Soak up an itinerary of temples, onsens, sushi and modern art on this enigmatic Japan honeymoon. Visit the two big cities - Tokyo and Kyoto, where ancient tradition coexists with modern culture, followed by a scenic experience of tiny towns and dappled bamboo forests as you walk along the Nakasendo Trail. Gaze up at the heavenly peak of Mount Fuji before heading to Kagawa to stay on the art island of Naoshima, where design and colour bring the island to life. Finish your honeymoon in Osaka, tasting the delicious comfort food that makes this city famous.
This itinerary can be tailored to suit your requirements; please contact one of our consultants to start planning your dream trip.
Depart the UK from your chosen airport.
On arrival in Tokyo, you will be met at the airport, where our representative will help you catch a bus or train into the city to your hotel. Here you will check in for four nights.
This morning you’ll head out to explore Tokyo. Meet your guide at the hotel before visiting Hamarikyu, a Japanese garden that was once part of a private villa of a feudal lord. It has a huge selection of seasonal flowers, so depending on when you visit, the gardens will be kaleidoscope of different colours. Enjoy a cup of green tea in the pretty Nakajima-no-Ochaya teahouse before heading off on a scenic river cruise to Asakusa.
This is part of Tokyo’s old town, or shitamachi. It is the oldest geisha district in the city, home to Senso-ji, Tokyo’s oldest Buddhist temple. It’s a lovely area to wander through, having a mosey through the small alleys and looking at traditional shops. In the afternoon you’ll explore another area in Tokyo, cycling through some quiet backstreets. You’ll meet up with your guide (who sometimes brings his adorable dog ‘Jack-san’ with him, and head off to explore his local neighbourhood. Learn about Tokyo’s urban design and natural environment – cycling along is especially beautiful during the spring or autumn, when pink cherry blossoms or deep red and orange trees line the roads. Bike through the backstreets through cool neighbourhoods like Shimo-Kitazawa and stop for a break at charming cafes along the way.
You’ll have two more days to explore Tokyo, so here are some suggestions.
Why not start in Tsukiji Outer Market? Tsukiji is always bustling with visitors and locals, who come to enjoy delicious food and shop for traditional ingredients. It’s a great spot to grab a snack before heading over to the 400-year-old Zojoji Temple, next to the Tokyo Tower. Here, you'll get a glimpse of Japan’s ancient history and modern architecture side by side.
You could enjoy a bowl of ramen for lunch before spending the afternoon discovering the serene beauty of Hie Shrine, a quiet haven in the bustling district of Akasaka. Statues of mythical creatures guard the shrine that sits at the top of several escalators (a modern addition!). It’s famous for its 90 bright red tori gates that divide the human world and the spirit world. The Japanese believe that the shrine is a doorway to a place where the gods can hear our prayers.
It’s an early start today, to catch the bus south to Lake Kawaguchi, one of five lakes found at the foot of Mount Fuji. When you arrive you’ll meet your guide and take a trip to Okuniwa Nature Park, around 2,227m above sea level. Spend an hour trekking around the park – discovering plants that can survive in the harsh weather up here. If the skies are clear you should catch a glance of Mount Fuji.
After the hike, you’ll head to the 5th Station, the starting point for hikers attempting to summit the mountain before making your way back down to find your accommodation for the night. You will be staying at a ryokan, a traditional Japanese-style inn furnished with paper sliding doors, hot spring baths, tatami floors and futon beds. Dinner is included – a feast of local Japanese delicacies.
After breakfast, can spend the morning exploring yourself. Why not explore the Kawaguchiko Museum of Art, with a permanent exhibition of paintings and photographs of Mount Fuji. You could also visit Saiko Iyashi, a tiny village with thatched-roof houses, full of traditional handicraft studios and cafes.
This afternoon you’ll board the bullet train to Nagoya, followed by a beautiful journey on the limited express train “Wide View” to Fukushima. On arrival, you'll check into your accommodation for two nights.
Today is yours to explore this beautiful mountainous region. It's an amazing part of Japan to visit, especially if you like walking. We recommend hiking a section of the Nakasendo Trail, starting in the town of Tsumago. The town is famed for its preserved architecture that dates back to the Edo period.
The section of the trail between Tsumago and Magome is a beautiful walk of around three hours, including a couple of stops. You’ll pass old towns, fields of local farmers tending their crops and peaceful pine woodlands. When you finish your walk, you can hop on a bus back to Nagiso and take the train back to Kiso-Fukushima.
