April 2022 - Newsletter #13

NEWS from The Real Japan - April 2022

Read on to learn about : 
Ogaki Funamachi © SHori (Licensed under CC BY 4.0)


The sanitary situation in Japan is stable compared to last month, whith new infections remaining around 50,000 per day for the whole country. However, as a sign of improvement, the state of quasi-emergency has been lifted in all Prefectures.

The entry cap has also been increased to 10,000 new entrants daily, however reserved to students, long-term & business visas.

The Japanese Government has announced it has no immediate plans to reopen its borders to foreign tourists, however we are still hopeful for a reopening in time for the summer

We look forward to bringing better news next month and meanwhile, fully remain available, should you have any question or enquiries to Japan.

The Real Japan Team 
Team Inbox : info@real-japan.com
Sales & Marketing : eric@real-japan.com

For further details & updates, please visit :

mesm Tokyo


Tokyo is an ever evolving city, as is its hotel scene with new properties constantly springing up and one of them is mesm Tokyo, a Mariott property, under the Autograph Collection brand.

mesmerize your five senses...  Branding itself as a new Lifestyle icon, mesm Tokyo aims to provide its guests with the pulse of today's Tokyo in fashion, art, technology and lifestyle. Fusing tradition with innovation, traditional Japanese crafts are used to create contemporary art pieces, which you can see all over the hotel.  

Location: Those familiar with Tokyo may remember the Hamarikyu Garden, a vast traditional Japanese flanked by buildings on the North (including Conrad Tokyo) and opening onto the Sumida River and the Tokyo Bay, on the East. The Southern "Takeshiba" Bay area has been redeveloped and features a new complex called Waters Takeshiba, including a luxury hotel : mesm.

Although not in the immediate center of Tokyo, mesm has the advantage of space and views over the Hamarikyu Garden and the Sumida River... A 6 minute walk will take you to the Yamanote (loop) line and connects to the rest of Tokyo.  


mesm Tokyo has 265 rooms in four categories - called "Chapters 1-4" - and corresponding to Standard/Deluxe (1 & 2) and Suite levels (3 & 4). 

Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 (respectively 40 and 44 sqm) are located across almost all floors (17 to 26) and offer a practical space with subdued design, to relax after a day of sightseeing. Some rooms feature a balcony and afford stunning views on the Hamarikyu Garden. 

Chapter 3 (95 sqm) rooms are located on floors 18-24 and all come with private balconies overlooking the garden and river.

Chapter 4 (180 sqm) on the top 26th floor boasts an impressive 180 sqm of luxurious interior with separate living & dining and a 60 sqm balcony with spectacular, one-of-kind view of Tokyo. 

Room amenities have been selected with care, most of them being (exclusive) collaboration with artisans redefining the Japanese love for all things craft (coffee, copper pot, cosmetics...). 

And last but not least, especially for musicians... all rooms are equipped with an electronic piano - a unique feature in Japan - and maybe in the world?  
The Chef's Theatre is a stylish restaurant where fine Japanese ingredients are prepared in a crossover of Parisan Bistronomy and Japanese flavors.

There's only one restaurant at mesm Tokyo, howver, there are several other (casual or more slightly formal) options within the Takeshiba Waters complex and many more awaiting in Tokyo...

Other Facilities
  • Spa : There is no Spa at mesm Tokyo 
  • Fitness : available only for guests (no outside membership) and well equipped with the latest technogym machines.

To conclude

Although the location, facilities and service surely aren't the same as the luxury hotels on the higher end, we feel that mesm Tokyo could be a good (more reasonable) option for younger guests looking for an urban lifestyle hotel, yet with decent-sized rooms, stunning views and slightly off the hyper-active centre.  

Studio Ghibli / Hayao Miyazaki Itinerary

While we are waiting for borders to re-open, we are proud to present our new "Follow Your Passion" concept.

Each Theme Itinerary is focused on a specific
centre of interest and can be fully customized
(duration, pace, contents), just for your clients.  
Spirited Away in Japan 

Hayao Miyazaki, co-founder of Studio Ghibli, has taken Japanese Animation movies to another level with masterpieces such as "Spirited Away" (Best Animated Feature - Academy Award®), "My Neighbor Totoro" and "Princess Mononoke", which magical worlds talk straight to the heart and soul of the viewer, regardless of age.

This unique customizable itinerary was specifically designed for Hayao Miyazaki's fans, combining best sightseeing highlights, with locations that have inspired or resemble the most famous movies of Studio Ghibli.

From the urban settings of Tokyo & Kyoto to the cliffs over the Seto Sea and the deep forests of Yakushima island, discover Japan through the magical lens of Hayao Miyazaki.

