New intro comes here. Nowhere is the mantra "food is culture" truer than in Japan. Japanese cuisine is ubiquitous, everyone has a favorite sushi bar and are certainly familiar with other favorite Japanese exports such as tempura and ramen. But how much do we really know about Japan's complex culinary tradition? We know it's typically healthy, fresh, and it tastes wonderful, and for many of us, that's all we need to know.
"We were pleased that Indochina Travel was small enough to provide the things larger companies cannot, yet with all the benefits of using a larger one. In Saigon, we were honored to visit our guide's family. The BEST parts of our trip were the PEOPLE we met, especially the real, local people, not just the famous ones (though they were fascinating as well). Cuong made this possible throughout our time with him."
—Ric Haas, Menlo Park
"Chris and I had a wonderful journey. Thanks to you, everything was flawless. All of the guides were superb (especially Thiha in Burma). The accommodations were top-rate in most cases, the special activities and personal service much appreciated!"
—Ann & Chris McMurray, Alexandria, VA
"Overall, we had an excellent trip! Don and I both loved Bhutan and Myanmar. Both countries are beautiful, each in their own way. Our main comment would be to say how wonderful our guides were. As we've discussed in the past, it's really the difference between a good trip and great one. It was really nice to have the same guide for the entire itinerary, you really get to establish a rapport and they get to know us. We thought both guides were very professional, knowledgeable and personable, and we learned a lot from both."
—Irene Ing and Don Ershig, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA
Boating - "Thank you for an amazing adventure, we were delighted at every turn and the activities and people we met were thoroughly fascinating. We really the appreciated the authentic experiences we shared. Our girls are still talking about the trip, please give Linh and Duc our best!"
—The Anderson Family
Halong Bay Kayaking - "This was our fourth trip with you guys and it couldn't have possibly been any better. Your crew is outstanding in every way-well prepared, attentive, and professional. Again, you planned some very special things for us which we really enjoyed. Thank you for another amazing experience."
Attend a sumo match and you get to feel the power of the gigantic sumo wrestlers. But spend a day at a sumo stable and you enjoy an intimate insight into their beauty and dedication. This unique experience provides a rare perspective on Japan's national sport, as told by those who live it every day. You'll attend an early morning practice and come to understand the spirituality and serenity that lies behind the clashes in the stadium.
Japan family vacations can travel in so many directions. Everything is unique here and every day provides something different to explore. How about the legacies of the feudal system and the samurai warriors, colorful Harajuku girls, futuristic robots then world-famous animation? Or maybe make a visit to a private sumo stable where children can learn the ancient art, a Kyoto studio where children can train to be a ninja, or family cycling along the beautiful, remote northern coast where few travelers ever venture? Every moment is tailored to make the most from the country's originality.
With few exceptions, Japan is the most fascinating of all Asia's destinations for children. Japan with kids doesn't involve a standard itinerary with a few tailored activities thrown in. Instead, a Japan family vacation truly immerses you and your children in the cultures that most fascinate.
Japan is known for its bullet trains but it also has an exclusive slow train service, which crawls past majestic volcanoes, across hills shrouded in bamboo and cypress trees, then onwards to emerald green rice paddies and crisp shorelines of fishing boats and seaweed farms. The suites feature the finest in Japanese craftsmanship, with walls of rosewood and maple, floors of walnut, Shoji paper screens over the windows, and hand-etched glass of flowers and birds. We combine this three-night luxurious train journey with our unique itineraries in Tokyo and Kyoto.
The blissful sound of the monks' chanting ritual wakes you each morning at an ancient monastery on the slopes of a sacred mountain. It's a sensual way to start the day, spirituality floating between the temple walls. Japan luxury tours sometimes incorporate an opulent hotel on the highest floors of a skyscraper. But luxury comes in the uniqueness of the experience when you spend the night in a temple, sleeping on traditional tatami mats, sipping on fragrant tea, conversing with and being served traditional vegetarian meals by the resident monks, and soaking in an onsen (hot spring pool). It's the perfect break from the cities and an insight into Zen Buddhism, a part of Japan isn't always apparent, but is at the heart of their culture.
