If you’re seeking the best Japan has to offer, look no further than our 11-day Luxury Japan: Art, Culture & Cuisine trip. Featuring once-in-a-lifetime experiences and some of Japan’s best hotels and ryokans, you’ll enjoy art, culture and incredible cuisine as you immerse yourself in Japan. Unlike typical Japan tours, our trip includes the perfect combination of essential highlights with unique, non-touristy once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
|11 days||Prices for a trip like this start at about US $1,500 per person per day and up (read more about pricing for our bespoke trips)||Based on your preferred travel dates|
- The chance to stay at several of Japan’s top hotels and ryokans
- Tokyo, one of the world’s most exciting cities
- Kyoto, the ancient capital
- Naoshima’s art & architecture, including a stay at Benesse House
- Hakone National Park in the shadow of Mount Fuji
- Hiroshima and the UNESCO-recognized Miyajima Island
- Culinary experiences including a private sake tasting, traditional cooking class and kaiseki dining
- Once-in-a-lifetime experiences including sumo and private dinner with a geisha
- And more!
Trip Itinerary Details
Welcome to Japan!
On arrival in Tokyo, you’ll be met in the arrivals hall. Our representative will be holding a sign with your name on it, and you’ll be escorted to your private vehicle for the comfortable transfer to your accommodations.
You can fly into Tokyo’s Narita (NRT) or Haneda (HND) airport; this itinerary can also be adjusted to begin in Osaka/Kyoto.
Enjoy your first night in Japan and get ready for your adventure ahead!
Your Hotel in Tokyo: Aman Tokyo, Palace Hotel Tokyo, Andaz Tokyo, or similar (Including Breakfast)
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.
This morning your private guide will meet you in the lobby 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.
This morning your guide will meet you at the hotel 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.
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, 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 following your tour, and enjoy the evening.
Your Hotel in Hiroshima: Sheraton Grand Hiroshima Hotel or similar (Including Breakfast)
Today you’ll visit the gorgeous World Heritage island of Miyajima. Your guide will greet you in the lobby for an early 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 departure, you may 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.
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
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.
Your Hotel in Kyoto: The Ritz-Carlton Kyoto, Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto, Hotel Kanra Kyoto, or similar (Including Breakfast)
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 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 to an exclusive teahouse in one of Kyoto’s four remaining hanamachi (geisha districts) for a once-in-a-lifetime private geisha dinner.
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.
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 the therapeutic hot springs!
Dinner will feature a memorable multi-course kaiseki feast featuring seasonal and local specialties.
Your Ryokan in Hakone: Gora Kadan, Gora Hanaougi, or similar (Including Breakfast & Dinner)
Today you’ll return to Tokyo to attend a sumo match. From your ryokan 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).
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: Aman Tokyo, Palace Hotel Tokyo, Andaz Tokyo, or similar (Including Breakfast)
We hope you have had an amazing trip.
You’ll be free until departure, and depending on your flight schedule you may have time for some last-minute exploration (and eating)!
In good time for your flight, you’ll be picked up at your accommodations for your private transfer to the airport.
You can depart from Tokyo’s Narita (NRT) or Haneda (HND) airport; this itinerary can also be adjusted to end in Osaka/Kyoto.
Come back to Japan soon!
- Your tailor-made itinerary crafted on a bespoke basis, based on our in-depth Japan expertise, relationships & firsthand experience
- A Japan specialist to answer your questions & help you organize your thoughts
- Accommodations as outlined, in properties to match your taste
- Daily breakfast at your accommodations
- Deluxe multi-course kaiseki dinner at your ryokan
- Unique private tours & experiences, with a mix of freedom, support & structure to match your travel style
- Private half-day orientation tour of Tokyo & sake tasting
- Private cooking class & half-day tour of Tokyo
- Private half-day tour of Hiroshima & full-day tour of Miyajima
- Private half-day tour of Naoshima
- Private cycling tour of Arashiyama & walking tour of Nishiki Market
- Private dinner with maiko in Kyoto’s Gion geisha district
- Tickets to attend the sumo basho (tournament) in Tokyo
- Meet-and-greet on arrival in Tokyo, and airport transfer by private vehicle
- IC cards with 1,500 JPY (about US $15) of initial credit on each
- Private transfer from your hotel to Tokyo Station
- Shinkansen (bullet train) from Tokyo to Hiroshima in the first-class Green Car
- Travels to Naoshima, including shinkansen in Green Car, private transfer and ferry
- Travels to Kyoto, including ferry, private transfer and shinkansen in Green Car
- Private return transfers between Kyoto Station and your accommodations
- Shinkansen from Kyoto to Odawara (Hakone) in Green Car
- Private return transfers between Odawara Station and your ryokan
- Shinkansen from Odawara Station to Tokyo
- Departure airport transfer by private vehicle
- Expertly-planned transport & logistics for peace of mind & convenience
- Extensive Japan-specific pre-departure information, including advice on money, packing, etiquette, tipping, Wi-Fi, language, food, and much more
- Thoughtful customer service & 24/7 emergency assistance during your trip
- International flights
- Tours, experiences, meals, or any other services other than those specified
- Entrance fees or local transport at each destination, except as specified
- Visa fees and services
- Personal expenses and other incidentals such as baggage handling, pocket Wi-Fi, mobile phone, laundry, etc.
- Travel insurance (we provide recommendations)
- Any other services not specified
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Is this a group tour?
No, this is a private travel experience for you and your fellow traveler(s).
Are the dates flexible?
Yes, we can typically plan around your ideal travel dates.
When is the best time of year to visit Japan?
We usually recommend taking advantage of any chance to visit, since each of Japan’s seasons is great in its own way.
For more on the seasons and weather, read our post, When Is The Best Time Of Year To Visit Japan?
What is it like to stay in a ryokan?
Staying in a ryokan is a great way to fully immerse yourself in traditional Japanese culture, but it’s not for everyone.
Take our virtual ryokan tour to see if it’s right for you! Even if not, in most parts of Japan there are non-ryokan hotel alternatives.
Are trip extensions possible?
Yes, this is a sample itinerary and we can customize it to best match your priorities and interests.
For example, you can extend your stay in Tokyo or Kyoto, replace these destinations with others, or add on additional places in Japan.
Is Japan good for families?
Yes, Japan is an amazing family destination.
For more about family travel in Japan, read Is Japan Good For Families?
What’s included in the cost?
Please see the list above for details of what’s included in the cost.
When do I have to pay?
In most cases, a 30% deposit is required at the time of booking, with the balance due 90 days before your trip.
If your trip is coming up within 90 days, full payment will be required to secure your bookings.
What should I pack (and what about Wi-Fi, train times, dietary restrictions, the time difference, passports, visas, etc.)?
Not to worry! We make sure all of our clients are prepared with extensive pre-departure information.