Studio Ghibli Related Visits


  • Ghibli Museum, Mikata (designed by Hayao Miyazaki himself)
  • Hotel Tokyo Gajoen (Spirited Away) 
  • Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum (Spirited Away),
  • Seiseki Sakuragaoka (Whisper of the Heart) 
  • Totoro's Forest (My Neighbor Totoro)


  • Donguri (Official Ghibli shop)
  • Tomogashima (Castle in the Sky)

Other Destinations

  • Tomonoura (Ponyo on the Cliff)
  • Dogo Onsen (Spirited Away)
  • Yakushima Island (Princess Mononoke)

Sightseeing Highlights

  • Tokyo : Meiji Jingu Shrine, Harajuku Fashion, Roppongi Hills, Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum
  • Kyoto : Kiyomizu-dera Temple & Sannenzaka, Gion Geisha District, Kinkaku-ji Golden Pavilion, Ryoan-ji Rock Garden, Fushimi Inari Shrine
  • Nara : Nara Deer Park, Todai-ji Temple, Kasuga Shrine, Naramachi Merchant District
  • Matsuyama : Matsuyama Castle, Dogo Onsen, 
  • Onomichi : Stroll this quaint city on a hill overlooking the sea.
Copyright © 2022 - The Real Japan - All rights reserved.

March 2022 - Newsletter #12

NEWS from The Real Japan - March 2022

Read on to learn about : 


The sanitary situation in Japan is improving and the omicron wave slowly receiding, while new infections remain around 50,000 per day for the whole country.

The Japanese government is now eyeing at a combination of self-restraint (extension of the state of quasi-emergency into March for early bar & restaurant closure) and the gradual reopening of borders.

The entry cap has now been increased from 5,000 to 7,000 daily, focusing in priority on long-term visas and students. It is estimated that around 400,000 long-term visa holders, including 150,000 students are waiting to enter the country, since borders closed two years ago.

No announcement has been made about Leisure Travel and we are unfortunately unable to provide accurate information at this stage. We do still hope for a reopening before summer and currently accept enquiries for May onward. 

Should you have any question or requests for Japan, please feel free to contact us directly at info@real-japan.com. As well, should you like to renew or update your itineraries with new destinations, please contact Eric Demay - Director of Sales & Marketing at eric@real-japan.com.

We look forward to hearing from you and working with you again soon,

The Real Japan Team  

For details & updates, please visit :



The Prefecture of Yamanashi, just West of Tokyo, has always been a favorite of The Real Japan, offering a wide range of experiences and encounters, in a natural, off-the-beaten path destination.

Last month, we introduced Hotel Keyforest, our hidden gem on the foothills of the Japanese Alps, where (y)our clients will enjoy Japanese and International Contemporary Art, Architecture, as well as Nature, Golf and much more, including Winery & Whisky distillery visits.

This time, let's take a look at the more famous side of Yamanashi : the region of Kawaguchiko Five Lakes

Closer to Tokyo and yet, even more spectacular, the scenery is dominated by the elusive Mt Fuji and the gorgeous lakes dotting the region. There, surrounded by nature, lies a luxury property offering immersive views in a luxurious cocoon.

With a modern take on natural Japanese design and hospitality, FUFU Kawaguchiko blends and bends the borders between hotel and ryokan... 

Access & Concept
Access : Hotel FUFU Kawaguchiko is located about 2h from Tokyo by private chartered vehicle, comibined with a full-day of sightseeing near Mt Fuji along the way. Continuing their journey onward, clients can easily reach Hakone or Shizuoka on the way to Kyoto and beyond.
Concept : Relaxed Luxury in Nature...  Fufu Kawaguchiko caters to those looking for a cosy yet hip and dynamic stay, with stunning views of nature. It combines the relaxing feel and attentive hospitality of a ryokan, with a liberating "modern-smart" twist.

Couples and Honeymooners will enjoy a amazingly romantic scenery from the balcony and the private hot-spring bath, while families can reunite after a day full of activities, in the large suites, accommodating up to 4 guests. 


FUFU Kawaguchiko offers a cosy & intimiate atmosphere, with only 32 exclusive Suites, all with floor-to-ceiling bay windows opening onto a large balcony, fully equipped with private volcanic stone natural hot-spring bath and a bioethanol fireplace.

Room categories (based on location & size):
  • 5x Stylish Suite :      1st Floor - 60 m²
  • 16x Comfort Suite : 2nd & 3rd Floors - 60-65 m²
  • 6x Precious Suite :   Corner of 4th Floor - 60-65 m² 
  • 3x Premium Suite :  Corner of 1st, 2nd & 3rd Floors - 85 m² 
  • 1x Luxury Suite :     4th Floor - 100 m² up to 4 pax
  • 1x Luxury Premium Suite : Corner of 4th Floor - 136 m² up to 4 pax  

We felt that all rooms can be recommendable for our clients, depending on their budget and the views / size required. First and Second Floor rooms are more reasonably priced but still afford beautiful views to Mt Fuji and the lake, while the panoramas from higher floors become even more spectacular as you go up...

The Luxury Suite can be  be divided into separate rooms by closing the sliding doors, which will be perfect for families with children or teenagers. 
There's only one restaurant at FUFU Kawaguchiko, offering a rejuvenated take on traditional Japanese Kaiseki Dinner, using locally produced, seasonal ingredients, prepared using wood fire and volcanic stone.

