Few places blend ancient tradition and cutting-edge contemporary culture as well, or as interestingly, as Japan. Here, you’ll find the height of modernity alongside some of the world’s most beautiful ancient temples and gardens, all woven together by incredible cuisine and one of the most interesting cultural perspectives in Asia. Japan is home to true luxury that thrives in an aesthetically delightful surrounding – after all, this is the home of cherry blossoms and one of the world’s most affluent cities. And travelling with Black Tomato means that we’ll open our little black book and show you some of the most iconic and hidden treasures that Japan has to offer.
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Touch down in Tokyo, the cutting edge capital of fashion, food and design and be met by our guide who will school you in everything you need to know to hit the bustling streets. From maps, phrase sheets, to good advice and insider tips, your dedicated Black Tomato guide will ensure you set off on the right foot. Start the day with a private tour of the fascinating Tsukji Fish Market and snack on the freshest and, in our opinion, best sushi in the world. The nearby Hamarikyu Gardens are ideal for an afternoon stroll before taking a waterbus along the Sumida River to Asakusa to view the Senso-ji, Tokyo’s oldest and most significant temple. Tech lovers will enjoy a stop off at Akihabara, a major electronic, anime, games and otaku shopping district, before retiring to the gorgeous Aman Tokyo hotel. After a morning of manicures at your own dressing room nail station, spend the day on a private tour that combines the traditions of ancient Tokyo with the contemporary culture the city is now famous for. We’ll take you on a visit to Meiji-jingu, the most important shrine in Tokyo, and the Imperial Palace Gardens, all before an afternoon stroll through the trendy districts of Harajuku.
Wind through the hills of Mount Fuji and delight in the stunning scenery before arriving at Hakone for peaceful views, spectacular kaiseki cuisine and onsen baths; a traditional experience said to have tremendous healing qualities, which will leave you rejuvenated, relaxed and refreshed. Check into your Ryokan (read: traditional Japanese inn that originated in 1603) at Ginyu Hakone and enjoy the spectacular views of the river and mountains. Spend the afternoon visiting the impressive Open Air Museum which houses 300 works by Picasso alone. In Japan you can truly expect the unexpected. The following day, take a tour of the Hakone area and discover great views of Mount Fuji from a cable car or boat, but for those wishing to keep their feet firmly on the ground – hiking enthusiasts can walk the ancient route from Tokaido Road to Hakone-Yumoto, a truly magical trek.
Like the name suggests, the bullet trains in Japan are known for their speed and it will be this rapid transportation that will deliver you into the heart of Kyoto. Waste no time with your guide and discover the iconic Golden Pavilion or Ryoanji Zen Garden before ending the day with a moment of zen at the Ninnaji Temple, which is home to one of Kyoto’s loveliest gardens. A night at the renowned Hyatt Regency will get you ready for a full day private tour of Gion, where you will catch sight of some of Kyoto’s apprentice geisha on their way to lessons. With the help of your guide, you can carve your own pathway through Japan but we’d always recommend stopping off at Nijo Castle, the former home of the Shogun (one of the hereditary military dictators of Japan from 1192), Yasaka-jinja Shrine and Maruyama Park, which boasts spectacular temples and even grander views.
As the saying goes, the best way to get to know someone is to walk a mile in their shoes, so head to a traditional Kyoto machiya townhouse where you’ll be given your own zori wedges with white socks. You needn’t walk the full mile though; after being clothed in traditional attire enjoy an elegant tea ceremony followed by a light Kyoto style lunch. Spend the afternoon visiting Arashiyama and Sagano and the breath-taking bamboo groves before heading to your historical bolthole for the next few nights, the picturesque river retreat, Hoshinoya. This truly has to be seen to be believed as it’s one of the most stunning and quiet retreats around. Quite the change from the bustle of Tokyo. Take off on a day trip to Nara, Japan’s ancient capital, with your own private guide to witness the majesty of the Todaiji Temple and the Great Buddha, as well as Deer Park and the beautiful Isuien Gardens.
Heading west to Hiroshima, your Japanese exploration is taking a westward turn. With all Black Tomato trips, so much of the experience is in the journey, so enjoy the bullet train and the unusual sights for the next few hours before a ferry takes you over to the sacred island of Miyajima. Spend the following day exploring the ancient wonders the island has to offer, whilst for the adventurous, hike to the peak of Mount Misen for stunning views across the island studded Inland sea. Rest your head at Iwaso before you catch a bullet train back to Tokyo to spend the day soaking up the sights and reliving your magical memories before boarding a flight back home enriched with the wonders of Japan.
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Good to know
- Are there any personal touches that can be added for the location?
- Absolutely. There are lots of personal touches to add – either things you've always wanted to do or perhaps things that only we'll know about and will recommend because we think you'll really like them. It's our job to find out all about your likes (and dislikes) so everything can be entirely personal and bespoke.
- How does it work and how long does it take to plan an itinerary?
- Depending on where in the world you're thinking of travelling we'll assign you a Travel Expert for that destination - although if you're not sure where to go, that's absolutely fine too. This is someone you'll deal with from the very beginning all the way to the point of returning from your time away. They are destination experts and will offer lots of advice and original insight to craft a completely bespoke itinerary including all your accommodation, experiences and private tours, guides and transfers. It's why we really like to get to know you, so we can make it entirely personal and get it right first around. But if we don't get it right, that's fine too as we'll speak or email as many times until it's perfect. We try to be as quick as we possibly can but on average we try to get you a first draft of your itinerary within 24 hours of speaking to one of our Travel Experts but it does depend on where you're travelling to and therefore the complexity of the itinerary too.
- What is due for a deposit and when do I need to pay it?
- Once ready to book we require a deposit straight away and then the full balance is required 12 weeks prior to departure. A deposit can range anywhere between 25-50% of the full cost of the itinerary. It varies depending on which country you're travelling to and therefore which suppliers we work with as they all have different deposit terms. If booking flights with us your deposit will include the cost of these flights too as we need to book those right away.
- Once I make a payment are all of the arrangements confirmed? And is it all protected?
- Yes. Once your deposit payment is made we make all the necessary reservations and confirm all arrangements with hotels and our suppliers and will send you a full receipt and confirmation document via email. For your peace of mind and to protect your money, we have Tour Operator liability insurance with ATOL and are members of ABTA, IATA and Virtuoso.
- Can you help with flights? Can I book them myself?
- Absolutely. We have access to live airline fares for nearly all the major airline so can help book flights for you. However, should you wish to book your own then that's fine too – just let us know which so we can seamlessly organise everything from the moment you land.
Tip: design every part of this itinerary and its activities
If you like what you see but want to tailor make any aspect of this trip, our Travel Experts are on hand to plan your perfect experience. No obligation, we're here for you.
8 reasons to choose Black Tomato
- A tailor-made no obligation itinerary
- Luxury accommodation and transfers
- Perfect activities for everyone
- Sensational customer service 24/7
- Flights either included or excluded
- Access to private local experts
- Complete privacy protection
- All fees, taxes and no hidden charges