Experience the best of Southern Japan with this charming 7-day luxury itinerary, taking in Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe and Hiroshima as well as cultural icons such as Himeji Castle, cherry blossoms and Kobe beef. Stock up on electronics in the world’s technology epicenter, then soak in the incredible views from Mount Misen of Hiroshima below. Balance culture and adventure as you experience both the countryside and bustling metropolitan cities.
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Fly into Osaka to begin your Japanese adventure! The city is a cultural mecca and the perfect way to start your holiday. Rest up for a big day of traveling tomorrow. Relax in luxury at the British colonial-style elegant Ritz-Carlton Osaka in the heart of downtown.
Familiarize yourself with local culture as you tour Osaka’s National Museum of Art. Home to the famous tapestry, “The Lady and the Unicorn,” this museum also houses several rare jewels. Gain an entirely new perspective as you tour the Museum of Oriental Ceramics and view the intricately-designed porcelain for which the region is so famous. Dive into marine life (while staying dry, of course) as you explore the Osaka Aquarium. The aquarium is one of the largest public aquariums in the world.
During springtime, marvel at the unmatched beauty of the blooming cherry blossom trees. Their fragrant smell has inspired hundreds of perfumes the world over. Stark white walls contrasting with vibrant red roofs make the Osaka Castle a stunning sight with traditional importance. Tour the 13 structures at the castle that played a main role in Japan’s unification. Watch a traditional Japanese puppet show at one of the only theaters that still hosts this cultural entertainment - the National Bunraku Theater.
Travel on to Kyoto, another culturally rich and important city. Built in 798 AD, the Kiyomizu-dera Temple is a must-see. One of the features of the “Historic Monument of Ancient Kyoto,” the temple is an independent Buddhist Temple and UNESCO site. Next, visit the villa-style ancient Kikaku-ji Temple, the Deer Garden Temple. The temple sits next to a beautiful lily pond. Spend the night at your luxury Kyoto hotel. We recommend either the Hoshinoya Kyoto or the Hyatt Regency.
A cherry-tree lined canal in Kyoto is the perfect setting for a stroll on the city’s “Philosopher’s Walk.” Nishida Kitaro, a Japanese philosopher working at the nearby university, is believed to have taken this picturesque walk to work everyday. Nestled in the foothills of the east, Nanzen-ji Temple and its expansive grounds are your next destinations. The temple has a stunningly beautiful, traditional Karesansui garden. That night see a beautiful, quiet side of Japanese culture as you attend a Geisha dinner. Westerners have only recently been permitted to witness this intimate and unique side of Japanese culture.
Travel to Kobe, a bustling metropolitan city along the coast. Here you will peruse the Himeji Castle - a postcard-perfect castle set atop a green hillside overlooking the city. The castle is the ideal image of Japanese architecture. Next, enjoy happy hour at the Sake Brewery where the famous rice wine is made. Learn about the brewing process and judge for yourself if the sake taste better freshly-made. Visit the Earthquake Memorial Museum and take a moment to remember all those affected by the destruction of the 1995 earthquake that took the lives of over 5,000 people. That night rest easy at the Oriental Hotel Kobe. Located perfectly between the sea and the mountains, this hotel if full of modern charm.
The final stop on your journey is the WWII site of Hiroshima. Catch an incredible view of the heritage site from the top of Mount Misen, a holy landmark in the city. Rest your legs as you take a streetcar tour of the city and learn about the destruction and aftermath caused by the WWII atomic bomb. Continue your day of remembrance as you take a Peace Memorial Tour. Spend the final night of your trip at the serene Sekitei Hiroshima hotel, located near hot springs in which you can take a relaxing dip.
This luxury hotel is an oasis in the vibrant and bustling city that is Osaka. The Ritz-Carlton Osaka is a business hotel that aims to provide its guests with a soothing and serene atmosphere in the heart of OsakaĂŻÂżÂ˝s business and shopping district. With nearly 300 rooms, including a selection of Executive Suites, Club rooms, and more, each providing stunning views of the city below, as well as exclusive amenities, the options for comfort are bountiful. Egyptian cotton linens, down comforters, designer tea, a bathroom flat screen TV, fully-stocked refreshment cabinets, and complimentary newspaper and overnight shoe-shine are just a few of the exceptional surprises that await guests at this top-end hotel. Furthermore, two of its fine dining restaurants, La Baie, and Xiang Tao, are recipients of Michelin stars.
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.
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.
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.
One of Asia’s most historic hotels, dating back to 1870, the Oriental Hotel Kobe effortlessly melds modernity with tradition. The hotel offers expansive views of both the ocean and the city, from air-conditioned, comfortable rooms, where luxury toiletries and complimentary WiFi access are standard features. Its many facilities will help guests feel right at home, from concierge services, to child-minding services, to a day spa, as well as great restaurants, including The House of the Pacific, serving up traditional Italian food with a twist, and the J.W. Hart bar, the ideal spot to sip on a glass of wine while looking out over the vibrant Kobe evening views. Should guests decide to check out the city, the neighborhood surrounding the hotel offers several bars and restaurants serving up a variety of cuisines.
Designed according to the classic Japanese principle of understated elegance, the Sekitei Hiroshima is a ryokan, or traditional hot-springs inn, located on the island of Miyajima. It boasts twelve, traditionally-designed Japanese rooms overlooking a large, well-manicured garden, and several recently renovated public baths. Each of the rooms possess a private, en-suite bathroom, views of either the garden or the Seto Inland Sea, and tasteful, wooden furniture. The Sekitei’s in-house restaurant serves a variety of delicious Japanese dishes prepared with seasonal ingredients. The Sekitei is located approximately 15 minutes from Miyajima’s pier.