Posted on April 18, 2013 within News
Recently, I had the pleasure of spending a couple of days in Kanazawa, one of my favorite cities in Japan. Located on the Sea of Japan coast, Kanazawa was the home of the Maeda lords, daimyo known for their patronage of the arts. Kanazawa retains the beauty and charm of a bygone era where the Maeda’s devotion to the arts permeates the present.
Kenrokuen, one of the finest stroll gardens in Japan, lies at the heart of Kanazawa and no matter how many times I have been there is still as magnificent as when I first laid eyes on it nearly thirty years ago. Whether covered in snow or with radiant blossoms, Kenrokuen is spectacular at any time during the year. From Kenrokuen it is but a short distance to Higashi Chaya, a beautiful area with rows of latticed faced teahouses where geisha have entertained their clients with song and dance for nearly 200 years. Nearby Kenrokuen, is Kanazawa’s former Nagamachi samurai district with its lovely cobblestone streets and earthen walls. Nagamachi is one of the few remaining samurai quarters that exist in Japan today.
Kanazawa is also home to some of Japan’s most beautiful crafts including exquisite laquerware and stunning Kutani porcelain. You can see wonderful examples of these works in one of Kanazawa’s fine museums and you may even feel the urge to acquire one for your very own collection.
Food is of course a highlight of any trip to Japan and Kanazawa will surely impress in this regard. Many Japanese have told me that Kanazawa has some of the finest sushi in Japan and based on my experience there, I certainly will not argue with them.
Let JapanQuest Journeys welcome you to Kanazawa and show you one of our favorite places in Japan.
(Washington, DC and Tokyo, Japan, December 6, 2012)
JapanQuest Journeys is pleased to present its Luxury Hotel and Ryokan Collection. Having traveled extensively throughout Japan for many years, we have developed close and unique relationships with a great many of the country’s finest hotels and ryokans. Our first-hand, insider knowledge at each of these properties enables us to share with you the secrets to creating a truly memorable stay.
From being able to recommend nights at a contemporary leading luxury five-star hotel in Tokyo with impeccable service and the most splendid views of Tokyo’s glittering skyline to a romantic quintessential ryokan in Kyoto or an artful museum stay on Naoshima Island are many of the fine, intimate and eclectic choices from JapanQuest Journeys. Our access extends far beyond our Luxury Collection so please contact us about any region of Japan where we can suggest and book the very best.
Complementing our full destination management services, we offer our more self-directed clientele the expertise and advice to choose and book the very best places to stay, all the while benefiting from our access, pricing and experience. Let JapanQuest Journeys make your journey easier and more enriching through our consultative approach to choosing your accommodations. Available with our full destination management services and for the self-directed traveler.
As Scott Gilman and Philip Rosenfeld, Co-Founders of JapanQuest Journeys describe,”Imagine a stay at a beautiful Japanese ryokan, a quintessential cultural experience of remarkable serenity. Relax in the confines of a simple tatami room, look out at an exquisite private garden while sipping delicious green tea, enjoy an enticingly warm “ofuro” bath and return to your room for a fabulous “kaiseki” traditional Japanese meal. There is no better way to deeply experience the noble nature of the sophisticated kaiseki menu than at a peaceful inn. The lady-owner of the house, kimono-clad and a paragon of Japanese beauty, welcomes you to her well-reputed inn-family owned for generations-with a cautious politeness but a genuine warmth that makes you feel instantly welcome.
Taking off your shoes and stepping into the inn’s dimly lit halls and wooden corridors, the alluring charm of old Japan soon embraces you with its nostalgic flair enticing your senses to tune into the subtle shades and muffled sounds of the centuries old building tucked away in a picturesque street or valley of evergreen forests.
The Zen-like simplicity of the tatami-floored rooms bare of furniture except for a low table and zabuton cushions where seemingly invisible hands serve you green tea and lay out your futon, teaches you to appreciate the intricate lattice and translucent white paper of the fragile sliding screens that serve to hide the majestic view of the surrounding lands’ serene beauty.
