Explore Japan by taking an uncommon route on this 11-day luxury itinerary, exploring lesser-visited cities on the country’s southwestern shores. Launching from Kyoto, you’ll head west to Matsue and Izumo, taking in scenic ocean views, visiting ancient shrines and temples and wandering old castle towns. Also during this trip you’ll spend time on the sacred island of Itsukushima before looping back to Osaka, Japan’s third most populous city. During your journey, you’ll have the chance to stay in Japanese guesthouses - ryokans - modern yet traditional boutique properties with private onsen baths.This itinerary is an example. It’s designed to inspire you and provide you with thoughtfully curated ideas. You can choose to do this exact itinerary or completely personalize it. All trips are 100% bespoke.
• Kyoto: The ancient capital and "capital of culture" is host to an impressive 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including serene Buddhist temples and picturesque Shinto shrines.
• Shrine Island: Walk around Itsukushima (Shrine Island) to see the iconic "floating" red torii gate and encounter free-roaming sika deer.
• Outdoor Adventures: The Akiyoshido-Dai karst plateau, the highest concentration of karst formations in Japan and home to the largest and longest limestone cave in the country, was once a coral reef some 300 millions years ago.
Arrive in Kyoto today, where you’ll be met at the train station and transferred to your hotel. Kyoto is Japan's former imperial capital and much of its historic sites are still intact. We recommend staying in a luxury hotel within the historic area or in a ryokan guesthouse where you can experience traditional Japanese hospitality, sleeping in suites with sliding door partitions and futon mattresses rolled out on tatami floors.
Kyoto is home to multiple UNESCO World Heritage Sites and no matter how modernized it becomes, there’s seemingly a remnant of its past on every corner. Today you have a full day of sightseeing with your guide to explore the city’s attractions, whether it’s a 6th-century landmark such as Shimogamo Shrine, or a futuristic structure like Kyoto Tower. Return to your hotel or ryokan in Kyoto tonight.
Kyoto is a great place to experience traditional Japanese culture, such as ikebana - flower arranging, noodle making, sushi preparation or calligraphy. Today you can spend some time delving into the Japanese tradition of your choosing before heading to Nara. In Nara you’ll find spectacular examples of imperial architecture, such as the 8th-century Kasuga Grand Shrine - and have the chance for a close-up look at another of Japan’s national treasures - the sika deer. Check into a traditional ryokan guesthouse in Nara tonight, we recommend the secluded Tsukihi-tei located within a primeval forest.
Today you’ll fly to Izumo, located on the coastline of Shimane Prefecture. The city is home to a collection of significant historic sites, the most important of which is the ancient Izumo Taisha Shrine. No official documentation states the shrine’s date of construction, though there are records of it being down-sized in 1200 AD. One of the shrine’s major features is a towering gate festooned with straw, and its halls and museums house many more important local artefacts. Tonight, check into an onsen guesthouse and enjoy the therapeutic benefits of Japan’s famous hot springs.
Today you’ll spend a full day touring the neighboring cities of Matsue and Yasugi, accompanied by a private guide. Matsue is the capital of the prefecture and its lake and canals have earned it the nickname of “water city.” Here, you’ll enjoy far-reaching city and ocean views from the castle and visit the Adachi Museum of Art, famous for its beautifully-designed grounds. These gardens are considered Japan’s best and have been awarded three stars by Michelin Travel. Return to your ryokan tonight.
Travel further along Japan’s western coastline to Nagato in Yamaguchi Prefecture. Far from the urban frisson that electrifies Japan’s big cities, in Nagato, travelers can relax in a serene mountain atmosphere, capitalizing on the location’s natural hot springs. The best way to do this is by checking into an onsen ryokan - Nagato has a premium selection of modern, design-savvy ryokans that combine traditional hospitality with sleek bathing facilities and unobtrusive technology.
