Highlights of Japan

Travel from Tokyo to Takayama for an epic discovery of Japan's most fascinating highlights. Explore magical mountain retreats in Takayama, dip into onsen hot springs in the shadow of Mount Fuji, witness dazzling Edo period architecture in Kyoto and soak up the contemporary energies of Hiroshima and Osaka - the perfect greatest hits itinerary with plenty of independent exploration.

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 - Kyoto - Hiroshima - Osaka - Takayana

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
  • Visit the eclectic sights of Tokyo, from serene shrines to buzzing shopping districts
  • Experience an old-fashioned ryokan inn and a soak in the onsen hot springs, in the shadow of Mount Fuji
  • Explore the entertainment districts of Kyoto and marvel at the Edo period architecture
  • See the Peace Park of Hiroshima from the ground level and observation deck
  • Savour the lively and colourful life of Osaka while exploring castles and the riverside
  • Breath in the alpine air of Takayama and see an more humble and traditional way of life
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
  • Flights to tour destinations (Economy Class)
  • Service charges and government VAT tax
TOUR MAP
ITINERARY BY DAY

Day 1: Arrive Tokyo

Konichiwa and welcome to Tokyo, Japan’s ultra modern capital. Your driver will be waiting with your name on a sign board to transfer you by shared shuttle service to your hotel in Asakusa, Tokyo’s old-town district.

On arrival at your hotel, you will be provided with a Welcome Pack than includes an IC card to be used for buses and trains with 2500Y value already loaded. This card can be used on all city transport systems in Japan and once you have used all the credit, extra value can be easily added at the machines in any city train stations.

With the rest of the day at your leisure, take a stroll through some of Tokyo’s charming parks, or explore the organised chaos of Shinjuku before returning to your hotel for the night.

Day 2: Full Day Tokyo Tour

Take a day tour of this mesmerising city with a local guide, making use of Tokyo’s comprehensive and user friendly public transit system.

Start your day in Asakusa, Tokyo’s old town and soak in the atmosphere of the city when it was once called Edo. Visit Sensoji, Tokyo’s oldest temple and wander down Nakamise, a centuries old shopping street, home to a variety of traditional, local snacks and tourist souvenirs.

After, take a cruise down Sumida River passing under 12 bridges before disembarking in Hamarikyu garden. An Edo Period Japanese garden, its surrounding of Shiodome district's futuristic skyscrapers, is a fascinating example of how Japan is the land of contrasts. Stop for a cup of steaming matcha and Japanese sweets in a tea house on a small island in the park's lake.

Next travel across town to Meiji Shrine, a shrine dedicated to the deified spirit of Emperor Meiji and a popular place for traditional Japanese weddings. Take a walk down Omotesando shopping street, a broad tree lined avenue home to the flagship stores of the world’s top fashion brands before return to your hotel for the evening.

Day 3: Free Day in Tokyo

Delve deeper into Tokyo with a free day to explore and peel back the layers of this bustling metropolis. Follow your fancy to find the corner of the city that’s right for you.

If you’re a foodie, be sure to get up at the crack of dawn and head to the world famous Tsukiji Fish Market. See the morning catches that restaurants from across the city select, and try some of the freshest seafood and sushi in the city at one of the seemingly endless stalls.

For the urban explorer, scramble through Shibuya crossing before venturing to the Maid Cafes and comic book stores of Akihabara, Tokyo’s ‘electric town’.

Finally, be sure to spend the evening in Shinjuku to enjoy some of Japan’s best restaurants, bars, clubs or, karaoke boxes for a truly Japanese party!

Day 4: Free Day in Tokyo

With another day of exploring on your hands, be sure to take advantage of Japan's fantastic public transportation to travel further afield to Nikko, Kamakura or Yokohama.

Head into the mountains of Nikko to discover the natural wonders of Japan alongside world-heritage shrines and temples. Combine Nikko with a trip to the Kawaji hot springs to truly get away from it all.

Consider heading to Kamakura, just 1 hour south of Tokyo, an ancient city of the samurai, which boasts not only mountains, but also a breathtaking coastline.