A quiet evening spent leisurely wearing a comfortable yukata gown and listening to the mysterious gurgling of a nearby stream evokes beautiful memories of the day.”
To contact JapanQuest Journeys, please visit its web site at http://www.japanquestjourneys.com, call us at 202-455-0095 (Washington, DC) or email us at email@example.com.
About JapanQuest Journeys
JapanQuest Journeys is the premier firm specializing in bespoke “tailor-made” luxury journeys to Japan with an unparalleled and undiluted single-country focus. With offices in the US and Japan, we deliver a wealth of unique Japanese expertise based upon decades of first-hand experiences and an intimate understanding of the cultural, historic and modern landscape. We will share extraordinary experiences and insider access — making available the “real”Japan through an extensive network of locally cultivated relationships.
Source: JapanQuest Journeys
Posted on November 29, 2012 within News
Kurokawa Onsen is a quintessential hot-spring town in central Kyushu, approximately a 90-minute drive from Kumamoto Airport. Having traveled extensively throughout Japan, I can truly say that my visit to Kurokawa was one of my most memorable stays.
What makes Kurokawa Onsen unique is its traditional atmosphere and abundance of nice, traditional ryokan inns. During our visit, we stayed at Noshiyu, which is one of the best-value inns that I have had the pleasure of staying at in Japan. Beautiful architecture, wonderful service and excellent food make it one of my all-time favorites.
Unlike most Japanese onsen towns that are dominated by concrete structures, Kurokawa, with its beautiful wooden buildings and earthen walls, is reminiscent of a bygone era. Dressed in lightweight yukata kimono, we strolled through the town and along the river that runs through it, stopping at whichever inns struck our fancy to enjoy their soothing baths.
Kurokawa is known for its abundance of picturesque rotenburo outdoor baths, and I was not disappointed. Visitors are encouraged to enjoy the various inns’ bathing spots, and the process is made easy through the use of a pass, which allows bathers access to three inns of their choice.
Winter is an ideal time to visit Kurokawa Onsen, as the cool, crisp Kyushu air, together with a relaxing outdoor bath in a delightful environment, will make for an unforgettable trip.
Posted on October 15, 2012 within News
Here I was in Tokyo, the most fabulous city in the world. The summer heat finally abated and it was a delight to explore a few favorite spots and some new ones as well. If you seek a peaceful and spiritual walk in the middle of a big city, there is no better place than Meiji Jingu, a 77-acre oasis assembled in the middle of Tokyo to commemorate Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken. Listening to the crackling of stones as I step by step approached the shrine was music to my ears. Seeing the colorful Ema or tablets used for wishes is always beautiful to see hanging together as I approached the most sacred part of the shrine.
What always strikes me the most about Tokyo is the juxtaposition of the old, contemporary and the sacred. Just around the corner from Meiji Jingu are Harajuku and Takeshita Street, housing a funky youth culture and an array of shops. This leads on to the fashionable Aoyama area, created to replicate the Champs Elysee’. You can’t imagine three more different worlds existing within sight of one another.
After lunching in an architecturally stunning building eating traditional Japanese food, I made my way to Nezu Museum to enjoy their incredible gardens, rich with dozens of stone lanterns and teahouses. As the sky darkened and the onset of Tokyo’s twinkling lights approached, I ventured onward to Tokyo Skytree, a recently opened 634 meter tower and architectural phenomenon in this already technology savvy city. As the tallest broadcasting tower in the world, it boasts amazing 360-degree views of this metropolis. Best to see in the evening, I think.
To round out another eclectic day in Tokyo, I sought out an old favorite of mine, Bourbon Street, a small Cajun-style four-table eatery tucked away in the back streets of the Roppongi area. Fantastic food and conversation was enjoyed with its owner of 14 years. Speaking to a musician at the bar, it was recommended to visit several newer music establishments including The Cotton Club and Billboard Live. For next time, but who might have guessed that’s where Kool and the Gang were that night?
A terrific ending to a perfect day.
Please browse our Newsletter Archives, bringing you exciting information about extraordinary experiences and our very favorite places in Japan.
