Because I've always wanted to...
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!
Nick Matthers, LateralLife London, UK.
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
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.