This 13 day adventure takes in the must-see sites of Tokyo and Kyoto as well as visiting the mountainous town of Takayama, impressive Himeji Castle and of course well-known Hiroshima and the famed Torri Gate of Miyajima Island. For an authentic Japanese experience ride a bullet train, stay in a ryokan and take a dip in natural hot springs.
Toyko - Senjoji Temple district, Harajuki & Shibuya
This morning we take the subway to Asakusa, a lively district of Tokyo which is famous for its historic Sensoji Buddhist temple. After visiting the temple we'll have time to explore the area which has an abundance of interesting souvenir and craft stalls. This afternoon we head to Harajuku, which is a mecca for young and fashionable Tokyoites who flock to the trendy shops and cafes on Takeshita Street. Here we’ll visit the revered Meiji Shrine where the emperor Meiji and his wife are enshrined.
Our last stop of the day is the famed Shibuya crossing - regarded as one of the busiest pedestrian crossings in the world. 'The Scramble' as it's known is an amazing spectacle as people come from all directions at once – sometimes over a thousand with every light change – yet still manage to duck and weave without causing collision. Here we’ll grab a coffee and perch ourselves on a barstool at Starbucks to watch the spectacle. This evening offers free time though if travelling in January, May and September you might like spend the evening watching a Sumo tournament (bookings must be made in advance). See our Trip Notes for more info.
Tokyo - Kamakura - Tokyo. Today we head out of the city to Kamakura, Japan’s first feudal capital, which is just an hour from Tokyo. Here we’ll visit the iconic bronze Big Buddha and the Zen Temple of Hokokuji with its towering bamboo garden where you can drink tea and learn about the tea ceremony before walking the cobbled pedestrian alleys - adorned with locally made items and returning to Japan’s bustling capital for the night.
Tokyo Edo Museum
Today offers a guided tour of the Tokyo Edo Museum which focuses on the lifestyle and culture experienced by Tokyoites over the city’s 400-year history. The museum houses some of the city’s best original artefacts and replicas of Edo-era buildings and landmarks, along with several large-scale models. The remainder of the day offers free time.
Mt Fuji & Lake Kawaguchi
Tokyo - Lake Kawaguchi. This morning we travel by highway bus to Lake Kawaguchi, located at the foot of Mt Fuji in the Fuji Hakone Izu National Park. The scenery is stunning with panoramic views of a snow-capped Fuji most of the year. Upon arrival we’ll travel along the Kachikachi-yama Ropeway and visit the observatory. For tours staying at Lake Kawaguchi between 15 Apr – 28 May each year we’ll visit the Springtime Fuji Shibazakura (Phlox Moss) Festival, held at Motosu Lake, where the landscape is covered in a vibrant, hot pink moss with Fuji as the backdrop. Tonight you'll bed down in a traditional Japanese Inn (ryokan). At the ryokan, we'll be served a traditional Japanese dinner and you can 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.
Overnight: Lake Kawaguchi | Dinner
Lake Kawaguchi – Kyoto. The area has some great hiking trails and early this morning you might like to opt for a hike along the foreshores of the lake. Travel by bus to Mishima, then bullet train to Kyoto - Japan’s ancient and cultural capital.
As one of the most culturally rich cities in Asia, Kyoto is home to an abundance of UNESCO World Heritage sites, Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines. Here we enjoy a guided tour of Sanjusagen-do Temple famous for its statues of Kannon, the goddess of mercy. The one thousand life-size statues of Kannon are made of Japanese cypress clad in gold leaf. They stand in 10 rows of 50, each hand crafted and slightly different from the next. Late afternoon we head to Gion, for a walking tour of this famous Geisha district. After you may wish to watch a cultural performance at Gion Corner Theatre where you'll have the opportunity to watch a Maiko (apprentice Geisha) performing.
Overnight: Kyoto | Breakfast
Today we tour Nijo Castle, one of the city’s most impressive UNESCO sites. Built by the first Tokugawa shogun in 1603, the exquisite Nijo Castle is a wonderful example of Momoyama architecture. After we visit the stunning Zen Buddhist temple of Kinkakuji (or commonly referred as the Golden Pavilion) which forms part of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto World Heritage Site. Nearly completely covered in gold, the shimmering temple sits beside a small lake that reflects it beauty in the calm waters.
This afternoon offers free time for you to relax or to further discover the many sights of Kyoto your own way. Consider visiting iconic Fushimi Inari Shrine, famous for its winding path lined by thousands of red torii gates. Just a short train ride away from the main Kyoto station, this must-see sight is free to visit and is open 24 hours a day. You might also wish to hire a Kimono and walk the streets as many Japanese do or take part in a cooking lesson.
