Complete Japan

For an ideal first visit, explore the very best of Japan on an illuminating journey from Tokyo to Kyoto. From frenetic urban streets to iconic historic sites, this highlights tour encompasses the dynamic and fascinating allure of Japan in two weeks.

Please note on hotels in Japan:
Check-in time is 3.00PM and check-out time is 11.00AM. Early or late service is subject to availability with surcharge.

Destinations included:
Tokyo, Hakone, Nikko, Takayama, Kanazawa, Miyajima, Hiroshima, Kyoto

We pride ourselves in creating personalised travel experiences that suit all your preferences and needs.

With this tour you can:

  • Choose your own departure date
  • Select the comfort level of accommodation
  • Adjust activities to cater to special interests
  • Modify any aspect of the tour as needed
JOURNEY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Experiencing the urban charm of Tokyo while visiting its most iconic destinations
  • Soaking in the onsen hot springs at an old-fashioned ryokan inn, in the shadow of Mount Fuji
  • Diving into local culture and sampling famous sake in Takayama
  • Walking through the beautifully preserved castle town of Kanazawa
  • Taking in Hiroshima’s skyline with a view of the famous floating Torii Gate
  • Exploring the former imperial capital, Kyoto, visiting some of the 17 UNESCO sites there and honing Japanese techniques in a bento cooking class
TOUR INCLUSIONS
  • Carefully selected accommodation with breakfast
  • Other meals listed in the itinerary
  • Expert English-speaking local guide
  • Tours as mentioned and air-conditioned transfers
  • Sightseeing and permit fees during guided times
  • Boat cruises and rides while on tour
  • Service charges and government VAT tax
TOUR MAP
ITINERARY BY DAY

Day 1: Arrive Tokyo

Arrive in the frenetic city of Tokyo, Japan’s current capital. Your driver will be waiting with your name on a sign board to transfer you by shared shuttle service to your hotel. The city is renowned for its futuristic architecture, high-rise buildings and characteristic neon lights. On arrival at your hotel, you will be provided with an IC card to be used for buses and trains with 1500Y value already loaded.

Day 2:Tokyo Full Day Tour

The Imperial Palace is located on the former site of Edo Castle, a large park area surrounded by moats and massive stone walls in the center of Tokyo, and the residence of Japan's Imperial Family. The stone bridge in front is called Meganebashi (Eyeglass Bridge) for its looks.

Meiji Shrine is Tokyo’s most famous shrine, dedicated to the spirit of the late Emperor Meiji, and the park that surrounds the shrine is a forest of some 120,000 trees of 365 different species. The shrine is a popular site for Japanese Weddings’ if you are lucky you may see a bride and groom dressed in traditional Shinto wedding attire.

From old to new Tokyo as we then take a walk through Harajuku - Tokyo’s youth fashion mecca. Whether you are a goth, punk or anything in between, there is a shop in Harajuku that caters for you. Neighboring Harajuku is Omotesando, commonly referred to as Tokyo’s Champs-Elysee. This broad, tree lined avenue features a multitude of fashion flagship stores designed by internationally renowned architects within a short distance of each other.

End the day at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in Shinjuku is one of Tokyo’s tallest and most distinctive skyscrapers. The 243 meter tall building has two towers, and each houses an observatory at a height of 202 meters, which provide good panoramic views of Tokyo and beyond. With favorable weather conditions, famous landmarks such as Mount Fuji, the Tokyo Skytree, Tokyo Tower, Meiji Shrine and the Tokyo Dome can be seen from here.

Day 3: Free Day in Tokyo

Your final day in Tokyo is left to you to explore! Either take advantage of the morning to visit the iconic Tsukji Fish Market or wander about Tokyo’s world-class museums and art galleries.

A day trip can also be arranged in advance, taking the train to neighbouring sights such as Kamakura or Nikko. One of Japan’s former capitals, Kamakura is a delightful seaside town home to many ancient temples and the Daibutsu, a giant bronze Buddha. Nikko National Park is nestled up in the mountains and houses the extravagant Toshogu Shrine Complex and Mausoleum, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Day 4: Tokyo to Hakone

Wake up early and catch your train to Hakone National Park, the gateway to Mt. Fuji. This small town is famous for its onsen, natural hot springs and surrounded by an abundance of natural beauty.

