Made up of five main islands, namely Honshu, Shikoku, Hokkaido, Kyushu and Okinawa, Japan is a country that we can visit repeatedly. From thousand-year-old shrine and gorgeous castles to charming old villages nestled in mountains and lovely gardens to ultra-modern and glitzy metropolis thriving with human activities and heavenly food, each island has the elements to intrigue any travellers’ six senses and our Travel Specialist is here to craft your private trip from scratch.
Honshu is the largest island of Japan and where majority of the country’s cities are located and Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka are invariably the first port of call for first time visitors, adding on the most revered and sacred Mt Fuji, the iconic emblem of the country. Dominated by the magnificent Japan Alps, expect to find top onsen, ski resorts and quaint villages in remote valleys. Given the terrain of this region, it has also become popular in recent years to walk on the Kumano Kodo and the Nakasendo trail, taking in the beautiful scenery and important historical sites along the way.
Shikoku, lying next to Honshu is the smallest island but no less interesting. It boasts a picturesque coastline on the glittering Seto Island Sea where Guntu, the luxury floating ryokan is now cruising. It is also home to one of the most famous pilgrimage routes – 88 Temples Pilgrimage, where pilgrims will do a 1200km loop around the island. It is in Shikoku that one can find the art island of Naoshima and do mark down the date for Setouchi Triennale, where contemporary art festival is held spanning multiple islands in Shikoku.
Hokkaido is Japan’s wild west! With 20% of the country landmass but only 5% of its population, expect to find primeval forest, bubbling hot springs, undulating hills and mountains, crisp and clean air, blue sky, fields of alpine wildflowers and lakes. The wilderness provides many outdoor pursuits and skiers will hit the slopes in Niseko every winter.
Kyushu, Japan’s third largest island is a dynamic landscape of active volcanic peaks, coastlines, peaceful beaches, fertile farmlands, great onsen and warm people. Fukuoka, the biggest city on the island offers cutting-edge modernity while the rest of the island oozes a relaxing pace of life. The island houses Mt Aso, the largest active volcano in Japan and a UNESCO listed mystic forest in Yakushima.
Okinawa is perhaps Japan’s answer to Hawaii. Visit the magnificent beaches and coastline and explore the underwater world. Visit the gigantic aquarium and spend days chasing the sun.
Spring (March to April) is pleasant and coincides with the blooming of plum and cherry blossoms, an exquisite time when all of Japan is covered in whites and pinks.
When other places in Japan are experiencing humid and rainy days during summer (June to September), Hokkaido is pleasant and sunny, with numerous options for outdoor activities.
Autumn (Oct to Nov) is one of the best times to visit Japan. The days are pleasant and slightly cool, and the changing blazing colors of leaves contrast brilliantly with the blue sky.
Winter (Dec to March) is the best time for skiing and winter sports in the mountain ranges. Though it can be freezing cold in the mountain ranges and Northern Japan, Southern Japan’s winter is mild, and the sky is exceptionally clear and blue.