Two young girls dressed in Kimono walk towards a pagoda at sunset in Kyoto

Japan

A land of the rising sun where ancient and futuristic worlds merge

This ‘Land of the Rising Sun’ and East Asian island nation is like no other, totally unique for its history, culture and ever-gracious people. With a legendary heritage of samurais, geishas, shoguns and Shintoism and brave new world of anime, Kawaii youth culture and next-gen technology, there’s a vague familiarity about Japan. Yet nothing quite prepares you for this amazing country!

An elongated volcanic archipelago comprised of more than 6,500 islands, Japan’s foremost points of interest are the four main islands of Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushi. Centrally-positioned Honshu Island is however where you’ll conveniently find most of the country’s major cultural sites and cities, including Osaka, Kyoto and mesmerising capital Tokyo, the world’s most populated metropolis.

From centuries-old fishing villages to neon-lit, frenetic megacities, where ancient shrines and deeply-rooted traditions happily co-exist with ultra-modern life and futuristic innovations, Japan is a land of striking contrasts. Whilst embracing the future as pioneers, a sense of history is tangible, helped along by the Japanese impressive devotion to preserving their timeless society, traditions and heritage buildings.  

Beyond Japan’s iconic urban spaces, 70 percent of the stunning archipelago is made-up of dense forest and mountainous terrain. From volcanic peaks and national parks to remote tropical beaches, this island nation presents a natural playground and surprising escape from the stresses of modern life. 

Even the most jaded of travellers will find Japan an eye-opening destination, filled with exciting new experiences, stimulating sights and the warmest of welcomes from its endearingly-friendly residents.

WHY WE THINK YOU’LL LOVE IT

  • As a land of superlatives – one of the cleanest, safest, best organised, most efficient and highly developed nations on earth – Japan is a travel destination made easy
  • Diverse topography and breathtaking island nature encourages heaps of outdoor activities, from world-class skiing and volcano trekking to surfing and onsen bathing
  • Well-preserved cultural heritage across Japan, covering ancient castles, temples and Shinto shrines, provide countless opportunities to connect with the nation’s past
  • Imbued with a unique culture and character, plus distinctive customs, youth trends and social etiquette, Japan makes for a totally fascinating experience on every level
  • One of the world’s top culinary wonderlands, food is a national obsession and part of Japanese culture, with regional specialities focused on freshness and aesthetics
Overview Map of Japan outlining key city destinations for travel
Country Facts
Official Name Japan
Capital City Tokyo
Time Zone GMT + 9
International Dial Code +81
Currency Japanese Yen
Population 126,706,533 (2019)
Religion Shinto and Buddhism
Within Easy Reach Of...
Japan has four international airports: Narita and Haneda (near Tokyo), Kansai (near Osaka) and Chubu (near Nagoya), which serve many cities across the globe.
Flight times below are to Tokyo’s Narita International Airport (NRT):
Hanoi, Vietnam 4hrs 10min
Hong Kong 5hrs 15min
Bangkok, Thailand 6hrs 20min
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 7hrs
Singapore 7hrs 10min

When To Go

When To Travel To Japan

Japan Map When to Go January
Weather Summary
Japan has four distinct seasons, each bringing its own charms and variations in temperature and weather. Overall, Japan’s diverse climate ranges from sub-arctic in the north to sub-tropical in the south and weather conditions differ between the Pacific Ocean side (east) and Sea of Japan (west) side.

Besides autumn, spring (late March to early May) is often considered the best time to visit Japan because of its famous cherry blossom season, albeit this is also one of the busiest travel times. Japan’s typhoon season reaches its peak in August and September.
Japan Map When To Go February
Weather Summary
Japan has four distinct seasons, each bringing its own charms and variations in temperature and weather. Overall, Japan’s diverse climate ranges from sub-arctic in the north to sub-tropical in the south and weather conditions differ between the Pacific Ocean side (east) and Sea of Japan (west) side.

