Japan: The Ultimate Itinerary

Japan: The Ultimate Itinerary

Ditch the guidebook. We’ve wrestled with sumos in Tokyo, trekked across Hakone’s volcanic lands and popped into Kyoto’s best teahouses to bring you this definitive itinerary across Japan. We’ve got affiliate links to our experiential friends at Nemo Travel throughout this article in case you feel inspired to book your trip.

ancient traditions and a startlingly modern outlook,
Japan is a country that defies expectations – and we’ve found the
places where you can experience the country at its very best. A
feast for the senses, this itinerary takes travellers from
futuristic metropoles to the foothills of great mountains via the
country’s best restaurants and street food stalls. Weave your way
through Tokyo’s neon-lit backstreets, take a dip in Hakone’s hot
springs in or dive deep into the cultural mishmash of Kyoto’s
centuries-old temples, teahouses and artisanal stores.

Experience the best of Japan

Days 1–3


Start your trip in the capital, where towering skyscrapers give
way to lantern-lit bars and small restaurants. Tour Tokyo’s old
town of Asakusa, stopping by ancient temples in Sensō-ji before
wandering through the cobbled streets of Omotesandō and visiting
the Meiji Shrine.

Come lunchtime, make a beeline for Enju and tuck into a kaiseki
of locally sourced Japanese produce before heading back out to
delve into the city’s culture. As night falls, head to Ueno for an
evening spent sampling sake and dining on tapas-style Japanese

Wake to views across the city through the floor-to-ceiling
windows of Aman Tokyo, where mornings are best spent in the spa’s
Japanese steam room. After a relaxing start, book into a private
rikishi experience to learn about the practice, culture and history
of sumo wrestling before giving it a go yourself (if you dare).

Those less inclined to get involved can head to Ginza to spend
the day shopping. Round off the trip with dinner at Gonpachi, a
traditional izakaya, followed by a private performance at the Noh

Days 3–5


Take a bullet train from Tokyo to Hakone, darting through craggy
hills in the shadow of Mount Fuji. On arrival you’ll be transferred
directly to Gora Kadan hotel, where outdoor onsens complete with
rock pools and waterfalls provide the ultimate post-journey
relaxation. Spend days exploring the national park, taking arts and
crafts tours at the Okada Museum of Art and go on a boat ride
across Lake Ashinoko. Don’t miss a journey on the world’s second
longest cable car up in the Ōwakudani valley for views across hot
springs and volcanic landscape.

Days 5–8


From the peaceful panoramas of Hakone, make your way to the
bustling streets of Kyoto, the next stop on the itinerary. Set on
Honshu, Kyoto is Japan’s ancient capital, surrounded on all sides
by lush green mountains, and is the home of traditions and cultures
both old and new. Here, stay at The Thousand Kyoto, where manicured
gardens and rock pools are offset by minimalist design and
Japanese-style interiors.

A morning walking tour through Higashiyama takes trekkers across
the foothills of Kyoto’s mountains and visits to ancient buildings
such as the Kodaiji Temple and Yasaka Pagoda. Meanwhile afternoons
in the Arashiyama district are spent strolling through bamboo
groves, Japanese gardens and shrines. Dine at Misoka-an
Kawamichi-ya for world-famous soba noodles or Tempura Endo Yasaka
for incredible tempura – but the best restaurant is undoubtedly
Shigetsu, where traditional vegetarian Buddhist cuisine is served
inside Unesco World Heritage-listed Tenryu-ji Temple.

The rest of your time will be consumed by cycling along the Kamo
River and through Kyoto’s backstreets, admiring old machiya (wooden
townhouses), meeting geishas who seemingly float along narrow
streets and popping into the city’s teahouses – Kyoto is the
birthplace of the Japanese tea ceremony – to learn about the
culture and history of the tradition.

The Lowdown

We’ve teamed up with Nemo Travel to help
make experiences bookable. They’re a luxury travel company which
brings together insider advice with innovative technology. Catering
to the modern traveller, its unique itinerary builder gives you the
power to design a bespoke trip at a price that suits you. We’re
thrilled to be partnering with them to bring you the best in
experiential travel at the click of a button.