The Real Japan team thought it could be defined as "refined rustic cuisine" and enjoyed it a lot. 

Being located in Japan's most famous wine growing region, all menus can be paired with Japanese Wine or Sake.

Breakfast is Japanese-style and features rice cooked with a wood-burning stove, hearty vegetable soups, gratin made with locally produced natto (fermented soy beans) and will provide for a unique sensory experience.

For food-sensitive clients, Western breakast or Vegetarian options, can be requested in advance.

Lobby Lounge, Bar & Terrace

All facing Mt Fuji, the lobby lounge, the bar and the outdoor terrace running across the hotel provide many opportunities to marvel at the spectacular scenery at different times of the day... or the night. 
In winter, guests will love cosying up by the chimney and in summer, gaze at the stars from the many nooks & cannies dotting the terrace and garden. 

Spa & Hot-Spring

In addition to their own private hotspring bath on the large balcony, guests can enjoy the communal baths (in-house guests only), featuring a Finnish-style dry sauna (men's bath) and mist sauna (women's bath).

To conclude

For our team, FUFU Kawaguchiko ticked all the boxes: understated and eco-conscious luxury, natural hot-spring bliss, excellent creative-traditional gastronomy using local ingredients, all with an intimate, thougful sense of hospitality, we are glad to have another luxury option in the region.

In addition to the many activities that The Real Japan can organize, we also recommend taking time to enjoy the hotel itself and relax after a busy stay in Tokyo or at the end of your of your trip.


While we are waiting for borders to re-open, we are proud to present our new "Follow Your Passion" concept.

Each Theme Itinerary is focused on a specific
centre of interest and can be fully customized
(duration, pace, contents), just for your clients.  
Japan Through The Lens

Filled with man-made and natural wonders, Japan offers countless photographic opportunities to the averted eye.

From Tokyo and its contrast of steel & glass with peaceful gardens to the majestic Mt Fuji and its striking reversed cone-shaped museum, from the ancient Nakasendo road to the seaside towns of Ine & Amanoashidate, from city temples in Kyoto to mountain temples in Yamagata, hundreds of subjects for excellent photography await...

Embark on a photographic journey to discover the many facets of Japan, all of which competes for the title of most photogenic spot in your memories...

Itinerary at a glance

Day 1-2          Tokyo: Past, Present & Future, All in One Frame

Day 3-4          Kawaguchiko Five Lakes with Mt Fuji’s backdrop, 
                       Shizuoka's Nature & Mt Fuji World Heritage Centre

Day 5-6          Kiso Valley, peaceful Hikes in Nature & Ancient History

Day 7-8          Amanohashidate, one of Japan’s Most Famous View
                       Ine's Fishing Village & Terraced Rice Fields. 

Day 9-11        Kyoto & Nara, Photogenic Streets, Temples & Gardens

Day 12-13      Yamagata's undiscovered Nature and Art

Day 14-15     Tokyo, final Photo chances & Departure.

From Fine Dining & Urban Nightscapes to Paddy Fields, from a Traditional  seaside Ryokan to star-studded mountain skies, this itinerary offers a wide variety of hospitality experiences along the journey. 

While accommodation options in remote areas are limited, hotels in Tokyo & Kyoto can be customized according to clients' needs & preferences. 
Thank you for reading this newsletter until the end and please feel free to contact us at info@real-japan.com or eric@real-japan.com, if there's anything you need. We look forward to hearing from you and working with you.
The Real Japan Team  
Copyright © 2022 - The Real Japan - All rights reserved.

February 2022 - Newsletter #11

NEWS from The Real Japan - February 2022

Read on to learn about : 


As reported in our previous newsletter, the Omicron variant has spread around Japan's 47 prefectures, of which 31 prefectures have issued a "Quasi-State of Emergency" - effectively meaning that bars & restaurants can't serve alcohol and must close by 8 or 9 pm. No other restrictions, such as vaccine passes or mandates has been put in place but borders remain closed to leisure travel and inter-regional travel is also discouraged.

That said, all is not bleak and expert scientists consider that the peak of the wave is now over, with 7-day rolling averages showing a clear decrease in new infections.

As a result, news reports indicate that the government is considering to ease its cap on the number of daily new entrants from overseas (from 3,500 to 5,000 per day) and mandatory quarantine for triple-vaccinated travelers who can provide a negative COVID-19 test result. 

However, priority may be given to long-term staying non-residents (such as students etc) as well as Business travelers, as was the case for previous "travel bubbles", while Leisure travel may be allowed at a later stage, yet to be announced

An official Press Conference by Prime Minister Kishida is expected in the next few days and we will inform our readers of any meaningful changes in border controls to Japan in our next newsletter. 

For details & updates, please visit :



Nested in the foothills of the majestic Japanese Alps, on the border of Yamanashi and Nagano Prefecture, lies a beautiful hidden gem, that will delight architecture, archeology and nature lovers alike. 