If you’d like a taste of smaller city life, venture south to Yokohama to spend time by the bay and explore Japan's largest china town.

Whatever route you choose, enjoy the freedom to adventure through more of Tokyo’s neighbouring sights!

Day 5: Tokyo to Hakone

Leave the frenzy of Tokyo behind and take the Odakyu Limited Express train from Shinjuku into the majestic mountainous of Hakone National Park. The ultimate urban escape in the shadow of Mt. Fuji, take advantage of this time to slow down and enjoy some traditional Japanese pastimes in a beautiful natural setting.

Using your Hakone Free Pass, catch the ropeway up Mt. Owakudani, soaring above fuming rivers with a spectacular view of Mt. Fuji if the weather is clear. At the top, taste an akuro-tamago, an egg that’s been boiled in the source of the hot springs, and adds seven years to your life according to local lore!

Next, drift across the three thousands year-old Ashinoko Lake on a grandiose replica pirate ship, before zigzagging through the mountains on the Hakone Tozan ‘switchback train.’

In the evening, enjoy a rest in your ryokan, or traditional Japanese inn. With sliding doors, rice paper screens and tatami mats, it feels as if you’ve been transported to the Edo Period! Most importantly, treat yourself to a soak in the relaxing mineral waters of an onsen hot spring, one of Japan’s most restful cultural practices, before enjoying a traditional Japanese dinner.

Day 6: Hakone to Kyoto

Take one last soak in the onsen before continuing your journey to the ancient capital of Kyoto. Kick back as you travel by Shinkansen, or bullet train, at up to 300km/hr covering your 430km journey in approximately 2 hours. Arrive in Kyoto, home to an array of World Heritage Sites, spectacular gardens and beautiful vistas. Known as the “City of Ten Thousand Shrines”, Kyoto is home to some of Japans most iconic temples and shrines.

Take in the city’s ancient splendour by making a quick trip in your free afternoon to Fushimi Inari Shrine. This shrine houses over 10,000 torii gates forming a path snaking up the mountain. Stroll through the gates as you snap some pictures of this majestic scenery.

Day 7: Kyoto Full Day Tour

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

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

Stop at Yasaka Shrine where you will have your own lunch break, so feel free to follow your cravings. While you’re there, take in the shrine, which was founded over 1350 years ago, connecting the Geisha District of Gion with the beautiful Higashiyama Temple District.

Walk through Higashiyama en route to a Japanese Tea Ceremony called Sao or Cha-no-yu which has more than 400 years of history. Participate in this ancient custom in the decorated rooms of a traditional house.

Now, enjoy some free time venturing through Ninenzaka, a preserved area with restored shop houses giving an atmosphere of the Kyoto of old.  Take it in, and imagine what Kyoto looked like before modernity descended.

Visit Kodaiji Temple next, with lavish buildings belonging to the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism. Established in 1606 the main buildings have richly decorated interiors and are surrounded by lush Zen gardens. Be sure to admire the two tea houses set amidst the gardens and a small bamboo grove.

Finally, visit Kiyomizu Temple (Pure Water Temple) enjoying panoramic views of Kyoto from the 13 metre high veranda jutting out from the Main Hall. Learn about the building’s fascinating history before returning to your hotel.

Day 8: Free Day in Kyoto

Take advantage of a free day to explore the former imperial capital of Japan, utilizing Kyoto’s comprehensive bus system to visit some of the city’s famous World Heritage Sites. Start your day with a visit to Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavilion) which was originally built as a retirement villa for the Shogun but, at his request, became a Buddhist Temple after his death.

Next, make your way to Nijo, an ornamental castle built by the founder of the Edo Shogunate and surrounded by stunning gardens. Nijo Castle is famous for its architecture, such as decorated sliding doors and ‘chirping’ nightingale floors.

Consider taking a walk to Nishiki Market, a narrow shopping street lined with over 100 shops and restaurants. Known as "Kyoto's Kitchen", this lively retail market specializes in all things food related, and is a great place to find seasonal cuisine and specialties of the region, such as Japanese sweets, pickles, dried seafood and sushi.

