Day 1 – Tokyo Arrival
On arrival at either Tokyo Haneda International Airport or Tokyo Narita International Airport, you will be greeted by our airport representative who will assist you in obtaining the correct train or shuttle bus to your hotel. The remainder of the day is at your leisure.
Day 2 – Tokyo day tour / Includes Breakfast
This morning meet up with the guide at the hotel and head 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, but what makes it more attractive is its teahouse called 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 Sado (tea ceremony). From the park, take the 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.
Day 3 – Tokyo or optional self-guided tour to Kamakura / Includes Breakfast
Today is a self-guided day.
Suggested Self-Guided Itinerary:
Enjoy the rest of the day exploring this amazing city. Make an early start to visit the electronics district of Akihabara or discover Tokyo’s world-class museums and art galleries.
Alternatively, take an excursion in 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 (1): Cool Tokyo Cycling Tour
Today’s tour starts at 10:00, 15:00 or 18:00. Meet the guide, who is sometimes accompanied by his adorable dog “Jack-san,” at Sasazuka Station, and head together to the cycling studio for a bicycle and helmet fitting. On the way, listen to some fascinating insights and entertaining anecdotes about the local neighbourhood, and get some useful explanations from the guide about Tokyo’s cycling etiquette and today’s itinerary. When everything is ready, depart for today’s cycling tour. Leave Sasazuka with the guide, and cycle to the first location, enjoying the best of Tokyo’s urban design and natural environment on the way. Depending on the season, enjoy the surrounding foliage, which is especially beautiful in the spring when the plum and cherry blossoms bloom, and in the autumn when the trees are a blaze of colour. There will be several cultural and architectural design stops along the way, where the guide will share interesting information and allow some time for photos.
Bike through Tokyo’s backstreets, local shotengai (small commercial streets) in hip neighbourhoods such as Shimo-Kitazawa, and some little-known parks, seeing the guide’s favourite areas and shops and stopping for a break at a charming café. Finally, enjoy the ride back to Sasazuka where the bicycles will be returned to the guide.
Start: 10:00, 15:00, or 18:00.
Duration: 3 h to 4 h
Journey: 10 km (mostly cycling, a bit of walking and light sightseeing also involved).
Optional Tour (2): Tokyo Street Food Tour
Upon arrival at Tokyo’s airport, one of our representatives will be waiting to accompany to the hotel by train or shuttle bus. The rest of the day is at leisure, until the scheduled food tour in the evening.
This evening tour will begin at 17:00. 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 (Street Food Tour):
Duration: approx. 3 h
Day 4 – Tokyo to Takayama / Includes Breakfast and Dinner
Today is a self-guided day.
Get ready for the journey to Takayama, a small town nestled high in the Hida Alpine region of Gifu Prefecture. The first leg of the trip will be on a bullet train that can reach speeds of up to 260 kph. The next leg is on the limited express train Wide View, which offers one of the most scenic train journeys in Japan.
Suggested Self-Guided Itinerary:
We recommend strolling in Takayama’s shitamachi, where the streets are lined with century-old merchants’ homes and sake breweries. Stop by one of the breweries for a taste of the local drop or queue for the famous Hida beef sushi in one of the special food stalls.
In Takayama, experience a stay in a ryokan, the traditional Japanese-style inn furnished with low tables and chairs, sliding shoji doors, and tatami flooring.
Day 5 – Takayama / Includes Breakfast and Dinner
Today is a self-guided day.
Optional Tour: Food & Culture Walk and Hida Cycling Tour
Explore some of the food shops in Takayama with a knowledgeable guide, learning about the town’s colourful history and familiarizing the taste buds with some local delicacies. The walking tour includes visits to a tofu seller, a rakugan shop (traditional Japanese candies) and even a sake brewery (some stores may close during certain days). Food and sake tastings are also included. Follow up with a cycling tour in Hida Furukawa, a small, quiet farm village in Gifu Prefecture located 15 minutes away from Takayama. With an impressive view of the surrounding Japanese Alps, it is also well-known for the traditional architectural design of its old buildings and machiya-style houses built by experienced craftsmen centuries ago.
Like other towns in the Hida Region, Hida Furukawa is also famous for its high-quality sake (rice wine) brought about by its rich rice fields, clean waters and favourable weather. Today, get a chance to explore the streets and outskirts of Hida Furukawa on a bicycle together with a local guide. Spend half a day cycling around this mountain village, passing by rice paddies and old houses, and have a closer look at the lifestyle in this rural region.
Duration (approximation): 6.5 – 7.5 h
April to mid-October: 10:00 – 17:30
Mid-October to December: 10:00 – 16:30
Note: Tour dates, especially right before and after winter, may be altered depending on several factors (i.e. snow, weather, sunset times, etc.).
Day 6 – Takayama to Kanazawa / Includes Breakfast
Today is a self-guided day.
This morning catch the bus to Shirakawago, a UNESCO World Heritage Site famous for its gassho-zukuri farmhouses. Gassho-zukuri means “constructed like hands in prayer,” which is represented through the farmhouses’ steep thatched roofs. This architectural style developed over many generations – the roofs were constructed without any nails and are intricately designed to withstand large amounts of snow. These houses are private homes of the locals, but some are open to the public, such as Wada House, a legacy left behind by the Wada Family who used to be the richest family and village leader in Ogimachi. In the afternoon, continue by bus to Kanazawa, the castle town that thrived as the centre for culture and the arts in the 17th century.
