Jigsaw Journeys into Japan – rediscover the endless wonder of Japan with our curated itinerary.

After more than two-and-a-half years, Japan reopened its borders to individual travellers in October, and since then is proving to be one of our most popular destinations for 2023.

A luxury trip through Japan is brimming with possibility – from sleek and minimalist modern hotels, to traditional cultural experiences at UNESCO World Heritage Sites, travelling with ease by the world’s fastest train, sampling wonderful regional cuisines and incredible, immersive contemporary art experiences.

Read on for our luxury self-guided tour of Japan, drawing on the vast knowledge, experience and fresh new insights from our Japan experts and partners on the ground. If Japan is on your travel wish list, let us curate a bespoke itinerary to suit your specific interests – be it art, local cuisine, traditional culture or modern design. Contact us to start planning on enquiries@jigsawtravel.com.au


Right across Japan, hospitality, or omotenashi, is highly valued. You can expect to experience exemplary service at some of the most stunning hotels in the world, which is an ideal foundation for an unforgettable holiday!

STAY – Mandarin Oriental Tokyo

Blending futuristic luxury with a sense of space and award-winning service, Mandarin Oriental is our pick of where to base yourself for exploring one of the world’s most vibrant cities.  Superbly located in the prestigious financial district within the historical and cultural centre of Tokyo and offering spectacular views of the city skyline, the hotel features luxuriously appointed guest rooms and suites, ten restaurants and bars and an award-winning spa situated within the soaring, Cesar Pelli-designed Nihonbashi Mitsui Tower.


Tokyo is a feast for all the senses, with so much to explore so we recommend allowing five days to take it all on. Mandarin Oriental offers a range of bespoke tours and experiences, including a traditional Jinrikisha (Rickshaw) ride around the local area’s popular highlights and hidden gems. Venturing further, the city has a number of different pockets to explore, each with their own distinctive characteristics – Harajuku is renowned for its colourful street art, fashion and small trendy bars, Shibuya is a bustling hub of shopping malls and department stores, Akihabara is well-known for electronics and Roppongi is a district famous for its nightlife, particularly karaoke bars.

Make a point to visit teamLab Planets, an immersive digital art museum with four massive exhibition spaces and two gardens that blur the boundary between the body and the artwork, encouraging a sense that we are one with the world.

Boasting more Michelin-starred restaurants than any other city in the world, Tokyo is a gastronome’s dream.

The three Michelin-starred Ginza Kojyu is one of the best places in Tokyo to experience kaiseki, a traditional Japanese multi-course. The seasonal menu emphasises traditional Japanese cuisine, along with a few experimental dishes.


Travel 450km from Tokyo to Kyoto in just over 2 hours by Shinkansen, the world’s fastest train. The bullet trains are an experience in and of themselves, and offer the option of travelling luxuriously in a Gran Class car.

Known as the traditional cultural centre of Japan, Kyoto is famous for its numerous classical Buddhist temples, as well as gardens, imperial palaces, Shinto shrines and traditional wooden houses. It’s also known for upholding many formal traditions including geisha, female entertainers often found in the Gion district. Today there are only about 1,000 geishas in Japan, and most of them work in Kyoto. They are often attending gatherings at tea houses and high-end restaurants.

We suggest allowing around three days for exploring Kyoto. The city is now home to a number of stunning luxury hotels which will make it hard to leave.

STAY – Aman Kyoto

Opening in late 2019, Aman Kyoto is a luxury ryokan-inspired resort offering relaxing onsen spa experiences and exquisite Japanese cuisine. Set in a secret garden at the heart of a forest, Aman rests a stone’s throw from Kyoto’s golden Kinkaku-ji Temple and 16 other Unesco World Heritage Sites. Despite its location, the resort maintains the sense of a secluded world, with light-filled suites and pavilions set in tranquil glades and a steaming private onsen offering healing in the Aman Spa.

STAY – Four Seasons Kyoto

Offering modern luxury in the city’s peaceful and historic Higashiyama district, Four Seasons Kyoto beautifully balances the city’s rich heritage and traditions, while offering contemporary indulgences and luxury amenities including a range of culinary experiences and an expansive wellness centre & spa. Spacious Guest Rooms blend refined, modern aesthetics and the creations of Japanese artisans – including washi-paper lamps, fusuma screens and urushi lacquerware, while large windows offer spectacular views across the garden.


Just a short train and ferry trip from Kyoto, it’s easy to explore Japan’s incredible art islands – Teshima and Naoshima, a truly unique experience which should be at the top of any traveller’s to-do list.


