There are a multitude of cultural experiences and unique activities that can be included on your dream itinerary to Japan. The following pages showcase a few ideas and suggestions to really uncover the true essence of your destination. Whatever your interests, we can design a tour that is perfect for you. Please contact us for further details on any of the experiences and activities listed below.
Tokyo Sumo experience and Chanko lunch
Take part in the sumo wrestlers’ daily life by having lunch with them. Witness demonstrations by retired Sumo wrestlers with their interpretation on its history, practice and tournaments. It is also possible to try on a Sumo costume and challenge a Sumo wrestler to a match. Enjoy the great taste of Chanko-nabe, the traditional and symbolic meal for them.
Tokyo Tsukiji Outer Fish Market
A wholesale fish market in central Tokyo, Tsukiji is known as one of the world’s largest fish markets handling over 2,000 tons of marine products per day. The market has become a tourist spot in its own right and the fascinating tuna auctions are immensely popular. Perhaps take a morning visit to the outer market and enjoy a fresh sushi breakfast from one of the many restaurants or food stands.
Sushi Workshop Morning Tour
You can experience hand- shaping and rolling sushi from a Tsukiji sushi chef, and of course tasting your own work of art for your lunch. The guide will lead the tour around Tsukiji Outer Fish Market and through the many bustling shops.
Kyoto Gion Kimono Tour
Wear an authentic Kimono (yukata, light cotton kimono, in summer months) and enjoy walking around the Gion district. Includes hairstyling and tabi (traditional socks). Available for people up to 185cm (6’1’’) tall and waist sizes up to 100cm (39in).
Traditional Japanese crafts
There are many different traditional Japanese crafts that can be seen or experienced to give a further insight into Japan’s culture. These include Ikebana flower arranging, which is considered to be a disciplined art form in itself, where nature and humanity are brought together. Origami, the well-known art of Japanese paper folding, calligraphy, Japanese sweet making and Japanese pottery are also popular. Arrangements can be made to see these crafts in action or to take part in a workshop or lesson.
Kobe Sightseeing and Nada Sake Brewery Walking Tour
Visit Kitano-Ijinkan District and Meriken Park. After having Buffet-style lunch, visit Hakutsuru Sake Brewery Museum in Nada, a town famous for its sake breweries.
Kyoto Sagano Bamboo Grove and Arashiyama Walking Tour
Visit Arashiyama, located in the western part of Kyoto, famous for its bamboo grove. Tenryu-ji Temple, one of Kyoto’s best Zen temples. Enjoy the beautiful landscape garden. Take a walk through the scenic Sagano Bamboo Grove. Visit Jojakko-ji Temple and Togetsu Bridge over Katsura River. Enjoy Japanese style lunch on a Yakatabune Boat through Arashiyama. Train tickets back to Kyoto will be distributed before lunchtime when the tour ends.
Kyoto Tea Ceremony & Ginkau-ji Temple Walking Tour
Visit the World Heritage site Ginkauji Temple and take a walk along the Philosopher’s Path. Followed by a traditional tea ceremony for a taste of Japanese culture. Tour ends in Gion District.
Kyoto Dinner with Maiko
Enjoy a dinner at a traditional restaurant Ohara Gyozanen with a Maiko, or apprentice Geisha. Situated in a quiet location away from downtown Kyoto and near Ohara-Sanzenin-Temple. After dinner, a Maiko will perform two traditional dances, enjoy free conversation and photo taking.
Osaka Samurai Experience
Step back to ancient times and learn about the Samurai (old Japanese soldier). You will learn about the Samurai etiquette, the costume, sword training, using the sword in fighting and witness a short samurai play. You will also wear Kimono or Ninja costume.
Calligraphy and Meditation
Stay overnight at a Buddhist temple where you can try your hand at the ancient writing technique of Calligraphy. The following morning you can join the monks for meditation.
Cycling Tour in Kyoto
Join a guided cycling tour to explore the back streets of Kyoto, the entire tour will be conducted by bicycle. Explore the lanes of Miyagawacho, the second largest of the five entertainment districts in Kyoto. Admire the traditional wooden merchants houses lining the narrow lanes. See Ishibei-Koji Street and discover the Gion District where you may see a Geisha or Maiko. Continue to the Yasaka Shrine, then cycle along the Shirakawa River where there are many willow trees lining the riverbanks. Visit the Heian Jingu Shrine and enjoy cycling through the large torii gate.
Famous Festivals and Celebrations
You may wish to combine your holiday dates with one or more of the many colourful
local festivals (matsuri) held in Japan throughout the year. Popular ones include:
• Month Long Festival – Gion Matsuri, Kyoto (July)
• Traditional Dance Festival Awa Odori, Tokushima City (August)
• Snow Festival – Yuki Matsuri, Sapporo (February)
• Huge Lantern Floats – Nebuta Matsuri, Aomori City (August)
• Spectacular Float Racing – Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri, Kishiwada City (September)
• River Procession – Tenjin Matsuri, Osaka (July)
• Historical Parade – Jidai Matsuri, Kyoto (October)
• Night Festival – Chichibu Yomatsuri, Saitama (December)
Onsen – Hot Spring Baths
Discover the centuries old tradition of these thermal hot baths that play a large part in Japanese culture. There are over 20,000 sources of hot springs in Japan and over 3,000 accommodations that have Onsen. Located all over the country, you will find many Onsen as part of the traditional Japanese Inns called ryokan (see page 9). Others are found in public bathhouses. Depending on the chosen Onsen they can be private or segregate so please check at the time of enquiry.