Besides autumn, spring (late March to early May) is often considered the best time to visit Japan because of its famous cherry blossom season, albeit this is also one of the busiest travel times. Japan’s typhoon season reaches its peak in August and September.
Japan When To Go March
Weather Summary
Japan has four distinct seasons, each bringing its own charms and variations in temperature and weather. Overall, Japan’s diverse climate ranges from sub-arctic in the north to sub-tropical in the south and weather conditions differ between the Pacific Ocean side (east) and Sea of Japan (west) side.

Besides autumn, spring (late March to early May) is often considered the best time to visit Japan because of its famous cherry blossom season, albeit this is also one of the busiest travel times. Japan’s typhoon season reaches its peak in August and September.
Japan When To Go April
Weather Summary
Japan has four distinct seasons, each bringing its own charms and variations in temperature and weather. Overall, Japan’s diverse climate ranges from sub-arctic in the north to sub-tropical in the south and weather conditions differ between the Pacific Ocean side (east) and Sea of Japan (west) side.

Besides autumn, spring (late March to early May) is often considered the best time to visit Japan because of its famous cherry blossom season, albeit this is also one of the busiest travel times. Japan’s typhoon season reaches its peak in August and September.
Japan When To Go May
Weather Summary
Japan has four distinct seasons, each bringing its own charms and variations in temperature and weather. Overall, Japan’s diverse climate ranges from sub-arctic in the north to sub-tropical in the south and weather conditions differ between the Pacific Ocean side (east) and Sea of Japan (west) side.

Besides autumn, spring (late March to early May) is often considered the best time to visit Japan because of its famous cherry blossom season, albeit this is also one of the busiest travel times. Japan’s typhoon season reaches its peak in August and September.
Japan When To Go June
Weather Summary
Japan has four distinct seasons, each bringing its own charms and variations in temperature and weather. Overall, Japan’s diverse climate ranges from sub-arctic in the north to sub-tropical in the south and weather conditions differ between the Pacific Ocean side (east) and Sea of Japan (west) side.

Besides autumn, spring (late March to early May) is often considered the best time to visit Japan because of its famous cherry blossom season, albeit this is also one of the busiest travel times. Japan’s typhoon season reaches its peak in August and September.
Japan When To Go August
Weather Summary
Japan has four distinct seasons, each bringing its own charms and variations in temperature and weather. Overall, Japan’s diverse climate ranges from sub-arctic in the north to sub-tropical in the south and weather conditions differ between the Pacific Ocean side (east) and Sea of Japan (west) side.

Besides autumn, spring (late March to early May) is often considered the best time to visit Japan because of its famous cherry blossom season, albeit this is also one of the busiest travel times. Japan’s typhoon season reaches its peak in August and September.
Japan When To Go September
Weather Summary
Japan has four distinct seasons, each bringing its own charms and variations in temperature and weather. Overall, Japan’s diverse climate ranges from sub-arctic in the north to sub-tropical in the south and weather conditions differ between the Pacific Ocean side (east) and Sea of Japan (west) side.

Besides autumn, spring (late March to early May) is often considered the best time to visit Japan because of its famous cherry blossom season, albeit this is also one of the busiest travel times. Japan’s typhoon season reaches its peak in August and September.
Japan When To Go October
Weather Summary
Japan has four distinct seasons, each bringing its own charms and variations in temperature and weather. Overall, Japan’s diverse climate ranges from sub-arctic in the north to sub-tropical in the south and weather conditions differ between the Pacific Ocean side (east) and Sea of Japan (west) side.

Besides autumn, spring (late March to early May) is often considered the best time to visit Japan because of its famous cherry blossom season, albeit this is also one of the busiest travel times. Japan’s typhoon season reaches its peak in August and September.
Japan When To Go November
Weather Summary
Japan has four distinct seasons, each bringing its own charms and variations in temperature and weather. Overall, Japan’s diverse climate ranges from sub-arctic in the north to sub-tropical in the south and weather conditions differ between the Pacific Ocean side (east) and Sea of Japan (west) side.

Besides autumn, spring (late March to early May) is often considered the best time to visit Japan because of its famous cherry blossom season, albeit this is also one of the busiest travel times. Japan’s typhoon season reaches its peak in August and September.
Japan When To Go December
Weather Summary
Japan has four distinct seasons, each bringing its own charms and variations in temperature and weather. Overall, Japan’s diverse climate ranges from sub-arctic in the north to sub-tropical in the south and weather conditions differ between the Pacific Ocean side (east) and Sea of Japan (west) side.

