Japan Holidays

Japan is a country where modernity connects with ancient history, where kimono-clad geisha hurry between traditional houses and robots serve customers in restaurants. Japan has a distinctive, original identity and is instantly loveable.

Why we like Japan

In many ways Japan is very similar to Britain - an island race, with slightly odd idiosyncratic tendencies, very reserved and  which 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. And there is of course the cherry blossom in spring, delicious food and a politeness that can be beyond belief.

What to expect on your Japan holiday

Meeting the experts: Regardless of your passions or interests, the chances are good that through our excellent network of contacts we can arrange for you to meet someone in the field. From fashion designers to chefs, sumo wrestlers to bonsai masters, with enough lead time (and in certain cases, enough budget), we'll do our best to make it happen. All you need to do is ask.

Contemporary Art Tour with an Expert: For serious art lovers we can arrange a highly personal, customized exploration of Tokyo's galleries, studios and backrooms. Whether contemporary or classical, modern or classic, we'll make you meet exactly who you want to meet.

Fashion: Similar to the above with art, we can arrange to have members of the Tokyo fashion world spend time with you and arrange meetings and introductions to trending designers; visits to ateliers; tours of the hippest shops and boutiques, and much more.

Tokyo Nightlife: Let one of our local experts show you another side of Tokyo. From the tiny, hidden izakaya (like small tapas bars) to the insanity of Robot Restaurant, Tokyo comes alive after dark. It can be a bit overwhelming for first-time visitors, so having a city denizen on hand makes all the difference.

Skiing: Japan has phenomenal skiing, hosting two winter Olympics (Sapporo and Nagano) and countless championships but it's only recently that visitors from around the world are going there specifically to ski. Visitors can choose to do nothing but ski or combine skiing with some local culture. 

For Families: Many of our local partner's staff and friends have children of varying ages, so we can arrange for your children to spend some time with Japanese kids around the same age. Play dates for the little ones, teen hang outs for the older set. A great way for kids to really connect to the culture and perhaps make a new friend.

Private Fish Auction and Dinner: Watch the fishing boats come in to a small fishing town and unload and then visit a local fish auction before enjoying a fresh seafood barbeque by the port, hosted by local fishermen.

Okinawa: Many people don't think about Japan when thinking of tropical islands but Okinawa, composed of dozens of islands, has so much to offer. The southernmost group of Yaeyama islands in particular offer breathtaking scenery, many activities and cultural experiences, fantastic food and luxurious resorts. Consider starting or ending a Japan trip with a few days in the islands. 

Some ideas for a Japan holiday

  • Request a booking at the 'one table restaurant', never advertised
  • The Meijiza theatre in Tokyo's Nihombashi area is the most historic venue in the city. Catch the latest production when in town
  • Take an evening walk with a local guide through the Nakasu district in Fukuoka city centre to sample various foods at the open air food stands
  • During a stay in Tokyo participate in ancient Japanese handicraft traditions
  • Watch the world’s largest tuna auction at Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo
  • Visit a Sumo wrestling match at a Sumo stable
  • Spend a leisurely few days in Kyoto, the old capital, and soak up the traditional way of life that is not so visible elsewhere
  • Participate in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony
  • Visit in spring to see the magnificent cherry blossom
  • Enjoy Japan’s scenery, from the picturesque Japanese Alps where small villages offer perfect conditions for trekking, to the awe inspiring Mount Fuji
  • Experience the turquoise seas and magnificent coral reefs of the Pacific island of Okinawa
  • Hokkaido, an island in the north, is home to some of the country’s indigenous people and is an important agricultural centre

Beyond the ordinary

The 30 tropical islands of Ogasawara are designated a World Natural Heritage area yet, due to their remote and relatively inaccessible location a thousand kilometres from Tokyo, they remain a hidden gem. Only two of the islands are inhabited and they can only be reached by boat. The trip takes 25 hours so it is not for the faint hearted. That said, these far-flung islands are a haven for wildlife, from whales and turtles to endemic birds and insects as well as offering some wonderful diving opportunities - a truly off the beaten track part of the world. 

