- An exceptional journey to experience another way of life as a couple
- Naoshima, a true aesthetic experience
- Stay in Japan's 'don't miss' hotels, from a luxurious ryokan (traditional inn) to a museum hotel, designed by the greatest architects
- Private tours of Tokyo and Kyoto, local Concierge, Japan Rail Pass included and our usual additional services
Contact one of our Japan specialists + 44 (0) 20 3958 6120
YOUR 'ARCHI-ZEN' JOURNEY
On your Japanese itinerary - On the logistics side, a flexible pace works best to take advantage of each stage and included a Japan Rail Pass for easy train and public transit travel. Visits to Tokyo and Kyoto and with a private guide are in the itinerary, as is discovering a Japanese garden masterpiece in Kyoto. Not to mention the assistance of our local Concierge in your destination to meet your last minute needs and wishes.
AMONG YOUR PROPERTIES...
The Screen in Kyoto - Halfway between a ryokan and a boutique hotel, the Screen is at once contemporary and traditional, and run by discreet and considerate staff. This is an intimate, hybrid hotel located among galleries and antique shops, and a short walk from Kyoto's Imperial Palace. Its 13 rooms were designed by 13 Japanese and international designers to provide a unique experience for each guest. Expect choice and creativity on the menu too, with a cuisine that combines French and Japanese influences. Once a week, the restaurant lights give way to flickering candles, saving energy and providing an intimate atmosphere. And on the roof: a bar perched among the roofs of small neighbouring houses, and a private room that transforms into a wedding chapel.
Oyado the Earth on the Pacific Coast - A contemporary reinterpretation of a traditional ryokan. Surrounded by a primitive forest, nearby Toba Bay and remote islands, Oyado the Earth is worthy of its name. You're truly off the beaten track; the road to the ryokan is remoteness personified. This is splendid isolation. The quest for communion with nature is illustrated in both the architecture and the spirit of the place. Each of the 13 suites is spacious and comfortable. The traditional yukata robe is worn to the dining room. Here, discerning gastronomes can rave about the freshness of the products harvested from the land and sea of the national park, served at the daily kaiseki (multi-course dinner), the most accomplished expression of Japanese gastronomy and one of the key reasons to stay in a ryokan. The must-have: relax in your private onsen with a glass of (very good) Japanese whisky, with the sound of waves crashing on the rocks below.
Benesse House in Noashima - A unique museum hotel created by Tadao Ando, one of Japan's leading contemporary architects. Nestled in the hills of Naoshima Island, a tiny piece of land that has become a hotbed of contemporary creation, the hotel is a symbiosis of architecture, art and nature. The rooms are divided across four buildings: inside the museum itself, one in the hills (the view is breathtaking), one in an annex, and one by the sea. The rooms are rather minimalist, with neutral tones and simple furnishings, and enhanced by their views of the Seto Sea. It should be noted that the paintings by famous artists exhibited in the rooms are originals - this is a genuinely unique place to stay.
Flight to Tokyo
Overnight flight, arriving the next day.
Arrival in Tokyo
Three-night stay at the Hotel Capitol, a glass and metal building designed by starchitect Kengo Kuma. This is one of the few establishments in the heart of Tokyo where you feel connected with nature: vegetation colonises the common areas, and the bay windows of the large guest rooms open onto the imperial garden. And to get rid of jet lag, swim a few pool lengths in the beautiful 60ft pool, or run three laps around the palace in the Imperial Garden: a Tokyo jogging classic.
In the itinerary - A day with a guide who will be at your disposal with no preconceived route, so you can discover their city as you wish.
What to see, what to do - Visit Sensoji Temple in Asakusa - admire the style of the punkettes of Shinjuku, the lolitas of Harajuku, and the hipsters of Naka-Meguro - get up a little earlier to visit the Tsukiji Fish Market, where fishmongers carve up gigantic tuna - savour fresh sushi in front of the tuna stalls - visit the Edo-Tokyo Museum, which retraces the history of the capital, particularly through its architecture - admire the works of contemporary Asian artists at the Mori Art Museum in Roppongi Hills - get a birds-eye view of the city from the 51st floor of Tokyo Sky View - stroll through the garden of the Meiji-jingu Shinto shrine - visit the Hara Museum of contemporary art both for its collections and because it was originally designed as a private residence and, completed in 1938, it is one of the few examples of architecture from the beginning of the Showa period.
Must-see - On Omotesando Avenue, a showcase for major international brands, the Tod's, Prada, Vuitton and Dior boutiques were designed by eminent architects such as Jun Aoki and Toyo Ito.
Tokyo - Hakone
Train to Hakone. The bustling capital gives way to the mountainous region of Fuji. The volcano that gives the town of Hakone its name also ensures its prosperity: it's the subterranean volcanic activity that sees hot spring water bubble up from the ground. Originally sacred places of Shinto worship, onsens (hot spring baths) are both therapeutic institutions and meeting places; true antidotes to the rigours of life. Bathe, relax, socialise. In the hollow of a rock or in the soft wooden tub of a ryokan (traditional inn), the bath will leave you with a feeling of well-being you won't forget in a hurry. Overnight stay at Kitanokaze Saryou, an intimate ryokan designed by architect Makoto Nakayama, which highlights light and the surrounding nature. Ten rooms, ten bubbles of calm and serenity, each with its own private onsen.
What to see, what to do - Taking the cable car up Mount Hakone and enjoying a exclusive view of Mount Fuji - Hakone Gongen, one of Japan's largest Shinto shrines - the Museum of Fine Arts - the Botanical Garden - the open-air sculpture museum.
