Japan – an ancient culture of emperors, fierce shoguns, samurais and brutal martial arts. Yet its also a place of gentle geishas, colourful kimonos, exquisite garden design and Zen Buddhism. How did a country so deeply rooted in such diverse heritage become one of the most modern and advanced economies on the planet? Pondering such questions is what makes a trip to Japan so incredibly rewarding. Having travelled there once, youll feel almost hypnotically drawn back to this truly enigmatic country.
Japans roots lie in an ancient feudal culture, with many customs from these times still pervading modern society. The Portuguese and Jesuit missionaries arrived in the 16th century and by all accounts, they were initially treated well, mainly because the Japanese were impressed with their new technology firearms. Despite trading together successfully for nearly a century, Christianity and western ideas were deemed to be undermining the social order and the Portuguese were expelled. All contact with outsiders was banned for over 200 years. The only country on earth to have been so completely isolated from all external influences, Japanese art and culture developed in its own unique way, until pressure from the US finally broke down the barriers in the 1850s.
Experience more with so much included
- – Visit 10 traditional and historic gardens in Tokyo, Hakone, Hiroshima, Okayama and Kyoto
- – Specialist Japanese gardener at four gardens
- – See the famous sights of Tokyo including the Meiji shrine
- – Enjoy astonishing views of Mount Fuji from Lake Kawaguchi
- – Explore Kyoto on a guided tour, experiencing the former imperial capital and the essence of traditional Japan
- – Relax in the hot-spring spa mountain resort of Hakone
- – Travel at 189 mph on the incomparable high-speed bullet trains
- – Reflect on the horrors of war at Hiroshima’s Peace Park and museum
- – Discover Nara, Japan’s first capital with its huge bronze Buddha, on a guided tour
- – Return direct scheduled flights with upgrades available at a supplement
- – Stay in four-star accommodation, with breakfast daily and three included meals
You arrive at the airport for your overnight direct flight to Tokyo.
On our arrival, we transfer to our hotel, for three nights with breakfast. This afternoon we have short orientation walk in the surrounding area, with the rest of your first day to relax after the flight.
This morning we commence the exploration of Japan’s capital visiting two gardens, the University of Tokyo Botanical Garden Koishikawa and Shukkeien Bonsai Museum. Upon entering there is a 1000 year old pine tree in front of the house. After our included lunch, experience the famous Shinto Meiji shrine.
This morning we visit Tokyos Asakusa district including thel Hamarikyu Garden. Full of traditional small houses and shops, its a unique insight into the Tokyo of a hundred years ago. We will then transfer by boat down the Sumida River to Ginza. Your afternoon is free to shop, explore, or perhaps indulge in some people-watching.
Saying goodbye to Tokyo we drive towards Mount Fuji. Our first stop is the Kachi Kachi Yama Ropeway followed by Ichiku Kubota Art Museum located on Lake Kawaguchi. Then we head south to explore the mountain resort of Hakone to discover the Hakone Botanical Garden of Wetland.
This morning we travel to Hiroshima on the bullet train. Arriving at lunchtime, were on our way to the nearby small island of Miyajima. A huge red ‘Torii’ gate sits offshore; widely celebrated, at high tide it appears to float between the sea and sky. Returning to Hiroshima, we stay for two nights with breakfast.
Theres a sobering reminder of the horrors of war this morning as we visit Hiroshima’s Peace Park and museum, displaying the remains of the only building to survive the atomic bomb blast of August 1945. The city has been completely rebuilt and there are no signs left of the devastation of that fateful day. After lunch we visit the historic scenic Shukkeien Japanese Garden. Take the rest of the afternoon at leisure in this charming city.
Leaving Hiroshima by coach, we head towards Kyoto. En route well visit the Korakuen garden at Okayama. Enjoy four nights in central Kyoto, with breakfast.
Today, visit the sights of Kyoto. First is the Golden Pavilion, dating from the classical Muromachi age of Japanese temple design. Nearby is the Ryoan-ji temple, or the Temple of the Dragon at Peace, home to Japan’s most famous Zen garden. We see the Japanese Garden at the complex of Myoshinji Temple. We then move on to the Sagano Bamboo Grove located in the Arashiyama district. The day is completed visiting the Japanese Garden at the Okochisanso Villa capturing views over the Arashiyama area of Kyoto.
Nara is just a few miles south of Kyoto. Firstly we see one of the country’s most iconic shrines, made from thousands of red Torii gates forming two extraordinary vermilion-coloured wooden tunnels up a hillside. Arriving at Nara you’ll be greeted by the dozens of tame deer. The main sight though is the Todai-ji temple. Today’s Japanese Garden features unique lush vegetation at the Tofukuji Temple.
This morning we visit Nijo Castle. After visiting the Heian Jingu Shrine Japanese Garden we experience a Traditional Japanese Tea Ceromony. Finally we take an orientation walking tour through Kyoto’s Gion district.
After a last free morning at leisure, we take our bullet train to Tokyo staying overnight near the airport.
We fly directly back to the UK, arriving later the same day.