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Across 18 Centuries: Historic Japan

Travel back in time and explore Japanese history from the 3rd century to the present day, with our fascinating Historic Japan itinerary. These action-packed 11 days of luxury travel, including Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Hiroshima, Kanazawa, Kamakura & Yokohama are sure to meet your cultural and adventurous traveling dreams. Explore ancient history in the morning at Tokyo’s 7th century temples before shopping for the highest quality of electronics in Omotesando Hills. Enjoy all the modern day luxuries as you peek into ancient times. 

Highlights   Pricing
  • Explore the largest wooden structure in the world: the Todaiji Temple
  • Listen for the deceased scholar, Sugawara Michizane’s spirit whispering around his shrine
  • Reflect in silence as you tour Hiroshima and see the sight of the A-bomb over 70 years after WWII
  • Tour the Edo Castle and see how ancient Japanese Royalty truly lived
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Day by Day Itinerary

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Day 1

Arrive in Osaka, Japan’s cultural and historic mecca. Relax in the elegant British-colonial inspired hotel, the Ritz-Carlton Osaka in the heart of downtown as you get acquainted to your new surroundings. 

Day 2

Learn about the Tumulus, Asuka and the Nara Period in Nara. This begins in the 3rd century and finishes in the 8th century. The Ishibutai Kofun is an impressive stone monument and tomb believed to be the final resting place of the 6th century leader, Soga Umako. Next, tour the Todaiji Temple - the largest wooden structure in the world. Here you’ll find the largest bronze statue of Buddha in existence. The Buddha looks brand new after being reconstructed post-earthquake on several different occasions. Enjoy traditional cuisine at a local restaurant for a midday break. Snap a picture of the beautiful pagoda at the Horyuji Temple. Finish off the day by wandering through the Heijokyo Palace Ruins and imagine imperial life in the 700’s. 

Day 3

Step back into the Heian Period (8th to the 12th century) when you visit the Kyoo Gokokuji (Toji) Temple. The temple was built in the late 700’s to protect the eastern side of Kyoto city. See the remains of Rashomon Gate, the massive gate that once protected the city and inspired the film Rashomon. Ponder the Kitano Tenmangu Shrine revering Sugawara Michizane, an unjustly exiled scholar and politician. Michanzane’s vengeful spirit is blamed for disasters in the area and the shrine was built as a peace offering to his revenge-seeking ghost. Learn about Heian style traditional costume and enjoy a private dinner with an exclusive showing of Imayo dance. 

Day 4

Move forward to the 12th to the 20th centuries as you take a day trip to Miyajima and Hiroshima. Learn about the Taira clan of samurais and glimpse the much sought-after heroic culture from the inside. Explore the Itsukushima Jinja Shrine on Miyajima Island. Next, see the site of the catastrophic atomic blast nearly 70 years later as you visit the Peace Memorial Museum in Hiroshima.

Day 5

Feel a sense of peace as you visit the Kinkakuji Temple, one of the five Zen temples in Kyoto. This temple is known as the Temple of the Golden Pavillion and also has several incredible traditional Japanese gardens. Continue your cultural experience in the Muromachi Period as you peruse Ginkaku Ji Temple, another Zen temple built along the eastern mountainside. Experience classical Japanese musical theater known as Noh. Wrap up the day as you treat your taste buds at a traditional tea-tasting ceremony.

Day 6

Travel to Kanazawa (aro und3.5 hours' drive)  to experience history from the Azuchi Momoyama Period (16th to 17th century) to the Edo Period (17th to 19th century). Begin by visiting the Oyama Jinja Shrine, dedicated to Maeda Toshiie, the first lord of the powerful Maeda Clan during the 16th century. Stroll through the expansive grounds at Kanazawa Castle Park. Make a wish in the Kinjo Reitaku Well before smelling the fragrant flowers in the quaint Kenrokuen Garden and Seisonkaku Villa. Explore a beautifully-restored samurai residence, the Nomura House and Nagamachi Samurai District. Set in the beautiful neighboring spa town of Kaga, the charming chalet style Beniya Mukayu is the hot spot for relaxation and rest after a busy day of exploring. The Nikko Kanazawa is a more modern option, located in the city center and business district. 

