Example Itinerary

Tradition & Technology: A Japan Cultural Journey

Duration
12 days / 11 nights
Price Per Person
Interests
Art, Architecture
Destinations
Japan

This 12-day itinerary takes you to Japan, a country of contrasts, with its modern cities juxtaposed against its ancient traditions and culture. Experience the country’s vibrant mix of old and new, with traditional shrines and temples standing alongside some of the world's most advanced cities and technology. In Tokyo, explore towering skyscrapers and the latest trends in fashion, while in Kyoto and Kanazawa, ancient temples and traditional gardens await. In Naoshima, art lovers can explore the modern art installations that dot the island. Here, ancient and modern come together in a way that can only be found in this unique nation.

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.

Highlights

  • Harajuku: Watch Harajuku fashionistas teeter on sky-high heels as you navigate this trendy district of cute boutiques and themed cafes - one of the capital's many highlights.
  • Art: Immerse yourself in modern art as you tour the art island of Naoshima, filled with museums, outdoor sculptures and renowned architecture.
  • Samurai: Kanazawa historic Samurai District holds the secrets to the legacy of Japan's samurai warrior caste.

Day-by-Day

Day 1

Tokyo

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.

Hotel Options
Why We Love This Hotel

Location: Spread across the top six floors of the Otemachi Tower in Tokyo’s financial district, this lofty hotel presents city superb views and is just steps from Tokyo Station and Ginza shopping district.

History: This newly built-hotel is the first ever ‘city’ hotel from the luxurious Aman Resorts, a group that has over two dozen resorts in their portfolio spread across four different continents.

Services: The wealth of services here all take advantage of the stunning views, whether you’re treating yourself to a massage in the spa, enjoying fine Mediterranean cuisine in the 33rd floor restaurant or doing laps in the infinity pool.

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Aman Tokyo Preferred Hotel
Why We Love This Hotel

High-tech: in-room amenities.

Pool: Large 65-foot swimming pool and equally sizable hydrotherapy pool.

Views: Superb views of the Imperial Palace.

Location: Within walking distance to the shopping paradise of Ginza.

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The Peninsula Tokyo Preferred Hotel

Day 2

Tokyo

Amidst Tokyo’s towering skyscrapers, today you’ll explore the city’s ancient relics and get in touch with its roots. Begin the morning with a stroll around the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace, the residence of the royal family since 1869, separated from the city by a moat and stone walls. Then, visit the Yanaka neighborhood. This old neighborhood is one of the few in Tokyo that survived the Great Kanto Earthquake and Fire in 1923 and then escaped Allied bombing unscathed. It is one of the few sections of the city that retains its shitamachi atmosphere - a sort of old-town, nostalgic ambience. A short distance away is 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. Round out the day with a lesson in the traditional martial art of swordmanship which was developed over centuries of warfare and have been preserved up to today despite the advent of modern, sword-less warfare.

Tokyo
Tokyo

Day 3

Tokyo

Today is all about modern Tokyo, from its skyscrapers to pop culture and high-tech advances. Arrive at 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 digital art exhibition which showcases dynamic interactive installations of mirrors and colorful LEDS. Next 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. Pop into the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation for a look at Japan’s cutting-edge advancements in space research, robotics, medicine, and more. Then visit one of Tokyo’s many modern art museums and galleries such as the Mori Museum, 21-21 Design Sight, or Yayoi Kusama Museum. For a fun look into contemporary sports, attend a baseball game which became a beloved high-octane event and national phenomenon after its arrival in Japan following WWII.

Day 4

Tokyo

Take a day-trip to Yokohama, the birthplace of Japan’s modern culture. This sprawling city was the first to open its port to the outside world after a period of self-imposed isolation. It was here where Japan first absorbed such touchstones of Western culture as baseball, jazz, horse-drawn carriages, gas-lit streets and even beer. City people began wearing Western clothing exclusively and flocked into shops serving coffee and classical music. A drive along the wide sweeping avenue adjacent to the waterside Yamashita Park will take you past the elegant Hotel New Grand, an officially recognized historical property of the city of Yokohama and the post-war residence of General MacArthur; the Hikawa Maru, a meticulously preserved, 11,000-ton luxury liner with Art Deco interiors that cruised between Yokohama and Seattle from 1930 until World War II, when it became an Imperial Navy hospital ship; and afford you a view of Yokohama’s distinctive skyline.

