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Catherine and her team...were able to put together a trip with exactly the kind of experiences we were dreaming of.
A Family from Europe

Sacred Scenic Sites of Japan

This 14-day tour will take you on a journey of a lifetime through Japan’s stunning landscape and sacred sites. Prepare to hike up Mount Aso, one of the world’s largest active volcanoes. Marvel at the breathtaking and unforgettable scenery of the Kirishima volcanoes. Uncover the fascinating history and traditions in the ancient capital of Kyoto. Let your stress melt away while basking in natural hot springs. Experience Japanese mythology as you watch the sacred dances of Yokagura at the Takachiho shrine. Explore the world-class metropolitan city of Tokyo and take advantage of some of the best shopping, entertainment, culture and dining the world has to offer.

Highlights   Pricing
  • Unwind and relax in the soothing waters of natural hot springs
  • Take the road less traveled and hike along the world’s largest active volcanoes
  • Lose yourself in the hustle and bustle of the futuristic city of Tokyo
  • Immerse yourself in Japanese culture and history in the ancient capital of Kyoto
 
Starting at
$1,200
per person per day
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Day by Day Itinerary

View Sacred Scenic Sites of Japan in a larger map
Day 1

Explore the sights and sounds of Tokyo, the center of the world's most populated metropolitan area. You’ll be met at Narita International Airport and taken to central Tokyo via train for a leisurely walk around the city. You’ll pay a visit to the Tsukiji Fish Market, Japan’s largest and busiest fish market, and walk the streets of Akihabara, a district famous for its many electronics and anime shops. In the evening, we will welcome you with a Japanese feast before you settle down in your luxury hotel.

Day 2

Watch the scenery zip by as we travel by bullet train to the ancient capital of Kyoto. Enjoy a traditional Japanese lunch followed by a visit to Ginkakuji, also known as the Silver Pavilion, a famous Buddhist temple along Kyoto’s eastern mountains. Walk along the Philosopher’s Path and witness the beauty of a canal lined with hundreds of cherry trees. Take in the tranquility of the Kiyomizudera Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Finish the day with a delicious dinner and relaxing stay at a traditional ryokan (traveller’s inn).

Day 3

Discover the Ryoan-ji Temple, home to a garden that is considered to be one of the finest examples of Japanese rock garden design. Explore the Arashiyama district by taking a stroll on the Togetsukyo Bridge and visit the famous bamboo groves behind the Tenryuji Temple. After lunch, you are free to roam the city until the evening. Take the opportunity to further sightsee in central Kyoto or take in the beautiful scenery of mountains and river by boat ride along the Sagami River.

Day 4
Kuju Highlands

Travel to the highest peaks on the island of Kyushu and see the Kuju volcanoes. Hike to a hot spring lodge surrounded by stunning natural beauty. Enjoy a hearty dinner and rest comfortably overnight at the lodge.

Day 5
Mount Aso

Embark on a picturesque hike to the Kuju-dake peak and Naka-dake peak before departing. You’ll travel by car to the Kurokawa hot spring village and stop to take a dip in the soothing and therapeutic waters. Next, we’ll head to Aso, the largest active volcano in Japan. Enjoy a traditional Japanese dinner and rest in a comfortable nearby ryokan.

Day 6
Mount Aso

Take the Sensuikyou cable car to the top of Mount Aso and hike along the crater’s edge through fields of lava rocks. Be dazzled by brightly-colored volcanic rocks and unique geological formations. Absorb the breathtaking sights at the top of Taka-dake and Naka-dae. Head back to the guesthouse for a rewarding meal and overnight stay.

Day 7
Takachiho

Take a drive along the Aso Panorama highway and stop for a leisurely stroll through the lovely countryside. Continuing by foot, we will arrive at Takachiho, a town that sits along a gorge where fascinating rock formations have been integrated into local folklore. Witness the sacred dances of Yokagura at the Takachiho shrine, which delve into the mythical tales of Japan’s creation.

Day 8
Aya

Cycle along the peaceful countryside near Takachiho and partake in a picnic lunch. After, we will travel by road to Aya. Once arrived, we’ll take a short walk to the Teruha Suspension Bridge, a bridge 460 feet above the Aya River. If you are visiting during the spring, appreciate the beauty and colors of the cherry blossoms surrounding the nearby mountains.

