Japanese life is as distinct as it is refined—the art, food, and architecture stand out uniquely, balancing simplicity and deep aesthetic principles. Sushi, geisha, manga, Zen Buddhism…all distinctly Japanese and familiar, yet exotic and shrouded in mystery to outsiders. Today, Japan is firmly at crossroads of old and new, and there's no better time explore the vivid and contrasting wonders of modern Japan with its rich medieval legacy and sublime natural beauty. With our two decades of experience, let us plan a unique and remarkable trip with you. Explore various destinations below as well as trip ideas.
What you've heard is true—there is no other place in the world like Tokyo, the world's most populous metropolis and pop-culture capital teeming with over 38 million people. The endless city consists of 23 central city wards and multiple cities, towns and villages west of the city center and in so all respects, is a world capital city. Only in Japan is the saying, and one of a kind experience, sights and encounters come from all directions in Tokyo. But far from being overwhelming, it's a city packed with charms and contrasts, as long as you know where to look.
Tokyo offers an astounding variety of unique shopping, trend-setting entertainment, famous teen pop culture, and an unparalleled spectrum of cuisine. We'll help navigate you to the perfect sushi, places not to miss, all without feeling overwhelmed in the short time you may have.
A sense of tradition dominates the ambiance in Takayama, where wooden merchant houses and flowing calligraphy fill a compact city center. Hidden among the Japanese Alps, the city is a rich insight into the Edo Period and the iconic place to truly taste Hida beef. Cross elaborate stone bridges, discover the fables of the central Sanmachi Suji neighborhood, wander the narrow streets, and hike the surrounding foothills.
The old city is also famous for the biannual Takayama Festival, where crafted floats are displayed throughout the city, each a testament to the region's history and craftsmanship – for traditional folk and arts this is an unmissable destination. Held in spring and fall every year, the festivals are widely regarded as one of Japan's most beautiful, as well as having an atmosphere from a mostly forgotten century.
A symbol of world peace, Hiroshima is a place to contemplate profound historical events. The iconic bombed-out dome memorial at its heart is poignant and memorable in its revelation of the atomic bomb's destruction. Rather than being sorrowful, exploring Hiroshima creates a deep respect for the revitalization and hope of both a people and a city.
Throughout the city admire a re-designed and re-imagined side of urbanization, where care has been taken to maintain green space and wide streets. Our unique Hiroshima itinerary includes a stay at a nearby resort on sublime Miyajima Island.
The "Art Island," Naoshima, is tucked away on the picturesque Seto Inland Sea. If we've organized an arts-focused trip for you, then Benesse Art Site Naoshima, a collective name for the art activities on the island, will be a highlight. Sandy beaches and scenic bluffs on the remote island are a pleasant setting for unique installations in a series of museums showcasing Japan's and the world's contemporary art scene. The relaxing setting is an tranquil place to explore, and we've arranged for you to be guided around museums by their respective creative directors, providing an insider's perspective on architecture and design.
We've been guiding visitors here for over 20 years and hope that the new fame won't spoil the authentic ambiance. In addition to Naoshima, our unique itinerary also takes you to nearby Teshima, visiting the art museum on that island. Read more about Naoshima
There are a hundreds different ways to experience Kyoto, but we feel our itineraries are among the best, honed over 20 years of exploring the city. Our private Japan tours feature the 1,100 year-old ancient capital foremost, exploring both west and east sections of the city in a unique itinerary that divides time between a luxury ryokan and hotel. Kyoto is home to an astonishing 17 World Heritage Sites, along with more than 2,000 temples and shrines, but in the abundance of these treasures we will reveal to you what is most impressive about the city, including historic crafts at the heart of Japan's creativity, exploring the "five families" who are shepherding the city's traditional crafts into the present and future.
Children will delight in Monkey Park and enjoying a fun bicycle ride through the old districts of town.
Located on a picturesque shoreline, Kanazawa features one of Japan’s most beautiful gardens, an ancient samurai and geisha district, historic houses and impressive museums. Kanazawa's setting of green-tea-colored landscapes, snow-dusted mountains on the shore of the Sea of Japan provide a contrast to other places you will be exploring.
