The best way to explore Japan is on the excellent public transport system and ultra-fast trains, with a guide on hand in the cities to give you specialist insight into the unexpected nuances and history of Japan’s sophisticated culture. You’ll use your Manaca Card to zip round Tokyo, for example, visiting temples and shrines, shopping malls and ancient streets - absorbing the sights as you go.
You’ll take bullet trains and stay in an art project on Naoshima Island, absorb the spiritual richness of Kyoto, visit a dormant volcano and sleep in a ryokan in Izu Kogen. Then take boat trips and bathe in private hot springs.
Don't just take our word for it... read Denys Blakeway's 'Take a bow Japan' in the Daily Mail here > >
Arrive in Tokyo early in the morning and check in to your hotel at the top of the second highest building in the city.
Now it’s time to explore Japan, starting with one of the world’s busiest and most dazzling capital cities. In Tokyo you’ll have all-day tickets to watch the Tokyo Basho – Sumo wrestlers at their gargantuan best, fighting in a prestigious tournament.
The following day you’ll have time for sightseeing.
Your guide will take you on a private tour of the capital using the legendary public transport system and you’ll be given a Manaca Card that can be used for taxis, buses, trains, vending machines and even bento in convenience stores, complete with instructions in English for topping up. You’ll see the lesser known aspects of Tokyo, as well as the Senso-ji Temple in the ancient downtown area of Asakusa, the buzzing fashion shops of Shibuya, soaring skyscrapers and astonishing streets of neon advertising. You’ll need a camera with a gigantic memory, so if you don’t have one already, this is the place to buy it!
Stay: Two nights in a standard room at the Andaz Tokyo.
If you like trains, this is a high point of your trip. At Tokyo Station you’ll board the famous Tokaido Shinkansen train bound for Okayama, covering the 730 km between the two cities in under four hours. En route you’ll see Mount Fuji, Hakone National Park, the ultra-modern Nagoya Station and Himeji Castle. At Okayama your driver will collect you and take you to Uno Port where a Skikoku Kisen ferry takes you to Miyanoura Port on Naoshima island.
Here you’ll be staying in a stunning hotel that is an integral part of the Art Site Naoshima project – the perfect base for exploring the natural beauty of the island and visiting its various art sites via complimentary bus. Expect to see work by Monet, Warhol, Richard Long and architect Tadao Ando amongst many others.
Stay: Two nights in a park room at Benesse House.
Your ferry takes you back to the mainland, where you’ll use local and Shinkansen trains to travel to world famous Kyoto – an interest-filled journey taking about two hours. You’ll be staying close to Kyoto Station in the Higashiyama Shichijo district, noted for its Sanjusangendo Temple, Kyoto National Museum and numerous shrines and landmarks.
You’ll have a dedicated guide who will show you around this fabulous city with its 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites, its 1600 Buddhist temples, 400 Shinto shrines, authentic tea houses with geishas, tiny streets and shopping arcades. With no rigid timetable you’ll have time to experience Japan’s most culturally rich city in your own way.
Stay: Two nights in a standard room at the Hyatt Regency Kyoto.
The famous bullet train will whisk you to Atami, where a Ltd Express train will take you to Izu Kogen. Here you’ll be staying in a woodland grove on the beautiful Izu Peninsula. You can bathe in hot springs, take scenic coastal walks past the impressive Jyogasaki Suspension Bridge and visit the dormant volcano of Mount Omuro with its unsurpassed views.
You can browse various museums or take a sightseeing boat trip from a nearby pier, but the real sensation is staying in ryokan-style accommodation complete with private kaiseki dining, private hot spring baths, close to an open air theatre and charming pathways illuminated by lines of tree lanterns.
Stay: One night in a Hakuo villa room at the Hanafubuki Hotel.
Today you return to Tokyo in style. The Ltd Express takes you from Izu Kogen Station to Tokyo, presenting you with superb oceanic views along the way. Once in Tokyo you’ll be staying in the trendy Roppongi district close to the Ginza shopping area, the Kasumigaseki government buildings, leisure and sightseeing opportunities. You’ll have the rest of the day and evening to explore – or simply chill out in a world class hotel.
Depart from Tokyo Haneda Airport in the morning and fly home.
Stay: One night in a standard room at the Grand Hyatt Tokyo.