Day 7 – Kanazawa / Includes Breakfast
Today is a self-guided day.
Suggested Self-Guided Itinerary:
Start with the pristine Kenroku-en Garden, which is ranked as one of Japan’s top three gardens. Here you will find the oldest water fountain in the country, a couple of teahouses, and a large villa that used to be the retirement home of one of the richest clans in Kanazawa.
Adjacent to the garden is Kanazawa Castle, easily accessed through the Ishikawa-mon Gate, a designated Important National Cultural Asset. Lunch can be in Omicho Market, known throughout Japan for its fresh seafood and fine sushi. Finally, head across town to the old Samurai district of Kanazawa and visit Nomura House, a restored residence of a high ranked samurai family. Freshly made green tea can be enjoyed on the second floor while viewing the small Japanese garden below.
Day 8 – Kanazawa to Hiroshima / Includes Breakfast
Today is a self-guided day.
This morning is at leisure until the departure for Hiroshima. After the long train journey, it’s time to check into the hotel and rest or start exploring this amazing city.
Day 9 – Hiroshima and Miyajima / Includes Breakfast
Suggested Self-Guided Itinerary:
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. Begin 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.
Day 10 – Hiroshima to Kyoto / Includes Breakfast
Today’s destination is Kyoto, the reigning cultural capital of Japan, home to 2,000 shrines and temples with 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. In the afternoon, be immersed in Japanese culture with this insightful half-day trip to Kyoto. Start with a visit to a machiya, a traditional wooden townhouse found throughout Kyoto. Enjoy 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 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.
Day 11 – Kyoto / Includes Breakfast
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 the 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 centres.
Note: Kiyomizu-Dera is currently undergoing renovations, with proposed completion in 2020
Day 12 – Kyoto / Includes Breakfast
Today is a self-guided day.
Suggested Self-Guided Itinerary: Nara and Fushimi-Inari
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. It’s also here that one can encounter quite a great number of tame deer. Visit Todaiji Temple, the world’s largest wooden building home to Japan’s largest Buddha, or Kasuga Taisha, Nara’s most celebrated shrine. In the afternoon get back to Kyoto and head together to Fushimi Inari Taisha. One of the most unusual and iconic Shinto shrines in Japan, Fushimi Inari’s paths are lined with thousands of vermilion torii gates following trails inside the forests of Mt Inari. Established in 711AD the shrine, which was also featured in “Memoirs of a Geisha”, is famous for the impressive contrast and mystical atmosphere created by the contrasting colours of the torii and those of the surrounding nature. The light hike up to the top of the mountain and back will take up to three hours and will grant the visitors numerous photo opportunities in this unique place. From the top, a beautiful view of the city of Kyoto and the hills surrounding it can be enjoyed.
Day 13 – Kyoto to Osaka / Includes Breakfast
After checking into the hotel, start exploring the lively streets of Osaka, Japan’s culinary capital. Osaka’s flamboyance, fun-loving people, and amazing food make up for what it lacks in tourist attractions.
Suggested Self-Guide Itinerary:
In Osaka, the following places are recommended:
Dotonbori is a restaurant mecca which has long been referred to as Osaka’s entertainment district. It is well-known for its bright neon lights, energetic shop owners, and food stalls that are filled with some local Osakan delights such as takoyaki (octopus’ balls) and fugu (poisonous pufferfish).
Umeda is where most of the city’s most modern buildings are found. Some of the notable buildings are HEP (Hankyu Entertainment Park), which features a big Ferris wheel and is perfect for some last-minute shopping; Kitashinchi District, housing some of the city’s culinary specialties; and the Umeda Sky Building, a pair of skyscrapers connected in “mid-air”, built in an unusual architectural form rarely seen anywhere in the world. Feel the fresh air and enjoy 360-degree panoramic views at the ‘Floating Garden Observatory’.
Optional Tour: Flavours of Osaka Food Tour
Today’s tour begins at 16:45. Osaka is an epicurean’s delight. Indeed, the motto that the city’s exuberant inhabitants live by is kuiadore– “to eat oneself bankrupt.” The first stop will be at a street food stall to get a taste of some traditional Japanese snack food, menchi katsu. Menchi katsu is a breaded and deep-fried patty made of ground meat. Golden and crisp, this is a local favourite. Next, head to a standing bar to enjoy the ambience and taste a selection of sake and Japanese wine, along with delicious house specialties. Then, head to a restaurant specialising in wagyu beef dishes. Often referred to as the most expensive beef in the world, wagyu beef is of superb quality, and is on many a gourmet’s wish list. Enjoy the melt-in-the-mouth textures with a refreshing cocktail. The final stop will be to try a new style of tempura in an eatery tucked away in a small alleyway. Old favourites such as shrimp tempura and more experimental combinations such as asparagus tempura and cheese can be found on the menu.
Bid farewell to the affable guide, and either return to the hotel or go for a stroll around the neighbourhood to take in the sights.
