A land of fearsome warriors, inspiring landscapes and hypnotizing arts; Japan is a cultural treasure trove for even the most seasoned of travelers. On this 12 night itinerary of ancient arts and samurai swords, capital cities and rural escapes, we’ll give you the rare chance to get an insider’s view of the country’s most iconic traditions and share with you the best of its cultural secrets. Get ready to train, learn and forge your own Japanese adventure, with plenty of added luxury and comfort along the way.
THE WAY OF THE SAMURAI
Touching down into Tokyo’s neon buzz can be a sensory overload, so you’ll spend the first day acclimatising to the energy of this unique city before your cultural education begins. Then it’s time to immerse yourself in Japan’s historical side as we open the door on the mysterious world of the Samurai. We’ll start you with a private tour of Tokyo’s renowned Japanese Sword Museum, with the former curator of the British Museums’ Japanese sword collection at your side, to get you properly acquainted with the Samurai bushido “way of the warrior”.
After your history lesson, you’ll be raring to go for the next part of this trip—a day forging your very own blade. We’ll take you to a local sword smith where you’ll be able to craft your own katana or ‘kogatana’ short sword using the same techniques passed down by samurai for centuries. Surely this is the ultimate Japanese keepsake.Read more
SUMO AND SUSHI
Next on your Tokyo itinerary is a visit to one of the sumo stables where you’ll watch the professionals in their morning training sessions together with one of the world’s top sumo wrestling experts. Once the sessions are complete, spend time chatting to the wrestlers for a rare insight into the life of a sumo wrestler and pick up your first class seats at one of the ‘Grand Sumo’ tournaments.
Having dipped into the traditional sporting world of Japan, use the remainder of your time in Tokyo with your private driver to visit The Imperial Palace and temples, or we could even arrange a sushi class with a top chef to immerse you into the local cuisine.
ART AND SERENE SPRINGS IN HAKONE
After Tokyo’s cultural whirlwind, you’ll probably need to take things a little slower, so we’ll whisk you off for a few days of rural R&R in the spectacular mountains of Hakone. Unwind in your traditional Ryokan (Japanese-style inn) and sooth any weary limbs in one of the magnificent onsen hot springs. We’ll keep your cultural agenda topped up with a visit to the impressive Hakone OpenAir Museum, where works from Picasso and other artistic greats pepper lawns and gardens against a backdrop of misty forest-clad peaks.
KYOTO’S CULTURAL KICKS
Rested and rejuvenated, for the last leg of your trip it’s time to hop aboard the world-famous Shinkansen ‘bullet train’ to speed you over to Japan’s cultural mecca, Kyoto. Buddhist temples, shinto shrines, glorious architecture, pristine gardens and the occasional glimpse of a real Geisha scurrying to her next appointment; this is the Japan you’ve often dreamed of. The Japan that still exists beyond the bright lights and skyscrapers of Tokyo. With four nights to discover the very best of this ancient capital, we can guarantee that Kyoto will leave you truly enchanted.
TEA, TEMPLES AND ZEN GARDENS
Allow us to arrange a private tea ceremony at one of the most authentic tea houses in Kyoto before taking you on an in-depth tour. With a personal driver to hand, we’ll be able to show you the best of Kyoto’s secret gems, from secluded temples and hidden Machiya houses to stunning Buddhist gardens not open to the public—all with an award-wining architect or Japanese gardener as your guide.
After soaking up some of Kyoto’s Zen atmosphere, you’ll be ready to take on your next cultural lesson, the mesmerising art of Japanese calligraphy. We’ll nip you over to a private temple where your calligraphy ‘sensei’ will take you through the elegant strokes of beautiful Kanji characters, before inking up your own personal scroll to take home.
Spend your final days exploring more of the temples and shrines and lose yourself within the narrow lanes of Kyoto’s older quarters. For another glimpse into Japan’s past, why not let us take you to an exclusive Geisha performance, where you can dine and appreciate the beauty of more of Japan’s fascinating time-worn traditions.
We’ll be sending you flying home with a wealth of knowledge, some one-of-a-kind memories and a real Japanese sword. That’s not bad for a 12 day trip.