Luxury Japan: Art, Culture & Cuisine (11 Days)
Day 1: Welcome to Tokyo! Meet-and-greet on arrival and private transfer to your hotel, Andaz Tokyo.
Day 2: Private orientation tour of Tokyo, visiting Omotesando, Meiji Shrine and Harajuku. Intimate private sake tasting with Tokyo-based sake expert.
Day 3: Private Japanese cooking class including a delicious lunch. Private afternoon tour of Tokyo, visiting Senso-ji Temple & Roppongi Hills Sky Deck.
Day 4: Board the world-famous shinkansen (bullet train) to Hiroshima, riding in the first-class Green Car. Private afternoon tour of Hiroshima, visiting the Peace Park, Peace Memorial Museum & Atomic Bomb Dome.
Day 5: Private tour of Miyajima Island, including the UNESCO-recognized Itsukushima Shrine.
Day 6: Travel to the art island, Naoshima. Private afternoon tour of Naoshima’s art and architecture. Overnight at Benesse House.
Day 7: Travel to the ancient capital, Kyoto. Afternoon at leisure at the luxurious HOSHINOYA Kyoto.
Day 8: Morning cycling tour in beautiful Arashiyama. Afternoon walking tour of Nishiki Market. Private maiko dinner in Kyoto’s Gion geisha district.
Day 9: Shinkansen to Hakone National Park. Afternoon at leisure at your luxurious ryokan, Gora Kadan. Enjoy private onsen (hot springs) and a multi-course kaiseki dinner.
Day 10: Short return journey to Tokyo. Afternoon sumo basho (tournament) at Tokyo’s Kokugikan. Enjoy your final evening in Tokyo.
Day 11: Morning at leisure. Private transfer to the airport for your international departure. If your flight departs from Osaka we can adjust the itinerary accordingly (additional costs may apply).
Day 1: Welcome to Tokyo!
Welcome to Japan! On arrival in Tokyo (you can fly into Tokyo’s Haneda or Narita airport), immediately after exiting the secure area you will see your guide and driver with a signboard with your name on it.
You’ll be escorted to your private vehicle and depart the airport bound for your hotel in central Tokyo. The journey from Narita, on the far outskirts of Tokyo, into the city center takes about 90 minutes or more, depending on traffic. (From Haneda it takes about 30 minutes or more, depending on traffic).
You’ll be dropped off directly at your centrally-located hotel, Andaz Tokyo.
Tokyo’s most stylish new luxury hotel, Andaz maintains a boutique feel while offering all the best amenities, including: a beautiful spa and state-of-the-art fitness facilities; a rooftop bar offering views over the glittering metropolis below; and spacious guest rooms featuring design by Tony Chi and Shinichiro Ogata, reflecting the Japanese love for natural materials and textures like washi paper and wood.
Andaz is conveniently located in the brand-new Toranomon Hills tower, an ultra-modern and centrally-located shopping and business complex featuring a delicious variety of restaurants, to complement the Andaz’s own excellent offerings.
Enjoy free soft drinks all day in the comfortable Andaz Lounge (and from your room’s mini-bar), and a complimentary happy hour in the evenings. Tokyo’s best hotel breakfast is served in the Tavern, overlooking the city.
Your Hotel in Tokyo: Andaz Tokyo (Including Breakfast)
Day 2: Private Half-day Tour & Sake Tasting
Ohayou gozaimasu (good morning)!
Today you’ll have your first full day to enjoy Tokyo. With a population of over 12 million, Tokyo is one of the largest cities in the world. With its huge skyscrapers, underpasses, overpasses and crowds of pedestrians, Tokyo has a vibrant charm all its own.
Your private guide will meet you in the lobby at 10:00 am and together you’ll embark on a private tour by private vehicle. Leaving your hotel, travel to exciting Harajuku. Harajuku is most famous for its edgy fashion, but first you’ll pay a visit to the extremely peaceful Meiji Shrine, a huge green space right in the middle of Tokyo. Surrounded by forest in the middle of downtown Tokyo it is a true oasis in the city. Extensive walking paths make it a favorite strolling venue.