Let JapanQuest Journeys expertly lead you on an unforgettable and compelling trip full of intimate discoveries through the real Japan, through the seasons of a country traditional yet modern, and rich in scenic beauty and cultural heritage.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 within News
Summer in Japan is exciting and magical as the country is enveloped in an array of colors and boisterous sounds. With summertime matsuri or festivals held in virtually every neighborhood throughout the country, the Japanese delight in enjoying themselves absorbed in games, music and traditional dance. Colorful yukata or cotton robes with brilliant patterns are the order of the day and it is a delight to witness a collage of colors as people partake in and enjoy the festivities. No matsuri is complete without fireworks and the scene of yukata-clad onlookers watching in eager anticipation as the night sky is lit up with brilliant colors is beautiful to behold.
Matsuri are a feast not only for the eyes but also for the palette. From carnival type food such as snow cones, cotton candy and candied apples that would make any youngster happy to delicious local specialties such as grilled yakitori or chicken and yakisoba or pan-fried noodles, matsuri offer a multitude of tasty treats that are a delight to try.
Some of the more famous summer festivals in Japan are Sendai’s Tanabata Matsuri (huge decorations festoon the shopping arcades and main streets), Kyoto’s Gion Matsuri (famous for its thirty-one lavishly decorated floats), Aomori’s Nebuta Matsuri (huge, illuminated paper floats shaped like Kabuki warriors battling mythical monsters) and Tokushima’s Awa Odori (tens of thousands of dancers dancing to the sound of shamisen and clanging gongs). While these festivities are attended by thousands of people, the vast majority of matsuri are local affairs. That is not to say however that the festivals are only for the enjoyment of the local population. The Japanese are among the most welcoming people on earth and as a visitor, one should not be surprised in the least to be invited to join in the festivities just as if you were part of the neighborhood.
Let JapanQuest Journeys introduce you to the thrills and joy of Japan’s festivals as they continue for the remainder of the summer through yearend. Enjoy Japan up close as a local would.
Don’t miss the Hachiman Matsuri during early October in one of our absolutely favorite spots, quintessential Takayama, nestled in the Japanese Alps!
(Washington, DC and Tokyo, Japan, June 4, 2012)
JapanQuest Journeys, the premier destination management company for Japan, is pleased to announce the addition of seven new exciting and distinguished Partners to our exclusive list of ‘organizations that embody our ideals by adhering to the highest standards of excellence’. We are delighted to be associated with companies and institutions that have an undeniably top global reputation; complementing JapanQuest Journeys’ bespoke “tailor-made” luxury journeys and unique access to the very best Japan has to offer. Our new Partners span the accommodation and municipal sectors that reflect the finest of Japan.
JapanQuest Journeys works directly with high-end individuals and serves top travel consultants and institutions worldwide. Our in-country presence ensures immediate access to local resources to service client needs.
Elite Resorts of Asia Pacific was founded on a simple principle – bring the best of Asian Pacific Luxury Resorts and luxury product and services to the discerning traveler across the world. The site was created exclusively for those seeking out resorts and products with a difference, resorts that are inspirational, resorts that redefine what an enlightening experience should be – in short they will provide memories that last far beyond the trip home. Elite travelers seek the extraordinary, they desire excitement, motivation and learning and mostly they demand excellence in style, grace and service.
HOSHINOYA Kyoto stands like an aristocrat’s retreat from the Heian Dynasty from over a thousand years ago. Guests arrive by boat, traveling along the Hozu River surrounded by lush mountains whose trees change color with the seasons. Arriving at HOSHINOYA Kyoto is entering a different world and a different time. HOSHINOYA Kyoto promises an extraordinary Kyoto experience. It has traditional yet stylish Japanese rooms with river views and beautiful serene gardens.
Hyatt Regency Kyoto is a luxury hotel incorporating modern Japanese design to create a beautiful contemporary style property in the heart of Kyoto’s Higashiyama district. The hotel features luxury rooms and suites along with several excellent restaurants. Located next to Sanjusangendo temple and across the street from the Kyoto National Museum, the Hyatt Regency Kyoto is an ideal location at which to base yourself during your stay in Kyoto. Within minutes of the property are Kyoto’s Gion and Shijo Kawaramachi districts, which abound in shopping and dining options.
