13 Day self-guided Tour Itinerary

Best of Japan Tour

Embark on this fascinating tour taking in the many different sights, experiences and history this vast country has to offer. 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.

Our Experts Recommend:
  • Temples and shrines in Tokyo
  • Nikko National Park
  • Overnight in a ryokan
  • Time to explore Mount Fuji National Park
  • Explore Kyoto and Hiroshima

Sample Itinerary Summary

We can tailor any part of this itinerary or create a new one just for you.

Duration
13 days
Guide Price
£4,779 per person
Price based on
Based on 21 September 19, departure from London Heathrow flying with Singapore Airlines, meal basis as per itinerary (2 adults sharing).
Our guide price gives you an idea of pricing which will vary depending on exchange rates, accommodation, duration, dates, airline and cabin class.
Destination Breakdown
Options
Private basis, Escorted or Self-Guided
Included
  • 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
  • IC card preloaded with ¥2500 for public transport
  • 14 Day JR Rail Pass
Not included
  • Tips and gratuities
  • Personal expenses (drinks, laundry etc)
  • Services, meals and drinks not mentioned itinerary
  • Travel Insurance
  • Luggage transfer (if needed)

Itinerary Breakdown

Upon arrival in Tokyo you will be welcomed by a guide holding a card with your name on, and escorted to the boarding point of the limited express train to your hotel. Before you board the train, 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 require it. The rest of the day is at leisure for you to relax after your flight.

Overnight Accommodation

  • Park Hotel Tokyo or similar

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 amongst 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.

Overnight Accommodation

  • Park Hotel Tokyo or similar

This morning your guide will meet with you at your hotel, before heading to Tokyo train station to board your train to Nikko, with a quick change in Utsunomiya.

When you arrive in Nikko you will start with a visit to Nikko National park, which is famous for its stunning shrines. You will visit Rinnoji, which is Nikko's most important temple and is home to a traditional Japanese-style garden. Next is Toshogu Shrine, the final resting place of Tokugawa Leyasu who was the founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate which ruled Japan for 250 years. Outside this shrine you will find a museum filled with personal artefacts belonging to Tokugawa Leyasu.  Next to Toshugu, you will find Futarasan Shrine which is a much older shrine dedicated to Nikko's three most sacred mountains. Lastly, you will visit Taiyuinbyo which is the third Tokugawa Shotgun, Lemitsu's mausoleum. 

After exploring this beautiful park, your guide will then help you to the train station to make your own way back to your hotel using your JR Rail Pass.

Overnight Accommodation

  • Park Hotel Tokyo or similar

Today you will have an early start, before leaving Tokyo behind to making your own way to Hakone, the gateway to Mount Fuji and surrounding national park. The journey takes around two hours.

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 boarding a replica pirate ship which will sweep you across the Ashinoko, a lake formed by volcanic eruption 3,000 years ago. Alternatively, take a ride on 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.

Overnight Accommodation

  • Hakone Aura Tachibana or similar

Today is a self-guided day.

Today you will take a 4.5 hour train journey to Takayama. The first leg will be on the world famous Shinkansen bullet train, which reaches speeds of up to 230km/h. You will then change in Nagoya, onto one of the most scenic train journeys in Japan, winding your way through tall mountains and stunning gorges. Due to its previously inaccessible location nestled high in the mountainous, Hida alpine region, this beautifully preserved old town was cut off from the rest of Japan, allowing it to develop its own unique culture. This afternoon we recommend taking a walk along this stunning merchant town, with distinctive culture and beautifully preserved buildings. Tonight you will stay in a traditional Japanese ryokan.

Overnight Accommodation

  • Takayama Honjin Hiranoya Bekkan or similar

Today is a self-guided day.

After exploring takayama at leisure, make use of your express bus pass and make a stop to visit World Hertiage Site Shirakawa-go. On arrival you can pick up a town map from the information centre which is next to the bus station, before exploring this beautiful picturesque town on your own.

Once you have all your pictures, head back to the bus station and catch the express bus to Kanazawa. 

Overnight Accommodation

  • Hotel Nikko Kanazawa or similar

Today is a self-guided day.

