Japan Holidays

Few places on Earth offer visitors so diverse a range of experiences as Japan, from the snow-covered mountains of Hokkaido in the north to the pristine beaches of Okinawa 2,000 miles further south.

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Why we think you’ll love it

  • Japan is possibly the most 'other' destination on Earth, and all the more fascinating for it. The country is amazingly technologically advanced, yet still values its traditional heritage. Amongst the skyscrapers of Tokyo, you'll find fascinating pockets of the city, like the Sumo wrestlers stables - so be sure to explore
  • The food is utterly delicious, whatever you eat and wherever you eat it. Tokyo is said to have more Michelin starred restaurants than any other city in the world but the food at more humble streetfood stalls is also invariably amazing
  • The scenery is sublime and varied - think mountains, volcanoes, deep turquoise volcano lakes, neon-lit skyscrapers, landscaped Zen gardens and wonderful traditional architecture
  • Despite some the distance involved, travelling around Japan can be a hugely civilsed experience. Anyone with (bitter) experience of the British rail system will only marvel at the whole process, as bullet and local trains adhere to their schedules literally to the second, and station attendants bow to trains as they leave the platform. Imagine that happening on the Waterloo & City line of a commuting morning

Luxury Travel in Japan: The Detail

For us to offer just one trip to this extraordinary destination is not meant to imply there is a limited amount to do there - on the contrary, the Japanese archipelago offers everything from snow-capped volcanoes to tropical beaches, but most visitors do not have the luxury of enough time to see it all. Despite the wonders (particularly to someone from Britain) of the Japanese railway system, a nation that stretches some 2,000 miles from north to south is just too big to see in one go, and that's where we come in. In fact, of all the destinations in the Original Travel portfolio Japan is probably the one that requires the most expert advice, given language barriers and the sheer alien nature (in a good way) of the country.

And what a country it is, with 127 million inhabitants living on increasingly over-crowded coastal plains beneath rugged mountain ranges that stretch the length of the islands, and with these megalopoli some of the most vibrant, innovative city destinations an urban warrior could wish to visit. Equally, those in search of calm and serenity can find respite from the hubbub surrounded by mountain peaks or in one of the country's remarkable Zen gardens.

Did you know

  • More than 50,000 people are living in Japan who are over 100 years old
  • The country consists of over 6,800 islands, of which over 430 are inhabited
  • Japanese farmers grow square watermelons to make it easier to stack and store them
  • There are over 200 volcanoes in Japan
  • The Japanese name for Japan is ' Nihon' or 'Nippon', which means 'sun origin'

It's the contrast between technology and tradition that makes Japan such an alluring destination for luxury travel, but with so much to see, careful planning is required. For the ideal 'beginner's guide to Japan' the starting point has to be Honshu - the main island - and home to Tokyo, Kyoto and much, much more. For the time pressed, there's a lovely loop taking in Tokyo, the beautiful rural area of Hakone (home to magnificent Mount Fuji), venerable Kyoto and then most likely the harrowing Hiroshima and elegant Miyajima island. A well-trodden route, but understandably so given what a perfect combination of experiences this represents - ultra-modernity, ancient capitals, urban energy and rural idylls, and a superb range of accommodation options from luxury hotels in Tokyo taking up the top floors of skyscrapers to luxury ryokan traditional Japanese inns in pristine countryside

For the smitten (trust us, you will be) looking to return, or the fortunate few with longer to explore, we passionately urge exploration beyond the above. Honshu itself has other unmissable luxury travel highlights, from bathing hot spring snow monkeys and skiing in Nagano to the UNESCO World Heritage old town of Takayama, but further afield the islands of Hokkaido, Kyushu, Shikoku and Okinawa are all fascinating as well. For luxury skiing in Japan, the place to visit is northerly Hokkaido, and particularly the resort of Niseko. Beer drinkers please note that Hokkaido is also home of the Sapporo brand. Kyushu island, to the south west of Honshu, is renowned for onsen hot springs, spectacular volcano lakes (as seen in the classic Bond You Only Live Twice) and the beautiful southern city of Kagoshima, known as the 'Naples of Japan' thanks to its coastal setting and brooding volcano. Kyushu is already well off the tourist trail, and neighbouring Shikoku island even more so, but the place to go for temples and long distance walking trails; and then there's Okinawa for a taste of the tropics. Stay in a luxury ryokan by the beach for the ultimate in original beach holidays.


