Essential Japan

Discover the very best of Japan on a compact but fascinating highlights journey. Marvel at the stunning views of Mt. Fuji in Hakone, wind through the sleepy countryside en route to Kyoto and delve into Tokyo’s urban energy. This highlights trip explores the essentials for a first trip.

Destinations included:
Tokyo, Hakone, 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
  • Hopping on the world-famous Shinkansen Bullet Train en route to Odawara
  • Enjoying the healing powers of Hakon's natural hot springs in the backdrop of Mount Fuji
  • Exploring the former imperial capital, Kyoto, visiting some of the 17 UNESCO sites there and experiencing the unique local culture
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 1-3 TOKYO
Welcome to Japan! For the first two nights of your adventure, stay in Tokyo's historical Asakusa District, on the banks of the Sumida River. With its colourful carnival of market stalls, food vendors and traditional ryokan inns, Asakusa's down-to-earth atmosphere offers a glimpse of what Tokyo life might have been like before the neon-spangled skyscrapers arrived!

On your first full day in Tokyo, explore with a knowledgeable local guide for eight hours, connecting the dots between sights of the capital. Your guide can provide insight into the city’s eccentricities that you may otherwise have missed! Tokyo is packed with sightseeing opportunities, so don’t be afraid to ask your guide for suggestions. Your itinerary for the day is flexible, so ask your guide about additional places you’d like to visit during your journey.

Day three is an opportunity to either explore To kyo independently or take a day trip out of the city. To round out your taste of what Tokyo has to offer, we recommend getting up early to sample Japan's freshest sushi at Tsukiji Fish Market, then taking a gentle cruise along the Sumida River from Hamarikyu Gardens back to Asakusa. The high drama of a kabuki performance at the elegant Kabuki-za Theatre is also a must! If you prefer to get away from the city, you might consider taking a day trip to Kamakura's giant Buddha or Nikko's extravagant temple complex, or spending a day hiking at Mount Takao.

Day 4-5 HAKONE
Enjoy the healing powers of Hakone’s natural hot springs and magnificent panoramic views of Mount Fuji at Hakone National Park.

You’ll be following in the footsteps of the samurai as you journey along the old Tokaido post road en rounte to Hakone National Park. From Tokyo you will hop aboard the world-famous Shinkansen Bullet Train for a short ride to Odawara, the gateway to Hakone.

Set in mountainous countryside, the region boasts superb natural beauty and, on a clear day, the near-perfect symmetry of Mount Fuji looming over Lake Ashi is truly a sight to behold. You will spend tonight at an authentic Japanese inn, where you can relax in the hot spring baths and enjoy a delicious Japanese-style dinner.

On your second day in Hakone you will have a full day to explore the area using your included Hakone Free Pass, which covers all the public transport in the region – from buses and trains to funicular railways, cable cars and even a pirate ship! Of course you may prefer to explore on foot, in which case pull on your walking boots and head for one of the many hiking trails that criss-cross the area.

Although the last eruption of Mount Hakone was 3,000 years ago, sulphurous fumes and bubbling hot rivers can be still seen in the volcanic crater at Owakudani, famous for its black eggs boiled in the valley water. Legend has it that each egg consumed adds seven years to your life! Hakone is also home to a number of excellent museums including the open-air sculpture park, which boasts a sizeable Picasso collection, amongst many other treasures, so spend your free time wisely!

Day 6-8 KYOTO
Discover Japan's rich history and hope for a glimpse of a geisha as you explore the City of Ten Thousand Temples. Leaving Hakone behind, the bullet train will whisk you down the eastern seaboard to Kyoto – that's 267 miles in just two hours and ten minutes! Your arrival in this modern city will be heralded by Kyoto Station, one of the largest buildings in Japan and a triumph of futuristic architecture.
Today you will have a free afternoon to begin exploring some of Japan's finest cultural sites in this "City of Ten Thousand Temples." Drink a cup of green tea at the picturesque Golden Pavilion, contemplate Zen at Ryoan-ji's rock garden and wander through the thousands of vermillion shrine gates that line the paths of Fushimi Inari Taisha.

The next morning, you will be met at your hotel by a local guide who will take you through the backstreets of Kyoto to the city's most famous sights, as well as some of its lesser-known locales. Kyoto was Japan's capital for over 1,000 years, and boasts rich history that has left the city with plenty of stories to tell!

Head to Kiyomizu-dera, one of Japan's best-loved temples and taste the spring water there, which is said to have healing powers. As dusk falls, be head to Gion for the chance to catch a glimpse of Kyoto's secretive and iconic geisha as they scurry to their evening appointments.

On your final day in Kyoto you may wish to spend another day exploring the city, or you can take advantage of your Japan Rail Pass for a day-excursion. Just 40 minutes away by train is Nara, famous for its resident population of deer and its huge bronze statue of Buddha at Todai-ji Temple. Alternatively, the electric metropolis of Osaka is only a 30-minute journey away and Hiroshima, forever infamous following the events of World War Two, makes a very worthwhile day trip and is only two hours away by bullet train. Overnight: Sunroute Kyoto Hotel

Day 9-10 TOKYO
Round off your trip with a stay in Tokyo's vibrant Shinjuku district, packed with enough food, drink and distraction to keep you busy for a lifetime!

From Kyoto you will return to Tokyo today at your leisure, taking the Bullet Train at whatever time of day suits you. For your final night in Japan you will be based in the futuristic Shinjuku district – a complete contrast to the Asakusa area with which you began your trip! Here you'll find bright lights, busy department stores, lively restaurants and karaoke bars – a great place to say goodbye to Japan in style. Sadly all good things must come to an end, and on the final day of your trip you will take the fast and comfortable airport limousine bus service to Narita Airport for your flight home.

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