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Japanese Art and Culture Tour

This luxury 13-day tour explores Japanese art, history and culture in its most iconic cities. Beginning in Tokyo, you’ll visit unforgettable sites such as the Meiji Shrine and the colorful shopping streets of Harajuku, before traveling via bullet train to Hiroshima and Kyoto. Ancient townships, majestic temples, art galleries and royal gardens are all part of this fantastic journey through Japanese culture and heritage. Each night, enjoy the luxury of staying in a traditional ryokan guesthouse, dining on world-renowned kaiseki cuisine. 

Highlights   Pricing
  • Walking tours of Tokyo, Hiroshima and Kyoto, seeing shrines, temples and historic landmarks
  • A side-trip to Nara, Japan’s first capital, replete with stunning architecture
  • A visit to the sacred island of Miyajima with forests full of shrines and sika deer
  • Traveling first-class on the Shinkansen - the bullet train - Japan’s most efficient mode of transport
 
Starting at
$25,500
per person
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Day by Day Itinerary

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Day 1

You’ll begin your luxury 13-day tour in Tokyo, Japan’s vibrant capital. Upon arriving at the airport you’ll be met by your driver who will take you to your five-star hotel in Tokyo city center. We recommend The Peninsula or Mandarin Oriental, both of which offer world-class dining and luxurious amenities. You have the remainder of the day to spend at your leisure, free to explore your surrounds or book a pampering spa treatment in your hotel.

Day 2

Today you’ll explore Tokyo with a full-day guided tour. Tokyo is a huge city with a lot of ground to cover, so it’s up to you and your private guide as to which parts you choose to see. Some of its most famous attractions include the Tsukiji Fish Markets, the serene Meiji Shrine, and the luxury shopping of Omotesando and Harajuku. In the evening, try some ramen in Shinjuku or take part in an iconic Japanese pastime - karaoke.

Day 3
Kamakura or Hakone

See some of Japan’s most spectacular countryside with a private day-trip to Kamakura or Hakone. Both locations are famed for their natural beauty - Hakone is a popular location for viewing Mount Fuji, and the seaside city of Kamakura offers lush forests and temples. After enjoying some of the world’s most unique landscapes, return to your luxury hotel in Tokyo for the night.

Day 4
Kurashiki

Take the Shinkansen to the historic town of Kurashiki today. This scenic old town in Okayama Prefecture is an unusual location for Western art, including a gallery with works by Matisse, Gauguin, Renoir and Monet, amongst others. The old merchant quarter - Bikan - is also a beautiful place to explore with its 17th-century architecture, canals and European-style town hall. Tonight, you’ll check into a ryokan - a traditional guesthouse - to enjoy old-fashioned Japanese hospitality and a gourmet kaiseki dinner. Kaiseki meals are famous for their immaculate presentation and the freshness of ingredients, garnering praise - and Michelin stars - for restaurants throughout Japan.

Day 5
Kurashiki

Today you’ll explore Kurashiki in more depth, on a half-day guided walking tour of the city. The immense Great Seto Bridge is one of the city’s must-see attractions, as is the Ohara Spinning Mill - a holdover from the Meiji period. You might also like to visit Kurashiki City Hall, designed by award-winning modernist architect Kenzo Tange. In the evening, you’ll return to your ryokan for another night, enjoying another fantastic kaiseki meal.

Day 6
Miyajima

Start your day with a trip to Koraku-en, one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan. Completed in 1700, this meticulously-tended garden houses Okayama Castle and features extensive grassy zones and a 2,100-feet-long stream. Next, you’ll hop aboard the Shinkansen to Hiroshima, then on to Miyajima - Shrine Island. A ten-minute ferry ride from the train station, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to one of the three iconic views of Japan - a torii (gate) rising out of the water against the backdrop of Mount Misen. Check into a local ryokan tonight and enjoy a kaiseki meal for dinner.

Day 7
Miyajima

Explore the island today with a half-day walking tour of Miyajima. This sleepy, mountainous island is considered sacred and its forests are full of monkeys and sika deer, the latter of which carry particular spiritual significance. Discover the many shrines and temples that dot the landscape here and enjoy serene views of Hiroshima Bay. Return to your ryokan for the evening.

Day 8

Today you’ll take a private city tour of Hiroshima. There are numerous sites worth visiting here, among them the Children’s Peace Monument, the Peace Memorial Museum and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Peace Memorial Park, Hiroshima’s ground zero. After your tour, catch the Shinkansen to Kyoto, the old imperial capital of Japan.

Day 9

As Japan’s old capital, there is much to see in Kyoto - the city is home to 20 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. You’ll start with a full-day tour with your own private guide, visiting attractions such as Daitoku-ji Temple, Nishiki food market and the iconic Fushimi Inari Grand Shrine. Enjoy lunch at one of the city’s many historic temples before settling into your Kyoto hotel for another night.

