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Overview

Travel through the land of the rising sun and visit cities like Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima and Osaka. Learn about the country’s rich culture and see the different temples and shrines.  Taste the best of culinary Japan and visit important historical castles from the feudal era Japan is famous for.

Trip Highlights

Japan City Tours

Tour the entire country

Visit the most iconic cities and discover their different identities 

Experience Japan’s history

Travel to cities, villages and gorgeous remnants of the feudal period

Discover a different culture

Learn about tea ceremonies and witness Japanese Zen, mirrored in its lakes, temples and everyday life

 

Itinerary

1

Arrival in Tokyo

Narita International Airport (NRT) to Central Tokyo: 1.5 hours Haneda International Airport (HND) to Central Tokyo: 50 minutes

Upon arrival to Tokyo’s airport, our representative will be waiting to assist with transportation into the city (either boarding the right train or finding the appropriate shuttle bus). The remainder of the day is free at leisure.

Overnight in Tokyo

2

Tokyo

Start (guided tour): 09:00 Duration: 8 h *including pick-up/drop-off and transit times

Meet up with the guide this morning at the hotel for the trip to Hamarikyu, a Japanese garden that once served as a private villa of a powerful feudal lord during the Edo period. Its wide collection of seasonal flowers makes it one of the most visited gardens in Tokyo, however its most attractive aspect is its teahouse called Nakajima-no-Ochaya.

Enjoy a break in the teahouse and a cup of freshly made green tea while the guide shares interesting facts about sado (tea ceremony).

From the park, take a scenic river cruise to Asakusa, a part of Tokyo’s shitamachi or old town. Asakusa is the city’s oldest Geisha district and also home to Senso-ji, Tokyo’s oldest Buddhist temple. The streets around Senso-ji feature many traditional shops and are a delight to wander through.

The tour ends with a visit to Meiji Jingu, Tokyo’s most famous shrine dedicated to Emperor Meiji and a popular venue for traditional Shinto weddings.

The shrine is also home to around 120,000 trees, making one forget that just outside its grounds are two of the city’s popular shopping districts, Harajuku and Omotesando.

Note: The order of this itinerary may change depending on the location of your hotel.

Overnight in Tokyo

3

Tokyo

Start (activity): 8:30 Duration: 4.5 hours

Meet the guide at the hotel lobby at 8:30 a.m. and embark on an early morning tour of Tsukiji. Stroll around the busy marketplace, checking out some stalls that sell local produce, traditional Japanese seasonings, and kitchenware.

Following the tour is a sushi-making class in a designated facility in Tokyo just half an hour by train from the market. Led by a well-experienced Japanese cook, learn the basics in making “maki sushi” (rolled sushi), “gunkan maki” (sushi rice wrapped with a strip of seaweed and topped with soft ingredients), and “nigiri sushi” (sushi rice topped with a slice of raw fish).

Conclude today’s activity sharing a hearty Japanese meal and a lively conversation with the rest of the group.

Overnight in Tokyo

Note: The city of Tokyo is discussing plans to relocate the Tsukiji Fish Market – it is still not clear whether the relocation will take place in 2018 or later. Although the outer market area, with its shops and restaurants, is always available for visits, tours inside the inner market may not be allowed at all times.

4

Tokyo – Hakone

Tokyo Station to Hakone-Yumoto Station: 1 h

Today is a self-guided day.

Travel by train to Hakone, a popular hot spring destination from Tokyo frequented by most tourists who wish to get a sight of Mt. Fuji.

Suggested Self-Guide Itinerary:

Spend the whole day exploring Hakone with the included transport pass, which serves as a ticket to the numerous forms of transportation in the area.

Ride the Hakone Tozan switchback train that zigzags through the mountains and offers views of the surrounding valleys. Afterwards, ride the Guinness World Record-holder ropeway all the way up to Mt. Owakudani, passing over sulfurous fumes and hot springs.

From the mountain, take the ropeway bound for Togendai and ride the replica pirate ship that cruises along Ashinoko, a body of water that was formed after a volcanic eruption that occurred more than 3,000 years ago.

Hakone is also home to many museums and parks. One of these is the Hakone Open Air Museum. The museum is famous for its harmonic balance between nature and art, featuring a sizable Picasso Collection.

Note: The ropeway that goes to Mt. Owakudani has resumed operations but for safety reasons, hiking on the mountain is still prohibited.

Suggested Alternative Itinerary:

Begin by heading towards Togendai to board the aforementioned pirate ship, crossing the volcanically formed Ashinoko lake.