The port city's sushi is regarded as the best in Japan while local teahouses give you a vivid glimpse of local culture. Here too is also a destination to experience a night an idyllic ryokan.
With its picture-perfect shape and shimmering snowy summit, iconic Mount Fuji has long been a dreamy pilgrimage destination for the Japanese. Standing majestic above the country, it continues to be the premier place to connect with nature and escape from busy city life. A single day in the area takes in the Five Lakes of Fuji, but also the unique Open-Air Museum, and outdoor space featuring works by Picasso and Rodin.
Hakone is where you can soak in an outdoor onsen spa, taste whiskey distilled with water from a pristine mountain spring, sleep in the country's finest traditional ryokan. Note: clear days can be scarce during some months, check with us when to go.
Fukuoka has always been the key point of exchange between Japan and the rest of Asia. This ancient harbor town is ingeniously positioned, facing the Sea of Suo to the northeast, the Sea of Genkai to the northwest, and the Sea of Ariake to the southwest. It was where Japan was first exposed to the world and it continues to be a testament to local culture and design. However, perhaps surprisingly, nothing is specifically designed or put-on for visitors. Instead, explore a regional culture in all its untrammeled glory, from the flashing lights of rising malls to the lost temples where serenity reigns.
If you're looking for a journey into different ages then Fukuoka crams a lot into a couple of days. Fukuoka also serves as a stating point for our special pottery trail journey.
Delve into Japan’s deep Buddhist spirituality—the most formative influence on Japanese history and culture—traveling outside Kyoto to sacred Zen setting Mount Kōya, a destination for not only pilgrims, but almost all Japanese at some point in their life. Mount Koya provides an effortless immersion into the world of Shingon Buddhism with a stay at Buddhist monastery—providing an idyllic interlude, a place to relax and re-energize between the cities.
Wander down small pathways through towering cedar forests from a monastery, share an evening with monks in their sublime temple, then open your senses to their morning chanting ritual. Most travelers miss this important facet of Japanese culture. Our unique itinerary also includes a stop in Nara en route. Read more about Mount Koya
BEST TIME TO GO
March - May, Sept - Nov
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No Visa Required
China - Shanghai
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Japan's famously insular culture was primed during hundreds of years of isolation and feudal conflict. Visitors can certainly enjoy the many unique charms of the country, but truly authentic, immersive experiences can be difficult to come by, if not impossible. Let us open these doors for you.
Indochina Travel can organize your Japan luxury tour to not only enjoy the finest the country offers, but unique, insider experiences that are the most enriching part of your journey. Visit a sumo training stable typically closed to the public, a private tour of the Mori Museum with the director, meet in the private studios of some of Tokyo's most notable artists, and dine in places typically frequented only by locals. We can arrange a classic Japan itinerary as the perfect introduction to the country, canvasing ultra-modern Tokyo, sublime Hakone, and the cultural capital, Kyoto, with our exceptional insider experiences in each destination. Travel in style through the country, exploring historic and vibrant cities, rustic villages, Zen gardens and ancient pagodas along with a distinguished expert.
If your interest is in the arts, spend time exploring Kyoto's rich crafts traditions, and canvasing the contemporary arts, visiting with curators, collectors, from Roppongi's famed art triangle to lesser known galleries and spaces throughout Tokyo. Those with more time can venture further afield to the "art island," Naoshima, or if you've specific interests, such as pottery, we can your trip to visit ancient kilns in beautiful Kyushu along the "pottery trail" or a journey aboard the Seven Stars, the world's most luxurious train.
We especially enjoy family trips as parents ourseleves, we can firmly state there is no other place quite like Japan for kids. Relax and enjoy traveling in the safest and most reliable country on Earth while experiencing amazing activities we've organized, from mingling with monkeys in the mountain forests outside Kyoto, exploring ninja houses and feudal castles, Tokyo's futuristic hi-tech stores, witnessing Japan's famous youth culture, manga and animation, biking (yes, Tokyo is wonderful for family cycling), and thrilling to the Giants at the booming Tokyo Dome—all escorted by guides who are parents themselves. A honeymoon in Japan is unparalleled. The unfailingly polite Japanese are the perfect hosts, and the country an exotic mix of pristine Zen gardens, hot springs, ancient inns, and incredible cuisine.
