Friday, 30th January 2015
Grab 2015 by the horns – InsideJapan Tours recommends where to go and why during the Asian Year of the Ram
Osaka Castle turns 400
Winter 2014 into summer 2015 marks the 400th anniversary of one of the greatest fundamental battles in feudal Japanese history - the siege of Osaka Castle One of the most famous castles in Japan, it played a major role in the unification of the country in the 16th century when it fell to the Tokugawa Shogunate forces in 1615 - the last major armed opposition to the shogunate's establishment. There are various planned cultural festivities marking the siege, but the 3D winter illuminations projected on the castle itself ( until March 31 ) are the most impressive.
A Classic Japan small-group tailored tour (max. 14 people), which includes a visit to Osaka Castle, costs from £2,600 pp (no single supplement payable) and includes 13 nights' accommodation, all domestic transport and private guiding. International flights extra.
Travel at speeds of nearly 200 mph
In March the new Hokuriku Shinkansen line opens, providing a convenient high-speed route from Tokyo to Kanazawa and the surrounding rural coast. Kanazawa's Kenrokuen Gardens (considered by many to be one of the country's most beautiful) are well worth a visit. Traditional tea ceremonies and samurai districts also add to the charm of this attractive city, which will soon be just two and a half hours from Tokyo.
A Traditional Japan tailor-made tour, which includes a journey on the new Hokuriku Shinkansen line, costs from £1,710 pp (two sharing) and includes 14 nights' accommodation, all domestic transport and private guiding. International flights extra.
007's training camp to reopen
The finest surviving example of early 17th century Japanese castle architecture, Himeji Castle comprising 83 buildings and advanced defence systems, was registered in 1993 as one of the first UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the country. Many people, however, know it from the film ?You Only Live Twice' starring Sean Connery as the fictional M16 agent, James Bond. Currently being restored to its former glory, Himeji-jo will once again greet guests from March 27 surrounded by the pink glow of cherry blossom.
A new Rural Japan small-group tailored tour (max. 14 people), which includes a visit to Himeji Castle, costs from £2,500 pp (two sharing) and includes 13 nights' accommodation, all domestic transport and private guiding. International flights extra.
Appraise the art
This year sees the ancient capital of Kyoto celebrate Parasophia : International Festival of Contemporary Culture, the first large-scale world-wide exhibition of current art to be held there, from March 7 to May 10 Taking place in the Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art and the Museum of Kyoto, enjoy the imaginative displays from Canadian Stan Douglas, Berlin-born Nairy Baghramian and local artist Yoshimasa Ishibashi amongst others.
Or, for an outdoors event, head to the fashionable Echigo Tsumari Triennial arts festival from July 26 to September 13 set in the mountains of Niigata in the heart of rural Japan.
A Japan Arts Trail self-guided adventure tour, which explores the best museums and art experiences available, costs from £1,190 pp (two sharing) and includes 15 nights' accommodation and all domestic transport. International flights extra.
Rising from the ashes
In a sequence of events that changed the world, August marks the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombs which were dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima ( August 6 ) and Nagasaki ( August 9 ). The two bombings that killed at least 129,000 people remain the only use of nuclear weapons for warfare in human history. Nowadays, Hiroshima is an exciting, modern city full of delicious food, with picturesque Miyajima Island floating, unaffected, next door. And Nagasaki is arguably one of Japan's most beautiful cities, sitting in a natural bay and awash in history. The 70th anniversary will be marked in the usual sombre fashion, but will also showcase the positives of these two southern cities.
A Hidden Japan small-group tailored tour (max. 14 people), which stops off in Hiroshima, costs from £2,600 pp (no single supplement payable) and includes 12 nights' accommodation, all domestic transport and private guiding. International flights extra.
InsideJapan Tours offers a range of small group tours plus self-guided adventures, and is able to design exclusive private journeys incorporating cultural elements and experiences across Japan's cities, hot-spring hideaways, subtropical beaches, mountainous national parks and temple towns.
For further information about InsideJapanTours, please go to www.insidejapantours.com or speak to an expert on 0117 370 9733.
ENDS/ 29 January 2015
NOTE TO EDITORS: Launched in 2000, InsideJapan Tours is a small, dedicated team of specialists, all of whom have first-hand experience of living, working and travelling in Japan. The company offers a range of original, affordable packages for small groups and independent travellers. InsideJapan Tours has offices in the UK, Japan and America. It is a member of AITO, and is fully bonded via ABTOT and ATOL. InsideJapan Tours is now part of the new InsideAsia Tours group, which also owns the specialist brands InsideVietnam Tours www.insidevietnamtours.com and InsideBurma Tours www.insideburmatours.com
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