Let's take a look at one of our favorite luxury boutique accommodation: Hotel Keyforest Hokuto.

About Kobuchizawa Art Village

  • Location : Hotel Keyforest Hokuto is located in the village  of Kobuchizawa in Yamanashi prefecture. Although it only takes 2 hours by direct train from Shinjuku Station (Tokyo), we recommend using a private chartered vehicle for sightseeing along the way and on the spot. 
  • Concept : Envisioned by pharmaceutical entrepreneur Kazuo NAKAMURA, the Hotel Keyforest Hokuto is the central piece of a small "art, sport & wellness" resort, encompassing a small luxury design boutique hotel, a private museum, a horse-riding centre, a Golf and a Restaurant.

    The inspiration for this unique project comes from the reunion of two apparently dissociated passions from Nakamura-san: the archeological findings of the Jomon tribe - early settlers who populated the area several thousand years ago and the works by Keith Haring, the New-York "Pop artist" who took the 1980's art scene by storm.

Hotel Keyforest

  • Layout: From the outside, the hotel's particular architecture lies in its complex geometry and sharp form of its openings. Upon entering in the lobby, a larger-than-life statue by Keith Haring greets the visitor. Passing by, a corridor lined with rare whisky bottles from the owner's collection leads you to the Nakamura Whisky Bar (with more rare whiskies from Japan and abroad) and the lounge, where breakfast and evening drinks are served.


  • Rooms : There are only 6 rooms  (3 per floor) of approximately 50 sqm, each named after a natural element, in the ancient Jomon language.

    Whether you stay in Kase (Wind), Mitsu (Water) or Ime (Earth), you will find the same natural elegance of understated luxury, with an emphasis on wood, stone and light cotton tones

All rooms offer ample space, with beautiful bathrooms, most of which open onto a wide balcony overlooking the forested park behind the hotel.
  • Restaurant : Although Breakfast is served at the Hotel, there is no restaurant inside the hotel, but several options are available in the neighborhood, including a "Country restaurant" offering Yamanashi’s farm-to-table menu and delicious steaks, a 2 minute walk and also part of the complex.
  • Onsen & Spa: One of the highlights of staying at Hotel Keyforest is the private use (90 min per day per room) of the large private open-air bath, overflowing with Kobuchizawa’s natural hot spring... A real treat after a day of hiking or sightseeing.  

    The "relaxation salon" next to the hot-spring bath, offers several kinds of massages upon reservation.

Nakamura Keith Haring Collection


While the Hotel Keyforest is a haven for relaxation, there are many things to be done around the hotel, including hiking (see our Hiking Itinerary below), sightseeing, art villages & museums, whisky distillery, golf, horse-riding etc., and yet, one of the highlights, the Nakamura Keith Haring Collection, is actually right behind the hotel, on the other side of a beautifully forested park.

Along with Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring is considered to be one of the leading artists of the 80’s American modern art. Haring became internationally renowned through his art exhibitions and various projects throughout the decade and died of AIDS at the age of 31, in 1990.


Established in 2007, the Nakamura Keith Haring Collection is the largest private collection and only museum dedicated to Keith Haring, with about 200 of his works, including early drawings and blueprints, as well as large-sized paintings and impressive sculptures from the end of Haring's life. 

The museum is not only a testament to Haring's work and creativity, it is also a bold architectural statement, with unique geometrical shapes and colors, that will delight arts & architecture lovers. 


While we are waiting for borders to re-open, we are proud to present our new "Follow Your Passion" concept.

Each Theme Itinerary is focused on a specific
centre of interest and can be fully customized
(duration, pace, contents), just for your clients.  
Selected Walks across Japan

Although the popular image of Japan is that of mega-cities, the majority of Japan (over 70%) is covered in mountains. With a wide variety of landscapes, from beach to mountains, the countryside is abounding with forests and well preserved nature.

Start your trip exploring around Tokyo before quickly reaching the foothills of Mt Fuji, Hakone and the beautiful Kawaguchi Lake.

Then dive deeper into the Japanese Alps in Kobuchizawa, followed by the ancient routes of the Kiso Valley and the preserved rural villages of Hida & Takayama.

Come back to the city for the most important sights of Kyoto, including a behind the-scene walk of the famous Fushimi Inari Shrine, before flying off-the-beaten track to Kunisaki Peninsula on Kyushu Island, for a spiritual walk following the footsteps of mountain ascètes & pilgrims.

Finally, take a well-deserved rest on pristine Yakushima island before heading off to Osaka for departure.


