13 days from £7,200 per person
Japan is a top world economy, so luxury accommodation with private guides and drivers throughout the trip can blow the budget. This itinerary is designed for those who have cultural experiences, rather than accommodation as their focus, and like to find their feet with a few guides but explore independently after that.
Make the most of your time and money in Tokyo with a stylish apartment-hotel in the heart of downtown. By day the Shinjuku, Shibuya and Harajuku areas are people-watching and window shopping heaven, as kids dress as Manga characters and Japan re-imagines western trends. By night, dine in late-night, cheap and cheerful 'izakaya' bar-restaurants, sing your heart out at hi-tech karaoke clubs and seek out Ampersand's favourite haunts. After the buzz of the city the jet-lag does kick in but don't worry, it's time for a luxurious Japanese-style spa break at a heritage 'ryokan' in Mt Fuji national park. Sumptuous 'kaiseki' food, unforgettable views, hot spring baths and Japan's delicate 'omotenashi' personal service have all earned rave reviews from our Japan specialists and clients.
No trip to Japan would be complete without a few days in Kyoto, a treasure trove of historic streets, shrines, temples and gardens that was fortunately spared bombing in the war. Explore independently using our tried and tested tips, maps and transport advice, or splash out on the services of our favourite driver-guide Mr T. See the Gion district come alive in early evening with the occasional Geisha gliding by, and dine in style along the narrow lamplit alley of Pontocho. It's just 15 minutes on to Japan's second biggest city, Osaka. Hit it on a Saturday and see some of the loudest clothes and the biggest hairstyles in Japan on hyper-colourful Dotonburi street. As night falls, shake a maraca to the excellent 5-piece band on the Jazz boat that plies the canal beneath video screens the height of buildings.
Even the most avid city kids will have their heads in a whirl by now, so change the pace and spend a day strolling the willow-lined and neon-free canal in Kurashiki's historical quarter. The Ohara museum here is one of the finest in Japan with several wings devoted to Western and Japanese art across the ages. Entrance is courtesy of Nakamura-san, manager of the town's best ryokan and no small part of its refined yet homely charm. And finally, Hiroshima, a vibrant and cosmopolitan city with a tram system giving it a European feel. Your guide will illuminate the city's wartime history in the Peace Park, then take you back to pre-modern Japan on picturesque Miyajima island with one of the country's most revered shrines and famous 'floating' gate in the sea.
There's time for one last blast in Tokyo to experience the best shopping, Michelin-starred dining and the mighty Imperial Palace. There are excellent day excursion options too, particularly the ornate Chinese-influenced temples and mausoleum at Nikko, and the seaside shrines of the old Edo-period capital Kamakura. Thanks to our great local contacts, expertise and sightseeing entrance costs being a fraction of those in the UK, Japan can blow the mind without blowing the budget.
This is purely a suggested itinerary, so it can be booked as it is or used as a starting point for creating your own luxury tailor-made tour. If you'd like to see similar trips, take a look at our other Japan itineraries.
13 days from £7,200 per person
- Day 1 - Palace Hotel - Tokyo
Afternoon arrival, private transfer then at leisure to explore Tokyo nightlife.
- Day 2 - Palace Hotel - Tokyo
Privately guided tour of Japan's high fashion, teen fashion and Meiji shrine areas.
- Day 3 - Palace Hotel - Tokyo
At leisure with optional day excursion to Nikko.
- Day 4 - Hyatt Regency Hakone - Hakone
Mt Fuji national park and luxury 'ryokan' traditional spa break experience.
- Day 5 - Kanra - Kyoto
Morning bullet train to kyoto, afternoon in Arashiyama bamboo grove and temple grounds.
- Day 6 - Kanra - Kyoto
Full day exploration of Kyoto with optional driver-guide.
- Day 7 - Kanra - Kyoto
Optional Excursions to Nara, or Enryaku-ji hillside temple complex.
- Day 8 - St. Regis - Osaka
Shopping, dining, drinking and clubbing in Osaka.
- Day 9 - Ryokan Kurashiki - Kurashiki
Explore Kurashiki's historical quarter and experience another luxury ryokan.
- Day 10 - Sheraton - Hiroshima and Miyajima
Privately guide tour of Hiroshima & Miyajima.
- Day 11 - Park Hyatt Tokyo - Tokyo
Bullet train back to Tokyo and stay in the upmarket Ginza area.
- Day 12 - Park Hyatt Tokyo - Tokyo
Optional day excursion to Kamakura.
- Day 13 - In transit.
Transfer to the airport for your onward flight home.
- Leslie Siben, India
- Mr Geoffrey Johnson, India
- Anonymous, India
- Jaime Benitez, South India
- Mr David Wallace, North India
- Mr & Mrs Manson, North India
- Mr Richard Stoughton, Sri Lanka
- Krista Weir, Sri Lanka
- Matthew Annable, Rajasthan, India
- Matthew Nicklin, North India