of the lofty position with floor-to-ceiling windows letting light in during the daytime, while also framing the breathtaking lit-up cityscape at night. Aman Tokyo has also received praise for its impressive interiors, which have been inspired by minimalistic design, including the use of camphor wood, washi paper and stone surfaces throughout the rooms as well as traditional Japanese facilities such as large ‘furo’ baths. Situated on the 33rd floor, both guests and non-guests can enjoy the fine Mediterranean food at the hotel’s signature restaurant, not forgetting more of those incredible views across Tokyo stretching as far as the Imperial Palace Gardens and Mount Fuji in the distance. Elsewhere, there is a spa, enclosed garden area, swimming pool, wine cellar, cigar lounge and a whole host of other facilities to keep guests entertained.


Mandarin Oriental Tokyo

Located 38 floors above street level, the Mandarin Oriental Tokyo is a world away from the hustle and bustle below. The rooms and suites here are some of the largest in Japan and each offers soaring views across the city through floor-to-ceiling windows, amplifying a sense of serenity and detachment. The bathrooms are divided from the rooms by a pane of glass covered by a wooden blind; with the flick of a switch, privacy is achieved or the room is washed in daylight. All accommodations have an in-room entertainment system with iPod docking station, high definition LCD televisions in the bedroom and bathroom, wired and wireless high speed Internet access (for a fee) and your choice of preferred pillow type from the property’s extensive pillow menu. The restaurants in the hotel are some of the most highly regarded in the world; Signature (contemporary French), Sense (Chinese) and the Tapas Molecular Bar have each been awarded Michelin stars. Other restaurant options include Ventaglio (Italian), Oriental Lounge (continental bakery), Gourmet Shop, K’shiki (breakfast is served here and Japanese and continental food is served throughout the day) and the Mandarin Bar. The excellent spa has four treatment rooms and five private spa suites, and encompasses a 1,500-square-foot fitness center with the latest cardiovascular and weight training equipment.


The Peninsula Tokyo

Mere steps from the Imperial Palace sits Tokyo’s newest luxury hotel, The Peninsula Tokyo. Located in Marunouchi district just a short walk from the shopping paradise of Ginza, the hotel is perfectly located for business or pleasure. With a total of 314 elegantly decorated rooms and 47 suites, the Peninsula Tokyo’s accommodations are among the most spacious in all of Tokyo, and offer plenty of amenities including espresso machines, complimentary Internet access, multifunction fax machines, nail polish drying machines, and shoe shining service. The hotel’s culinary options include Cantonese cuisine at the Hei Fung Terrace, regional Japanese fare at Kyoto Tsuruya, and International food and beverages at Cirque Culinaire and Peter. For relaxation, enjoy the hotel’s state of the art health club with pool complex, undergo a “spa journey” at the Peninsula Spa by ESPA, or try a leisurely jog around the Imperial Palace. Other amenities include a business center and a boutique store that offers food, gifts and souvenir items.

Beniya Mukayu

Beniya Mukayu

Quaint Yamashiro Onsen, about an hour from Kanazawa, is a place famed for hot springs dating back 1,300 years, and nowhere is this history better experienced than at Beniya Mukayu, a traditional ryokan whose Zen-like quality ensures a uniquely memorable experience. Each of the ryokan’s 17 rooms has the minimalist feel of a traditional ryokan, as well as a private open-air bath overlooking a well-manicured Japanese garden. A stay at Beniya Mukayu is a holistic experience; from tea ceremonies with the ryokan’s owner to yoga sessions with his wife, your stay can be a cultivated lesson in Japan’s many methods of relaxation. Other highlights include a spa with medicinal and traditional treatments, as well as traditional kaiseki dining. From Kanazawa, Beniya Mukayu is a one-hour drive or a 30-minute express train ride followed by a 15-minute car ride.