  • 9 Hikes in 9 different Prefectures:
    • Tokyo :              Mt Takako
    • Mt. Fuji :            Aokigahara Forest
    • Kobuchizawa :   Mt Hinata
    • Kiso Valley :       Nakasendo Trail
    • Japanese Alps :  Kamikochi
    • HidaTakayama : Goshikigahara Forest
    • Kyoto :               Fushimi Inari Pilgrimage Round
    • Kunisaki :           Forest & Mountain Pilgrim Trail
    • Yakushima :       Primeval Forest
  • Essential Sightseeing in Kyoto & Takayama
  • A variety of carefully selected luxury accommodation : Nature Hotel,
    Art & Architecture Boutique, Traditional Ryokans and the best 5* Hotels in Tokyo, Kyoto & Beppu
Copyright © 2022 - The Real Japan - All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:

The Real Japan (Magellan Resorts and Trust Inc.)

3-1-10 Ekinishishinmachi /  NEWS Building 4F

Kanazawa city /  920-0027

Ishikawa / JAPAN 

January 2022 - Newsletter #10

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NEWS from The Real Japan - January 2022


Welcome to the 10th edition of The Real Japan's Newsletter
Read on to learn about :
  • Japan Situation Update    Omicron keeps borders closed until end of February
  • Hotel of The Month         Araya Totoan - a Traditional Luxury Ryokan
  • Follow Your Passion        Traditional Crafts of Japan

Japan Situation Update 

Kenrokuen Garden, Kanazawa - January 2022

The Real Japan Team wishes you, a Happy (and Better) New Year, with the hope of Japanese borders opening soon. 

In the meantime, Japan hasn't been spared by the Omicron variant and is now seeing a wave surging across the country, with over 4,000 daily new cases in Tokyo, the highest number since last August. Due to the situation in Japan and abroad, the Japanese government has decided to further extend the entry ban on non-resident foreigners until the end of February. 

We (tentatively) expect the ban to be extended until the end of March 2022 and are currently postponing our clients' March arrivals. We are still accepting enquiries and bookings from June 2022 onward and happy to report a steady stream of requests for late Summer and Autumn already. 

Of course, should you have any question or wish to update your Japan itineraries, please feel free to get in touch with Eric Demay, Director of Sales :  eric@real-japan.com

For any trip request, our Travel Consultants will be delighted to assist you create a completely tailor-made itinerary : info@real-japan.com

We look forward to hearing from you and working with you on 2022 and 2023 ! 


The property we've chosen to highlight this month, isn't newly opened. It is also not located in Tokyo nor Kyoto...
In fact, deep in the countryside of the Ishikawa Prefecture, near Kanazawa, this month' property has been in operation for over 350 years, carefully tended by eighteen dedicated generations of the same family.

Once passed the delicate "noren", the curtain separating the entrance from the street, you will be transported to another time, where centuries of heartfelt hospitality have created a haven of calm and harmony... 

Welcome to Araya Totoan.

Quick Facts
  • Location : Araya Totoan is located in the centre of the quaint village of Yamashiro Onsen (Springs), about 1 hour from Kanazawa city. The area, formerly called Kaga during the feudal era, is known for its craftsmanship, including prized lacquerwares and ceramics. 
  • History: Legend has it, that the thermal hot springs of Yamashiro were discovered by a priest, who noticed a three legged bird healing its wounds in a puddle of hot water. The village of Yamashiro developed around the spring and the Araya Totoan Inn was designated as the bathing place for Lord Maeda after his warring campaigns. Since then, 18th generations of the same family have been taking care of this Ryokan and its guests. 

    Among the most prominent figures, feature Rosanjin, a famous Japanese calligraphy artist, ceramics artist, painter, restaurateur and food connoisseur from the Edo Period. The ryokan supported him for about one year and a small but exquisite Rosanjin museum is located a few steps away from the ryokan. The Imperial Family also visited Yamashiro Onsen about a century ago and the remaining purposely-built wooden annex is now used as a cosy night bar. 

Araya Totoan is an intimate and cosy Japanese Inns, with only 18 rooms, of which 9 rooms include a private ensuite hot-spring bath and are the recommended rooms for our guests.

The rooms follow traditional sukiya" architecture, delicately tatami-matted corridor leading to your " living room", with low table and chairs. From here, you can reach to the bedroom - beds are traditional Japanese Futons on top of a foam mattresses. Low setting but very comfortable... 

On the other side of the room, await a traditional Japanese style bathroom - with stool, shower and bucket for washing, and then, the masterpiece : a large wooden cypress bathtub, overflowing with piping hot Spring Water. This is where you will indulge in well-deserved bliss, after a day of sightseeing and before (or after) a sumptuous feast.

Onsen / Hot Spring Baths
The hot spring water of Yamashiro springs out from a source that lies only a few dozen meters below the ground and gushes about a hundred thousand liters of steaming-hot water every day. The superior quality of the spring water has won international acclaim and include Sodium and calcium sulfate chloride, claimed to have therapeutic benefits for low back pain, neuralgia, female illnesses, skin care, etc.

Our recommended rooms all feature a private semi-open air hot-spring bath , which means that your wooden bathtub is located on a balcony, open-air but protected from the elements. 

In addition, Araya Totoan has three gender-separated communal hot-spring baths, one of which is a soothing "relaxation bath", in the dark. 

