Destinations / Asia / Japan / Tailor-Made Japan: Shrines & Skyscrapers
LUXURY TAILOR MADE TRAVEL

Tailor-Made Japan: Shrines & Skyscrapers

8 days from $12,995

From the towering skyscrapers and dazzling lights of Tokyo to the ancient temples of Kyoto, Japan is a nation that fuses traditional and contemporary like no other. Explore vibrant districts in the capital like Omotesando and Harajuku, and you’d be forgiven for assuming you’d been transported into the future. But sleep in a ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) with access to a historic onsen in Hakone, and you might just think you’ve taken a journey back in time. Besides a rich heritage and culture, Japan is home to iconic natural wonders ranging from southern tropical beaches to the snow-capped Mount Fuji. And if you want even more diversity, Japan’s regional and seasonal gastronomy will not let you down.

Despite being a long and slender archipelago with a landscape covered in mountains and volcanoes, Japan is easy to get around thanks to its famous shinkansen (bullet train) network, which runs all the way from Hokkaidō in the north to the southern tip of Kyūshū. For that reason – even though it would take months to see all of Japan’s treasures – eight days is enough to pack a bit of everything into your trip. And thanks to the nation’s array of tourism draws, any season is an ideal time to visit, whether you want to make the most of the summer climate or carve up the slopes during winter.

Japan at a Glance

Japan is one of the most progressive nations on the continent with regards to LGBTQ+ laws. While there remains no law on same-sex marriages, homosexuality has been legal since 1880, and people can legally change their gender following sex reassignment surgery. Moreover, discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community is illegal in many provinces, including Tokyo, and it’s becoming more widespread nationally. On top of all that, the Japanese people are famously welcoming, warm and helpful, though be aware that due to conservative attitudes, public displays of affection and conversations about sex may still be considered taboo in most places. Nevertheless, Japan is home to thriving gay scenes, particularly in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ni-Chõme district, which is said to have the highest concentration of gay bars in the world. The capital hosts many LGBTQ+ events, including a weeklong Pride festival, and smaller gay scenes thrive in cities including Osaka.

While Japan really is an amazing place to visit regardless of the season, which fall in line with those in North America, the most popular times to visit are during the spring ‘cherry blossom’ season from March to May as well as the autumn months of September to November, when temperatures are mild, skies are clear, and rainfall is minimal. The most-visited cities in Japan are Tokyo, where neon-lit skyscrapers neighbour historic palaces and temples, the cultural capital of Kyoto, and the modern metropolis of Osaka. When you want to escape the urban jungle, natural paradises are waiting to be explored around every corner.

Currency icon

Currency

Yen (JPY)

Language icon

Language

Japanese

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Visas

Not needed for travellers from the US, Canada and Europe

Best Time To Visit icon

Best Time To Visit

March – May & September – November

Timezone icon

Timezone

Japan Standard Time (GMT+9)

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Homosexual Activity

Legal

Japan

Photo: Tom Vining

Photo: Yoav Aziz

8-day travel itinerary

This itinerary will take you from Tokyo to Kyoto, stopping in destinations such as Hakone, Lake Ashi and Nara along the way.

DAY 1

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Arrive in Tokyo

After arriving in Tokyo, check into a hotel and enjoy the views of the sprawling capital.

DAY 2

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Imperial History Tour of Tokyo

Start today with a visit to the Imperial Palace Plaza before moving on to browse Japanese art and antiquities inside the nation’s oldest museum, the Tokyo National Museum. Then, head over to the colourful 7th-century Asakusa Kannon Temple, pausing to see the quaint shops along Nakamise-dori.

DAY 3

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Discover Tokyo’s vibrant neighbourhoods

In the morning, stroll through the 175-acre grounds of the Meiji Shrine, dedicated to the spirits of Emperor Meiki and Empress Shoken. Then, check out Tokyo’s eclectic and fashionable district of Harajuku. Omotesando Street is a well-known fashion hub with the local youth. Enjoy the afternoon at your own leisure.

DAY 4

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Hakone

Today, you’ll travel to Hakone, one of Japan’s best-known hot spring resorts. Here, you can discover the forest-sloped mountains, lakes, coastlines and over 1,000 volcanic islands that make up the Hakone National Park. We highly recommend a cruise along Lake Ashi. Then, take in views of Mount Fuji while riding an aerial tram before admiring the sculptures and works of art by the likes of Henry Moore and Picasso on the grassy hillsides of the Hakone Open-Air Museum. Spend the night in a traditional ryokan such as Gôra Kadan, which is famous for its exceptional cuisine.

DAY 5

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Bullet Train to Kyoto

After breakfast, board a bullet train that travels at speeds of up to nearly 175 mph to Kyoto, where you can attend a tea ceremony at a local temple dating back to the days of the samurai. After, explore the centuries-old Nishiki Market, where restaurants and shops stretch for five blocks.

DAY 6

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Nara

Start the day by heading to the UNESCO-listed Buddhist Todaiji Temple in Nara, which was Japan’s first capital when founded in 710. Inside the temple, you’ll see the world’s largest bronze Buddhist statue. Within the temple grounds, you can observe free-roaming deer. Next, head to the architecturally distinctive Kasuga Shrine, noted for its hanging lamps. Later, treat yourself to a tipple at a sake brewery.

DAY 7

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Kyoto Highlights

Today, you’ll discover the gold leaf-covered Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion) and its surrounding manicured gardens, all set on a tranquil pond. After, head to the lush, monkey-filled oasis that is Arashiyama Bamboo Grove. You should also pay a visit to the Togetsu Bridge, a picturesque example of Japanese engineering and ingenuity.

DAY 8

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Depart from Osaka

On the final day, you can catch a flight from Itami Airport or Kansai International Airport, both of which are located just outside of Osaka.

Let Us Book Your Luxury Japan Vacation

Get in touch if you would like us to arrange your Japan trip. Did you have a different Japan itinerary in mind? No problem. We tailor every trip to your individual travel style and passions so just let us know what you’re looking for.

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A private itinerary designed for you

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Hand-selected luxury accommodation

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Exclusive insider-access opportunities and inspiring sightseeing

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English-speaking local guides

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Airport meet and greet with private transfers

Japan
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