An intricate dragon snow sculpture at the snow festival, Sapporo
A Journey of Fire and Ice
Explore the buzzing city of Tokyo in your own time before heading out to Takayama to stay in a traditional ryokan-style hotel. From here you’ll hike to beautiful waterfalls and enjoy a tea ceremony in the middle of a forest. After arriving in Kanazawa explore the world-famous Kenrokuen Garden or samurai district of Nagamachi, then catch the Thunderbird Express train to Kyoto. Here you’ll have two days to do as you please; from shrine hopping to kimono donning, there is something for everyone. Next up it’s the Sapporo Snow and Ice Festival for ice sculptures and snow rafting, before heading to Ishigaki to warm up on the beach.
Travel by Shinkansen Bullet Train - the fastest in Japan
Stay in a Ryokan-style hotel and bathe in the Onsen
Take a hike around the Hida-Osaka Waterfalls
Enjoy a tea ceremony in the forest
Discover the Samurai district of Nagamachi in Kanazawa
Two full days at leisure to explore the fun of Kyoto
See the incredible Sapporo Snow and Ice Festival
Try beer ice cream at the Sapporo Beer Museum
Explore the atmospheric Otaru Snow Light Path Festival
Relax in the undiscovered paradise of Ishigaki, Okinawa
This exciting trip to Japan includes international flights, excursions, accommodation, breakfasts and some lunches and dinners.
From the first conversation until you arrive home from your holiday, you’ll be looked after by one of our Travel Designers who has travelled extensively in the region and will give advice from their personal experience on how to make the most out of your trip. All of our trips are entirely bespoke and we will continually refine your itinerary until it’s perfect.
Once you land in Tokyo you’ll be transferred to Hotel Gracery Shinjukuwhere you’ll have some time to relax and unwind after your journey. Your time in the city is yours to spend as you please and there is truly something for everyone. Head to Tokyo Skytree for an amazing 360-degree view of the city to get your bearings, then head on to Meiji Shrine where you’ll see city worshippers coming in for their daily prayers. Chocoholics will enjoy a trip to the world's first KitKat chocolate boutique where you can sample a rainbow of flavours. Swing by Shimokitazawa for great coffee, cute eateries and loads of antique shops or stay late and catch some live music. Alternatively, spend your evening at one of the 'cupboard bars' of Golden Gai. These tiny pubs have different themes, from English pubs to Russian vodka bar – they only fit around 7 punters in each!
Activity and Adventure
The next day grab your JR pass and catch the Shinkansen train to Takayama, via Nagoya. Check in to your hotel Takayama Ouan– conveniently located right next to the station! From the tatami mats in the rooms to the onsen experience (make sure you read the instructions), you can get a feel for Japanese hospitality at this traditionally designed ryokan-style hotel. On the first day why not take a stroll around Takayama's Old Town and explore the shops, cafes and sake breweries?
Day 5 and it’s time to go into the forest. Starting at Hida-Osaka Falls you’ll enjoy a six-hour hike, during this time you’ll spot both Mitsudaki Falls and 207ft Neonetaki Falls. After taking in the beauty of their turquoise waters it’s time for a picnic lunch followed by a tea ceremony within the forest. Afterwards, back at the hotel, why not relieve achy feet in the onsen?
It’s time for an adventure to Kanazawa! Catch the train and check in to the Holiday Inn Kanazawa Sky. Then your time here is yours to spend as you please. Why not check out the world-famous Kenrokuen Garden or stroll through the samurai district of Nagamachi and learn more about this fascinating culture?
Hop aboard the Thunderbird Express train to Kyoto, then check into your hotel New Miyako. You have two full days to spend exploring Kyoto exactly as you please. Home to some of the country’s most beautiful and revered temples and shrines, it’s well worth spending some of your time making the most of this. Visit the Kinkakuji Golden Pavilion, take in the views (and do some shopping) at Kiyomizudera and explore the thousands of Torii gates at Fushimi Inari Shrine. For a more relaxing trip, explore the bamboo groves of Arashiyama, or spot resident deer and the Todaiji Temple om Nara. For a playful cultural experience, rent out a kimono for the day and wander around the markets, or head to the Kyoto International Manga Museum. Feeling brave? You can even take in a lesson to be a Samurai!
After your time in Kyoto is up, you’ll head to the world of ice, staying at the Century Royal Hotel. Visit the Sapporo Snow and Ice Festival and spend the day exploring all the sights and shows on offer. Check out the illuminated, massive sculptures of snow and ice created by the citizens of Sapporo in Odori Park or head to the Community Tsudome for a spot of snow rafting and slides! Be sure to walk down Ekimae-dori to spot ice sculptures and see the annual contest – who will get your vote? In the evening visit the Sapporo Beer Museum to sample different flavours (anyone for an ice-cream beer float?) and tuck into a Genghis Khan Lamb Dinner. The next day head out to the small village of Otaru, for the day, which throughout winter is home to the Otaru Snow Light Path Festival. After 5pm the village is lit with snow lanterns, creating a delightfully cosy atmosphere.
Leave the freezing cold behind and head to the warmth of Ishigaki in the very south of Japan. You’ll be based on Kohama Island, just off the coast of Ishigaki Island. Your hotel Haimurubushi is a gem where you can relax, swim in turquoise waters and defrost after the ice festival! You have two days at your hotel and you can spend it as you please; relax on the beach, cycle around the island or snorkel in the sea.
On Day 16, you’ll make your way back to the mainland via ferry and flight, to connect to your international flight home.