Armed with your Hakone Transport Pass, take advantage of the numerous forms of transport and explore the many sights of the park. Ride the Guinness World Record-setting ropeway all the way up Mt. Owakudani, soaring over sulphurous fumes emanating from hot springs and rivers in this volcanic area. At the top, try the famous hardboiled egg, cooked at the source of the springs and add seven years to your life, according to local lore! Cruise on a majestic replica pirate ship across Ashinoko Lake, formed by a volcanic eruption over 3000 years ago! Then take a ride on Hakone Tozan switchback train, zigzagging though the mountains, with breathtaking views of the surrounding valleys.

Keep an eye out for a glimpse of Mt. Fuji, but keep in mind that he is notoriously shy and needs a clear day to be seen in full splendour.

At last, return for a rest in you ryokan, or traditional Japanese inn, and feel as if you’ve been transported to the Edo Period! With sliding doors, rice paper screens and tatami mats, it’s the ultimate onsen hot spring experience. That evening, change into your yukata, or lightweight kimono, for a sumptuous kaiseki dinner. Taste the refinement of Japanese heritage during this opulent multi-course meal which is the epitome of Japanese cuisine.

Day 5: Hakone to Takayama

Take one last soak in the onsen before undertaking the journey to Takayama. Ride the first leg on the world famous Shinkansen bullet train, travelling up to 230km/h! Then, change onto the Limited Express Hida Wideview for one of the most scenic train routes in Japan, winding your way through tall mountains and stunning gorges.

Arrive in Takayama, nestled high in the Hida alpine region, and discover this beautifully preserved old town. Due to its previously inaccessible location, the town was cut off from the rest of Japan, and developed its own distinctive culture. Enjoy the rest of the day at your leisure meandering through the charming roads and taking in the fresh air.

Day 6: Takayama - Shirakawago Half Day Tour

Start your morning with your local guide and head to the riverside markets, known for their locally grown produce. Then wander through the old town on the way to Takayama Jinya - the last remaining government building from Samurai and Shogun times.

End before lunch with a sake brewery tour! Takayama is also known for its delicious sake, so relax as you visit several old sake breweries. They are found around the old town and are recognizable by the sugidama (balls made of cedar branches) hung over their entrances.
Then, enjoy an afternoon at leisure to explore more of Takayama.

If you’d like to venture further, head to Hida no Sato or Hida Folk Village, located within easy access from Takayama station where a combined return bus and entrance ticket can be bought. Here, find more than 30 traditional buildings each moved from different parts of Hida region. All of them are kept in their original condition with various kinds of daily tools and articles displayed inside, making it easy to imagine how life was in the old days.

Day 7: Takayama to Kanazawa

Bid farewell to the alpine air of Takayama as you board the Hida Wide View Express to Toyama and transfer back on the Bullet Train to Kanazawa Station. After check in, your guide will meet you at your hotel to take you to the seldom visited Terashima Kurando House, a superb samurai house with a fine garden and artworks by the warrior himself.

Onwards to Kenrokuen where you’ll wander through one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan. Kenrokuen refers to the perfectly combined aesthetics of this beautiful garden, including seclusion, spaciousness and abundant water.

Travel from the expansive gardens, along the picturesque back alleys of Kanazawa, to the stunning D.T. Suzuki Museum, to learn about the man who introduced Zen Buddhism to the West. The museum’s smaller garden is the perfect embodiment of Zen philosophy, so finish off your day practicing mindfulness by the peaceful water mirror garden.

Day 8: Free day in Kanazawa 

A full free day at leisure to further explore Kanazawa and it's surrounding area. We suggest you begin the day with a visit to the only active Geisha district outside of Kyoto, the Kazuemachi. The area was left untouched during World War 2 and thus many original buildings are wonderfully preserved.

The seldom visited Terashima Kurando House, a superb samurai house, is similarly preserved, and boasts a fine garden and artworks by the warrior himself.

Take a break for lunch in the merchant district of Owaricho and see the famous Omicho Market before heading to the Kanazawa Castle Park. Wander around the castle remains and then onto Kenrokuen, one of Japan’s top three gardens. The name Kenroku refers to the perfectly combined aesthetics of this beautiful garden, including seclusion, spaciousness and abundant water.

