Experience the best of fascinating, beautiful, and unique Japan. This 14-day journey of luxury travel and hotels showcases a balanced and eclectic mix of Tokyo’s trendy and famous districts, Kyoto’s historical temples, Kanazawa's handicraft culture, Naoshima's contemporary art, and Osaka's gastronomic obsession. From traditional to ultra-modern and everything in between, the sights and experiences of this classic trip are nothing less than quintessential Japan.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.
Touch down at Narita International Airport where you will be met and privately whisked to Tokyo, Japan's exciting capital, an hour's drive away. Futuristic yet rooted in tradition, ordered yet chaotic, Tokyo has something for everyone. Check in to your luxury hotel of choice and get rested up for the adventure ahead.
Start your exploration of Tokyo at its iconic fish and fresh markets: First, see the newer relocated Toyosu fish market, followed by a stroll through the original Tsukiji's outermarket. Although the famed inner fish market has moved to Toyosu, the outermarket still remains at the original site and offers visitors around 500 whoelsale and retail shops selling fresh produce and seafood as well as ready to eat food and kitchen items. While here, we suggest you take the opportunity to savor the freshest and best-quality sushi breakfast in the world. For foodies and those seeking the unique, choose the ultimate experience of shopping at the market with a Michelin-starred sushi chef, then go back to his restaurant for a hands-on lesson on the art of sushi making. Then, take in some history at the informative Edo Tokyo Museum and stroll through the Imperial East Gardens. Wrap up the day with panoramic views of the metropolis. Although Tokyo Tower is the popular observation site, the Mori Museum's sky deck is a hidden gem which allows for a more peaceful and less crowded view with the added benefit of contemporary art.
See Tokyo's most colorful and oldest temple, Sensoji, which is the most widely visited spiritual site in the world. The pathway up to the temple, called Nakamise, is lined with shops selling traditional goods and snacks adding to the bustling convivial atmosphere. A short distance away is buzzing Akihabara, Tokyo's electric town best known for its electronics and underground youth culture. Maid cafes, video game arcades, pachinko parlors, and shops selling manga, anime, and dolls can all be found here. Stimulate your senses even further at teamLab's Borderless digital art exhibition which showcases dynamic interactive installations of mirrors and colorful LEDS. Wind down your exciting day with a trance-inducing fire ritual at a local temple. The fire is believed to burn away negative energies and many visitors come to make wishes and have their personal belongings such as phones and purses blessed by the fire.
Continue your exploration of Tokyo today with a visit to the well-known and revered Meiji Jingu Shrine, located within the peaceful Yoyogi park. Next door is funky, trendy Harajuku, and Japan’s version of the Champs-Elysees, known as Omotesando. Stroll the lanes lined with international high-end shopping mingled with kawaii fashion boutiques, crepe shops, vintage stores, and animal cafes. Take a moment to sip a coffee accompanied by a kitten, miniature pig, hedgehog, or owl. Enjoy different flavors of Tokyo and spend your afternoon exploring two lesser-visited characteristic neighborhoods, Shimokitazawa and Daikanyama. Also known as Shimokita, this hip cultural quarter is the place to go for old-Tokyo vibes with mural-painted lanes lined with stylish stores for vintage clothes and vinyl, brewpubs, and craft cafes. Daikanyama is a laid-back sophisticated area dense with upscale low-rise architecture, beauty salons, small exclusive boutiques, and open-air cafes.
Today is it onward to Kanazawa, known for its well-preserved Edo-era districts, gold leaf production, and traditional handicrafts. Travel by bullet train at 160 miles an hour, a quick journey of only 2.5 hours long. Upon arrival, head straight to Omicho market where you sample your way and choose amongst over 180 shops and restaurants. After lunch, take a short walk over to the popular 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art and get lost amongst its maze of interconnecting rooms and galleries. Also a staple in Kanazawa is the Kenrokuen Gardens, one of the three great gardens of Japan. Finally, stroll amongst the charming samurai and tea districts where you can sample matcha tea or the Instagram-able soft serve cone covered in gold leaf. After your tour of the city, drive along the coast to quiet Yamanaka Onsen and check into your ryokan, a traditional Japanese inn. Tonigh you will be treated to an elaborate kaiseki dinner, a multi-course meal of seasonal ingredients and a point of pride of ryokans.
Take a morning stroll along the town's small main street, filled iwth cafes, restaurants, and galeries displaying local crafts such as lacquerware and ceramics. Depending on your interest, we will arrange appointments at exclusive ateliers to meet the artisans and watch their craft in the making. Return to your luxury ryokan and spend the rest of the day as you wish, whether relaxing in your private hot spring stone bath, enjoying the sculpted gardens, or walking along the picturesque gorge nearby.
Travel onward today by bullet train to the cultural capital of Japan, Kyoto, home of over 1,600 temples and shrines. Dive straight in with a visit to Nijo Castle the stronghold and residence of the Tokugawa shoguns (warlords) who once wielded power over the emperor for over 200 years. Stop by Nishiki Market, a five-block long shopping street where you can find seasonal foods and Kyoto's specialities. Get a taste of old Kyoto as you stroll uphill along Higashiyama's main street lined with wooden buildings and traditional merchant shops. Narrow lanes branching off offer small shops and restaurants that have been catering to visitors and pilgrims for centuries. At the top of the hill, come upon the famed Kiyomizudera, the Pure Water temple.Its Otowa Waterfall has three separate streams that are said to grant different benefits to those who drink the water. As the sun sets, meander your way down to Gion, the geisha district, just as it comes alive. If you're lucky, you may glimpse a geisha making her way down the cobbled streets to a teahouse.
