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Sake, Snow, Shrines, Sand and Sushi

17 days from £6,990 per person

Winter is Japan’s sunniest season, with lots of clear bright days in Tokyo. Escape the British winter blues and explore the varied entertainment, fashion and nightlife districts alongside beautiful parks and gardens. Sleep off the jet-lag in a plush skyscraper hotel high above the hustle and bustle of the city, and get ready for the slopes.

Japan Airlines run a dozen flights daily from Tokyo to Sapporo on Hokkaido, so it’s easily possible to be on the slopes of Niseko ski resort by lunchtime. As well as having some of the most reliable light powder snow even into March, it has dozens of kilometres of green, blue and black runs to suit all skiers. The villages of Grand Hirafu and Niseko as well as some more scattered accommodation huddle at the base of mighty Annupuri mountain.  Access to all the routes is easy as the main ski lifts all join at the top, and shuttle buses run regularly around the base. After a day on the slopes, relax with a sake or perhaps a local Sapporo beer in the convivial atmosphere of the villages. There are many more English menus and English-speaking staff than is common in Japan, making Niseko not just a world class resort but also a very welcoming one.

Japan has an excellent luggage forwarding service, so send your ski stuff back to Tokyo and fly unencumbered to the cultural mecca of Kyoto on Japan's main island of Honshu. The hundreds of temples, shrines, gardens and historic streets are particularly beautiful in winter time, and it is perfectly possible to have the smaller spots to oneself as the bulk of visitors come at other times of the year. Kyoto is also home to some of Japan’s best dining, particularly along the narrow lantern-lit lane of Pontocho. The whole range of Japanese cuisine from simple fried chicken skewers to the most luxurious kaiseki feasts can be found in the many old wooden restaurants here, including of course sushi. 

The Okinawa island chain stretches a thousand kilometres into the tropics, and the southernmost Yaeyama group makes for the perfect white sand winter sun getaway. The island of Miyakojima has arguably the finest white sand beach in Asia, a refeshingly undeveloped seven kilometre stretch of paradise. Hoshinoya, a luxury hotel group with a distinctive approach of modernizing traditional properties in a Japanese way, have excelled themselves with their new resort on the tiny jewel of Taketomi island. Secluded and luxurious private villas with gardens have been built in keeping with the stone walls and red tile roofs of the houses in the local village, and are scattered around the central swimming pool and restaurant area. The island is so small that the white sand beaches are only a stroll away – or take the ox-drawn carts that provide the only local transport on the island. The larger island of Ishigaki with its busier beaches and watersports is a short ferry ride away, but Taketomi is so relaxing that the action may be best saved for one more night in Tokyo at the city's hottest new property - Aman Tokyo - before the flight home.


Itinerary details

17 days from £6,990 per person

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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.
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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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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!
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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.
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