Disembark at Hakone-machi and walk towards Hakone Shrine, the most photographed spot in Hakone for its iconic “floating” torii gate. From the shrine, continue to trek along the Preserved Old Tokaido Walking Trail, of which the most popular track stretches around 8 km long. The next 40 minutes heads towards Amazake Chaya, a traditional house serving Japanese-style snacks accompanied by sweet rice wine (amazake).

In Hakone, experience a stay in a ryokan, a classic Japanese-style accommodation furnished with futon beds, tatami flooring, paper sliding doors, and hot spring baths.

Enjoy a traditional multi-course meal for dinner, which usually includes small servings of sushi, sashimi, and tempura.

Overnight in Hakone

5

Hakone – Kyoto

Hakone-Yumoto Station to Kyoto Station: 2.5 hours

Today is a self-guided day.

Take one last soak in the onsen before getting on the bullet train to Kyoto, the reigning cultural capital of Japan, home to 2,000 shrines and temples with 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The rest of the day is at leisure.

Overnight in Kyoto

6

Kyoto

Start (guided tour): 09:00 Duration: 8 h *including pick-up/drop-off and transit times

Today’s tour starts with a visit to Nijo Castle, an ornamental castle that was originally built to serve as the private villa of a powerful feudal lord. The main building was completed in early 1600s and has since then been known for its Momoyama-style architecture, decorated sliding doors, and “chirping nightingale” floors.

Next on the list is the serene Ryoan-ji Temple, which is famous for its well-maintained rock garden and known to be the home of the Myoshinji School of the Rinzai Buddhist sect.

Just a short distance from Ryoan-ji is the stunning golden pavilion collectively known as Kinkaku-ji Temple. The temple grounds are relatively smaller than that of most temples and shrines in Kyoto, but what is undoubtedly impressive is the pavilion that is completely covered in handmade gold-leaf.

A visit to Kiyomizu-dera Temple follows later in the day. The view from the 13-meter high building is indeed breathtaking and the fact that this veranda was built without using any nails or joiners is quite unbelievable.

The tour ends with a stroll along the busy streets of Higashiyama district, a collection of narrow alleyways lined with local stores, souvenir shops, small eateries, and even pottery centers.

Note: Kiyomizu-dera is currently undergoing renovations, with proposed completion in 2019.

Overnight in Kyoto

7

Kyoto, Cultural Experience, Optional Afternoon Trip to Nara

Start (cultural activity): 9:30 Duration: 2 hours Kyoto Station to Nara Station: 45 minutes

This half-day tour offers a unique and unforgettable chance to learn about Japanese culture in a machiya, a traditional Kyoto-style wooden townhouse which has been beautifully restored. Head on a short tour of the house and learn a bit about its architecture before trying on a traditional kimono, the iconic Japanese garment.

While in the kimono, take part in a tea ceremony led by a tea master, a quintessential part of Japanese culture. This allows some unique insight into Japanese tea culture, from making the tea to the movements involved in serving it.

This cultural experience ends with a choice of two options:

Option A:

Walk through the old neighborhood and visit a nearby sake brewery with a chance to try the local brew.

Option B:

Take a short introduction to origami, the Japanese art of paper folding.

Note: In case the sake brewery is closed, an origami class will be arranged instead.

Suggested Self-Guide Itinerary:

In the afternoon, head out of town and travel to Nara with the included Japan Rail Pass. For 74 years during the 8th century, Nara was Japan’s capital and many of the temples and shrines built at that time still remain.

Nara is just a small town, with most of its main tourist spots located around Nara Park, where a large amount of tame deer roam free. Visit Todaiji Temple, the world’s largest wooden building housing Japan’s largest Buddha, or Kasuga Taisha, Nara’s most celebrated shrine.

Distance and journey time (approximation):

Kyoto Station to Nara Station: 45 min

Overnight in Kyoto.

8

Kyoto – Hiroshima

Kyoto Station to Hiroshima Station: 2 hours and 15 minutes

The morning is free at leisure until the departure for the historical city of Hiroshima. While on board the bullet train, keep an eye out for Himeji Castle, also known as the ‘White Egret Castle’, and the Seto Ohashi Bridge, the longest two-tiered suspension bridge in the world that stretches 13 kilometers long and links Honshu to Shikoku.

Overnight in Hiroshima

9

Hiroshima and Miyajima

Start (guided tour): 09:00 Duration: 8 h *including pick-up/drop-off and transit times

From mainland Hiroshima, a short ferry ride leads to Miyajima, a small sacred island located in the Seto Inland Sea. Explore the island and sample some local delicacies like oysters, saltwater eel, and maple leaf-shaped cakes.

