Kiyomizu Dera Temple Kyoto - Japan Tours
FROM: £2,345 pp
Essential Japan Explorer - 13 Days map

SEMI INDEPENDENT: Uncover the best of Japan on a budget, on this 13-day Essentials tour. Staying in a mixture of hostels and guesthouses, you'll take in the sights of Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima and much more. Visit the Imperial Palace in Tokyo and cross the Shibuya Crossing. Hike to the giant bronze Buddha of Kotoku-in in Kamakura, take a dip in an onsen bath in Hakone and cycle the streets of Kyoto. Enjoy a relaxing meditation session, pay your respects at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial and see the iconic red torii gate of Miyajima.

Inclusions
Itinerary
Prices & Dates

Trip Highlights

Tokyo - Visit historic Senso-ji Temple, the Akihabara anime district, the Imperial Palace and iconic Shibuya Crossing
Hakone - Cruise Lake Ashi aboard a pirate ship and ride the Hakone Ropeway cable car for amazing views of Mount Fuji, then relax in a traditional onsen
Kyoto - Discover your inner peace in a meditation session led by a Buddhist monk. After this, you’ll join them for a traditional tea ceremony.
Osaka - Explore fascinating Osaka Castle and enjoy a night out in the neon paradise of Dotonbori
Kamakura - Hike to the giant bronze Buddha at Kotoku-in Temple and Zeniarai Benzaiten Ugafuku Shrine
Kyoto - Ride a bullet train to the former imperial capital, visit the iconic Kiyomizu Temple and the beautiful Fushimi Inari Shrine, and enjoy a cycle tour of the city
Hiroshima - Take in the sobering Peace Memorial Museum, see the A-Bomb Dome and pay your respects to victims of the atomic bomb at the Children's Peace Monument
Miyajima Island - Visit the iconic Itsukushima Shrine and take the Miyajima Ropeway for spectacular views of the island

Included

12 nights hostel dorm rooms (room upgrade available on request, excluding Hakone and Osaka)
Escorted by a bi-lingual local tour leader
Sightseeing in Tokyo, Kamakura, Hakone, Kyoto, Hiroshima, Miyajima and Osaka, as per itinerary
Boat cruise on Lake Ashi and Fuji Hakone National Park Ropeway
Sake tasting session in Hakone (for travellers aged 20+)
Kyoto bike rental and cycling tour
Miyajima Island day trip including Itsukushima Shrine and Ropeway
All transportation on public transport including a 7-day Japan Rail Pass
Entrance fees to all included sites
Sushi making class in Tokyo
Onsen bath experience in Hakone
Sumo museum visit in Tokyo
Kyoto traditional calligraphy class

Not Included

Tipping - an entirely personal gesture
Airport transfers
International flights and visa
Optional activities

Itinerary

Day 1

Toyko - Sensoji Temple District

Welcome to Tokyo! Arrive into either Narita or Haneda International Airport in Tokyo and independently travel by public transport into the city centre where you will be met by your tour leader and the rest of the group at the Imano Tokyo Hostel.

Then we head out to visit the bustling Tsukiji Outer Market. We'll be there over lunchtime so be sure to try some delicious fresh sashimi before we make our way to the city's oldest Buddhist temple in the Asakusa District. At Senso-ji we'll witness worshippers make offerings to Kannon, the goddess of compassion and meander through the contemplative garden. Then we soak up the incredible views from the top of the Metropolitan Government Building before taking part in some optional activities. You can either experience one of Japan’s national obsessions (baseball, at a local batting cage) or kick back and relax with a drink – or bathe with the locals at a nearby bathhouse.

Please note: This tour begins at 10am on day 1 so we recommend arriving in Tokyo the night before your trip starts. We can arrange pre-tour accommodation for you.
Overnight: Tokyo

Day 2

Akihabara district

This morning we enjoy a lesson in the art of sushi making from a local chef, before tasting the fruits of our labour.

