Asia + The Middle East Japan Food, Culture, Architecture, gardens, fashion, landscapes and all with the utmost civility Japan is everything that the culturally inquisitive visitor might expect…but just a whole lot more of pretty much everything. You can read endlessly about Japan in preparation, watch countless films and documentaries or immerse yourself in Japanese art or cuisine but you will be flabbergasted with each and every day of the ‘real thing.’ For a country that lived in self-imposed isolation until 150 years ago, Japan has not hesitated in making up for lost time since the world came calling. Anyone who’s eaten sushi or used a Sony Walkman feels they know something about this archipelago of some 6800 volcanic islands tucked away off the far eastern coast of Asia. Even in a two or three week trip, you can only scratch the surface and we tend to advise that you do a few things well rather than trying to do too much. The good news is that the infrastructure is faultlessly efficient- particularly the airports/airlines and trains. The two absolute ‘musts’ are the cities of Tokyo and Kyoto and we tend to suggest that, if taking in both, that you concentrate on the modern day Japan when in Tokyo and the historic Japan when in Kyoto. We also suggest that we plan in a fair amount of time with our English-speaking guides but that we also plan in a few days without guides to absorb, in a less intense way the culture and the vibe of Japan both modern and traditional. Once you have seen Tokyo and Kyoto we can plan a journey which works logistically with stays in these two cities but takes in some of rural Japan as well as its important cultural sights. Nara can be a day trip out of Kyoto just as Nikko or Hakone tie in easily with a stay in Tokyo. Once you have seen the ‘musts’ there is so much more to discuss and so much more to see. We need to talk… Stories Places to Stay Highlights Location Stories As every one of the holidays we create is truly tailor-made, all of our clients come back with different and interesting stories. We love to hear from our clients on their return to find out about their most memorable moments. Our Destination Experts are also always travelling to our extraordinary destinations and every trip allows us to refine and add value to our clients' future experiences. Inside Japan with c+l & Sophie Richard Client, Kirsty Anson, joined our Escorted Journey to Japan with art historian, Sophie Richard, and was completely mesmirised by its art, culture and culinary delights. Find out more Experiecing a Japanese Kaiseki Meal Sampling a traditional 10 course Japanese Kaiseki meal was the most adventurous and creative meal of Alex Wix's life. Find out what local delicacies and unusual dishes were prepared for her... Find out more TOKYO’S FISH MARKET AND SUSHI MAKING When Alex Wix spent a day in Tokyo she visited the exciting fish market and tried her hand at sushi making which was without doubt the highlight of her time in Tokyo. Find out more A SPECTACULAR TWO WEEKS IN JAPAN Two of our clients, Jane and Ted Ruthizer spent a spectacular two weeks in Japan - "Our trip to Japan was spectacular...no detail was too small, and it made for a very pleasurable and rewarding travel experience. Find out more Places to Stay At cazenove+loyd, we have no vested interest in the hotels, lodges, boats, trains and tented camps which we select. We only choose what is right for a particular client. We visit each destination in our three regions on a regular basis and have detailed conversations with our clients on their return so our choices are continually refined. Here are just four c+l reviews. This is by no means a prescriptive list, but hints at what we look for and value in places to stay. AMANEMU, ISE SHIMA NATIONAL PARK Luxury hotel brand, Aman, launched their first hotel in Japan, Aman Tokyo, back in 2014 and quickly became one of our favourite places for clients in Japan’s startling capital city. We were sceptical but the Aman concept really does work in a modern city location. Find out more The Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto The Ritz Carlton is now firmly established as the choice for those looking for (and prepared to pay for) the best in Kyoto. Proudly sitting on the scenic banks of the Kamogawa River with a backdrop of the famous Higashiyama Mountains; the traditional motifs, intimate atmosphere and the central location alone makes this hotel our favourite in Kyoto. Find out more Palace Hotel Tokyo Overlooking the Imperial Palace Gardens and recently refurbished, we love this hotel. Not as flashy and high rise as the Mandarin Oriental, for sure, the Palace is in the same part of the city and is subtly stylish and hugely comfortable. Also, like many of our favourite hotels around the world, it is not part of a chain. Find out more Benesse House, Naoshima Designed by Japanese architect, Tadao Ando, the hotel is beautifully crafted but more functional rather than luxurious. Made up of four buildings, the Museum, Oval, Beach and Park. The James Bond style Oval is the most exclusive, with just six rooms reached by a private mono rail from the museum itself. Find out more Highlights For over 20 years we have been creating the best luxury tailor-made holidays, we know our countries inside and out and really know how to get under the skin of each one and the best way to experience them. Naoshima Fukutake’s Art Archipelago nestled in the Seto Island Sea must be seen to be believed. Soichiro Fuktake, the Japanese billionaire, has created something so spectacular and unique that it is at times hard to take in. The Chichu Art Museum designed by Tadao Ando which has a Monet Garden and houses five paintings from Monet’s… Find out more A WHISTLESTOP DAY IN TOKYO CITY The buzzing metropolis of Japan’s capital city offers something for everyone, from the world’ busiest fish market and train station, to the record breaking Michelin star restaurants, cutting edge technology, tranquil gardens and quirky traits of the city. Find out more Omotenashi – Japanese Hospitality Omotenashi is the Japanese spirit of hospitality, offering the highest level of service. During a traditional tea ceremony, Omotenashi is expressed in a ritual-like form offering guests a once-in-a-life-time experience totally unique to Japan. Find out more CHERRY BLOSSOM SEASON IN JAPAN Spring is possibly the most spectacular time to visit Japan but it is also the busiest. Christopher Wilmot-Sitwell explains that by going slightly out of season it can prove to be very beautiful but without the crowds. Find out more Location We know Japan better than most. The possibilities are endless and ever-changing. On the map below, we have plotted some of our current favourite places to stay, some c+l highlights and a few pertinent client stories. And you can see if there is a team member travelling in that particular country and link through to them and what they are up to, so you can get them to call you on their return. Best time to visit Japan Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Best time to go The most popular time to visit Japan is to coincide with the cherry blossom of Spring in March to May and to catch the Autumn colours in October to November. These are undoubtedly the best times to visit but it does need planning well ahead due to the large amount of visitors at this time of year- both domestic and international. Japan is such a rich and varied country that most clients barely scratch the surface in a first time trip, so most will focus solely on Japan rather than combining it with another country. Meet the Team Asia + The Middle East Venetia Chris Penny Florence Auriole We'd love to hear from you Our well travelled Destination Experts have extensive first hand knowledge of their destinations and can open doors that others simply can’t.