Leave Japan's hypermodern cities and dazzling technology behind with this 10-day luxury trip through unspoiled countryside and historic small towns. Start with a Michelin-starred meal in Tokyo, then you're off to Kobuchisawacho for yoga, hiking, and an organic farm visit. See the tea houses of Fujimori Terunobu in Suwa, sample saké in Edo-era Narai, and trek the ancient forests of the Nakasendo Trail. End with a hike to the picturesque post town of Magome and an overnight in lively Nagoya.


  • Enjoy a kaiseki-style multicourse dinner at a Michelin-starred Tokyo restaurant 
  • Ascend the sky-high Kita-Yatsugatake Ropeway for views of the Japanese Alps 
  • Cruise along the endless rice paddies of Suwa with a private bike tour
  • Trek forested pathways to Nakasendo Trail's breathtaking Torii Pass
  • Spend your nights in historic luxury inns, design hotels, and countryside retreats

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Tokyo, Fine Dining at a Michelin-Starred Restaurant Tokyo
Day 2 Train to Kobuchisawacho, Saké Tasting & Art Collection Tour Kobuchisawacho
Day 3 Discover Kobuchisawa: Morning Yoga, Private Hike & Organic Farm Visit Kobuchisawacho
Day 4 Miso-Making Fun, Train to Chino, Traditional Cooking Class & Walking Tour Chino
Day 5 Tea Houses of Fujimori Terunobu, Train to Suwa, Suwa Taisha & Ropeway  Suwa
Day 6 Suwa Rice Paddies Biking Excursion, Specialty Kanto Seafood Meal & Saké  Suwa
Day 7 Train to Narai, Exclusive Saké Tasting & Multi-Course Dinner Narai
Day 8 Nakasendo Trail Hike via Torii Pass, Train to Nagiso Nagiso
Day 9 Nagiso Woodturning Class, Hike to Magome, Transfer to Nagoya Nagoya
Day 10 Depart Nagoya  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Tokyo, Fine Dining at a Michelin-Starred Restaurant

Savor omakase sushi at one of Tokyo's many Michelin-starred restaurants

Welcome to Japan! Your flight lands in Tokyo, Japan's capital city, where you'll find a decidedly urban vibe combined with a wealth of history and culture. Upon arrival, your private driver will collect you and transport you to your 5-star accommodations at Hotel New Otani Tokyo's Executive House Zen. Here, you'll find expansive rooms and suites with endless city or garden views, options for Shin-Edo style wooden bathtubs, and decor that blends modern and traditional. The hotel's location also puts you close to hotspots such as Roppongi, Shinjuku, and Ginza, making it an excellent base for sightseeing. 

Once you've had a chance to rest and regroup, don your smartest attire and prepare for a fine dining experience that is truly like no other. Tokyo has more Michelin-starred restaurants than any other city in the world, and this private excursion offers your pick of nearly any cuisine. From authentic Japanese cuisine featuring bite-size sushi, tender, juicy sashimi, and crisp, crunchy tempura to exquisite French and Italian dishes, Tokyo offers plenty of choices for those seeking a memorable gourmet experience.

For kaiseki cuisine, a traditional Japanese multicourse meal that highlights fresh local produce, opt for Ginza Kojyu, known for its elevated dishes and intimate setting. Or, head to the lively Shinjuku district for a visit to Sobahouse Konjiki Hototogisu, one of a handful of ramen restaurants that hold a Michelin star. And if you love omakase, you won't want to miss Sukiyabashi Jiro, a small sushi bar that was the first in the world to be awarded three Michelin stars. Your private driver will transport you to the restaurant of your choosing and return you to your hotel afterward. 

Day 2: Train to Kobuchisawacho, Saké Tasting & Art Collection Tour

Try different Japanese sakés at a local brewery 

You're off to Kobuchisawa today, a small town near Hokuto City that sits at the foot of the Southern Japanese Alps. In the morning, your driver will drop you at the train station for the 2.5-hour ride. You'll be met by your private driver upon arrival and transferred to your hotel, Hotel Keyforest Hokuto. This artsy retreat offers warm decor featuring natural elements, luxury bedding and linens, and amenities that include a stunning rooftop terrace and a private open-air bath area fed by Kobuchizawa's natural hot spring.

After check-in, learn more about the Kobuchisawa region by savoring one of their most important products: saké! Visit a local brewery that has more than 300 years of history and saké production experience, learning more about their traditions and methods of brewing this delicious drink. Sample different sakes and taste a cup of natural spring water from their hidden sanctuary to better understand how the naturally soft, mineral-rich water aids in the brewing process.

Later, enjoy a private tour of the Nakamura Keith Haring Collection Museum. This museum operates as a principal exhibit of the work of legendary street artist Keith Haring, famous for his energetic linework and bold use of colors. See works such as "Winged Man," "Smiley Face," and "Apocalypse" while also taking in the incredible architecture of the museum itself, which features a dramatically curved roof and a lightning-inspired exterior. Tonight, enjoy a traditional dinner from a family-run restaurant before returning to your hotel. 