This afternoon is spent wandering through Akihabara, Japan’s “electric town” and the hub for anime and manga. Take some time to geek out and visit some of the many electric shops on offer, from the branches on the main roads to the independent traders’ shops down the side streets, selling all sorts of electrical or manga goods. Spend the rest of the afternoon at leisure or enjoy a rip-roaring optional activity - Kartoon Karting. In the evening we head to Golden Gai where we enjoy a walking tour of the street, before diving into a local bar and sampling the Japanese nightlife.
Overnight: Tokyo

Day 3

Tokyo - Imperial Palace & Sumo District

This morning finds us wandering through the gardens of the Imperial Palace, once the largest fortress in the world. Built on the ruins of the original Edo Castle site which was destroyed over the years by war, all that remains of the ancient architecture are the original moats, watch towers and entrance gates. Witness the incredible Nijubashi Bridge – two bridges that form the entrance to the Palace’s grounds.

Once we’ve finished exploring, we’ll head off to the Sumo District. Spend some time exploring the area, which is filled with stadiums, stables, and all things sumo. There's also an optional activity to meet ex-sumo wrestlers for a traditional sumo lunch of tonkatsu and chanko-nabe.
Overnight: Tokyo

Day 4

Tokyo - Meiji Shrine & Shibuya

We start our day at the Meiji Shrine, an iconic location in Tokyo dedicated to the beloved Emperor Meiji – who was famed for thrusting Japan into the industrial age. It’s also importantly dedicated to his wife, the Empress Shoken. After this, we head to Harajuku – Tokyo’s number one fashion district, where you will encounter punks, goths, technicolour hair – anything goes! We spend some time exploring the bustling streets before heading to the world’s busiest pedestrian crossing – Shibuya! It’s one of the most famous sights in the entire city, with millions of people crossing here every day. Spend your last afternoon in Tokyo at leisure. Relax or explore more of the city. You might want to head to Odaiba and visit Joypolis, the vast indoor amusement park, or spend some time on the waterfront.
Overnight: Tokyo

Day 5

Kamakura

Tokyo – Kamakura. This morning we take the train to Kamakura, a coastal city that was Japan's medieval capital. This afternoon we visit some of the city's many ancient shrines, and we hike to Kotoku-in Temple, home to a 45ft tall solid bronze buddha. The statues dates back to the 1200s and survived a colossal 1498 tsunami that washed away the building it was housed in - it has stood in the open air ever since! Fro there we hike to Zeniarai Benzaiten Ugafuku Shrine before the evening is free for you to relax with a beer and watch the sunset in one of the many beach bars.
Overnight: Kamakura

Day 6

Hakone & Lake Ashi

Kamakura – Hakone. Today we travel to Hakone by train and bus. On arrival we enjoy a hike along the Old Tokaido before continuing to stunning Lake Ashi where we’ll have lunch and then board a pirate ship! From the deck of this triple-decker man-of-war you’ll cross the lake’s clear-blue waters and enjoy the spectacular views. We then take the Hakone Ropeway, an epic cable car journey to Oowakudani, a volcanic valley awash with active sulphur vents and hot springs. On a clear day you can gaze at Mount Fuji in all its glory and sample black eggs, a local delicacy coloured by the sulphuric water they’re boiled in.

We have a wonderful afternoon and evening ahead of us, starting with a visit a traditional Japanese outdoor bath – an onsen – where you can spend time soaking in the waters which are meant to have healing properties. This evening, change into your yukuta after a long bathing session, ready to learn about the art of Japanese rice wine, with a sake tasting session.
Overnight: Hakone

Day 7

Kyoto & the Kiyomizu Temple

Hakone – Kyoto. This morning, it’s time to depart Hakone for the nation’s former capital city, Kyoto. However, you’ve got time to spend a couple of hours exploring the area before we head to the train station. Then we leave the mountains behind and travel by bullet train to Kyoto, the former imperial capital of Japan. We drop our luggage at the hostel and head to Kiyomizu Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Japan's most famous Buddhist temples.

Later, there is free time in the Gion area of the city, known for its famous Geishas. Then you can spend the evening exploring Kyoto city centre, or return to the hostel for an evening at leisure.
Overnight: Kyoto

Day 8

Kyoto - Fushimi Inari Shrine

This morning we visit the beautiful Fushimi Inari Shrine. Following the trails – lined with thousands of iconic red torii gates – leads us to a beautiful hike through the foothills and up Mount Inari. You can either choose to join us for a hike to the top, or stay a little closer to sea level and explore the local area’s street food offerings. You could also explore other attractions like the Manga Museum or the Shimogamo Shrine.