Duration: approx. 3.5 h
Day 14 – Osaka departure / Includes Breakfast
The rest of the day is at leisure until the scheduled transfer to Kansai International Airport.
Japan Rail Pass can be used for transfers using JR trains (with exceptions).
A wonderful way to spend a few days for those who are time poor or looking for a great few days in Tokyo, this tour is designed to show the traveller several of the main tourist sites without making you feel like you need a holiday at the end of it.
Day 1 – Arrive Tokyo – Arrive in Tokyo where you will be welcomed at the airport by our representative and transferred to your hotel. The rest of the day is at your leisure.
Day 2 – Tokyo – This morning your guide will meet you at your hotel for a full day of sightseeing using Tokyo’s very efficient metro system. We begin the day with an early morning visit to Meiji shrine, timed to avoid the crowds. Next to Meiji Shrine is
Harajuku – Tokyo’s youth fashion mecca and there is a shop in Harajuku that caters for you! Neighboring Harajuku is Omotesando, commonly referred to as Tokyo’s Champs-Elysee. From Omotesando, take the metro to Ginza, Tokyo’s most famous upmarket shopping, dining and entertainment district. Our last stop for the day is Asakusa, part of Tokyo’s Shitamachi, or old town. Asakusa is home to Sensoji Temple, Tokyo’s oldest Buddhist temple, and is also the city’s oldest Geisha district. (B)
Day 3 – Tokyo –Your guide will meet you at your hotel at 8am and take you by subway to the Tsukiji Fish Market. On offer in the seafood section are more than 480 different kinds of seafood ranging from fresh fish to shellfish, after buying various ingredients participants will visit a typical Japanese home. Learn to prepare “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). (B & L)
The afternoon is free for you to explore Tokyo and enjoy the night at your hotel.
Day 4 – Tokyo – Today is a self guided day and you are free to explore the city at your own pace. If you need a break from Tokyo’s hectic pace you can choose to make an excursion outside of Tokyo to the delightful seaside town of Kamakura and we will provide you with detailed information of all the options available to you. (B)
Day 5 – Depart Tokyo – Today is free until your included transfer to the airport by either train or shuttle bus. (B)
Day 1 – Ishigaki arrival – Upon arrival at Ishigaki Airport you will be greeted by our airport representative who will provide the private vehicle transfer to your hotel. The remainder of the day is at leisure.
(Domestic flight from Tokyo / Osaka return is not included)
Day 2 – Ishigaki – Today is a self-guided day and we recommend the following activities:
Day 3 – Ishigaki – Today is a self-guided day and we recommend the following activities:
Day 4 – Ishigaki
Shigaki Island to Taketomi Island: 10 min (via high-speed ferry) Ishigaki Island to Iriomote Island: 60 min (via high-speed ferry)
Today is a self-guided day and we recommend the following activities:
Day 5 – Ishigaki to Osaka or Tokyo – The rest of the day is at leisure until the included transfer via taxi to Ishigaki Airport, to catch the flight back to Tokyo or Osaka. (B)
Day 1 – Arrival in Tokyo – Upon arrival at Tokyo Haneda or Narita International Airport, you will be greeted by our airport representative who will assist you with arranging the transfer to your hotel by Airport Limousine Bus. The remainder of the day is at your leisure. We recommend a first exploration of Tokyo on foot in the vibrant neighbourhood of Shinjuku. It is a major commercial and administrative centre and also encompasses the buzzing clubs and karaoke rooms of neon-lit East Shinjuku and upscale bars and restaurants in the Skyscraper District.
Day 2 – Tokyo – Enjoy a full day of exploring Tokyo together with your local guide by using Tokyo’s public transportation system. Start in the exquisitely beautiful Edo period Hamarikyu Garden where seawater ponds change with the tides. A traditional teahouse on an island offers visitors a resting place to enjoy the scenery, this traditional green oasis stands in stark contrast to the surrounding skyscrapers of the adjacent Shiodome district. Then it’s all aboard a boat for a cruise along the Tokyo River passing more of the city sights. The boat will dock in Asukasa where we’ll find the Sensoji Temple, a very popular and colourful Buddhist temple. Legend says that in the year 628, two brothers fished a statue of Kannon, the goddess of mercy, out of the Sumida River, and even though they put the statue back into the river, it always returned to them, consequently, Sensoji was built nearby for the goddess of Kannon. No visit to Tokyo would be complete without a visit to the shopping precincts. Enjoy a walk along Nakamise Street lined with boutiques, souvenir shops and street food outlets. Our final stop is at the spacious Meiji Shrine dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his consort, Empress Shoken. (B)
Day 3 – Tokyo to Kyoto -This morning after enjoying breakfast, our assistant will meet you in the hotel foyer and together you will travel by public transportation to Tokyo Station. From there you will enjoy the Bullet Train to Kyoto, a journey of approximately two hours and 20 minutes.