Travel onwards along the picturesque back alleys of Kanazawa to the stunning D.T. Suzuki Museum, to learn about the man who introduced Zen Buddhism to the West. The smaller garden at this museum is the perfect embodiment of Zen philosophy and you can end your day practicing mindfulness yourself by the water mirror garden.

Day 9: Kanazawa to Hiroshima

The city of Hiroshima, now the largest city in the Chugoku Shikoku region, is also referred to as the "City of Water."

A guide will take you to The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, which is located at the centre of Hiroshima City. The A-Bomb Dome, also known as the Hiroshima Peace Memorial, is what remains of the former Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall. The building served as a location to promote Hiroshima's industries. When the bomb exploded, it was one of the few buildings to remain standing, and remains so today. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the A-Bomb Dome is a tangible link to Hiroshima's unique past.

Get a birds eye view of the Peace Park from the new Orizuru Tower. On a clear day you can see all the way to Miyajima so both world heritage sites in Hiroshima can be viewed from here.

Day 10: Free Day in Hiroshima

Today is a full free day for you to visit the island of Miyajima. Easy to reach by tram and ferry, Miyajima is located less than an hour outside the city of Hiroshima. It's most famous site is it's floating torii gate which at high tide gives the impression of floating on the water.

The official name of the island is Itsukushima, the island is most commonly known as Miyajima which translates to "shrine island". There is a cable car to the top of Mount Misen with views over the Seto Inland Sea and many other small shrines and temples to visit. One of the best being Daisho-in Temple located only a short walk from the floating torii.

Day 11: Hiroshima to Kyoto

Shinkansen from Hiroshima to Kyoto takes under 2 hours to cover 381km. A transfer will need to be made from the Sanyo Shinkansen like to the Tokaido Shinkansen Line at Shin-Osaka. On arrival in Kyoto, the rest of your day is free. An easy trip to make is Fushimi Inari Shrine, only two stops and 5 minutes from Kyoto Station on the JR Nara Line. Fushimi Inari Shrine, which was used in the movie Memoirs of a Geisha, is home to over 10,000 red tori gates. They form a path up the mountain behind the temple making a spectacular place for photos.

Day 12: Kyoto Full Day Tour

Your guide will meet you to take you to visit two beautiful and iconic UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Ginkakuji and Kiyomizudera.

Begin with Ginkakuji, also known as the Silver Pavilion, a Zen temple with a beautiful moss garden and a unique dry sand garden. Then, take a walk on the Philosopher’s Path, a pleasant stone path through the northern part of Kyoto's Higashiyama district, which follows a canal lined by hundreds of cherry trees.

Next make a stop at Yasaka Shrine where you will have your own lunch break. Founded over 1350 years ago, the shrine connects the Geisha District of Gion with the beautiful Higashiyama Temple District.

Walk through Higashiyama to partake in a Japanese Tea Ceremony called Sao or Cha-no-yu which has more than 400 years of history. The tea ceremony is conducted in the decorated rooms of a traditional house.

You will then have some free time to explore Ninenzaka which is a preserved area with restored shop houses where you can imagine what Kyoto looked like before modernity descended.

Next you will visit Kodaiji Temple. Established in 1606 and belonging to the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism, the lavish main buildings and richly decorated interiors are surrounded by beautiful Zen gardens. You will also see two tea houses set amidst the gardens and a small bamboo grove.

Finally, move on to Kiyomizudera, to admire the temple’s panoramic views of Kyoto from the 13 metre high veranda.


Day 13: Kyoto Cooking  Class

Wake up and get cooking at a morning Bento Class! A great way to learn about classic Japanese dishes such as sushi, tempura and miso soup, as well as the cultural background of the well-known Japanese ‘Bento’. This highly visual school of cooking will be demonstrated, along with the tricks to making these beautiful dishes. Then, you get to roll up your sleeves and give it a try before digging into your delightful Bento lunch!

After class, make the most of your last evening in Kyoto by exploring more of the city or cramming in some last minute shopping.

Day 14: Depart Kyoto

Depart from the ancient capital on a train transfer to Kansai International Airport in Osaka Bay before travelling onward to your next destination.

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