Explore the vibrant and exciting capital of Tokyo.
Discover the geisha quarter in Gion, Kyoto.
Bathe in a hot spring in Hakone National Park.
Walk the Nakasendo Highway in Tsumago.
Visit the ‘floating’ tori gate on Miyajima Island.
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Day 1 Tokyo
After passing through customs and luggage collection, you're met by an airport guide who will give you your trip documents and direct you to the shared shuttle service which takes you to your hotel. After checking in, spend the rest of the day at leisure, resting and relaxing after your flight. If you do feel like starting exploring, you may wish to walk around the Imperial Gardens.
Day 2 Tokyo
Your guide will meet you today in the hotel lobby to run through your trip and offer any local advice to you so you can enjoy the country with confidence. In the first section the guide will explain your itinerary in more detail and answer any questions you might have. They can also assist with validating your Japan rail pass. This can take up to two hours so afterwards head out with your guide to see some of the highlights of the city. In the evening, head out with a guide to sample some of the local Tokyo cuisine in the vibrant district of Ebisu.
Day 3 Tokyo
A day at leisure. We suggest getting out of the city and catching the train (the journey lasts an hour and a quarter one way) to the seaside town of Kamakura, southwest of Tokyo. In this 800-year-old town you can see the Great Buddha of Kotokuin, and a number of scenic temples and shrines. Upon returning to Tokyo, head to one of our recommended restaurants for an evening meal.
Day 4 Tsumago
Travel by bullet train and local trains to Tsumago, a quiet post town in the Kiso Valley. This afternoon, walk along the scenic Nakasendo Highway, which once connected Kyoto and Edo (Tokyo) in the 1800s. It was an important route used by samurai and traders. Temples line the route and you'll pass through paddy fields and other peaceful countryside. This evening, enjoy your first evening meal at a traditional inn or 'ryokan'.
Day 5 Hiroshima
Take the train to Hiroshima. This is quite a long journey of five hours and involves changing at Nagoya, then whizzing the rest of the way by bullet train. After checking into your hotel, head to the Peace Park. Despite it being a quite sobering experience, the Japanese have made it an extremely interesting place. Walk along the city's tree-lined avenues and visit the Memorial Museum.
Day 6 Hiroshima
A day at leisure to explore Hiroshima and its surroundings at your own pace. We suggest taking the 20 minute ferry crossing to nearby Miyajima Island to see its 'floating' red torii gate. It stands out in the bay and is completely surrounded by water at high tide, giving the impression that it floats. Miyajima Island itself is full of interesting shrines and temples. During October and November its Japanese Maples turn a rich dark red.
Day 7 Kyoto
Take the bullet train east to Kyoto, a journey of around two hours. In the afternoon, head out on a tour with one of our local guides who can help you make the most out of your time in this multi-faceted city. You could stroll around the Ryoanji gardens and Silver pavillion temple or head to the geisha quarter, Gion at dusk and hopefully spot a Geisha.
Day 8 Kyoto
In the morning, we can arrange for you to take part in a private cultural activity at Kyoto's Women's Association. With the help of experienced English-speaking practitioners, you can have an introduction to Japanese culture by trying origami, a tea ceremony and wearing a traditional Japanese kimono. After the class, spend the afternoon at leisure in Kyoto. Navigate your way around the city seeing the many gardens, shrines and shops of this unique city. Highlights include the Golden Pavilion, the food markets selling tasty Japanese delicacies, and the impressive Nijo castle.
Day 9 Kyoto
Take a local train to visit Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine, a quick five minute train journey from Kyoto. The shrine is home to hundreds of red torii gates that spill out over the hillside. It's also worth taking a walk through the forest there. Continue your journey on to Nara, one of the former capitals of Japan, to feed the wild deer and see the 'daibutsu', a giant Buddha housed inside a wooden building.
Day 10 Hakone
Take the bullet train to Hakone, a journey of around three and a half hours. Check in to your accommodation and either head to a hot spring to relax for the rest of the day, or use our folders to navigate your way around the National Park. You can use your Hakone free pass to reach several great viewing areas over the park's mountains and lakes.
Day 11 Hakone
A day at leisure to further explore Hakone National Park under your own steam. Your included Hakone Free Pass allows you to use the buses, trains and cable cars. Cross Lake Ashinoko on a replica pirate ship or head to a viewing spot for a glimpse of Mount Fuji. We also recommend visiting the excellent open air sculpture museum in Chokokunomori.
Day 12 Tokyo
After a leisurely morning return to Tokyo (a one and a quarter hour train journey) for a final night in the capital. We suggest using your last few hours in the city to explore a new corner of it. Visit the Imperial Palace Gardens, the man-made island of Odaiba, trendy Shinjuku or the peaceful landscaped Hamarikyu Gardens.
Day 13 Return home
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When to go
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