Osaka Castle | Japan
FROM: R69,900 pp

SEMI INDEPENDENT: Immerse yourself in the organised chaos of Tokyo, visit the home of the first shoguns in Kamakura, see the geisha's in Kyoto, feed mischievous snow monkeys in Arashiyama, pay your respects for the lives lost in Hiroshima, rest your head in a traditional Buddhist lodgings on Mt Koya and traditional farmhouse lodgings in Ogmiachia and cross the spectacular Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route on this incredible tour of Japan.

Prices & Dates

Trip Highlights

Tokyo – explore the capitals main highlights; Sensou-ji Temple, Akihabara District, Edo-Tokyo Museum, Shinjuku District, Imperial Palace, Harajuku District
Kamakura – marvel at the 45ft bronze Great Buddha statue
Lake Ashi – cross the lake on a pirate ship
Geishas – free time to explore Kyoto’s geisha district
Hozugawa River – meander down the river in traditional wooden rafts
Miyajima Island - enjoy the relaxed pace of life on this Japanese isle, discover the ‘Floating Torii Gate’ and marvel at the stunning Mt Misen
Ogmiachi Village – rest your head in a traditional “gassho-zukuri” farmhouse
Cooking Class - learn how to prepare authentic Japanese sushi with our hands-on cooking class
Hakone - admire views of iconic Mount Fuji and sample sulfuric black eggs
Kyoto – walk through vermilion torii gates at the Fushimi Inari Shrine and discover your inner peace with a meditation lesson by Buddhist monk
Arashiyama – hike through the famous bamboo forest and feed wild snow monkeys in Monkey Park
Hiroshima – uncover the city’s tragic past at the Peace Memorial museum
Mt Koya – sleep in a Buddhist Temple atop the 800m Mt Koya and witness a Buddhist morning prayer
Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route – cross the magnificent sightseeing route passing the highest dam in Japan and soak up the views from Japan’s longest one-span ropeway


14 nights hostel dorm accommodation, 1 night traditional Japanese ryokan, 1 night capsule hotel, 1 night traditional Buddhist temple, 1 night in historic farmhouse
Escorted by a local English speaking tour guide
Train from Tokyo – Kamakura and Kamakura – Hakone
Ropeway to Mt. Misen
Fuji Hakone National Park Ropeway
Meditation lesson in Kyoto
Buddhist morning prayer
Miso and sake tasting
All transportation on public transport including JR Pass
Entrance fees to all included sites
Bullet train from Hakone – Kyoto, Hiroshima – Osaka, Osaka – Tokyo
Sushi making class in Tokyo
Cruise on Lake Ashi
Rafting on Hozugawa River in traditional wooden rafts
Stand up paddle boarding

Not Included

International flights and visas
Laundry, drinks, items of a personal nature and any meals not included in the itinerary
Airport transfers
Optional activities


Day 1

Toyko - Senjosi 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 Tokyo House Inn Hostel.

This morning we take a trip up to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office Building to take in the incredible views of the city. We then make our way Tokyo’s oldest Buddhist temple. At Sensou-ji temple we'll witness worshippers make offerings to Kannon, the goddess of compassion and meander through the contemplative garden. The rest of the day is at leisure to continue exploring Tokyo, sit back and watch the world go by on Hoppy Street or relax like the locals do with a visit to a nearby bath house, boasting a huge variety of baths and saunas.
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. The rest of the evening is free to continue shopping, or for those looking for a spot of adrenaline, perhaps explore one of the infamous "maid-cafes" or join the optional Maricar excursion through the streets of Tokyo (need to be booked 3 weeks in advance due to limited availability).
Overnight: Tokyo  |  Breakfast

Day 3

Tokyo - Imperial Palace, Harajuku & Shibuya

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.

It’s another afternoon of traditional-modern contrast in the Harajuku area of the city. First stop is the Shinto shrine to Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken. Wander through acres of forest until you reach the shrine to the Emperor that began Japan’s transformation from feudal to modern society in the early 20th century. Later, we head to the Harajuku fashion district and witness the many diverse fashion styles from French maids, to punks, goths and lolitas, grab some hair dye and get involved! Our day finishes walking across the world’s most famous intersection, Shibuya, grab a drink and sit in one of the many bars and watch the world go by or for the best view head to the second floor of the station. This evening there is an optional excursion to a cat café, where you can enjoy a cup of tea and kitty cuddles.
Overnight: Tokyo  |  Breakfast

Day 4

Tokyo - Edo Tokyo Musuem

This morning we head to the Edo-Tokyo Museum for an insight into the Tokyo’s evolution from the Edo period (1869 to present), giving us the chance to learn about the capital's history. We then have the opportunity to join the optional Sumo Experience. Ryogoku is known as Tokyo’s Sumo District; you will have a chance to learn about the ancient history of the sport, get photos with the Sumo's and even try to wrestle one, should you so choose.

The rest of the afternoon is at leisure to continue exploring these amazing districts or opt to be astonished, amazed and confused? Join an optional trip to the Tokyo robot show! This dazzling performance is bizarre to say the least but it’s an experience not to be missed!

