A private and immersive experience: Japan in the Springtime
The word “Japan” conjures diverse and colorful images: the serene, iconic Mount Fuji; Kyoto temples fringed by cherry blossoms; the outrageous couture of Harajuku girls on a Tokyo Sunday; futuristic bullet trains; a geisha in kimono and painted face. It is the land of anime and pachinko, of exquisite cuisine, and of electronics and robotics innovation that transforms the way we live and work. Visiting Japan, it is easy to recognize what science-fiction writer William Gibson called “the global imagination’s default setting for the future.”
The foundation of this prosperous modern Japan was its post-war constitution, which along with an unstinting work ethic kindled unbridled economic growth. Even with the recessions of past decades, Japan is still home to the world’s third-highest GDP; it is a beacon of modernity to a continent that is racing to catch up with this once hermitic nation.
Japan’s insular past may be long gone but many of the old ways remain. One can still see elegant women in meticulous kimonos gingerly navigating massive crosswalks; kabuki opera performances; and sushi masters using techniques from the 17th-century Edo Period. This is what makes Japan so appealing: the harmonious confluence of the ancient and hyper-modern into one fascinating whole, firmly rooted in tradition but ever hurtling into the future.
Experience the best of Southern Japan with this charming 8-day luxury itinerary, taking in Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe and Hiroshima as well as cultural icons such as Himeji Castle, cherry blossoms and Kobe beef. Stock up on electronics in the world’s technology epicenter, then soak in the incredible views from Mount Misen of Hiroshima below. Balance culture and adventure as you experience both the countryside and bustling metropolitan cities.
DAY 1OSAKA »
Fly into Osaka to begin your Japanese adventure! The city is a cultural mecca and the perfect way to start your holiday. Rest up for a big day of traveling tomorrow.
DAY 2OSAKA »
Familiarize yourself with local culture as you tour Osaka’s National Museum of Art. Home to the famous tapestry, “The Lady and the Unicorn,” this museum also houses several rare jewels. Gain an entirely new perspective as you tour the Museum of Oriental Ceramics and view the intricately-designed porcelain for which the region is so famous. Dive into marine life (while staying dry, of course) as you explore the Osaka Aquarium. The aquarium is one of the largest public aquariums in the world.
DAY 3OSAKA »
During springtime, marvel at the unmatched beauty of the blooming cherry blossom trees. Their fragrant smell has inspired hundreds of perfumes the world over. Stark white walls contrasting with vibrant red roofs make the Osaka Castle a stunning sight with traditional importance. Tour the 13 structures at the castle that played a main role in Japan’s unification. Watch a traditional Japanese puppet show at one of the only theaters that still hosts this cultural entertainment - the National Bunraku Theater.
DAY 4KYOTO »
Travel on to Kyoto, another culturally rich and important city. Built in 798 AD, the Kiyomizu-dera Temple is a must-see. One of the features of the “Historic Monument of Ancient Kyoto,” the temple is an independent Buddhist Temple and UNESCO site. Next, visit the villa-style ancient Kikaku-ji Temple, the Deer Garden Temple. The temple sits next to a beautiful lily pond. Spend the night at your luxury Kyoto hotel.
DAY 5KYOTO »
A cherry-tree lined canal in Kyoto is the perfect setting for a stroll on the city’s “Philosopher’s Walk.” Nishida Kitaro, a Japanese philosopher working at the nearby university, is believed to have taken this picturesque walk to work everyday. Nestled in the foothills of the east, Nanzen-ji Temple and its expansive grounds are your next destinations. The temple has a stunningly beautiful, traditional Karesansui garden. That night see a beautiful, quiet side of Japanese culture as you attend a Geisha dinner. Westerners have only recently been permitted to witness this intimate and unique side of Japanese culture.
DAY 6KOBE »
Travel to Kobe, a bustling metropolitan city along the coast. Here you will peruse the Himeji Castle - a postcard-perfect castle set atop a green hillside overlooking the city. The castle is the ideal image of Japanese architecture. Next, enjoy happy hour at the Sake Brewery where the famous rice wine is made. Learn about the brewing process and judge for yourself if the sake taste better freshly-made. Visit the Earthquake Memorial Museum and take a moment to remember all those affected by the destruction of the 1995 earthquake that took the lives of over 5,000 people.
DAY 7HIROSHIMA »
The final stop on your journey is the WWII site of Hiroshima. Catch an incredible view of the heritage site from the top of Mount Misen, a holy landmark in the city. Rest your legs as you take a streetcar tour of the city and learn about the destruction and aftermath caused by the WWII atomic bomb. Continue your day of remembrance as you take a Peace Memorial Tour.