Our guide to Japan
Tokyo, Takayama, Kanazawa, Kyoto
Starting price based on two people sharing. Includes all accommodation, train transfers, some guided activities. All prices are subject to change. Please contact us for special offers and child discounts. Prices include flights from the UK.
At a Glance
A perfect first time trip for those wanting to combine classic cities such as Tokyo and Kyoto, with some time off the beaten track
Stay in a traditional ryokan, a truly authentic experience
Visit the historic cities of Takayama and UNESCO protected Shirakawago in the scenic Kiso Valley
Optional cycling through paddy fields, traditional villages and forests near Takayama
Visit one of Japan's most beautiful and revered gardens, Kenroku-en, in beautiful Kanazawa
The Japanese bullet train makes traveling around Japan a simple and pleasant experience
Explore the extraordinary samurai and geisha districts in Kanazawa
Best time to Visit
Good time to visit
Average time to visit
Japan has four seasons and is best visited in spring from March to May and autumn from late September to November. December to January can be cold with snow and the summer is hot and humid. The end of March and early April is a particularly good time to visit as this is the cherry blossom season as is October for the autumn colors.
This suggested itinerary is a starting point that we can tweak or transform into something bespoke to you. To start planning your vacation
Journey through Japan on this 12 night adventure that mixes Japan's neon bright cutting edge cities with graceful temples, shinto shrines and heritage villages. You'll be whisked through by bullet train and private car.
Japan needs little introduction; it is a country like no other and nothing quite prepares you for its extraordinary world class cities, refined and discreet culture and truly unique way of life. The country bombards every sense yet visitors are greeted by the most wonderful and hospitable people as well as some of the world's best preserved traditions, buildings and religious monuments. This itinerary brilliantly combines some of Japan's most famous cities, such as Tokyo and Kyoto, with more unique locations such as Takayama, Shirakawgo and Kanazawa.
Starting off in Tokyo, you'll spend three nights at The Mandarin Oriental in upscale Nihonbashi, a fantastic area from which to explore. With your private guide you'll visit the world famous Tsukiji Fish Market, including the wonderful outer market, along with the beautiful Hamarikyu Garden. Spend time visiting museums and galleries before reaching Harajuku, an area home to Japan's unique teen subcultures. In addition to this you may wish to visit the glorious Meiji Temple and even head out to Nikko. Alternatively enjoy a day at leisure to explore.
From Tokyo you will board your Shinkansen Bullet Train to Takayama via Nagoya where you will spend two nights. On arrival you will be met by your private guide and driver. Spend time this afternoon visiting the historical Sanmachi area, a beautiful district in Takayama full of old merchant houses and sake breweries. You can enter some of the old houses along with doing a spot of shopping. You'll also visit Takayama Yatai Kaikan, the float festival museum. Late in the afternoon your driver will escort you to your accommodation, Wanasoto, approximately 20 minutes from Takayama in the forested hills nearby. Wanosato is a traditional 8 room Ryokan with a peaceful atmosphere and hot spring onsens. The following day offers the option to go cycling through rice fields, small villages with thatched roof housing, forests and more.
After departing from Takayama with your driver and guide you will head towards Kanazawa, visiting the local farmers market and UNESCO protected Shirakawago en route. This secluded mountain village is best known for its Gassho-zukuri farmhouses that have been designed to withstand heavy snow. Afterwards transfer approximately 90 minutes to Kanazawa and spend your afternoon at leisure. The following day will be spent exploring Higashi-chaya geisha district, a traditional geisha house, local handicraft stores and gold leaf workshops. Your guide will also take you through Kanazawa's samurai district, Omicho fish market and Kenrokuen, one of Japan's most beautiful gardens. If time permits, we also recommend visiting the 21 Century Museum of Contemporary Art.
From Kanazawa you will catch your direct train to Kyoto, which takes a little over 2 hours. Kyoto is Japan's sacred and most revered city that is home to 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, testament to the unrelenting commitment to conserving Japan's history. Spend this afternoon visiting Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion) temple, Ryoan-ji temple and the Geisha district of Gion. Stay at The Ritz Carlton Tokyo, one of the country's finest hotels. Spend the coming days exploring the many temples, shrines and gardens of Kyoto, including Yasakajinja shrine, Kodaiji Temple as well as the ancient neighborhood of Sannenzaka. After 3 nights in Kyoto you will return to Tokyo for your final night.
Days 1-3: Mandarin Oriental Tokyo
Nihonbashi Tokyo, Japan
The Mandarin Oriental is a chic hotel located in a commanding position high above the busy metropolis of Tokyo, giving unparalleled views. It is just a short distance from the exclusive Ginza shopping area and the Imperial Palace Gardens.
Days 4-6: Wanosato Takayama
A beautiful Japanese Ryokan just twenty minutes from historic Takayama, Wanosato is surrounded by forested hills and traditional Japanese villages. Dating back 160 years, with a rare Gasso-zukuri thatched roof, Wanosato is a truly unique place.
Days 6-8: ANA Crowne Plaza Hotel Kanazawa
ANA Crowne Plaza Kanazawa is located next door to Kanazawa's JR train station, making it most one of the most convenient hotels in the city. With great views and a range of restaurants, it makes for a comfortable stay in Kanazawa.
Days 8-11: Ritz Carlton Kyoto
The property has an excellent location on the Kamogawa River, close to Kyoto’s downtown areas including Gion and Kawaramachi-dori and is one of the city's most desired abodes. Guest rooms offer stunning views of the river and the Higashiyama Mountains.
Days 11-12: Ritz Carlton Tokyo
The Ritz-Carlton Tokyo is a beautiful and modern hotel located in the Midtown Tower in downtown Tokyo. Boasting 360-degree views, the hotel has 245 modern and comfortable rooms where you can enjoy all the comforts of home and plenty of dining options.
Geisha and Samurai Dressing
Learn the art of Geisha and Sumurai Dressing, with all the intricate knots and how to properly wear the ancient costumes.
Kanazawa Half Day Tour
This half day guided experience is a fantastic introduction to Kanazawa, visiting Omicho Fish Market, Kanazawa's Samurai district and Kenrokyen Gardens.
Shopping in Kyoto
Enjoy a shopping trip around Kyoto. Wander down the picturesque streets of Gian where you can visit local handicraft and pottery shops.
Take part in a traditional Tea Ceremony and gain an insight into this ancient art form and key part of Japanese culture.