In addition to the relaxing properties of hot-springs, one of the highlights of staying at a Ryokan, is to indulge in a traditional Kaiseki Dinner, meaning a gastronomic feast of local delicacies, carefully prepared and artistically served on beautiful ceramic or laquer vessels.

You can expect to sample an assortment of many a fine dishes, including fresh, grilled and broiled fish, Seafood from the nearby Sea Of Japan, Beef, Duck or Pork from Kaga or the Noto Peninsula as well as locally foraged "mountain vegetables". Winter is the season for "special Crab Kaiseki"and attract loyal repeat customers from all over the country, year after year. 

Note: As Kaiseki meals are formal and complex assortments governed by many rules (order and ingredients) and  cooked for all guests staying that night, traditional Ryokans are usually not able to accommodate severe food restrictions and usually don't substitute but just remove the ingredient or dish altogether.

In the evening, enjoy a drink at the very cosy bar built in the wooden annex built for the Imperial Family stay, about a century ago. Dimly lit and intimate, it will be the perfect place for a night cap, before a last soak in your own private onsen bath... 


Yamashiro Onsen Yunogawa,
Kaga City, Ishikawa 922-0242


Follow Your Passion : Theme-focused Itineraries
While we are waiting for borders to re-open, we are proud to present
our new "Follow Your Passion" concept.

Each Theme Itinerary is focused on a specific centre of interest 
and can be fully customized (duration, pace, contents), just for your clients.  
 Traditional Crafts of Japan
With a long history of art-protecting rulers, a love of aesthetics & attention to finer details, Japan has elevated its traditional crafts to the rank of Art.

From Laquer hand-polished for months, to micron-thin Gold Leaf or Hand-made Swords, this itinerary will take you to the ateliers of Japanese Craftsmen & women, who perpetuate centuries-old techniques, inherited from their ancestors

Enjoy privileged private hands-on learning encounters combined with visits of the most iconic sights related to fine arts & crafts. In short,  a fully customizable journey depending on your own interests & passions. 

            Traditional Crafts of Japan

Tokyo (1)

Aman Tokyo

4 nights


Gora Kadan

1 night


The Ritz-Carlton Kyoto

2 nights


Hyatt Centric Kanazawa

3 nights


The Westin Sendai

2 nights

Tokyo (2)

Aman Tokyo

1 night

Highlights of your Trip
  • “Must-go“ destinations : Tokyo, Hakone, Kyoto, Kanazawa
  • Lesser-known areas around Tokyo (Saitama, Mashiko) and Sendai in the North. 
  • Wide Variety of Unique Japanese Traditional Crafts:
    • Paper : Washi Paper making, Origami art (paper folding),
    • Textile : Indigo dyeing, Silk weaving, Japanese Kimono painting
    • Wood : Lacquer, Wood sculptures, Wood mosaic, Woodblock printing
    • Metal : Gold Leaf, Brass & Bronze ritual objects, Cast iron, Japanese Sword,
    • Glass & Clay: Glass Wind chimes & Glass Art, Pottery & Ceramics…
  • Private Encounters & Hands-on activities:
    • Make Japanese Washi Paper
    • Model your own Pottery,
    • Carve a Woodblock print,
    • Don a Japanese Kimono, the traditional way
    • Learn the rules and manners of the Tea Ceremony.
  • Personalized High-end Crafts Shops selection in most destinations. 
Copyright © 2021 - The Real Japan - All rights reserved.

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December 2021 - Newsletter #9

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NEWS from The Real Japan - December 2021


Welcome to the 9th edition of The Real Japan's Newsletter
Read on to learn about :
  • Japan Situation Update     Vaccination updates, Omicron delays reopening hopes...  
  • Hotel of The Month            Roku Kyoto - an LXR Hotel
  • Follow Your Passion          Horse Back Riding in Japan

Japan Update 

Created by modifying "Diamond Fuji Yamanashi"  (© Akiko Kubosawa - Licensed under CC BY 4.0)

After a rather optimistic outlook last month, our hopes for an early 2022 reopening have dampened a bit with the emergence of the Omicron variant, which has also been detected in Japan but hasn't spread around yet.

As of Dec 15, 78% of the population is fully vaccinated and only 175 new cases with one COVID-related death were reported that day. Most people have returned to a quasi-normal lifestyle (with mask) and domestic travel has resumed "with a vengeance" during the peak of Autumn leaves. 

We currently continue accepting bookings for April 2022, yet remain in the expectation of scientific updates and - hopefully rational - government decisions on international travel for 2022.

Looking back on this roller-coaster year, we are grateful to our partners for their full support and proudly feel we have put this unexpected downtime to good use : despite travel restrictions, in 2020, we've inspected over 10 new hotels, 15 museums in 7 different prefectures and many, many more sights & experiences. As a result, 22 new unique "Passions" itineraries have been crafted by each of our team members. So although Japan may not be open yet, we've been busy preparing for it !

The whole Real Japan team wishes you a joyful year-end and look forward to greet you again in the New Year. 

