Back to Listing

Revisiting Japan: Our top 20 highlights

Revisiting Japan: Our top 20 highlights

After moving back home to England after studying in Tokyo for a year, I was longing to go back to immerse myself in Japan’s incredible culture, scenery and food. I’d missed the fantastically smooth order in which everything runs and the generous people that make everyday interactions a pleasure… I was especially excited to be returning in autumn, for the renowned multi-coloured leaves that set the country alight with their vivid hues!

On this research trip, I managed to re-visit some of my favourite places – the scenic Hakone, the cultural capital of Kyoto, the unique art island of Naoshima and the phoenix city of Hiroshima – but what thrilled me most was discovering the more offbeat locations I hadn’t had a chance to visit before.

There were many memorable moments – seeing the snow monkeys in Yudanaka, feeling as though I’d gone back in time in the traditional Bikan canal area of Kurashiki and walking the historic streets of Takayama – but the most striking experiences for me were visiting Miyajima and Nikko. Miyajima’s floating torii gate is rightfully recognised as a UNESCO landmark, and is well worth the short ferry ride across from Hiroshima, as it is extraordinary, especially during sunset.

Nikko makes for an ideal day trip from Tokyo – I couldn’t believe that I’d missed it before! As soon as I stepped out of the station to be greeted by a mountain view, I was bowled over by the completely unspoiled nature. Such untouched surroundings add to the beauty of the historic temples that lie scattered around this small city, and Lake Chuzenji is particularly pretty, with its remarkably still, shimmering water. Up here in the alpine air, the impressive Kegon waterfall is a short walk away and Futarasan shrine is a real highlight – I was lucky enough to visit just as the monks were paying their respects by performing a morning bowing ritual.

Returning to Japan exceeded my expectations; I am constantly surprised by this unique and enigmatic island nation, which is why it captures my spirit and keeps me wanting to go back for more. Read on for my top 40 highlights…

TOKYO

1. Waking up to Tokyo’s endless and impressive skyline



2. Exploring ‘Yakitori’ alley under the train tracks in the fashionable district of Ginza


3Browsing through the hidden and ancient gems in Oedo Antique Market


4Witnessing a Shinto wedding procession at Meiji shrine



HIROSHIMA

5Flying over Mount Fuji for a breathtaking bird’s eye view



6. Miyajima’s floating torii gate, just across from Hiroshima, standing in all its glory




KURASHIKI

7. Gliding down the picturesque Bikan canal, just outside an Ampersand favourite: Ryokan Kurashiki



NAOSHIMA

8. Yayoi Kusama’s iconic Pumpkin at sunrise on Naoshima Island




KYOTO

9. Admiring the iconic Daigo-ji Temple, an important temple of Japanese Buddhism, and a designated world heritage site



10Glimpsing geisha flitting down the atmospheric alley of Ponto-cho



11Exploring the bustling and lively Nishiki Market, also known as 'Kyoto's Kitchen' specialising in all things food



12. The Ritz-Carlton's rooms have some of the most incredible views in town



13Enjoying a cup of matcha tea in the beautiful Okochi Sanso Garden tea house



KANAZAWA

14Travelling back in time to Nagamachi, a former samurai district located at the foot of Kanazawa Castle



TAKAYAMA

15. With Mrs Tanabe, owner of the wonderfully traditional ryokan, Tanabe Ryokan



HAKONE

16. Braving pufferfish (‘fugu’) at Gora Kadan


17. One of Gora Kadan’s many beautifully crafted private bathtubs with a scenic view



18. Pablo Picasso at Hakone Open-Air Museum



YUDANAKA

19. A beautifully snow covered shrine on the way to see the snow monkeys



NIKKO

20. Monks performing their morning bowing ritual at Futarasan Shrine


For more information or to start planning your tailor-made holiday to Japan please contact us:

info@ampersandtravel.com // +44 (0) 207 819 9770



Client Testimonials

Difficult to articulate just how good the service from you and your team really was. We know you will continue to do well and hope we have the chance to seek your assistance again before long.
- Mr & Mrs Manson, North India
Without question, you put together the best trip I have ever taken. We were shown around like visiting dignitaries, the hotels were fantastic and the itinerary was just right. Everybody I know will hear about how amazing Ampersand is!
- Leslie Siben, India
So many highlights to choose from! The hotels were amazing but Maya Villa was a highlight… I loved just hanging out in the hammock reading my book and watching the peacocks chase the cows!
- Krista Weir, Sri Lanka
I thought the Ampersand team was outstanding. We couldn’t have hoped for anything more.
- Mr Geoffrey Johnson, India
I had a very lovely time and was looked after splendidly. My first visit to India could not have been better, save for being longer! But I shall return at some point and I shall look to you to make the arrangements.
- Matthew Nicklin, North India
I would recommend Ampersand without any hesitation!!! The best travel agent that I’ve ever had dealings with. Everything – from the individual care and attention in helping to plan the trip, through to the efficiency of the agents on the ground in India – was handled brilliantly. An absolutely first-class service all round.
- Matthew Annable, Rajasthan, India
Everything you did for us whilst we were away was hugely appreciated, and Ampersand has been exemplary in every way. I'll always recommend you!
- Mr Richard Stoughton, Sri Lanka
We had a wonderful holiday - everything was perfect. Thank you for helping us to make a thoughtful plan to enjoy and make most out of our trip. The places we visited, the guides, the transportation and driver, the hotels selected... Everything was great!
- Jaime Benitez, South India
Ampersand’s preparation, attention to detail and interaction before and during our trip show exactly why good travel agents have a role in today’s internet booking age. They were a delight to deal with!
- Mr David Wallace, North India

