Art & Culture Japan (15 days)

Art & Culture Japan

(15 days)


Capture a glimpse of Japan’s stylish side with a fascinating journey from Tokyo to Hakone and Kyoto. Enjoy exclusive tours that bring local culture to life and visit lesser-known monuments that exemplify Japan’s sophisticated architectural taste. Relax in the evenings at stylish properties, from East-meets-West hotels to charming traditional inns. Explore Fuji Hakone National Park: Stay in a traditional Japanese Inn in the mountains to access stunning Lake Ashinoko can catch glimpses of Mt Fuji. Visit Japan’s old and new capital: Experience the modern energy of Tokyo then admire tranquil temples and shrines in Nara, the 8th century capital. Indulge in Japan’s best: Stay at stylish properties, dine at top tables and enjoy exclusive experiences such as a meeting with a geisha.


Not Included:

Lunch Included

Breakfast included for 13 days, As well as 5 Dinner. Ask travel specialist for more details.


All tours depart daily and are private, highly personalized and luxurious. Virtuoso travelers receive amenities and VIP treatment on all Artisans of Leisure tours.

Professional Guide

All tours include a guide to show you all there is to see on the tour.

Hotel Pickup & Drop-off

Private airport transfer for every Virtuoso member

Trip Itinerary

DAY #1 - Tokyo, Japan Excursion(s) Palace Hotel
Upon arrival to Tokyo Airport, a private chauffeur provides VIP transport to the Palace Hotel Tokyo for check in. Spend the the rest of the day at leisure, either enjoying the ambience of the hotel or heading out to catch some first glimpses of the visual feast that is Tokyo.
Tonight’s dinner consists of a special kaiseki-course dinner at the award-winning restaurant ‘Wadakura.’ Here, enjoy a range of seasonal specialties carefully prepared and presented by the chef. Wash down the supple delicacies with an expertly paired wine from their expansive range of options.
Distance and journey time (approximation):
Narita International Airport (NRT) to Central Tokyo: 1.5 h
Haneda International Airport (HND) to Central Tokyo: 50 min
Overnight in Tokyo at Palace Hotel 5 Stars (Deluxe)
DAY #2 - Tokyo, Japan Excursion(s) Palace Hotel
Today, explore the capital with a knowledgeable private guide. Enjoy a walk through century-old streets, visit art facilities and historical shrines, and be amazed by how a jungle of skyscrapers and modern buildings blends so well with the charming facade of old Tokyo.
Begin the day with a visit to Yanaka, one of Tokyo’s shitamachi (old town) and home to many local artists and craftsmen. Stop by the Asakura Museum of Sculpture, the atelier of one of Japan’s most famous sculptors, Fumio Asakura. Aside from his incredible creations, there is also a serene indoor water garden.
Another interesting stop is made at the studio of a puppet-maker who crafts a miniature version of those who employ his services. The handmade puppets are made out of clay and coloured with acrylic paint. While stopping at this shop, catch a 30-minute puppet show if time allows.
Afterwards, walk back to Yanaka Ginza, a narrow street lined with food stalls, specialty shops, and teahouses. Feel free to check out some of the shops to buy souvenirs or local snacks.
Then, travel by train to Asakusa, another shitamachi and known as the city’s oldest geisha district and home to Senso-ji, Tokyo’s oldest Buddhist temple. The streets around Senso-ji feature many traditional shops and are a delight to wander through.
In the afternoon, head across Tokyo to Omotesando, commonly referred to as Tokyo’s Champs-Elysee. This broad, tree-lined avenue boasts a multitude of fashion flagship stores designed by internationally renowned architects such as the Prada Store designed by Herzog & de Meuron.
Continue walking towards Harajuku, a shopping haven for fashionistas and a popular meeting place for eccentrically-dressed teenagers. The landmark of Harajuku is Takeshita Street, a 400-metre long alley filled with fashion boutiques, shops, and cafés.