Spend the day sightseeing in Hagi today - a quiet city whose claim to fame is hagi-yaki, a form of pottery known for its simple forms and transparent glaze. You can visit a kiln in Hagi, take a cruise on Hashimoto River or explore the castle town’s “bent key” streets - twisted alleys built in feudal times to confuse invading armies. Return to your ryokan in Nagato tonight.
Today you’ll enjoy a half-day private tour of Akiyoshido-Dai Quasi-National Park, home to a remarkable limestone cave and beautiful karst pinnacles dotted in green meadows. This is the largest limestone plateau in the country and the biggest limestone cavern in Asia - you can hike the area along trails or enjoy the views from a cable car. Enjoy the afternoon at your leisure before returning to your ryokan in Nagato for the night.
Enjoy a leisurely morning before being chauffeur-driven to the train station where you’ll catch the shinkansen - bullet train - to your next destination, Iwakuni. In this former castle town, you’ll enjoy some sightseeing, visiting the famous five-arched Kintai Bridge. Next, it’s on to Itsukushima - also known as Miyajima Island - just off the coast of Hiroshima. The island is a tranquil mountain destination renowned for its lush maple forests, shrines, and protected sika deer. Check into a ryokan on the island for a truly immersive experience.
Explore the island of Miyajima today, wandering its forest trails and enjoying the famous view of Itsukushima Shrine. Take the ferry to Hiroshima before transferring via shinkansen to the port city of Osaka. A modern metropolis in every sense, Osaka is a great destination to enjoy the best of Japan’s urban offerings, including fine dining, nightlife and shopping. For more history, there’s Osaka Castle, moated on 15 acres of land and one of Japan’s most iconic buildings.
Enjoy your final morning in Japan with a leisurely breakfast before being chauffeur-driven to Kansai airport in time for your departure flight.
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.
Just steps away from the popular streets of Gion, Kawaramachi and Pontocho, the Ritz-Carlton hotel is the perfect gateway for seeing Kyoto’s famous sights. Respecting the ancient traditions and culture of Kyoto, the extravagant space is inspired by the natural surroundings and traditional architecture. Famous for Zen Temples, palaces and gardens, Kyoto's atmosphere is incorporated in the Ritz-Carlton’s design. Built in the style of a traditional Meiji House and courtyard, a stay here is truly a cultural experience. A four-story waterfall is featured in the hotel entrance amidst patterned motifs. Luxury Ritz-Carlton touches include high-thread count linens, plush Japanese “IMABARI” robes and towels, 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, sophisticated dining and drinking options, as well as an indulgent spa for any pampering needs.
Inspired by the tranquility and contemplative calm of the region’s many temples and Zen gardens, Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto features 110 standard rooms, 12 suites, 57 condos and a Presidential Suite, which at over 2,600 square feet, is the largest hotel suite in Kyoto. The restrained chic of designer Agnes Ng’s modern ideas, allied with traditional design elements such as bamboo groves and shoji paper-walls, create an extraordinary set of contemporary, yet classic, accommodations – with a peaceful vibe, enhanced and completed by the gentle crash of water from the Waterfall Garden. The hotel features two restaurants, bar, lounge and even a tea house where guests can find a range of tantalizing treats and refreshments to expedite their relaxation – set off to perfection by a team of expertly trained, confident and multilingual service staff.
The highly anticipated Aman Kyoto brings an even higher level of luxury to the historic and cultural ancient capital. A blend of authentic, traditional ryokan hospitality and contemporary spaces, the Aman Kyoto offers travelers a respite in the heart of one of Japan's most visited cities. The secluded 80-acre property is situated in a hidden garden close to the Golden Pavilion at the foot of the Mountain of Hidari Daimonji, within easy reach of Kyoto's impressive collection of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Scattered among the grounds is a series of standalone pavilions. The four guest pavilions house 24 guest rooms (choose between garden or stream views) and a pair of two-bedroom villas overlooking the forest canopy. Each room captures a contemporary, minimalistic style with nod to the quintessential ryokan feel; walls of windows bringing the outside in to spacious, light-filled interiors. Facilities include separate Arrival, Living and Spa pavilions. The signature restaurant, Taka-An, showcases Japanese haute cuisine in the form of the kaiseki banquet - a multi-course dining experience made using the season’s finest local produce. The Living Pavilion offers an inviting spaces with a central fireplace for guests to enjoy home-cooked Kyoto obanzai-style cuisine and afternoon tea. The Spa Pavilion’s onsen bathing facilities use water from a local spring and the range of treatments highlight local, natural ingredients such as green tea, black beans, sake and cold-pressed camellia oil.