Top picks for Japan

Aman Tokyo

Aman Tokyo

Honshu

The super chic Aman brand makes its debut in one of the world’s global cities with the opening of Aman Tokyo. Occupying the top six floors of the recently-built Otemachi Tower this five star urban sanctuary sits high above the buzzing metropolis with predictably fantastic views.

Where to stay

Mandarin Oriental Tokyo

Mandarin Oriental Tokyo

Honshu

If style, service and skyline views are the requirements, the Mandarin Oriental is the answer. Guests check in on the 38th floor of the Mitsui Tower with panoramic views over the bustling shopping and business district of Nihonbashi.

Where to stay

Palace Hotel Tokyo

Palace Hotel Tokyo

Honshu

The Palace Hotel, so named because it overlooks the Imperial Palace gardens, was completely re-built for its 2012 grand opening.

Where to stay

Skiing in Japan

Skiing in Japan

Japan

Japan is just starting to appear on European skiers’ radars, and with very good reason. The powder is reliable, the resorts run like clockwork, there are hot springs to dip in to and volcanoes to ski on and what’s not to like about après-ski sushi? Even better, there are a mere 600 resorts to choose from on the main island of Honshu and the northerly Hokkaido island, so there’s likely to be somewhere to suit every type of skier. This being Japan there are no particularly budget options, granted, but if you want super original, and Original, skiing, Japan is the place to head.

What to do

Kyushu

Kyushu

Japan

Kyushu is the most southerly of Japan's four main islands and home to onsen spa towns, classic castles, jaw dropping volcanic scenery and picturesque cities.

Where to go

Gora Kadan

Gora Kadan

Honshu

Gora Kadan is a luxurious ryokan (traditional inn) located in the grounds of a former Imperial residence in the beautiful Hakone region south of Tokyo.

Where to stay

Hokkaido

Hokkaido

Japan

Japan's most northerly island is home to skiing, red-crowned cranes and some of the country's finest landscapes.

Where to go

Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto

Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto

Honshu

Opened in February 2014, the Ritz-Carlton is a fantastic addition to Kyoto's luxury hotel scene. It's in a great location overlooking the Kamo River, and within walking distance of the downtown shops and restaurants of Kawaramachi, as well as the Gion and Pontocho geisha districts.

Where to stay

Park Hyatt Tokyo

Park Hyatt Tokyo

Honshu

Occupying the top 14 floors of Shinjuku Park Tower, Park Hyatt Tokyo hotel is an elegant oasis of space and calm overlooking Tokyo and the Kanto Plain, all the way to – on a clear day - Mount Fuji. Located in the Shinjuku district, the hotel has easy access to downtown.

Where to stay

Iwaso Gardens, Honshu, Japan

Iwaso

Honshu

Iwaso Ryokan (whose doors first opened in 1830) is situated in Momijidani Park and boasts the same craftsmanship and architecture of many of the islands historical shrines.

Where to stay

The Peninsula Tokyo

The Peninsula Tokyo

Honshu

The Peninsula Tokyo is a five star hotel near the Imperial Palace in the Marunouchi business district with great views across the Tokyo cityscape.

Where to stay

Honshu

Honshu

Japan

Japan may not feature high on everyone’s travel wish lists, but trust us – it should - and there's no better place to start exploring than Honshu, home of ultra-modern Tokyo and the ancient capital of Kyoto alongside volcanoes, zen gardens and snow monkeys, no less.

Where to go

Thank you it was brilliant, brilliant! Thank you, thank you, we would not have changed a thing, it was all perfect

Sarah

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