Lastly, visit Meiji Jingu, Tokyo’s most famous shrine dedicated to Emperor Meiji and a popular venue for traditional Shinto weddings.
Start (guided tour): 09:00 or 09:30
Duration: 8 h
Overnight in Tokyo at Palace Hotel 5 Stars (Deluxe)
DAY #3 - Takayama, Japan Gora Kadan
Today is a self-guided day.
Engage in one or two specialised tours in Tokyo – watch kabuki with an expert, explore the quirky streets of Akihabara with a guide in a French maid outfit or take photos of the city’s backstreets with an experienced tour leader.
Note : For Optional Tour in this day, please contact us.
Overnight in Hakone at Gora Kadan 5 Stars (Super Deluxe)
DAY #4 - Takayama, Japan Hidatei Hanaougi
Today is a self-guided day.
Start the journey to Hida, the northern region of Gifu Prefecture blessed with vast forests that produce large numbers of timber. The timber plays an integral role in the flourishing and preservation of Hida’s traditional architecture, particularly in the towns of Takayama, Hida-Furukawa, and Shirakawago.
The first leg of the trip is on a bullet train that can reach speeds of up to 260 km/h. This is followed by a ride on the limited express train Wide View, which offers one of the most scenic train journeys in Japan. Travel in style in the comfortable Green Class.
Suggested Self-Guided Itinerary:
We recommend strolling in Takayama’s shitamachi, where the streets are lined with century-old merchants’ homes and sake breweries. Stop by one of the breweries for a taste of the local drop or queue for the famous Hida beef sushi in one of the special food stalls.
In Takayama, experience staying in a ryokan, the traditional Japanese-style inn that features paper sliding doors, futon beds and tatami flooring. The best property would be Hidatei Hanaougi, which has some private outdoor baths and a spacious Japanese garden.
Distance and journey time (approximation):
Tokyo Station to Takayama Station: 4.5 h
Overnight in Hakone at Hidatei Hanaougi 5 Stars (Super Deluxe)
DAY #5 - Takayama, Japan Hidatei Hanaougi
Today is a self-guided day.,
Learn about the traditional architecture of Hida region with a local guide in the historic Hida-Furukawa or visit the century-old farmhouses in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Shirakawago.
Optional Tour (1): Walking Tour in Hida-Furukawa
Spend the next two and a half hours with the guide strolling in Hida-Furukawa, regarded as the twin town of Takayama. The guide will explain about the history of the town and the culture and lifestyle of the locals.
Today, witness how Hida-Furukawa and its people maintain the culture and tradition which can be traced all the way back to the Muromachi era (1337-1573).
Start: 10:00
Duration: 2.5 h
Distance and journey time (approximation):
Takayama Station to Hida-Furukawa Station: 15 min
Optional Tour (2): Afternoon Trip to Shirakawago
Take the bus to Shirakawago, a UNESCO World Heritage Site famous for its gassho-zukuri farmhouses.
Gassho-zukuri means “constructed like hands in prayer,” which is represented through the farmhouses’ steep thatched roofs. This architectural style developed over many generations – the roofs were constructed without any nails but are intricately designed to withstand large amounts of snow.
These houses are private homes of the locals but some are open to the public, such as Wada House, a legacy left behind by the Wada Family who used to be the richest family and village leader in Ogimachi.
Return to Takayama for another night in the ryokan.
Distance and journey time (approximation):
Takayama Bus Terminal to Shirakawago Bus Stop: 50 min
Overnight in Hakone at Hidatei Hanaougi 5 Stars (Super Deluxe)
DAY #6 - Kanazawa, Japan Hyatt Regency Kyoto
Today is a self-guided day.
A private car trip to Kanazawa, a castle town that has become the center for classical and contemporary arts, from traditional handicrafts such as Kaga-Yuzen silk dyeing and gold-leaf production to modern artworks displayed at the 21st Century Museum.

