On arrival at Kansai or Itami airport, you will be welcomed and taken to your five-star hotel situated in the heart of the city. Your Travelling Concierge can be found at a welcome desk on the ground floor between 16:00 and 18:00 for any questions or concerns you may have. At 19:00, meet your Travelling Concierge and travel companions at the hotel's Rainbow Lounge for your Welcome Dinner. Enjoy stunning views over Osaka while you enjoy delicious Japanese cuisine including tempura and sushi.
Situated in the heart of Japan where rivers and sea routes converge, Osaka is a hub of cutting-edge architecture, exotic flavours and laid-back locals. Today you will discover the city's highlights, starting with a visit to the top of the Floating Garden Observatory in the Umeda Sky Building for incredible city views. Then, together with your Travelling Concierge and fellow travellers, discover why Osaka is known as the kitchen of Japan as you stroll along Dotonbori Street with a Local Expert and try local specialities such as Takoyaki, a local favourite made of wheat flour based batter and filled with minced or diced octopus. In the afternoon, enjoy a visit to Osaka Castle, one of Japan's most famous landmarks, before enjoying a two-course lunch near the castle. With the evening at leisure, ask your Travelling Concierge for local recommendations to explore this wondrous city. further.
Experience Japanese technology at its best as you journey to Hiroshima station on the Shinkansen bullet train. On arrival, explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Peace Memorial Park and Museum, the only structure left standing after the first atomic bomb was dropped during World War II. The bomb was the single-most destructive force ever created by humankind and changed the course of history forever. During your visit, meet a survivor who will share insights into this dark chapter of world history. For lunch, you will be treated to traditional Japanese savoury pancakes known as Okonomiyaki, a dish typical of the region. Your journey continues by bullet train to Kyoto, known for thousands of years as the Imperial capital of Japan. After you check in to your centrally located hotel the rest of the evening is yours.
Kyoto is Japan's geisha capital, and during your city tour with your Travelling Concierge you will discover why this is the hub of ancient tradition and culture. Marvel at the Zen Buddhist temple of Kinkakuji, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and see its famed Golden Pavilion to appreciate its classic architecture, intricate history and expansive gardens. Visit the famous Giouji Temple, situated on a majestic grove of bamboos and maple trees, where you'll learn about local folklore and explore the temple's thatched hut and walk through the indigenous bamboo forest. Savour a Highlight Lunch of traditional Kyo-Kaiseki cuisine made of seasonal ingredients, whilst you enjoy a performance by a Maiko, an apprentice geisha. Central to Kyoto culture, geisha are highly-skilled entertainers, specializing in classical music, dance, conversation and games. This fine art has evolved over many centuries and today attracts visitors from around the world. Embark on a walk around the vibrant Gion neighbourhood, known as Kyoto's primary geisha district. With free time to explore for the rest of the evening, perhaps enjoy the local teahouses, lantern-lit restaurants and bars or simply absorb the electric atmosphere, as you shop for souvenirs.
Board the bullet train to Mishima and continue to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Mount Fuji. On arrival, enjoy spectacular views of one of the most recognisable landmarks of Japan as you enjoy lunch made of fresh, seasonal ingredients at a local restaurant. See Lake Kawaguchi where you will be captivated by the flawless reflections of the mountain. Your Journey, Your Way. Choose to visit the Itchiku Kubota Art Museum, where you’ll enjoy its unique architecture, wander the serene gardens and marvel at its collection of beautiful kimonos. Alternatively, ride the Kachi-Kachi Ropeway cable car to fully embrace the breathtaking views of the lake and the mountain. Travel to Tokyo and check into your hotel for the evening at leisure.
Tokyo is an economic powerhouse and home to national museums, festivals, theatres and sacred temples. This morning, visit the Tokyo National Museum housing a large collection of artwork and artefacts from Asia. Continue to the Meiji Jingu Shrine and enjoy walking through the serene gardens. Your Journey, Your Way. Choose to join a cooking class and learn about the art of making sushi as you are using the highest quality fish. Discover why it takes ten years to become a Master Sushi Chef, then sit down to savour a delightful Highlight Lunch. Continue to explore Ginza, known as the Champs-Élysées of Tokyo. Alternatively, join a Local Expert and head to the Omotesando and Harajuku neighbourhood, known for their fashion, art and design, before indulging in lunch. During a Your Choice Evening, you're in for a true local experience with the choice of two hand-picked restaurants, each specialising in local delicacies. You may try either Shabu-shabu which are hotpots of meat and vegetables or Teppanyaki where rice, meats and vegetables are freshly cooked on a grill.
Journey north by bullet train, your destination is the Sendai, known as the City of Trees. This is a true locals region, off-the-beaten path and away from the tourist crowds. For lunch meet the owner of a local inn on one of the many islands in the bay to enjoy local seafood and hear stories from a local with insights in to life on the island. Enjoy a private cruise along the dazzling Matsushima Bay, taking in views of countless pine-covered islands. The bay has often featured in Japanese poetry since ancient times. Seasonal tea ceremonies date back a thousand years and play an important part in Japanese culture, they are central to good hospitality. This afternoon, experience this for yourself when you visit a traditional teahouse and learn how to prepare the perfect cup of Matcha Green Tea. Continue to your five-star hotel where the evening is at your leisure. Perhaps sign up for a massage at the in-house spa or discover how Kokubuncho comes to life at night time?
Journey to Shin-Aomori Station via bullet train. On arrival, enjoy lunch at Neputa Village. Visit Hirosaki Castle, famous for its bright cherry blossom trees that bloom between April and May. Meet a cherry blossom doctor, who will explain how his team nurture these beautiful trees from sapling to maturity and ensure all the cherry blossoms of the region are strong, healthy and able to thrive during the cherry blossom season. As you explore the Tsugaru-han Neputa Village you will see the colourful decorations used during the summer Neputa Festival and watch skilled craftsman at work, they spend month lacquering to create the perfect chopsticks. You then enjoy a special experience, a private musical performance of Tsugaru Shamisen and Taiko, traditional Japanese guitar and drumming. Your journey continues to Oirase Gorge, one of Japan’s most-revered nature havens.
Explore the spectacular Oirase Gorge, a place of special scenic beauty. Wander along the crystal-clear Oirase Keiryu stream, admire the cascading waterfalls and marvel at the seasonal colours of the indigenous forest. Return to the hotel for lunch made with local and seasonal ingredients. After a day of exploring, perhaps experience a soul-soothing Onsen, a traditional Japanese hot bath, in the nearby forest. For those wanting something more flavoursome, journey to a local brewery to taste Japan's national drink, sake, an alcoholic beverage made from fermenting rice. You will meet Takumi Sato, a sake brewmaster and have an insider tour of his brewery.
Return to Tokyo via bullet train for your last night in this intriguing city. Visit the Senso-ji Buddhist Temple, the oldest and most-visited temple in Japan. Wander along the famous Nakamise Street and explore Kappabashi, a local back-street known as Tokyo’s foodie hub. This evening you will celebrate with your new found friends at Hoshinonaruki, a fine dining experience where tradition meets innovation. Using old Japanese culinary techniques and seasonal ingredients, this is a dining experience that brings Japanese cuisine to life.
Bid farewell to your travel companions and head to Narita or Haneda International Airport for your onward journey.