Classic Japan - A Luxury Small Group Journey (2023)

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 flowering cherry trees, known locally as sakura, or view the vivid red leaves of autumn
  • Experience neon-lit Tokyo and feel the vitality of this buzzy world capital, playing taiko drums and visiting a seafood market
  • Stay at Gôra Kadan, one of the country’s most exclusive ryokans (traditional inns), thanks to A&K’s small group size
  • Zoom 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
Itinerary

Journey Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive Tokyo, Japan

Arrive in Tokyo, Japan’s exciting and modern capital. Transfer to your hotel, located near the Imperial Palace.

Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Otemachi

Day 2: Tokyo | Spiritual Centres & Exclusive Workshops

This morning, 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 a family-owned workshop that specializes in Japanese drum making, and try your hand at playing the taiko, on an A&K-exclusive experience. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before exploring the Tokyo National Museum, the oldest national museum in Japan and home to a vast collection of Japanese art and antiquities. 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 a local fish market, a bustling hub of Japanese daily life boasting a dizzying array of seafood. Then, receive a lesson in sushi making, followed by lunch, during a Chef ’s Table experience. This afternoon, enjoy one of these Design Your Day activities.

  • Explore the Mori Art Museum to take in local contemporary art.
  • Learn the Secrets of the Samurai Warriors and test your sword skills during a private class led by a modern-day master samurai.
  • Indulge in a Sake Tasting, sampling some of Japan’s finest sake 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 Gôra 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 okonomiyaki, 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, on a Scenic Sundowner, before you set out on a foodie tour in the popular Dotonbori District, sampling dishes from the brilliantly lighted and gastronomically creative restaurants that line the street.

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 you enjoy dinner.

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 and surrounded by green gardens — 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 to experience the art of the tea ceremony, noting its refined sense of hospitality and etiquette, which dates 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.

Please note: Cherry Blossoms & Red Leaves: Springtime in Japan is glorious, with the iconic sakura (cherry blossoms) on full display. Likewise, autumn’s red maple leaves are inspiring to behold. Choose from select departures for the chance to set eyes on them. Contact A&K for details.

Please note: Proof of COVID-19 full vaccination is required for this program.

Included with every Luxury Small Group Journey

  • English-Speaking Resident Tour Director and Local Guides
  • Hand-Selected Luxury Accommodations
  • Airport Meet and Greet with Private Transfers
  • Travelling Bell Boy Luggage Handling
  • Breakfast in Bed on Select Days
  • Full Breakfast Daily; Select Lunches and Dinners
  • Your Choice of Activity on Design Your Day
  • Traveller’s Valet Laundry Service
  • Internet Access
  • Entrance Fees, Taxes and All Gratuities Except Resident Tour Director
  • 24/7 A&K On-Call Support
  • Guaranteed Departures with Just Two Guests

Customise this Journey

Talk to one of our expert Journey Designers or your travel agent about booking this tour as a private journey for your own small group with family or friends. Or, if you would prefer to travel privately, find out more about creating the perfect bespoke tailor-made journey based on this itinerary.

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 (2023)

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 (2023)

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 (2023)

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

Mar 3, 2023 - Mar 11, 2023
Price AU$16,895pp Single Supplement AU$8,160 Internal Air (From) AU$0 Availability Available Enquire
Mar 10, 2023 - Mar 18, 2023
Price AU$19,005pp Single Supplement AU$8,865 Internal Air (From) AU$0 Availability Available Enquire
Mar 17, 2023 - Mar 25, 2023
Price AU$19,710pp Single Supplement AU$9,290 Internal Air (From) AU$0 Availability Available Enquire
Mar 20, 2023 - Mar 28, 2023
Price AU$20,415pp Single Supplement AU$9,570 Internal Air (From) AU$0 Availability Available Enquire
Mar 24, 2023 - Apr 1, 2023
Price AU$20,415pp Single Supplement AU$9,570 Internal Air (From) AU$0 Availability Available Enquire
Mar 27, 2023 - Apr 4, 2023
Price AU$20,415pp Single Supplement AU$9,570 Internal Air (From) AU$0 Availability Available Enquire
Mar 31, 2023 - Apr 8, 2023
Price AU$20,415pp Single Supplement AU$9,570 Internal Air (From) AU$0 Availability Available Enquire
Apr 3, 2023 - Apr 11, 2023
Price AU$20,415pp Single Supplement AU$9,570 Internal Air (From) AU$0 Availability Available Enquire
Apr 7, 2023 - Apr 15, 2023
Price AU$20,415pp Single Supplement AU$9,570 Internal Air (From) AU$0 Availability Available Enquire
Apr 10, 2023 - Apr 18, 2023
Price AU$19,710pp Single Supplement AU$9,290 Internal Air (From) AU$0 Availability Available Enquire
Apr 17, 2023 - Apr 25, 2023
Price AU$19,005pp Single Supplement AU$8,865 Internal Air (From) AU$0 Availability Available Enquire
May 8, 2023 - May 16, 2023
Price AU$19,005pp Single Supplement AU$8,865 Internal Air (From) AU$0 Availability Available Enquire
May 15, 2023 - May 23, 2023
Price AU$19,005pp Single Supplement AU$8,865 Internal Air (From) AU$0 Availability Available Enquire
Sep 18, 2023 - Sep 26, 2023
Price AU$19,005pp Single Supplement AU$8,865 Internal Air (From) AU$0 Availability Available Enquire
Sep 25, 2023 - Oct 3, 2023
Price AU$19,005pp Single Supplement AU$8,865 Internal Air (From) AU$0 Availability Available Enquire
Oct 2, 2023 - Oct 10, 2023
Price AU$19,290pp Single Supplement AU$9,005 Internal Air (From) AU$0 Availability Available Enquire
Oct 9, 2023 - Oct 17, 2023
Price AU$19,290pp Single Supplement AU$9,005 Internal Air (From) AU$0 Availability Available Enquire
Oct 16, 2023 - Oct 24, 2023
Price AU$19,290pp Single Supplement AU$9,005 Internal Air (From) AU$0 Availability Available Enquire
Oct 23, 2023 - Oct 31, 2023
Price AU$19,290pp Single Supplement AU$9,005 Internal Air (From) AU$0 Availability Available Enquire
Oct 30, 2023 - Nov 7, 2023
Price AU$19,290pp Single Supplement AU$9,005 Internal Air (From) AU$0 Availability Available Enquire
Nov 6, 2023 - Nov 14, 2023
Price AU$19,290pp Single Supplement AU$9,005 Internal Air (From) AU$0 Availability Available Enquire
Nov 13, 2023 - Nov 21, 2023
Price AU$19,290pp Single Supplement AU$9,005 Internal Air (From) AU$0 Availability Available Enquire
Related Extensions

Related Extensions

3 days, from AU$5,345pp

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