Please note: The optional activities should be booked at least 3 weeks in advance due to limited availability.
Overnight: Tokyo  |  Breakfast

Day 5

Tokyo to Kamakura

Tokyo – Kamakura. This morning we make our way to the popular seaside location of Kamakura by train, Japan’s medieval capital and home to the first shoguns is ours to explore today. On arrival we take some time to check out some of the many ancient shrines before heading to the Kotoku-in temple and marvel at the iconic bronze Great Buddha, standing 45ft tall. Next, we hike to the incredible Enoshima, to explore the temples and relax in one of the beach bars this small offshore island offers, and watch the sun go down.

Journey Time: Tokyo - Kamakura (approx 1.5 hours)
Overnight: Kamakura

Day 6

Kamakura to Hakone

Kamakura – Hakone. After breakfast, we take the Hakone Ropeway, an epic cable car journey that drops you at Oowakudani, a volcanic valley awash with active sulfur 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.

Next up, is stunning Lake Ashi where you’ll 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. In the afternoon, experience an onsen, hot springs baths amidst the forest, making it an ideal spot to unwind before spending the evening at leisure in our traditional style ryokan guest house.

Journey time: Kamakura - Hakone (approx 1.5 hours)
Overnight: Hakone

Day 7

Hakone to Kyoto

Hakone – Kyoto. We leave the mountains behind and travel by bullet train this morning to Kyoto, the former imperial capital of Japan. Spend the afternoon meandering through the quaint hillside streets until we reach the Fushimi Inari Shrine, famous for its thousands of vermilion torii gates, which leads into the wooded forest of the sacred Mount Inari. This evening is at your leisure, opt to attend a live geisha performance in the famous Gion district, or walk down lantern illuminated Pontocho Alley and sip on some sake in one of the many bars overlooking the river and watch the world go by.

Journey time: Hakone - Kyoto (approx 3 hours)
Overnight: Kyoto

Day 8

Arashiyama Monkey Park & Tenryu-Ji Temple

Today we soak up Kyoto’s stunning landscapes in traditional wooden rafts along the Hozugawa River, which was originally used to transport many of the supplies that built many of Osaka and Kyoto’s famous temples and castles. We then hike through a maze of bamboo paths in Arashiyama bamboo forest, until we reach monkey park where we have the opportunity to feed these amazing creatures from the safety of our own cage while they roam free in their natural environment.

In the afternoon we visit the Tenryu-ji Temple, the most important of the city’s five zen temples. The buildings themselves were damaged in fires and wars over centuries, whereas the gardens survived and have remained in pristine condition in their original form. The rest of the afternoon is at leisure to continue exploring Kyoto, there is also an optional karaoke night.
Overnight: Kyoto

Day 9

Kyoto at leisure

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. Perhaps catch the train to Fushimi Inari Taisha, famous for the thousands of red torii gates dedicated to the Shinto god of rice. Pay your respects to the deity by making a small offering before following the hiking trails to the torii gate in the wooded forest of Mount Inari.
Overnight: Kyoto

Day 10

Kyoto to Hiroshima

Kyoto – Hiroshima. Our final morning in Kyoto is spent exploring the iconic Golden Pavillion at Kinkaku-ji Temple, whose top two floors are covered in gold leaves. 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 before taking a journey of tranquility with a meditation lesson led by a Buddhist monk in a city temple. 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.

Journey Time: Kyoto - Hiroshima (approx 2.5 hours)
Overnight: Hiroshima

Day 11

Peace Memorial Museum & 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, and how the city has become the standard bearer for a peaceful and nuclear free world. 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.

We then 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 to witness the ocean beneath your feet. Follow one of the many walking trails on the island that cut through the forest, to numerous lookout points, you may even glimpse the resident deer. We return to Hiroshima for an evening at leisure.

Note: From June 2019 the floating Torii Gate is undergoing renovations – please see the Trip Notes for further details.
Overnight: Hiroshima

Day 12

Hiroshima to Osaka

Hiroshima – Osaka. This morning we board the bullet train to Osaka. We have some free time to explore the Namba or Shinsaibashi area to enjoy our fill of takoyaki and kushikatsu. We then take a short train journey to Osaka Castle, whose original foundations were destroyed over centuries by war and natural disasters. 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 evening 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.

Journey Time: Hiroshima - Osaka (approx 2.5 hours)
Overnight: Osaka

Day 13

Osaka to Mount Koya

Osaka – Mount Koya. After breakfast continue our journey to Mount Koya in Koyasan a small Buddhist community living on the mountaintop. Explore one of Japan’s most sacred sites at Okunoin Cemetery and pay your respects to the 200,00 tombstones which are housed here and follow the walking paths to Torodo hall which houses more than 10,000 lit lanterns. We make our way to our accommodation for the night, shykubo temple lodgings in a traditional Buddhist temple, to get a taster of traditional Buddhist monk life. Dinner is a group affair this evening sampling the traditional shojin ryori dish (vegetarian cuisine).
Overnight: Mount Koya  |  Dinner