Hidden away in the sacred Kasugayama Primeval Forest (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), Tsukihi-tei Ryokan offers a taste of Japan’s traditional roots in serene surroundings. The small inn has only five guest rooms, outfitted with traditional tatami mats, low tables and futon mattresses. The ryokan offers Michelin-class kaiseki meals, based on a seasonal menu.
Deep in a lush, wooden area near Lake Shinji lays the tranquil Tamatsukuri Onsen hot spring. Roughly one kilometer from the spring is the KAI Izumo hotel. Its spacious rooms feature classic Japanese designs and the hotel houses outdoor hot spring baths with either cypress or Shigaraki-yaki ceramic tiles where guests can take their time enjoying the rejuvenating waters of Tamatsukuri Hot Spring. Rooms are equipped with luxury mattresses, casual kimonos, and modern amenities such as televisions and fridges. Fine-dining is offered at the hotel's restaurant with colorful sashimi platters, seasonal ingredients, and seafood. No western dishes are served. There is also a lounge room, massage center, and Japanese theater performances are held every night.
The opulent, airy rooms of Otansi Sanso have various designs with some featuring private spring baths, classical Japanese aesthetics with tatami floors, Western beds or futon beddings. All rooms afford stunning views of the lush region and such modern amenities as flat-screen televisions, mini fridges, and air conditioning. Guests can enjoy various baths at the in-house natural hot spring such as an herb bath, a Jacuzzi-whirlpool bath, a reclining bath, and our sauna. The hotel houses three restaurants. There are casual and formal restaurants along with a teppanyaki restaurant. A night lobby, karaoke studio, astronomical observatory, massage room, foot bath with drinks, and open-air swimming pool are available.
Deep in the stunning river-and-mountain-dotted landscapes of Yamaguchi Prefecture is Nagato-City, home to Bettei Otozure Ryokan Hotel. Five room types offer gorgeous Japanese aesthetics with wonderfully comfortable features. The rooms furnish stunning views of the surrounding nature and enchanting landscapes, some have an open-air bathtub and all afford such modern amenities as television and internet along with the essential toiletries and bathrobes required to make the most out of the relaxation geared retreat. The main, open-air bath is filled with hot spring waters and designed to allow guests to gaze at the stars from the warmth of a Japanese Cypress wooden tub. Bathing areas are gender segregated and an indoor tub is available in addition to the resort’s signature Otozure Spa. The hotel houses three restaurants. At Unyu, guests can enjoy traditional Japanese flavors while at Zuiun serves French dishes and Choshu provides the Teppanyaki experience. Guests can also immerse themselves in the hotel’s Japanese Garden. Additionally, a tea house, resplendent bar, library, and fitness gym are all on-site.
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.
Conrad Osaka is a 5-star hotel that boasts stunning views and a central location. Situated in Osaka's Kita district, guests are a 15 minutes' walk from Nakanoshima Park, and a castle, museum, and church are all accessible by foot. There is an abundance of artwork in the lobby and scattered throughout the hotel. Rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows, inviting beds, and indulgent bathrooms, and upgraded accommodations feature access to the Executive Lounge that offers complimentary breakfast, afternoon tea, and evening cocktails. There are a number of gourmet restaurants on the 40th floor, such as a sushi and teppanyaki restaurant and a noteworthy crustacean bar. In particular, Atmos Dining boasts an extensive breakfast buffet in the morning and a mixture of Western and Asian dishes throughout the day. The spa is a highlight, and there is also an indoor heated pool, 24-hour gym, and a fitness center.
