Tucked away upriver from Kyoto, the Hoshinoya combines tranquility, traditional design and cleverly woven modern touches such as its bamboo-bend sofas.5/35
Japan is full of rural idylls. Walk through mystical forests like this on the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage route.15/35
'O-hanami' cherry blossom festivities carry on late in the evening in Maruyama Park, Kyoto.19/35
The iconic snow monkeys of Yudanaka in the Japan Alps hang out at the hot spring pool.20/35
At Tokyo's sprawling Tsukiji Fish Market, the main tuna auction is done by 5 a.m. and adjacent stalls selling are selling the freshest possible sushi straight afterwards.21/35
Aman Tokyo boasts the largest rooms and suites in the city, not to mention the most phenomenal cityscape views.22/35
Each of the Aman Tokyo's 84 guestrooms and suites draw design inspiration from a paired back Japanese aesthetic. Pictured here, the Premier Room's living area is the epitome of Zen.23/35
Ryokan Kurashiki has the charm of a fine English B&B with Japanese refinement and 'omotenashi' hospitality, making it an Ampersand Favourite.25/35
With its leafy sidewalks, coffee shop terraces and high service standards, The Peninsula Tokyo equals experiences at the sister property in Paris26/35
Upgrade rooms at the Peninsula Hotel in Tokyo offer some of the best views of the Imperial Palace grounds.27/35
Japan is renowned for borrowing and enhancing western ideas, which finds its finest evocation in the grandiosity of the St Regis Osaka.28/35
Several Japanese towns vie for the title of 'Little Kyoto', but Kanazawa is perhaps the second culturally rich city in Japan with many opportunities to experience traditional arts.29/35
The Hoshinoya in Arashiyama outside Kyoto is an exclusive tranquil retreat, reached by boat up the Hozu river.30/35
From the city's finest pastries to the beautiful traditional washi paper lampshades, the Ritz Carlton in Kyoto is the epitomy of style and luxury in Japan's most historic city.31/35
Ancient temples are tucked between the modern architecture of Tokyo, the most visited being Senso-ji in Asakusa.32/35
This iconic beachside sculpture on Naoshima Island is as eccentric as the artist, Yayoi Kusama. That hasn't stopped it being the inspiration for Louis Vuitton products.33/35
Despite stiff competition from newer hotels over the last decade, the Park Hyatt Tokyo's New York Bar is still the place for live jazz in the city.35/35
Japan: Best time to go
Japan is a year-round destination with a long ski season in the winter months, and escape from the heat in the Japan Alps in the summer months. It will be hot and humid from the wettest month of June through to September and several typhoons hit Japan every year over these months. Spring and autumn are the most popular times to travel for cherry blossom and ‘koyo’ leaf viewing. Expect scattered showers in spring but it is generally warm, and the autumn is warmer than the UK.
N.B. All information given here is to the best of our knowledge, however, changes do occur, sometimes at short notice. Ampersand cannot be held liable for such happenings. Of course, if you have any tips that you feel would benefit other travellers, please pass them onto us and we will add them.
Several airlines offer direct flights from London to Tokyo Narita airport which is 70 kilometres from the city. Haneda airport, which is nearer, has slots for early morning international arrivals and departures. Various regional airports can be reached by flying indirect on European and Asian carriers.
British, American and western European passport holders do not require a visa for a stay of up to 90 days in Japan. Passports must have at least 2 blank pages and be valid for 6 months after your return from Japan. Other passport holders please check the Japan National Tourism Organisations list here: www.japan.travel/en/plan/visa-info
It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the appropriate visa(s) for your trip.
It is essential to visit your GP as soon as possible to check if you need any vaccinations prior to travel. Risk for vaccine preventable diseases can change at any time. MASTA (Medical Advisory Services for Travellers Abroad) can supply a quick and easy online Travel Health Brief. This includes easy to understand vaccination advice for single or multi-country trips. Their website is www.masta-travel-health.com. There are a handful of cases of Japanese encephalitis each year in rural areas so the risk is negligible. Japan has one of the most advanced healthcare systems in the world with specialists in each ward and clean, efficient general hospitals. Larger hospitals will have access to English speakers but in case of emergency we recommend you contact our ground handler to arrange a translator.
Japan is arguably the most hygienic country in the world. The tap water is fine to drink and the Japanese are generally very conscientious about not spreading germs. If you have ever seen a photo of Japanese people wearing face masks you might assume that the country is prone to health scares or high pollution, but in fact the opposite is the case. Masks are worn by individuals to prevent them spreading germs, and even in downtown Tokyo pollution levels are relatively low compared to most other Asian cities.
London - Tokyo: 11 hours 30 minutes
London - Osaka: 12 hours
We highly recommend you reconfirm your onward and return international flights at least 72 hours prior to departure.
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