• Destination
  • Holiday types
  • Offers
  • Inspire me
  • Our services
  • Contact us
Torii Gate of Itsukushima Shrine on sunset time at Miyajima, Hiroshima, Japan; Essence of Japan, Landscape,
19 June, 20194 minute read

Discovering the essence of Japan

Over my years at Titan, I've managed all of our long-haul destinations, and have been lucky enough to travel extensively to plan our tours. Japan offered the biggest culture shock by far - but it was that culture shock that was one of the most interesting aspects of my trip.

Because of the difference in culture - the language, the etiquette, the customs and traditions - Japan is the ideal escorted touring destination. Let your UK tour manager and local guide take the strain as we take you around Japan’s top highlights. You won't need to worry about deciphering signs, navigating the bullet trains, or finding your hotel - we'll take care of it all, so you can focus on simply soaking up all that this wonderful country has to offer.

If it's your first time, I'd highly recommend our Essence of Japan tour. At two weeks long, it's the perfect introduction to the highlights, giving you time to experience cities, mountains, temples, trains - and much more.

Which Japanese cities to visit

Kiyomizu-dera temple in Kyoto, with autumnal trees beneath

When it comes to big cities, nothing comes close to Tokyo: over 36 million live in the wider metropolitan Tokyo area. Kyoto, while similar to Tokyo by name (just swap the syllables around, essentially they both mean ‘city of the east’) by contrast is much smaller, with some wonderful temples. The Golden Pavilion is a site to behold: to me it is perfection!

Hiroshima, where we spend two nights, is of course infamous as the site of the first of two atomic attacks by the USA in WWII. This event marked an obvious turning point, not just in terms of ending the war, but in the outlook of the entire population and their new focus on peace.

The peace memorial in Hiroshima showcases all of this, and its significance has been justifiably recognised by UNESCO. You will learn a lot here, but the war and the atomic attacks were such large and traumatic events, you may still find some Japanese people uncomfortable about discussing it, even though the 70th anniversary of this event takes place in August this year.

Escape to the Japanese Alps

What many people do not realise until they visit Japan is that the main cities are mainly located on the coast or at low altitude, and the central inland of Honcho is actually a vast mountainous area. You cannot get any further removed from the hustle of Tokyo and the preserved way of life at the UNESCO listed Shirakawago village, located in the Japanese Alps.

Beautiful Takayama is also well worth spending time in. Meiji-era inns, hillside shrines and a pretty riverside setting - it's traditional Japan at its finest. Colin, one of our tour managers, always speaks very highly of Takayama:

The wooden heritage buildings take you back to a much simpler time. Poke into shops selling old-fashioned Japanese sweets or stop at a traditional sake brewery. It’s a perfect afternoon.

Travelling by bullet train

A Shinkansen bullet train stopped at a station in Japan - experience three bullet train journeys on Titan's Japan tours

Japan can be congested when travelling by road, which is why we take so many journeys by train, and where possible on the Shinkansen ‘Bullet Trains’. This is something that really has to be experienced to be believed. It is not just a mode of transport; it is a highlight of the holiday!

For more on the Shinkansen, I've written a separate post all about it. You could also read our blog on the different places you can travel to via bullet train.

Culture & cuisine

If Japanese food is your thing or not, there will always be the choice so you can partake in the local cuisine as much or as little as you like. Personally I will try anything once, including deep fried crickets in Matsumoto, which were very tasty! And quite frankly half the time I didn’t know what I was eating, but isn’t that half the fun!

The sometimes quirky (to us!) culture is also something to really enjoy. Where else can you vend a chilled cola or a hot coffee with milk and sugar, both from the same machine and both in a ring pull can! I won’t mention the techy toilets other than to say that the advice I received was to not try and work out what the buttons do in advance, just try them and see what happens!

When to visit Japan (and how expensive is it?)

Chidorigafuchi park in Tokyo during sakura season - experience the cherry blossoms on one of Titan's springtime Japan tours

While Japan is definitely not a ‘cheap’ destination, as goods and services such as hotel and transportation are relatively expensive, but what you will get with Titan is great value for money and an incomparable itinerary. We include so many attractions and entrances you won’t find any optional excursions!

Japan has been and continues to be a ‘hot’ destination, so don’t delay in booking as space can be limited. March and April will always be the most popular times to travel due to the Cherry Blossom season, but don’t overlook September and October, which area also great times to travel. The big secret is November where you can travel during the Japanese Koyo season to witness the Autumn colours.”

Find out more and book your dream tour to Japan today.

Default avatar

Ben has been with Titan for 20 years, and over that time he has managed all of Titan’s long-haul destinations, giving him a broad overview of our customers’ needs and expectations. He is currently responsible for the Australasia and Far East regions.

Ben | About the author

Receive inspiration in your inbox

Subscribe to our newsletter for holiday inspiration and the latest special offers

For more information about how we use your personal information, please view our Privacy Policy.

Why choose a Titan Travel tour or cruise?

Our award-winning collection of holidays covers all seven continents, with carefully planned itineraries ranging from rail journeys and river cruises, to small-group adventures and trips exclusively for solo travellers.

VIP travel service

Smooth transfers to and from home with unlimited mileage

More value

From excursions to hotels, entry tickets and dining packages, we include more than any other tour.

More knowledgeable

Be guided by some of the most passionate and knowledgeable tour managers in the world, on hand to help every step of the way.

More flexible

Feel free to amend or extend your travel plans, up until final payment, and enjoy free time on your tour with us too.