Konichiwa Japan! - 14 days
FROM USD $4,399
Private Tour: After fully exploring Tokyo head to Nagano and Matsumoto before arriving in famous Kyoto. Carrying on take a journey to Hiroshima and end in Osaka. Meet local people, experience efficient public transport and see the wonders that Japan has to offer!
Day 1: Welcome to Japan!
Welcome to Tokyo! You will be met upon arrival at Tokyo Narita Airport and escorted by shuttle bus to your hotel in the city. Look out for some great views as you ride the elevated highways into town, and spend the rest of the day exploring the city at your own leisure. Overnight - Tokyo
Day 2: Sightseeing in Tokyo
Enjoy a full day of guided sightseeing in Tokyo led by a local guide, offering a perfect introduction to the city. Travelling by public transport, as Tokyoites do, you will get a real feel for city life and your guide will help you discover aspects of Tokyo that you would not be able to find on your own. Rather than a fixed itinerary, you can enjoy the flexibility of seeing and doing exactly what you want.
You can start the day by visiting Asakusa, Tokyo's historic district. Here you can browse the bustling market place of Nakamise Dori, visit the famous Senso-ji Temple and explore the backstreets lined with Kabuki theatres, rustic bars and restaurants. From Asakusa you can take a river cruise on the Sumida River to the Hamarikyu Gardens, a peaceful oasis of greenery and exquisite Japanese aesthetics in the heart of a bustling city.
A short train journey from here can take you to Harajuku, the focal point for Tokyo's teen culture where you will find teenagers hanging out wearing quirky and extreme fashions. Nearby you can also find Meiji Jingu, one of the most famous and important shrines in Tokyo. Then why not end the day surrounded by the bright lights of Shinjuku, Tokyo's main business and entertainment district. Spend the rest of the evening discovering the city on your own. Overnight - Tokyo (B)
Konichiwa Japan! - 14 days Go Guide
: :Check out the go guide for details of the tour, info on visas, climate, money, what to bring and more!
Day 3: Home Cooking Class
Today try your hand at preparing Japanese cuisine with the help of a local person, who will open up their home and kitchen to you! You can choose from either the "Basic Japanese Home Cooked Meal" where you will be making three dishes or a "Japanese Character Lunch Box" where you will be making three toppings. This is a great chance to learn about typical Japanese cooking techniques and ingredients and also to meet a Japanese person and experience something of home life. Overnight - Tokyo (B)
Day 4: Tokyo to Nagano
Tokyo - Nagano. Today you will leave Tokyo behind and journey by rail to Nagano in the Japan Alps. Nagano has a history stretching back to the Kamakura period (1185‐1333) when it was a temple town centred around Zenko‐ji Temple. The temple is still Nagano's main attraction with more than 4 million visitors a year. Recently the city has gained international fame as the host of the 1998 Winter Olympics. As well as a fair amount of debt, the games left a legacy of improved transport, great English tourist information, some wonderful Olympic buildings and a cosmopolitan atmosphere. Nagano station was rebuilt for the Olympics and has two sides: East and Zenko‐ji. Take the latter for the city centre and Zenko‐ji Temple. Nagano makes a great base for day trips to Matsumoto Castle, as well as visiting the famous snow monkeys in Yudanaka Onsen. Overnight - Nagano (B, D)
Day 5: Nagano to Matsumoto
Nagano - Matsumoto. Today journey southwest of Nagano to the alpine city of Matsumoto, surrounded by the towering peaks of the Japan Alps. The city is most famous for its original castle which is only a short distance from the station. This is one of the only original castles in Japan and really gives you a sense of ancient Japan and how the samurai used to live and fight. The city also boasts a number of sake breweries, hidden in the backstreets amongst the traditional buildings, a good museum of Ukiyoe woodblock prints, and is the home of soba noodles, the local speciality which is particularly delicious.
You can also try some of the city's other local delicacy ‐ raw horse! The city has a really relaxed atmosphere and a cosmopolitan feel befitting of a city renowned for its musicians and authors. The famous violin teacher, Suzuki (of the Suzuki method) originated from Matsumoto and you will find a commemorative statue on the street opposite the station. Overnight - Matsumoto (B, D)
Day 6: Matsumoto to Tsumago
Matsumoto - Tsumago. Today make your way to Tsumago, the jewel of the Kiso Valley, which was once a post town on the old Nakasendo highway linking the ancient capital of Kyoto with Matsumoto. Today, Tsumago is loved for the residents’ efforts to preserve the town’s Edo Period ambiance. Power lines are hidden away and cars banned from the main roads during the daytime so that the beautiful, traditional buildings and flag‐stone streets can be seen in their true glory. A stay in Tsumago is to step back in time and experience old Japan; a world away from the robots, gadgets and gizmos that many associate with modern Japanese cities. The walk along the old samurai trail from the neighbouring village of Magome through Tsumago and on to Nagiso is highly recommended. Overnight - Tsumago (B, D)
Day 7: Tsumago to Kyoto
Tsumago - Kyoto. This morning you will travel by train to Kyoto, Japan’s ancient capital and the cultural centre of the nation. One of the most culturally rich cities in Asia, Kyoto is home to 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites, over 1,600 Buddhist temples and 400 Shinto shrines, this ancient city showcases the heart and soul of traditional Japan. Spend the rest of the day at your own leisure exploring the city. Overnight - Kyoto (B)
Days 8 - 9: Sightseeing in Kyoto
On day 8 enjoy a full day of sightseeing in Kyoto, again travelling by public transport with a private guide. With no fixed itinerary and a knowledgeable local at your side, you will be set for a great day in this amazing city and are sure to discover things you might otherwise miss.
