Region Overviews: Japan Travel Guide: Overview
From bubbling hot springs and white-sand beaches to ornate temples and metropolitan chaos, Japan is a land of almost mythic beauty and diversity.
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. Alpine scenery and tidy remote tea houses. A world of natural beauty combined with ancient culture—grace and tradition unlike anywhere else.
THIS ITINERARY: 8 days, 7 nights
ACCOMMODATIONS: Premiere Hotels
Start Kyoto / End Nagano
Start/End locations may vary. Do not book flights until your trip details are confirmed.
Walk through quiet forests and pass by bright orange torii, the iconic gates found at the entrance to sacred Shinto sites | Behold views of Kyoto from a summit above the city | Be entertained by a maiko (apprentice geisha) during a Japanese lunch.
Fusuma panels, paper lanterns and lacquerware are among the artisanal elements at this refined property in the well-preserved Higashiyama District. (pool, spa)
In Wazuka, hike amid lush tea plantations, then enjoy a tea tasting | Stroll to Nara's city park and visit the World Heritage Tōdai-ji temple | Embrace Japanese culture with a traditional Shinto blessing | Follow a 7th-century road through quaint villages and bucolic terrain dotted with temples and shrines.
An intimate boutique hotel overlooking picturesque parkland at the foot of Kōfuku-ji Temple. A Small Luxury Hotels of the World member.
Take a scenic journey to the Japanese Alps aboard a bullet train | Explore 17th- and 18th-century merchants' houses and shops in Takayama's old quarter | Experience unique hospitality and atmosphere at a superb ryokan | Peruse Takayama's bustling street market stalls for a one-of-a-kind souvenir | Hike on the famed Utsueshijuhatsu Falls trail, where 48 unique cascading falls await | You're in for a treat with a private sake tasting and brewery tour | Enjoy a relaxing soak in an open-air hot tub.
Highlights of this ryokan include beautiful timber architecture, traditional hospitality and natural hot spring baths.
Explore the breathtaking alpine landscape of Kamikōchi, a spectacular slice of Chūbu-Sangaku National Park, keeping an eye out for antelope, monkeys and bears | Take in the gorgeous setting of traditional mountain villages | Hike amid the ever-changing scenery of the Northern Alps in the beautiful Tateyama Mountains | Along the forested trail, stop in at a charming century-old folk house | Sip green tea during a time-honored tea ceremony.
A one-of-a-kind alpine oasis nestled alongside the luminous Azusa river, with unforgettable views of the Hotaka mountain range.
The earlier you book, the more choice you'll have and the lower your price. And you can always change your mind — you won't be charged to transfer to a different trip before your final payment is due. View cancellation policy
Click on dates for pricing, itinerary variations and to book your trip. Price is per person, double occupancy.
Every Backroads trip is designed to appeal to a wide variety of interests and fitness levels. We know your pace may vary from one day to the next—and your traveling companion's may differ somewhat from yours. So we present a range of mileage options, and each day you decide exactly what and how much you want to do. LEARN MORE.
Note: The terrain on this trip includes dirt trails, cobblestones and paved footpaths. It is relatively level to rolling, with some steeper inclines.
We want to make sure you're on the right trip and that you have the best experience possible. Every Backroads trip is unique and this one is no exception.
Even at five-star, Western-style hotels in Japan, the local preference for ordered, austere aesthetics is prioritized. This means simple rooms with fewer amenities than one might find at a typical Backroads Premiere Hotel and an emphasis on tranquility and refined onsen (Japanese-style spas).
A typical Japanese meal is comprised of several small plates with a range of vegetables, meat and seafood, with a focus on seafood. It is not common in Japanese restaurants to make substitutions and in most cases restaurants do not offer additional choices beyond their set menus. You'll find that Japanese cuisine is not well-suited to celiac or vegetarian diets.
In order to access the scenic and culturally significant hiking routes and points of interest on this trip, strategic shuttles are incorporated into our daily itinerary. Most will be limited to an hour or so at a time, but on some days you can expect to spend a bit more time in the shuttle—though always to reach a worthwhile destination! On one occasion we even combine shuttling with a high-speed train to reach the Japanese Alps—think of it as a cultural experience plus a chance to enjoy the beauty of the countryside!