Guess where’s hot for 2023 travel?

Happy Thursday Hidden Gem Travel community! Question – do you feel more motivated to travel internationally than ever before? If your answer is yes, then you’re not alone. It continues to be very busy here in ‘travel land’ with clients planning their 2023 vacations abroad now. In years past, the floodgates opened in mid-January but savvy travelers know that planning farther ahead is critical to having the best options for their trips, including availability and rates.

Speaking of 2023 travel planning, Japan is HOT for next year. Having just reopened to leisure travel on October 11th, people are excited to plan bucket-list vacations to this incredible country. While late March to mid-April is the popular Sakura season when Cherry Blossoms are in bloom, it’s the busiest time of year to visit. Consider later in the year when you’ll have enough time to plan and more reasonable prices.

Besides when to go, another important decision point is the experiences you’d like to have when in Japan. I match my client’s interests with the travel partner that can best deliver their dream trip. Wondering what’s available beyond the typical sights? Read on for the scoop and inspiration about some of Japan’s hidden gem experiences…

Japan for Foodies

Japan offers a wide range of experiences for foodies which include walking tours of the best ramen spots, sake tastings, and sushi, soba noodle, and bento-making classes.  You can participate in a tea ceremony, experience a tea salon, and view historic Kyoto from an open-top restaurant bus!

How about dinner with a maiko? Enter the fascinating world of the geisha, exploring more than 200 years of history. Accompanied by a local guide, visit the streets of Gion, known as Kyoto’s geisha district, where you’ll have dinner with a maiko, who’s an apprentice in this Japanese tradition and adorned in classic stark makeup and a colorful kimono.

Read more about exploring Japan’s ramen here!

💎 Hidden Gem Tip: If you’re already intrigued, you can schedule a chat with me here.

Cultural Immersion

Your journey through Japan begins with the history and religions that shape its culture and values. Take a private tour of old Tokyo, visit the Geisha district, walk through the Yanaka neighborhood, and step inside the Senso-Ji Temple. Explore the ancient shrine complex located in the sacred hills of Nikko National Park. On a guided bike tour, travel to Kyoto and discover the old city’s ancient temples and shrines. Experience an exclusive Japanese tea ceremony while learning about Zen Buddhism.

Interested in a deeper dive? Learn the Kagura Dance at a mountain Shrine. Accompanied by a shrine priestess, board a cable car and travel to Ohyama Afuri Jinja Shrine, an ornate sanctuary within the mountain that is 2,000 years old. Attend formal worship conducted by a shrine priest before delighting in a rare rendition of Kagura, a style of Shinto dance performed by the priestess. Afterward, head to Saryo Sekison, a café adjacent to the shrine. Behold one of Japan’s most spectacular night views while relishing sparkling sake from a nearby brewery and delicacies made from locally produced ingredients.

💎 Wondering where to stay on your trip to Japan? Hidden Gem Travel guests receive daily breakfast for two and other VIP perks! More info here: Best Of The Best Hotels and Experiences.

Hidden Gem Outdoor Adventures

Bike the dramatic Noto Peninsula which has been shaped over eons. Explore Japan’s “hidden shore” on a scenic bike tour, riding past fishing villages, terraced rice fields, and rocky limestone formations. Stop at Kyoto’s exquisite Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, which have long stood the test of time.

Visit Amami-Oshima which was recently declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Famed for its flora and fauna, there are many species found only on this island. Trek through a highland cloud forest, view a technicolor coral reef, or canoe through Kuroshio-no-Mori Mangrove Park and watch for rare Amami rabbits. Explore Oshima Tsmugi village which produces high-quality kimono textiles.

Finer Arts

Meet a Jojoo calligraphy artist to explore the world of Jojoo calligraphy at a lovely atelier by the sea on the beautiful Noto Peninsula. The artist has been making calligraphy art since the age of two and has worked as a professional artist since the age of five. She’ll demonstrate how to release creativity through the beauty of Jojoo calligraphy. Each piece of calligraphy is rendered onto traditional, locally made washi paper for an artwork that’s both sublime and unique.

💎 Make your own Wanderlist for Japan! As a reminder, Wanderlist is an online portal where you can research, explore, and create shareable lists of destinations and experiences. Share your list with me so I can make it happen for you! Check it out here!

Enter the Edo era of Japan. In a film studio in Kyoto, more than 100 professional actors, actresses, and stunt performers will put on a private show that travels back to when the Shogunate ruled Japan in the 1600s. You may opt to dress in era-appropriate garb, try sword training, and meet a geisha, ninja, and samurai.

Enjoy the performances, pyrotechnics, and a dinner fit for royalty in a hall decorated in traditional Japanese festival style with taiko drum music and more. A film team will capture the evening’s best moments and edit them into a historical drama for a unique gift and souvenir.

Inspired? Reach out to me now to chat 2023 travel at

💎 Hidden Gem Tip: Follow my Facebook/Instagram pages for more travel inspiration: or Instagram:

Wishing you and your family continued good health,


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Hi, I'm Susan Wilson

I’m the founder of Hidden Gem Travel Consulting. As your personal travel advisor, I craft custom worldwide itineraries that astound and inspire you.


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