Day 10

Continue exploring Kyoto today, with another full-day tour with a private guide. You can shop for handicrafts, visit a historic noodle restaurant or delve into one of Japan’s traditional arts, such as ikebana - flower arranging, calligraphy or a tea ceremony. You can also wander along the Philosopher’s Walk, a scenic trail along the canal, lined with cherry blossom and maple trees. Return to your hotel in Kyoto tonight.

Day 11

Today, you can take a day-tour to nearby Miho Museum, an hour’s drive out of town. Here you’ll enjoy a private guided tour with one of the museum’s curators, who will show you the Miho’s collection of Eastern and Western antiques. Alternatively, you can head to Nara, Japan’s first established capital, a city with fantastic examples of historic architecture, beautiful parks and freely roaming sika deer.

Day 12

Today you’ll be transferred to the train station to head back to Tokyo on the Shinkansen. In Tokyo, check into your luxury hotel for the final night of your journey. You have the evening free to catch up on souvenir shopping, enjoy a dinner of world-class sushi or just soak up the atmosphere of one of the world’s most compelling capitals.

Day 13

You’ll be chauffeur-driven to the airport today in time for your departure flight to your next onward destination.

 

Suggested Accommodations

Location
Accommodation
TOKYO
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.

 
 
KURASHIKI
Hotel Nikko Kurashiki , Ryokan Kurashiki

Hotel Nikko Kurashiki


The highest standard Western-style hotel in Kurashiki, Hotel Nikko warmly welcomes guests via its marble lobby, its simple and comfortable rooms, and its modern decor, a contrast to its location in Kurashiki’s old town. Guests may choose from 71 rooms, the best of which are found on the J floor (which we highly recommend). Free WiFi and air-conditioning come standard with every room. Meals are served at the hotel’s three restaurants: Ravenna Cafe, Hachikengura, and Kurashiki, while Heisabar bar serves up frothy Japanese beers  and tempting cocktails. Three different styles of meeting and banquet rooms are available for events, with the capacity to hold up to 120 people in one room. The airport is a 45-minute drive, while it’s possible to walk to the nearest JR Station in just over 10 minutes. 


 

Ryokan Kurashiki


This authentic ryokan is located in the heart of Kurashiki’s historical area, allowing for a true window into Japanese culture. The ryokan has been decorated to cater to traditional Japanese sensitivities, with tatami mat floors and clean, crisp lines, as well as elegant Japanese artwork adorning the walls. A charming Japanese garden greets guests as they enter the hotel. The entire abode has only six rooms, making it feel cozy and private. There is one restaurant, which serves up dishes in traditional kaiseki style, which may also be enjoyed in the hotel’s various private dining rooms. The hotel also has available banquet facilities for meetings and other such events. The airport is 45 minutes away, and the hotel is a 15-minute walk from JR Kurashiki station. 


 
 
MIYAJIMA
Iroha Kurayado, Iwaso

Iroha Kurayado


This Miyajima hotel is perfect for guests who are keen to experience the city’s sightseeing and shopping offerings, while also enjoying the picturesque view, overlooking the Seto Inland Sea upon which the hotel sits. Rooms are spacious and well-appointed, featuring high-speed internet and a deep-soaking tub. The hotel’s Yoimosezu restaurant and cafe provides lovely views, and on a clear day, it’s possible to capture a clear sighting of O-Torii Gate, of Itsukushima Shrine, in the near distance. Yoimosezu serves up contemporary Japanese cuisine, featuring fresh, seasonal ingredients. Guests who’d like to pick up some souvenirs for their friends and family back home can check out the hotel’s gift shop, which holds a variety of pottery, ceramic, paper items, and more, on its shelves. Without a doubt, the hotel’s rooftop bath is its most favorited feature, with soothing white ion water and unobstructed views of Miyajima’s stunning landscape.


 

Iwaso


Boasting a fascinating history, Iwaso has been welcoming VIPs from every corner of the world since it first opened its doors 150 years ago. The hotel is ideally-located, near UNESCO World Heritage Site, Itsukushima Shrine, while being surrounded by the eye-catching colors of nature, which change throughout the seasons. Guests may choose from three different room types, all of which exude elements of traditional Japanese design, blended with modern touches. The on-site restaurant, Momiji, serves up Japanese cuisine using fresh, local, seasonal ingredients. A tea-lounge is also available for guests who’d like to experience some of Japan’s tea culture. Meeting and event facilities are provided for those organizing a gathering. The hotel is also home to three common indoor hot springs which draw water from the mild and gentle Wakamiya hot spring.


 
 
KYOTO
HOSHINOYA Kyoto, Hyatt Regency Kyoto, Ritz-Carlton Kyoto

HOSHINOYA 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. 

 
 
Meet An Asia Expert
From Travelogues
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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