Classic Japan - A Luxury Small Group Journey (2021)

Discover the incredible breadth of Japan’s culture and history, from the contemporary flair of Tokyo to the charms of traditional Kyoto, visiting historic temples, overnighting at a sought-after ryokan and sampling its culinary treasures.

Journey Overview

A country of astonishing contrasts, Japan is a wonderful and varied destination. On this journey, marvel at some of the country’s most impressive gardens and glimpse magnificent mountain landscapes as you travel by bullet train. Be introduced to ancient Samurai traditions and visit sacred Shinto shrines. Take the opportunity to appreciate Japan’s myriad arts and crafts, and meet a local artist and collector, and savour its extraordinary cuisine in local eateries, fine restaurants and street food stalls. Be amazed at a sumo wrestling bout, find respite in a classic onsen and rest up in a traditional ryokan – just a handful of Japan’s cultural highlights.

Journey Highlights

  • Behold the exalted spring-flowering cherry trees, known locally as sakura; or view the vivid red foliage of autumn
  • Experience neon-lit Tokyo, learning its humble origins at the Edo-Tokyo Museum, and feel the vitality of this buzzy world capital, playing taiko drums and visiting a seafood market
  • Stay at Gora Kadan, one of the country’s most exclusive ryokans (traditional inns), thanks to A&K’s small group size
  • Zip by bullet train along the classic stretch past majestic Mount Fuji to Osaka, where you savour a foodie experience in the renowned Dotonbori district
  • Immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage of Kyoto as you discover the art of the tea ceremony, witness sumo wrestling and take part in a special geisha dinner

Journey Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive Tokyo, Japan

Arrive in Tokyo, Japan’s exciting and modern capital. Transfer to your hotel and enjoy the expansive views over Tokyo’s Skyline.
Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Otemachi

Day 2: Tokyo | Spirits of Edo

Today, explore the Edo-Tokyo Museum, which was established to preserve the historic heritage of the city of Tokyo, and its precursor Edo, over the past 400 years. Continue to a family-owned workshop that specialises in Japanese drum making, and try your hand at playing the taiko, on an A&K-exclusive experience. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant, and then visit Asakusa Kannon Temple. This colourful pagoda-style temple was completed in 645 and is dedicated to Kannon, the goddess of mercy in several East Asian spiritual traditions. Continue to Meiji Shrine, a Shinto complex dedicated to an emperor, that was rebuilt after World War II. Tonight, gather for a welcome dinner.
Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Otemachi | Meals: BLD

Day 3: Tokyo | Design Your Day

Start your day at the Tsukiji Fish Market, a bustling hub of Japanese daily life, where a dizzying array of seafood can be found. Then, receive a lesson in sushi making followed by lunch, during a special culinary experience. This afternoon, enjoy one of these Design Your Day activities:

  • Admire local contemporary art at the Mori Art Museum.
  • Experience Tokyo’s Samurai Museum, learning about the customs of this elite-warrior class and participating in a sword demonstration.
  • Indulge in a sake tasting, sampling some of Japan’s finest and learning about its cultural importance.

Return to your hotel for an evening at leisure.
Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Otemachi | Meals: BL 

Day 4: Hakone | Traditional Ryokan

Travel to Hakone, among Japan’s most popular hot-spring destinations, and view the forested slopes of Hakone National Park, an area encompassing coastlines, mountains, lakes and more than 1,000 volcanic islands. Board an aerial tram rising above the wooded slopes for inspiring views of Mount Fuji. Savour a lunch of Japan’s famed Kobe beef, before strolling the grassy hillsides of Hakone’s Open Air Museum. Admire the impressive contemporary sculptures and artwork on display, including masterpieces by Henry Moore and Rodin. The museum also features one of the world’s finest Picasso exhibits, presenting visitors with some 300 works by the cubist master. Tonight, experience unparalleled service and traditional Japanese cuisine at Gora Kadan, a top-rated ryokan (traditional inn), which is also your authentic accommodation for the night.
Gôra Kadan | Meals: BLD

Day 5: Osaka | Dotonbori District Delicacies

After breakfast at your ryokan, visit the Okada Museum of Art to view its stunning collection of paintings, ceramics, lacquerware and bronzes from Japan, Korea and China. Then, ride like a local by bullet train to Osaka. Historically known as a merchant city, it is today renowned as Japan’s undisputed culinary capital, where diners indulge in everything from octopus dumplings to okonomi-yaki — a battered, grilled concoction of chopped cabbage, meat or seafood, and seaweed, topped with mayonnaise. This evening, take in city views, refreshing drink in hand, before setting out on a gourmet’s tour in the popular Dotonbori district, sampling dishes from the beautifully lit-up and gastronomically creative eateries that line the streets.
The St. Regis Osaka | Meals: BL

