Discover the best of Japan in just 8 days. Travelling from the modern metropolis of Tokyo to enchanting Kyoto, with its age-old temples, shrines and colourful Geisha district. See the bronze Buddha and bamboo forest at Kamakura the breathtaking beauty of Mt Fuji at Hakone Izu National Park en route.
Toyko Sightseeing - Sensoji Temple district, Harajuki & Shibuya
Today we explore the capital. Taking the subway to Asakusa we visit the lively Sensoji Temple district, which is home to Tokyo’s first temple and scores of interesting souvenir and craft stalls. In the afternoon we head to Harajuku, which is a magnet for young and fashionable Tokyoites with its hip shops and cafes. Here we’ll visit the impressive Meiji Shrine where the emperor Meiji and his wife are enshrined. Yoyogi Park beside the shrine is a popular hangout for locals and there is always a lot going on especially on Sundays with bands playing, drum circles, dancers and busking.
The last stop of the day is the Shibuya crossing - regarded as one of the busiest intersections in the world. The famed junction has no less than 7 pedestrian crossings and when the traffic lights turn red a wave of pedestrians, up to a 1000, converge onto the intersection from every direction. Known as 'the scramble', it's a well practised art to duck and weave with sportsman like agility to avoid collision, which we'll watch from the second floor Starbucks located directly opposite the crossing. This evening offers free time though if travelling in January, May and September you might like spend the evening watching a Sumo tournament (must be booked in advance). See our Trip Notes for more info.
Tokyo - Kamakura - Tokyo. This morning we board a train for a day trip to Kamakura, Japan’s first feudal capital, which is just an hour from Tokyo. Kamakura is a popular seaside location with a quaint village life feel and some stunning Zen temples. Here we’ll visit the iconic bronze Big Buddha and the Zen Temple of Hokokuji with its beautiful bamboo garden. Here you can drink tea and learn about the tea ceremony before walking the cobbled shopping district - adorned with lovely locally made items and returning to Japan’s bustling capital for the night. Tonight, we organise a Shabu Shubu (a traditional Japanese hot pot meal) if the majority of the group are interested.
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.
Tokyo - Lake Kawaguchi. This morning we travel by highway bus (with luggage forwarding) 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. No trip to Japan would be complete without sampling authentic Japanese hospitality at a traditional ryokan (a Japanese inn), which is where we’ll bed down tonight. At the ryokan, sample tasty local cuisine and take a relaxing dip in the natural hot spring baths.
Note: As of Oct 2019 the Hakone Ropeway has been reopened after been temporarily suspended, although some restrictions remain in place – 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
Kyoto - Nijo Castle, Golden Pavilion & free time
This morning we offer a guided tour of 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 Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion) a stunning Zen Buddhist temple, part of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto World Heritage Site. The top two floors of the monument are completely covered in gold leaf. Set upon a small lake with landscaped gardens the large completely gilt structure is impressive as it is beautiful Temple. Kinkakuji Temple continues to be one of Japan's most visited temples.
This afternoon offers free time for you to relax or to further discover the many sights of Kyoto your own way. Consider visiting Fushimi Inari Shrine, famous for its winding path lined by thousands of bright 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
Saturday. On day 8 our tour comes to an end after hotel check out.
End this tour in Tokyo
Prefer to end your tour in Tokyo? On day 8 you can opt to travel by train from Kyoto to Tokyo, where you will spend the night. On day 9 (Sunday) catch the train to Tokyo airport (breakfast excluded on day 9).
Includes: Train from Kyoto to Tokyo on day 8, train to Tokyo Airport on day 9 and 1 night 3 star hotel in Tokyo.
Supplement applies, please see the Prices and Dates tab for details.
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.
Travellers have rated this tour as 4.4 out of 5 based on 5 recent reviews
Thank you Yuki - she made this trip perfect. My highlight was seeing a geisha and Mt Fuji.”
I really enjoyed the tour. Most of the arrangements and organisation was very good and our tour guide Yuki was amazing, super polite, patient,really took care of us, went over and above in making our holiday so enjoyable. From the daily well written with cute drawings on her daily schedules, tiny treats she bought us, to the knowledge and expertise in the way she took us through all the public transport so efficient, I give her top marks.
My suggestions are few ....taking the bus in Tokyo was the most inconvenient. There were long waits and buses were overcrowded. Train rides were fine and agree the most efficient but local bus rides in Tokyo could have been on a tour bus instead. If the tour could add a few alternative like visiting The monster cafe, teamlab, robot restaurant, just to give it a mix from temples and museums and considering the varying age groups and interests.
On the hotels, Kyoto and the traditional were good and location of hotel accommodations were very good , Tokyo hotel rooms were very tiny and I a single occupant found it difficult so can only imagine how the couple's managed but I guess it's usual and the location was really good so its a plus.
Overall I did have a great holiday. I enjoy using your company on your escorted tours and will continue to do so. Thank you very much and please share our sincere appreciation with Yuki.
Regards Shanice ”
Yuki is a fantastic guide and such a lovely person! She gave us very clear information on what to expect each day, what we needed and where to meet. She was also very patient at explaining all aspects of Japanese culture and happy to answer any questions. She had excellent recommendations and knows the locations inside out. She works extremely hard to give guests the best experience. I can't imagine a better tour guide! ”
Tour guides were friendly and attentive and helpful which made the experience enjoyable. The flexibility to explore at our own pace was also very good and a nice balance between planned activities and free time. In Kyoto, may have been useful to have a coach bus as we spent a lot of time waiting for public transport which meant less time at sites.”
Excellent trip all round.”
Extra Tour Info
Thank you Yuki - she made this trip perfect. My highlight was seeing a geisha and Mt Fuji.”