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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.


Itinerary details

15 days from £6,450 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.
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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!
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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.
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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!
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