Hakone - Kyoto
Take the train to Kyoto, the cradle of the Japanese soul, where one is constantly switching between the 18th and 21st centuries. Three-night stay at the Ishibekoji Ryugin ryokan, which boasts only two luxurious suites, with traditional charm and the state-of-the-art comfort you would expect from a luxury hotel. It is located in a small cobblestone alley, the best preserved in Gion, with houses featuring antiqued wooden facades in the colour of honey and liquorice.
In the itinerary - As in Tokyo, you have a day with a private guide to discover the city as you wish, as well as a guided tour of the Katsura Summer Palace, one of the Emperor's former residences, where the surprising modernism of ancient Japanese architecture is affirmed, bordered by a Japanese garden masterpiece.
What to see, what to do - At dawn, journey along the Philosophers' Path - visit Ginkakuji, the Silver Pavilion - get lost in the Buddhist garden paradise of Kinkakuji, the Gold Pavilion - stroll through the former residential districts and admire the simple architecture of the machiya (wooden townhouses) of the Gion district - stroll through the Shinto Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine; its hundreds of torii (elegant wooden gateways) lining your path - shop for tea at Ippo-cho and tofu at Iriyama-Tofu - take part in a tea ceremony - take an afternoon detour through the Nishiki market, nicknamed 'Kyoto's kitchen', past eel and octopus stalls - eat steaming tempura: a great show - attend an Ikebana flower ceremony - lunch at the Kawamichi-ya soba restaurant - meditate in the mineral garden of the Ryoan-ji Temple - visit the Hosomi Art Museum for shinto and Buddhist art, and the Nomura Museum for its beautiful ceramics and tea ceremony utensils.
Not to be missed - Kyoto Station , a glass and steel temple designed by Hiroshi Hara, inspired by the chequerboard structure inherited from the 7th century Chinese cities which characterise the streets of old Kyoto - Tadao Ando/s Time's I & II project, a small-scale shopping complex whose design was inspired by the takasabune, the small boats that used to carry freight on the Tasake River, which the buildings overlook.
Kyoto - Toba
Train to Toba on the western coast of the Kii Peninsula, and two-night stay at Oyado The Earth. Breathtaking surroundings, impeccable service, architecture and an atmosphere in perfect harmony with nature, attention to detail right down to the plates: all the elements are there to let go and live an experience for all the senses.
What to see and do in Toba - Explore wild coastal coves - visit the Toba Aquarium, one of the largest in the country - visit Mikimoto Museum, one of Japan's largest pearl cultivators, and its first artificial oyster producer - explore Ise City, home to the country's largest Shinto shrine, Ise-Jingu.
Toba - Kyoto
Train back to Kyoto and overnight stay on the outskirts of the city at Hoshinoya Kyoto. Take a private boat (ten minutes) to reach this peaceful retreat in the heart of nature, on the quiet wooded shores of the Hozugawa River. Once a traditional ryokan, it has been beautifully renovated by architect Rie Azuma, who enhanced its spirit and charm. In the rooms: cedar, sliding glass doors and large picture windows with breathtaking views of the river, bamboo groves and surrounding mountains.
Kyoto - Naoshima
Train and ferry to Naoshima Island. Accommodation for two nights in the extraordinary museum hotel, Benesse House, designed by Tadao Ando. We've opted for a room in the Oval section, accessible by a funicular, with spectacular views of the entire island. The museum houses pieces from the most iconic artists of the 20th century, but also a restaurant and minimalist rooms with a zen aesthetic, some of which have direct access to the exhibition rooms.
Naoshima, an island apart in the remarkable Seto Sea
Since a billionaire visionary art enthusiast invested in Naoshima, then Inujima, Teshima and Mejijima ... they've become a hotbed of contemporary design. Just board a ferry and let yourself drift into this impressive landscape to browse the museum islands and admire the creations of major artists of the 21st century along their beaches and trails. This is a truly aesthetic and sensory experience, seeing contemporary art in symbiosis with nature.
What to see, what to do - Walk from the ferry dock to the top of the hill overlooking the island: works of art are everywhere, including sculptures by Niki de Saint Phalle or Yayoi Kusama, which look out over the sea. Then visit the Chichu Art Museum, another project from Tadao Ando. The bare museum, built entirely underground with the exception of wells providing natural light, is all concrete and corridors, and designed to get you to rethink the relationship between man and nature. The highlights of the museum are the five 'nympheas' of Monet's late period, illuminated by daylight in a pristine room. The Art Project House re-envisions former fishermen's houses (deserted since the decline of the traditional fishing economy) as residences for artists whose work is inspired by the genius of the place.
Naoshima - Osaka
Ferry and train to Osaka. Overnight stay in the Hyatt Regency hotel, designed by Jun Aoki, designer of the Louis Vuitton boutiques in Tokyo, Nagoya and New York. A little further from the city centre, this 500-room hotel has walls made of hundreds of metal rings. The attentive welcome, soothing gardens and spacious rooms overlooking Osaka City or the bay deserve a special mention.
What to see, what to do - Visit the castle - stroll around the popular Tsutenkaku district - watch a performance at the Bunraku Puppet Theatre - stroll along Dotonbori Street in the evening.
Osaka - International flight home
A la carte
FOR A FEW MORE DAYS - THE
MOUNTAINS OF KOCHI For those who aren't pressed for time, we recommend extending your trip to the island of Shikoku to stay in a mountain retreat. Away from the city of Kochi, the Tosayama Inn blends Japanese traditions with contemporary architecture. Its 12 rooms, housed in an elegant concrete and wooden building, boast stunning views of the river and surrounding mountains. And below, amid the vegetation, are four private villas accessible by a bridge spanning the river and cocoons of charm and comfort. They have a wooden terrace overlooking the river and with the traditional Japanese baths for ultimate serenity.
A Rough Idea of Price
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