Then stroll through Harajuku, Japan’s young fashion mecca. This area is one of the places people picture when they imagine Tokyo. Harajuku also happens to be right next to Omotesando (Tokyo’s version of the Champs Elysees), a tree-lined street filled with fantastic architecture, boutiques and brand shops, and cafes and restaurants.
You can enjoy lunch today at one of the many restaurants and cafes in Omotesando Hills, designed by Tadao Ando, or in the area’s charming backstreets.
This afternoon you’ll enjoy a private sake tasting with a sake expert, who will introduce you to this incredible (and eclectic) beverage, which is only now really beginning to be understood outside of Japan. It’s also enjoying a renewed renaissance in Japan, which means it’s currently a golden age for sake, with producers large and small crafting incredibly sophisticated sakes in all varieties.
Day 3: Japanese Cooking Class & Private Tour
This morning your guide will meet you at the hotel at 10:00 am and you will travel by private vehicle to your private Japanese cooking class. During your cooking class you’ll have the chance to immerse yourself in the rich world of Japanese cuisine. While cooking a fantastic meal, you’ll learn about ingredients, techniques, equipment – and of course get to enjoy the fruits of your labor in the form of a delicious lunch.
After lunch, you’ll head with your guide by private vehicle to one of Tokyo’s best neighborhoods, Asakusa. Asakusa is famous for keeping the spirit of old Tokyo alive. It maintains the feel of pre-boom Japan, and gives you a sense of what Tokyo was like before the stunning growth of the 70’s and 80’s. In Asakusa you’ll visit the splendid Sensōji Temple, one of the most photographed structures in the city. This is not only Tokyo’s oldest temple, but among the oldest in Japan.
Following a stroll along the popular Nakamise-dori – the lanes leading up to the temple, and a great place to sample some local snacks – you’ll proceed to a completely different part of the city, with your guide by private vehicle.
Roppongi is one of Tokyo’s most cosmopolitan districts, and the Roppongi Hills Sky Deck – situated on the 54th floor of the Mori Tower – offers spectacular views of the impressive Tokyo skyline. (In clear weather, you may also see Mt. Fuji).
End your long day relaxing with a cocktail or cup of tea as you take in the view of this incredible city.
Day 4: Bullet Train to Hiroshima & Private Tour
This morning you’ll check out from your hotel and prepare to board the shinkansen (bullet train) west to Hiroshima.
Your private vehicle will transport you to Tokyo station. Before hopping on the comfortable train, we recommend picking up a delicious bento lunch box – featuring seasonal items – at Tokyo station’s fantastic GranSta shop, which sells a mouthwatering variety of bentos – and complementing this with a bottle of sake from Hasegawa Saketen, a sake shop also located right in Tokyo station. The journey on the comfortable bullet train from Tokyo to Hiroshima takes 4 hours.
The shinkansen is a joy to ride, and you’ll be in the Green car (first class). Arriving at Hiroshima station, you’ll be met directly on the arrival train platform and escorted to your waiting vehicle.
Hiroshima is most famous for being the site of one of two atomic bombs dropped on Japan at the end of the Second World War. However, despite its tragic past, Hiroshima is today a vibrant and bustling city, risen phoenix-like from the ashes.
With your guide, spend the remainder of the afternoon at Hiroshima’s tragic yet inspiring Peace Park, Memorial and Museum. The Museum is located within the Park, adjacent to the sobering sight of the iconic A-Bomb Dome.
An important strategic city during the years preceding the bombing, Hiroshima has a fascinating history that is worth exploring at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.
The Museum is located in the Peace Park, adjacent to the sobering sight of the iconic A-Bomb Dome. The powerful Peace Park and Museum are well worth exploration, but after reliving the horrors of 1945 you’ll see that Hiroshima’s present is much brighter – the city is almost miraculous in how lively and dynamic it is today.
Check into your hotel around 5:30 pm following your tour, and enjoy the evening.