On arrival enjoy Kyoto at leisure. Kyoto is famous for its numerous classical Buddhist temples, as well as gardens, imperial palaces, Shinto shrines and traditional wooden houses. It’s also known for formal traditions such as kaiseki dining, consisting of multiple courses of precise dishes, and geisha, female entertainers often found in the Gion district. (B)
Day 4 – Kyoto – Enjoy a full day of sightseeing in Kyoto together with your local accredited guide by using Kyoto’s public transportation. Start the day than with a nice cup of tea! The Japanese tea ceremony, known as chanoyu or sado, is a custom that dates back thousands of years. The ceremony is a carefully choreographed ritual that offers the ultimate in Japanese hospitality. As well as trying out a cup of this delicate green tea, we’ll get a unique insight into the customs and etiquette of traditional tea serving.
Fully refreshed, we’ll visit the Kinkakuji Temple, a Zen temple known for its delicately manicured gardens and floors covered in gold leaf. Formally known as Rokuonji, the temple was the retirement villa of the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimatsu.
A walk through the Bamboo Grove in Arashiyama is next on the itinerary. The walking paths cut through bamboo groves that have been used for centuries to make traditional crafts. We’ll continue across the Togetsukyo Bridge, an iconic landmark. Wonderful photos can be shot of the forested mountains in the background and the nearby riverside park full of cherry trees. (B)
Day 5 – Kyoto – Enjoy the day exploring Kyoto together with your local accredited guide! The east side of Kyoto beckons today, this is where we will find the Fushimi Inari Shrine, an important Shinto shrine famous for thousands of bright red torii gates that line the way to the top of the sacred Mount Inari. We continue to Kiyomizu Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which offers incredible views from the 13-metre-high building whose massive veranda was built without using any nails. In the spacious Kyoto Imperial Park, we’ll find the Kyoto Imperial Palace where Japan’s Imperial Family resided until 1868 when the capital was moved to Tokyo. Back in central Kyoto, we visit the beautiful Nijo Castle, once the residence of the Tokugawa shoguns. Our final stop is at Nishiki Market, known as ‘Kyoto’s Kitchen’, this lively retail market specializes in all thing’s food-related and is a great place to find Kyoto specialties such as Japanese sweets, pickles, dried seafood and sushi. (B)
Day 6 – Kyoto to Osaka and departure – Sadly, it’s the end of the tour and time to say goodbye to Japan. After breakfast meet our local airport representative who will assistant and transfer you to Kansai International Airport by public transportation for your departure flight. (B)
Day 1 – Tokyo to Shibu Onsen – This morning depart from Tokyo Station bound for Nagano via the Hokuriku bullet train, which can reach speeds of up to 260 kph. Upon arriving at Nagano Station, you will transfer to the limited express train that will run to Yudanaka Station, where a complimentary shuttle bus is provided by the night’s ryokan (traditional Japanese-style inn, available between 15:00 and 18:00.
Kokuya is a traditional Japanese-style hotel (ryokan) with a 400-year history. Its present owner is the 16th generation to operate the establishment. The ryokan has six different, 100% natural hot springs, which are rich in health-giving minerals that benefit your muscles, joints, and skin. The ryokan is located on the Shibu Onsen “spa street,” which has nine public onsen open for use. Take note of the local people strolling down the street in yukata (light robes) as they head for a soak in one of these hot spring baths. Dinner tonight will be a kaiseki, or Japanese traditional meal, comprised of nine or more dishes. The meal is made up of seasonal dishes using only the freshest of local Nagano ingredients. (D)
Today is a self-guided day.
Overnight in Shibu Onsen
Day 2 – Shibu Onsen – This morning visit the Jigokudani Park, home to the famous Snow Monkeys. Jigokudani literally means “hell’s valley” due to the steam and boiling water that bubble out of small crevices in the frozen ground. It is in these hot spring baths where the resident Japanese Macaques like to soak. Going to the park from the nearest bus stops and parking lot can only be done on foot, which requires around half an hour of trekking. Comfortable footwear is strongly recommended (and warm clothes especially during the colder months). The monkeys live in large social groups, and can be quite entertaining to watch their interactions. Accustomed to humans, they can be observed from very close and almost completely ignore their human guests. Although the monkeys live in the area all year round, they are particularly numerous during the colder months (December – April) while less likely to be spotted in Autumn. In the afternoon, it’s recommended to visit the nearby charming town of Obuse, a small town that features a number of traditional houses and stores. Over 100 houses in the town participate in an ‘Open Garden’ event. If this sign sits in front of a house, it means guests can freely enter the property and enjoy the gardens. A great way to get some insight into Japanese houses. Obuse is also the home of Hokusai, the famous ukiyo-e (woodblock) painter during the Edo period, and Masuichi-Ichimura, the local sake brewery that produces high quality sake from locally produced rice.Another amazing dinner will be served at the ryokan. (B & D)
Note: Transportation to/from Jigokudani can only be arranged on spot (at own expense)
Today is a self-guided day.
Overnight in Shibu Onsen
Day 3 – Shibu Onsen to Tokyo or Kanazawa – The rest of the day is free at leisure until the scheduled departure from Shibu Onsen. (B)
This tour takes you to all the hidden treasures places with an experienced local guide visiting Tokyo and Kyoto, and you can also extend your tour to Osaka from Kyoto. The tour provides a deep insight of the culture and rich history. Currently Japan is a symbol of the exotic, the unknown and the immeasurable and exudes a sense of complete difference that draws travelers to its fascinating and volcanic shores. A wealth of World Heritage shrines, temples and gardens as well as modern Japan with its ultra efficient transport system and tall skyscrapers await discovery on this introductory tour. Commence in the city of Tokyo and explore the main sights with your private guide. Spend a day on your own freely at leisure and then travel on to Kyoto by the express bullet train, a fascinating city that echoes tales of a rich royal past.
