There may not be enough time in life to grasp the infinite intangible heritage of Japan nor run through its 6,852 islands. But we believe that a careful selection of destination, accomodation and activities can appease your curiosity through this relaxing and complete exploration of Japan.
A trip that lets Japan enough time to reveal itself in its finest possible aspects: the perfect mix for those looking to live to the rhythm of the Rising Sun.
Local & comfortable stays, along with great cuisine are not to be outdone in order to seize the real soul of Japan. We carefully included many activities as well as free time, in both rural places and big cities.
As soon as you land under the rising sun, your guide hands you vouchers, a pocket wifi device, train tickets and all you need for a comfortable trip. Don’t waste a moment and set off to explore Osaka! Your first encounter with Japan will immediately seduce you. Stroll through the warm neighbourhoods of Namba, Amerika-Mura and Shin Sekai and revel in the famous street food of Osaka while sampling yummy takoyaki and steaming okonomiyaki.
Visit Osaka Castle and wander the small streets of Shinsaibashi. Lose yourself among the piles of crockery on Doguyasuji street, the fish of Kuromon and feel the atmosphere of this easy-going city where “people go broke to eat”! Osaka conceals secrets that lovers of arts and bonhomie appreciate. Do not hesitate to talk to people, here you will forget the cliché of a dull and serious Japan, inspired by the business centres of Tokyo. We also suggest the district of Dotombôri for night-owls.
Spend the morning in the Ginkaku-ji Pavilion stone garden before losing yourself along the old canal bordered by hundreds of cherry trees at the Nanzen-ji temple. The alley, known as the Philosophers Path, takes you to the Heian Jingû Shrine. In Teramachi, the heart of the imperial capital, dozens of merchants will offer you a sample of their signature dishes from their stalls while in the Nishiki Market. Considered to be some of the best food in Kyoto, you have to try!
Let’s head to Arashiyama, home to the bamboo forest and Tenryu-ji temple. A walk along the Katsura river gives you an overview of Japanese poetry and art-de-vivre. Let’s move towards the Kinkaku-ji « Golden Pavilion » where the golden glow is reflected in a zen pond. `Finally, the « Ryoan-ji » zen garden, will impress you with its famous stone garden. For those who prefer to find some calm, we recommend the peaceful Daitoku-ji temple to end the day.
Travel by train to Nara, the first capital of Japan. Hosted by the local cervids, visit the park where the main sights of the city are located. Start by the temple « Kofuku-ji » and its sumptuous pagoda. Then go to the Todai-ji with its imposing statue of Buddha. Then the Kasuga-Taisha Shrine along the stone lantern-lined path. For the more sporty, head to Mount Wakasuka which offers a magnificent view of the city, and have a sweet treat in the old district of Nara-machi »
Kyoto is full of spiritual wonders. With Zen, Shintô, Shingon schools coexisting in the city, each of them have their own emblematic places of worship. Head to the famous Fushimi Inari, the largest Shinto shrine in the archipelago, built more than 13 centuries ago. As you admire the thousands of vermilion torii that form a path winding the hill, you understand how important Inari Ookami, deity of cereals, rice, industry and trade, is in Japan.
Today, start with Nagoya Castle, then head to the Osu-Kannon temple and stroll through the shopping mall to taste the best Karaage fried chicken in the city! If you have time, visit the famous Shinto shrine of Atsuta which contains one of Japan’s national treasures, the sword called Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi. At the end of the day, go to Oasis 21 to the glass platform for a view of the Nagoya tower and the lively Sakae district.
People of Takayama are proud of the World Heritage status they received for all the cultural treasures like Hida Folk Village, an open-air museum with many traditional houses with interesting architecture. Takayama’s massive farmhouses are named after their steep thatched roofs which resemble a pair of hands joined in prayer gassho. They were moved here from nearby Shirakawago village that you can also reach by a little local bus.
Your journey continues south towards Shibuya. Go ahead and visit the majestic Shinto site Meiji-jingu in the eccentric Harajuku district: a breath of fresh air in the capital and a shock of eras guaranteed! Modern Japan quickly catches you up. Let it surprise you. The excess of Tokyo also leads you to explore the favorite neighborhoods of Japanese youth like Akihabara.
Among the off-the-wall and kawaii-dressed youngsters, you notice many trendy boutiques and cafes whose offbeat themes surprise you. You can try to understand this Tokyo at the antipodes of our Western cities by discovering a maid cafe!
Are you going to have tea with the owls and the cats? Or a bowl of steaming noodles between neon lights and lanterns?