Including Tokyo, Naoshima, Hakone and Kyoto. Kyoto's renowned ancient crafts are experiencing a renaissance, reemerging on the world stage and adding another reason to linger in the pleasant city, This trip also include a stopover on Naoshima, the world's only "Art Island" staying at the exclusive Benesse House. In Kyoto revive at the Gora Kadan, Japan's most sumptuous ryokan. At trip's end exploring the vibrant contemporary art and design scene in Tokyo.
Explore Japan's rich history and dynamic contemporary culture. This insider's journey emphasizes the unique treasures and cultural traditions and lifestyles of each destination. Along the way, personal encounters will provide deeper insight into the country and poignant moments. During this journey, explore the world's most dynamic city, Tokyo, the sublime countryside around Hakone and Mount Fuji, and strolling past geisha in Gion Kyoto and enjoying the quintessential experience — Japanese tea ceremony.
There's no place quite like Japan for taking the children, a country of immense natural beauty and inspiring unique experiences. Even in the humming cities, you can find immaculate, manicured Zen gardens, tranquil ryokan, and sublime ritual such as tea ceremonies. The country offers the most fascinating and thrilling of all Asia's experiences for children, with every day able to offer something completely new.
There are so many perspectives and our Japan family tours are customized to your interests. Discover the rich cultural highlights of Japan's capital city, enjoying an in-depth exploration of the dynamic sprawling metropolis that is Tokyo, everyone in the family able to find something new and exotic. Thrill on a ride aboard a famed bullet train to Kyoto, a city with an astonishing variety of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Children can marvel at ancient castles, enjoy delightful bicycle excursions along the Katsura and Kamogawa Rivers, and play ninja at the ancient home of ninjas.
Japan excites, each of its destinations home to a roll call of unique experiences. It's the country we most love to promote as every family gets to enjoy a completely different collections of activities. We organize your Japan luxury tour to include the finest the country has to offer. Here are just a few ideas to consider, amongst the most unique family travel in Asia.
Insider experiences emphasize the unique treasures and cultural traditions of every destination. They form the focus of all our Asia family tours and they're centered on personal encounters that provide a deeper insight into the country and its most poignant moments. Fun family activities add thrills to the journey, provide a perspective few other traveler's experience. Dining recommendations capture the exquisite aesthetics of Japanese food and its endlessly appealing diversity. The professional English-speaking guides we use are top-tier university graduates, amongst the most experienced and knowledgeable in guiding family tours. Accommodation is a mix of traditional ryokan and luxury hotels, chosen for their family appeal. As a starting point, there are two classic routes for families.
We can arrange a classic Japan itinerary that encompasses the country's breadth of experience, canvasing ultra-modern Tokyo, sublime Hakone, and the cultural capital, Kyoto. Exceptional experiences are included at each destination. You have the freedom to design your own day, choosing from our curated list of sightseeing, sports, shopping, local encounters and more. Travel in style through the country, exploring historic and vibrant cities, rustic villages, Zen gardens and ancient pagodas. Travel intimately through the big cities, exploring the nooks and crannies that make them so special. Visit theme parks that are completely different from those at home. And discover cultures and cuisines that create new perspectives for teenage children.
The rich natural and cultural highlights of central Japan are another popular option for families. Start with an in-depth exploration of the dynamic sprawling metropolis, Tokyo, tailored activities helping you uncover the astonishing contrast of the ancient and modern. Discover the prize of Japan and the city of a thousand temples, Kyoto. Continue in some of Japan's most sublime landscapes, like strolling the cedar forests and Zen temples of Mount Koya, where monks walks the small footpaths like something out of a dream.
Japan is the land of mythological names. It's where you distinguish ninja from samurai, anime from art, Harajuku from kaiseki from kung fu. We handcraft the tours from a vast wealth of possible destinations and experiences, stretching from ice sculptures in the far north to tropical beaches in the far south. Contact us and we'll provide you with a full and detailed itinerary, based on your preferences. To get you started on Japan family travel, here are three destinations that always receive great feedback.