Day 1 – Arrive in Tokyo – On arrival at Tokyo Airport you will be welcomed by our airport representative who will assist you in boarding an airport limousine bus and transfer to your hotel on your own. The remainder of the day is at your own leisure.
Day 2 – Tokyo -Meet your guide after breakfast, you will start your Tokyo Grand Experience with a first visit is Tokyo Tower, a symbol of Tokyo and major sightseeing spot that provides a 360-degree panoramic view of Tokyo, such as high-rise buildings in the nation’s capital, the Tokyo Skytree broadcasting tower which began operating in 2011 and Tokyo Bay. Proceed to Meiji Jingu Shrine, taking in a fine example of Japanese Shrine architecture, nestled in a peaceful and picturesque area. Drive by Akasaka Palace (known as Government State Guest House) and National Diet Building, before enjoying a pleasant walk in the East Garden of the Imperial Palace, as a place of historical interest and scenic beauty. After driving through Ginza Shopping District, enjoy a Japanese style lunch. This afternoon your guide takes you to Hamarikyu Garden which is a typical Daimyo garden in the Edo period with a tidal pond. Continue to Hinode Pier, where you’ll enjoy a short Cruise on the Sumida River as you head towards Tokyo’s Asakusa neighborhood. Your ride on this historically significant body of water will take you underneath 12 bridges as you enjoy the unique architectural landmarks along the riverbank and see a harmonious blend of old and new Tokyo. Disembark from your boat and spend some time to stroll the Streets of Nakamise, a thoroughfare that’s packed with vendors selling handicrafts and food. Head on from Nakamise to Asakusa Kannon Temple (also known as Senso-ji Temple), where you’ll have the chance to explore Tokyo’s oldest and most important Buddhist temple. After the tour, concludes your excursion with a drive through Kappabashi, Ueno and Akihabara. Finally you will be transferred to your hotel and then spend the rest of day at leisure on your own. (B, L)
Day 3 – Tokyo – Today is at your own leisure. (B)
Day 4 – Tokyo to Kyoto – Enjoy breakfast at your hotel before you move on to Shinagawa Station where you board a pre-reserved bullet train (Nozomi Standard Seat) and transfer to Kyoto Station on your own. Upon arrival at Kyoto Station, check in to your hotel and spend the remainder of day at your own leisure. (B)
Day 5 – Kyoto – After breakfast, meet your guide and begin to immerse yourself in the captivating culture of Kyoto on a 9-hour sightseeing tour. Travel first to Nijo Castle, a superficially deceptive structure that harbors a magnificent interior, stroll the lavishly decorated chambers and marvel at glittering gold leaf and opulent tones as your guide offers tales of the building’s heritage. Continue to Kinkaku-ji Temple, World Cultural Heritage featuring a shining golden pavilion and a pond-centered garden. Proceed to the shining Kinkaku (Golden Pavilion), a symbol of Kyoto and one of the historical buildings most representative of Japan before venturing to the next destination. Visit Kyoto Imperial Palace and appreciate the regal resplendence of the residence. Enjoy a moment of quiet reflection at the vibrant Heian Shrine then head to the Buddhist temple of Sanju-Sangendo Hall and gaze at the 1,000 life-size statues that inhabit the grand hall. Conclude your tour with a leisurely stroll down a charming lane lined with pottery shops and arrive at Kiyomizu Temple. Enjoy the panoramic vistas of the city from the vertiginous vantage point of a lofty terrace then return to your private vehicle for the journey back to your hotel. The rest of day is free at leisure on your own. (B, L)
Day 6 – Kyoto -Enjoy your last day in Kyoto before you meet your driver who will assist you in the private transfer to Osaka Kansai International Airport for your onward flight.
Delve into the captivating history of Japan on this 7-day tour that traverses the country’s present and former capitals.
Day 1 – Arrive into Tokyo -On arrival in Tokyo you will be welcomed by our airport representative who will assist you with your transfer by either train or shuttle bus to your hotel. The remainder of the day is at your leisure.