In Tokyo, the art certainly isn't restricted to famous museums. Galleries are hidden on back alleys, unique art fills private residences in tucked-away suburbs, and contemporary design fills derelict warehouses. The challenge is finding it all, for even when you're on the right street, it's hard to find the right door. We arrange insider's guided tours of Tokyo's inspiring art scene, taking you to distinctive galleries and museums that are only known to those invested in the local scene. There's even an anime-inspired castle in the woods and a renovated public bathhouse from the 1950s.
This master sushi class takes place under the expert instruction of a Michelin-starred chef in Tokyo, a city where food is both art and science, applied in search for perfection. Begin with a visit to the renowned Tsukiji Fish Market, the largest wholesale fish market int he world, with your sushi chef to learn about and pick out the right meats for your class.
Japan is the starting point for our legendary Iron Chef tours, with Los Angeles impresario Neal Fraser leading a unique journey across Indochina's culinary capitals. Each destination reveals a distinctive piece of the region's gastronomy, with stops in Tokyo and Kyoto that uncover two very different sides to Japanese cuisine.
Take a sushi class with a Michelin-starred chef in Tokyo, where food is both art and science as it searches for perfection. In Kyoto you explore the heart of kaiseki and go looking for the perfect raw ingredients. You'll visit the markets and source ingredients against a backdrop of exotic sounds and smells. You'll understand the ideas behind the names, from nori to toro, Saito to Mizutani. You'll go foraging for food in the gardens of Kyoto and learn the exact moments to serve each of the ingredients. And then you'll eat, the tastes accompanied by mesmeric presentation and the atmosphere of a distant era.
But the Iron Chef tour with Neal Fraser is just one of our tours. Visit Japan and you'll have dozens of personalized recommendations that help you make the most of the country's cuisine, along with insider's tours that help you understand the depths of its gastronomy. Dining recommendations will capture the exquisite aesthetics of Japanese food and its endlessly appealing diversity. Visit the famous Tsukiji Fish Market before it closes its doors, experience the world's finest sushi, tempura, and shabu shabu, but also explore Japan's other lesser known styles, including regional specialties like kyodo-ryori, Tokyo's sake bars, and Gion's informal noodle bars.
It's easy to mistake the Japanese for a secular society, yet Zen Buddhism and Shintoism lie at the heart of Japanese history and culture. Seeing a dozen temples in Kyoto can provide a superficial snapshot, one that's peaceful and beautiful but only the starting point onto the tradition. There's so much more to discover, as all our luxury Japan travel can show how Buddhism continues to influence Japanese society and art. Spend time with a monk in Kyoto during an annual festival, explore Mount Koya with a nun, and visit with artists behind the changing art scene.
This insight into Buddhism can be an inspiring introduction to Japan, one that contradicts the stereotypes of a fast-paced culture. It's also an interlude, a chance to escape the cities and learn from the equilibrium of local monks. Or our escorted Japan tours can make spirituality their focus, revealing how it perforates all parts of life in the country. We also arrange an immersive luxury Japan tour, exploring the festivals. ceremonies, rituals, and sacred places that make Japan what it is.
Explore Japan's bucolic landscapes, traveling along rural coastlines, through remote islands, volcanic peaks, bamboo forests, river valleys, hot springs, and quaint villages. Explore by bicycle, foot, boat, and train, traveling through these quintessentially Japanese settings. Along the way, enjoy comfort and high aesthetics in the country's most luxurious hotels and renowned ryokans. Our outdoor luxury Japan vacations are completely handcrafted, taking you to landscapes that few have even heard about. Some of the featured destinations include Kamakura, Mount Koya, Hakone, the islands of Shikoku, Naoshima, and Kyushu, along with the remote and tranquil northern shores where few travelers venture.
Japanese culture is centered on an unshakable self-possession and obsession with quality. It's something found in the food, accommodation, trains, and almost every aspect of local life. It's also something that discovered through old-world craftsmanship, exemplified by the idea of local pottery.
Compare Onta pottery with the Karatsu stoneware used for tea ceremonies, then contrast both with the elaborated glazes and decoration of porcelain from Imari and Arita. Explore the exotic crafts of Nagasaki and the bizen pottery of Kurashiki. Visit pottery and craftsmanship festivals throughout the country and learn how to make your own.
Our Japan luxury tours can provide an in-depth exploration of the pottery scene, taking you from classic to contemporary, mountain villages to modern cities. But pottery is just one example of the craftsmanship and we can tailor escorted Japan tours towards all aspects of the country's obsession with quality.