Things to do in Hiroshima, Miyajima & Naoshima
Kayak The Seto Sea
For an off the beaten path experience, embark on a kayaking tour in the Seto Sea and explore the coasts of Hiroshima and Miyajima. Visit the UNESCO-Listed Itsukushima Shrine and see the famous rusty-red Torii Gate that is partially submerged at high tide. Disembark on Miyajima Island to hike Mount Misen and take in the views of the bay along with encountering the many deer that inhabit the island.
Naoshima Island Art
Naoshima Island is a paradise for art, architecture and design lovers. Wander around the Art House Project and see the transformation of abandoned houses and workshops into art installations. Admire the play of light and shadows in the underground Chichu Art Museum and marvel at Yayoi Kusama's famous Yellow Pumpkin Sculpture. For a wonderfully weird outing, visit the I Love YU Bath House to experience bathing in the artwork.
Hiroshima Peace Park
Visit the Hiroshima Peace Park and Museum to learn about the atomic bombing of Hiroshima during World War II. A UNESCO-Listed site, the museum exhibits not only objects and photography from the tragic events, but also runs programs to promote world peace. See the A-Bomb Dome - one of the few buildings still standing from those dark times - and place a folded paper crane on the Children's Peace Monument.
Things to do in Hokkaido
'JaPow' In Niseko
Ride the white slopes of Mountain Niseko-Annupuri and be mesmerized by the 'japow' experience - the best powder snow in the world. Steer through the open powder bowls and the ghostly tree runs and drink in the pristine scenery. Embark on a helicopter tourto get a panoramic perspective overmighty Mount Yotei and give winter horse riding a go. Après-ski, relax in the warm waters of a traditional onsen.
Immerse yourself in the rural landscapes of the Furano and Biei areas to see the beautiful fields of multicoloured flowers. Take the Patchwork Road to admire the countryside scenes and the Panorama Road for fragrant purple lavender fields where you can enjoy some refreshing flower-flavoured ice-cream. Final stop-off is the amazing azure coloured Blue Pond to snap some photos of the magnificent mineral-rich waters.
Dance Of The Cranes
'Fold a thousand cranes and the gods will fulfil your heart's desire' so goes an old Japanese saying. If your desire is to see the beautiful red-crowned cranes - a national treasure of Japan - perform their dance during the mating season, then head to the village of Tsurui, in Hokkaido. This elegant dance is unique to each pair; they will conduct it every winter, for many years to come.
Things to do in Kyoto
Be it the peaceful and relaxing art of Kenbu (Japanese sword dancing) or the fast and focused martial art of Iaido (quickly drawing a sword), Samurai lessons lift the curtain on the culture of these mighty warriors. Don a pair of traditional hakama pants and listen closely to the master sensei explaining the mentality and technique required to properly handle and wield a beautiful handcrafted katana (traditional Japanese sword).
Kyoto By Bike
Discover the ancient capital of Japan in a fun and culturally curious way. See the every day life of locals and admire the traditional wooden houses; spot the graceful geishas and maiko in the Gion District (ask to take a photo and they will happily will), and stop for some matcha tea and Japanese sweets at one of the many ochaya (tea houses) around the peaceful Shirakawa canal.
Delve into the Fushimi Sake district in southern Kyoto to discover the history and manufacturing methods of this world-renowned rice drink. Visit the local breweries -some of which date back to the middle of the 17th century - learn to the secrets of making the best sake at the Gekkeikan Sake Museum and head down to the izakaya (traditional Japanese pub), to enjoy some local varieties of the delicious drink.
Things to do in Kyushu
Sample Hakata Ramen
A trip to Kyushu isn't complete until you try the delicious regional speciality of Hakata ramen. Originating in Fukuoka, ramen has a couple of unique characteristics: a flavourful cloudy broth made from pork bones; simple savoury toppings - like green onions and char siu (boiled or roasted pork) - and thin,straight noodles cooked al dente. Enjoy this tasty dish at one of the many ramen restaurants in Kyushu.
Kirishima-Kinkowan National Park
Nestled between the Miyazaki and Kagoshima Prefectures, Kirishima-Kinkowan National park is famed for its mountain range and active volcanoes, volcanic lakes and onsens (hot spring baths). Walk along the Kirishima Ride Trail and see if you can spot Korea from Mount Karakunidake. Learn about the history of the Japanese imperial linage at Shinto shrines and follow in the footsteps of James Bond from the popular movie 'You Only Live Twice'.
Visit Shofukuji Temple
Step back in time on a visit to Japan's oldest Zen temple. built in 1195 (and rebuilt a number of times after that). Popular with the mighty samurai warriors, Zen Buddhism promoted meditation and discipline as the means to reach enlightenment. The buildings can not be entered but you can stroll around the attractive temple grounds and admire the Buddhist architecture of Sanmon Gate and Butsuden Hall.
The Best of Japan
Skiing in 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.
In terms of specific resorts, it's hard to look beyond Niseko, on the island Hokkaido, which boasts legendarily consistent (and enormous) snow falls, a huge network of lifts and runs across four areas, and easily accessible off piste skiing of a high quality. There's skiing for all standards from beginners through to powderhound pros, and an excellent range of accommodation, restaurants and bars to choose from, making this one of the most civilised ski resorts in the world, let alone Japan. If you ski in Hokkaido, it might be worth swinging by Sapporo, the island's capital and home of the famously good beer.
Back on the main island of Honshu, the snowfall is not quite as freakishly fecund as in Hokkaido, but still pretty outstanding in many of the resorts near the city of Nagano, which hosted the 1998 Winter Olympics. Japan's hyper-efficient transport network means you can either stay in Nagano itself and ski different resorts daily, or stay in a resort complete with onsen hot spring town such as Nozawa Onsen, a wonderfully traditional resort that is now twinned with St Anton in Austria. Nozawa is also near the Jigokudani National Park, home of the iconic hot spring bathing snow monkeys. Not something you get in St Anton.
Whichever resort you choose, you can guarantee that the experience will be extraordinary because skiing with a Japanese twist is a deeply civilised affair with good facilities, outstanding restaurants and decent accommodation. The powder and snow monkeys await….
Why We Love It
The northern island of Hokkaido is famous for the quality and quantity of its dry powder snow.
Japanese Martial Arts
Learn a range of traditional Japanese martial arts, from Samurai Sword lessons and Ninja workshops in Tokyo to Samurai Kenbu lessons in Kyoto, we have a wide range of excellent local experts to help turn you into a Karate King (or Queen).
As well as mastering the sport, learn about the important historic and cultural significance that different forms of Japanese martial arts have on the country and its people.
Discover unique and authentic martial arts experiences that will make your trip to Japan unforgettable - as well as impressing your friends and family at home with your new Jujutsu moves.