Take in the best of Japan’s must-see sights on this 14-day journey. You’ll take in the world-famous Tsukiji & Toyosu Markets, board a bullet-train for Kyoto, and spend time at the cultural capital’s ancient temples, shrines, and palaces, spending your nights in some of Japan’s best hotels.
Remote Lands is offering packages to the Summer Games 2020 in Tokyo for the opening of the Games, a journey that will take travelers from the capital to the history and culture of Kyoto, from July 23 to August 1, limited to eight couples.
Join hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the world in celebrating the commencement of the Summer Games on July 23. Tour some of Tokyo’s highlights on your first day, then spend four days attending your choice of events.
Visit Tokyo during the second week of its Summer Games, and spend your week touring the city and watching world-class athletic competitions. Tour the city’s highlights on your first full day and get to know Tokyo, then spend four days watching your choice of events.
Travel to Tokyo, one of the world’s most exciting and vibrant cities, and attend the last week of the 2020 Summer Games from August 4 to the event finale on August 10. Spend four days watching your choice of events, then spend your last day touring the city before attending the closing of the Summer Games.
This 13-day itinerary is a treat for anyone, a confirmed fan of Japan or not. Experience the buzz and bustle of Tokyo from the traditional wards to the ultra-modern architecture. You’ll travel across the country on the high-speed bullet trains, or by private transfer, visiting rural Yamanaka, historic Kanazawa on the west coast of Honshu, and Kyoto.
Tohoku is home to both a unique culture and fantastic natural surroundings; this 12-day trip shows off the best of these two facets of modern day Tohoku. Ideally done in the first week of August, you’ll enjoy some of the best seasonal festivals the region has to offer while also giving you the opportunity to hike beautiful mountains.
Discover Japan’s exciting history on this exciting 11-day luxury journey through Japan’s most fascinating age-old cities. Explore the colossal Todaiji Temple, visit ancient shrines, take an emotional tour of Hiroshima, and embrace Japan’s old world charm, while staying at some of Japan’s most luxurious hotels.
Experience a side of Japan that very few visitors get to see on this exciting two-week adventure through Kyushu and Shikoku. Enjoy breathtaking hikes in some truly beautiful places, marvel at spectacular scenery and soak up the local culture in these two unique, remote areas of Japan.
In the fall, temperatures in Tohoku are mild, and the trees adopt a breathtaking pallet of red, orange, and yellow. This 14-day long itinerary takes tourists on a leisurely tour of the Tohoku Region’s top outdoor destinations while also giving plenty of opportunities to enjoy the hot springs and taste the local cuisine.
Price is based on double or twin hotel room occupancy and includes accommodation, transfers, car/driver, English-speaking guide, activities and entrance fees, breakfasts and some casual lunches while touring. Flights and optional special activities will be quoted separately. Most personal expenses, including dinners, alcoholic beverages, spa treatments and gratuities can be paid on the spot while traveling. Prices may vary depending on season, choice of accommodation and other factors.
With Remote Lands you'll travel with people who have made Asia the solitary focus of their own lifelong adventure. As our guest, you'll discover Asia on a journey that is completely, authentically your own, adapted from our own remarkable experiences and adventures over the years.
With Remote Lands you'll travel with people who have made Asia the solitary focus of their own lifelong adventure. As our guest, in the continent that our north American founders Catherine and Jay have adored and explored for decades, you'll discover Asia on a journey that is completely, authentically your own, adapted from our own remarkable experiences and adventures over the years.
An Asia-focused magazine brought to you by Remote Lands – a platform for adventure, luxury, and authenticity from experts and explorers around the continent.
Cheerleaders, history, balloons — watching baseball in Japan is a whole new way to see the game.
Whether it’s the wilds of Tohoku or the hot springs of Ishikawa, Japan has a wealth of experiences for your wellbeing.
Remote Lands speaks to executive director Naohito Ise of the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) about the future of travel in Japan.
Here is a small selection of the kind words our guests have said about us, as well as features by journalists and travel writers.