Day 5

Kanazawa

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. This historic market has been Kanazawa’s largest fresh food market since the Edo period, serving privileged towns at the base of the castle. After lunch, head to the popular 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art and get lost amongst its maze of interconnecting rooms and galleries. Part of the museum’s concept is to connect Kanazawa’s distinctive cultural traditions, dating from feudal times, to the diversifying values of the 21st century. Check into your hotel and unwind for the evening.

Hotel Options
About

Conveniently located close to Kanazawa Train Station, the Hyatt Centric Kanazawa is comprised of 253 rooms and suites in a modern, high-rise property. Accommodations range over eight room types and three suite types, all decorated in a playful, modern style with eye-catching artwork.

This accommodation has been personally vetted by the Remote Lands team and is the best available in the area. More information on this property is available on the “Hotels” tab at the top of the page.

About

This accommodation has been personally vetted by the Remote Lands team and is the best available in the area. More information on this property is available on the “Hotels” tab at the top of the page.

Kanazawa
Kanazawa

Day 6

Kanazawa

Take in Kanazawa’s traditional culture and history today beginning with the charming, historic Higashi Chaya district. Of the city's three geisha districts, Higashi Chaya is the largest and arguably the most famous. The area was established in 1920 as an entertainment district for the nobility and many of its traditional wooden buildings have been beautifully preserved, now housing restaurants or souvenir craft shops. Stop into a gold leaf shop and learn about the ancient traditional art of gold leaf production and its use in adorning temples, shrines, pottery, and lacquerware. Also nearby is the samurai district, where some of the former samurai houses and their gardens are open for public viewing. Then, visit Kenrokuen Garden, one of Japan’s “three most beautiful landscape gardens” which opened to the public in 1871. A stroll around the garden will acquaint you with the Chinese landscape theory of six essential attributes that make up a perfect garden. Just next door is the Castle Park, a recreational park outlined by remains of the castle which burned down several times over the centuries.

Day 7

Kyoto

The journey continues to Kyoto this morning by bullet train. Begin at Nijo Castle, built in 1603 as the Kyoto residence of the first shogun of the Edo period (1603-1867). A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this cyprus-wood castle is the starkest representation of the power the warlord held over the emperor during this period. Continue to Kiyomizudera, a Buddhist temple with over 1,200 years of history and also another World Heritage site. From here, you can meander the cobblestone side streets of the preserved Higashiyama neighborhood which remains evocative of “old Japan.” Eventually make your way down to Gion, Kyoto’s famous geisha district where you may sight the hostesses in colorful kimonos on their way to the tea shops. If you wish to learn more about geisha culture, splurge on a private dinner with these storied entertainers who are well-trained in the traditional Japanese performing arts such as dance, music, and singing.

Hotel Options
Why We Love This Hotel

Nature: Aman Kyoto's palette is the inviting green of forest scenery and the warm, woody tones of shelter. So aligned with its surroundings, the hotel changes with the seasons; Taka-An's menu puts the spotlight on seasonal produce, while the floor-to-ceiling windows showcase how the passing months shape the landscape.

Culture: Kaiseki banquets, matcha and mochi afternoon tea, tranquil and contemplative gardens, indoor and outdoor onsen bathing facilities, options for futon bedding and tatami mat flooring – the entire property has been designed with an immersion in both nature and culture in mind, so guests can experience true Japanese hospitality.

Wellness: A stay at the Aman Kyoto is not just a quiet retreat to return to after a day of sightseeing in Kyoto, but also an oasis designed to replenish the body and mind. The in-house spa specializes in Shiatsu massage, onsen pools are fed by the mineral-rich waters of local hot springs, while private yoga sessions in a forest clearing release stress and tension.

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Aman Kyoto Preferred Hotel
Why We Love This Hotel

Location: Nestled at the foot of Higashiyama Mountain, alongside a thousand-year-old ikeniwa pond, Four Seasons Kyoto is located just ten minutes from Kyoto’s city center, within the temple district, making it an ideal base from which to explore the nearby shrines and historic landmarks, as well as the more modern attractions of Japan’s elegant former capital.