Your Hotel in Hiroshima: Sheraton Hiroshima (Including Breakfast)
Day 5: Private Tour of Miyajima, Near Hiroshima
Today you’ll visit the gorgeous World Heritage island of Miyajima. Your guide will greet you in the lobby for an early 8:00 am start, and together you’ll travel by private vehicle to Miyajima-guchi (just outside of Hiroshima city), where you’ll board a short ferry for the 10-minute ride across to Miyajima Island.
Miyajima is a famed UNESCO site for its stunning Itsukushima Shrine. Even if you have not heard of the shrine, you’ve most likely seen its iconic image: a massive red (vermillion) torii gate that appears to be floating in the water. Designated one of Japan’s “3 Most Beautiful Views,” the shrine dates back to the 6th century with the present structure dating back to the 12th century.
With your early 8:00 am departure, you should arrive in time to see the iconic red gate of the shrine “floating” in the high tide. It’s a beautiful sight, and following this you can spend the day walking the many trails around the island’s Mount Misen. You can ride the cable car up and walk down, and there are trails throughout the island.
After a peaceful day on Miyajima – so close to Hiroshima, yet feeling so far away – return to the city around 5:00 pm.
Day 6: Private Tour of Naoshima, The Art Island
Today you’ll travel to the famous art island, Naoshima. Getting to Naoshima involves a 40-minute bullet train trip, followed by a private vehicle (about 1 hour) to the port at Uno, and then a 20-minute ferry ride.
Naoshima is a charming small island that doubles as home to a large collection of contemporary art museums, galleries, exhibits and installations. A stay here also offers the chance to stay in a wonderful museum-hotel – truly a unique experience. As part of today’s private visits, you’ll explore various museums and installations on the island with your guide.
On Naoshima Island you will stay at Benesse House, a museum and hotel designed by renowned Japanese architect Tadao Ando. The complex, which overlooks the Inland Sea, artfully fuses a museum with boutique accommodations, so you can leisurely enjoy art amid the natural beauty and gentle pace of Naoshima.
In addition to the fantastic museum, the hotel features an on-site spa, shops and restaurants. All guest rooms face toward the ocean and feature different works of art, creating a luxurious space blending art, architecture, and the natural world.
Your Hotel in Naoshima: Benesse House (Including Breakfast)
Dinner Reservations: Terrace Restaurant
Day 7: Naoshima to Kyoto, The Ancient Capital
Enjoy a morning in front of the sea, and then depart peaceful Naoshima for the ancient capital, Kyoto. You’ll retrace your steps with the short ferry ride (about 20 minutes) to Uno on the mainland, and then travel by private vehicle to Okayama, where you’ll board the bullet train bound for Kyoto. The bullet train ride will take approximately 1 hour.
Kyoto is one of the most culturally rich cities in the world, let alone Asia. Home to 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites, this ancient city showcases the heart and soul of traditional Japan.
At first glance, however, Kyoto looks like almost any other Japanese city. But the discerning eye will soon pick out Kyoto’s treasures: sacred shrines tucked in among shopping arcades, time-honored teahouses nestled among modern businesses, and charming geiko scuttling down backstreets heading to evening appointments.
Arriving at Kyoto station, you’ll be met and transferred by private vehicle to your luxurious accommodations, Hoshinoya Kyoto.
Hoshinoya Kyoto is a modern-style ryokan, blending Japanese aesthetic elements with modern comforts, resulting in a truly sublime experience. The ryokan is located on Kyoto’s outskirts, in the peaceful and beautiful Arashiyama district of northwest Kyoto. Traditionally a retreat area for the city’s elite, this area offers a blend of Kyoto’s history with natural beauty.
Your vehicle will drop you off at Hoshinoya’s boat landing, from where it’s a few minutes by traditional boat to the secluded hotel itself.
Check into Hoshinoya and enjoy an incense ceremony. If you like, we can arrange a private-guided tour for this afternoon, or you may prefer to simply enjoy the peaceful surroundings and natural beauty of the hotel.
Your Ryokan/Hotel in Kyoto: Hoshinoya Kyoto (Including Breakfast)
Dinner Reservations: Hoshinoya’s exclusive restaurant, which specializes in traditional kaiseki dining with a modern flair.
