Nov 2, 2016

Unveiling the Cities of Japan


Great natural beauty, ancient traditions and technological trailblazing – Japan has it all.

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The dazzling neon lights of Tokyo are a quintessential and enduring image of Japan as a global city. However, the country’s smaller and equally impressive cities are rapidly rising to recognition.

The charming combination of majestic natural elements against city skylines, as well as ancient, gentle traditions underpinning cutting-edge technology serve to reveal a nation dedicated to reinvention and renewal that also retains a deep respect for its complex past.

Our new 14 Day Japan Unveiled tour visits the southern island of Kyushu for the first time, unveiling Fukuoka and Nagasaki before relishing the main island, Honshu.

Like the many splendid dishes in a traditional multi-course kaiseki meal - artfully prepared balancing the tastes, textures and appearance of fresh seasonal produce and arranged in an elegant manner - Japan’s varied destinations complement each other. Its best known cities of Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto are enhanced by experiencing Fukuoka, Nagasaki and Hiroshima, each offering a unique, taste of culture and history.

As southern Japan’s major international gateway, Fukuoka introduces a harmonious blend of contemporary city with the ancient soul that defines Japan.

Explore Shofuku-ji, Japan’s oldest Zen Temple, and the sixth-century Kushida Shrine. Be enchanted by a leisurely stroll through the gingko and maple-leaved Maizuru Park encasing the ruins of sixteenth century Fukuoka Castle. Visit the Hakata Machiya Folk Museum to experience Japan’s ancient lifestyles, and witness the prestigious Hakata-ori textile being handwoven on ancient wooden looms.

If Fukuoka is a delicate sakizuke then Nagasaki is a delightful hassun, the course that sets the seasonal theme.

Here, you’ll discover an untold part of Japan’s history. Today’s Nagasaki still feels the influence of diverse foreign powers particularly from Dutch and Portuguese from the 16th through to 19th centuries.

Modern Nagasaki carries the tragic notoriety as the second site of the WWII atomic bomb after Hiroshima, and you’ll find a visit to Peace Park and the Atomic Bomb Museum offers sobering reflection.

Hop on the famous Shinkansen train to Hiroshima where you will gaze in wonder at how the contemporary city is flourishing with green wildlife growing out of the sidewalks, symbols of resilience and hope, the resounding message of Peace Park.

After watching a breathtaking sunset over the magnificent floating 6th century tori gates of Tsukushima Shrine in Miyajima, relax on another Shinkansen ride to Kyoto, your Shiizakana course.

A satisfying ‘hotpot’ of culture, Geisha tradition and World Heritage-listed Sites, here you can stroll along the Philosopher’s Walk or wander through the vermillion torii gates of the Fushimi Inari Shrine, even enjoy a meal hosted by a Maiko, an apprentice Geisha.

Your Gohann course can be found in Tokyo with a Special Stay for four nights at the luxurious Conrad Tokyo Hotel. Don an exquisite kimono for a traditional tea ceremony.

For Mizumono (dessert) venture into the countryside on your drive to Lake Ashinoko for a serene cruise with majestic Mt Fuji as your backdrop.

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Whichever way you choose to discover the essence of Japan, like the kaiseki meal every cultural morsel on the journey has been carefully prepared for your enjoyment.

Article by Naomi Livingstone.