Y   S  ! 


LXR, the new luxury resort brand from Hilton, has chosen Kyoto, Japan for its first foray in Asia-Pacific and after a successful trial stay, our whole team went on to inspect this promising new property.

Quick facts: 
  • Location: On the foothills of North-west Kyoto, about 30 min by car from the city center, lies Takagamine village. In ancient days, it was one of the centers of arts and culture, and the home of reputed artist, Honami Koetsu. ROKU KYOTO was born from such an environment, with beautiful nature and cultural history. 
  • Arrival & Atmosphere: After passing a stone gate, the spacious car approach leads to a beautiful symmetrical Japanese building and garden. Like a full-size art piece - A very pretty and impressive welcome.

    On your right-hand side is the Reception building, where check-in takes place, while the left-hand side is occupied by a Tea House doubling as a relaxing lounge for staying guests.
ROKU KYOTO has 112 rooms in 4 different categories and 2 Suites, each with their own uniqueness:
  • Deluxe Room: Located on the 2nd and 3rd floors, Deluxe Rooms have offer a spacious 50 sqm space, with well designed, large luggage space and closets (for an entry category). Views onto the pool and the colors on mountain in the background were stunning in this Autumn foliage season.
  •  Garden Deluxe :  All Garden Deluxe Rooms are located on the 1st floor and come with a very special feature: a private Open Air Bath in an area with table & chair, overlooking a Japanese garden and an oversized bathtub, from which you can open the windows and enjoy natural light and air, while soaking a natural hot-spring bath. 

    This is really a unique feature in Kyoto and a great advantage of Roku Kyoto compared to other five star hotels. 
  • Poolside Deluxe: Intriguingly located on "B1" floor, the Poolside Deluxe Rooms are - as the name suggest - adjacent to the Pool, with direct access via your own private terrace lounge. This is another a unique feature of Roku Kyoto and is already very popular with Japanese families. Limited inventory (4 rooms only) means they will be hard to grab! 
  • The Pool is a thermal hot water pool, with temperature controlled at 30*C for a blissful bathing & swimming experience, even in winter! Open to all hotel guests from the age of 4 (until 16 years old, children must accompanied by an adult).
  • Spa & Gym: A large gym with view onto the garden and a Spa with onsen water in the treatment rooms. 
  • Dining : TENJIN, the dining hall at Roku, offers three different areas for dininng:

    – Chef’s table which is a U shape counter.
    - All-day dining area which is the venue for breakfast
    - The Bar for drinks & light snacks.

    There is also an expansive terrace section, so if the weather allows, you can enjoy meals in the open air.
To Conclude...

Although the choice of luxury hotels in Kyoto has increased in the last years, with the opening of several high-profile hotels (among which, Four Seasons, Park Hyatt, Aman and more recently The Mitsui Kyoto), Roku Kyoto is a welcome addition, with unique features that will delight families and couples looking for a resort atmosphere, away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre.


44-1 Kinugasa Kagamiishicho,
Kita-ku, Kyoto

Follow Your Passion : Theme-focused Itineraries
While we are waiting for borders to re-open, we are proud to present
our new "Follow Your Passion" concept.

Each Theme Itinerary is focused on a specific centre of interest 
and can be fully customized (duration, pace, contents), just for your clients.  

 Japan Horseback Riding & Cultural Discovery

Although the common image of Japan is “mega-cities”, once you leave the dense urban areas,
awaits a great countryside with nature and a wide variety of landscapes : from beach to mountain and flatlands to forests. 

This itinerary has been designed as a perfect combination of essential sightseeing with exciting horseback riding opportunities. 

Discover Japan's most important sightseeing destinations before reveling at the beautiful resort of Amanemu.
In between sightseeing days, enjoy horseriding on the beachside of Chiba and Ise-Shima, at the foothills of Mt Fuji and in the Japanese Alps. 

Itinerary at a Glance 


Mandarin Oriental Tokyo

4 nights



2 nights


The Ritz-Carlton Kyoto

3 nights


Gora Kadan (ryokan)

2 nights


Hotel Keyforest Hokuto

2 nights


Mandarin Oriental Tokyo

1 night


A Perfect Combination for First-time Visitors
  • Tokyo : 2D Sightseeing, 1D Horse-riding on Chiba's sandy beach.
  • Ise-Shima : Amanemu at Leisure, 1D Horse-riding on the beach, 1D Sightseeing on the way to... 
  • Kyoto : 2D Sightseeing, including Nara
  • Hakone: 1D Sightseeing, 1D Horse-riding near Mt Fuji, Luxury Ryokan Experience
  • Yamanashi: 1D Horse riding or Horseback Archery Experience (Yabusame), 1D sightseeing on the way back to Tokyo.
NOTE : For non-riders, several excellent Golf Courses are also available at (or near) each Horse-riding destination.

