SEMI INDEPENDENT TOUR: Take your family on a Japanese adventure travelling from Tokyo to Osaka. Take in the must-see sights of the neon-lit capital, marvel at the breath-taking beauty of Mt Fuji at Hakone Izu National Park, feed mischievous monkeys at a monkey park, discover the famous island of Miyajima and unleash your inner gamer in Osaka on this 12-day journey offering experiences for all ages.
We meet our tour leader and the rest of the group this morning and travel to Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, one of Tokyo’s most popular parks. Here we have the opportunity to stroll through the traditional Japanese and Western designed gardens and drown out the noise and hustle and bustle of the city.
This afternoon we take in the cityscape with incredible views from the Metropolitan Government Building. Later, we visit the Sensoji Temple in Asakusa where we learn about Buddhism in Japan and witness worshippers making offerings to Kannon, the goddess of compassion. We then have time to walk through the charming streets of Asakusa before returning to our hotel for an evening at leisure. For those looking to test out some of the local activities, there is an opportunity to visit one of the batting cages and try your hand at one of the nations favourite sports!
Our morning begins travelling to the heart of Japan’s national sport in the Sumo district where we try to spot the giant men dressed in traditional garb wandering through the streets. We then head to the sumo museum located under the wrestling stadium, housing hundreds of pictures and video footage of top ranking wrestlers before finishing our morning at the Edo Tokyo Museum, home of over 400 years of the city’s best original artefacts and replicas of Edo-era buildings and landmarks.
The afternoon finds us discovering the traditional-modern contrast of the Harajuku area of Tokyo. We wander through the forest of Yoyogi Park until we reach the Meiji Shrine, a shrine dedicated to the Emperor Meiji and Empress Shokun who began Japans transformation from a feudal into a modern society. Our afternoon finishes watching the chaos of the famous Shibuya crossing, rumoured to be one of the busiest intersections in the world, with over 1000 people crossing at one time. The rest of the evening is at leisure to continue to explore the shopping district or for those looking to try one of Tokyos quirky cafes, there is an optional visit to one of the city’s cat cafes where you can snuggle up to some fury friends.
We have some free time to further explore the fascinating capital. Why not start the day with a visit to the chaotic Tsukiji Fish Market, one of the largest fish markets in the world and try fresh fish from this morning's catch. Later, visit the flashy Ginza shopping area, or Akihabara, Japan’s funky “electric town”, home to Japans famous J-pop group AKB48 and hub of anime and manga stores. Be sure to visit one of the famous maid cafes in the area and watch out for people in cosplay walking the streets.
For the afternoon, we enjoy a sushi-making class with a sushi chef and eat the fruits of our labour for dinner. To finish the day there is the optional visit to the Samurai museum to learn the fine art of samurai, as well as doing your best samurai cosplay when trying on armour.
Tokyo - Hakone. After breakfast we take a quick train journey from Tokyo to Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, home of the world-renowned Mt Fuji, Izu Peninsula and Izu Islands. On arrival we have some free time to explore or there is an optional visit to Owakuandi valley for spectacular views of Mt Fuji. This volcanic valley is awash with active sulfur vents and hot springs and boasts the local delicacy of black eggs boiled in the sulphuric water. Later, take a series of cable cars down the valley for a boat trip on Lake Ashi.
No trip to Japan would be complete without sampling authentic Japanese hospitality at a traditional ryokan (a Japanese inn), which is where we’ll lay our heads down tonight. At the ryokan, sample tasty local cuisine (at your own expense) and take a relaxing dip in the natural hot spring baths.
Note: As of June 2019 the Hakone Ropeway has been temporarily suspended – please see the Trip Notes for further details.
Hakone - Kyoto. No trip to Japan would be complete without a journey on the famous bullet train, and this morning we jump aboard and make our way to Kyoto. On arrival to Kyoto we meet our guide and make our way onto the beautiful walking trails, through corridors of bright red gates until we reach the Fushi Inari Shrine, a shrine to the god Inari located at the foot of the mountain of the same name.