Mid afternoon we reconvene for an amazing immersive experience - a traditional calligraphy class in the city. Spend some time with your group learning the art of Japanese calligraphy, and its rich history. This evening head out into the local area to find yourself some truly delicious food – and perhaps spend an evening taking part in another of Japan’s important cultural pastimes… karaoke!
Overnight: Kyoto

Day 9

Kyoto free day

Today offers free time to relax or independently explore. We recommend visiting the temples of the Philosopher’s path, or check out the famous Manga Museum or perhaps Kiyomizudera Temple.
Overnight: Kyoto

Day 10

Kyoto cycling tour & Hiroshima

Kyoto – Hiroshima. Our final morning in Kyoto begins with a bicycle ride to a Zen temple where we enjoy a meditation session led by a Buddhist monk. Then we visit one of the city’s most iconic buildings, the Golden Pavilion at Kinkaku-ji Temple, whose top two floors are covered in gold leaf. Take time to walk around the lake and marvel at the shimmering golden reflection of the pavilion in the waters and unwind in this calm atmosphere.

The afternoon finds us cycling through Kyoto’s Imperial Park in the heart of the city before reaching the iconic Imperial Palace, the former residence of Japan’s Imperial Family, before the capital and emperor were moved to Tokyo. Stroll through the grounds and admire the beautiful buildings. Later, we continue our journey west and catch the bullet train to Hiroshima. There is an optional group dinner tonight.

Journey time: Kyoto - Hiroshima (approx. 2.5 hours)
Overnight: Hiroshima

Day 11

Hiroshima Peace Memorial & Miyajima Island

Hiroshima, the first place to be hit by one of the two atomic bombs dropped on Japan at the end of World War II. We begin our day with a stop at the Peace Memorial Museum where we uncover the devastation left behind by the world’s first atomic bomb. We’ll see the iconic A-Bomb Dome, one of the very few buildings left standing after the blast and the Children’s Peace Monument, a memorial of the children killed.

This afternoon, take a short ferry trip to Miyajima Island, famous for the giant torii gate which appears to float on water. When the tide is low the gate can be reached on foot. On arrival to the island we make our way to the centuries old Itsukushima Shrine, like the torii gate the main buildings are built over water and connected by pillars above the sea. After some free time to grab lunch, we take the Miyajima Ropeway for spectacular views of the island and back across the water. Returning to Hiroshima to spend the evening at leisure.
Overnight: Hiroshima

Day 12

Hiroshima to Osaka

Hiroshima – Osaka. This morning we board the bullet train to our final destination, Osaka. On arrival we have some free time to explore the Namba or Shinsaibashi area to enjoy our fill of ramen, sushi, or yakitori. We then take a short train journey to Osaka Castle, whose original foundations were destroyed over centuries by war and natural disasters. We take some time to wander through the secondary citadels, gates, stone walls and moats before getting lost in the lush green Osaka Castle Park, which houses a shrine dedicated to Toyotomi Hideyoshi.

This afternoon, after checking into our capsule hotel, we have some free time to walk around Shinsaibashi and the Dotonbori riverfront. Dive into the covered shopping arcade before walking through the neon-lit Dotonbori riverfront which offers amazing nightlife options.
Overnight: Osaka

Day 13

Osaka/Tokyo

You can opt to end your trip this morning in Osaka or take the day’s bullet train to Tokyo without an additional cost, arriving at Tokyo Station in the early afternoon. We can arrange post-tour accommodation for you on request.

Is this holiday for you?

If you’re the kind of traveller that doesn’t mind time spent travelling independently on public transport and sharing a mixed dorm room with other travellers, then this trip will suit you just fine. There’s plenty of free time on this tour so it’s a great option if you like to explore a city at your own leisure.

