Location: Japan Duration: 10 nights Price: From £9,200 per person in low season based on two adults travelling together and including all flights in economy class, acommodation, some meals, private transfers, train transportation, experiences as stated and taxes

With such an incredible history, often dominated by legends and tinged with folklore, Japan’s essence is well-steeped in its past. Swept up by stories of immortal-like samurais, deadly ninjas and Geishas that have changed the minds of Emperors, you’ll burrow into the Japan of centuries past on this 10-night adventure to Tokyo, Kyoto and Okayama. During this harmonious and cultural jolt, you’ll dine with a maiko (Geisha in training), watch a sumo practice, experience a matcha tea ceremony and stay in a centuries-old working monastery on the foothills of the sacred Mount Koya.

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Perfect for

Culture vultures searching for Japan’s traditional side.

In the know

Adding a night in Hakone National Park, home to the imperious Mount Fuji and the Fuji Five Lakes.

Recommended for...
Cultural Immersion
Educational
First-timers
Food & Wine

TOKYO – 3 nights

Japan has managed to integrate its ancient traditions and forging technology into one magnificent showcase of culture. Flying into its capital, you’ll be able experience Tokyo’s soaring streets and robot-run hotels as well as encounter its revered superstars, the sumo wrestler. Sumo wrestling is a full-contact fight and you will be taken to watch one of the morning practices in a sumo stable, where the wrestlers eat, sleep and train throughout their career. With exclusive front-row seats, you can watch these top-knotted men battle it out, often within reaching distance of where you’ll be sitting. Once you’ve seen how the professionals do it, it’s your turn to try your hand at a Japanese sport with a ninja workshop, where guides will teach you the secrets, fighting techniques and abilities of the shinobi. You’ll stay in the Peninsula for three nights, a perfectly paired hotel to this itinerary as it overlooks the home of the Emperor of Japan, the Imperial Palace and Gardens.

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KYOTO – 3 nights

Perhaps not as the samurai would do it but a luxurious and smooth transition nonetheless, you’ll take the high-speed bullet train west to Kyoto. On arrival into the former Imperial capital, we recommend pulling on some comfortable shoes and spending your three nights here exploring the cobbled streets, ancient temples and exotic markets on foot. Like stepping back in time, walk around the gardens of the Golden Pavilion, find inner peace at the tranquil Zen garden of Ryoan-ji or try not to make a as you walk on the nightingale floors of Nijo Castle – a nocturnal security system with floors designed to make a chirping sound when walked on. Once you’ve settled into your traditional ryokan, the historic Hiiragiya, you’ll have an experience of a lifetime by dining with a maiko. Acting as host, the apprentice Geisha will perform elegant dances and show you some entertaining Japanese games, while you feast on a delicious kaiseki dinner. During your stay, you’ll also experience a home visit tea ceremony, where you’ll have a master of the ceremony take you through the ancient process of making matcha.

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KOYASAN – 1 night

From Kyoto, you’ll be taken to Mount Koya, a collection of mountains in the Wakayama Prefecture dotted with over 100 temples. This region is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the centre of Shingon, an important sect of Japanese Buddhism. Here, you’ll gain an insight into the Buddhist faith, which shaped the foundations of the country and established the Sohei, or armies of warrior monks. On this very spiritual mountain, you’ll stay at the working monastery, Souji-in, which dates back to the early 12th century and where the slow pace of life has remained unchanged for centuries. Here you’ll be able to watch the morning prayer service, as well as take part in daily meditation classes.

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OKAYAMA – 3 nights

Rejuvenated from a night at Koyasan, you’ll take a train to Sayo and then be transferred to Mimasaka for the final stop on this Japanese journey. Set half way between Kyoto and Hiroshima, the Japanese inn, Ryokan Kifu No Sato, will be your base for three nights of hot spring bliss and Iaido mastery. Quickly forgetting about the early morning wake up on Mount Koya, you can bask in leisure amid the treatment rooms, with a full body Sri Lankan massage and cleansing facial, or in the peaceful onsen and gardens. Even this remote region lays claim to strong connections with ancient samurai traditions, thanks to the town of Osafune, which used to make the fabled samurai swords, and the historical figure Miyamoto Musashi, who was born in the area in the 16th century and is said to be the greatest of all samurai swordsmen. From the ryokan, you’ll visit a sword maker and learn the movements of drawing the sword from an Iaido master. You’ll have the option of trying your hand at flower arranging or joining a cooking class to create dashi, sushi, chawanmushi and miso soup and to round off the gastronomy tour, you can visit a tea farm to see how the leaves are processed.

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