Day 14

Mount Koya to Shirakawago

Mount Koya – Shirakawago. Wake up early this morning to witness the spectacular Buddhist morning prayer before feasting on a traditional breakfast inside the temple lodges. We then leave Mount Koya and make our way to the historic village of Ogmiachia, a UNESCO world heritage site in Shirakawago, located in the mountains boasting traditional farmhouses, some of which are over 250 years old. We’ll arrive to our farmhouse accommodation in time to watch the sun set over the valley and wander past the thatched roofs which were designed to withstand the heavy snow and resemble hands of Buddhist monks in prayer. Tonight, enjoy a traditional dinner at the farmhouse.
Overnight: Shirakawago and Gokayama  |  Breakfast, Dinner

Day 15

Shirakawago to Kanazawa

Shirakawa-go – Kanazawa. After a traditional Japanese breakfast at our gassho-zukuri farmhouse, we set out to explore Ogmiachia Village, Shirakawa-go’s largest village. Our first stop is to one of the farmhouse-turned museums, to learn about the history of this incredible landscape and rural farm life, before we go for a short hike to one of the viewpoints for awe inspiring views of the valley. Later, we board a train to Kanazawa for an evening at leisure. Be sure to enjoy Kanazawa’s buzzing nightlife packed with restaurants and Izakaya’s (Japanese pubs).
Overnight: Kanazawa  |  Breakfast

Day 16

Kenroku-en Gardens & Kanazawa Castle

Today we set out to explore the city on a bike ride! Kanazawa, home to one of Japan’s most impressive gardens, Kenroku-en. Once part of the feudal lord's garden, Kenroku-en is regarded as one of the best places to see the country's famous cherry blossoms - hopefully in full bloom. In Kanazawa the cherry blossom trees are due to bloom in late March/early April. When in bloom, these delicate soft pink flowers can be seen lining the streets and filling the parks and gardens all over the city. We’ll cycle through and visit the former samurai district passing the remaining houses, narrow lanes and water canals. There is an optional excursion to the Ninja Temple, formally known as Myoryu-ji Temple and not actually associated with Ninja but rather for the its deceptive defences and escape routes. We then continue to Kanazawa Castle, where the Maeda family of the Kaga clan resided. Remainder of the day at leisure, be sure to pack an overnight bag for tomorrow as luggage will be sent to our next hostel independently.
Overnight: Kanazawa

Day 17

Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route

Spend the day crossing the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, a spectacular scenic route through the Northern Japanese Alps, using a series of cable cars, buses and ropeways. Along the way we stop at Kurobe dam, Japan’s highest dam, as well as Shomyo falls, the country’s tallest waterfall. Other highlights include the single-span ropeway which provides amazing bird’s eye views of the mountain scenery. We complete our trip in Nagano, a town famous for the winter Olympics, where we have time to wander around before heading to the nearby village of Yamanouchi, our home for the next two nights. To unwind after a long day of exploring, there is the optional visit to a 200-year-old onsen with an outdoor bathing area.
Overnight: Yamanouchi  |  Breakfast

Day 18


We begin our day with a spot of paddle boarding at a nearby lake amongst the stunning natural scenery before hiking in the hills nearby. We have the rest of the afternoon at leisure to partake in some of the optional activities on offer. Perhaps head to the famous Jigokudani Monkey Park to witness these wild animals roaming free and bathing in the natural hot springs, sit down and try some local miso and sake, or take the train to explore Nangano. We return for a final group dinner in a local fusion restaurant, with all items on the menu featuring ingredients that have been fermented.
Overnight: Yamanouchi  |  Breakfast, Dinner

Day 19

Yamanouchi to Tokyo

Our adventure ends this morning after breakfast. We take the train back to Tokyo where our journey ends.

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, based on mixed dormitory rooms. Room upgrades are always subject to availability, please see prices listed at the bottom of this page. When booking online, room upgrades are on a request basis only and will be confirmed by our reservations team via email. Alternatively, enquire with our team for room upgrade availability. 'Twin/Double room upgrade' price per person applies when there are 2 people travelling, sharing a room. The 'Single room upgrade' applies for single travellers wanting their own room. These upgrade costs need to be added to the 'Dormitory' price.

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Single Room Upgrade
Twin/Dble Room Upgrade

In Brief

Trip Type
29 June 2020
Group Size
Min 4 / Max 22
Hotel Rating
Simple accommodation
Tour Guide
Local guides in each city, unescorted between cities
Breakfast: 8, Dinner: 3
Tokyo, Kamakura, Hakone, Kyoto, Hiroshima, Osaka, Mount Koya, Shirakawago and Gokayama, Kanazawa, Yamanouchi
Rainbow Bridge, stretching across the water in Tokyo, lit up at night
Giant Buddha of Kamakura made from bronze
Giant Buddha of Kamakura made from bronze
Hiroshima memorial, dedicated to those lost in the tragedy
Hiroshima memorial, dedicated to those lost in the tragedy
Station within the autumn-coloured trees on Mount Koya
Stunning green lake surrounded by verdant vegetation in Kanazawa

Tour Add-ons

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