Arriving back you can enjoy a nice soak in the onsen before a delicious dinner.
After an early breakfast, why not take a stroll around Kiso-Fukushima before catching your train to Kyoto? Alternatively, you can hike another section of the scenic Nakasendo trail from Yabhara to Narai. After your walk, you can stop to enjoy a lunch of gohei-mochi (sticky-rice cakes) and soba (buckwheat noodles). From Narai, you can catch the train directly to Kyoto. On arrival in Kyoto, you’ll check into your hotel for two nights and spend the evening at your leisure.
Today is yours to enjoy Kyoto, a key cultural hub of Japan. Why not start with a visit to Nijo Castle, originally built in the 1600s as a private villa for a powerful lord? The intricate sliding doors and “chirping nightingale” floors are an incredible example of Momoyama architecture, making it a must-see when visiting Kyoto. Ryoan-ji Temple has a beautiful rock garden that is great to explore, while Kinkaku-ji Temple is home to a stunning golden pavilion covered in handmade gold leaves.
After breakfast, you can explore more of Kyoto, but we highly recommend taking a day trip to Nara, a small town just outside of Kyoto. For 74 years in the 8th century, Nara was the capital of Japan, and it's home to several shrines and temples of historical importance. Nara Park is the focal point of the town, where you’ll find many friendly tame deer grazing in the grass. It’s also home to the Todaiji Temple, a huge wooden building that houses Japan’s largest Buddha.
In the afternoon, you can return to Kyoto and visit Fushimi Inari Taisha, where thousands of photogenic torii gates frame paths through the forests of Mount Inari. It’s a unique hike up the mountain, with hundreds of photo opportunities next to these striking gates. If you reach the summit in the late afternoon, you'll catch a spectacular sunset over Kyoto and its surrounding hillsides.
Today you’ll be heading to the island of Naoshima, in the Seto Inland Sea. Taking the boat over, you’ll pick up a map and head off to explore. We’d recommend renting a bicycle and cycling to see the red pumpkin, one of the outdoor sculptures by the contemporary artist Yayoi Kusama. You should also stop by ‘I Love YOU’ – a combination of art and public bathhouse, showcasing various styles of art and wall design.
Start your day at the Chichu Art Museum, known for its manifestation of the relationship between humankind and Mother Nature. The designer, Ando, didn’t wish to disrupt the natural beauty of the Seto region, so almost the entire building is underground. Aside from the impressive architecture, there’s plenty of art to enjoy, including the famous Yellow Pumpkin by Yayoi Kusama. Many of the installations here are interactive and play with light and sound.
You can also visit the Lee Ufan Museum, where the art is themed on tranquillity and stillness of life. Naoshima Island is indeed a peaceful place to visit, and the museum fits perfectly with the place. It’s a wonderful and unusual way to spend a day in Japan.
To learn more about these art islands, read Liz’s blog here.
After breakfast you’ll hop on the train up to Osaka, enjoying a food tour this evening. The motto of Osaka is kuiadore – “to eat oneself bankrupt” and believe us when we say that in this city, it wouldn’t be hard to live up to that! Your first stop will be a street food stall, where you’ll taste a traditional Japanese snack food - menchi katsu - a breaded and deep-fried meat patty. Golden and crisp, it’s a local favourite, and you’ll soon see why.
Next, you’ll head to a standing bar to taste a selection of sake and Japanese wine, served with a handful of delicious house specialities. Afterwards, you’ll sit down in a restaurant famous for its wagyu beef dishes. Often referred to as the most expensive beef in the world, wagyu beef is firmly on the wish list of foodies around the globe. Enjoy the melt-in-the-mouth textures with a refreshing cocktail and soak up the atmosphere of Osaka.
At the final stop, you'll try a new style of tempura in an eatery tucked away down a small alleyway. Here, you'll find old favourites such as shrimp tempura as well as more experimental combinations such as asparagus tempura.
After breakfast, you can take one final wander around Osaka before catching the train to the airport in time for your flight home.
Late March to early April is cherry blossom season, so if you’re planning to travel in spring, you’ll need to book well in advance. The autumn foliage season (November) is also a very busy and very beautiful time to visit. June and July is the rainy season for most of Japan and it can be very humid, whereas autumn (September to mid-December) is normally cool and clear. Late December and January are cool or cold months in Honshu with snow often found in the mountains.
This itinerary is purely a suggestion and can be tailor-made to your requirements, so please contact us with your dates and requests, and we’ll put together a bespoke quotation for you.