From our Instagram

'Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever' 🙏
.
Today, 2nd October 2019, marks 150 years of celebrating Mahatma Gandhi's birthday. The celebration of Gandhi Jayanti is observed in India as a national holiday, where ceremonies and tributes are conducted across the nation.
.
If you would like to celebrate this special time of year in India, do get in touch and let us help you plan a trip for 2020. 🇮🇳
.
📸 @whatbaublenext_sam
.
#AmpersandTravel #LuxuryIsInTheExperience
As the year begins to draw in, here at Ampersand HQ we've been thinking about where our adventures in 2020 will be, but where will be yours? 🌍
.

Will it be on the soft white sand beaches of #Cambodia @songsaaprivateisland, indulging in the colourful cuisine of #Vietnam, rejuvenating at @vanajourney, #India, hiding away beneath the #okavangodelta or exploring the endless shrines and Temples found in #Japan...
.

It's never too early to start planning! For inspiration, get in touch with one of our experts today to start your 2020 adventure.
.

#AmpersandTravel
#LuxuryIsInTheExperience
🇮🇳Reminiscent of a French village, with its bright Mediterranean architecture and flower-laden balconies, it’s no surprise that #Pondicherry (or #Pondi) is nicknamed the ‘Indian Côte d’Azur’ 🇫🇷
.
#AmpersandTravel #LuxuryIsInTheExperience 
#SouthIndia
As the Rugby World Cup kicks off in #Tokyo this weekend,  and #Japan will soon begin to bloom into its world renowned Autumn season, we want to be there more than ever! 🇯🇵🍂
.
Attracting three million tourists every year, the #tokyotower has quickly become Tokyo's international symbol since its opening in 1958. 🗼
. 
If you'd like to see this Eiffel Tower-inspired structure for yourself, speak to one of our specialists today!
.
📸@jungraphy_
. 
#AmpersandTravel #LuxuryIsInTheExperience
Wander through the bustling fruit and vegetable markets in #Pondicherry to experience the true essence of #TamilNadu 🇮🇳🥬🍎
.
Follow our stories for live updates!
.
#AmpersandTravel #LuxuryIsInTheExperience
Our Africa Specialist captured these memorable moments during their recent stay at @matetsivictoriafalls 🦓🐘
.
A beautifully designed Safari Lodge set in a vast private reserve along the Zambezi River banks. The perfect stay close to Victoria Falls, post or pre African Safari ✨
.
To see more, check out our 'on location' highlight to follow our journey!
.
#AmpersandTravel
#LuxuryIsInTheExperience
A team of Ampersander's have officially landed in #Rajasthan. First stop, the Capital - #Jaipur 💗
.

Also known as the Pink City because of its trademark colour throughout, its hard to miss a picture perfect moment in front of one of Jaipur's landmark doorways.
.

For more inspiration and to follow the teams journey through the Golden Triangle, keep an eye over on our Instagram stories and get in touch if you want to begin your trip!
. 📸 @chrsschlkx
.

#AmpersandTravel #LuxuryIsInTheExperience
Beautiful #Bhutan has topped the @lonelyplanet #BestinTravel list as the top country to visit in 2020 🇧🇹🐉
.
Soaring mountains are blanketed with evergreen forests and dotted with Buddhist temples, valleys are sliced by glacial rivers and the piney air is delicious and clean.
.
It is already the world’s only carbon-negative country, and the kingdom is set to become the first fully organic nation by 2020, so it’s only going to get more beautiful 🏔 ✨
.
Travel to with us to Bhutan & discover its extraordinary natural beauty.
.
#AmpersandTravel #LuxuryIsInTheExperience
A luxury holiday to #Goa feeds the soul and the senses 🇮🇳🌅
.
Discover a kaleidoscope of baroque architecture, whitewashed churches, crumbling forts, tropical beaches, intoxicating spices and the warmth of #SouthIndia ⛪️☀️🌶
.
#AmpersandTravel 
#LuxuryIsInTheExperience

Let us keep you up to date

Sign up to our newsletter and never miss out on unmissable exclusive luxury experiences

Condé Nast Top Travel Specialist Award 2019
Condé Nast Readers Choice Award 2019