Arrive in Tokyo, Japan’s exciting and modern capital, where you’ll be met by an A&K representative and transferred to your hotel. From The Ritz Carlton, you can enjoy expansive views over the iconic Tokyo skyline.
After your welcome briefing, proceed to Tsukiji Fish Market. This is a bustling hub of Japanese daily life where you can find an incredible range seafood. Next, the Shitamachi Museum illuminates the importance of Japan’s lowlands to the region’s ancient Edo culture. After lunch at a local restaurant, visit Asakusa Kannon Temple, a colourful pagoda-style temple completed in 645. See the Imperial Palace Plaza too, before returning to your hotel to join your fellow guests for a welcome dinner.
At the Samurai Museum, you can discover the customs of this elite warrior class. View the authentic collection of exotic armour and weaponry here. Pass by Shibuya Crossing, Tokyo’s answer to Times Square, to watch the mesmerizing multi-directional foot traffic. Next, proceed to Tokyo’s vibrant Harajuku district, where the city’s youth gather to see and be seen, sporting colourful, eclectic fashions. Also visit Omotesando Street, an elegant row of upscale shops with dazzling façades.
Today, travel to Hakone, a popular hot-spring resort. Enjoy the scenic Hakone National Park, encompassing coastlines, mountains, lakes and more than 1,000 volcanic islands. Cruise Lake Ashi by boat, and soar above on the Komagatake Ropeway, an aerial tramway with spectacular views of Mount Fuji. On the grassy hillsides of Hakone’s Open Air Museum, admire artwork from the likes of Picasso and Henry Moore. Tonight, enjoy unparalleled service and traditional cuisine at Gora Kadan, a top-rated ryokan (traditional inn).
After breakfast, head to the Okada Museum of Art to see exquisite ceramics, lacquerware, fine art and tranquil gardens. Ride by bullet train to Osaka, an ancient merchant city today known as a food capital. Try everything from octopus dumplings to Okonomiyaki – a battered, grilled concoction of chopped cabbage, meat or seafood, and seaweed, topped with mayonnaise. Next, enjoy a ‘Scenic Sundowner’ before a foodie tour through the many restaurants that line the streets of the Dotonbori district.
This morning, pause for a photo opportunity at Osaka Castle as you travel to Nara, Japan’s earliest capital. Visit Todai-ji, a temple complex and UNESCO World Heritage Site containing Japan’s largest bronze Buddha. Continue to Nara Park, home to more than a thousand tame deer, before visiting the commanding Kasuga Taisha Shrine. On your way back to Osaka, stop at the Kehaya-za Sumo Pavilion. Here, you can observe a demonstration of this fascinating sport.
View Kyoto’s iconic Zen rock garden at Ryoan-ji in the tranquil early morning. Next, discover the glittering Kinkaku-ji Temple (Golden Pavilion), covered with gold leaf, surrounded by green gardens and set on a calm pond. Later, bask in the magical atmosphere of Arashiyama Bamboo Grove. Stroll along a winding path as sunlight filters through towering shoots. Proceed to nearby Tenryuji Temple and its charming gardens, before continuing to your hotel.
After visiting a Buddhist temple with stunning city views, continue to the home of the late Kawai Kanjiro, one of Kyoto’s most famous potters. See his extraordinary sculptures, ceramics and woodcarvings. Next, experience the art of the tea ceremony, noting the refined etiquette which dates to the era of the samurai. Tonight, enjoy a kaiseki banquet with an attending geiko (as geishas are known in Kyoto) and maiko, who’ll dance, sing, pour sake and discuss their fascinating lives.
After breakfast, transfer to Kansai International Airport or Itami Airport for your flight home. Alternatively, you can head east to extend your time in Japan to discover Hiroshima.