2021: The Year of Japan

The land of pastel pink cherry blossom, high-tech cities and kimono-clad geisha, discover all this and more in captivating Japan.

Japan’s historic isolation from the rest of the world has produced a truly unique culture. Over 214 years, Japan flourished without the influence of any other nation leaving a fascinating country steeped in history where distinctive traditions are still honoured today. Between futuristic skyscrapers stand tranquil temples, and amongst the spectacular landscapes lie picturesque old towns. And then there’s the food, one-of-a-kind dishes adorned with the flavours of each specific region, it’s no wonder even Michelin starred chefs head here in search of culinary inspiration.

With the Olympics postponed and many travellers still keen to experience the beautiful cherry blossom season, Japan is one of the most sought-after destinations for 2021. Our Japan Product & Commercial Manager, Reema, tells us the best ways to see and experience Japan with her top three tours. Each packed with a whole host of authentic experiences, from traditional tea ceremonies to adventures in the Alps in search of snow monkeys, each itinerary is designed to give you a taste of true Japan, after all, there’s nowhere else in the world quite like it.


Reema Recommends


Japan UncoveredSave up to £500pp

17 days from £6,490pp
Including: International flights, accommodation, all transportation, all meals, touring with guides and entrance fees.

This is the ultimate, all-in-one trip covering Japan’s many classic sights and key cultural activities. Starting in the fast-paced city of Osaka, enjoy a morning in history-filled Nara (Japan’s first capital) to admire the traditional Isui-en Garden and see the resident Sika deer, then head to Hiroshima stopping at the 17th century Himeji Castle on the way. Take a ferry across to the holy island of Miyajima where you’ll see the Itsukushima Shrine, then head to Kyoto via Japan’s most famous mode of transport, a bullet train.

Kyoto holds many enchanting sights, including the Golden Pavilion and famous Fushimi Inari Shrine, and here you’ll also take part in the age-old ritual of a traditional tea ceremony. Learn the art of washi paper making in Gokayama, explore the 300-year-old Gassho style Wada House in Shirakawago and discover more of Japan’s local handicrafts amongst the old streets of Takayama. A highlight of this tour is a trip into the Japanese Alps to see the snow monkeys bathe and play in the hot springs before heading to the Fuji Five Lakes for the magnificent views of Mount Fuji and ending in the high-tech metropolis that is Tokyo.

View the Japan Uncovered tour here.


Discover JapanSave up to £500pp

13 days from £5,390pp
Including: International flights, accommodation, all transportation, all meals, touring with guides and entrance fees.

Arriving in the dazzling city of Tokyo, this tour travels in the opposite direction as Japan Uncovered but covers many of the same fantastic sights. From the old temples and tranquil gardens amongst Tokyo’s skyscrapers, ride a bullet train to scenic Mount Fuji to see the panoramic views from the Komogatake Ropeway. Explore the impressive Matsumoto Castle and enjoy a delicious miso tasting experience before heading to the beautifully preserved town of Takayama nestled high in the mountainous Hida region.

Get a glimpse of rural Japan in Shirakawago and Kanazawa where you’ll also learn about the fascinating process of making gold leaf, then head to Kyoto to try origami and see the Golden Pavilion and Fushimi Inari Shrine. Explore the charming town of Nara before travelling to Koya-San, the centre of Shingon Buddhism, where you’ll visit the Kongobuji Temple and Garan Temple and end in Osaka sampling the culinary delights of the Dotonbori district.

View the Discover Japan tour here.


Jewels of JapanSave up to £300pp

11 days from £4,990pp
Including: International flights, accommodation, all transportation, all meals, touring with guides and entrance fees.

Perfect for those who want to tick off the main highlights but have limited time, Jewels of Japan takes you to some of the must-see sights and offers a number of unmissable experiences. Explore the lively city of Tokyo, including the Sensoji Temple, Hamarikyu Garden and famous Shibuya Crossing, before travelling to the scenic Fuji Five Lakes in the foothills of majestic Mount Fuji.

Ride the bullet train to Kyoto where you’ll learn to make traditional Japanese soba noodles which you’ll enjoy for lunch, see the Fushimi Inari Shrine, learn the art of origami and take part in an authentic tea ceremony. Sample Hiroshima’s classic okonomiyaki dish and visit the Peace Memorial Park, then soak up the serene sights of the holy island of Miyajima where you’ll see the famous floating torii gates. This tour ends with a trip to Himeji’s famous castle before departing from Osaka.

View the Jewels of Japan tour here.


See the Seasons of Japan

Japan is a year-round destination with four distinct seasons, each of which has its own unique charms. Stretching 3,000km from end to end, the Japanese archipelago reaches from the tropical south to the cold and mountainous north, so the weather can range wildly throughout the year.

The spring (March to May) brings with it the famous cherry blossoms, or sukura. Gazing on the sea of soft pink flowers, it’s easy to see why both locals and international travellers are so enamoured by Japan’s most popular season.

Japan’s summer (June to August) may be hot and humid but it is the season for festivals and fireworks. Enjoy impromptu celebrations or escape to the mountains to find cooler climes. If you’re into hiking, from 1 July to 31 August is the only time of year that you are able to climb Mount Fuji so well worth a visit during this time.

Although not as popular as spring, autumn in Japan is equally as beautiful. From September to November Japan’s scenery is ablaze with the vivid reds, yellows and golds of the autumn leaves. And with temperatures that are vastly cooler than the height of summer, this is an excellent time to explore the country’s rural treasures.

From December to February in winter, the countryside away from the cities becomes a snow-covered wonderland. Vibrant ski resorts spring into action, ice festivals take place and the Japanese macaques earn their snow monkey moniker. And there’s nothing better than the glorious warm waters of an onsen to shake off the chill of a winter’s day!

Find out more on the best time to visit Japan here.


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