It’s something of a delightful travel dilemma. Springtime cherry blossoms or powder-perfect winter snow? Summer fireworks and tropical beaches or a blazing golden sea of autumn leaves? Japan’s eclectic mix of ancient traditions and modern, big-city fun will ignite your imagination year-round for a romantic getaway or memorable stopover. With captivating adventure, culture, and cuisine around every corner, this all-season escape is even better when you discover it together. And whether you’re planning your first trip or looking to delve deeper into Japan’s many treasures, a little local knowledge is always welcome! Which is why we turned to Australia’s leading Asia specialist, Wendy Wu Tours. After devouring their new 2020/2021 Japan brochure — a bumper guide brimming with inspiration, itineraries and tips — we’ve fallen for this enchanting destination all over again! Bring on the next Japan sojourn…
Tailor-made for two
With over 25 years organising travel here, the team at Wendy Wu Tours knows Japan back to front – from seasonal highlights and swanky hotels to traditional hidden gems and ‘must see’ local eateries. And they’re always on the hunt for more ways to enrich your travel experience. Their highly experienced local guides are a passionate bunch, all born and raised in Japan and genuinely excited to share their beloved homeland. Here are their top tips for a tailor-made Japan adventure…
For a romantic trip or honeymoon
Begin or end your trip in the buzzing, future-fabulous capital, Tokyo. Its glittering skyline and five-star hotels are a rush, but you can also seek a slower pace and discover the city’s rich cultural heart, dating back to the Edo era. If you’re travelling in summer, look out for the city’s famous Samida River Fireworks. Recharge from your Tokyo adventures with a side trip to Hakone. This picture-perfect escape is a popular weekend destination for locals, with a cable car, natural hot springs and views across Lake Ashinoko to nearby Mt Fuji. Or try Karuizawa, a pretty resort town known for its hot springs and leisure pursuits, an hour east of Tokyo. And of course, romantic travel to Japan wouldn’t be complete without catching the bullet train and exploring the serene temples and zen gardens of sublime Kyoto.
For nature lovers
Experience the sublime seasons of Japan. Tick cherry blossom season off your bucket list or marvel at the gold and crimson tide of autumn when the ‘fall foliage’ is utterly spectacular. The Sapporo Snow Festival is perfect for ski bunnies while animal lovers will love the chance to spot free roaming deer in Nara Park or meet the fascinating snow monkeys of Yudanaka. To really experience serenity, head to the iconic Arashiyama Bamboo Grove or take a boat ride from Hiroshima to Miyajima Island: a UNESCO World Heritage site known as the ‘Island of the Gods’. Round off your trip by blissing out at Kabira Bay in Okinawa — one of the most beautiful tropical beaches in Japan. Japan and beaches? Who knew!
For culture discovery
Japan is rich in cultural sites and ancient treasures, but Kyoto still reigns supreme. It was Japan’s capital for 1,000 years and beloved for its Buddhist temples, zen gardens, imperial palaces, Shinto shrines and ancient wooden houses. Another must-do is spending the night in a ryokan: a centuries-old style of guesthouse where you can sleep on futons and tatami mats, dine on traditional cuisine, and bathe in the restorative waters of an onsen. Want to try something new? Cultural activities abound — think washi paper making, zen meditation, soba noodle making, and tea ceremonies. Crazy about castles? Japan has some beauties, including the dramatic Matsumota Castle outside Tokyo, beautiful Osaka Castle, and the elegant hilltop splendour of Himeji Castle in the south, a world heritage-listed survivor of the feudal era.
Step off the tourist path
If you’re already familiar with some of Japan’s highlights, consider a fresh adventure. Explore some of the tranquil, lesser-known islands that feel worlds away from bustling Tokyo or Osaka. The South Island of Kyushu is home to beautiful wildlife and steaming hot springs while a memorable cultural experience awaits in Hokkaido and Northern Honshu. Look for the ‘Go Beyond’ tours for a range of off-the-beaten-track experiences.
Want to know more (and grab a free flight)?
The ultimate starting point is Wendy Wu Tours’ glorious 2020/2021 Japan Brochure (it’s free online). Encompassing Japan, South Korea, China and Taiwan, it’s packed with all the info you really want to know including a Physical Rating on each tour and a detailed FAQ section. Our tip for couples? Peruse the initial Classic Tours section for an overview and then chat with a Tailor-Made expert to plan your bespoke journey. Turn straight to p.12/13 for a good overview of cultural activities or p.14/15 for an introduction to the seasons of Japan, including all-important ‘Cherry Blossoms’, and the benefits of travelling during those times. To celebrate this fabulous new resource, Wendy Wu Tours has an offer perfect for couples. For a limited time, book a tour to Japan or China and your partner flies free! Now that’s an incentive.
How it works
1. Once you’ve researched a few countries of interest (Wendy Wu Tours runs adventures throughout Asia) get in touch via phone or the website and a consultant will talk through your ideas and share their expert advice. Don’t forget to mention any special interests such as golf, cooking, shopping etc (we listed ‘pampering’ and ‘eating’ in ours!).
2. Then the easy part. Sit back and relax while Wendy Wu Tours creates a personalised itinerary including a quote. This can be adjusted, tweaked and added to at your request. You can even mix and match all-inclusive ‘Classic’ group tours with a Tailor-Made trip.
3. Finally, lock it in! And prepare for the trip of a lifetime.
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