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Experience Japan

14 days from £4,590 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. This is particularly achievable since the advent of Mi-Fi, portable Wi-Fi routers which we can arrange so that the Ampersand itinerary, guidebook and maps are all at one’s fingertips on a smartphone. 

Make the most of your time and money in Tokyo with a stylish apartment-hotel at the heart of downtown that strips out the extra overheads of more conventional ventures. 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 for considerably less than London prices in late-night 'izakaya' bar-restaurants, sing your heart out at hi-tech karaoke clubs and seek out Ampersand's favourite haunts with the Guide to Japan we provide.

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 Ampersand's 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 Ampersand's guidebook, 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. And did we mention the food?

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.

Last stop on this itinerary is Hiroshima, a vibrant and cosmopolitan city with a tram system giving it a European feel. Your guide here 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, staying on the east side of the city this time for the best shopping, Michelin-starred dining and the mighty Imperial Palace at its heart. 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.

Itinerary details

14 days from £4,590 per person

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To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.
Bill Bryson

Ampersand’s details preparation, attention to detail and interaction before and during our trip show exactly why good travel agents have a role in today’s internet/direct booking age. Shalmali was a delight to work with – before and during our trip.
- Mr David Wallace, North India
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
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 have been on expensive and luxurious holidays in the past, but the service and communication Ampersand has provided has far exceeded those offered by other agencies.
- Susan Ford, India
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
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
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
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

From our Instagram

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In #Japan, the lesser-known plum tree (‘ume’ #梅) blossoms in February - March 🌺
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🎌 Hot off the press - #AmanKyoto is set to open at the end of this year (November 2019) & we can’t wait! 🎌
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