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London - Tokyo
Arrive in Tokyo, one of the world’s busiest and most dazzling capital cities, and check in to your deluxe hotel situated right next door to the Imperial Palace.
On your first full day your guide will take you on a private tour of the capital using the legendary public transport system. You’ll be given a Manaca Card that can be used for taxis, buses, trains, vending machines and even bento in convenience stores, complete with instructions in English for topping up. You’ll see the lesser-known aspects of Tokyo, as well as the Senso-ji Temple in the ancient downtown area of Asakusa, the buzzing fashion shops of Shibuya, soaring skyscrapers and astonishing streets of neon advertising. You’ll need a camera with a gigantic memory, so if you don’t have one already, this is the place to buy it!
Stay: Three nights in a Deluxe Room at the Palace Hotel Tokyo – bed & breakfast
Next stop is Hakone, about 50 miles west of Tokyo reached by one of Japan’s iconic bullet trains. You’ll arrive in Odawara Station and be transferred by taxi to your luxury ryokan in the Gora area of Hakone National Park. Centred on two natural mineral-rich hot springs, the property was once the summer residence of the Kaninnomiya Imperial family.
During your stay, you’ll have time to both relax in the onsen and explore the surrounding national park and its views of the sacred Mount Fuji. A privately guided tour will introduce you to the area’s small villages and hamlets scattered across the hills and valleys and connected by cables cars, railways and local transport.
Stay: Two nights in a Japanese room with open-air bath at Gora Kadan – breakfast & dinner
Another ride aboard a bullet train brings you to world-famous Kyoto. You’ll be staying at the exquisite Four Seasons Kyoto, nestled in the 800-year-old traditional ‘Shakusuien’ gardens on the grounds of a former Samurai residence.
You’ll have a dedicated guide who will show you around this fabulous city with its 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites, 1,600 Buddhist temples, 400 Shinto shrines, authentic tea houses and vibrant shopping arcades. With no rigid timetable, you’ll have time to experience Japan’s most culturally rich city in your own way.
On your final day in Kyoto you’ll have the opportunity to visit Nara, the former capital of Japan, with your local guide. Here you’ll unearth a wealth of ancient Buddhist and Shinto shrines, temples and artwork dating back to the 8th century. Naramachi, the former merchant district, has retained many of its older buildings, whilst numerous World Heritage Sites, the Todaiji Museum and the Nigatsudo Pavilion will add to your knowledge of the region’s history.
Stay: Four nights in a Deluxe Room at the Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto – bed & breakfast
From Kyoto station, you travel by train to Kashikojima where you be taken to spend three nights at the prestigious mineral hot spring resort of Amanemu. Situated in Ise-Shima National Park on the shores of Ago Bay, the coastal, forest and mountain setting of this ryokan-inspired hideaway is simply breathtaking.
When you’re not bathing in the healing hot spring waters, you could be strolling in the extensive gardens or unwinding in the exquisite Aman spa which has two bathing pavilions, a yoga studio and extensive menu of holistic spa treatments. Make time, too, for a visit to the Ise Grand Shrine; fishing with an expert angler and a walk along the World Heritage-designated Kumano Kodo pilgrimage trails. Finally, take a boat out into Ago Bay at sunset for a mesmerising view across the islets of the Shima Peninsula.
Stay: Three nights in a Mori Suite at Amanemu – bed & breakfast
Today you return to Tokyo. You’ll be transferred to Kashikojima from where you’ll catch a train to Nagoya, followed by a bullet train ride to the capital. Enjoy one night at the Park Hyatt, where you can relax or venture out to explore the city further.
Stay: One night in a Park Room at the Park Hyatt Tokyo – bed & breakfast
The accuracy and efficiency of the whole trip was outstanding. My specific requests were closely observed.- AM, India