You may want to start your day at Kinkakuji - Kyoto's famous Golden Pavilion zen temple which is decorated with gold leaf and stands over a tranquil pond. From Kikakuji in the north of the city you can then head to Kiyomizu Dera Temple in the east. This impressive wooden structure is perched on a hillside surrounded by woodland and looks out across the city.
The afternoon could be spent at Fushimi Inari Shrine in the south of the city. This shrine's appeal is the thousands of red torii gates which create a network of pathways through the wooded forests of Mt Inari, linking the various buildings of the shrine together. You may want your guide to finish the day of sightseeing by taking you to the Gion Geisha District where if you are lucky you will be able to see a Geisha shuffling through the streets between appointments. Spend day 9 at your own leisure in Kyoto. Overnight - Kyoto (B:2)
Day 10: Kyoto to Kinosaki Onsen
Kyoto - Kinosaki Onsen. This morning take the train to Kinosaki Onsen, renowned for its hot springs. The town boasts seven bathhouses which sit among pretty streets of traditional wooden buildings and narrow bridges. Visitors to Kinosaki Onsen enjoy a stay in a Japanese inn where sumptuous cuisine is served at low tables in tatami rooms. Afterwards guests dress in provided ‘yukata’ and ‘geta’, light kimonos and wooden sandals, and take to the streets for a pleasant evening stroll around town.
Men and women separate and enter the bathhouses for several dips in the different hot springs. For the Japanese, onsen bathing has always been a spiritual experience, as cleanliness and purity are linked to Shintoism. There is certainly something magical about Kinosaki Onsen and the town has inspired Japanese poets and artists for centuries. Overnight - Kinosaki Onsen (B, D)
Day 11: Kinosaki Onsen to Hiroshima
Kyoto - Hiroshima. Today you will take the train to Hiroshima, a city that needs little introduction. It is of course infamous for being the site of one of two atomic bombs dropped on Japan at the end of the Second World War. The Peace Park and Museum are a poignant reminder of the reason for Hiroshima's fame and everyone should spend an afternoon in this part of town. Other attractions in Hiroshima include Hiroshima Castle and the baseball stadium. Shukkei‐en Garden is well worth an afternoon stroll with a number of tea houses dotted about the grounds, and the Hiroshima Prefectural Museum of Art contains some wonderful paintings by both Japanese and Western artists. Overnight - Hiroshima (B)
Day 12: Day trip to Miyajima Island
Enjoy a day trip to Miyajima Island from Hiroshima. The island is perhaps best known for the red torii gate of Itsukushima Shrine which appears to be floating in the sea. In the evening this gate and the shrine behind it (as well as other traditional buildings in the area) are floodlit and the atmosphere is magical. A cable car takes you to fantastic views across the Inland Sea from Mount Misen, the highest point of the island. There are many pleasant walks on Miyajima among the temples and along the bustling shopping street in the island's small village.
You may also see some of the island's native fauna; the sacred deer are easy to spot as they roam freely, but you'll have to work a little harder to spot any of the resident monkey population; keep your eyes peeled! Miyajima is a wonderful place to slow down, unwind and relax, so take your time and let the magic of this island enchant you! Overnight - Hiroshima (B)
Day 13: Hiroshima To Osaka
Hiroshima - Osaka. This morning you will leave Hiroshima behind and travel on to Osaka, Japan's second city and an extremely vibrant and lively place to stay. The city aquarium is world class and you cannot stay in Osaka without taking a ride on one of the city's several giant big wheels, perhaps the most dramatic of which is perched on top of the Hep 5 department store in the Umeda district of the city ‐ just don't look down if you are afraid of heights! Osaka Castle is well worth a visit despite being a reconstruction as the original was burnt down during the firebombing at the end of World War Two and you will find a variety of very interesting museums scattered throughout the city.
After dark Osaka really comes alive, and a walk through the bright lights of the Nanba district is a great way to take in the atmosphere, with some great people‐watching opportunities. With literally thousands of restaurants, bars and entertainment spots to choose from, Osaka is perfect for a big night out, some hearty local food and the chance to let your hair down. (B)
Day 14: Goodbye Japan!
Today your adventure in Japan comes to an end. We've reserved tickets on the bullet shaped Nankai Rapit train direct to Osaka's Kansai Airport for your onward travel. (B)