With the Rugby World Cup in Japan just around the corner in September this year, closely followed by the Tokyo Olympics in the summer of 2020, Japan is currently one of the hottest destinations in our Air & Space adventure travel programme.
However appealing it may sound, the prospect of travelling as a family to a country so culturally diverse and different to the UK can be quite a daunting one. This is where our 20+ years experience and expertise of working in Japan really come into their own. We have spades of local knowledge, the best in-country partners and access to unique cultural experiences, all tied together by our English speaking guides, seamless organisation, transport and advice. As Alphaville famously sang, “we’re big in Japan.”
Over the past 6 months we’ve researched, planned and delivered some incredible Japanese adventures for our intrepid Powder Byrne clients. This blog aims to provide some insights into how we craft our bespoke trips to Japan; the planning, the detail, the destinations, the experiences, and also takes a closer look at some of our clients favourite sights, sounds, activities and adventures.
Visit Niseko for endless powder skiing
Niseko is undoubtedly the number one ski destination in Asia. Famous for its light and abundant powder snow, night skiing, hot springs, quality restaurants and spectacular views of the Mount Yotei volcano. From gentle terrain to world-class tree runs and backcountry bowls, it is a skier’s paradise. The ski season runs from December until April, often with more than 15 meters of snow falling each season, so it’s no wonder it is known for its unrivalled powder skiing. Our own Powder Byrne guides in their distinctive red jackets will ensure you make the most of Niseko's legendary slopes, while children will be in their element with English-speaking ski tuition in small groups with our brilliant local ski school partner. Our ‘City & Ski’ adventures combine skiing in Niseko with our guides with fascinating city explorations in Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka.
Dreams come true in Niseko
“After skiing for many years in Switzerland and Austria it had always been our dream to ski in Japan and experience first-hand the deep powder snow that Niseko is famous for. We were not disappointed. The Powder Byrne guides were fantastic and the itinerary our travel consultant Ivana dreamt up to take in the highlights of Kyoto and Tokyo was inspired.”
The Corkill family, winter 2019
Visit Hakone for hot springs, volcano views and Shinto shrines
Hakone is a mountainous town west of Tokyo in Japan's Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, known for its hot springs resorts (onsen) and views across Lake Ashinoko of the iconic volcano, Mount Fuji. We love to visit Hakone and often recommend our clients spend a few days here to enjoy the relaxing onsen, marvel at the volcanic crater caused by the eruption of Mount Hakone 3000 years ago and visit the many popular temples and shrines that dot the landscape around Lake Ashinoko. With the option to stay in glamorous global hotels, or traditional Japanese Ryokans, our Japan experts will help you choose the most suitable and relaxed accommodations for your family.
Visit Kyoto for tales of Japanese Imperial history and authentic culture
Kyoto is a 375km west of Hakone and easily accessible aboard the famous bullet train. A rite of passage for anyone visiting Japan and a tourist attraction in itself. Once in Kyoto there is much to see and do that will capture your imagination. Kyoto was once the capital of Japan and is the cultural and historical heart of the country; from Zen gardens and mysterious Buddhist temples to colourful Shinto shrines and graceful geisha, it is a full immersion in Japanese culture. There are many different experiences that we can organise in Kyoto that enable our clients to immerse themselves in authentic Japanese culture and traditions.
Kyoto - Samurai experience
The Samurai warrior is an iconic symbol of premodern Japanese culture, famous the world over, but at the same time shrouded in myth and legend. This unique experience transports you back in time to the era of the Samurai and involves a demonstration from skilled swordsmen, before you have the chance to practice with wooden swords and then using a real ‘katana’ Japenese sword. Finishing the experience with meditation and contemplation you head back on to the streets of Kyoto wise in the ways of the Samurai!
“The Samurai experience was definitely one to remember - even our youngest was able to handle the real Samurai sword so we could all get involved which was great. The tour was great, the hosts were really funny and were really focused when teaching us, I would highly recommend it!’
The Kamaluddin family, spring 2019
Visit Osaka for the iconic cherry blossom blooms and modern architecture
Osaka is Japan’s third largest city, a thriving commercial centre known for its modern architecture and nightlife, offering a glimpse of Japan’s futuristic and hi-tech side. In contrast to the buzzing vibe of Osaka is the chance to see the famous and very beautiful cherry blossom bloom across the city in late March and early April. Osaka Castle Park is one of our recommended spots to witness the cherry blossoms in all their glory, with festivals and parties taking place throughout the city to celebrate the annual blooming of their national flower.
The beauty of the cherry blossom
“The sea of cherry blossom in Osaka Castle Park, on the river banks and throughout the city really is a sight we will never forget, truly amazing.”
The Benson family, summer 2018
Visit Okinawa for broad beaches and stunning coral reefs
Okinawa Island is the largest island in Okinawa Prefecture, the southernmost prefecture of Japan comprised of more than 150 islands in a chain over 1,000 kilometres long. Renowned for its broad beaches and stunning coral reefs, Okinawa enjoys a subtropical climate in comparison to the rest of Japan and has a very different culture in terms of language, cuisine and arts, harking back to the native roots of the Ryukyuans and why the islands are often called the Ryukyu Islands. Okinawa offers a very different pace of life to the big cities of Japan and is the perfect place to spend a few days relaxing and enjoying the temperate climate.
Visit Tokyo for a melting pot of the ultramodern and the traditional
No trip to Japan would be complete without a visit to the buzzing capital city of Tokyo. City of flashing neon lights, super-advanced tech gadgets, Hello Kitty and about 13 million people, Tokyo really is something special. Japan’s capital city since 1829, Tokyo blends old and new, modernity and tradition with skyscrapers and shrines and popular Japnese cuisine, sushi, ramen and noodle soups. There is so much to see and do in Tokyo that it can be very overwhelming. Our travel consultants in London and local guides in Tokyo will help you navigate an array of exciting activities, be it sushi-making lessons and a visit to the Tsukiji outer fish market, an ascent to the top of the Tokyo Sky Tower, or navigating a visit to the crazy place that is the Pokemon Cafe. Our knowledge and expertise will ensure you make the most of your time in this incredible city.
We’ve got your back in Tokyo
“The Tokyo Sky Tree was phenomenal and we were really lucky that it was such a clear day, we could even spot our hotel! The museum for emerging science was amazing and the robots were fascinating, the kids loved it. Thanks so much for sorting a reservation at the Pokemon cafe, there was such a long queue of people without a booking and we could skip straight to the front which was great. A highlight for us was the riverboat too, it was so nice to see the city from a different angle.”
The Kamaluddin family, spring 2019
So if you crave more adventure, excitement, and discovery from your holiday where the focus is on crafting the schedule around your interests rather than following the crowd, it's time for you to consider our unique approach to intrepid travel.
Call our travel consultants on 020 8246 5300 or enquire online and treat your family to the trip of a lifetime in Japan.