Start with Itsukushima Shrine, declared as one of Japan’s three most beautiful views. The shrine is designed in a pier-like structure and dates back to the 6th century. Its huge vermillion o-torii gate seems to be floating in the water during high tide.

Walk towards the mountain to visit Daisho-in, the most visited Buddhist temple on the island. Along the stairs is a row of spinning sutras that lead up to the main hall. It is believed that anyone who spins these sutras will be blessed.

Early in the afternoon head back to Hiroshima to visit Peace Memorial Park and Museum. There is also the heart-rending A-Bomb Dome and the Children’s Peace Monument.

Note: The Peace Memorial Museum is currently undergoing renovations, with some areas closed until mid-2019. The base of the iconic torii gate will undergo large-scale repairs from June 2019, expected to last for 14 months. The gate will be surrounded by scaffolding and the view will therefore be obstructed during this time.

Overnight in Hiroshima

10

Hiroshima – Osaka

Hiroshima Station to Shin-Osaka Station: 1.5 hours Start (guided tour): 16:00 Duration: 4 h *time includes pick-up/drop-off and transit time

Today leave the historical city of Hiroshima, head to Osaka, Japan’s culinary capital. Osaka’s flamboyance, fun-loving people, and amazing food make up for what it lacks in tourist attractions .

There is no better place in the country to experience the flamboyant and colourful world of Japan’s street food and nightlife scene than in Osaka. The city’s motto is ‘kuidaore’ or eat-till-you-drop, and just one visit shows that it’s not very difficult to do this! Locals are particularly proud of their famous soul-food offerings, such as Okonomiyaki (savory cabbage pancake with pork), Takoyaki (savory ball-shaped pancakes with octopus), and other local delicacies. Osaka also offers one of the most authentic experiences when it comes to spending a night out, thanks to the city’s warm-hearted and curious inhabitants.

Meet the food expert at a designated meeting point in Dotonbori and enjoy about 4 different venues during the tour.

Start the experience by discovering Osaka’s best-loved dishes in one of the liveliest areas in town, with innumerable little shops, restaurants and tiny taverns and bars. Alongside our local English-speaking food expert, enjoy the bright neon lights of one of the main entertainment areas in town before diving into some narrow, hidden alleyways to discover all the local delicacies Osaka has to offer.
With the help of the guide, taste some of the staples of Osaka’s soul-food such as fresh Okonomiyaki, prepared on the spot, and Takoyaki, which have been featured in the Michelin guide. Continue the gourmet journey with fresh sushi and a local brew, plus the opportunity to interact with the sushi chef. To conclude the tour, stroll through the neighborhood with its uncountable tiny bars, each with their very own distinctive style.

Overnight in Osaka

11

Departure from Osaka

Namba Station to Kansai Airport: 45 minutes

The rest of the day is at leisure until the scheduled transfer by train to Kansai International Airport.

Important Information

Our Services Include:

  • Hotel accommodation with daily breakfast
  • Meals as mentioned in the itinerary (B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner)
  • English meet and greet at the airport and return transfers to the airport
  • PASMO Transport Pass for local transportation in Tokyo with 1,500 JPY worth of credits

(Note: Additional credits will be charged by our guides to cover transportation during guided days. Clients are free to further charge their card should they wish to make use of it during self-guided days).

  • 7-Day Japan Rail Pass in ordinary class, activated on Day 4
  • 2-Day Hakone Free Pass from Day 4
  • English-speaking guides for tours on Days 2, 6, 9, and 10 (supplementary charges apply for other languages)
  • All entrance fees and public transportation fees as mentioned in the itinerary on Days 2, 6, 9, and 10
  • Japanese cultural experience in Kyoto on Day 7
  • Flavours of Osaka Food Tour on Day 10
  • Self-guide app and customized travel documentation

Our Services Do Not Include:

  • International and domestic flights (quoted separately)
  • Some local transport
  • Meals other than mentioned above
  • Personal expenses (e.g. drinks, laundry, telephone, and other expenditures of a personal nature)
  • Travel insurance (please see below)
  • Other services not clearly indicated in the package inclusions above

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    Please fill in the appropriate information below regarding any travel plans or enquiries. Our team of travel experts will get back to you shortly.

    Contact Us

    We’re experts who take pride in tailor-made itineraries that suit any need. Please fill in the form below and a member of our team will be in touch shortly.

    Please fill in the appropriate information below regarding any travel plans or enquiries. Our team of travel experts will get back to you shortly.

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