Japan Airlines (JAL), a member of the oneworld alliance, was awarded the most punctual major airline in 2009 and 2010, has a global network reaching more than 221 airports and 40 countries and regions together with its codeshare partners. JAL also has an expansive domestic network covering 50 airports throughout Japan. With its international fleet, including 777s from the continental U.S. and Canada, JAL is a perfect choice when traveling to destinations throughout Asia including Shanghai, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Singapore.
The Peninsula Tokyo is a shining landmark superbly located in the prestigious Marunouchi financial district, opposite the Imperial Palace and a three-minute walk from the shopping capital of Ginza. Modern and contemporary with Japanese accents, this gracious freestanding hotel offers 314 spacious guestrooms, including 47 suites. Each guestroom and suite blends traditional Peninsula standards of comfort and innovative technology with elements of Japanese heritage and culture.
Okayama Prefecture, the Land of Sunshine, is located 45-minutes by Shinkansen from Osaka at the center of western Japan. We are full of local charm, from Michelin 3-starred Korakuen, one of Japan’s Three Great Gardens, to the Kurashiki Bikan Historical District. Relax at the Mimasaka Hot Springs or at Hiruzen Heights. Taste our muscat grapes, white peaches and fresh seafood from the Seto Inland Sea. See our Bizen ware pottery, and try our made-to-order jeans. Visit the art island of Naoshima, close to Okayama. Our motto is “warm hospitality”, we want to welcome you.
Shizuoka Prefecture is divided into four areas Izu Area, Fuji Area, Central Area and Western Area. Eastern Area (Izu) has been known throughout Japan as a hot spring area and is home to many traditional and prestigious hot spring ryokans. Eastern Area (Fuji) is spread around the foot of Mt. Fuji; this area enjoys all the blessings of Japan’s most famous mountain with natural scenery such as volcanic caves and waterfalls created by the spring water of melted snow. Central Area is located around Shizuoka City and is rich in both culture and history. With historical sites related to the famous Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu, and art museums displaying ukiyo-e, it is the perfect place to experience Japanese culture. Western Area is the birthplace and home of world-class companies such as Yamaha and Honda and boasts many top brands leading the way with cutting edge technology.
To contact JapanQuest Journeys, please visit its web site at http://www.japanquestjourneys.com, call us at 202-455-0095 (Washington, DC) or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About JapanQuest Journeys
JapanQuest Journeys is a boutique firm specializing in bespoke “tailor-made” luxury journeys to Japan with an unparalleled and undiluted single-country focus. With offices in the US and Japan, we deliver a wealth of unique Japanese expertise based upon decades of first-hand experiences and an intimate understanding of the cultural, historic and modern landscape. We will share extraordinary experiences and insider access — making available the “real”Japan through an extensive network of locally cultivated relationships.
Source: JapanQuest Journeys
Posted on June 1, 2012 within News
Recently, I joined JapanQuest Journeys as our West Coast Regional Representative after living in the US for about 25 years as an hotelier. I love hospitality and have always incorporated my Japanese service excellence within my western environment— delivering the highest levels of service for my clientele. When I was first introduced to JapanQuest Journeys, I instantly saw a discerning company featuring the very finest Japan has to offer high-end travelers in a truly unique and creative manner.
JapanQuest Journeys’ Co-Founders, Scott Gilman and Philip Rosenfeld, elicit excitement about journeying to Japan as experienced and passionate travelers themselves, conveying the essence of Japan through the lens of locals to foreign clientele. As cultural and country experts, Scott and Philip can relate to their clientele in a way that maximizes their experiences, shares insider access and fulfills each client’s passions and interests. They have traversed Japan for many years, are respected and exceedingly well connected throughout the country. Each knows what real luxury is and how to deliver high-touch service. Both keenly understand what foreigners are looking for in a Japanese experience and offer very “tailor-made” solutions.