Day 2 – Tokyo – This morning your guide will meet you at your hotel and the day begin’s with a stroll through Hama-Rikyu Teien, a former private garden of an Edo Period lord. You will then have a chance to view Tokyo from a different angle as you take a boat cruise along the Sumida River. Next stop will be Asakusa, which is home to Sensoji Temple, Tokyo’s oldest Buddhist temple, and is also the city’s oldest Geisha district. In the afternoon, head across Tokyo to Omotesando, commonly refered to as Tokyo’s Champs-Elysee. This broad, tree lined avenue features many fashion flagship stores designed by internationally renowned architects within a short distance of each other. At the end of the day you will have time to explore Meiji Shrine, Tokyo’s most famous, dedicated to the spirit of the late Emperor Meiji. (B)
Day 3 – Tokyo to Kamakura Day Trip – Today you will make a day trip to Kamakura, the former de facto capital of Japan as the seat of the Shogunate during the Kamakura Period (1185-1333). At that time Kamakura was the largest city in the world however, Kamakura of today is a small, sleepy seaside town with numerous temples, shrines and other attractions. On arrival at Kamakura station you will be met by your guide who will take you on a Zen temple morning tour. Visit Hokokuji Temple, known as ‘Bamboo Temple’ due to its stunning garden featuring over 2000 bamboo trees. Final stop of the morning is Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrinbe, Kamkaura’s most important shrine dedicated to Hachiman, the patron god of Samurai. After the tour is finished, you have the afternoon free to further explore Kamakura’s attractions at your own pace before returning to Tokyo. (B)
Day 4 – Tokyo to Kyoto – A two hour bullet train journey to Kyoto awaits this morning on the top of the line Nozomi super express Shinkansen, which is capable of speeds up to 330km/h, upon arrival we have a special cooking experience in store for you. Together with a local guide you will walk the mile-long Nishiki covered food markets, where there are many interesting food stores to explore as you help your guide buy the ingredients for your Japanese cooking class. After visiting the markets, you’ll travel through the back streets and lanes of Kyoto, visit to former sake brewery for the tour of the house with sake tasting, and then finally to a traditional wooden townhouse for your Japanese cooking class. After the meal the evening is free for you to explore Kyoto, or your guide can assist you in returning to your hotel. (B & D)
Day 5 – Kyoto -Today you explore the former imperial capital utilizing Kyoto’s comprehensive bus system to visit some of Kyoto’s World Heritage Sites. Start your day with a visit to Nijo Castle. Continue onto Kinkakuji, the Goldon Pavilion. Originally built as a retirement villa for the Shogun, after his death it became a Buddhist Temple at his request, and is now one of Kyoto’s most famous temples. The final stop of the morning is Daitoku-ji Zen temple complex, which consists of a main temple and 22 sub-temples. After lunch, visit Kiyomizu ( Pure Water ) Temple. From the 13m high veranda jutting out from the Main Hall, you can enjoy amazing views of Kyoto. Finish off the day with a stroll through the Higashiyama district, whose busy lanes lead up to Kiyomizu and are filled with quaint shops selling souvenirs. (B)
Day 6 – Nara Daytrip – Today is a self-guided day.
This morning, make the 45min train ride to Nara which was the capital of Japan from 710 -784. Nara is a small town and most of its main sights are gathered around Nara Park.
Today we recommend visiting Todaiji Temple, the world’s largest wooden buiding and home to Japan’s largest Buddha, and Kasuga Taisha, Nara’s most celebrated shrine. Nara’s National Musuem has a large collection of Japanese Buddhist Art. In the afternoon, head back to Kyoto for additional sightseeing in the ancient capital. (B)
Day 7 – Depart Kyoto – Free time until your included departure by airport bus to Kansai Airport. We can also arrange a return train to Tokyo Narita Airport as well as an additional night in Tokyo if required. (B)
Day 1 – Arrive Tokyo – On arrival into Tokyo you will be welcomed by our airport representative who will assist you with transferring by either train or shuttle bus to your hotel. The rest of the day is at leisure.
Day 2 – Tokyo – Begin the morning early with your local guide and enjoy a visit to Tokyo’s iconic Tsukiji, the world-famous fish market filled with traditional shops and top-quality sushi restaurants. After exploring the market, but before leaving, enjoy a super-fresh sushi breakfast in a local restaurant – the best way to start a trip in Japan! From Tsukiji you walk 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 make it one of the most visited gardens in Tokyo however, it’s best known for its attractive teahouse, Nakajima-no-Ochaya. Enjoy a break in the teahouse and 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. At noon stop by one of the local restaurants for lunch. Although there’s a variety of food to choose from, Asakusa is more known for its best-tasting tempura. From Asakusa, continue a short walk to Kappabashi, the so-called Kitchenware Town lined with dozens of specialized stores for knives, Japanese tableware, and even food replicas. The last stop today is in Ueno’s Ameyoko-Cho, a former black market that sprang up after WWII. It is now a bustling shopping alley filled with food stalls that make it a great place to try some local snacks. (B, L)
Day 3 – Tokyo – Begin the day with a hands-on culinary adventure and head towards the cooking studio in Tokyo’s Tsukiji area to begin the morning’s soba-making workshop. The class will be held by either Akila Inouye, founder and Master Chef of the Tsukiji Soba Academy, or one of the academy’s graduates. The activity will begin with a short demonstration by a sobatician, followed by a lesson on how to prepare the wheat mixture, the proper way to work on the dough and, last but not the least, the precise way of cutting it into 1.6 mm thick noodles. At the end of the lesson, you will cook the soba and dine with the teacher in addition to the rest of the class in tachigui style, which means eating while standing. Enjoy the afternoon relaxing in the hotel or independently discover the busy streets of Shibuya (scramble crossing), as you visit the fashion mecca of Harajuku or to explore another shitamachi in Yanaka.