Besides autumn, spring (late March to early May) is often considered the best time to visit Japan because of its famous cherry blossom season, albeit this is also one of the busiest travel times. Japan’s typhoon season reaches its peak in August and September.

Suggested Japan Itineraries

Explore our sample itineraries to inspire your travel planning to Japan. The itineraries can be easily customised and adapted to your personal interests and preferences.

Gastronomic Delights of Japan

Tokyo - Kyoto

In culinary wonderland Japan, eating and drinking is an art form, where gastronomical delights showcase regional and seasonal diversity and exquisite presentation. Get a taste of this, plus key cultural sights, in Tokyo, one of the world's most exciting dining destinations and Kyoto, former Imperial capital and home of rich culinary traditions.

Japanese natural bath by the river in autumn

Immerse Yourself in Japan’s Wellness Culture

Tokyo – Mt. Fuji – Hakone – Kyoto

Today, one of Asia’s leading wellness destinations, for centuries, Japan has enjoyed a rich heritage of wellness traditions – from hot springs and forest bathing to Zen meditation – which are an integral part of Japanese culture and experienced on this re-energising Japanese journey

Ancient royal-palaces, the Forbidden City in Beijing

Ancient & Modern Wonders of Beijing & Tokyo

Beijing – Japan

Journey through China and Japan’s two historic capitals and present-day megacities, Beijing and Tokyo, experiencing magnificent ancient wonders, exciting modern attractions and memorable cultural activities

Japan Tailored Experiences

Select from our exciting range of handcrafted tailored experiences to include in your customised journey.

  • Experience the Japanese ‘Way of the Tea’

    Tokyo, Japan

    Attending a Japanese tea ceremony – known as Chanoyu, Sado or ‘Way of the Tea’ – is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. For centuries, this traditional tea-drinking ritual has been intrinsically woven into Japan’s cultural fabric, originating when the Zen monk, Eisai, brought back tea from China in the late 12th century. The ceremonious preparation and serving of matcha tea (powdered green tea leaves) developed in the late 15th century as a more refined version of tea parties, infused with Zen spirituality.

    For the Japanese, the tea ceremony embodies key aspects of Buddhism and Shintoism and is one of several ‘life arts’ activities to practice Zen (‘at peace with your own thoughts’). Rooted in Japanese aesthetics, the Zen tea-drinking ceremony emanates a meditative quality, promoting wellbeing, mindfulness and harmony.

    In Nihonbashi, one of Japan’s most historic commercial districts, experience a private tea ceremony hosted by a tea master, in one of Tokyo’s most authentic and most exquisitely decorated tea ceremony rooms. Sat upon a tatami floor, observe the kimono-clad tea master meticulously prepare and serve matcha tea using traditional utensils carefullyselected for their specific value. As the ceremony proceeds, your guide will explain all the unique etiquette and rituals. Enjoy the cordial hospitality, Japanese sweets and delicious matcha tea. Immerse yourself in the sense of calm, far removed from our fast-paced daily lives.

    Duration: 1 hr

  • Experience the Lifestyle of Local Japanese Farmers

    Lake Biwa (outside Kyoto), Japan

    Experiencing a traditional farmer’s lifestyle and genuine hospitality with all the family, deep in the Japanese countryside.

    Today, we take a 30-minute drive outside Kyoto to visit a farming community in Lake Biwa, Japan’s largest freshwater lake, surrounded by verdant terraced rice fields.

    At a traditional farmhouse, participate in the countryside tradition of mochi-making. Part of Japanese culture, mochi is an iconic rice cake eaten year-round, but especially during special celebrations and New Year. Soft, chewy and delicious Mochi is made from mochigome (short-grain glutinous rice), with added water, sugar and corn starch.

    In this mochi-making class, your friendly farming hosts demonstrate the traditional mochi-pounding ‘mochitsuki’ ceremony. Home-grown sticky rice is pounded by one person with a giant wooden mallet, while another person simultaneously mixes the pounded paste in a giant mortar by hand. You can also join-in and help! The mochi paste is then molded into a rice cake with traditional toppings, which you get to taste. 