Tokyo is the world's pop-culture capital and while also being the world's most populous metropolis, the experience doesn't need to be overwhelming. For us, this is a city of opportunity, whatever your age. Tokyo offers an astounding variety of unique, world-class shopping, trend-setting entertainment, and an unparalleled spectrum of cuisine. The city's history can be appreciated in districts such as Asakusa, and in many excellent museums, temples and gardens. If that doesn't appeal to your older children, there are so many options to discover the city's famed teen culture, experiences that often change perspectives.
Cruise down the Sumida River, watching local life along the banks. Cycle through the alleys in the oldest parts of the city, passing the odd Buddhist monk. Be baffled by the spectacle at Shibuya Crossing, as featured in many films set in Tokyo. Discover the inimitability of Tokyo Anime Center, full of events and exhibitions. In Akihabara – known locally as Electric Town – there are whole streets of camera, technology, interactive robots and game consoles, You can stop in one of the busy video game parlors, filled with all sorts of exotic machines never seen before, played with vigor by younger and even older Japanese. If any of your children fancy themselves as a Nintendo or Playstation expert then they can challenge the locals.
Contrary to common perception, Tokyo also offers a number of attractive green spaces in the city center. Visit one of Tokyo's most peaceful and sacred sites, the exquisite Meiji Shrine. Then walk over to explore Tokyo's stylish and trendiest shopping venues, including the meandering alleys of the Harajuku strip that were inspired by the popular teen fashion trend of the same name. Art can also play a role and we love including gallery 21_21 on Japan family tours. Famed Japanese designers Issey Miyake, Taku Satoh, and Naoto Fukasawa are behind this sleek, design-centric art space, which features fascinating hands-on art exhibits for young visitors. In addition, within relatively short drives of Tokyo you can also be enjoying the picturesque landscapes of Nikko, Kamakura, and Hakone.
Travel challenges your perspectives. And on the formative mind of a child, the experiences can be profound. Delve into Japan's deep Buddhist spirituality—the most formative influence on Japanese history and culture—traveling outside Kyoto to sacred Mount Kōya, a destination for almost all Japanese at some point in their life. The town is sublime to explore by foot, with temples set among forests and rustic pathways on lush landscapes. One highlight is the tranquil "cemetery walk" —a mile long cobbled path through the forest, ending at the shrine of Kūkai, who is credited with bringing Buddhism to Japan.
But the really impactful experience comes from the atmosphere. Spend the night in a temple, learning how to eat, live and sleep like the monks. Join them on their morning chanting ritual, so different to anything your family will have done before. We create opportunities for you to converse with the monks, discussing everything from the obvious – like spirituality – to the unusual, such a music and pop culture. Your children can meet with the younger monks, asking questions and sharing stories. It's very immersive and the sort of experience children remember for many years to come.
Home to more than 2000 temples and shrines, along with more than a dozen World Heritage Sites, Kyoto is one of the unmissable destinations on a private Japan tour. Kiyomizu-dera, a magnificent wooden temple supported by pillars on the slope of a mountainside; Kinkaku-ji, the Temple of the Golden Pavilion; Ryoan-ji, famous for its Zen dry garden of raked gravel; the ornate setting of Nijo Castle. The quality of the sights are unquestionable. The question is how to make all this culture accessible to children of different ages, particularly those who aren't too keen on touring temples all day.
Kyoto is set in a bowl of wooded hills. Consider the tranquil Philosopher's Path, an enchanting walkway that skirts the eastern foothills. Discover the ancient world-class crafts at the heart of Japan's creativity, exploring the five families who are shepherding the city's traditional crafts from past to future. Change the pace by visiting Monkey Park, the exotic primates jumping in the trees all above your head. Bicycle ride through the old districts, get lost in forests of bamboo, and enhance the atmosphere of the temples by meeting the monks who live there. We've found that mixed daily programs work well, combining one or two iconic cultural sights with something specific for the kids.