The guide will lead the way to Nagamachi, a historical village where top and middle-class samurais used to reside. Apart from well-preserved old houses, the area also holds a few local craft shops such as Kaburaki (Kutan i porcelain), Yuzen-kan (Kaga-yuzen dyeing for kimonos), and Nosaku (Kaga Maki-e painting on lacquerwares).
Stop by Nomura-ke House, the only samurai residence accessible by the public. Freshly made green tea can be enjoyed on the second floor while viewing the small Japanese garden below.
End this afternoon’s tour at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art designed by Pritzker Prize-awardees, Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa. The museum is known for its modern architecture and progressive exhibits, including Leandro Erlich’s “Swimming Pool,” which gives an illusion of being under or above the water.
Accommodation in Kanazawa will be at the Sainoniwa Hotel, which is surrounded by four gardens that change colors with the season. The interior design of the rooms is a fusion of modern western and traditional Japanese styles. The hotel also has a small gallery that shows the local crafts of Kanazawa.
Overnight in Kyoto at Hyatt Regency Kyoto 5 stars (Deluxe)
DAY #7 - Kanazawa, Japan Hyatt Regency Kyoto
Together with the guide, visit the pristine Kenroku-en Garden, ranked as one of Japan’s top three gardens. Discover the oldest water fountain in the country, a couple of teahouses, and a large villa that used to be the retirement home of one of the richest clans in Kanazawa.
Adjacent to the garden is Kanazawa Castle, easily accessed through the Ishikawa-mon Gate, a designated Important National Cultural Asset.
Lunch can be in one of the local restaurants in Omicho Market, known throughout Japan for its fresh seafood and fine sushi.
Lastly, visit Higashi Chaya, one of the three, well-preserved chaya (teahouse) districts in Kanazawa. It also has several artisan shops, including Hakuza, a specialized store that sells gold leaf products and features a tearoom covered in gold.
Start (guided tour): 09:00
Duration: 8 h
*including pick-up/drop-off and transit times
Overnight in Kyoto at Hyatt Regency Kyoto 5 stars (Deluxe)
DAY #8 - Kyoto, Japan Hyatt Regency Kyoto
Today is a self-guided day.
Travel by limited express train to Kyoto, home to 2,000 shrines and temples, tea ceremonies, zazen meditation halls and Geishas.
Optional Afternoon Experience:

In Kyoto, take part in a cultural activity such as ikebana (flower arrangement), pottery-making in Higashiyama district, Maiko makeover experience or kenbu (samurai-sword dance).
Tonight’s stay will be at the Hyatt Regency, a luxurious and cozy hotel designed by the hip Super Potato group. It has a very contemporary Japanese concept, with each room having its own unique design and the bed with a headboard made of kimono fabric.
Overnight in Kyoto
Distance and journey time (approximation):
Kanazawa Station to Kyoto Station: 2 h 15 min
Overnight in Kyoto at Hyatt Regency Kyoto 5 stars (Deluxe)
DAY #9 - Kyoto, Japan Hyatt Regency Kyoto
Today’s tour starts with a visit to Nijo Castle, an ornamental castle that was originally built to serve as the private villa of a powerful feudal lord. The main building was completed in early 1600s and has since then been known for its Momoyama-style architecture, decorated sliding doors, and “chirping nightingale” floors.
Next in the list is the serene Ryoanji Temple, which is famous for its well-maintained rock garden and known to be the Myoshinji School of the Rinzai Buddhist sect.
Just a short distance from Ryoan-ji is the stunning golden pavilion collectively known as Kinkaku-ji Temple. The temple grounds is relatively smaller than that of most temples and shrines in Kyoto but what is undoubtedly impressive is the pavilion that is completely covered in handmade gold leaves.
A visit to Kiyomizu-dera Temple follows later in the day. The view from the 13-meter high building is indeed breathtaking and the fact that this veranda was built without using any nails or joiners is quite unbelievable.
The tour ends with a stroll along the busy streets of Higashiyama district, a collection of narrow alleyways lined with local stores, souvenir shops, small eateries and even pottery centers.
Note: Kiyomizu-dera is currently undergoing renovations, with proposed completion in 2019.
Start (guided tour): 09:00
Duration: 8 h
*including pick-up/drop-off and transit times
Overnight in Kyoto at Hyatt Regency Kyoto 5 stars (Deluxe)
DAY #10 - Kyoto, Japan Hyatt Regency Kyoto
In today’s cultural experience, learn how to put on a kimono, the traditional Japanese dress known for its intricate design and delicate fabric.
This is followed by a tea ceremony, a quintessential part of the Japanese culture. Learn every aspect of the tea culture, from making the tea to the movements involved in serving it.
After the activity, the rest of the day is free at leisure.
Start (cultural activity): 09:30, 12:00 or 14:30
Duration: 1.5 h
Optional Tour: Dinner with a Maiko
One of the many unique aspects of Japanese culture is its Geisha. With more than 200 years of history, exploring the world of Geisha can be fascinating.
This afternoon with a local guide, explore on foot the streets of Gion, also known as Kyoto’s Geisha district. Start in front of Minamiza Theater and continue past local shops and restaurants, before reaching Yasaka Shrine. A quick detour leads through the streets of Hanami-koji, the most popular street in Gion where lavish teahouses are lined up. Here, a theater lies tucked away where the Geisha and Maiko perform “Miyako Odori,” a famous traditional dance.
After the tour, enjoy a traditional kaiseki dinner in the company of a Maiko. Have the rare opportunity to interact with the hostess and ask questions about her craft and daily life. During the dinner, the Maiko performs traditional dances and invite guests in playing Japanese drinking games.
Time (approximation):
Duration: 3 h
Overnight in Kyoto at Hyatt Regency Kyoto 5 stars (Deluxe)
DAY #11 - Kurashiki, Japan Kurashiki Ryokan
Today is a self-guided day.
This morning head to Okayama, the city well-known for the so-called Crow Castle and the old merchant’s district of Bikan. It also serves as one of the gateways to the art islands in the Seto Inland Sea.
Suggested Self-Guided Itinerary:

Visit Okayama Castle, also known as the “Crow Castle” for its black exterior. Although completed in the late 1500s, the structure that we see today only dates back to 1966 because of countless renovations caused by fires.
Next head to Korakuen Garden, hailed as one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan and a designated Special Place of Scenic Beauty. The only way to get to the garden from Okayama Castle is via Tsukimi Bashi Bridge, a steel and concrete bridge that crosses over Asahi River.
Continue in mid-afternoon to the nostalgic Kurashiki Bikan and Canal Area filled with traditional houses and shops with sliding doors and lattice windows.
If time permits, pay a visit to the Ohara Museum of Art, the first and oldest Western art museum in Japan. On display are the works of some of the most well-known artists in the world such as El Greco, Matisse, and Picasso.
Option: Choose to spend the night in a 250-year old Japanese ryokan. With 11 unique rooms featuring tatami flooring, sliding shoji (rice paper) doors, and comfy futon, this is indeed is going to be another quintessential Japanese accommodation experience.
Distance and journey time (approximation):
Kyoto Station to Okayama Station: 1.5 h
Overnight in Kurashiki at Kurashiki Ryokan 5 stars (Deluxe)
DAY #12 - Naoshima, Japan Benesse
Meet the guide at 09:00 in the hotel and head out together. Travel to Naoshima, the rural Art Island, established under the initiative of the Benesse Corporation.
The accompanying expert is a renowned art curator, associated with the Setouchi Triennale Art Festival. Follow the expert through some of the most unique museums and galleries in Asia.
Tour the completely reshaped island, learn about the different signature works and explore unique pieces like the iconic ‘Pumpkin’, made by Yayoi Kusama. See the Ando and the Chichu Art Museum, brainchild of the architect Tadao Ando, and many more.
In this unique environment, the guide provides precise insights and context, and answers any question regarding the pieces and collections on this unique island. It is also possible to choose an additional tour around the island by private boat.
– Most of the museums and art galleries on Naoshima are closed on Mondays.
– Guests staying at the Benesse House can use the free shuttle service from Tsutsuji-so bus stop to Chichu Art Museum Ticket Center bus stop. Benesse House Museum and Lee Ufan Museum are in between these stops. Moreover, clients also have free access to the Benesse House Museum, which is open from 08:00 to 21:00.
Distance and journey time (approximation):
Okayama Station to Uno Station: 45 min
Uno Station to Uno Port: 5 min (on foot)
Uno Port to Miyanoura Port: 20 min (ferry)
Overnight in Naoshima at Benesse 5 stars (Deluxe)
DAY #13 - Naoshima, Japan Benesse
Enjoy a day at leisure to either relax at Benesse House or to explore the sides of Naoshima Island that are most interesting.
Suggested Self-Guided Itinerary:
Visit Lee Ufan Museum, the result of the collaboration between Lee Ufan and Tadao Ando. The theme of this museum circles around the tranquility and stillness of life and its harmonious existence with nature.
Overnight in Naoshima at Benesse 5 stars (Deluxe)
DAY #14 - Osaka, Japan The St. Regis Osaka
In the afternoon, travel back to Kansai for a night in Osaka, Japan’s culinary capital. Osaka’s flamboyance, fun-loving people, and amazing food make up for what it lacks in tourist attractions.
Note : For Optional tour in this day, please contact us.
Enjoy a last night in style in Japan at St. Regis Osaka. The Grand Deluxe Suite features a private butler to ensure top class service. One of Japan’s best hotels, be amazed by the modern and sleek design of this hotel in the center of Osaka.
Overnight in Osaka
Distance and journey time (approximation):
Uno Station to Shin-Osaka Station: 2 h
DAY #15 - Osaka, Japan The St. Regis Osaka
The rest of the day is at leisure until transport by private vehicle to Kansai International Airport for the departing flight.
Distance and journey time (approximation):
St Regis to Kansai Airport: 50 min

Tour Pricing

11-13 People

From Tulum
$ 80 per person
  • Private Transportation
  • Entrance into Chichen Itza
  • Lunch
  • Tequila Tasting Tour
  • Cenote entrance
11-13 People
From Playa del Carmen
  • Private Transportation
  • Entrance into Chichen Itza
  • Lunch
  • Tequila Tasting Tour
  • Cenote Entrance
11-13 People
From Cancun
  • Private Transportation
  • Entrance into Chichen Itza
  • Lunch
  • Tequila Tasting Tour
  • Cenote Entrance


Had a great experience with EXO travel, they recommended the most phenomenal guide, Tomoyo. Each day was another adventure and we can't wait to come back and use them on our next trip!
Michelle Andersen
17 Jan 2020
My nieces and I were fortunate to have the assistance of several EXO guides throughout our trip to China...five to be exact. No matter the form of transportation, be it long or short, we were ever so grateful to see our name on a sign, in the hands of a guide who would be taking care of us during that leg of our journey. Our 5 guides- Andrew, Shirley, Ken, Daisy, and Semon- all went the extra mile. They were all very knowledgeable and had great command of the English language. They were careful to follow the itinerary set for their city, yet willingly suggesting places to dine or shop during our free time. Our EXO guides helped us to feel secure and comfortable as we traveled throughout China.
Angela Caes
21 Jul 2019
we enjoyed our 2 tour guides immensely. but the exo travel person who met us at the airport seemed ill advised and confused with what he was handing us and trying to explain the documents to us. we also went on a food tour that was a waste of time where the guide did not seem very knowledgeable of the food, nor the culture. we asked him how he fell into this job, and he replied he had failed all of the tests for university.... it did not make us feel like he truly loved food, or really wanted that job. but exo did partially refund for that experience, and that was nice.
Kate Winslow
04 Jul 2019

from $80/person

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