Overnight: Kyoto | Breakfast
Kyoto - Himeji - Hiroshima. This morning we take the bullet train to Himeji to visit the impressive UNESCO Listed Himeji Castle, perched high on a hill top. The castle is known as the White Egret due to its white walls and elegant shape and it has impressive maze-like defences. After taking in the panoramic views from the top of its 6 story watch tower we take another bullet train to Hiroshima.
If you like baseball consider booking tickets to watch the Carp play. The Carp, Hiroshima beloved professional baseball play games at home between May - Oct at Mazda Stadium.
Overnight: Hiroshima | Breakfast
A local train and ferry takes us to the island of Miyajima today, which is famous for its iconic ‘floating’ Torii Gate at the revered Itsukushima-jinja Shrine. The iconic gate seems to float on the water but at low tide can reached by foot. It stands 16 metres high and is made from camphor wood. Miyajima is a beautiful island with UNESCO Listed primeval forests and inquisitive, tame deer. As we explore the island we'll see further Shinto shrines, pretty pagodas and pavilions before taking in the magical views offered from our cable car ride to the top of Mount Misen. Free time is offered before we return to Hiroshima for the night. Tonight, we'll make a reservation for Okonomiyaki - a mix between a savoury pancake and omelette a local speciality of Hiroshima. Okonomiyaki is always a fun night, its inexpensive and is washed down perfectly with a Asahi beer.
Note: From June 2019 the floating Torii Gate is undergoing renovations – please see the Trip Notes for further details.
Overnight: Hiroshima | Breakfast
Hiroshima - Takayama. Hiroshima is a city that needs little introduction, it is of course infamous for being the first site where one of two atomic bombs were dropped on Japan at the end of World War II. This morning we visit Peace Park and Peace Park Museum which are a moving reminder of Hiroshima’s tragic past. We’ll see the iconic A-Bomb Dome one of the very few buildings left standing after the blast and visit the and Children's Peace Monument a memorial to the children killed, where schools from around the world donate paper origami cranes, signifying hope and peace.
This afternoon we take the bullet train to Nagoya, followed by another scenic train journey up the mountains to Takayama.
Overnight: Takayama | Breakfast
Takayama is delightful town in the heart of the Hida Mountains. Established in the 16th century as the castle town of the Kanamori family, Takayama is now famous throughout Japan for its beautifully preserved old-quarter, which has a series of streets lined with Edo style wooden buildings. The town also has many shrines and temples, giving rise to the title of ‘Little Kyoto’. This morning we explore Takayama’s old quarter, where you can wander around the shops and market which sell everything from vegetables and pickles to craft, ceramics and tools. After there's a visit a sake distillery to sample the town’s famous and potent sake.
This afternoon you can opt to see the fascinating Hida folk village where more than 30 houses from across the Hida region have been rebuilt on a hillside overlooking the town. Alternatively, enjoy free time in Takayama independently exploring. For dinner tonight we recommend sampling Takayama’s delicious Hida beef at one of the many restaurants or Beef Burger cafes.
Overnight: Takayama | Breakfast
Takayama – Tokyo. This morning we embark on the scenic Higashiyama walk (the Eastern Mountain Walk) which takes in a number of temples set into the hillside and offers wonderful views over the city. Later we take the train back down the mountains to Nagoya to catch the bullet train to Tokyo.
Overnight: Tokyo | Breakfast
Thursday. Our tour comes to an end today. Travel (unescorted) back to Narita International Airport on board the Narita Express train.
Prices & Dates
Departure dates noted with a 'G' are guaranteed to operate. All other departure dates are guaranteed with a minimum of 2 persons.Read More
The hotels listed below are ones which we frequently use on this tour. We reserve the right to substitute these hotels to ones of a similar standard.
Yaesu Terminal Hotel, Tokyo
Enjoying an enviable location on a cherry-blossom lined street in the centre of Tokyo, Yaesu Terminal Hotel is just a short jaunt away from the city’s main railroad station giving travellers easy access to locations across the city. A comfortable 3-star hotel with a natural theme, a permanent art exhibit in the hotel lobby and an in-house restaurant serving freshly prepared local cuisine; it is a soothing place to relax after a busy day of sightseeing. Hotel guests can make use of the free Wi-Fi, benefit from complimentary bathrobes and slippers and enjoy entertainment on a flat-screen TV.
Yamagishi Ryokan, Lake Kawaguchi
With stunning views over Lake Kawaguchi, which is located just one minute away, the Yamagishi Ryokan is a gorgeous accommodation and an excellent base for exploring the area around the lake. Rooms are designed according to traditional Japanese styles with low furniture and lots of natural light. Breakfast and dinner are both included with the room and are served in the hotel's dining room. After dinner, guests can take a dip in one of the hotel's baths or relax with a coffee in the lounge. The hotel is located just an 8 minute walk from Kawaguchiko Station.
