Honeymoon Travel: Japan

There are so many honeymoon destinations to choose from, each with a different emotional and stylistic magnetism.

The options are endless: relaxing by the beach for days with your loved one, exploring the English countryside, or an adventurous trip to New Zealand or Australia.

Personally, I prefer a nice balance of relaxation and exploration, which is why Japan is one of my favorite places to visit. Romance is inevitable here, and it’s the perfect place to build the connection with your partner. What better way to start your lives together than discovering the culture and sensations of a beautiful country?

There are so many options in traveling through Japan but your ALTOUR travel specialist will help make it seamless and creative to form memories that will last a lifetime. Our job is to tailor-make a trip that fits your personality and budget, but here are a few personal highlights from my own experiences, as well as a feature of Ritz-Carlton’s “One Journey Two Capitals.”

The Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo and The Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto are two of my favorite hotels in two of my absolute favorite cities.

Tokyo is a city of lights, extreme energy and amazing food. There are multiple hotels to choose from, depending on your personal taste, but The Ritz-Carlton is bold, yet fresh, and sexy, yet understated; it has the right amount of luxury without feeling pretentious. The property is also connected to one of the largest shopping centers in Tokyo, so you have direct access to almost everything you could ask for.

As soon as you walk off the elevator to the lobby level on the 45th floor, there is an immediate sense of vibrancy and style. The glass walls afford beautiful views that are mesmerizing, yet distinctively different from daytime to evening. I love the daytime views of coffee, suits and newspapers amidst the hustle of bustle of the city, tourists scurrying out for their adventure for the day and Japanese locals tending to corporate business meetings. Then at night the sun sets and the lights of the city shower the entire lobby with such a glow that is becomes very hard to leave your cocktail at the bar and venture out for your dinner reservation.

As far as Tokyo in general, here some of my favorite memories:

Walking around Ginza, Shinjuku, and Shibuya neighborhoods is an experience in and of itself, especially at night. You could easily spend a day in each. Check out Harajuku area which is in Shibuya, and specifically the main street there, Takeshita. Packed with people, a lot of them dressed in more colorful clothing, it is a beautiful peek at the culture of this area.

Have dinner at the Robot Restaurant. This is a must! You have to have a reservation with which your hotel concierge can assist. The food is just decent, but the hour-long show is an indescribable blend of burlesque, live music, costumes and gigantic robots “fighting” (like Japanese anime come to life!).

The fish market is one of the most amazing experiences that I have ever witnessed. We were at the market before 5 a.m., but it was worth the early start: we saw the auction of tuna to various suppliers, ate scallops out of the shell from a fisherman’s morning catch. People are moving at incredible speeds to make all their deals happen and organize all their products; they hardly know you are there! This is good and bad considering there is seafood being thrown about everywhere! Another warning: be prepared for a sushi and beer breakfast at 7 a.m.

I must admit, I have been to a Cat Café and was more than intrigued...

Definitely go to an area called Roppongi Hills and find the Mori Tower there. The whole place looks like you’re in Blade Runner (you know that movie?), incredibly futuristic with amazing architecture. Mori Tower has great restaurants and shops, but also a super-cool modern art “museum” (not very big, but very interactive and interesting) and an incredible “Sky Deck” on the 54th floor called Tokyo City View (open until midnight) where you can go outside and see all of the city, including the Japanese “Eiffel Tower” ... a fantastic photo spot!

Don’t miss Ueno Park, a big landmark, so it’s easy to find. It’s the ideal place to see cherry blossoms, people outside with picnics, great street food and a beautiful lake.

Consider Park Hyatt for drinks, which may be a bit of a cliché since it’s the hotel from the movie, Lost in Translation. Don’t let that stop you; the view from the top floor, where the bar/restaurant is located, is amazing with its floor-to-ceiling windows.

And my key for curing jet lag? A dip in the gorgeous pool of The Ritz-Carlton...

As part of the Ritz-Carlton “One Journey Two Capitals” package that you can confirm with your ALTOUR agent, we invite you to stay in Tokyo and then venture to the beautiful city of Kyoto. We can escort you to the train station, even to your platform, sending you on your way to your second incredible destination: The Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto!

This hotel is so special. I have been fortunate enough to enjoy luxurious hotels with my current job but when a property is “special,” then I consider it in a league of its own. The Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto is a magical oasis with Zen energy and simple style. As I am sure many of you can relate, I am always on the go and have a hard time really decompressing at times, but the moment that you step into this hotel, all of your worries and stress melt away.

It may be the water features that line the pathway to the check-in desk, or it may be the gentle greetings from everyone you come in contact with. Regardless, I was immediately overwhelmed with a sense of happiness and ease. The hotel truly feels like a Japanese home (a cross between a hotel and Ryokan) and you are welcomed as such.

I couldn’t stop smiling when I was in Kyoto ... and have you had Italian food in Japan? La Locanda was incredible. It features the coziness of a classic Italian meal, with a twist of Japanese art, and unexpected yet somehow perfect combination.

Here are my personal Kyoto highlights (outside of Ritz’s gorgeous spa, of course):

Waking up at the Ritz, overlooking the water bank, and renting a bicycle to discover the city for an entire day.
Learn something new at the amazing Haru Cooking Class!

There are literally dozens of UNESCO World Heritage locations in Kyoto. If you like monuments, you could spend countless hours exploring them.

We loved walking the “Philosopher’s Path,” a stone path through the northern part of Kyoto’s Higashiyama District which follows a canal lined by cherry trees; it begins around Ginkakuji (“Silver Pavilion”) and ends in the neighborhood of Nanzen-ji.

The Kinkakuji Temple (“Golden Pavilion”) and the Kiyomizu-dera Temple (and the cool cobblestone shopping streets leading up to it!) are both ancient, must-see stops.

A day trip to Nara is also delightful. You only need a few hours here, and if you’re able to do any quick side trips, this should definitely be it.

Train trip from Kyoto is only about 35 minutes and there are usually two trains each hour.

This place is magical! There are over 1,000 deer roaming around the entire town, mostly minding their own business. You can buy cheap biscuits from the surrounding vendors so you can feed them — they come right up to you! There’s a huge park in the middle of town where you’ll see the most deer; they are literally everywhere.

Todai-ji Temple has an enormous bronze Buddha and is one of the largest wooden structures in the world.

Kofukuji Temple is exquisite with a five-story pagoda, the second highest in Japan.

The options for travel in Japan are endless, but that is what your travel agent is here for!
Whether you want to continue to Osaka (known as the beer capital of Japan), see snow monkeys in Jigokudani Yaen Koen, stay in traditional Japanese “ryokans” (traditional Japanese inns that are a very popular bed and breakfast style with intimate accommodations), or just eat some of the most amazing food, from street vendors to Michelin star restaurants, Japan may be the perfect honeymoon getaway for you.

Explore the Torii Tunnel at Fushimi Inari Shrine with its bright neon orange gates stretching for miles, which you can hike up, as well!


Travel Editor Mike Ragan and Erica Helwick