The image of Japan as a fast-paced land of robots and bullet trains belies the fact that many places still retains old-world charm. This tour offers guests an adventurous and luxurious trip down Japan’s enchanting memory lane.
The tour begins with a leisurely cycle ride through Kyoto to the World Heritage Kinkaku-ji, the Temple of the Golden Pavilion. While in Kyoto, also join a thrilling whitewater boat ride down Hozu River.
For art lovers, the luxury cruises by the “floating ryokan” Guntû are an irresistible retreat to offering much contemporary art in the majestic Seto Inland Sea.
Short hiking adventures in Hakone are an undemanding way to enjoy the awe-inspiring Mt. Fuji up close. The beauty of nature would make you feel like pressing Pause to soak in each moment.
The trip ends in Tokyo with the best that the capital has to offer, both traditional and futuristic.
A private car and English-speaking assistant meets you at the airport and takes you to your hotel in Kyoto.
Day 2 & 3
There’s no better way to see Japan’s ancient capital than by bicycle. The day begins with a 3.5-hour cycle ride through Kyoto’s old machiya townhouse districts and on to famed Zen temple Kinkakuji. Known as the Golden Pavilion, the temple is one of 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites to be found in the city. The afternoon is reserved for a private tour of ancient Kyoto.
The next day prepare yourself for a full day of sensorial delights that begins with a two-hour boat ride down Hozu River to Arashiyama, site of the exquisite Bamboo Forest. Hozu River is studded with huge boulders, fast rapids and deep pools. The boat rides, which began in 1895, are said to be the best in Japan. The day ends with a group or private “geimai” dinner in Gion, the famed geisha quarter of Kyoto.
Day 4 & 5
This full-day private tour packs in many of the delights of traditional Kyoto, and even includes a private tea ceremony held at a secluded Buddhist temple.
The next morning is spent on a private tour of Nara, yet another of Japan’s ancient capitals. Nara is home to Todaiji, an iconic temple that houses a 15-m-high bronze Buddha, or Daibutsu the world’s largest. It is also home to herds of tame deer that roam Nara Park in search of tourists with food to spare. The evening is spent in Osaka, Japan’s second largest city. Osaka’s Dotonbori Shopping District should not be missed, as it typifies the city’s brash identity and is ideal for souvenir shopping. Foodies will love the city walking tour in the evening.
The day begins with a private tour of Osaka. Places of particular interest include Osaka Castle, which dates back to the 16th century, and the Umeda Sky Building, a spectacular high-rise structure that houses the Floating Garden Observatory on its 39th floor.
In the afternoon, you leave Osaka and head to the port city of Onomichi to board “floating ryokan” Guntu.
Day 7 & 8
One of the highlights of this two-week tour is undoubtedly a stay aboard Guntû, a 19-room luxury hotel ship that travels along the Setouchi coast at a leisurely speed of 18 km per hour. Guests can choose to join *excursions to some of the art islands in the Seto Inland Sea or relax on board and enjoy Guntû’s culinary delights, outdoor baths and spectacular views.
*Excursions are subject to weather and sea conditions.
All good things must come to an end. It is time for you to bid farewell to Guntû and head west to Kurashiki, in Okayama Prefecture, aboard one of Japan’s famed Shinkansen, or bullet trains.
Day 9 & 10
This full-day private tour of Kurashiki centers on the Bikan Historical Quarter. This beautifully preserved canal system dates back to the Edo period (1603-1868), when Kurashiki was an important storage and distribution point for rice. The many original storehouses from which the city takes its name have been converted into boutiques, cafes, museums and souvenir shops.
The three-hour bullet train ride to Odawara followed by a short ride to Hakone leaves more than enough time to settle into your luxury ryokan, a Japanese style inn, and spend some relaxing time soaking in a hot spring bath before dinner.
Day 11 & 12
The day begins at the crater lake of Lake Ashi, celebrated for its stunning Mt. Fuji views, hot springs and historical sites. For the best views, hitch a ride on the Hakone Komagatake Ropeway, which climbs to the peak of Mt. Komagatake in seven minutes. With your own driver and English-speaking guide at hand, the next stop is Hakone Sekisho, an authentically restored Edo-era checkpoint that features a guardhouse, lookout tower, shooting range and much more. Beyond the checkpoint is Cedar Avenue, a section of path along Lake Ashi that features over 400 ancient cedar trees. They were planted here to provide shade for Edo-era travelers on the Tokaido highway. The day culminates at Hakone Open-Air Museum, which houses over 1,000 sculptures and features artworks by Picasso and Henry Moore.
From Hakone, it’s an unhurried and picturesque drive by private car to Mt. Fuji. The day’s itinerary includes a leisurely trek around the base of the mountain. In the afternoon, you will head to Tokyo for an evening of relaxation in the comfort of a luxury hotel.
Situated close to the ocean, Tokyo’s eastern districts are synonymous with tradition and food. These are in abundance at Tsukiji Outer Market, a foodie mecca in the heart of the capital that boasts fresh fish, dried goods, seasonings and street food. The latter includes grilled seafood and skewered yakitori and is best enjoyed while walking. Be sure to leave some room for sushi, as lunchtime is spent learning how to make, and eat, Japan’s national dish with your very own sushi master. Then it’s off to Asakusa in the comfort of your private car to visit the imposing Sensoji temple and adjacent Nakamise shopping arcade. Close by, and towering above you, is Tokyo Skytree, the world’s tallest freestanding tower. The sight of Tokyo from the observation deck some 450 meters up is one you’ll never forget. There is nothing down-to-earth about glamorous Ginza, your next port of call. Here, your day ends on a cultural high with a Kabuki performance followed by dinner in one of Ginza’s many chic restaurants.
Your Tokyo adventure shifts to the western part of the capital. The day begins at the century-old Meiji Shrine, a vast forested complex in the center of Tokyo. Next up are Takeshita-dori, the teenager mecca in the heart of Harajuku, and the famous Shibuya crossing. As the sun sinks and the city lights up, head to Shinjuku's notorious Kabukicho district for the weird and whacky Robot Show, a futuristic pop-culture cabaret of the absurd. The evening comes to a close in Golden Gai, a web of alleyways crammed with over 200 tiny bars and eateries that retain a post-war charm and heady atmosphere long gone from much of Tokyo.
Transfer to Haneda/Narita Airport for your international flight home.