Optional Evening Tour: Tokyo Street Food Tour
This tour heads inside the lively street food scene of Tokyo, an exciting trip across some of the hidden pearls that can only be found with the help of a local guide, wandering around the city’s narrow streets. A local English-speaking food expert will provide an escort through tiny izakayas (Japanese-style pubs) and small traditional restaurants and bars, each boasting distinctive atmospheres in heart of the traditional Japanese entertainment districts. None of these local taverns normally accept reservations, but the expert guide can pick, depending on the evening, the right areas (always in central Tokyo) and venues to find available seats. This tour is always unique and different for each guest. You will meet your food expert at the train station and enjoy 4 to 5 different venues during the tour. Although the menu is set, the guide will ensure stomachs are full and tastebuds are entirely satiated with a range of different options. (B&L)
Duration: 3.5 h
Day 4 – Tokyo to Takayama –Today is a self-guided day. Today marks the journey to Takayama, a small town nestled high in the Hida Alpine region of Gifu Prefecture. The first leg of the trip will be on a bullet train that can reach speeds of up to 260 kph, before you journey on the limited express train Wide View, which offers one of the most scenic train journeys in Japan.
Suggested Self-Guided Itinerary:
We recommend strolling in Takayama’s shitamachi, where the streets are lined with century-old merchants’ homes and sake breweries. Stop by one of the breweries for a taste of the local drop or queue for the famous Hida beef sushi in one of the special food stalls. In Takayama, experience a stay in a ryokan, the traditional Japanese-style inn furnished with low tables and chairs, sliding shoji doors, and tatami flooring. (B&D)
Day 5 – Takayama – Today is a self guided day. After breakfast head up to the Miyagawa morning market, a good opportunity totry some local fruit and vegetables. A short bus ride will take you to Hida No Sato Folk Village, an open air museum exhibiting over 30 typical farmhouses and other traditional buildings from the Hida region. In the afternoon visit the Takayama Festival FLoats museum, displaying floats from the Takayama festival or wander through the preserved old town. Dinner will be served in your Ryokan. (B&D)
Day 6 – Takayama to Kyoto – Today is a self guided day.Back on the Shinkansen today as you make the 4 hour journey to the city of Kyoto, Japan’s cultural capital. The afternoon is yours to explore Kyoto. (B)
Day 7 – Kyoto – Today explore the former imperial capital with a learned local guide, utilizing Kyoto’s comprehensive bus system to visit some of Kyoto’s World Heritage Sites. Start your day with a visit to Nijo Castle. This ornamental castle was built by the founder of the Edo Shogunate as his Kyoto residence and is surrounded by stunning surrounding gardens. Continue to Kinkakuji, the Golden Pavilion, originally built as a retirement villa for the Shogun, after his death it became a Buddhist Temple, and is now one of Kyoto’s most famous temples. The final stop of the morning is Daitoku-ji Zen temple complex, which consists of a main temple and 22 sub-temples. After lunch, visit Kiyomizu (Pure Water) Temple then finish off the day with a stroll through the atmospheric Higashiyama district. (B)
Day 8 – Kyoto – You have the morning free on Kyoto at your leisure and after lunch, we have arranged a very special cooking experience for you. Together with a local guide you will walk the mile-long Nishiki covered food markets as you help your guide buy the ingredients for your Japanese cooking class. After visiting the markets, you’ll travel through the back streets and lanes of Kyoto, visit to former sake brewery and then finally to a traditional wooden townhouse for your Japanese cooking class. Cooking your own Japanese evening meal, you will learn how to make rolled sushi, miso soup and cooked salad. After the meal the evening is free for you to explore Kyoto. (B&D)
Day 9 – Kyoto to Koya-San – Today is a self guided day.This morning make your way to holy Mt Koya (Koya-San). The 3 hour train journey is one of the best in Japan, as the local train winds its way up into the mountains whilst the final ascent to the top of Koya is made by cable car. Your learned local guide will be waiting for your arrival to show you Koya-San’s sites and explain about Japanese Buddhism. Tonight you will be staying at a shukubo, Japanese temple lodging. Dinner will be shojin ryori, traditional Buddhist cuisine. (B&D)
Day 10 – Koya-San to Osaka – An early start as you will be able to witness monks chanting their morning prayers, followed by a shojin rvori breakfast. The rest of the day is free to explore Koya-San before your train ride to Osaka. (B)
Day 11 – Osaka – Start the day with a visit to Sumiyoshi Taisha, one of Japan’s oldest shinto-shrines from the shrine, head back north and visit Osaka Castle, arguably Osaka’s most famous landmark. While the castle is a concrete rebuilt from 1931, the views from the top floor of the surrounding gardens and city are not to be missed. After lunch in a local restaurant, head to the Doguyasuji shopping arcade, a unique market where you can find anything related to the food industry After all this food display, it is time to enjoy your included dinner in Dotonbori, a former pleasure district turned restaurant mecca. (B&D)
Day 12 – Depart Osaka – Departure day is at your leisure until your included transfer by train to Kansai Airport. (B)
Day 1 – Arrive in Toky0 -Arrive in Tokyo where our airport representative you welcome you and assist you with transferring by either train or shuttle bus to your hotel. The rest of the day is at your leisure.