Day 8: Morning Cycling Tour & Geisha Dinner
This morning your guide will meet you and you’ll set out on a private morning cycle tour. Spend the morning cycling in and around Arashiyama and its iconic bamboo forest – one of Japan’s most photographed spots, and with good reason.
Afterwards, you’ll be driven into the city to explore central Kyoto. In addition to its countless temples, shrines and gardens, Kyoto is also a culinary center. The most unique (and photogenic) place to experience Kyoto’s cuisine is at the Nishiki Market, a narrow shopping arcade only 400 meters in length with just over 100 vendors, where you can immerse yourself in Kyoto’s distinctive culinary delicacies.
You’ll return to the hotel in the afternoon for some downtime, before heading back into the city center for a once-in-a-lifetime private geisha dinner.
Dinner is included tonight at an exclusive teahouse in one of Kyoto’s four remaining hanamachi (geisha districts), with private maiko entertainment.
Day 9: Travel to Hakone National Park & Ryokan Stay
This morning you will be transferred to Kyoto station, where you will catch the bullet train east toward Tokyo. But today you will not head as far as Tokyo – instead stopping in the Hakone National Park, in the shadow of Mt. Fuji.
Hakone is perhaps Japan’s most famous national park, and from here you have one of the best chances of getting a view of Mount Fuji from the various viewpoints to be found throughout the area. However, Fuji-san is notoriously elusive, so don’t be disappointed if she doesn’t make an appearance during your stay!
The bullet train ride from Kyoto to Odawara – gateway to the Hakone National Park – takes just over 2 hours. When you arrive at Odawara, you’ll be met and transferred by private vehicle to your luxurious ryokan for the evening: Gora Kadan.
During the day, Hakone has plenty to see and do: light hiking, tasting eggs boiled in volcanic waters, a boat trip across the beautiful Lake Ashi, and the outdoor sculpture park and Picasso gallery. Or maybe you will just sit back and relax while soaking in Gora Kadan’s therapeutic hot springs!
In Hakone you’ll stay at Gora Kadan, one of Japan’s finest properties. Gora Kadan is a luxurious ryokan featuring a harmonious blend of Japanese tradition with modern elements. The experience is beautifully Japanese, however rest assured that the bedding is well suited to western tastes: though not offering fully western-style beds, Gora Kadan has comfortable bed-height platforms with plush, thick comfortable futons overlaid on them.
Gora Kadan also features luxuriant onsen (hot spring) baths and a fantastic spa – not to mention incredible cuisine. Dinner will feature a memorable multi-course kaiseki feast featuring seasonal and local specialties.
Your Ryokan in Hakone: Gora Kadan (Rooms with Private Open-Air Hot Springs) (Including Breakfast & Dinner)
Day 10: Return to Tokyo & Attend Sumo Tournament
Today you’ll return to Tokyo to attend a sumo match. From Gora Kadan the return trip to Tokyo is quite easy. You’ll be transferred by private vehicle to Odawara (the train station to which you arrived yesterday), and catch the bullet train for the 40-minute ride to Tokyo.
A chance to see live sumo is surprisingly rare: there are only a few tournaments each year (taking place in rotation in just a few cities across Japan). You’re fortunate that your trip corresponds with a sumo tournament occurring right in Tokyo!
With your guide you’ll head to Ryogoku, home of the national sumo stadium in Tokyo. While the matches begin early in the day, the top-level wrestlers start facing off around 3:30 pm. We recommend arriving around mid-afternoon to enjoy the last couple of hours of the day’s matches, featuring the premier wrestlers.
Your evening will be free to enjoy one last special night in Japan.
Your Hotel in Tokyo: Andaz Tokyo (Including Breakfast)
Day 11: Departure from Japan
We hope you have had an amazing journey.
Depending on your flight time, you may have the morning free for final exploration. In good time for your departure flight, you’ll be transferred by private vehicle to the airport.
Come back to Japan soon!
Ready to Plan Your Japan Trip?