Hotel Mifujien, Lake Kawaguchi
This Japanese-style hotel boasts stunning views over Lake Kawaguchi and Mount Fuji from each of its guestrooms. Offering traditional low furniture and modern amenities, each room is also equipped with air conditioning and a TV. The views can be enjoyed from the hotel’s lobby, tea lounge and the Japanese restaurant, which uses local ingredients and offers a feast of traditional dishes. On the 7th floor you’ll find both indoor and outdoor hot spring baths, perfect for unwinding at the end of the day.
Hotel Elcient Kyoto., Kyoto
Boasting a fantastic location in the heart of Kyoto, Hotel Elcient Kyoto is within walking distance of top attractions such as Kyoto Tower and the picturesque Shosei-en Garden. Guestrooms are compact and simply furnished, complete with modern amenities such as air conditioning and ensuite bathrooms. Enjoy more than 30 different dishes at the Western and Japanese buffet-style restaurant, with light lunches and dinner also available. On the second floor you’ll find a large public bath and sauna, offering the perfect spot to relax after some sightseeing.
Dormy Inn Premium Kyoto, Kyoto
Located just a short walk from Kyoto Station and the lofty Kyoto Tower, you really cannot get more central than this! Combining convenience with comfort, this contemporary hotel boasts modern guest rooms with flat screen televisions, complimentary WiFi, refrigerators and a private toilet – though washing facilities are shared. Buffet breakfast is available, with a choice of local and western dishes on offer. The hotel is surrounded by a wide choice of shops and restaurants, adn there are plenty of cultural landmarks just a short stroll away. After a day of sightseeing guests can relax with a soak in the hotel’s natural hot spring baths or opt for a sauna and massage.
Hokke Club, Hiroshima
Situated within walking distance of the Atomic Bomb Dome and Hiroshima Castle, Hokke Club Hotel boasts an excellent location. Guests can start their day with the European and Japanese-style breakfast buffet in the onsite restaurant, which is also open for lunch. Its modern guestrooms are well-equipped, with an electric kettle, fridge and air conditioning, alongside free WiFi access so you can stay connected with your friends and family back home. Treat yourself to a relaxing massage or enjoy a dip in the hot communal baths, a hotel feature that’s unique to Japanese culture.
Candeo Hotel, Hiroshima
Recently opened in 2018, this modern hotel is conveniently located in the heart of the city just footsteps from the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and the Hiroshima Museum of Arts. Guestrooms are spacious and brightly lit, benefiting from free WiFi and tea and coffee making facilities. Guests can take advantage of the breakfast buffet, which offers 60 dishes ranging from continental to Japanese cuisine. However, this hotel’s real highlight is its SkySpa, which features a sauna, indoor and outdoor baths set on the rooftop.
Daiwa Roynet, Hiroshima
The Daiwa Roynet is a great launching pad for exploring Hiroshima with a prime location and reliable service. The smart guestrooms feature free WiFi access and all the mod-cons needed for a comfortable stay. Dine on Japanese dishes at the hotel's restaurant. Conveniently located in Hiroshima's main commercial district, just a 1-minute walk from Chudenmae Tram Station and a 10-minute walk from the Peace Memorial Museum.
Best Western Takayama, Takayama
The Best Western is a great option in Takayama with a handy central location and good selection of facilities. The comfortable soundproofed guestrooms feature sophisticated decor and free WiFi. Enjoy local specialities at the stylish Sho Restaurant or relax in the Spa Replus sauna where massage services are also available. Bicycles can be rented from the hotel in order to explore Takayama at your own leisure. Best Western Hotel Takayama is conveniently located just a 1-minute walk from JR Takayama Train Station and Hida Kokubunji Temple.
Alpina Spa Hotel, Takayama
Well-located close to the Morning Market and Takayama Old Town, Alpina Spa Hotel features a fantastic open-air hot spring bath. Featuring glass walls surrounding the tub, you can enjoy panoramic views of the entire city whilst soaking in the hot waters. Western-style guestrooms are complete with ensuite bathrooms, flat screen TVs and free internet access. The Alteracce restaurant offers a daily breakfast buffet with freshly baked bread and coffee, alongside traditional Japanese dishes.
Extra Tour Info
I have had the most fabulous tour. My guide Yuki made the tour easy with her fantastic organisation skills, great sense of humour and caring nature. I appreciated the balance of guided aspects and free time. Yuki was so helpful and accommodated the needs of all group members. She was so knowledgeable and efficient which meant we could make the most if our time at each place. My first trip with On The Go has been a blast. A big Thanks to the company and THE BEST tour guide!”