    Afterwards, sample a farm-to-table speciality, Chicken Sukiyaki, for lunch. Japan has many regional sukiyaki varieties but as your farmer hosts demonstrate, this salty-sweet hotpot is made with home-grown vegetables, chicken and noodles. Relaxing over lunch, continue to enjoy heartwarming exchanges with this farming family, learning more about the local farmer’s lifestyle.

     

  • Learn the Secrets of Traditional Knife-making in Sakai

    Sakai (Outside Osaka), Japan

    Located on Osaka’s outskirts, Sakai has played a pivotal role in shaping Japan’s history. During the Sengoku-era (1467 to 1603), this old industrial city was a thriving port hub with trading ties to both Asia and Europe. Although famed for its Japanese tea ceremony origins and ancient burial mounds, Sakai is best known for its premium quality, carbon steel kitchen knives. Japanese knife-smith craftsmanship is acclaimed worldwide, but Sakai is regarded as its home, producing around 90 percent of Japan’s uniquely hand-made kitchen knives. Sakai is where Japanese and foreign professional chefs source their premium kitchen knives.

    For over 600 years, this knife-making skill has been passed down generations of master craftsmen. Today, learn how Sakai’s knives are still hand-forged the age-old way, finished with a level of quality that sets the benchmark globally for kitchen knives.

    We visit the studio of a local knife-smith, who traditionally hand-forges these carbon steel knives in a slow and meticulous multi-step process. Observe how the craftsman forms a simple steel piece, deposit it in an open furnace heated to over 900 degrees Celsius, weld and then repeatedly hammer. The knife is then allowed to slowly cool down, before passed on to the sharpener, handle-maker and assembler craftsmen.

    Duration: 1 hr

  • Master the Intricate Art of Sushi-Making

    Tokyo, Japan

    With some of the planet’s premium seafood, 400-plus years of expertise and sleek aesthetics, sushi is Japan’s most famous dish on the world stage. A hugely popular dish in Japan, sushi is also strongly associated with Japanese culture. Although originating outside Japan, Tokyo is acknowledged as the birthplace of modern-day sushi and home to the world’s largest number of sushi restaurants. 

    Today, discover the intricate art of sushi-making and its legendary secrets at a private sushi class, at one of the most renowned sushi restaurants within Tokyo’s Tsukiji Outer Market. Adjacent to the former Tsukiji Inner Market – one of the world’s greatest wholesale fish markets, which relocated in 2018 to Toyosu – Tsukiji Outer Market’s shops and restaurants still thrive. Your gourmet-savvy guide will point out fresh fish and seafood, seasonal vegetables, deli goods and premium kitchen equipment sold here.

    Then join an exclusive sushi-making class, personally instructed by a professional sushi chef. At the restaurant’s sushi counter, learn how to make sushi rice with the technique of adding rice vinegar. Then create nigari, hand-formed mini balls of rice topped with fresh seafood sourced from Tsukiji Outer Market – one of Tokyo’s premier spots for fresh seafood! Enjoy your sushi creations for a delicious lunch.

    Duration: 2 hrs

  • Discover Lake Biwa and Farming Life by Electric Bike

    Lake Biwa (outside Kyoto), Japan

    Our off-the-beaten-track family tour through tranquil countryside presents a refreshing contrast to dynamic Japan’s urban side.  On eco-friendly electric bicycles, effortlessly explore the serene shores of Lake Biwa, a 30-minute drive away from Kyoto.

    Japan’s largest freshwater lake, Lake Biwa serves as a regional water source and year-round playground. Known for its rich biodiversity and protected wetlands, the legendary lake’s shores reveal popular beaches and historic sites.

    Following your local guide, we set-off on a leisurely cycling tour on our electric bikes, along peaceful lakeside roads leading to ancient villages, before reaching terraced rice fields deep amidst scenic countryside. Meet the local farmers and assist them with seasonal farming activities, such as planting or harvesting rice and vegetables, while learning about daily life in this rural farming community.   

