A fascinating contrast of the old and the new, Tokyo still retains many of its unique cultural traditions and customs from centuries ago. The city’s markets continue to import produce from all over the country allowing locals and visitors to select from a huge variety of dining choices ranging from traditional Japanese food to authentic international cuisine. Its numerous and diverse shopping areas include such well-known names as Akihabara, Ginza and Odaiba with entertainment ranging from traditional attractions such as sumo, kabuki and bunraku to the latest musicals and shows.
From Tokyo we traveled to Takayama, a small town that has the Japan Alps as a backdrop. With much of the old town preserved and unchanged for over 400 years ago, this unique city offered many splendid attractions including the gassho-zukuri thatched-roof houses and countless shops selling antiques and interesting old tools and equipment. The groups karaoke singing was a highlight!
Kanazawa, was the next city on our itinerary. It served as the seat of the Maeda Clan and accordingly grew to become one of the great cultural centres of ancient Japan, rivalling Kyoto and Tokyo. The second largest city to escape destruction during World War Two, Kanazawa is home to the Kenroku-en Garden – ranked in the top three in Japan and guaranteed to take your breath away in any season. Seeing these beautiful garden at the peak of Cherry Blossom season was a real treat!
No trip to Japan is complete without a visit to Hiroshima… where it’s two World Heritage sites encapsulates the two aspects of the city’s philosophy. The A-bomb Dome is a lasting memorial to world peace, while the beautiful island shrine of Itsukushima testifies to the glories of Japanese art and culture.
Kyoto, the cultural and historical heart of Japan. As capital of Japan for over 1000 years, Kyoto wrote the nation’s history and gave birth to Japan’s distinctively refined culture. These days, the city has more than two thousand Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, many World Heritage sites, rich cultural and performing arts and a deep tradition in crafts.
From the ancient capota of Japan we travel to Hakone, best known for its stunning views of Mount Fuji which reflects almost perfectly in Lake Ashinoko… and we were not disappointed. We had amazing views of Mt Fuji from our hotel and those who got up early enough managed to capture the amazing sunrise reflected off the snow capped peak. Set in a crater and boasting a magnificent volcanic landscape, our visit to Hakone included a lake cruise and plenty time to enjoy the onsen (traditional hot springs) located throughout the region.
The trip sold out quickly – so if you missed out or are interested in experiencing the same amazing itinerary we are running an almost identical itinerary for Cherry Blossom 2017. Click here to view the 2017 itinerary.