Day 6: Nara | Insights into a Profoundly Spiritual Heritage

Travel to Nara, Japan’s first capital, to visit Todai-ji, a temple complex and UNESCO World Heritage Site that contains the largest bronze Buddha statue in Japan. Proceed to Nara Park, home to hundreds of deer, venerated here as divine spirits, which you have the opportunity to feed by hand. Complete your Nara excursion with a visit to celebrated Kasuga Taisha Shrine and experience a Shinto ceremony firsthand. Pause for lunch at a local restaurant before proceeding to the Kehaya-za Sumo Pavilion, where you observe a demonstration of this fabled Japanese sport by two sumo wrestlers. Return to your hotel, where dinner is arranged.
The St. Regis Osaka | Meals: BLD

Day 7: Kyoto | The Golden Pavilion & Bamboo Grove

Travel into Kyoto early this morning to contemplate the iconic Zen rock garden at Ryoan-ji, the perfect spot for a meditative moment, and discover the glittering Kinkaku-ji Temple (Golden Pavilion) — covered with gold leaf, surrounded by verdant gardens and casting its delicate reflection in the tranquil pond beside it. After lunch, explore the Arashiyama neighbourhood, including the garden of Tenryu-ji Temple. Later, bask in the magical atmosphere of Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, strolling along a winding path as sunlight filters down through towering bamboo shoots — considered by many a healing experience.
Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto | Meals: BL 

Day 8: Kyoto | Hillside Views & Tea Traditions

Visit Kiyomizu-dera Temple for stunning views of Kyoto. Proceed to a local temple, where you experience the art of the tea ceremony, noting its refined sense of hospitality and etiquette, which date to the time of the samurai. Tonight, savour traditional Japanese cuisine, while an attending geiko (as a geisha is known in Kyoto) and maiko (apprentice geisha) dance, sing, pour sake and share stories about life  in modern Kyoto. 
Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto | Meals: BD

Day 9: Depart Kyoto

After breakfast, transfer to Kansai International Airport or Itami Airport, both located just outside of Osaka, for your flight home, or begin a post-tour extension to Hiroshima.
Meals: B

Journey Details

This journey includes long walks.
Minimum age is 10 years.
First group event: welcome briefing at 8:00 a.m. on Day 2.
Last group event: farewell dinner at 7:00 p.m. on Day 8.
Departures are guaranteed to operate with a minimum of 2 guests.

Tailor-Made Travel with A&K

If scheduled departure dates don’t work for you, or you would prefer to travel privately, please talk to one of our expert Journey Designers or your travel agent about creating the perfect bespoke tailor-made journey for you, or your own small group with family or friends.

Show Full Itinerary
Preferred Accommodation

Preferred Accommodation

This journey features the following Preferred Accommodations:

Gôra Kadan, Hakone and Mount Fuji

Classic Japan - A Luxury Small Group Journey (2021)

The sublime Gora Kadan is situated in the striking Hakone National Park. The former retreat of the Kanin-no-miya imperial family, the Gor ... Read more

St. Regis Osaka

Classic Japan - A Luxury Small Group Journey (2021)

Located along the famed street of Midosuji, heralded as the Champs Elysées of Osaka, the St. Regis Osaka is an eloquent expression of com ... Read more

Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto

Classic Japan - A Luxury Small Group Journey (2021)

Just 15 minutes’ drive from the famous Gion Geisha District, the Four Seasons is perfectly positioned for exploring the historical and cu ... Read more

Dates & Prices

Journey Dates & Prices

Prices are per person, based on double occupancy

Oct 15, 2021 - Oct 23, 2021
Price AU$19,110pp Single Supplement AU$9,110 Internal Air (From) AU$0 Availability Call for Availability Enquire
Oct 22, 2021 - Oct 30, 2021
Price AU$19,110pp Single Supplement AU$9,110 Internal Air (From) AU$0 Availability Call for Availability Enquire
Nov 5, 2021 - Nov 13, 2021
Price AU$19,110pp Single Supplement AU$9,110 Internal Air (From) AU$0 Availability Call for Availability Enquire
Related Extensions

Related Extensions

3 days, from AU$5,580pp

Related Brochures

  • Small Group Journeys 2021-22