Day 7

Learn about the Azuchi Momoyama Period (16th to 17th century) to the Edo Period (17th to the 19th century). Here, you’ll be shown silk dying in Kaga Yuzen’s prestigious studio. Learn about gold leaf and it’s importance in several area’s temples. Sample fresh, steaming hot rice wine known as sake and learn about the brewing process as you visit a sake brewery. This is the perfect nightcap - especially if you are in the city during the colder months. 

Day 8

It’s time for a trip to the country’s pristine and modern capital - Tokyo. We suggest either the Mandarin Oriental Tokyo or Peninsula Tokyo Hotel. Both options are centrally-located and abundant in every modern day convenience. Spend the day reflecting on the Edo Period as you take a leisurely walk through the Edo Castle and Imperial Palace. See how the royals lived during these ancient times. Next, catch a glimpse of rare pieces of art, including a replica of the Nihonbashi wooden bridge from the 1600’s. Continue on to view woodblock prints at the Ukiyoe Museum, one of the only museums in the world to display this type of work. End the day with a Kabuki performance - a three-part theatrical performance with roots in the Sengoku period. 

Day 9

The Kamakura, Edo and Meiji periods come to life as you take a day trip to Kamakura and Yokohama. Visit the Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine, one of the five Zen temples, and gain a sense of peace as you view numerous shrines underneath the cherry trees erected for the ancient ruling leader Yoritomo’s first born son. Tour the Kotokuin Temple and the larger-than-life stone Buddha statue, sitting in the perfect meditative position. Dive in to the Yokohama Archives of History and take ancient learning into your own hands. The day’s final stop is Hikawa Maru, a beautiful ship with old world charm that sailed its’ first journey in 1929. 

Day 10

Our final step back into Japanese history and culture delves in the Meiji Period and continues all the way to Tokyo’s modernism. There’s one last stop at a 7th century temple - Asakusa or Sensoji Temple - the most colorful and popular temple in the city. Revel in true Shinto architecture as you check out the Meiji Jingu Shrine. Rocket forward into modern times and shop the unique cutting-edge fashion at Omotesando Hills. Gain an incredible aerial view from the lookout of Tokyo Sky Tree Tower. When you come back down to earth, pay a visit to the Mori Art museum - housed in a contemporary building, containing contemporary pieces. 

Day 11

We hope you enjoyed your journey through ancient Japanese history! You’ll be transferred to Tokyo’s international airport today, where you can check in for your international flight to your onward destination.


Suggested Accommodations

Ritz-Carlton, Osaka

Ritz-Carlton, Osaka

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 Osaka�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.

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. 

Beniya Mukayu, Nikko Kanazawa

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.


Nikko Kanazawa

Located in the heart of Kanazawa, the Nikko Kanazawa Hotel is a bastion of modern luxury in one of the best-preserved ancient towns in Japan. With 254 Guest rooms and a few exclusive suites, the Nikko Kanazawa is designed with an eye towards artistry, incorporating minimalist interior design with artistic accents from young, local artists. Wining and dining options include: Le Grand Chariot, a jazz lounge and bar; Vol de Nuit bar; Icho for Japanese Teppanyaki; Toh Lee, authentic Chinese and dim sum; Benkei, an upscale sushi lounge; The Fountain café; and The Garden House, featuring an international buffet. Hotel amenities include Internet connectivity in all rooms, a pool and a fitness center with Jacuzzi and sauna, a spa with aromatherapy and traditional Japanese treatments, boutique stores, a salon, and a florist. The Nikko Kanazawa Hotel is approximately 45 minutes by car from Komatsu airport (KMQ), with service from Tokyo Haneda (HND).

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.

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From Travelogues
Our co-founder Jay Tindall finds Japan both a challenging and rewarding travel destination, which requires several visits to truly understand. It's also his favourite food destination in Asia.
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