See the best of Japan over 9 days as you experience Tokyo's cutting edge modernity mixed with it's peaceful shrines and manicured gardens, Mt. Fuji & Hakone's wonders, and the traditional feel of Kyoto and Nara. See the Fish Market in Tokyo, learn to make sushi and then stroll about Old Tokyo taking. Spend some time in Hakone with a free pass to explore at your leisure, and travel by bullet train to Kyoto, the nation's former capital. Kyoto's attractions are covered on this tour, from the Golden Pavilion to the Nijo Castle, but also enjoy some time learn to cook in a traditional Machiya townhouse. Take a full day to explore the one-time capital, Nara, as you admire the wooden Todaiji Temple and the iconic Fushimi Inari Shrine, home to over 10,000 red tori gates, which form a path up the mountain behind the temple. Complete with English speaking guides, airport transportation, train tickets, cultural experiences and more, this is a perfect introduction to Japan for the first-time visitor!
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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.
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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.
The world’s largest fish market, Tsukiji Market handles about 2,888 tons of marine products a day worth about 2.8 billion yen (US$20million). Some 450 kinds of fish are received; from penny-per-piece sardines to golden brown dried sea slug caviar, a bargain at US$473 a pound. Take time to wander through this enormous market, exploring both the vegetable and fruit areas plus the impressive seafood section.
You will then visit a typical Japanese home. Your guide will answer all your questions about Japanese culture and everyday life in Tokyo during the transfer by public transportation. Learn to prepare maki sushi (rolled sushi), gunkan maki (sushi rice wrapped with a strip of seaweed and topped with soft ingredients), and nigiri sushi (sushi rice topped with a slice of raw fish). You will then get to enjoy your home made sushi for lunch.
In the afternoon explore Tokyo’s shitamachi (downtown). The suburb of Yanaka was miraculously spared the carnage of the Allied bombings in World War II, and part of its charm today of its best spots lies in this sense of being hidden. Visit old temples and shrines, one of Tokyo’s oldest Buddhist cemeteries as well as traditional shops selling Japanese paper and sweets. The last stop for the day is Ueno’s Ameyoko-cho, a busy market street underneath the train lines. Originally the site of a black market after World War Two, this bustling market is the last of its kind in Tokyo, and is filled with shops and stalls selling various products such as fresh fish, dried food and spices. At one of the many open air restaurants under the train tracks, you can stop for a cold drink and a yaitori (grilled chicken skewer).
Travel by train to Hakone, armed with your Hakone Pass where you can take advantage of the extensive local transport network to explore this stunning region. Today is unguided.
Ride the world’s second longest cable car up Mt Owakudani, passing over sulfurous fumes, hot springs and hot rivers in this volcanic area, where you can eat an egg hard boiled in the sulfuric hot springs which make Hakone famous. If you do, it will add seven years to your life! A majestic replica pirate ship will sweep you across Lake Ashinoko, a lake formed by a volcanic eruption 3000 years ago, and you can ride switchback trains, ropeways, and buses to explore some of the museums, shrines, and shops scattered around the area.
Throughout the day you will have the chance to get a glimpse of Mt Fuji, however please keep in mind that she is a notoriously shy mountain and it needs to be a clear day.
Tonight you will stay in a Japanese traditional ryokan, sleeping on futons laid out on tatami mats with delicious included meals and piping hot onsen (hot spring) baths.
Today, you can reach Odawara Station on your own using the Hakong Pass. From there, you will ride Japan's famous shinkansen bullet train to Kyoto. On arrival, make your own way to the hotel .
This afternoon, enjoy a cooking class in a Machiya townhouse. 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.
Today, according to the airport in which you depart from (Kansai / Narita or Haneda), you either have a free day in Kyoto or you may choose to make the return trip to Tokyo (2.5 hours) at any time you want, so you can either spend your day sightseeing at your leisure in Kyoto, or head back early to see more of Tokyo.
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel and the morning at your leisure. Checkout at 12 noon. At the appointed time you will take the airport shuttle bus to either Narita or Haneda (Tokyo) or Kansai (Osaka) Airport.
Day 4: Admire majestic Mt. Fuji.
Day 5: Cooking class in a Machiya townhouse.
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.
GRAND TOUR OF JAPAN
HIGHLIGHTS OF JAPAN