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Sushi and Sashimi
Best time to go: March to May, July to November
11 Nights | from £5,365pp
Holiday type: Tailor-made
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- Watch frenetic auctions and snack on seafood at Tokyo's Tsukiji, the world's biggest fish market
- Learn to make soba noodles and other traditional dishes in Tokyo and Kyoto
- Explore the historic shrines and monasteries of Kyoto and Koya-San
- Browse the markets and sample local sake in the delightful mountain town of Takayama
- Discover the gastronomic delights of bustling Osaka, one of Japan's most renowned foodie hubs
Day 1 Tokyo
Famously the global city with the most Michelin-starred restaurants, Tokyo is a gourmet delight –but it's also a mesmerising, confusing, dazzling place to explore, with distinct districts known for cultural and shopping specialities. Perhaps browse the high-tech outlets of Akihabara, visit the Meiji Jingu shrine and gawp at the teenage 'tribes' of Harajuku and wander the parks around the Imperial Palace.
Palace Hotel Tokyo
Day 2 Tokyo
For a glimpse into the seafood soul of Tokyo, rise before dawn to delve into the vast, near-legendary Tsukiji –the world's biggest (and arguably best) fish market – with a private local guide who'll explain what's going on during the tuna auctions. Savour a piscine breakfast at one of the market's fresh sushi bars before strolling through nearby Hama-Rikyu Teien, formerly the private garden of a lord of the Edo period (17th-19th centuries), stopping at a traditional teahouse on the park's lake for a cup of matcha (Japanese green tea). Afterwards, see Tokyo in a new light as you cruise along the Sumida River to Asakusa, where you find the city's oldest Buddhist temple, Senso-ji Temple. Fill up on Asakusa's famed tempura during lunch at a local restaurant before walking it off around Kappabashi, otherwise known as Kitchen Town, and Ueno's Ameyoko-cho, a bustling market place selling various aromatic foods and spices.
Palace Hotel Tokyo | Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Day 3 Tokyo
Discover the secrets of making Japanese soba (buckwheat) noodles during a half-day masterclass with chef Akila Inouye –founder and president of the Tsukiji Soba Academy –or one of the academy's graduate soba specialists. Every bit as much a part of Japanese food culture as sushi, it's noodles served from countless stalls and ramen shops that fuel the capital.
Palace Hotel Tokyo | Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Day 4 Tokyo / Takayama
Board the Shinkansen (bullet train) for a high-speed ride to a slow-paced destination: Takayama, its beautifully preserved old centre nestling into the wooded hillsides high in the Hida region of the Japanese Alps. Get a taste for sake (rice wine), the quintessential Japanese firewater, with a tour of a brewery.
Hotel Associa Takayama | Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Day 5 Takayama
Shop like the locals – at one of Takayama's famed morning markets. The older Jinja-mae market, first held three centuries ago, sees farmers and small producers selling vegetables and home-made pickles. Our tip: head to the larger Miyagawa site, where dozens of stalls display fruit and vegetables, pickles and spices, sweets and crafts – a chance to try some of the local flavours amid the bustle of a typical Japanese market.
Hotel Associa Takayama | Meals: Breakfast
Day 6 Takayama / Kyoto
Absorb the verdant highland scenery as you speed south-west aboard the Shinkansen to Kyoto, for centuries the capital of Japan and still its cultural epicentre. Explore the city's dazzling melange of hypermodern skyscrapers and ancient wood-framed machiya townhouses.
Hyatt Regency Kyoto | Meals: Breakfast
Day 7 Kyoto
Scratch beneath the surface of this 12-century-old city with insights from a local guide, visiting some of its many UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Listen for the telltale squeaks as you cross the 'nightingale floors' –ingenius early intruder alarms –of 17th-century Nijo-Jo (Nijo Castle) and admire its beautiful architecture and surrounding gardens, created during the Momoyama period, sometimes called the 'Japanese Renaissance'. Then be dazzled by the famous rock garden at Ryoan-ji and Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion) before strolling the atmospheric streets of the Higashiyama district, its shrines and shops nestling into the flanks of the Higashiyama Mountains.
Hyatt Regency Kyoto | Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Day 8 Kyoto
Go temple-hopping this morning –you've got 2000 to choose from, and watching the Buddhist devotees is as absorbing as the diverse shrines themselves. Feed your growing knowledge of Japanese cuisine by browsing the mile-long Nishiki covered food markets alongside your local guide, buying ingredients for a Japanese cooking class. Spend the evening preparing your own dinner, learning how to make rolled sushi, miso soup and cooked salad with traditional flavours and techniques.
Hyatt Regency Kyoto | Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Day 9 Kyoto / Koyasan
Enjoy one of Japan's most scenic train journeys to one of its holiest mountains –the ride up and among the peaks of Wakayama prefecture to Mount Koya, topped by a monastery founded in the 9th century. Join your expert local guide to discover the bustling monasteries, vast Okunoin cemetery and Kongobu-ji temple, learning about Japanese Buddhism and the legacy of the founding monk Kobo Daishi. Overnight in a shukobo - traditional temple lodgings.
Japanese Temple Lodge | Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Day 10 Koyasan / Osaka
Rise early to absorb the sights and sounds of monks chanting their morning prayers, before enjoying a shojin ryori breakfast – vegetarian cuisine created in Buddhist monasteries. Wander among the dozens of monasteries on Koyasan before descending to buzzing Osaka – Japan's third-largest city and a renowned culinary hub.
St. Regis Osaka | Meals: Breakfast
Day 11 Osaka
Following a relaxing morning, dive straight into the bright lights of Doguyasuji shopping arcade before heading to Dotonbori, a former pleasure district turned restaurant mecca, for a gastronomic treat. Among the delicacies you might sample include fugu – puffer fish, extremely toxic unless prepared by an expert. After exploring the city a little, hop on a train to Shinsekai, a small town inspired the by the likes of New York and Paris and a favourite for Osaka food lovers.
St. Regis Osaka | Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Day 12 Osaka / UK
Savour your last breakfast before boarding your flight back to the UK.
Want to stay longer...?
If you itch to explore more of this fascinating country, it's easy to extend your trip – perhaps discovering the monuments of Nara and Hiroshima, walking in the Japanese Alps or the pilgrimage trails of Shikoku, or watching dancing cranes or snow monkeys on Hokkaido.
At A&K all of our journeys are individually tailored to suit your needs and timescale. As a guide, this 12 day suggested luxury journey in Japan will cost from £5,365 per person based on two adults sharing, excluding international flights.
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Meet the Orient & Indian Subcontinent Team
Annie, Brandon, Debbie, Margaret, Vicky Smith, Lynne and Rachel - are experts in designing travel experiences across the region to suit your personal needs, interests and budget.
Best time to be there
Spring (late March to April) for cherry blossom, early summer (May to early June) for warm sunshine, autumn (October to November) for sunny weather and spectacular colours.
Osaka/ Tokyo Narita and Haneda (Japan Airlines, British Airways)
12 hours 30 minutes from London
GMT +9 hours
Not required for UK passport holders
No vaccinations required