Day 2 – Tokyo -Today you will spend a full day taking in some of the many highlights Tokyo has to offer with a learned local guide by public transport. First stop is nearby Meiji Jinja, Tokyo’s most famous shrine, from old to new Tokyo as we then take a walk down Omotesando, commonly referred to as Tokyo’s Champs-Elysee. A short subway ride will then take us to Asakusa, part of Tokyo’s Shitamachi, or old town, we will then see Tokyo from a different angle as we take a cruise down the Sumida Gawa river by boat to Hamarikyu-teien. (B)
Day 3 – Tokyo to Nikko day trip – A 2 hour journey by train takes you high into the mountains of the Nikko National Park is in Tochigi Prefecture and the UNESCO World Heritage listed Toshogu-shrine complex. A local guide will meet you at the station and spend the morning with you, taking you around some of the numerous temples and shrines before returning to Tokyo in afternoon. (B)
Day 4 – Tokyo to Kiso Valley ( This is a self guided day ) – Leave the city behind as we venture into the Central Japanese Alps in Nagano Prefecture, to the stunning Kiso Valley region. The journey by Shinkansen Bullet Train and local train takes approximately 4.5 hours. Tonight you will be staying in a Japanese Minishuku, a family run traditional inn with a tatami matt flooring, futon beds, Japanese gardens and hot spring onsen baths. For dinner an amazing kaiseki multi course will be served. (B&D)
Day 5 – Kiso Valley to Takayama -This morning after a healthy Japanese style breakfast you will follow in the footsteps of samurais and lords as you hike the old Nakasendo to Magome. On arrival at Magome you will have time to take a break before moving on by train to Takayama. In Takayama, you will be staying in a ryokan and another amazing local dinner will be served to you. (B&D)
Day 6 – Takayama (This is a self guided day) – After breakfast head up to the Miyagawa morning market, followed by a short bus ride that take’s you to Hida No Sato Folk Village, an open air museum exhibiting over 30 typical farmhouses and other traditional buildings from the Hida region. In the afternoon you can visit the Takayama Festival Floats museum, followed by our recommendation of a visit to one of the towns sake breweries for some tasking before heading back to your ryokan for another sumptuous dinner. (B&D)
Day 7 – Takayama to Kanazawa – ( This is a self guided day ) – Another stunning journey today as you take the train alongside the Sea of Japan to Kanazawa. The highlight of any visit to Kanazawa is Kenroku-en garden. Ranked one of the top three in Japan, it is a must visit in any season. A visit to the imposing Kanazawa Castle next door is also a must do. (B)
Day 8 – Kanazawa to Hiroshima – (This is a self guided day) – Onwards by train to Hiroshima. Perhaps more than any other city in the world, Hiroshima is famous for one moment in history. First stop this afternoon should be Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in central Hiroshima. The area where the park now lies was ground zero for the Atomic Bomb however, after the bombing the Memorial Park was created and dedicated to those who lost their lives in the attack. (B)
Day 9 – Hiroshima / Miyajima – (This is a self guided day) – From Hiroshima, a short ferry ride will take you to Miyajima Island, here you will find perhaps the most photographed site in Japan – The Floating Torii Gate. You will have time to explore the island and its many shrines / temples and sample local cuisine. Miyajima is small enough to walk around, or you can hire a bike if you choose. (B)
Day 10 – Hiroshima to Kotohira – (This is a self guided day) –Today you will venture by train to Shikoku Island. The smallest of Japan’s main islands and the least visited by tourists. Kotohira is a small town on Shikoku famous for Kompirasan, the island’s most popular shrine. Despite being one of the most difficult shrine approaches in Japan, Kompirasan is a highly popular site visited by pilgrims from across the country. Most visitors only make it up to the main hall however, for the adventurous it is an additional 585 steps along a paved, forested path to the inner shrine of the complex and worth the effort. (B&D)
Day 11 – Kyoto -This morning continue on by train to Japan’s cultural capital, Kyoto ( 2 1/2 hr) Kyoto is home to an astonishing 2000 shrines / temples including 17 UNESCO World Heritage listed sites. Meet your local guide at a central meeting spot During your guided walk of the mile-long Nishiki covered food markets, there are many interesting food stores to explore as you help your guide buy the ingredients for your Japanese cooking class. After visiting the markets, travel through the back streets of Kyoto and visit a former sake brewery for a taste test. The cooking class will take place in a traditional Japanese wooden house. (B&D)
Day 12 – Kyoto – A full day to explore the former imperial capital with a learned local guide, utilizing Kyoto’s comprehensive bus system to visit some of Kyoto’s World Heritage Listed Sites. Start your day with a visit to Nijo Castle, continue on to Kinkakuji, the Golden Pavilion and the final stop of the morning is Daitoku-ji Zen temple complex, which consists of a main temple and 22 sub-temples. After lunch, visit Kiyomizu (Pure Water) Temple before finishing off the day with a stroll through the atmospheric Higashiyama district. (B)
Day 13 – Kyoto ( This is a self guided day ) – This morning you will make the short 45min trip to Nara. We recommend visiting Todaiji Temple, the world’s largest wooden building and home to Japan’s largest Buddha, and Kasuga Taisha, Nara’s most celebrated shrine. You will also have time to wander through Nara Park, called Deer Park by locals due to the large population of tame deer living there. The afternoon is free for you to continue your sightseeing in Nara or Kyoto. (B)
Day 14 – Depart Kyoto – Today is free until your included departure by train to Kansai International Airport. (B)
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