History: Having opened it’s doors in October 2016, Four Seasons Kyoto - the second site for the Four Seasons brand in the country - may have been five years in the planning, but the atmosphere of urbane tranquility of the Zen inspired interiors has made an indelible impression on a city known for its sense of style and sophistication.

Service: Four Seasons Kyoto provides the very best in round-the-clock luxury service, complete with 24-hour concierge and room service, manned with English-speaking staff ready to cater for to guests’ wants and needs.

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Four Seasons Kyoto Preferred Hotel
Why We Love This Hotel

Location: Sitting on the serene banks of the stunning Kamogawa river within walking distance of several famous streets and popular sights, this hotel couldn’t have a more perfect location. Plus, it’s only a 20-minute taxi ride from the Kyoto airport.

History: Paying homage to rich Japanese culture, the fourth Ritz-Carlton in Japan opened in Kyoto in February of 2014.

Service: Guests can count on dependable, high-level service at the Ritz-Carlton, where a luxury experience is guaranteed, complemented by extremely helpful staff.

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Ritz-Carlton Kyoto Preferred Hotel
About

Hotel The Mitsui Kyoto is tucked away next to Nijo-jo Castle, at the Kyoto home of the Kitake, a branch of the Mitsui Family. This land has been in the care of the family for more than 250 years.

If our Preferred Hotel is unavailable, this accommodation is a reliable alternative and has been personally vetted by the Remote Lands team. More information on this property is available on the “Hotels” tab at the top of the page.

Day 8

Kyoto

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 drop by a private gallery and home of a local pottery specialist to see the curated selection of ceramics from the potters of Japan, both antique pieces and those by contemporary artists. Learn the history of Japanese pottery and see the contrast between the old and modern styles. Finally, stop by a master artisan’s woodblock carving studio for a close-up look at the art of ukiyo-e. In the Japan of 200 years ago, the woodblock print brought art to the masses. A striking design would be copied thousands of times, and people could buy prints for the same price as a bowl of noodles.

Kyoto
Kyoto

Day 9

Kyoto

Step further back in time with a day-trip to the ancient capital city of Nara, an hour’s drive away. 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. Also visit Naramachi, the former merchant district which has preserved traditional residential buildings and warehouses. Of interest for kids is the Mechanical Toy Museum which houses a collection of classic, handmade toys that date back to the Edo and Showa periods. Then, make your way to the Miho Museum, designed by the renowned architect I.M. Pei. The building alone is a work of art, while also housing Mihoko Koyama’s exclusive collection of Asian and Western antiques. Return to Kyoto for the night.

Day 10

Naoshima Island

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. 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. If it is Friday or Saturday, attend the James Turrell night program at the Chichu Art Museum, a special exhibition enjoyed at sunset.

Hotel Options
Why We Love This Hotel

Location: Located on an island in the middle of the inland Japanese sea, and the closed mainland ferry port of Uno Port, guests can take a direct 20 minute ferry to the island.

History: In 1989, Naoshima International Camp was completed and with that, brought a rise in tourism to the island, which also in turn brought development in the way of Benesse House in 1992.

Service: This hotel is the ideal stop for lovers of modern art, who will appreciate the convenience of not only having stunning works of art in their rooms, but also a museum in the hotel itself.

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Benesse House Preferred Hotel
Naoshima & Seto Inland Sea Islands
Naoshima & Seto Inland Sea Islands

Day 11

Naoshima & Seto Inland Sea Islands

Spend the day exploring the various art museums and spaces such as Chichu Museum, Art House Project, Ando museum, and Lee Ufan Museum. A site not to be missed is Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama’s famous yellow pumpkin sculpture which became the symbol of Naoshima. It sits on the pier and has been there since 1994. The original was swept into the sea in 2021 and a replication was made and reinstalled in its place.

Day 12

Departure

After a leisurely morning enjoying the art island, take the ferry back to Okayama where you can catch the bullet train one last time to your final destination, whether Tokyo or Osaka’s international airport for your departure flight.

Why Remote Lands?

Exclusively Asia

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.

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