There are many areas in Japan that are well-known for their Onsen. Some of our favourites are listed below.
Beppu Onsen – (Oita Prefecture, Kyushu)
The city of Beppu, on the south-western island of Kyushu has eight different hot springs each with ryokan and public baths with bathing facilities. Together they produce more hot spring water than any other Onsen resort in the country.
Kinosaki Onsen – (Hyogo Prefecture, Honshu)
Kinosaki Onsen can be reached in an hour and a half from Osaka by Express train. Hidden in the mountains, away from the crowds of the cities, Kinosaki has quiet temples, moss covered forests and soft sandy beaches.
Shibu Onsen – (Nagano Prefecture, Honshu)
A quaint little town with a 1,300 year history, it has ancient cobblestone lanes and traditional wooden ryokan where visitors can often be seen strolling through the lanes in their yukata (light cotton kimono). Shibu Onsen can be combined with a visit to Yudanaka to see the famous Snow Monkeys.
Dogo Onsen – (Ehime Prefecture, Shikoku)
Situated around 3 hours from Okayama or 4 and a half hours from Osaka, Dogo Onsen is located on one of the smallest of Japan’s main islands, Shikoku. It is one of the earliest known hot spring spa towns and is famous for being an inspiration for the Japanese anime film, Spirited Away, a Ghibli film. naka to see the famous Snow Monkeys.
Three best Onsen of Japan
Gero onsen – (Gifu Prefecture, Honshu)
Located around 45 minutes by train from Takayama, it has been known as a hot spring resort since the 10th century. The waters here are said to help relieve certain medical conditions as well as relieving fatigue and aiding skin complexion and skin tone.
Kusatsu Onsen – (Gunma Prefecture, Honshu)
Located around 3 hours from Tokyo by train and bus, the town has been known as a hot spring resort for many centuries. The source of the hot spring water is the nearby Mount Kusatsu-Shirane and it is said to have fantastic health benefits.
Arima Onsen – (Hyogo Prefecture, Honshu)
A hidden treasure, this hot spring resort is located around 40 minutes by train from Kobe and around an hour and a half from Kyoto. With more than a thousand years of history, the oldest onsen town in Japan, Arima Onsen has become a well-known hot spring retreat where the waters are said to have unique healing properties.
Tokyo Disney Resort
Located around 50 minutes by train from Shinjuku Station, Tokyo Disney Resort is comprised of Tokyo Disneyland and Disney Sea. Both parks have their own attractions, parades and characters and a choice of tickets are available from 1 Day up to 4 Days. A range of accommodation is available within close proximity to the Resort and a monorail operates linking up many of the hotels with the parks.
Universal Studios Japan
A short journey from Osaka Station, Universal Studios is conveniently located and easy to get to. The park offers a huge range of attractions, rides, shows and dining outlets with 1-Day or 2-Day Studio Passesavailable. Explore the World of Harry Potter, enjoy the Jurassic Park ride and come face to face with a dinosaur, or discoverSnoopy Studios or Sesame Street fun world. A fantastic day for all the family!
The unusual and eccentric phenomenon of maid cafes in Japan, where the waitresses are dressed in maidcostumes, has become so hugely popular that there are now over 200 maid cafes in Tokyo alone.
Karaoke, or singing to a backing track synchronised with lyrics displayed on screen, usually in a privateroom, is a hugely popular pastime in Japan. There are a large number of karaoke bars available, especially in the larger cities such as Tokyo and Osaka.
Located in the Shinjuku area of Tokyo, this themed restaurant features a lively pop-culture show with robots, dancers and lasers.
Extremely popular in Japan, there are over 150 cat cafes throughout the country, mostly in the larger cities of Tokyo and Osaka. Enjoy a drink and interact with the furry residents.
There are many cafes celebrating the immensely popular culture of anime in Japan. Including the Pokeman Café, the Good Smile Café which has a themed menu and restaurant décor celebrating many different anime, and Animate Café with multiple locations throughout Japan.
Fairs and conventions
• Comic Market, or Comiket, is one of the largest manga and anime fairs. It is held twice a year in Tokyo in August and December.
• Animelo Summer Live is the world’s largest anime live concert, usually held during the month of August, featuring anime songs performed live.
• Anime Japan was established in 2014 and is usually held once a year in March in Tokyo. A large number of anime related companies exhibit here, selling anime merchandise and there are also various performances and events.
Pop Culture – Manga and Anime
Tokyo Ghibli Museum Mitaka
Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, Porco Rosso are just some of the animated films celebrated at the museum created by Hayao Miyazaki. The museum reflects the scenery and style of animated films. Exhibits include the techniques of animation and a recreation of an animation artist’s workshop. The museum is child-friendly and is well worth a 2-3 hour visit. Easy access in western suburbs of Tokyo.