Prices & Dates

Departure dates noted with a 'G' are guaranteed to operate. All other departure dates are guaranteed with a minimum of 4 persons. Prices shown are per person travelling and the Dorm prices shown are based on mixed dormitory rooms. There is also a Twin / Double Room Upgrade and a Single Room upgrade for solo travellers. Twin / Double room upgrades are based on two people travelling together and are subject to availability.

Guaranteed Departure
2024
Dorm
Twin Share
Single Room
£2,465
£2,925
£3,235
£2,465
£2,925
£3,235
£2,465
£2,925
£3,235
£2,465
£2,925
£3,235
£2,465
£2,925
£3,235
£2,465
£2,925
£3,235
£2,345
£2,805
£3,105
£2,345
£2,805
£3,105
£2,345
£2,805
£3,105
£2,345
£2,805
£3,105
£2,345
£2,805
£3,105
£2,465
£2,925
£3,235
£2,465
£2,925
£3,235
£2,465
£2,925
£3,235
£2,465
£2,925
£3,235
£2,465
£2,925
£3,235
£2,465
£2,925
£3,235
2025
Dorm
Twin Share
Single Room
£2,465
£2,925
£3,235
£2,465
£2,925
£3,235
£2,465
£2,925
£3,235
£2,715
£3,175
£3,475
£2,715
£3,175
£3,475
£2,715
£3,175
£3,475
£2,715
£3,175
£3,475
£2,715
£3,175
£3,475
£2,715
£3,175
£3,475
£2,465
£2,925
£3,235
£2,465
£2,925
£3,235
£2,465
£2,925
£3,235
£2,465
£2,925
£3,235
£2,465
£2,925
£3,235
£2,465
£2,925
£3,235
£2,465
£2,925
£3,235
£2,465
£2,925
£3,235
£2,345
£2,805
£3,105
£2,345
£2,805
£3,105
£2,345
£2,805
£3,105
£2,345
£2,805
£3,105
£2,345
£2,805
£3,105
£2,345
£2,805
£3,105
£2,465
£2,925
£3,235
£2,465
£2,925
£3,235
£2,465
£2,925
£3,235
£2,465
£2,925
£3,235
£2,465
£2,925
£3,235
£2,465
£2,925
£3,235
£2,345
£2,805
£3,105
£2,345
£2,805
£3,105
£2,345
£2,805
£3,105
£2,345
£2,805
£3,105
£2,345
£2,805
£3,105
£2,345
£2,805
£3,105
£2,465
£2,925
£3,235
£2,465
£2,925
£3,235
£2,465
£2,925
£3,235
£2,465
£2,925
£3,235
£2,465
£2,925
£3,235
£2,465
£2,925
£3,235

Extra Prices

Twin Share
Single Room
Kartoon Karting Experience
£135
N/A
Sumo Experience with lunch
£125
N/A

At a Glance

Range
Trip Type
Starts
Tokyo
Ends
Osaka or Tokyo
Departs
Mondays & Thursdays
Group Size
Min 4 / Max 17
Hotel Rating
Hostel dorm accommodation
Tour Guide
Escorted by a tour leader
Meals
None Provided
Countries
Minimum Age
18 (maximum age 55)
Arr. Transfer
No
Dep. Transfer
No
Rainbow Bridge, stretching across the water in Tokyo, lit up at night
Rainbow Bridge, stretching across the water in Tokyo, lit up at night
Rainbow Bridge, stretching across the water in Tokyo, lit up at night
Giant Buddha of Kamakura made from bronze
View of Miyajima from across the water in Hakone
Beautiful lake with a temple in the background in springtime in Kyoto
Beautiful lake with a temple in the background in springtime in Kyoto
Hiroshima memorial, dedicated to those lost in the tragedy
Hiroshima memorial, dedicated to those lost in the tragedy
City of Osaka, lit up at night

Tour Add-ons

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Shana was excellent. She gave clear daily itineraries. She was very organized and friendly! The tour was good. I especially liked the sushi and calligraphy classes and the monkey park. The shrines and palaces; as well as the hikes on the old highways gave a historical background for me. I also enjoyed the natural beauty of Japan. The steam vents of the volcano and Mt. Fugi! Shana exposed us to different restaurants allowing us to try different foods. All were fantastic!

Denise Bauer
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