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Japan

From cherry blossom to cutting-edge technology, and ancient shrines that lie in the shadow of shimmering skyscrapers – welcome to Japan, an island nation where past meets present head on.

Hit the ground running when you arrive in the giddy metropolis of Tokyo. The capital is home to both the futuristic Skytree, the tallest tower in the world, and the tranquil gardens of the Imperial Palace on the site of Edo Castle, which dates back to the days of Shogun rule. After exploring the art galleries and stocking up with electronics from Akihabara, board the bullet train for a day exploring Mount Fuji.

Why not venture off the beaten track and head to Kanazawa, regarded as the cultural jewel in mainland Japan? It is best known for Kenroku-en, a castle garden dating back to the 17th-century, preserved samurai districts, and temples. Hop aboard a bike and head to the village of Hida Furukawa, where you can relax with a glass of saki while admiring the snow-tipped Japanese Alps. 

Check into Hidatei Hanaougi, a traditional ryokan (inn) for a peaceful night’s sleep, to prepare for tea ceremonies and the mysterious world of the geisha which awaits you in Kyoto.

Hawaii

Soak up the sun on the never-ending white-sand beaches by day and marvel at a blanket of stars in the crystal-clear sky by night. You’ll soon discover why Hawaii is the hot new location for filming Hollywood movies from Jurassic World to Jumanji.

With its smoking volcanoes, technicolour coral reefs, and the cobalt Pacific Ocean teeming with giant manta ray and turtle, the four main islands of Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and Big Island make up the 50th state of the US, known as paradise on Earth.

Before easing yourself into the laid back pace of Polynesian life, take a helicopter ride over the Na Pali Coast on the garden island of Kauai and see the tropical rainforest and waterfalls. Then watch in awe as the molten lava flows from Kilauea, the world’s most active volcano, on Big Island.

Delight in a visit to a mountain-top astronomy centre and see the Milky Way more clearly than from anywhere else in the world. Head to Oahu for the best surfing spots and the highlands of Lanai rich with yellow hibiscus and red ohia. Then, as you reach the end of your island hopping, it’s time to say aloha: until next time.

Flight time

Direct flight from Tokyo to Honolulu: eight hours, 30 minutes