Inspirato members know they have access to an exclusive and extensive list of homes, hotel partners, and experiences. But what about when it comes to planning a completely customized vacation, uniquely catering to members’ requests to create the trip of a lifetime?

That’s where Bespoke comes in, and how Inspirato member Karen Woo began planning her bucket-list trip to Japan to see the cherry blossoms in late March.

Karen, a third-generation Japanese American, or “sansei,” wanted to explore her cultural roots. That, and the timing of seeing the cherry blossoms in early spring, were what propelled she and her husband to book the trip she had been dreaming of, she said.

With about four months to start planning, Karen and Inspirato Bespoke Travel Lead Kelsey began the process of nailing down exactly what she and her husband would do during their trip.

“I didn’t know what I wanted to see initially,” Karen said. “My main focus was cherry blossoms, and then (Kelsey) came back with … some ideas. I said yes to some, and no to others.”

Karen said she was impressed at the quickness with which the trip came together, and was pleasantly surprised at the activity ideas, some of which she wouldn’t have thought of herself—like a Zen meditation with a Buddhist monk.

“That was kind of fun—to try something that we would have never even thought of,” she said.

She also mentioned that the Bespoke process allowed her to feel like she had a lot of say in exactly what she did on the trip, catering it to her interests. She specifically requested, for example, an onsen—a Japanese natural hot spring—with a view.

When she and her husband actually touched down in Tokyo, a plethora of adventures awaited. Activities throughout their 10-day itinerary across the country ranged from sake tasting to exploring Shinto shrines. In between, they toured temples, sipped tea in a 400-year-old Kyoto teahouse, and golfed the coveted Fuji Course on the Izu Peninsula—a bucket-list destination for any international golfer—as the course’s namesake mountain loomed in the distance.

And though they knew they would see the cherry blossoms in Tokyo, Karen and her husband were able to follow the path of the bloom beyond the city and throughout their entire journey across the country, an unexpected but beautiful addition to the trip.

The country has such a contrast: You’ve got Tokyo, which is a big, bustling city, and then you’ve got these other (areas), that are so serene and beautiful and tranquil—it’s just amazing.

Karen WooInspirato member

One of Karen’s priorities when traveling is taking in as much nature and animal life as possible. She loved catching glimpses of Mt. Fuji on the horizon, and paid a visit to “Monkey Mountain” in Kyoto, where visitors can feed the macaque monkeys that inhabit the area. And a stopover in Nara afforded her the chance to meet some of the hundreds of friendly deer that bow for treats from humans, living among the trees and temple there.

At the end of their trip, Karen said it was more than she’d ever imagined. From exploring her cultural heritage to the perfect timing of the cherry blossom bloom, everything surpassed her expectations, she said.

“Every night we would come back and say, ‘Wow. What a great day this has been.’ We just saw so much, we experienced so much—we were tickled pink. We just couldn’t believe it,” she said. “We had the trip of a lifetime.”

(Photos 2 through 5 courtesy of Karen Woo.)


  • michelle brenes says:

    I am interested for 2020

    • Wanderlust says:

      You should go. The Japanese people are lovely, the food is fantastic and it’s both fun and fascinating.
      Places I would hit in no particular order:

      1. Kamakura- a small town about 45 minutes outside of Tokyo. Besides it’s charm, it has the second largest Buddha in the country. Ginormous.
      2. Any sushi restaurant you see.
      3. Ramen noodle house.
      4. The Sapporo Beer Museum.
      5. The Ramen Museum.
      6. Oeno Park (Zoo, museums, water lily pond, crafts).
      7. Hiroshima 8. Bullet train 9. A pachinko parlor 10. ?

  • Gladys says:

    AWWWW, loved all your photos, would love a trip like this, will need to add Japan to my travel bucket-list. After living in Washington, D.C. for a few years, I really loved watching the cherry trees blossom every spring, it was such a treat.

  • Kwamee says:

    Absolutely Beautiful post….. This blog is ” just right “. It doesn’t involve ” too many characters ” ( most blogs do in my opinion ), yet gives me an good impression on Japan and what cherry blossom trees can do for its scenery! Thanks.

  • Margaret says:

    I would love to go to Japan, beauty beyond compare

  • Bob Minnis says:

    Love, love, love Japan. So beautiful and clean. I would go back in a heartbeat!

  • Brenda says:

    I could not do a cruise to Japan this year which I wanted to do so badly. I wanted to see the Cherry Blossoms and do my photography. Hopefully next year, I’ll have sometime to understand and speak some Japanese. I’m so looking forward to it.

  • Jack says:

    Yes, Japan is the only impeccable country I’ve ever visited. I liked her expression tickled pink, it’s and oldie but a goodie.

  • charles says:

    Hi Spent 4 years in Japan, 1955 U.S. Air Force, air crew, B-29 aircraft, Korean War? As the occupation force, military was restricted to cities, Kyoto, etc. My pictures of OLD Japan, I cherish. Seeing Modern Japan, kept my returning for a visit in the 90’s. The Japanese people are wonderful, especially for us GI’s, i would have stayed, my Japanese was great. Military said no. I was stationed at Yokota Japanese air base. Point, I and two buddies on the old Japanese steam train went to Hiroshima, and Nagasaki, 2 years post Bomb destruction, not going to described the damage seen. However, good to see beautiful Japan as now. ATT here, channels NHK Japan, presents the modern Japan, food!!!!!! sake, Sumo wrestlers, Ladies in beautiful kimonos. Thank for commenting my Japan tour.

  • Pete says:

    I’m planning a trip to Japan next year. When would you recommend is the best time of the year to go?

    • Inspirato says:

      Hi, Pete! Spring is actually a fantastic time to visit Japan. Not only do you have the opportunity to see the cherry blossoms, but temperatures are typically mild with clear skies; you’ll avoid the rainier seasons by visiting from March to May.

  • Chris says:

    Saw the deer at a park (estimated over 1000) near Nara, the complete town is open to deer freely moving about (protected) but, in March, still with their thick winter hair, don’t see the spots

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