Introduction to Inspirational Japan....
Welcome to Japan! From the bizarre and peculiar, to the intriguing, beautiful and mind-blowing, Japan is many things but boring is not one of them. It’s a place where ancient traditions meet state-of-the-art technology, where serving tea is an art form and entire districts are dedicated to anime and manga. Whether it’s travelling on the Shinkansen train, exploring the great outdoors or getting a taste of the excellent food, we hope that you fall in love with ‘The Land of the Rising Sun’.
The high-speed train network in the country – the trains known as the ‘Shinkansen’ – represent not only an interesting way to get from A to B quickly but are a great representation of Japanese culture and technological advancement.
Experiencing a traditional Japanese inn or ‘Ryokan’ is a must, which come with a raft of features (such as futon beds) and etiquette (e.g. dress codes). In conjunction with this experience, you are encouraged to enjoy relaxation including the ‘onsen’ – a bath supplied by natural hot springs.
A Japanese city by night is a spectacular sight: tightly-packed bars, restaurants, karaoke bars and shops all lit by bright lights. Shinjuku in Tokyo and Gion in Kyoto are both best explored by nightfall.
Come March / April time in Japan, thousands descend on the country to see the beauty of the Cherry Blossom season. It’s short-lived but seeing the streets up and down the country blooming with pinky-white petals is both iconic and mesmerising.
Tokyo and Outside the City
The world’s most populous city, Tokyo truly takes a lifetime to explore. From densely- populated skyscrapers to historic shrines set amidst large parkland, from bustling streets screaming with colour and the latest fashion trends to tranquil neighbourhoods with small town charm, the Japanese capital manages to combine seemingly opposing worlds into one fascinating metropolis. Conveniently connected by its vast underground system, Tokyo will take you on a trip from the past into the future.
Flee the city boundaries of the vibrant capital to encounter nature’s elements intertwined with long-lasting traditions and beliefs. Head to the mountain town of Hakone to enjoy majestic views of Mount Fuji rising behind Lake Ashi: avid hikers can summit the peak of the iconic volcano too. Venture deeper into Tokyo’s surrounding mountains to find examples of centuries-old Buddhist and Shinto worship, or jaunt to the seaside to uncover historic towns, island hot springs and jagged coastal cliffs.
With the magnificent peaks of the Japanese Alps dominating the landscape, Central Honshu is dotted with great ski resorts, wonderful hiking trails, quaint mountain towns and soothing hot springs. Be surrounded by spectacular summits in Kamikochi or follow the ancient Nakasendo trail into the Kiso Valley. Explore the historic coastal town of Kanazawa, stroll along the picturesque wooden houses lining the streets of Takayama, or travel back into the age of the Samurai at Matsumoto Castle.
Hiroshima and Western Honshu
Forever etched into people’s minds, the name of Hiroshima will always be a reminder of the disastrous effects of the world’s first atomic bomb. Rebuilt into a modern metropolis, visitors come from around the world to pay their respects at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial. Other destinations of note in Western Honshu include the Great Torii Gate on Miyajima Island, the numerous exhibits on Naoshima Art Island as well as the black Matsue Castle on the northern coast.
Osaka & Kyoto (Kansai)
As cultural treasures abound, the ancient capital of Kyoto truly deserves its title as Japan’s spiritual heart. From enigmatic temples and Zen gardens to traditional wooden architecture, outstanding cuisine and excellent crafts – this is the place to get fully immersed into Japanese culture. Slowly emerging from its vaunted neighbour’s shadow, Osaka, once an old merchant town, has established itself as a vibrant and welcoming city with an easy-going vibe and some of the country’s best food.
Hokkaido is an outdoor lover’s dream with skiing on the snow-covered slopes of active volcanoes, bathing in steaming wild hot springs and hiking through national parks, covered with pristine forest and blankets of flowers.
In the southwest, Kyushu is a world of natural beauty featuring the world’s largest caldera to ancient cedar forests and a myriad of hot springs. Further on lies Okinawa and a cluster of sub-tropical isles and home to some of Asia’s best beaches.
Shikoku and Northern Honshu are the paths much less travelled but, for those willing to make the effort, scenic mountains, vibrant landscapes and rich spiritual and historic heritage await including Lake Towado in Summer and Kakunodate during ‘Cherry Blossom’ season.
We are very pleased to be working with Discova - one of the best and most highly-respected ground handlers in Japan. Across 11 countries throughout Asia, Discova delivers a wide range of specialist services including ground transfers, accommodation, unique experiences, independent traveller itineraries, large group touring and leisure groups. They have 25 years’ experience of operations and are a market leading Destination Management Company (DMC). They see themselves as an extension of our own company, focused on delivering exceptional and seamless service, making it easy and profitable for us to book our clients’ travels to Asia. Their prices are negotiated with the backing of one of the world’s largest distribution networks meaning that they always offer us the best rates: they only work with specialist companies such as our own and not directly with travellers.
Most importantly their business is built on the principles of connecting people and ensuring the development of communities in which they work. Discova focuses on this goal of 4 main areas: environmental, social, wildlife and economic. Initiatives include:
• Re-usable water bottles for customers (paid for locally) plus a scheme to
help customers locate refill stations wherever they are
• Use of bamboo-based, bio-degradable wet tissues in most of their
destinations, saving nearly 1 ton of plastic waste in a year
• Committing to local people: 95% of their employees are locals to their
destination and they run their Local Guide Ambassador training
programme to give opportunities for education and employment
• In partnership with key child protection Non-Governmental
Organisations, they have banned all orphanage tourism and disruptive
school visits and they will soon become the first DMC to be
internationally certified as part of the ‘ChildSafe Movement’
• Community development projects completed by offering specialist
project management services. Amongst others, they have created a
library in Thailand (and more across Asia)
• They undertake audits on all products to ensure high standards of animal
• Utilising social enterprises as part of their product offering, including
initiatives such as restaurants offering vocational training to locals
• A Discova-owned and operated tour programme includes a ‘Local Life’
range, to go off-the-beaten track for authentic experiences that inject
income directly into local communities.
We show here just a very small selection of itineraries which Holiday Inspirations could arrange with Discova:
Kyushu Programme - 12 days / 11 nights
Luxury Japan - 14 days / 13 nights
Grand Tour of Japan - 18 days / 17 nights
Classic Japan with Koyasan - 19 days / 18 nights
Holiday Inspirations is very grateful to Discova for having provided all of the images being used in our Japanese Inspirations section.
We'll be happy to help.
10 Guild Street
Warwickshire CV37 6RE
Tel: 01789 293737
Skype : philmannion1
Mobile: 07732 630157
Mobile: 07802 869901
Monday - Friday:
10h00 - 17h00
Saturday: 12h00 - 16h00 (Appointments only)
Sunday Closed Appointments can be made outside these hours
Closed on all Bank Holidays