Explore the vibrant capital Tokyo, before experiencing the rural landscapes of Hakone and famous Mount Fuji, and finally discovering the culture and history of Kyoto. The combination of guided and self-guided days will allow to you uncover Japan at your own pace, with options to add on pre-booked excursions to create your dream trip.
- Famous temples and shrines
- Overnight stay in a ryokan
- Rural scenery and views of Mount Fuji
- Castles, gardens and pavilions
Start your Journey
Upon arrival in Tokyo, you will be welcomed by a guide holding a card with your name on, and assisted to board a shared shuttle to your hotel. Before you board the shuttle, the guide will also assist you in collecting your seven day Japan Rail Pass which is included in this tour, and can help you to purchase a local SIM card if you like. The rest of the day is at leisure for you to relax after your flight.
Today you will spend a full day taking in the many highlights Tokyo has to offer with a local guide. Taking public transport you can experience the capital like a local and the first stop of the day will be Meiji Jingu, Tokyo's most famous shrine dedicated to the spirit of the late Emperor Meiji. From old to new Tokyo, you will then take a walk down Omotesando shopping street, often referred to as Tokyo's Champs-Elysee.
A short subway ride will then take you to Asakusa, part of Tokyo's shitamachi, or old town. Home to the city's oldest Buddhist temple, Sensoji Temple, this is also Tokyo's oldest Geisha district. The streets around the temple also have many traditional shops selling Japanese crafts and souvenirs and are a delight to wander through.
Embark on a boat cruise along the Sumida River, passing under 12 bridges before disembarking in Hamarikyu garden, which is home to a beautiful Edo Period Japanese Garden located among Shiodome district's towering skyscrapers. From here you will stop to enjoy a cup of hot matcha tea and Japanese sweets, before returning to your hotel.
This morning you will board public transport to the former de facto capital of Japan, Kamakura. Once the largest city in the world, Kamakura is now a small, sleepy seaside town, filled with many shrines and temples.
Your local guide will meet you from the station and take you to visit the Kotokuin Temple, home to the Daibutsu also known as 'The great Buddha of Kamakura' that sits at 13.35 m high. Next, you will visit the Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine, which is often referred to as the spiritual heart of Kamakura and was founded in 1063. After spending some time exploring this stunning shrine, you will move on to Hasedera Temple, famous for its statue of Kannon, the goddess of mercy. Lastly, you will visit Kosokuji Temple, before having some free time for shopping along Komachi Street.
Tokyo to Hakone
Today is a self-guided day.
Today you will have an early start before leaving Tokyo behind. Make your own way to Hakone, the gateway to Mount Fuji and surrounding national park, the journey takes around two hours by rail.
This small town is famous for its Onsen (natural hot springs), and has natural beauty in abundance. Armed with your included 2-Day Hakone Freepass you can take advantage of numerous forms of transport on offer throughout the park. Why not ride the ropeway all the way up Mount Owakudani, passing over sulphurous fumes, hot springs and hot rivers in this volcanic area? Another option is a replica pirate ship which will sweep you across the Ashinoko, a lake formed by volcanic eruption 3,000 years ago. Alternatively, ride the Hakone Tozan 'switchback train' which zigzags through the mountains, giving amazing views of the surrounding valleys. Throughout the day you will have the chance to catch a glimpse of Mount Fuji, however please keep in mind that it needs to be a clear day. Tonight you will stay in a traditional Japanese ryokan, complete with tatami mats and onsen baths. Relax in your yukata (lightweight kimono) and dine on a sumptuous traditional meal.
Hakone to Kyoto
Today is a self-guided day.
Today you will take the world famous Shinkansen bullet train to Japan’s cultural capital, Kyoto, home to an astonishing 2000 Shrines and Temples, including 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The rest of the day is at leisure.
Today you will explore the former imperial capital with a local guide, starting with a visit to Kinkakuji, also known as the Golden Pavilion, which was originally built as a retirement villa for the Shogun, but became a Buddhist Temple after his death. Next is Ryoan-ji Zen Temple, which is the site of Japan's most famous rock garden.
You will continue on to Kiyomizu Temple, also known as 'pure water' temple, which has amazing views of the whole of Kyoto from the 13 metre high veranda jutting out from the main hall. Before the tour ends, stroll through Higashiyama district whose busy lanes are filled with shops selling souvenirs, pottery and sweets.
Please note: Kiyomizu Temple has been undergoing renovation since 2008, with some of its halls and structures wrapped up with covers. The construction has a certain but not overwhelming impact on a visit. Later, the main hall will also undergo renovations, which is expected to have a considerable impact on a visit. The renovation is expected to last until 2019.
Today is a self-guided day.
Today we recommend you make the short 45 minute trip by train to Nara. For 74 years during the 8th century Nara was Japan’s capital and many of the temples and shrines built at that time still remain. Especially worth visiting is the Todaiji Temple, the world’s largest wooden building and home to Japan’s largest Buddha.
Enjoy your morning is at leisure until you make your own way to Kansai Airport using the JR Pass provided.
- Accommodation as stated or similar with daily breakfast
- Meals as stated
- English-speaking guide where mentioned in each city
- Sightseeing fees and permits during guided days
- 7 Day JR Pass
- IC card preloaded with ¥2500 for public transport
- Services, meals and drinks not mentioned itinerary
- Personal expenses (drinks, laundry etc)
- Visa fees
- Tips and gratuities
- Travel Insurance
- Luggage transfer (if needed)
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