Start today with a moment of zen at Japan's most famous rock garden at Ryoanji temple followed by taking in the stunning Golden Pavilion at Kinkakuji. Then, head across towards the mountains where you will find Tenryuji, the greatest of the city's five great Zen temples. This Arashiyama area is especially scenic and can be enjoyed at Togetsukyo Bridge, the bamboo forest, and the monkey park atop a hill. If you wish, take a pleasure cruise of the Sagano river atop a traditional boat or the sightseeing train that travels along the riverside.
Just an hour's drive away is the ancient capital city of Nara, an unmissable daytrip from Kyoto. Nara is home to some of Japan's oldest, largest, and historically significant temples including Todaiji, Kasuga Grand Shrine, and Isuien. Aside from the temples, Nara is known for its friendly Sika deer found wandering the deer park being hand-fed crackers by visitors. For a special experience, opt to arrive early morning at the deer park where we can arrange for the deer to be called by French horn especially for you. Also visit Naramachi, the former merchant district which has preserved traditional residential buildings and warehouses. On the way back to Kyoto, stop by Fushimi Inari, the famous shrine with thousands of red torii gates.
Depart from historical and spiritual Kyoto for modern and creative Naoshima Island. Train, car, and ferry will get you to this small art island in the Seto Inland Sea. Dotted with art museums, installations, and sculptures, Naoshima is the premier destination for contemporary art. Even the island's municipal buildings and schools were designed by a modern architect. Explore the various art museums and spaces such as Chichu Museum, Art House Project, Ando museum, and Lee Ufan Museum. While on Naoshima, you will be staying at Benesse House which is a resort and modern art museum. Hotel guests have the added privilege of after-hours access to its impressive museum.
Explore neighboring art islands, Teshima and Inujima, which are less visited hidden gems. Teshima offers Christian Boltanski's "Les Archives du Coeur" where you can listen to other visitors' recorded heartbeats and the Teshima Art Museum, an awe-inspiring structure shaped like a drop of water. The tiny Inujima is pedestrian-friendly, making it easy to get to and enjoy the Seaside Inujima Gallery and Seirensho Art Museum.
Today head to the final destination of your classic Japan journey, Osaka. A big and bustling city similar to Tokyo, Osaka is its own unique regional identity from its straight-talking locals to its food obsession. After settling into your hotel, in the late afternoon take to the Osaka skies at the top of the Umeda Sky Building for a bird's eye view of the metropolis. Then, as the sun sets and the city lights illuminate the city, head to Dotonbori, a colorful evening gastronomic wonderland. Feast your eyes on the eclectic neon lights and extravagant signage while tasting popular street foods such as takoyaki (octopus dough balls), deep fried meat and vegetable skewers, and okonomiyaki (Japanese-style savory pancake). This is the place to find weird and obscure, even controversial, cuisines such as pufferfish, whale, and horse meat.
In the city known as the Nation's Kitchen, it is only right to start the day at Kuromon Ichiba market. Stretching for over 3.5 miles long, the lively market plies shoppers with giant palm-sized oysters, flawless white strawberries, wagyu beef kebabs, and countless tempting delicacies. Sample your way through the market or choose to dine at one of the many casual eateries. Then, visit the Momofuku Ramen Museum, dedicated to the instant noodles and its creator and founder, where you can craft your own cup noodles. Spend the rest of the day exploring historical sites such as Osaka Castle, Tenmangu Shrine, and the moving International Peace Center. If it is the season, take the opportunity to go to a Japanese baseball game and experience this slice of modern culture that has taken the sport to fanatical heights.
The last day of the trip is yours to spend as you like, whether resting before your flight, strolling around the city on your own, or buying last-minute souvenirs. When you are ready, a private car will take you to Osaka's international airport for your flight home.
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.
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.
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.
Located outside of Kanazawa, Kayotei is a traditional Japanese ryokan set within the forested hills of Yamanaka Onsen. The Kayotei boasts 10 Sukiya suites arranged in the traditional style of a tea ceremony pavilion mixing antique tansu chests of drawers, low-polished oak tables, hand-painted screens, traditional ceramic pieces and modern sculptural designs. The ryokan includes two indoor communal baths sourced from natural hot springs. The baths are glassed in on three sides, providing guests with onsen views of natural forest scenery. Kayotei’s chefs prepare Japanese Kaiseki cuisine served in tatami rooms.
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.
Comprised of five elements - sculpture park and museum, hotel, boutique, restaurants and a spa - Benesse House is one of the most unique properties in Japan. Every room has its own individual design and artwork, with 65 guest rooms and suites across four buildings: Museum, Oval, Park and Beach, all designed by renowned architect Tadao Ando. In addition to housing the property's modern art museum, Museum has a lecture room that guest speakers are often invited to. Oval is set on a hill and connected to Museum by monorail; Park is where the bulk of Benesse House's facilities, such as its French restaurant, Terrace, its spa and shop are housed; and Beach is one of Ando's few buildings constructed chiefly of wood and is generally reserved for long-term guests. Inside Museum, there are two restaurants, Issen for Japanese and a separate cafe where guests and patrons can relax between viewings. The spa has a wide array of treatment options and is open from 11:00-22:00 with last appointments taken at 20:00.
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.
Price is based on double or twin hotel room occupancy and includes accommodation, transfers, car/driver, English-speaking guide and assistants, activities and entrance fees, bullet train seats in Green Class, ferry tickets, private boat charter to Teshima and Inujima, and daily breakfasts. Food tours as described. Japanese-style breakfast and dinner included at ryokan. 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.
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