Experience a comprehensive look at Japan as you cover her sprawling modernity mixed with traditional serenity. With guided tours and leisure time for self-guided exploration, this Grand Tour is your bespoke look at Japan. Explore Tokyo, see Sensoji Temple and an Edo period garden surrounded by towering skyscrapers, and travel to Mt. Fuji for views of Japan's icon. Head to Takayama, Shirakawago & Kanazawa for a look into ancient Japan as you wander cobblestone streets. Continue to Hiroshima for a visit to the Peace Memorial Park before heading to Kyoto for a tour of city sites and the historic city of Nara. See Japan's largest Buddha and the Fushimi Inari Shrine, home to over 10,000 red tori gates which form a path up the mountain behind the temple.
This trip is designed to showcase what is possible. Contact us to customize this trip just for you.
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Tailor-Made Private Trip
This itinerary is privately guided and crafted to give you an idea of what is possible.
We can tailor this trip and it's inclusions and accommodation to meet your requirements, budget, and interests.
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Prices, if shown, are per person based on a party of at least 2 adults traveling together. A Single Room Supplement cost is applicable for those who would like a single room. If traveling alone, please contact us for a solo traveler cost.
Accommodation with daily breakfast, dinners as indicated, services of expert English speaking local guides as specified, entrance fees to sites listed on the itinerary, guided tours conducted using the efficient public transit system, train tickets as indicated, and shared (group) airport transfers. International flights are not included, please enquire.
Interested in this itinerary but would like to make changes to the hotels, destinations, sites, or anything else? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to customize this itinerary just for you.
On arrival at Narita International Airport, you will be met in the arrivals hall by a representative holding a name-board and then transferred to the limousine bus for your group transfer to the hotel. The rest of the day is at your leisure.
Take a day tour of this fascinating city with a local guide, making use of Tokyo’s comprehensive and user friendly public transport system. The day begins with a visit to Meiji Shrine, a shrine dedicated to the deified spirit of Emperor Meiji and a popular place for traditional Japanese weddings. Take a walk down Omotesando shopping street, a broad tree lined avenue home to the flagship stores of the world’s top fashion brands. Head across town to Asakusa, Tokyo’s old town where you can soak in the atmosphere of the Tokyo of old. Visit Sensoji, Tokyo’s oldest temple and wander down Nakamise, a shopping street that has been providing temple visitors with a variety of traditional, local snacks and tourist souvenirs for centuries.
Take a boat cruise on the Sumida River passing under 12 bridges. Disembark at the Hamarikyu garden, an Edo Period Japanese garden surrounded by the Shiodome district’s futuristic skyscrapers, a great example of how Japan is the land of contrasts, where you will stop for a cup of steaming matcha and Japanese sweets in a tea house on a small island in the park’s lake.
Today you will make a day trip to Kamakura (1hr), the former de facto capital of Japan as the seat of the Shogunate during the Kamakura Period (1185 – 1333). At that time Kamakura was the largest city in the world, however the Kamakura of today is a small, sleepy seaside town with numerous temples, shrines and other attractions. With your local guide, you will visit Kotokuin Temple, home to the Daibutsu, a giant bronze Buddha that stands (or rather, sits) 13.35m high. Hasedera Temple is a temple of the Jodo sect, which is most famous for its statue of Kannon, the goddess of mercy. The statue shows Kannon with eleven heads, each representing a characteristic of the goddess. The 9.18 meter tall, gilded wooden statue is regarded as one of the largest wooden sculptures in Japan.
Dating from the 12th century, Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine is the spiritual heart of Kamakura and one of its most popular attractions. The shrine was originally founded by Minamoto Yoriyoshi in 1063, then enlarged and moved to its present site by Minamoto Yoritomo, the first shogun of the Kamakura government, in 1180. The shrine was dedicated to Hachiman, the Shinto god of war and patron of the Minamoto family.
Your day will end with shopping for local souvenirs and delicacies in Komachi Street.
Today leave Tokyo behind as you make the 90 minute journey to Hakone, the gateway to Mt Fuji and surrounding national park. Travel independently with your Hakone Pass to take advantage of the extensive local transport network to explore the region.
From Hakone, take the world famous Shinkansen bullet train, which reaches speeds of up to 300km/h. You will then change onto the Limited Express Hida Wideview Train for the one of the most scenic train journeys in Japan, winding your way through tall mountains and stunning gorges to Takayama. On your arrival, you will check-in and have the day at your leisure. No guide service is included this day.
