Header image courtesy of Scott Dunn
In an era when finding extended periods of time to visit far-flung places is becoming more and more challenging, a seven-night trip to Japan is a great option. Here is a perfect itinerary for those that want to make the most of a week-long holiday.
There are a few factors that make Japan a viable option, such as its proximity to Asian neighbours and even the USA. Japan is the first Asian country reached when crossing the Pacific from the US west coast—Tokyo is a nine- to 10-hour flight (closer than London).
Travelling with a plan, self-made or through a tour company, ensures that no time is wasted on the finer details once you arrive. As everything is often so efficient in Japan, journeys between destinations are hassle-free and quick, with bullet trains travelling at more than 320 kilometres per hour. There are rarely delays.
In seven nights, you can experience a great mix of old and new, to gain an insight into this fascinating, culturally rich country.
The first stop is Tokyo—a vibrant and mesmerising metropolis, known for its neon signs, modern skyscrapers, great shopping, and diverse foodie scene. Explore with a private guide to learn about this city from a local perspective. Visit ancient shrines and gardens, hit the shops in Ginza and Omotesando, sample incredible sushi, or visit one of the many art museums.
Next, as a contrast, head to the ancient capital of Kyoto, only two hours away by train. Here you will find beautiful old buildings, narrow winding streets, and plenty of iconic Zen Buddhist temples, such as Tenryu-ji (天龍寺) and Kinkakuji (金閣寺). Visit food markets to sample local delicacies, take a stroll around Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, and visit the geisha district of Gion. Kyoto is also a wonderful place to experience a traditional tea ceremony, and to learn more about Zen mediation.
For an authentic experience, end with a night in Hakone in a traditional Japanese Inn, known as a ryokan. This is a must for many when in Japan. Experience their fabulous Japanese hospitality, relax in a hot spring water bath, and enhance your Japanese adventure with a lavish multi-course kaiseki dinner.
As you can see, in a well-planned seven-night itinerary you can really manage to see the core areas in Japan, and still have time to relax. Having knowledgeable guides, makes a big difference too, to get the most out of each day there.