Day 3: Discover Kobuchisawa: Morning Yoga, Private Hike & Organic Farm Visit

Take a guided hike through the serene forests around Kobuchizawa 
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Get in tune with the gorgeous natural scenery of Kobuchizawa with a morning yoga class. Set against the backdrop of the great Yatsugatake Mountains, you'll have the chance to start the day with full relaxation of both body and mind. Afterward, meet your guides for a private hiking trip into the nearby valley. Learn about local flora and fauna and hear stories about the area's history as you walk along the lush greenery of the forest. Hikes are generally two to three hours but can be adjusted by your guide to be longer or shorter depending on fitness levels and ability. 

Have lunch at a nearby restaurant, then spend the afternoon at a sustainable organic farm. Hokuto City is a leader in Japan's organic farming industry, working to reduce the burden on the environment and produce safer and healthier ingredients for the table. Local produce includes potatoes, radishes, eggplant, and apples, many of which are popular among local chefs and vegetable buyers. You'll learn about the farm's methods of organic farming, taste produce fresh from the fields, and get to know the farmers who run the farm. Return to town in time for a dinner of local beef paired with Yamanashi wine.

Day 4: Miso-Making Fun, Train to Chino, Traditional Cooking Class & Walking Tour

Learn the art of miso paste creation at a miso-making class

Long considered the "soul food" of Japan, miso (a thick paste made from fermented soybeans, rice, or barley with salt) is one of the most important seasonings used in Japanese cuisine. Today, you'll learn the secrets of miso-making under the tutelage of a local chef. Visit a centuries-old farmhouse and discover the traditional methods passed down for generations, crafting your own miso paste.

Enjoy lunch at the farmhouse, then head to the station and board your train to Chino. Located in the landlocked prefecture of Nagano with glorious mountain ranges in all directions, Chino City is a haven for anyone seeking off-the-beaten-path locales, traditional Japanese lifestyles, and unspoiled natural scenery. Upon arrival, your driver will transport you to your luxury lodgings at Yamaura Stay, a collection of centuries-old farmhouses that have been restyled into modern resort-style retreats. The homes have fully equipped kitchens, upscale baths, and peaceful garden areas. 

This afternoon, start your exploration of Chino by taking a deep dive into their food culture with a private cooking class run by local grannies. Learn the art of 'shimi (natural freeze-drying) to preserve produce, tofu, and other food items, then prepare (and eat!) local dishes, all under the tutelage of these fun-loving local chefs. End the day with a private walking tour around the countryside, learning more about the region's history, culture, and unique architecture. 

Day 5: Tea Houses of Fujimori Terunobu, Train to Suwa, Suwa Taisha & Ropeway 

Next stop—Lake Suwako and your gorgeous lakeside ryokan (inn) (photo courtesy of Sui Suwako)

This morning's privately guided tour takes you into the world of Fujimori Terunobu, a renowned Japanese architect and historian whose work has included a series of unusually built tea houses. Meet your guide and start at the Flying Mud Boat, a teahouse suspended in midair. You can climb up to the top, see the interior, and feel the house sway along with you! Visit Takasugi-an, designed to be supported by the trunks of two trees, then finish at Hikusugi-an, or the "too low" tea house, which resembles an underground dwelling, where a tea ceremony teacher will treat you to a steamy cup of matcha.

After the tour, you'll board the train for a quick ride to Suwa, a small city on the island of Honshu along the shores of Lake Suwa. The Suwa region is known for its hot springs, natural beauty, and outdoor activities, and Lake Suwa is the largest lake in the Nagano prefecture. You'll be met at the station and transferred to your accommodations at Sui Suwako, a gorgeous ryokan (inn) that sits right on the lake. Choose from eight spacious rooms with lake-view options, traditional Japanese decor, and private room attendants. The inn also has an on-site rooftop hot spring, offering panoramic views of the countryside.

Once you've had a chance to settle in, see more of Suwa on a privately guided tour. Visit Suwa Taisha, which dates back 1,200 years and is the head shrine of the over 10,000 Suwa shrines in Japan. Consisting of four shrine complexes, two on the on the southern shore of Lake Suwa and two on the northern, you'll visit each shrine, learning more about each one's history from your expert guide. Finish with a ride up the Kita-Yatsugatake Ropeway, ascending nearly 8,000 feet (2,200 m) for expansive views of the Japanese Alps. Depending on your interest, you can also opt for a short hike on one of the many nearby trails. 

Day 6: Suwa Rice Paddies Biking Excursion, Specialty Kanto Seafood Meal & Saké 

Say hello to the hardworking rice farmers of Suwa on a private bike tour

Start the day with a refreshing soak at Sui Suwako's open-air bath, or visit one of the two onsen towns located on Lake Suwa. Kamisuwa Onsen draws much of its water from the springs under the lake, with several options for hot spring bathing, and Shimosuwa Onsen, which has both open and indoor pools, is famed for its mineral-rich, salt-heavy waters. 

Later, see more of Suwa's idyllic countryside on a private bike tour. The Suwa Lake basin is home to endless rice fields, and you'll get a chance to see the paddies and learn about how the rice is cultivated. Cruise along the gentle slopes and rice paddies, saying hello to farmers as you go and enjoying the greenery as your guide explains more about the farming process. The ride usually takes one to two hours, and is considered moderate, but can be adjusted to suit personal interests and abilities.