An almost-abandoned fishing island, art first came to Naoshima Island 30 years ago, and it is now known as one of the most incredible contemporary art experiences in the world.  The main attractions on the island, which sits in the Seto Inland Sea off the West Coast, are three art museums, all of which were designed by Ando Tadao (Japan’s most famous architect), six “art houses” that contain various installations, and a number of outdoor artworks spread around the island.

Since its inception as an ‘Art Island’, the most recognisable feature of Naoshima was the eight-foot-wide spotted yellow pumpkin by Yayoi Kusama which sat at the end of a pier. Sadly the famous installation was dramatically swept away by a typhoon in August 2021.

Luckily, the pumpkin’s demise has not slowed things down on the Island and there are many wonders of art and natural beauty to be discovered beyond the pier, most notably Kusama’s new work, “Narcissus Garden”.  An installation of 1,700 stainless steel spheres cluster across the surface of a pond, shiny as mirrors, reflecting their surroundings and clicking together as the water moves.


There are a couple of accommodation options on Naoshima Island, allowing you to experience the Island’s museums, nature and other charms to their fullest.

Benesse House is the more established, opening at Benesse Art Site in 1992. It is a museum and hotel in one, offering accommodation across four different buildings with different locations and styles – Oval, Park, Beach and in the museum itself. It also offers a restaurant, spa and shop.

The new Naoshima Ryokan ROKA is a coolly interpreted traditional Japanese inn, with 11 minimalist guest rooms of wood, washi, and tatami; splashes of contemporary art, and sunken bathtubs with walls of glass opening onto the landscape beyond. A modern teahouse-style pavilion with a central hearth shares the grounds with a contemporary restaurant and a walled garden with abstract sculptures. The ryokan is a gallery, an incubator for emerging talent, and a nightlife venue for meeting other art lovers and collectors from around the world.


A ferry service easily connects the islands of Naoshima and Teshima, and while Naoshima is the more famous, Teshima is equally amazing and definitely worth exploring. The main attraction is the Teshima Art Museum, which hosts just a single piece of artwork – Matrix, by Rei Naito. Working with the teardrop-shaped concrete shell of the museum’s futuristic design, two oval openings allow wind, sounds, and light of the world outside into this organic space, while water continuously springs from the ground – creating an immersive experience where nature and architecture interconnect.

Travel back to Kyoto to board the Shinkansen for a 1hr 45min trip to Kaga Onsen.


STAY – Beniya Mukayu

Situated quietly on the hillside of Yakushiyama Healing Buddha’s Mountain outside the city of Kanazawa, Beniya Mukayu is a 16-room hot spring ryokan situated on the site of the former head temple within the Yakushiyama foothills. With Mukayu meaning ‘Richness in Emptiness’, the family owned and operated ryokan has been designed solely for the rejuvenation and relaxation of guests. The architecture is distinctly Japanese reimagined into a contemporary vision and modern design elements in harmony with its natural surroundings. A member of Relais and Chateaux, each guest room has its own private open-air hot spring bath overlooking a natural Japanese garden.


Often described as one of Japan’s most breathtaking cities, Kanazawa continues to be one of the most vibrant, historically significant cities in Japan. Its treasure trove of attractions and must-see experiences include atmospheric samurai quarters and geisha districts, rich craft traditions, and distinctive local cuisine.

Kanazawa’s most famous attraction is Kenrokuen Garden, ranked in Japan’s three most beautiful gardens. “Kenrokuen” means “garden that combines six characteristics” which are spaciousness, seclusion, artifice, antiquity, water sources and magnificent views, and visitors from all over the world come to explore the stunning gardens year-round. But Kenrokuen is only the start of what this thriving city has to offer. Other highlights include the traditional Nagamachi district where some of Japan’s elite samurai warriors called home during the Edo period, the quaint teahouse lined alleyways of the Higashi Chaya district, and the delicious flavours that abound at Omicho Market. Don’t forget to try some of Kanazawa’s opulent and delicious gold-leaf ice cream during your visit.

We recommend spending two full days exploring Kanazawa before taking your final Shinkansen from Kanazawa to Tokyo (2hours 30 mins) to end your tour of Japan.

Let us design the perfect tour of Japan for you with all the luxury accommodation, transfers and cultural experiences taken care of. Our expert advisors look after everything so you can relax and enjoy.

Reach out for an obligation free travel consultation on enquiries@jigsawtravel.com.au



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