In Japan, the line between ancient and modern is often so blurred that one becomes a traveler through time. Seventh-century shrines and vibrant traditional markets. Mountain ridges covered in thousands of cherry trees. A world of natural beauty combined with ancient culture—grace and tradition unlike anywhere else.
1-2 Walk through quiet forests, visit ancient shrines and pass by bright orange torii, the traditional gates found at the entrance to sacred Shinto sites Behold views of peaceful Kyoto from a summit in the hills above the city Discover the "Philosopher's Walk," a tranquil treelined path Sample local figs and soba noodle soup followed by a private sake tasting.
3-4 Visit picturesque Yoshino and experience the fragrance of more than 5,000 cherry trees lining a ridge through the town 400-year-old Mikumari Shrine, a World Heritage site, is sure to move you The journey aboard a Japanese bullet train is just as fast as you imagine Explore 17th- and 18th-century merchants' houses and shops in Takayama's old quarter.
5-6 Relish a quiet morning in the extraordinary Shogawa River Valley, home to World Heritage site Shirakawa-go Enjoy a relaxing soak in an open-air hot tub Take in the gorgeous setting of traditional mountain villages marked with dense birch and larch forests Explore Chūbu-Sangaku National Park's breathtaking alpine landscape, keeping an eye out for antelope, deer, monkeys and bears.
7-8 Get a feel for "Old Japan" in Narai, where well-preserved Edo-period architecture is set against rolling hills and beech forests Meet members of the Tezuka family, who have lived in Narai for 22 generations Savor homemade mochi, a sweet rice pastry Be mesmerized by the stone and woodwork at Matsumoto Castle Sip green tea during a traditional tea ceremony.