You can also venturing though Gion the home of Kyoto's elusive Geisha. Wander the old style streets and be transported to the Kyoto of old.

Day 9: Kyoto to Hiroshima

Bid adieu to ancient Kyoto as you travel on the bullet train to the "City of Water,” Hiroshima. Here, a guide will take you to The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, 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.

Then, get a bird’s eye view of the Peace Park from the new Orizuru Tower. This ultra modern tower is 50 metres high, and on a clear day you can see all the way to Miyajima island. It also has interactive exhibits, and features local artwork of the creator city. Orizuru celebrates the promise of Hiroshima’s bright future while providing a distinctive view of the recent and ancient pasts.

Day 10: Free Day in Hiroshima

Seize the opportunity to venture to the renowned Miyajima on your free day in Hiroshima. Easily accessible by tram and ferry, it is less than an hour from the city. Formally known as Itsukushima, many refer to the island as Miyajima which translates to “shrine island” for a reason. It's most famous site is an immense torii gate, which at high tide, gives the impression that it’s floating on water.

If inclined to explore further, take a cable car to the top of Mount Misen with views over the Seto Inland Sea and with many other small shrines and temples to visit. One of the best by far is Daisho-in Temple, only a short walk from the floating torii gate.

Day 11: Hiroshima to Osaka

Head to Osaka by Shinkansen from Hiroshima to Osaka, a fun loving version of Tokyo. Known for being bright, bash and bold, Osaka has a culture obsessed with frankness, food and good times. Due to its proximity to some of the best farmland in Japan, Osaka maintains its reputation as the ultimate city for food lovers!

Your guide will take you by local transport to one of the most famous symbols of the city, Osaka Castle. Here you will learn about the shoguns that ruled the country before power was restored to the Meiji Emperor. The current castle was rebuilt in 1931, however a castle stood on this spot from 1583 to 1868.

After exploring the castle and its grounds, take a stroll to the riverside to board the Aqualiner for a one hour tour of the waterways of Osaka giving you a fresh perspective of the city. Finally, your guide will escort you back to your hotel where you can freely venture through the city in the evening.

Day 12: Osaka to Takayama

Leave vibrant Osaka behind, as you ride the Bullet Train to Nagoya for approximately 50 minutes. There, you will then change to the scenic Hida Wide View Express train for a more scenic and leisurely trip through some of Japan’s beautiful mountain scenery.

Arrive in Takayama, nestled in the charming Hida region and be sure wander about this Edo period merchant town, with its beautifully preserved buildings and distinctive culture. As you have the freedom, be sure to grab a bite of delicious Hida beef, which is as good as its more famous Kobe counterpart.

Day 13: Takayama Half Day Tour

This morning, your guide will take you to the riverside markets of Takayama, known for their locally grown produce. Then stroll 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 famous for them, with several old sake breweries found around the old town, recognisable by the sugidama (balls made of cedar branches) hung over their entrances.

This afternoon, enjoy wandering about Takayama by heading to Hida no Sato, or Hida Folk Village accessible from the main station. Here, more than 30 traditional buildings including thatched and shingled houses, shrines, sheds, and others are scattered around the village. All can be entered and explored at your own pace. Every characterized house has been moved from various parts of Hida region. All are kept in their original condition as well as National Important Folk Cultural assets. Each house also displays daily tools and articles inside, making it easy to imagine how the life was in old days. For example, fire lit in the “irori” (sunken hearths) every morning not only keep the houses in good condition but also create a peaceful atmosphere.

Day 14: Takayama to Tokyo

Say farewell to the alpine air and journey back to Tokyo for your final evening in Japan. Ride back on the Hide Wide View Express train back through the mountains before transferring to your final Bullet Train to Tokyo.

Arrive at your hotel in Shinjuku, the perfect place for any last-minute souvenir shopping.

Make the most of your time left in this brilliant city to fit in anything you missed at the beginning of the trip! With endless restaurants, bars and karaoke joints on your doorstep, you will be spoilt for choice when it comes to entertainment for your final night in the capital.

Day 15: Depart Tokyo

Enjoy your final morning in Tokyo before departing to the airport for your flight.

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