Japan

Japan is a country of such spectacular natural beauty that the four seasons have shaped the very cultural fabric of this ancient nation. Best known nowadays perhaps for its technology, electronics, modern design and dancing robots

Japan is one of the few nations on earth to have emerged from an industrial revolution with its traditional culture intact.

One of the reasons for Japan’s impressive modern technology and quality is that they managed to keep their artisan pride in workmanship and aesthetics intact during the transformation from cottage industries to automated industrial giants.

The stark differences between the seasons in Japan result in such vivid changes to the weather the trees and the gardens that they have shaped the culture over thousands of years. The pristine white of the snow draped over the bottle green pines and carved stone lanterns in winter contrasts with the warm orange glow of charcoal fires and traditional hotpot dishes such as shabu shabu , sukiyaki, mizudaki and chankonabe, ramen, udon and oden.

With the coming of spring, vivid blue skies replace the drab misty days of late winter and the country comes alive with cherry blossoms. It is as if a heavy blanket has been lifted and the whole country celebrates the coming of spring with family outings and “hanami” (blossom viewing) picnics of bento lunch boxes under spectacular canopies of pale pink blossoms on centuries old manicured trees. The patience that is necessary for cultivating these magnificent cherry trees and their miniature bonsai cousins over decades is evident in the patient and polite society that has evolved in this tiny country. Japan is one of the safest places on earth. The people are friendly and tolerant of strangers and they are proud to show and share their heritage.

In Summer the wet season arrives and washes away the fallen petals and gives the land a good soaking. The bamboo forests thrive and the deciduous trees develop luxuriant coats of dark green foliage. Summers are hot in Japan and after the rains a steamy sultry atmosphere descends on the country. The famous moss gardens thrive and the locals visit the temples and enjoy traditional cool dishes such as soumen and soba(cold noodles) and shaved ice, fruit and syrup, hiyayakko (chilled tofu), seaweed salads and sushi.

A welcome cool change rolls across the country as Autumn approaches and people begin to promenade in the cool night air. There are traditional harvest festivals and others commemorating ages past, night fairs, colourful lights and tantalizing street stalls. As the days shorten it is as if a switch has been flicked and there is a spectacular appearance of vibrant orange and red autumn colours. Enamored by the vivid colours, generations past have selected and planted trees such as maple, elm and oak which paint a beautiful canvas across the countryside. Silk kimonos, still worn by women and young girls at festivals and formal occasions, sport patterns which reflect these autumn hues.

There are four main islands in Japan. Honshu is the largest and is the home of Tokyo the modern capital and Kyoto the ancient capital and still the cultural capital of Japan. s Cherry Blossom Dreams tours, Spring Explorer tours, Japan discovery tours and Autumn Dreams tours traverse Honshu, from Himeji and Miyajima in the South , through Kyoto, rustic villages and mountain retreats to Tokyo in the North. The Northern Japan Discovery tours take in the Northern island of Hokkaido, home of the Ainu people who are also known as the Japanese aborigines. The Ainu are believed to be the original inhabitants of Japan, but over thousands of years have been pushed further and further north. They had their own language and culture but no writing system. s Northern Japan discovery tour is designed to introduce the experienced Japanese traveler to the relatively undeveloped areas of Hokkaido and to the Ainu culture. The four islands of Japan stretch over many degrees of latitude and as a result the seasons reach each island at a different time. tours are designed to take advantage of the differences to give the maximum opportunity for tour members to experience the many delights of this wonderful country.

Travel offers a range of tour options for both the experienced Japan traveller and those visiting for the first time. Fully escorted, small group tours are focussed on personal service and unique tour destinations found only through experience.

Spring Tours

Fully escorted 13 and 16 day tours of Japanese culture, modern cities and small villiages, designed to exhibit the spectacle of cherry blossom season.

Autumn Tours

Fully escorted 16 day tours of traditional and modern Japan, set in the brilliant colours of the Japanese Autumn.

Northern Tours

Fully escorted exploration of Japan’s natural beauty and a rare introduction to the Ainu (japanese natives) culture. Experience Japan’s northern islands as well as major cities and culture.

Discovery Tours

Fully escorted 9 day tours designed as a broad first taste to Japanese culture in a shorter stay and at an affordable price.

Custom Tours

Escorted and unescorted tours can be designed around your group’s interest and budget.