HOSHINOYA Kyoto, Hyatt Regency Kyoto, Ritz-Carlton Kyoto


Opened in December 2009, HOSHINOYA Kyoto is a brand-new private retreat located on the banks of the Oigawa River in the city’s Arashiyama neighborhood. The property’s 25 rooms, all with river views, reflect the heritage and modernity of Kyoto itself, combining traditional ryokan dwelling with contemporary western comfort. The Arashiyama area is a designated scenery protection area, regarded equally for its cherry blossoms in the spring and brilliant foliage in the autumn. With its famous Togetsukyo Bridge, Arashiyama evokes “old Kyoto” at its best, as no new buildings are permitted. The property itself was the private vacation home and library of Suminokura Ryoui, a wealthy Kyoto merchant, until its conversion to an inn about 100 years ago. HOSHINOYA’s Library Lounge and bar, whose shelves hold many books on Kyoto’s history, looks out on the contemplative water garden, while its traditional landscape garden incorporates a view of Arashiyama Mountain using the ancient technique of shakkei, or "borrowed scenery." HOSHINOYA Kyoto has a sister property in Karuizawa.


Hyatt Regency Kyoto

Kyoto’s newest luxury hotel, the Hyatt Regency is centrally located in the city’s historic Higashiyama neighborhood, and blends Western luxury with Japanese decor, while displaying works by Hiroshi Sugimoto and other modern artists in its reception lobby. The Hyatt is located near some of the city’s iconic sights, including Kiyomizu-dera Temple (Kyoto’s “Notre Dame”), Sansujangendo, and the narrow streets of machiya (traditional townhouses) and ochaya (tea houses) within the historic geisha district of Gion. Rooms include flat-screen TVs, DVD and high-speed Internet access, while the property’s Riraku Spa offers a variety of treatments incorporating Shiatsu, acupuncture, moxibustion, aromatherapy, and reflexology. The Hyatt’s restaurants are Touzan, serving a variety of traditional Japanese cuisine; The Grill, specializing in meat and seafood dishes, prepared in an open kitchen with woodburning stoves; and Italian fare from Trattoria Sette, while Touzan Bar includes an extensive menu of boutique sakes.


Ritz-Carlton Kyoto

Just steps away from the popular streets of Gion, Kawaramachi and Pontocho, the hotel is the perfect gateway for seeing Kyoto’s fabulous sights. The large meeting facilities and services also make the hotel ideal for business. Respecting the ancient traditions and culture of Kyoto, the extravagant space is inspired from the natural surroundings and traditional architecture. Famous for Zen Temples, palaces and gardens, the Kyoto atmosphere is incorporated in the Ritz-Carlton’s design. Built in the style of a traditional Meiji House and courtyard, this is truly a cultural experience. A four-story waterfall is featured in the hotel entrance amidst patterned motifs. Guests are always guaranteed world-famous luxury at Ritz-Carlton, and Kyoto is no exception: guests enjoy high-thread count linens, plush Japanese “IMABARI” robes and towels, complimentary WiFi, Kyoto soap and seasonal bath salts, LED TVs and touch-panel environmental controls for automatic drape closure.  Accommodation amenities include a concierge service, swimming pool, banquet room, babysitting service, four delicious dining options and a spa for any pampering needs. 

Benesse House

Benesse House

Comprised of five elements - sculpture park and museum, hotel, boutique, restaurants and a spa - Benesse House is one of the most unique properties in Japan. Every room has its own individual design and artwork, with 65 guest rooms and suites across four buildings: Museum, Oval, Park and Beach, all designed by renowned architect Tadao Ando. In addition to housing the property's modern art museum, Museum has a lecture room that guest speakers are often invited to. Oval is set on a hill and connected to Museum by monorail; Park is where the bulk of Benesse House's facilities, such as its French restaurant, Terrace, its spa and shop are housed; and Beach is one of Ando's few buildings constructed chiefly of wood and is generally reserved for long-term guests. Inside Museum, there are two restaurants, Issen for Japanese and a separate cafe where guests and patrons can relax between viewings. The spa has a wide array of treatment options and is open from 11:00-22:00 with last appointments taken at 20:00.

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Our co-founder & CEO Catherine Heald loves Japan's beautiful gardens, especially when covered in winter snow. Her favourite? Kenrokuen Garden in Kanazawa.
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