This morning, travel by coach (1hr) to Shirakawago, and spend the day exploring this quaint mountain village at your leisure.
Shirakawa-go is located in the Shogawa River Valley in the remote mountains that span from Gifu to Toyama Prefectures. Declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1995, they are famous for their traditional gassho-zukuri farmhouses, some of which are more than 250 years old.
In the afternoon, you will continue by coach to Kanazawa and check-in to your hotel and have the rest of the day at your leisure.
Today is self-guided at your leisure. No guide included this day. Please enquire if you would like to add this in.
Today, you will travel by train to Hiroshima (4 hours) with one change in Kyoto. On arrival in Hiroshima, make your way to the hotel nearby the station and check-in and have the rest of the day at your leisure.
Today you will take a day tour of Hiroshima with a local guide, starting with a visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. The area where the park now lies was ground zero for the Atomic Bomb on 6th August 1945. After the bombing, the Memorial Park was created and dedicated to those who lost their lives in the attack. Stroll through the park and discover the many memorials, monuments and statues in the park before heading into the Museum itself.
From Hiroshima, a short ferry ride will take you to Miyajima Island. A small sacred island located in the Inland Sea, it has been a holy place of Shintoism since the earliest times. Here you will find perhaps the most photographed site in Japan - The Floating Torii Gate. Designated as one of Japan's '3 Most Beautiful Views', the shrine it belongs to dates back to the 6th century with the present structure dating back to the 12th century. The harmoniously arranged buildings reveal great artistic and technical skill, and have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Mere 'commoners' were not allowed to set foot on this holy place, and even now it is forbidden to give birth or die on the island! You will have time to explore the island and its many shrines and temples, sample local goodies like maple leaf shaped cakes before heading back to your hotel.
After breakfast at the hotel, make your way to the train station and take the shinkansen to Kyoto (2 hours) and check-in to your hotel.
This afternoon, take part in a private cooking lesson. Japanese cuisine has such a world renowned reputation that it was declared a UNESCO Intangible World Heritage. During this tour you will try your hand at making some of the dishes that made this cuisine so popular, in particular learn about Kyoto’s typical kappo cuisine. In Japanese, “kappo” means to cut ingredients with a knife and cook them over a fire. At a kappo style restaurant, fine seasonal cuisine is served over a counter where you sit face to face with a chef. In this class you will be the chef!
Today you explore the former imperial capital with a knowledgeable local guide, utilizing Kyoto’s comprehensive bus system to visit some of Kyoto’s World Heritage Sites. You will start your day with a visit to the Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavilion), which was originally built as a retirement villa for the Shogun. After his death it became a Buddhist Temple at his request, and is now one of Kyoto’s most famous temples. Later, visit Nijo Castle, an ornamental castle built by the founder of the Edo Shogunate as his Kyoto residence and is surrounded by stunning gardens. The main building was completed in 1603, and is famous for its architecture, decorated sliding doors and ‘chirping’ nightingale floors.
Take a walk down Nishiki Market, a narrow, five block long shopping street lined by more than one hundred shops and restaurants. Known as "Kyoto's Kitchen", this lively retail market specializes in all things food related, like fresh seafood, produce, knives and cookware, and is a great place to find seasonal foods and Kyoto specialties, such as Japanese sweets, pickles, dried seafood and sushi. The final stop today is the Kiyomizu Temple. From the 13m high veranda jutting out from the Main Hall you can enjoy amazing views of the whole of Kyoto, whilst pondering the fact that both the Main Hall and Veranda were built without the use of nails or any kind of joiners.
Meet at the hotel and travel to Nara by train (45min) with a local guide. 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. Visit Todaiji temple, the world’s largest wooden building and home to Japan’s largest Buddha. Next stop is Nara’s most celebrated shrine, Kasuga Taisha, established in 768 AD and famous for its hundreds of bronze and stone lanterns which have been donated by worshipers.
Take a wander through Nara Park, called Deer park by locals due to the large population of more than 1,000 tame deer living there. On the way back from Nara, visit Fushimi Inari Shrine, which was used in the movie “Memoirs of a Geisha”. It is home to over 10,000 red tori gates, which form a path up the mountain behind the temple.
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel and the morning at your leisure. Checkout at 12 noon. At the appointed time you will take the airport transportation to Kansai International Airport.
Day 4: See Japan's icon, Mt. Fuji!
Day 12: Visit the Nijo Castle in Kyoto.
This itinerary has been tried & tested and can be booked as-is. However, should you wish to customize your tour, you may contact us here.
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