For example, enjoy a traditional tea ceremony in a classical machiya (wooden house with courtyard) sat on the floor in tatami tearooms, learning from your servers about this ancient Zen Buddhist practice so deeply rooted in Japanese culture. Stroll through the four-century-old Nishiki Market, crowded with stalls offering all manner of exotic Japanese edibles and staples; most children love sampling the amazing variety of sweets and other snacks here. Hike into the thick forests of Arashiyama monkey park, where the wild monkeys are calm and feeding can be done inside the ranger's hut. Then rest in the beloved gardens of Tenryuji Temple, before feasting your eyes on the shimmering gold facade of Kinkaku-ji.
Alesso traveled with his family to Japan in the summer of 2015. He kept a diary detailing his experiences. Like almost all 11 year olds would be, Alesso was both excited and apprehensive before the vacation. He had no idea what to expect. After writing the diary, he wanted to share it with other children, so they could get an idea of what it is like to visit Japan and the other countries he visited. You can read Alesso's complete article here – which gives both a child's perspective and an insight into the type of activities on a Japan family tour.
Fewer places are as ideal as Japan for a honeymoon. Enjoy famous Japanese hospitality, ancient temples, sublime ryokan and hot springs, divine cuisine, scenic mountain villages, and endless romantic settings.
Japan is known for its bullet trains, but the Seven Stars is a new and exclusive train service crawls past towering volcanoes, hills shrouded in cypress trees and bamboo, emerald green rice fields, and a crisp shorelines dotted with fishing boats and seaweed farms — all from the window of the most luxurious train coaches in the world. Suites feature the finest in Japanese craftsmanship with walls of rosewood and maple, floors of walnut, Shoji paper screens over windows, and hand-etched glass of flowers and birds. We combine this three-day & night luxurious train journey with our unique itineraries in Tokyo and Kyoto.
During this adventurous journey, explore Japan's bucolic landscapes, traveling along rural coastlines, through remote islands, volcanic peaks, bamboo forests, river valleys, hot springs, and rural villages. Explore by bicycle, foot, boat, and train through some Japan's most beautiful settings while enjoying comfort and high aesthetic of the country's most luxurious hotels and renowned ryokan (inns). Featured destinations include Kamakura, Mount Koya, Hakone, the islands of Shikoku, Naoshima, and Kyushu, and the remote and tranquil northern shores where few travelers venture.
Everything you've heard is true — Japan is the ultimate culinary destination. Dining recommendations will capture the exquisite aesthetics of Japanese food and endlessly appealing diversity. Visit the famous Tsukiji Fish Market to sample fresh sashimi, experience the world's finest sushi, tempura, and shabu shabu, but also explore Japan's other lesser known styles, including minimalist kaiseki, grilled delights of teppanyaki and regional specialties (kyodo-ryori). Visit Tokyo's sake bars, and informal noodle bars in Gion and take a sushi cooking class from a master chef in Tokyo.
The Seven Stars is the first luxury sleeper train or "cruise train" in Japan, making its inaugural run in Oct 2013. The result of a collaboration between Japanese designer Eiji Mitooka and local artisans is majestically furnished train with their masterpieces.
Seven Stars is decorated with various types of wood and fabric. The style is a fusion of Western and Japanese design. There is a bar in the lounge car, as well as couches and rotating chairs for passengers to sit in while enjoying live musical performances. The rear of the lounge car also features a large bay window for enjoying the scenery as it flows by. The spacious rooms include the Deluxe Suites, where one carriage is split into two rooms, and the suite rooms, which are one carriage split into three rooms. This train provides a totally new travel experience.
Making its run through verdant island Kyushu, the train offers journeys of two and four days, as well as special annual departures. On the Seven Stars, passengers can enjoy the beautiful Kyushu scenery as it passes by. At certain points passengers will alight from the train to participate in excursions, with scenery and experiences that could only possibly be encountered on the Seven Stars. Note: Very limited cabins are available by advanced reservations only.
Whether it be an outing in Harijuku to spot costumed youth at play, or dozens of other fascinating activities that immerse kids in Japan's world-renowned pop culture, all of our Japan family trips are designed and tailored to each family's specific interests and preferences—tell us your dreamed-of destinations and we will connect the dots, adding in insider experiences that celebrate the authenticity of each place, away from the crowds.
