Japan luxury vacations guide

In many ways, luxury vacations in Japan recall one of the country’s most celebrated art forms: Noh theatre. Just as this poetic art form comes from the Sino-Japanese word for ‘skill’ or ‘talent’, so do luxury vacations in Japan. Either they follow beautifully bespoke itineraries crafted by experts, or they are small ship cruises led by leading players in their field. Such as a yacht skipper who knows Japan’s Pacific waters inside out as he or she guides you from one beautiful bay to the next; or the onboard lecturer whose talent is knowing everything there is to know about ancient Japanese history or art.
It is hard to get the Japanese to talk about the ‘finest’ restaurant, the ‘best’ hotel or the ‘most exquisite’ artisans. Hyperbole is not a habit that comes naturally. Tour guides are brilliant at flagging up all things fine though.
Finally, Noh theatre often takes you into a supernatural world of gods and spirits, and there is certainly no shortage of spiritual moments on a luxury Japan vacation. Pure poetry, in fact. Japan – we applaud you.

Why choose a luxury vacation to Japan?

Why choose a luxury vacation to Japan?
The Japanese love to present things in lavish layers, elegantly and with plenty of frills, and if you are going to splash out, this is certainly a country place to do so. Tailor made vacations enable you to create the most divine Japanese package, with experts on hand dedicated to discussing all your luxury accommodation, travel and food options in detail. They can also advise on the amount of time you’ll need to really take in Japan’s unique heritage. For many people, time is the greatest luxury of all.


Responsible vacations tend to use small, locally owned places to stay which are also boutique and beautiful. The Japanese really do offer a magnificent range of accommodation, from downright opulent hotels to traditional ryokan inns in mountainous regions. The one thing that they have in common is the classiest of hospitality, no matter where you go. Politeness and a welcoming nature are key features of Japanese culture, and vacation makers never fail to be bowled over by this.
Examples of luxury accommodation in Japan include the stunning Iwaso Ryokan on Miyajima Island, with ocean views, a large bathhouse and just ten minutes’ walk from the cable car up to Mt Misen. Hakone Ginyu Spa resort is a very luxurious place to enjoy all the beautiful bathing aspects of Japanese culture, with an infinity pool onsen, plus hot springs and private ones in each room too. Tawaraya in Kyoto, over 300 years old, is considered by many to be the finest ryokan in the country, with generations of fine hospitality.
rocking the boat

Rocking the boat

You can sleep on a state of the art motor yacht on a luxury small ship cruise vacation in Japan. Choose from nine types of cabin on board a 132-cabin yacht to explore the Sea of Japan and Pacific Ocean. From your private balcony you can watch the sunset on Seto or sunrise over Shikoku. Cabins are air conditioned with king size or twin beds, mini bars, luxury toiletries and all the frills.
Fine food

Fine food

Tailor made vacation companies peel back the cultural layers of each culinary stop on your Japan journey. You can enjoy great food everywhere here, but it really helps to know where to find the finest contemporary cuisine in Tokyo, the best markets off the tourist trail, or the top kushi-katsu restaurants in the ancient Shinsekai area of Osaka, a city considered to be the kitchen capital of Japan. Being guided around the myriad food halls and markets of Osaka’s Dotonbori district is also a treat. Committed foodies with money to spend may want to seek out the country’s most highly revered chefs, the highest accolade being Gendai no Meiko (Contemporary Master Craftsman) of Kaiseki cuisine. Just stay clear of whale meat and shark fin soup, no matter how posh they say they are.


Train travel is the default way to go for everyone in Japan, as these are quite simply the classiest trains in the world. Nicknamed ‘bullet trains’ by Anglophones, they are called ‘shinkansen’ in Japanese which translates as ‘New Trunk Line’. These speedmeisters are not so new, however, dating back to 1964, and now travel at speeds of up to 240-320km per hour – or two hours and 20 minutes between Tokyo and Osaka, as a good example.
Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism

The most responsible thing you can do while taking a vacation in Japan is to respect the cultural codes. The Japanese are extremely polite and will never get visibly upset if you ‘break’ the rules, but it is greatly appreciated if you understand some of the nuances. From temples to tea ceremonies, baths to bullet trains, there are always customs to follow.
If you are going on a cruise around Japan, make sure that you opt for a responsible company. Our small ship cruises not only adhere to strict responsible tourism policies, but also have inclusive ones, providing three cabins that are accessible for wheelchairs, with lifts to all the decks and so on.
Shop until you drop

Shop until you drop

Japan is famous for its fine artists, silk makers and artisan food producers. On a tailor made vacation, you can book an expert guide to take you to the best places to buy, for example, traditional ukiyo-e prints made with woodblock prints and with exquisite, detailed designs. Or handmade paper known as washi, the production of which is now on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list. Who wouldn’t want to be gifted a warosoku candles made with wax from the hazenoki tree wax? And of course, pure silk kimonos are a gift for life. Food products such as green tea, handmade sweets and dried seaweed make wonderful presents too.

Best time to visit Japan

Oyster season in Japan is January to March. Miyajima Island hosts a famous oyster festival in February – a rather perfect run up to Valentine’s.
The best time to take a luxury vacation in Japan depends on the region you are visiting. Herein lies the joy of a tailor made vacation, as you discuss all your options with local experts who know the nuances of the Japanese climate. On a luxury small ship cruise to Japan, sailings usually take place during springtime. The famous cherry blossom months are generally Apr-May, when temperatures are very pleasant too. Aug is the hottest month with an average temperature of 26°C, although it will be cooler in the mountains.

Japan Weather Chart

RAIN (mm)

Our top Japan luxury Vacation

Japan self drive vacation, Best of Kyushu

Japan self drive vacation, Best of Kyushu

Explore Japans stunning great outdoors.

From £10125 17 days ex flights
Tailor made:
This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Japan luxury or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help.


The rainiest month in Japan is June, with a rainy season which may stretch into early July, but it is never too heavy. Plus, you will find the most wonderful collections of umbrellas to buy. A lot of people want to visit Japan during the cherry blossom season, but it is worth knowing that it varies geographically. ,Honshu, the largest island and home to Tokyo bursts into pink and white between late March and April. In Hokkaido, the northernmost island, you may not see the blossom until May. If you want to create the perfect winter luxury itinerary in Japan and are a keen snow bunny, then December to February is when skiers come out in their droves, and a lot of the tourists stay away. Seeing the temples without tourists but blanketed in snow is a very special experience. Local vacations are big events in Japan with people going here, there and everywhere. Trains and accommodation do book up, but your tour operator will be wary of Golden Week (beginning of May), and O-bon (9-17 August). Prices also rise at these times. The leaf changing season in autumn is splendid, with November being particularly beautiful in both the mountains as well as in urban parks such as those in Tokyo and Kyoto. Small ship cruises tend to depart in April and May when temperatures are pleasant and but the rain hasn’t yet kicked in. There can be typhoons in August, September and October.
Written by Catherine Mack
Photo credits: [Page banner: Christian Joudrey] [Japan luxury Responsible travel recommends: Billy Pasco] [Accommodation : City Foodsters] [Accommodation 2: Raita Futo] [Rocking the boat: Ari Heiminen] [Fine food: Kinosakionsen] [Transport: Takeshi Kuboki] [Responsible tourism: life1347] [Shop until you drop: Donna Cleveland]