Day 9
Obi

Tour the historic Aya Castle. Try your hand at Japanese pottery making, weaving and aizome orimono (indigo-dyed fabric) at a local craft center. During the drive to Obi, enjoy the spectacular coastline. Stop to stretch your legs at the Udo-jingu Shrine, enclosed within a cave. Obi is a historical treasure with well-preserved Edo period samurai houses. Visit the former residence of the Ito clan and stop at a teashop to enjoy fresh green tea and traditional Japanese sweets.

Day 10
Kirishima

Enjoy a leisurely walk around Obi in the morning and then depart for the Kirishima volcanic range. Witness the dramatic landscape as hot steam spews out of numerous volcanic openings as we hike to the top of the Takachiho-no-mine Peak. After the climb, continue on a walk near the volcanic vents and experience the Shiratori hot spring where you will partake in an unforgettable outdoor mineral bath.

Day 11
Kagoshima

Depart for Kagoshima, home of the Shimazu clan, a powerful feudal family. Tour Sangen-en, the clan’s elegant villa and gardens situated across from an active volcano. Explore Kagoshima during free time in the afternoon. We recommend taking a ferry to see the magnificent Sakurajima volcano.  

Day 12
Chiran & Kaimondake

Travel to Chiran, a town full of historic Samurai houses and home to the air base used by Kamikaze pilots in World War II. Try homemade soba and udon noodles in an authentic, local restaurant for lunch. Depart for the sandy beaches in the south near the Kaimondake volcano and visit Yamakawa beach, where thermally heated mineral water bubbles to the surface. Dress in a cotton yukata robe and bask in the warm sand. Return to Kagoshima for our flight to Tokyo.

Day 13

Immerse yourself in the abundance of shopping, entertainment, culture, and dining that Tokyo has to offer. The city’s history can be appreciated in many excellent museums and in the Asakusa district. Say your goodbyes to newfound friends at a farewell dinner.

Day 14

On your final day, you’ll say goodbye to Japan, though you’ll take with you the memories you created. Your guide will help you transfer to Tokyo’s Narita airport for your flight home or to your next exciting destination.

 

Suggested Accommodations

Location
Accommodation
TOKYO
Aman Tokyo, Conrad Tokyo, Mandarin Oriental 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.

 

Conrad Tokyo

The Conrad Tokyo is situated in the high-rise Shidome area. The hotel boasts some of the city’s most spacious rooms featuring awesome vistas of the Hamarikyu Gardens and Tokyo Bay. The well-appointed rooms come with many added luxuries and modern-conveniences such as flat screen TVs, DVD players and sound systems. The hotel’s world-class facilities range from a large indoor pool with far reaching city views and a modern fitness center with yoga classes to a spa on the 29th floor offering authentic Japanese inspired treatments. All food and drink tastes are covered in the Conrad’s five onsite dining options serving sushi, teppanyaki, kaiseki, Chinese and western cuisine.

 

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.

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

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. 

 

Tawaraya Ryokan

One of the finest ryokans in Japan, Tawaraya opened 300 years ago and has stayed in the family ever since. Today, the 11th and 12th generations, a matriarch of the family and her son, share the majority of management duties, continuing the renewal of the beautiful house such that your stay here is a perfectly calibrated immersion in Japanese culture and history. There are three types of rooms, no two alike in design: bedrooms, small rooms and suites. The suites offer the best views of the garden, which is meticulously kept such that peering upon it from any angle gives one the sense of looking at a classic Japanese painting. Rooms have traditional tatami mats and futon mattresses, although low-rise beds are options for guests who prefer them. Breakfasts and dinner are served ryokan-style, meaning rice, miso soup, grilled fish, and Japanese pickles for breakfast, and traditional multi-course meals for dinner. There are two libraries, one with English language books and the other with Japanese ones, filled with art and design tomes, as the general manager, the son, is a lecturer on architecture at Kyoto University. Your stay here will assuredly be a highlight of your time in Kyoto.
 
