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Hiking in the Japanese Alps

Things to do in Japan

Japan’s cultural heritage is the cornerstone of its many attractions and activities and Kyoto is a scenic hub of history and tradition. Explore the city’s cobbled streets on an evening tour for a glimpse of a Geisha or visit the home of a Women’s Association member to learn about a traditional pastime such as calligraphy. Cosmopolitan Tokyo is a complete contrast, and an early morning trip to Tsujiki, the world’s biggest fish market, can be followed by a visit to the ornate Meiji Jingu shrine.

Further afield, walking and hiking opportunities abound in Japan’s countless national parks and mountain ranges, such as Hakone National Park, home to snow-capped Mount Fuji.

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Audley Travel specialist Matthew

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Ideas for experiencing Japan

Experiences you have as you travel often hold the longest memories. As part of their research trips, our specialists seek out authentic ways to get to know Japan, and the best local guides. These activities reflect some of their best-loved experiences.

  • Streetlife, Tokyo

    Tokyo City Tour


    Begin your day with a visit to Meiji Jingu shrine in Harajuku, one of Tokyo's busiest sights but an oasis of calm in the early morning. From here wander through the shopping streets of Harajuku and head south to Shibuya for morning coffee and people watching at the Hachiko pedestrian crossing.

  • Hakone Open Air Museum

    Hakone National Park

    Hakone & Mount Fuji

    The full day Hakone Free pass allows you unlimited access to the local scenic train line, the bus network, a funicular train up Mt Kami which leads on to a gondola rope-way, and a cruise boat on Lake Ashi. Mt Fuji can be sighted from various points around the park, weather permitting.

  • Hagoromo Waterfall, Tenninkyo

    Asahidake Trekking


    From Asahidake Onsen the cable car ride to the midway point of Mt Asahidake is the main attraction, and deservedly so - the views get more and more breathtaking the higher up you climb.

  • Buddhist statues, Miyajima

    Miyajima Island Excursion


    Begin your sightseeing with a visit to the shoreline to see the torii gate- at its most photogenic when the tide is high but also interesting when the waters have receded and you can walk up to the huge structure and admire it close up.

  • Kamikochi

    Hiking in the Northern Alps


    There are walks of all grades and lengths possible using Kamikochi as a base, with the easiest keeping to the river valley and more strenuous options leading up to the summits of nearby peaks.

  • Traditional house on the Nakasendo highway

    Nakasendo Highway Hike

    The Nakasendo was once the principal route linking Kyoto and Tokyo, originally covering several hundred miles through the forested mountains of central Japan.

  • A 'saka' or slope in Kyoto

    Traditional Kyoto Cuisine Walking Tour


    Enjoy a day of culinary delights with trips to Kyoto's Nishiki Market, Horino Sake Museum to learn all about sake production and then a traditional machiya (tea house) for a Japanese cooking class.

  • A Maiko and a Geiko during the Geisha Night at the Gion Hatanaka

    Dinner with Maiko Performance


    Maiko are trainee Geisha (Geiko in Kyoto dialect) who train for six years before becoming fully fledged Geisha. They learn skills such as dance, singing, instrument playing as well as how to entertain guests with conversation.

  • View from tea room, Kenrokuen garden

    Kenrokuen Garden


    Kanazawa’s number one attraction, ranked by the Japanese as one of the top three gardens in Japan, is a must-see for any visitor to Kanazawa.

  • Romon Gate, Fushimi Inari, Kyoto

    Geisha District Walk


    Explore around the Gion district and other parts of Kyoto to help shed some light on the exclusive and mysterious world of the Geisha and other aspects of Japanese culture.

  • Nara

    Nara Excursion


    Like nearby Kyoto, Nara was once the Japanese capital and a source of enormous cultural and religious outpourings. Unlike its more celebrated neighbour, however, Nara has survived relatively untouched by modern advances and remains a relaxed town dotted with temples, shrines and parkland.

  • Cartoon still, Ghibli Museum

    Visit the Ghibli Anime Museum


    Mitaka is a pleasant suburb of Tokyo. The town is home to the Ghibli Museum, an interactive exhibition containing all things related to the animated world created by Studio Ghibli, Japan's premiere animation studio.

  • Hida Folk Village, near Takayama

    Takayama Visit


    After exploring the old streets and museums of Sanmachi District, head out on the trail around the many temples and shrines of Teramachi, before strolling through Shiroyama Park. You should also attempt to fit in a visit to the open-air museum of Hida Folk Village.

  • Kurokawa river and bridge

    Kurokawa Visit


    The main reason to come to Kurokawa is to unwind and enjoy the geothermal hot springs that spill from the surrounding volcanoes. The village is only small, but Kurokawa offers some of the top onsen in Japan and is well known throughout the country.

  • Summit of Mt Gassan, Dewa-sanzan

    Dewa-sanzan Climbing


    Dewa-sanzan is the collective name for the three holy mountains of Haguro-san, Gas-san and Yudono-san. The mountains gained their holy status over 1400 years ago after the son of the reigning Emperor made a pilgrimage to the area to practice severe aesthetic religious exercises which later became the founding principles of Shugendo Buddhism.

  • Ikebana flower arrangement

    Kyoto Cultural Experience


    Take the opportunity to learn more about a traditional Japanese pastime of your choice. These courses are instigated and run by the Women's Association of Kyoto and you will visit the home of one of the members.