Kyoto offers the classic image of Japan, traditional wooden houses, weeping cherry and the sound of geta (wooden soled shoes) on the…
Japan is a country where modernity connects with ancient history, where kimono-clad geisha hurry between traditional houses and robots serve customers in restaurants. It has a distinctive, original identity and is instantly endearing.
Made up of five main islands – plus, some 6,000 smaller ones – there are few places where one can feel so safe, rely on everything to work like clockwork, and yet be in a country so culturally distinct from our own. You will discover that an adventure in Japan can be shaped into so many different ways with us, no matter what it is about this enigmatic nation that makes you want to explore it.
In many ways, Japan is very similar to Britain – an island race, its people have slightly odd idiosyncratic tendencies and are very reserved, and it has never been conquered (well, at least not for a thousand years). Perhaps that is why we find the country so interesting and appreciate its values. Where else in the world do so many iconic images spring to mind – from trees covered in pink blossom to exquisite plates of sushi, or the snowy peak of Mt Fuji to the white-painted faces of geisha? Whether you seek culture, world-class cuisine, ancient sites or natural beauty, Japan has it all.
Our experts have explored much of Japan and have tried and tested the transport, accommodation, food and sites. To make the most out of any trip, you really need to engage with the culture; whether that means visiting a sumo stable, meeting a geisha or visiting a quirky themed cafe. Local guides are costly, so we will work with you to reduce costs elsewhere without compromising on the experience. However, train travel is efficient and easy to use, and so self-guiding becomes a natural, and exciting, part of exploring Japan.
Our Japan experts have created and curated these holiday ideas to get you started. Take the time to search through them and find something to spark ideas for a unique adventure.
Make the most of every moment in Japan. Create an itinerary brimming with some of these truly unforgettable experiences.
Visit a sumo stable for a chance to see behind the scenes of this ancient sport. Spend a morning observing the wrestlers as they engage in training activities and learn about the customs, rituals and rules of Japans national sport.
Visit Kenroku-en gardens in Kanazawa, ranked as one of the top three gardens in Japan.
Participate in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony. Sit on tatami mats and enjoy a slow paced hospitality steeped in history and tradition.
Experience some of Tokyo’s quirkier sites from cat café’s to pachinko parlours and capsule hotels.
Travel on the world famous Shinkansen bullet train reaching speeds of up to 300 kilometres per hour.
Explore the back streets of Kyoto by bicycle. Experience the city from a different perspective, stopping at tea houses and less known temples, keeping your eyes peeled for geisha as they go about their daily lives.
Stay in a traditional Japanese Inn with rooms featuring tatami mats, rice paper screens and futon beds, some with private hot spring baths and all serving multi course kaiseki meals.
Follow in the footsteps of samurais and lords as you hike the old Nakasendo trail in the Japanese Alps.
Spend an evening with Geisha and gain an insight into this ancient and fascinating world.
Visit or stay on this beautiful island. Home to a collection of abandoned houses, workshops, temples and shrines which have been converted into art installations and venues for contemporary art, by artists and architects from Japan and abroad. The Chichu Art Museum is itself a work of art – built into a hillside overlooking the ocean and located mostly underground, it utilises solely natural light to illuminate the artwork.
We know that anyone planning a holiday to Japan will have questions, so we have compiled answers to a few of the most common questions we are regularly asked. Our Japan Experts are always on hand to answer any specific questions and to help plan your tailor made holiday to Japan.
Our guide to meeting a geisha and staying in a ryokan…
Everything you need to know about giving yourself the best opportunity of seeing Japan’s cherry blossom.
Find out more about what Japan has to offer you and your family.
Accommodation in Japan can range from 5* luxury to traditional Japanese Inns, known as ryokan. Here are a few of our favourites. We appreciate that every person has different tastes and budgets, so call us to chat through the options.
The weather is generally cool, dry and sunny in many parts of the country. In the north, there is heavy snowfall, making for excellent skiing conditions.
Ski season is in full swing in the north. Winter continues to bring some of the coolest but driest conditions to the rest of the country.
The start of the cherry blossom in southern Japan, as the weather warms. A popular time to visit Japan, especially towards the end of the month.
Perhaps the busiest month, as the cherry blossom spreads northwards across the country. A stunning time, but expect to plan accommodation and excursions in advance.
The cherry blossom reaches the far north of the country around Sapporo at this time, and temperatures are generally warm. It is generally dry in most parts, with vegetation vibrant and lush. It is worth avoiding Golden Week, a national holiday during the first week of May.
Many parts become hot and humid, with the rainy season occurring in Okinawa. A consequence of the rain is that the countryside and most gardens are at their best.
It can get very hot and humid in many parts of the country at this time, making it the perfect time to escape to the mountains. In particular, this time of year has the best conditions for the hike up Mount Fuji.
There are many festivals at this time and locals are on holiday, making it a busy time of year for travel. It is a great time to explore the Sapporo area, with cooler and less humid conditions.
September brings a quieter time for travel, with most locals back at work. The temperatures start to cool off a little, but the humidity generally remains.
The start of autumn for the majority of Japan, showcasing a wonderful array of autumn colours across the countryside. The weather is still pleasantly warm, with less rain.
Across the country, this is the best month to see the beautiful autumn colours. There are fewer visitors, and the temperatures remain mild, especially in the south.
The first couple of weeks of December are some of the quietest times to travel, and you can enjoy the natural thermal hot springs with snow on the ground.
A passion for travel runs right through every one of our experts - meaning they're always ready with first-hand insight about their specialist countries.
It was my passion for languages that first encouraged me to leave the UK behind and grab my rucksack. Since then, it’s been a mixture of intriguing cultures, jaw-dropping landscapes and the wonder of seeing animals in their natural habitat that sees me continuously extending my travel wish list.
Paul is the Conde Nast Traveler chosen Specialist for Central Asia and the Silk Route.
Being from a family with Army connections I can from an early age remember travelling. From camping in Europe and then later being sent to boarding school when we lived in Germany at the age of eight, complete with shorts, long socks, a cap and my suitcase. In appearance not too dissimilar to the children evacuated to the countryside during the blitz.
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