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Because I've always wanted to...

 

Greetings!

I hope this finds you all well.

I recently came back from a trip to Japan so wanted to share some of my findings with you as detailed in the region and hotel highlights below. The bottom line is that Japan offers superlative hotels and service levels, wondrous food and fascinating culture. The bullet trains run to the second and taxi doors open and close without you touching them. 
Wishing you all a sunny summer wherever you may be!

Yours laterally,
Nick Matthers, LateralLife London, UK.

palace Hotel

Palace Hotel

 

Tokyo has a number of new luxury hotels but the latest has raised the bar yet again. The rebuilt Palace Hotel offers the unique attraction of rooms with balconies overlooking the Imperial Palace Gardens and some stunning suite rooms with their own terrace. Impeccable service, excellent facilities and superb restaurants combined with the perfect location make this the ideal haven amongst the bright lights of the capital

Gora Kadan

Gora Kadan

 

There are many reasons to stay in a ryokan and Gora Kadan has it all. The individually designed rooms have a variety of private outdoor baths filled by the ryokan's own natural hot spring, and all with spectacular mountain views. A leisurely traditional Japanese dinner is served by elegant kimono dressed ladies who explain the delicate detail in each of the many kaiseki dishes. You'll be forgiven for forgetting the reason you came to Hakone was to see Mt Fuji!

Tawayara

Tawaraya

 

Kyoto is the historical and cultural capital of Japan and the best ryokan here reflect this tradition of striving for perfection. Amongst those Tawaraya may be the most famous in Japan. It was established in the 1700s and has been run by same family for 11 generations. It remains a top choice for its location, traditional simply decorated tatami rooms, beautiful gardens and a special dinner of stylised Kyoto cuisine rarely seen elsewhere.

Takayama_Jinya

Takayama

 

Tucked into the forested foothills of Japan's Central Alps, Takayama has an enduring legacy of woodworking: many of its skilled carpenters were once employed by emperors to build Kyoto and Nara's architectural gems. It still maintains its traditional heart of old merchant houses and peaceful temples, and remains famous for its old inns and sake breweries. About 1 hour away Shirakawa-go gives an insight into traditional life in Japan's remote mountains with its wonderful collection of gassho-zukuri houses. This literally means hands-in-prayer, so called because of the steep pitch of their thatched roofs which are common throughout the region.

miyajima_island

Miyajima Island

 

Across the narrow stretch of the Seto Inland Sea from Hiroshima is the small island shrine of Miyajima. The whole island has long been considered sacred for its collection of impressive temples. It is best recognised for its iconic red torii gate which faces the majestic Itsukushima shrine. The spectacular torii, built on tidal sands, The shrine itself extends on stilts over the water, and at high tide the whole shrine and torii appear to be floating on the waves. This is said to be one of the three best views in Japan.

Historically, to avoid spiritual 'contamination', stepping foot on the island itself was allowed for devout men only, with women banned completely but nowadays customs are more relaxed!

Iwaso ryokan has hosted the Japanese royal family and is highly recommended for a stay on the island.

Okinawa

Okinawa

 

Tropical islands, white sand and first rate diving? Yes, this is Japan but not as you know it. Three hours flight from Tokyo you can stay at Hoshinoya, a new luxury resort on Taketomi Island. Enjoy all the creature comforts while leisurely exploring the neighbouring islands with their distinct culture, rainforests and traditional food. The resort is in a national park and it has been 5 years in the making, painstakingly designing each villa with local materials to match the village, complete with individually sculptured 'shisha' to ward off evil spirits.

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