Luxury Japan Tours

Written by Helen Glenn Court
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Most luxury Japan tours begin in Tokyo--whether within the massive walls of the Imperial Palace or along the equally famous Ginza shopping district. Japan is a country of rather unexpected contrasts, certainly. Less than an hour south of the capital and well worth a visit is the coastal town of Kamakura, with its great Buddha statue and splendid Zen temples.

The famous and picturesque Mount Fuji, several hours west of Tokyo, remains an active volcano, though it has not erupted for nearly 300 years. From the northern island of Hokkaido, to the beautiful landscape gardens of Kanazawa, there's much to explore and amaze. You'll discover Shinto shrines, exquisite bath houses, ancient pottery kilns, and Samuri villas.

With its hundreds of gardens and temples, Kyoto rather than Tokyo is the cultural heart of Japan and an important focal point of luxury Japan tours. The imperial capital for more than 1,000 years, its name today means simply capital city. The center of Buddhism as well as of traditional Japanese culture, Kyoto's architectural attractions include its imperial palace, Nijo castle, Japan's tallest pagoda, the Daigoji temple, and many others you'll see on luxury Japan tours.

Luxury Japan Tours: Festivals to Avoid or Enjoy

Japan's most significant holidays apt to complicate travel plans include New Year's--celebrated over four days at the turn of the calendar year--and Golden Week--which stretches from the end of April to the beginning of May and includes Green Day, Constitution Day, and Children's Day. A renowned festival you might want to enjoy is Kyoto's Gion Matsuri, celebrated on July 17, which began in the 9th century after a plague swept the city. Others of note include Yah Yah Matsuri--celebrated in February in Owase, essentially a Samurai scream-off--and Niramekko Obisha--celebrated in January in Chiba, which matches a staring contest with consumption of sake.

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