After dropping our luggage off at the hotel, we wander through the quaint streets until we reach the 1200-year-old Kiyomizu Dera Temple, one of the most celebrated temples of Japan, where we enjoy spectacular views of Kyoto. We finish our day exploring the Gion district where we learn about the history of geishas. For anyone wanting to witness a traditional Japanese performance, there is an optional visit to the theatre at Gion Corner, to watch real geisha performing their traditional arts as well as other traditional performances.
We spend our morning visiting the world-famous International Manga Museum, home to over 300,00 publications. Take some time to sit back, relax and enter the new world of Japanese Manga, or watch one of the artists, deep in concentration as they create their art.
Our afternoon finds us discovering the district of Arashiyama, on the outskirts of Kyoto. We manoeuvre through lush bamboo forest to start our 30-minute climb to the Monkey Park, where we'll see panoramic views of Kyoto and feed the cheeky monkeys who live there. Our last stop of the day is to one of the most important zen temples, the Tenryu-Ji Temple, to explore the pristine gardens and famous dragons’ eye on the mural in the Dharma Hall. The rest of the evening is free to relax or sing your heart out in one of the city's many karaoke bars.
Channel your inner zen this morning and start the day with a meditation lesson in the Daisen-In Temple with a Buddhist Monk followed by an informal tea ceremony. Spend the rest of the day at leisure. Head to the Golden Pavilion and walk around the shimmering lake or cycle to the Imperial Palace Gardens. In the evening wander through Pontocho Alley and enjoy a meal at one of the lovely wood-panelled restaurants, or sip on sake and look out for geishas as they walk past in their traditional clothing.
Kyoto - Hiroshima. Our final morning in Kyoto begins mastering the art of calligraphy with a lesson on the traditional artform from a master. We then have some free time to make one final trip to Kyoto’s geisha district, Gion. Later we independently board a bullet train to Hiroshima and make our way to our accommodation where we have the rest of the day at leisure to explore this fascinating city. For dinner we recommend visiting an Okonomiyaki restaurant – a savoury pancake topped with a different variety of ingredients ranging from meats to seafood to wasabi.
This morning we meet our guide to learn about Hiroshima’s tragic past. Our first port of call is the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum - a reminder of when the city became the target of the world’s first atomic bomb attack in 1945. We learn about how the city recovered from this devastating event and its continued commitment to a peaceful, nuclear-free world.
In the afternoon we take a short ferry trip to the small island of Miyajima, one of Japan’s most visited spots and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The island is famous for it’s iconic ‘floating’ Torii Gate at the well-respected Itsukushima-jinja Shrine, which appears to float on water. The shrine stands 16 meters high but can be reached by foot during the low tide. We have time to walk along the many walking trails to the amazing shrines, beaches and waterfalls accompanied by the resident deer. We then return to Hiroshima for an evening at leisure. For dinner we recommend trying the sushi or sashimi at the Sushi Tai restaurant.
Note: From June 2019 the floating Torii Gate is undergoing renovations – please see the Trip Notes for further details.
Hiroshima - Osaka. We bid farewell to Hiroshima this morning and independently make our way to the train station, where we board our bullet train to Osaka. On arrival, we meet our guide and make our way to Osaka Castle, a famous landmark which represented a unified Japan. Take time to explore the grounds and to uncover a turbulent history of sieges and destruction, leading to its being restored to its original glory. Nowadays the interior of the castle is a museum dedicated to the original founder, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, housing artefacts such as armour, and thousands of shrines. Be sure to visit the nine storey keep or donjon.
Later, we trade old for new and release our inner child with a visit to a nine-storey arcade in the heart of Osaka. With games from the old school NES favourites to the newest Super Smash Brothers, there’s something for the whole family. We end our day with a stroll around the Shinsaibashi shopping district for any last-minute souvenirs and along the Dotonbori Riverfront, one of the most famous waterways in Osaka. The rest of the evening is at leisure. Osaka is known for its culinary delights so be sure to try some of the renowned takoyaki on your last night in Osaka.
Our adventure comes to an end after hotel check out today. Use your JR pass to return to Tokyo. An airport departure transfer is not included but can be booked upon request. Additional nights accommodation can also be arranged if you're not ready to go back home.
Prices & Dates
Prices shown are ‘per person’, based on a travelling party of at least 2 adults. The single supplement price needs to be added to the ‘per person’ price if single rooms are required.Read More