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Overview

Be immersed in Japan’s rich culture with a memorable trip from Tokyo to Kyoto. After discovering the capital’s historic monuments and modern shopping districts head to Hakone to soak in onsens in the shadow of Mt. Fuji. Wrap up the trip in Kyoto, exploring serene temples and UNESCO-heritage sites.

Trip Highlights

Japan’s Golden Route

Explore Tokyo’s diversity

See the Edo-era Hamarikyu garden, Asakusa’s Geisha district and the revered Meiji shrine as well as Tokyo’s modern commercial districts.

Soak up Hakone’s beauty

Soak in natural hot springs, cruise across Lake Ashinoko and trek through natural trails in the shadow of Mt. Fuji. 

Delve into UNESCO-heritage Kyoto

Take a guided tour of Kyoto’s numerous shrines and UNESCO sites for a better understanding of Japanese culture and history.

Itinerary

1

Arrival in Tokyo

Narita International Airport (NRT) to Central Tokyo: 1.5 h Haneda International Airport (HND) to Central Tokyo: 50 min

Upon arrival to Tokyo’s airport, our representative will be waiting to assist with transport into the city (helping to board the right train or finding the appropriate shuttle). After arriving at the hotel and checking in, 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 and head towards 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 another of its biggest attractions is its teahouse, Nakajima-no-Ochaya.

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

From the park, embark on 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 sits in the midst of around 120,000 trees, making it easy to 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, Optional Day Trip to Kamakura

Today is a self-guided day.

Suggested Self-Guided Itinerary:

Spend the entire day exploring this amazing city. Visit the electronics district of Akihabara or discover some of Tokyo’s world-class museums and art galleries.

Alternatively, use the included Japan Rail Pass for a day trip to Kamakura. One of Japan’s former capitals, Kamakura is a delightful seaside town home to many ancient shrines, temples, and other structures like the Daibutsu, a giant bronze Buddha that stands at 13-meter tall.

Distance and journey time (approximation):

Tokyo Station to Kamakura Station: 50 min

Optional Tour: Tokyo Street Food Tour

Be sure to bring an appetite: This is one Tokyo street food tour that is sure to please the taste buds! Meet with a local, food-loving guide at the train station and set off into the streets for a Japan-style food crawl.

Veer off into the maze of laneways that fill the capital, passing street carts selling exotic snacks and diners perched on small metal stools. Stop to sample some of the items on offer, from barbequed meats to sweet desserts. Then enter an izakaya for a distinctly Japanese experience. These small, Japanese-style pubs are popular gathering places for friends and colleagues to gather after work for a beer. The food on offer is meant to be shared and is thus served almost like tapas. The guide will order up a few traditional izakaya favourites such as fried chicken wings or cold edamame. Sample the dishes and wash them down with a cold, local beer alongside the locals.

While dining, learn more about Japan’s culinary culture by observing the lively surroundings and hearing the guide’s personal stories. During the evening, stop at four or five venues, each with a distinctive style. These venues do not take reservations so the exact routing may change but the guide will ensure there is plenty to eat! Following an evening of culinary and cultural indulgence, return to the hotel for a good night’s sleep.

Time:

Start: 17:00

Duration: 3.5 h

Overnight in Tokyo

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.

In Hakone, experience a stay in a ryokan, a classic Japanese-style inn 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

Today is a self-guided day.

Suggested Self-Guided 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).

Overnight in Hakone

6

Hakone – Kyoto

Hakone-Yumoto Station to Kyoto Station: 2.5 h

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.

Suggested Self-Guided Itinerary:

Start exploring this magnificent city or take part in one of the many cultural experiences on offer such as cooking classes, tea ceremonies, and visits to sake breweries.

To end the evening in style, we can also arrange a Geisha performance in a traditional theater. Witness the arts and music that the Geishas have been passing on through generations.

Note: The cultural experiences and the Maiko performance need to be arranged in advance at an additional cost.

Overnight in Kyoto

7

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 goldleaf.

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 2020.

Overnight in Kyoto

8

Kyoto, Cultural Experience, Optional Afternoon Trip to Nara

Be immersed in Japanese culture with this insightful half day trip in Kyoto. Start with a visit to a machiya, a traditional wooden townhouse found throughout Kyoto. Take a tour of the beautifully restored house, learning about its architecture and history.

Then slip into a kimono, the iconic traditional Japanese garment. These full-length robes are worn by all Japanese when attending important events or formal occasions. Once appropriately dressed, meet with a local tea master for a traditional ceremony. Watch and learn as the master brews and services tea using slow, deliberate movements steeped in spirituality and ritual. Enjoy a cup of the bitter tea along with traditional sweet treats.

After the tea is finished, continue the cultural exploration of Kyoto. Experience an introductory course in origami, the Japanese art of paper folding. Under the guidance of a local artist, learn the secrets behind creating beautiful decorations and images with simple pieces of paper.

Wrap up the half day trip in Kyoto with new insights and a better understanding of Japanese culture. Return to the hotel or continue to explore Kyoto’s charming streets.

Suggested Self-Guided 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

9

Departure from Kyoto

Central Kyoto to Kansai International Airport (KIX): 2 h

The rest of the day is at leisure until the scheduled transfer via shared shuttle 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).
  • Meet and greet at the airport and return transfers to the airport.
  • 7-Day Japan Rail Pass in ordinary class, activated on Day 2.
  • PASMO Transport Pass at a value of 1,500 JPY for Day 2 & 8.

(Note: Additional credit 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).

  • 3-Day Hakone Free Pass from Day 4 to Day 6 (valid from Odawara).
  • English-speaking guides in Tokyo (Day 2) and Kyoto (Day 7) (for other languages, supplementary charges apply).
  • All entrance fees and public transportation fees as mentioned in the itinerary on Days 2 and 7.
  • Cultural experience on Day 8.
  • Other services not clearly indicated in the package inclusions above

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.

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    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.

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