Our experts

It takes a lifetime to become an expert on Japan and none of us would claim that distinction. However Paul and Charlie have explored most of the islands between them and Paul, in particular, has ventured into many of the less visited areas. They have sampled all kinds of transport, accommodation and food and can create simple or highly complex holidays to Japan to suit all your requirements.

Japan FAQs

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Is it easy to travel by train and public transport?
Yes, it is an incredibly efficient and relaxing way to explore the country. Within cities such as Tokyo the public transport can initially feel bewildering but there are underground maps similar to those in London and everything runs like clockwork with delays a very rare occurrence! Outside of Tokyo is it possible to travel by bullet train and scenic trains as well as a range of excellent bus services. Steppes Travel can pre-book all of these services for you.
I have heard it is easy to transfer luggage from one part of the country to another if I don't wish to travel with all of my bags. Is this true?
It is incredibly easy and cheap to transfer your luggage from one city to another. If for example you are travelling from Tokyo to Kyoto by train via the Japanese Alps and don't wish to travel with all of your baggage you can pack a smaller bag for a few nights and the concierge at most hotels will then prepare and send your main luggage to your next destination. The cost will depend on the length of the journey and the weight/size of your bags but on average you can expect this service to cost around £25 per suitcase.


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Gundam Cafe, Robot, Tokyo, Japan

First robot staffed hotel

Always ahead of its time, Japan is no different this time and have opened the first robot staffed hotel in Tokyo. 
Multilingual robots will take care of check-in and check-out at Hen Na Hotel and beyond reception, the high-tech gadgets continue with complimentary smartphones included as standard for a stay. No wonder this hotel has reached the Guinness Book of Records.
Little Ninja animated drawing, Japan

For the modern Ninja - Samurai museum in Tokyo

The Samurai museum is in modern Kabukicho. A great day out for young and old that share a passion for the spirit of the Japanese warriors.  

Spread over two floors, the first depicting the battle of  Sekigahara,and the second housing Samurai weapons, kabuto and swords. Catch the special samurai swordsmanship demonstration – an epic display. There is also an opportunity to try on a kabuto and samurai costumes whilst visiting. Are you a secret samurai in training? Sign up to classes, ranging from calligraphy to sword handling, all held at the museum. 
Humpback Whale, Hermanus, Western Cape, South Africa

Whale Watching Season in Okinawa

Between the months of December and April Humpback Whales can be seen in the turquoise waters off the coast of Okinawa island.
During the winter months Humpback Whales migrate south to the waters surrounding Okinawa island. The warm waters here make ideal breeding grounds and offer the chance for visitors to the region to see these magnificent creatures. 

Why is 2017 the year to visit Japan

Japan has been named as one of the top ten best value holiday hot spots for 2017. 

Tokyo has surfaced as the cheapest long haul destination in 2017 by the Post Office’s Holiday Money Report, which looked at 44 destinations worldwide. The latest results should help Japan shrug off a reputation for being expensive. Japan has something to suit all travellers and tastes from luxury resorts and Michelin- starred cuisine to noodle joints and exploring the great outdoors.

Expect to pay less in Tokyo than Phuket, Penang or Beijing for wine, beer, and dining out. In Tokyo, the average price of a glass of wine in a cafe or bar is £2.83 and a bottle of local beer or lager costs £4.17. Such prices mean that, Japan’s capital is now by far the cheapest of eight Far Eastern cities.

Our Japan experts can tailor your holiday and provide insider access, including entrance to the closed hall of the Forbidden City, backstage at the Beijing opera, and Michelin Chef cookery classes to name a few. Steppes are excited by off the beaten track requests. Why not experience contemporary art, ethnic minorities or follow in the footsteps of The Silk Road.

Young Geisha (Maiko), Kyoto, Japan

Blog: A magical window into an ancient world

"With childlike excitement she told me that in one month she would be able to paint her top lip too but she was also scared of the expectation and pressure this would bring."

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Client Reviews

Bamboo Fountain, Japan
''I know that you can always telephone to ask a question...
... to people that have first hand knowledge of a destination.''

Andrew Hart

Snow Monkeys, Japanese Alps, Japan
''What fantastic service. 
We cannot wait to start planning our next trip with you.''

Paul Wheeler

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Holiday Ideas in Japan

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