November 2021 - Newsletter #8

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NEWS from The Real Japan - November 2021


Welcome to the 8th edition of The Real Japan's Newsletter
Read on to learn about :
  • Japan Situation Update     More encouraging signs, there's light at the end of the tunnel
  • Hotel of The Month            Adrian Zecha's Azumi Setoda
  • Follow Your Passion          Secret (Art) Islands Hopping

Japan Update - November 2021

Following the general elections and given the encouraging sanitary situation (in average less than 250 new daily cases nationwide), quarantine measures are gradually being eased: From 14 to 10 days for vaccinated residents returning from overseas and only 3 days for vaccinated business travelers. 

According to a government tally, 75% of Japan's population has been fully vaccinated and over 90% of major Japanese cities are planning to finish COVID vaccine rollout by Nov .

Once again, we continue to hope that quarantine-free entry to Japan for fully vaccinated leisure travelers will start with a gradual reopening (selected countries) in the early beginning of 2022 and in full-swing for Cherry Blossom!

We currently accept bookings for April 2022, yet availability is already tight and we recommend traveling from Mid-May to Mid-June. The second half of Spring is a real "Secret Green Season" with more flowers, better weather and less crowds than the uber-famous Cherry Blossom!

As always, we thank our partners for their unwavering support and fully remain available, should you have any question or enquiry. We look forward to hearing from you.


The latest brainchild from Adrian Zecha, founder of Amanresorts is – unsurprisingly for those who know him – set in an off-the-radar and remote location, yet with great potential.

Your destination is the village of Setoda on the small island of Ikuchijima, somewhere East of Hiroshima in the Setouchi Sea – the inner sea of Japan. Getting there is actually easy: take a shinkansen bullet train to Fukuyama station (25 min from Hiroshima, 1h25 from Kyoto) and enjoy a spectacular one hour car transfer through a string of islands connected together by colossal bridges.

The main focus point of this area is usually cycling the Shimanami Kaido, but because with unique outdoor art installations and museums dotting the different islands, we feel it is also a great option for Art & Architecture lovers

Quick facts: 
  • Location & Building: Azumi is located in the charming fishermen's village of Setoda, a few meters from the port on one side and from the "shotengai" (shopping street).
  • Building & Atmosphere: A 140 year old estate that originally belonged to the influential Horiuchi Family was renovated in a Contemporary design based on Japanese Heritage: high-ceilings and apparent beams, lots of light and a soothing garden as a focal point of the hotel. Although some elements of designs are very " Aman" (especially the room layout), the concept of Azumi is quite different and unlike the "resort" feel of Aman : as a compact "village hotel", guests will probably prefer to explore the island and village rather than lounging around.

The two-story pavilion houses 18 Suites and 4 Duplexes, divided in four room types:

-  Niwa : Ground floor room with small garden (double occupancy)

-  Suzumi : Second floor room with small balcony (double occupancy)

-  Maisonnette (duplex) : Niwa-Susumi & Sora-suzumi (triple/quad occupancy).
Note: we felt the layout wasn't optimized or ideal for 3-4 guests and don't actively recommend it.  

  • Dining : The restaurant feels like a cosy dining room, with high ceilings and apparent beams and offers a Japanese-Asian fusion course dinner, quite different from a ryokan but not unfamiliar to Aman guests in Asia.

    In addition, Azumi Setoda has 2 rooms and 1 pavilion for private dining & small events.
  • Spa & Fitness: no spa, gym or pool at Azumi
  • Hotel Activities : Bicycle Rental & Tours, Temple Meditation, Boat Fishing.
    (Note: The Real Japan can also organize cycling as well as contemporary art or classic sightseeing daytrips).


Azumi is located in a remote and off-the-beaten track location, yet with excellent service & hospitality and plenty to see, taste and discover in the surrounding islands, so we feel it's a great destination for " adventurous luxury travelers" and for returning clients looking for a deeper connection.  


Setoda Village, Ikuchijima, Hiroshima Prefecture

New Theme-specific Itineraries
While we are waiting for borders to re-open, we are proud to present
our new "Follow Your Passion" concept.

Each Theme Itinerary is focused on a specific centre of interest 
and can be fully customized (duration, pace, contents), just for your clients.  
Secret (Art) Islands of Japan

Japan is composed of over 6,850 islands, yet most first-time travelers usually only visit one : Honshu, the main island where Tokyo, Osaka & Kyoto are located. 

For returning visitors wishing to explore the country's hidden gems, this itinerary combines breathtaking sceneries with ancient culture & history, thought-provoking art installations and museums and recent developments to revitalize these remote communities. 

Embark on a unique journey to discover Japan's secret islands, while enjoying leisure time in amazing settings.

NOTE: In remote destinations, accommodation may not reflect our usual standards of luxury & flexibility.

Secret (Art) Islands of Japan


Mandarin Oriental Tokyo

1 night


Marriott Associa Hotel

2 nights

Takamatsu (*)

JR Hotel Clement Takamastu

1 night

Shodoshima (*)

Umioto Mari

2 nights


Bella Vista Spa & Marina

2 nights