    Back in the saddle, continue onwards to a local farmhouse and help a farming family cook a Lake Biwa speciality, chicken sukiyaki hotpot, for lunch.  This farm-to-table, salty-sweet dish is made with home-grown vegetables, chicken and noodles, prepared and served in a hotpot. Sample other regional specialties such as home-made pickled sour plums. In a relaxed atmosphere over lunch, relish the warm hospitality of this traditional farming community.

    Duration: 3-4 hrs

Key Cities In Japan

Learn more about the unique character and attractions of the cities that make up this diverse country.

Hotels We Recommend

Explore a selection of our hotel offerings to complete your customised journey. The number of hotels and resorts throughout Southeast Asia are extensive and varied. Please contact us for more accommodation options.

The Ritz-Carlton, Osaka

Often regarded as one as Osaka’s leading luxury hotels, The Ritz-Carlton Osaka adds modern elegance to a city with more than 15 centuries of history. Housed on the upper floors of a high-rise complex, this opulent five-star is designed around the concept of an 18th-century Georgian-style aristocratic residence blended with Japanese aesthetics. Lavish interiors are…

Suitable for:
Business, Couples, Families, MICE

Aman Tokyo

The Aman brand’s first urban concept, Aman Tokyo is an exclusive sanctuary elevated high above the atmospheric whirl of Japan’s capital, occupying the upper six floors of Otemachi Tower. Aman Tokyo echoes the city’s synergy between history and modernity. Throughout the luxurious five-star property, design features pay homage to Japanese traditions and its unique culture…

Suitable for:
Business, Couples, Families

Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto

Luxurious Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto nestles at the foot of a mountain and in the picturesque Higashiyama district, surrounded by centuries of history. A modern oasis of serenity and style, this intimate five-star blends contemporary Japanese sensibilities with traditional values and design. Set amid exquisite gardens, the property is built around an enchanting pond garden,…

Suitable for:
Business, Couples, Families

The Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto

Nestled upon the Kamogawa riverbanks on a site favoured by Japanese nobility since the 17th century, The Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto continues a legacy of tranquil luxury. The riverfront location of this award-winning urban resort lends a welcome sense of seclusion, yet is located in the heart of downtown, a short stroll to the famed Gion district. All…

Suitable for:
Business, Couples, Families

Hotel Okura, Sapporo

Similar to all the Okura brand hotels and resorts, including their flagship, Hotel Okura Tokyo, Hotel Okura Sapporo not only reflects its own individual character and style, but is dedicated to ‘Omotenashi,’ Japan’s culture of exceptional service and a meticulous attention to detail.  During their stay at this boutique five-star hotel, guests are assured warm…

Suitable for:
Business, Couples, MICE

Imperial Hotel Osaka

Beautifully positioned downtown overlooking the Okawa River backed by verdant mountains, The Imperial Hotel, Osaka evokes the sense of a luxury urban resort. The five-star hotel’s address is the perfect sanctuary to enjoy the thousands of cherry trees abloom in springtime at nearby Kema Sakuranomiya Park, one of Japan’s favourite spots for cherry blossom-viewing.  Nature…

Suitable for:
Business, Couples, Families

Mandarin Oriental Tokyo

The height of contemporary luxury in the heritage-laden Nihonbashi financial district, the Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo is housed on the upper nine floors of the 38-storey Nihonbashi Mitsui Tower. This award-winning five-star prides itself on its cutting-edge flair, state-of-the-art technology and impeccable service, besides bird’s-eye views of the Imperial Palace Gardens and beyond. Blending futuristic style…

Suitable for:
Business, Couples

JR Tower Hotel Nikko Sapporo

One of Sapporo’s premier hotels, consider the JR Tower Hotel Nikko Sapporo your ‘home away from home.’ This resort-style urban hotel welcomes with a spirit of hospitality, meticulous attention to detail and dedication to the ‘Omotenashi’ culture of exceptional service, ensuring a comfortable and relaxed stay. Occupying the 22nd to 34thfloors of Hokkaido’s tallest building,…

Suitable for:
Business, Couples, Families, MICE

Inspired to start planning your customised journey to Southeast Asia? Share your ideas with us at hello@trailsofindochina.com or submit a request below.

Start Planning