Winter Adventures in JapanNortheast Asia
12 days full of opportunities, activities and excitement throughout Japan – from skiing
and diving to sake and snow monkeys
From £4,870 per person + flights
Winter Adventures in Japan – over 12 Days/11 Nights
Tokyo – Tokyo Imperial Palace and tours > Tokyo Art Installations > Asakusa – Senso-ji > Saku – Art of Sake > Jigokudani Yaen-koen > Hakuba – Mountain Ski Resort > Nanto – woodworking craft > Kanazawa Feudal Town > Okinawa – beach resort > Tokyo
This is a fully immersive Japan experience introducing you to all of the cultural aspects that have made this country so renowned – from famous shrines and feudal towns, wood and art crafts, through sake brewing and culinary experiences to snow monkeys and skiing – as well as opportunities to extend your stay with additional locations and experiences.
DAY 1: Welcome to Tokyo
Your English-speaking guide will escort you to your hotel in a private car before a full day exploring the city.
Visit the Imperial Palace, main residence of the Japanese Imperial family, stop off at teamLab Planets TOKYO for its massive sensory installations.Visit Asakusa and Senso-ji, the oldest temple in the city with its vivid red lacquer and wooden guardian spirit statues. Next door is historic Nakamise Shopping Arcade, lined with wooden kiosks.
Take a cup of green tea with unusual companions at Owl Café Oz – the perfect pit-stop after a busy
DAY 2: Day free in Tokyo to explore
Today you’re free to explore Tokyo at your own pace. There’s a truly mind-blowing
number of must-see sights. Perhaps visit the Meiji Shrine, Ueno Park, Happo-en Gardens and the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. The Tokyo National Museum displays the art of Japan, China and India; the Ginza district is for bargain-hunters and fashionistas, Tsukiji Outer Market is one of the busiest working food markets in the world, with a restaurant on every corner here, offering everything from light bites to high-end sushi and teppanyaki.
DAY 3: Bullet Train to Saku for Sake
After sightseeing this morning, rendezvous with your English-speaking guide after lunch and board the Bullet Train to Saku, a small town to the west. Staying at an historic local sake brewery for the next few nights, where you’ll be learning to become a kurabito – a sake brewer of this Japanese national tipple, as subtle and varied as wine.
Enjoy a special kurabito taster menu, in which everything you eat will be paired with a suitable sake from the local region. After dinner, explore the picturesque local area.
DAY 4: Become a Sake expert in Saku
Breakfast at the brewery – tuck in to keep your strength up!
Over the next two days, you’ll discover the sake-making process, including how to steam, polish and cool the rice, and how to ferment the mixture.
There’s a tasting seminar to learn all about the various varieties and qualities and the basics of paring it with food, at the correct temperature.
You’ll get regular breaks throughout the day and you’re free to explore the pretty local area.
DAY 5: Meet the Snow Monkeys
Spend your morning putting the finishing touches to a fresh batch of sake and receive a certificate for entering the ranks of the kurabito.
After lunch,drive to Jigokudani Yaen-koen – a remote geothermally active haven in the mountains where a troop of snow monkeys live. You’ll get surprisingly close to them as they bathe.
After this head for Hakuba, one of Japan’s top ski resorts, where you’ll settle into your hotel for dinner.
DAY 6: Ski the Japanese Alps
Head into town and hire some skiing equipment. Hakuba is high in the Japanese Alps, with more than 200 runs and 100 lifts, for everyone from absolute beginners to experts.
There are plenty of options for lunch up on the slopes, so you can spend all day on the powder.
One of the best things about skiing in Japan is the après ski, where you can unwind in a steaming hot natural outdoor spring with a cold drink and a plate of fresh sushi to nibble on.
Dinner tonight is at your hotel.
DAY 7: Explore the Snowy Slopes of Hakuba
Today will be another brisk day on the slopes. With a total of 10 separate areas, the wider Hakuba resort is huge. You won’t have to do any run more than once if you don’t want to, so tuck into your hotel breakfast and prepare for a busy day!
Of course, there are other options including snow-shoeing, snow-mobiling and snow-tubing – or simply enjoying the scenery.
Lunch today is up to you, and dinner will be served again at your hotel.
DAY 8: Traditional woodworking at TATEGU-YA
After a hearty breakfast, get a swift hour or two of skiing or just relax after the previous two days of exertion!
After arriving at TATEGU-YA you’ll get cracking on a woodworking apprenticeship under the watchful eye of a master craftsman, working in the Inami tradition, using a single piece of wood to create intricate sculptures.
Once you’ve carved your masterpiece, you’ll be driven to your accommodation for the evening, an annexe of the workshop. Tonight’s meal is served at a restaurant attached to the workshop.
DAY 9: Historic Kanazawa
After an early start, you’ll make your way to Kanazawa, a splendidly preserved feudal town a little under an hour away.
Visit the gorgeous Kenroku-en Gardens and Sensonkaku Villa, one of the three finest landscape gardens in Japan, then the stately Kanazawa Castle. Travel to Komatsu Airport for the next leg of your adventure – a two-and-a-half-hour flight to Okinawa, a tropical island far to the south of the Japanese mainland. Meet up with an English-speaking assistant to be driven to the four-star resort Hotel Nikko Alivila.
DAY 10: Okinawa – South Pacific Paradise
The weather is balmy here even in January – exchange winter clothes for three days in a tropical climate.
Lie back and laze around on the beach for three days, hire a car and explore the island, or visit other nearby islands.
DAY 11: Okinawa – island idyll
The whole day is yours to do as you wish. After breakfast at your hotel as usual, you’ll have total freedom.
The clear coastal waters are wonderful for scuba diving and snorkelling tours. Take a whale shark experience to safely swim with these gentle giants, or opt for horse-riding at a local beach or take a fishing trip in the wonderful clean island waters.
Try stand-up paddleboarding – with instruction if you’ve never done it before.