Today you will make your own way from Kanazawa to Kyoto using the Limited Express Thunderbird Train, which takes approximately 2 hours. 

The rest of the day you will have free time to explore Kyoto at your own pace.

Overnight Accommodation

  • New Miyako or similar

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 you will make your way to Nijo Castle, this ornamental castle is surrounded by stunning gardens and was built by the founder of the Edo Shogunate as his Kyoto residence. Head to Heian Shrine, dedicated to the spirits of the first and last emperors who ruled the city, which was built to mark the 1100th anniversary of the capital's foundation in Kyoto.

Take a walk to Nishiki Market, also known as 'Kyoto's Kitchen', where you will have sometime to browse the local stores and restaurants that line this narrow shopping street.

Finally, 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. 

Overnight Accommodation

  • New Miyako or similar

Today is a self-guided day.

Today you have time at leisure to explore Kyoto at your own pace. 

We recommend exploring the Arashiuaya Bamboo Forest, or taking the short train to nearby Nara to feed the deers that roam the local park. We can arrange optional excursions for you if you wish.

Overnight Accommodation

  • New Miyako or similar

Today is a self-guided day.

This morning, leave early from your hotel, and make your own way to Kyoto station to take the shinkansen towards Hiroshima. The journey takes approximately 2 hours. Keep an eye out on the way for Himeji castle, also know as the White Egret castle due to it's colour, and the Seto Ohashi bridge linking the main land with Shikoku Island. Perhaps more than any other city in the world, Hiroshima is famous for one moment in history. On 6 August 1945, it became the first target of an atomic bomb. However, Hiroshima has risen phoenix-like from the ashes, and rebuilt itself as one of Japan's most laid back, vibrant cities full of wide boulevards, great food, and friendly, welcoming people.

The rest of the day is at leisure, however it is recommended you visit Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in the centre of the city, this was originally ground zero right after the bombing.

Overnight Accommodation

  • Sheraton Grand Hotel Hiroshima or similar

Today is a self-guided day.

Today is a free day at leisure. We recommend taking the train to Miyajimaguchi port to board the ferry to Miyajima.  A small wooded island located in the Inland Sea. Here you will find perhaps the most photographed site in Japan - The Floating Torii Gate. You will have time to explore the island and its many shrines and temples, and sample local goodies like maple leaf shaped cakes. Miyajima is small enough to walk around, or you can hire a bike - but keep an eye out for the hordes of tame deer that roam the island. Hike up to the peak of the island, Mt. Misen, to see spectacular views of the surrounding islands or take the journey at a more leisurely pace via cable car.

Overnight Accommodation

  • Sheraton Grand Hotel Hiroshima or similar

Today is a self-guided day.

Today, you will make the one hour and half journey by bullet-train to Osaka, and make your own way to your hotel. Enjoy an afternoon at leisure to explore this fascinating city. We recommend starting with a visit to Osaka Castle, this breathtaking structure was built in 1583 as the intended capital of Japan. 

After the sun has set, head to the observatory at the top of Umeda Sky Building for stunning views across the bright lights of Osaka, make sure to include a visit to the basement for some delicious local food.

Overnight Accommodation

  • Hotel Monterey Osaka or similar

Enjoy your morning at leisure, until you make your own way to Kansai Airport using the JR Pass provided.

  • Tokyo

    Itinerary Highlights

    • Guided city tour
    • Cruise on the Sumida River
    • Visit Meiji Shrine and Sensoji Temple
  • Hakone

    Itinerary Highlights

    • Gateway to Mount Fuji National Park
    • Hakone Free Pass included
  • Takayama

    Itinerary Highlights

    • Stunning scenery
    • Picturesque traditional old town
  • Kyoto

    Itinerary Highlights

    • Visit Kiyomizu Temple
    • Explore Gion Geisha District
    • Walk through historic Higashiyama district
  • Hiroshima

    Itinerary Highlights

    • Walk through Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park
    • Explore Miyajima
    • Visit Hijiyama Park
  • Osaka

    Itinerary Highlights

    • Explore Osaka castle
    • Visit the Umeda Sky Buidling