Tonight, visit a local restaurant to try what is considered Suwa's specialty food: unagi or freshwater eel. The waters of Lake Suwa host a healthy population of eel, and the cities and towns in the area have a long tradition of enjoying this fish Kanto-style, which involves slicing it along the back and steaming, then grilling. Wrap up this perfect day with a saké tasting at Jizake, the on-site bar at Sui Suwako. Suwa has a 400-year history of brewing Japan's national drink, and you'll get to savor several different varieties while learning more about Suwa's food and drink traditions. 

Day 7: Train to Narai, Exclusive Saké Tasting & Multi-Course Dinner

Step back in time to the Edo Period in Narai (photo courtesy of Byaku Narai)

Depart Suwa this morning and hop aboard the train to Narai, a journey of approximately two hours. This historic town makes the halfway point of Japan's famed Nakasendo Trail. Once the wealthiest post town of the Kiso Valley, Narai features more wooden houses than other post towns, many of which have been preserved to look just as they did during the Edo Period. 

Arrive and check in at Byaku Narai, a luxury ryokan created from four distinct historic buildings, including the former Suginomori Shuzo saké brewery, which was founded in 1793 and considered a symbol of Narai. Each of the 16 guest rooms are carefully appointed, drawing from the individual building's original design, with distinctive floor plans. Additionally, there's an on-site restaurant and bar, as well as a large public bath.

After exploring your rooms, head down to Byaku's own tasting bar, Suginomori, for a private saké tasting. Occupying a space that used to be a miso paste storehouse, the bar offers Japanese saké made from mountain water and locally grown rice. A wide variety of local drinks, such as single malt whiskey, craft gin, and craft beer can also be enjoyed, and the bar is decorated with a host of interesting items that showcase Narai's storied past. End the day with an eight-course dinner at Byaku's upscale restaurant, Kura

Day 8: Nakasendo Trail Hike via Torii Pass, Train to Nagiso

Hike the ancient paths of the Nakasendo Trail

Embark on one of Japan's most historic hikes today, traveling from Narai to Yabuhara Station via the Nakasendo Trail. In ancient times, the trail connected Kyoto to Tokyo, a common route for traders and pilgrims. Meet your private guide in the morning and begin a slow ascent, trekking along forest trails and eventually arriving at the Torii Pass, which, at nearly 4,000 feet (1,197 m), is the highest point of the Nakasendo Trail. 

Rest for a bit, then continue to Ontakejinja, a shrine dedicated to Mount Ontake, one of Japan's most spiritual mountains. On a clear day, you might even be able to spot its distant peak. From here, you'll make your way to Yabuhara Station and board the train to your next destination, Nagiso. Your driver will meet you at the station and take you to your lodgings at Ooedo-Onsen Monogatari Hotel Kisoji. This top-notch property is packed with amenities, including restful rooms, kimonos for guests to relax in, and both indoor and outdoor baths that offer incredible views. 

Day 9: Nagiso Woodturning Class, Hike to Magome, Transfer to Nagoya

Settle back into city life in Nagoya  (Photo courtesy of Mitsui Garden Hotel Nagoya)

Unveil the history of Nagioso this morning as you learn the art of traditional woodburning or rokuro zaiku, which originated in Nagiso during the first half of the 18th century. Meet one of the few remaining rokuro zaiku craftsmen, or kijishi, and with help from your teacher, learn how the wood is turned on a lathe, creating your own wooden dish to take home as the perfect souvenir. 

This afternoon, depart Nagiso for a privately guided hike to the post town of Magome. You'll start in Tsumago, one of the region's most authentically preserved post towns. Step back in time as you stroll streets where no cars are allowed and electrical wiring is carefully concealed. Your guide will regale you with stories and legends about the town's history, then you'll continue on a three-hour walk to Magome, the last stop on the Nakasendo Trail. Here, you'll find quaint wooden buildings housing cafés and craft shops, lined by stone-paved walkways. Stop in a streetside café for tea, recharging after your hike. 

Afterward, you'll board a bus for a one-hour ride to Nakatsugawa, then catch a train to Nagoya for your final night in Japan. You'll be staying at the opulent Mitsui Garden Hotel, a resort-style property with rooms that offer floor-to-ceiling windows with views of the city, luxury bedding, and options for sitting areas and soaking tubs. The hotel's location also makes it a prime spot for some last-minute sightseeing. Visit the famed Nagoya Castle (just 20 minutes walking distance), the Nagoya City Science Museum, or see the impressive Nagoya Twin Tower

Day 10: Depart Nagoya

Farewell to the beauty and mystery of Japan 
It's time to say goodbye to beautiful Japan. After breakfast, your private driver will transfer you to the airport for your flight home or on to your next destination. Safe travels! 

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Map of Luxury & Nature in Japan's Countryside: Culture, Cuisine & the Great Outdoors - 10 Days
Map of Luxury & Nature in Japan's Countryside: Culture, Cuisine & the Great Outdoors - 10 Days
Written by Fei He, updated May 7, 2024