Sumo is the national sport of Japan. During this visit to a "stable" or training facility where the wrestlers live, watch and interact these gentle giants as they start their day a workout. Children may also join in the workout, which leads to some unforgettable photos and is always a highlight of our Japan family tours.
Hiking pilgrimage trails to sacred sites and overnighting in monasteries is a traditional part of Japanese Buddhism. During your stay, stroll the sublime scenery of cedar forests, paths, temples and shrines, dine on a traditional vegetarian meal prepared by the monks, enjoy an evening onsen soak (hot bath), and in the morning witness monks ceremonies before breakfast.
The Tea Ceremony is an important and revered aspect of Japanese culture, a traditional ritual influenced by Zen Buddhism that developed with other Zen-related arts such as flower arrangement, ink painting, calligraphy and gardening. During this sublime ceremony, prepare green tea, or matcha, with a skilled practitioner in the tranquil setting of an ancient tea house. We can also arrange for a special tea ceremony in a temple.
In the style of traditional Japanese homes with 21st-century architecture, this sublime 25-room ryokan sits high on the banks above the dreamy Hozugawa River, transporting you back in time. Located in the Arashiyama district, an area abundant with temples, the hotel is reached only by a slow cruise in a hinoki, a traditional cedar boat. The rooms are richly finished in cedar, hand-blocked wallpaper, modern floor-to-ceiling glass shoji screens and chic dark slate bathrooms, with wide picture windows, and lofty duvets, not tatami mats, to relax on. All guest rooms feature views of the tranquil river surrounded by a tree-covered landscape that changes with the seasons.
The Seven Stars is the first luxury sleeper train or "cruise train" in Japan, making its inaugural run in Oct 2013. The result of a collaboration between Japanese designer Eiji Mitooka and local artisans is majestically furnished train with their masterpieces. Read more below.
Tokyo's most interesting new addition and a unique one for Aman. Opening its doors in 2015, the property is Aman's first "urban sanctuary." Situated on the top six floors of the 38-story Otemachi Tower, the Aman enjoys a prime location near the Imperial Palace Gardens with superlative city views.
The seven-suite hotel features blonde-wood furniture, spacious balconies, up to date room technology, capturing a serene, minimalist mood with the Aonagi maisonette suite and its 25 foot high ceiling, offering spectacular views of the Setouchi Inland Sea. Other features include the outdoor lap pool with views over the sea, and the restaurant, Minagi, serves meticulously-prepared but casual kaiseki dinners with local seafood.
More about the Aman Urban Sanctuary and other Japan Luxury Hotels
A superlative ryokan (inn) experience. The property was once an imperial summer retreat, that now gracefully blends Japanese tradition and Western modernity. Upon arrival, a dramatic Zen rock garden entrance leads to a glass-enclosed lobby. The inn features 37 authentic tatami-style accommodations a sublime "Kadan" suite features a private garden and outdoor bath. Read more about the Gora Kadan below.
Benesse House on the islands of Naoshima is consists of servral building that are part of a broader project "Benesse Art Site Naoshima" whose mission " is to create signicant spaces by bringing contemporary art and architecture in resonance with the pristine nature of the Seto Inland Sea, a landscape with a rich cultural and historical fabric." The four buildings: the Museum, Oval, Park and Beach, all designed by star architect Ando Tadao. Each building features its own unique artwork and guest rooms. Our favorite, Oval, is situated on a hill and connected to the Museum building by a monorail. Oval offers spacious, luxurious lodgings in a mere six rooms. Large floor-to-ceiling windows in the guest rooms offer expansive views of the Inland Sea and does the large terrace. Read more about Benesse House below.
A stunning newer space providing the first real luxury property on remote, mountainous Shikoku Island (Japan's least developed region) designed by renowned architect Tadao Ando. Originally a private home, the mountain top property was converted into a modern art museum before recently re-opening as the Setouchi Retreat Aonagi. Ando captures the Japanese stark aesthtic and a strong contribution to recent concept of "minimal luxury" at high-end hotels, such as the Aman. Setouchi Aonagi's minimalistic design features massive polished walls of exposed concrete, bright plain surfaces, occasional contemporary art, huge floor-to-ceiling windows, and straight lines throughout the space. Read more about Setouchi Aonagi below.