 
KUJU HIGHLANDS
Resonate Club Kuju

Resonate Club Kuju


One of the highest hotels nestled into the Kuju highlands, Resonate Club Kuju is a simple-yet-comfortable option. Rooms are colorful, if not entirely stylish, but come with free parking, refrigerators, humidifiers, and high-speed internet.  There are two restaurants here - Meteor, which serves Western cuisine, and Sum Heart, which cooks up traditional Japanese dishes. The hotel is far from the nearest form of public transportation, being an hour’s drive from the nearest train station, and just under two hours from the airport. But there’s plenty to do here, from enjoying a dip in the healing waters of the outdoor bath, nature walks in the surrounding hillsides, star gazing, horseback riding, undergoing a detox program, and even being entertained by live music on the weekend. 


 
 
MOUNT ASO
Hoshino Resort Kai Aso, Iyashino Sato

Hoshino Resort Kai Aso


This luxury hotel is not your typical ryokan, possessing a far more modern Japanese style than the more classic abodes. There is an outdoor hot spring bath that is full of water drawn from a hot spring source, as well as a library/lounge, both of which make excellent guest relaxation areas. Massage is also available for those who wish to treat themselves, and a shop is on-site for those who require some retail-therapy. Rooms are spacious, with separate living rooms and private onsen baths, as well as welcoming touches like humidifiers, bathrobes, high-speed internet, and more. The hotel is located within the highlands of a national park, at 3,280-feet elevation; a 70-minute drive from Narita Airport. Guests can enjoy outdoor activities like nature walks and horseback riding in this lush, natural environment. 


 

Iyashino Sato


This 10-room ryokan has been said by some to feel more like a traditional Japanese home than a hotel, and many enjoy this homey, more personal atmosphere. Here, guests are invited to take a step back in time, into Japan’s historical hospitality of centuries-past. Ideally-located in Aso, often referred to as the heart of local Kumamoto, the traditional abode welcomes curiosity and inspires insight into the country’s culture and history. Guests may enjoy authentic Japanese cuisine at the hotel’s Higo Road Chaya restaurant, though the main attraction here is the healing waters of the hotel’s outdoor onsen baths, which contain sodium magnesium sulfate. Complimentary WiFi is available to guests throughout the hotel. Guests will also find its location convenient, being only 30 minutes from Tokyo Station, and the same distance from Kumamoto Airport. 


 
 
TAKACHIHO
Ryokan Shinsen

Ryokan Shinsen


Nestled into a quiet part of Takachiho, Ryokan Shinsen is the most comfortable ryokan in the area. It offers guests a choice of maisonnette and Japanese-style rooms, many of which can sleep larger groups. The well-appointed residences come with modern, luxurious touches, like massage chairs, open-air baths, floor heating, and more. For dining, there is a choice of five huts, which all serve up authentic Kyoto cuisine, with ingredients sourced from different parts of the country. Guests are treated to their very own unique set of bamboo chopsticks to enjoy throughout their stay - a quaint touch. A tearoom is also on site, where guests can get a taste - literally - of Japan’s tea culture. The hotel is a lengthy drive from the airport - an hour and a half - but some guests enjoy the sense of seclusion this brings. 


 
 
KIRISHIMA
Tenkuno Mori

Tenkuno Mori


This luxury resort is unlike most Japanese hotels. Set amidst lush, natural surroundings, Tenkuno Mori exudes a classical boutique inn kind of atmosphere, and with only five rooms, it lives up to its self-proclamation of a ‘private resort’. Guests can enjoy their meals in private dining rooms, where they’ll be served scrumptious local foods that include organic vegetables and free-range meat. Lovers of the great outdoors will be happy here, with 360-degree panoramas of the surrounding majestic mountains - perfect for those who are into hiking and/or photography. The hotel, despite its off-the-beaten-track feel, is located only a 15-minute drive from the Kagoshima airport. 


 
 
TOKYO
Conrad Tokyo, Mandarin Oriental Tokyo

Conrad Tokyo

The Conrad Tokyo is situated in the high-rise Shidome area. The hotel boasts some of the city’s most spacious rooms featuring awesome vistas of the Hamarikyu Gardens and Tokyo Bay. The well-appointed rooms come with many added luxuries and modern-conveniences such as flat screen TVs, DVD players and sound systems. The hotel’s world-class facilities range from a large indoor pool with far reaching city views and a modern fitness center with yoga classes to a spa on the 29th floor offering authentic Japanese inspired treatments. All food and drink tastes are covered in the Conrad’s five onsite dining options serving sushi, teppanyaki, kaiseki, Chinese and western cuisine.

 

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.

 
 
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From Our Blog
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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