Following the Cherry Blossom through Japan
15 days from £6,450 per person
Kumamoto has one of Japan’s top three castles and is one of the first spots in the country where the blossom appears. From here you also have the opportunity to see the mighty caldera of Mt Aso and the charming little hot spring town of Kurokawa before taking a scenic coastal train to the historic bayside city of Nagasaki. With its long trading history, the mixture of Japanese and western architecture here makes for a unique experience and the tram system gives it a laid-back San Franciscan holiday feel.
Back on the bullet train, whizz on to Hiroshima where two hundred or so cherry blossom trees have been planted in the Peace Park and grow wild on the picturesque nearby island of Miyajima. A hidden gem that most foreign visitors miss is Rurikoji temple and pagoda on the way to Tsuwano town where koi carp still swim in streams along the traditional main street.
You’ll catch glimpses of blossom on the hillsides between the cities en route to Kyoto. It’s the world’s second most-visited city after Mecca and many Japanese people make a pilgrimage to see the blossom here, but even with the crowds it retains its majesty and charm. Walk along Philosopher’s Path from grand Nanzen-ji temple to the zen gardens of Ginkakuji silver temple, where locals set up little tea stalls under the boughs. Visit Japan's great wooden temple and the tame deer in Nara park, then go a little further on to Yoshino mountain with cherry blossom trees all the way up it. After nightfall, see the Kyoto blossoms lit by lanterns and explore the atmospheric old Geisha quarter of Gion where many of the best restaurants are located.
A journey through Japan would not be complete without a traditional luxury ryokan stay, and the Gora Kadan in Hakone Fuji national park is perhaps the finest of them all. This brings you finally to Tokyo where you can explore around the Imperial Palace, plumb the depths of Shibuya and Shinjuku with hundreds of stylish shops and restaurants, and stroll under the many cherry blossom trees in Ueno park. Japan is always a remarkable holiday experience, but never more so than during the blossom season.
15 days from £6,450 per person
- Day 1 - In Transit
Overnight flight to Tokyo.
- Day 2 - Hotel Nikko Kumamoto - Kumamoto
Connecting flight to Kumamoto, transfer to hotel then at leisure.
- Day 3 - Hotel Nikko Kumamoto - Kumamoto
Exploring Kumamoto and Mt Aso with the Japan Rail Pass.
- Day 4 - Garden Terrace - Nagasaki
Train to Nagasaki and full day private tour with guide.
- Day 5 - ANA Crowne Plaza Hiroshima - Hiroshima and Miyajima
Trains to Hiroshima, half day tour with private guide
- Day 6 - ANA Crowne Plaza Hiroshima - Hiroshima and Miyajima
At leisure to explore Hiroshima and Miyajima.
- Day 7 - Hoshinoya Kyoto - Kyoto
Bullet train to Kyoto and half day private tour of Arashiyama.
- Day 8 - Granvia Kyoto - Kyoto
Full day private tour of Kyoto with guide and driver.
- Day 9 - Granvia Kyoto - Kyoto
At leisure in Kyoto with optional excursion to Nara.
- Day 10 - Gora Kadan - Hakone
Bullet train to Odawara, private transfer then at leisure in Hakone.
- Day 11 - Palace Hotel - Tokyo
Express train to Shinjuku, then private tour with guide.
- Day 12 - Palace Hotel - Tokyo
Full day private tour of Tokyo with guide.
- Day 13 - Palace Hotel - Tokyo
At leisure in Tokyo.
- Day 14 - Palace Hotel - Tokyo
Optional Excursion to Nikko or Kamakura.
- Day 15 - In Transit
Private transfer to the airport then day flight back to London.
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.
- Leslie Siben, India
- Susan Ford, India
- Matthew Nicklin, North India
- Krista Weir, Sri Lanka
- Mr David Wallace, North India
- Jaime Benitez, South India
- Mr Richard Stoughton, Sri Lanka
- Mr & Mrs Manson, North India