JapanQuest Journeys’ third Partner is Mitsuna Satooka, an accomplished author on Japanese service quality and named as ANA’s Number One Flight Attendant. Mitsuna oversees our concierge services and trains our guides on the ground. This dynamic trio of expertise uniquely represents JapanQuest Journeys’ ingredient for excellence.
Whenever I return to Japan, attention to detail and thoughtfulness is abundant. White-glove service is all around me from the taxi drivers to well-appointed shops and hotels. Japanese beauty is in its simplicity and a reflection of the heart. I believe that Japanese hospitality or omotenashi is coming from a concentration of service quality and always get inspired from a trip to Japan. When I go back to LA, I love to serve friends with kindness of heart and Zen protocol. You will see the same from our team who will bring a level of care and attention directly to you that will exude the finest levels of Japanese service quality and service overlay.
Let JapanQuest Journeys inspire you to visit Japan and to see it as an insider—up close and personal. For your west coast needs, please contact me at email@example.com or 424-245-5450.
Hiromi Koshi, West Coast Regional Representative
Posted on May 11, 2012 within News
Recently, Mitsuna Satooka, Executive Director of JapanQuest Journeys, was featured in Japanist, a Japanese general interest magazine. Mitsuna is an expert on Japanese hospitality and discusses the topic in an article entitled, “I Want to Convey to the World’s VIPs, the Heart of Japanese Hospitality and the Charm of Japan.”
After retiring from a 24 year career at All Nippon Airlines (ANA) where she was deemed the company’s No. 1 flight attendant, in 2010, Mitsuna became Executive Director of JapanQuest Journeys.
Please click here to view Japanist’s website.
Posted on May 2, 2012 within News
During a recent visit to Japan, I was fortunate to explore several eclectic destinations around Okayama. Okayama is a Prefecture in southeast Japan that can boast its many wonders from the spiritual to the sedate—-world-class gardens, Shinto shrines that are National Treasures, a quintessential merchant village and the home to a contemporary art odyssey on the Inland Sea.
In the shadow of Okayama Castle, enjoy the beautiful garden of Korakuen, rated as one of the top three gardens in Japan. Completed in 1700, the garden was used as a place for entertaining important guests and also as a spa of sorts for daimyo. It’s colorful fauna and picturesque topography surrounds a pretty teahouse abutting a pond where I enjoyed a sip of green tea sitting on its veranda overlooking a beautiful pond. So very quaint and authentic.
A mere thirty-minutes away, I sojourned to Kibitsu Jinja, a shrine that has been revered widely since the remote past and a National Treasure. It is so unique to experience the Corridor of Kibitsu Jinja. Imagine corridors covered with curving roofs extending straight through the wooded precinct for almost 360 meters on sloping ground. At the bottom of the precipice is the Kama-domo or Cauldron Hall where I experienced a ritual known as Narokama or cauldron divination in a sacred service held by a Shinto priest, called Asome. This is truly an existential moment to receive his blessings of good fortune in such a sacred setting. What a special experience!
Now off to Kurashiki, a small quintessential village to the south, with its immaculately preserved merchant quarter that dates to the Edo period. Strolling along Kurashiki’s willow lined canals, hump-backed stone bridges and seeing dozens of whitewashed, black-tiled Kura or rice storehouses was a real treat. Many small shops, sake breweries and restaurants to enjoy. Kurashiki is a perfect spot to have a relaxing evening at one of our favorite ryokans, Ryokan Kurashiki, perfectly situated in the middle of the village and offering the finest and warmest service.
Just a ten-minute ferry ride from the Port of Uno, I enjoyed a beautiful day seeing blue waters and rocky islands jutting out from the serene Inland Sea. Destination—Naoshima Island, a bastion of contemporary art and natural beauty. With colorful paintings, sculptures and photographic images abound, it’s an unforgettable journey “where one can enjoy enriching encounters with artworks in the changing light over the course of a day.” Naoshima should be at the top of any art-lover’s list of must-see places.
Let JapanQuest Journeys introduce you to Okayama and experience some of the very finest and eclectic spots Japan has to offer.