From hiking in iconic national parks and verdant highland valleys to lazing in your very own private Japanese onsen, visits to fairy tale villages in the countryside and tea ceremonies with geishas, this vacation is the perfect introduction to the traditions and lesser known treasures of Japan.
Tokyo is a city like no other! Defined by cutting-edge design, quirky creativity and its own unique ancient culture, the city defines the best of both worlds.
Tokyo’s Finest by Day Discover Tokyo with your local guide, stopping by some of its best known landmarks. The Asakusa area, with its many traditional buildings standing alongside the new, is your first stop. Witness the Sensoji Buddhist temple, believed to be Tokyo’s oldest. Discover the temple and the adjacent Nakamise street as well, where you will find rows of old shops selling food and curios of all kinds. After this you will be in for a novel experience as you travel by the Tokyo Water Bus on the Sumidagawa (meaning Sumida River), to reach the Hamarikyu Garden. Walk around the beautiful Edo-era garden and stop for some matcha (powdered green) tea and sweets at the charming little tea house within its precincts. Once done with the refreshments, make your way to the famous Meiji shrine, dedicated to the spirit of Emperor Meiji and also a popular wedding venue. End your tour at dusk with a stroll around the Omotesando shopping street, a tree-lined boulevard with contemporary architecture and fashionable stores stocking some of the world’s finest brands. (Full Day; Private Activity; Transfers by public transport; Meal included: Tea and sweets; Fitness Level: Moderate)
Day out at Mt Fuji National Park Set out to explore the Hakone-Fuji National Park, a vast area encompassing Mt Fuji, Lake Ashinoko, and several other landmarks. The sheer variety of geographical features found in the area – including hot water springs, volcanic islands, lakes and mountainous areas – makes it a unique destination for travellers. Accompanied by a local guide, take the Romancecar express train at Tokyo’s Shinjuku Station to reach Hakone in 90 minutes. At the access point to the park, you could take the cable car up Mt Owakudani – said to be the world’s second longest cable car. Or you could use the so-called “pirate” ships that criss-cross Lake Ashinoko. Your third option would be to go on the Hakone Tozan “switchback” train through the mountains. Whichever you use, rest assured of witnessing some spectacular sights in this park full of nature’s marvels. (Full Day; Private Activity; Transfers by public transport; Fitness Level: Moderate).
Hakone defines the iconic image of Japan— with the majestic backdrop of Mount Fujiyama as it rises out of coniferous forest covered mountainsides, lakes and hot springs (onsen).
Visit to Mount Fuji National Park Take a trip to Mount Fuji National Park for Japan’s most iconic destination. Enjoy the numerous transport options to reach Mount Owakudani for the most breathtaking view of this majestic volcanic mountain peak. You could ride the world’s second longest cable car, passing over hot springs and simmering rivers of volcanic landscapes. As per local beliefs—you could add seven years to your life by eating Hakone’s famous hard boiled, smoked eggs that are cooked over the hot vapours! Take the Hakone Tozan ‘switchback train’ that winds its way through the mountains, offering amazing views of the surrounding highland valleys. Or better still, ride a splendid replica of a pirate ship that will sweep you across the 3,000 year old, volcanic Lake Ashinoko, right up to the Moto-Hakone town. (Full Day, Fitness Level: Easy; Please bring warm clothing).
Onsen: Japanese Hot Spring Baths When in Japan, you can hardly miss out on experiencing the traditional, hot spring water baths with their healing properties. Enjoy the complementary facility of taking an Onsen soak in your own private outdoor tub of natural hot spring waters. Feel all your stress melt away from your tired muscles. Make the best use of all the other traditional hot tub options available at the property, each bathtub with its own particular temperature and mineral combination. A sumptuous dinner, followed right after by a hot soak comes highly recommend by your hosts. As per tradition, these other hot tubs are gender-segregated, shared bath facilities.
Located in the heart of the Japanese Alps, Takayama is an excellent option for those seeking a countryside jaunt. A gateway to the hiking paradise of mountainous Hida, Takayama is home to ancestral old homes, temples and shrines.
Shirakawa-Gō Village Excursion Today you will take a guided tour with a local guide to the beautifully preserved old town of Takayama and the UNESCO site Shirakawa-go village. Start the day with a visit to the local Miyagawa Market along the Miyagawa River in the old town. Most stands sell local crafts and farm products such as vegetables, pickles and flowers. Take a walk in the district called San-machi Suji, the traditional home of Takayama merchants and sake brewers, which has been preserved in almost exactly the same state as 200 or 300 years ago. Here are inns, shops and taverns which trace their history back many generations. Visit the Takayama Jinya. Because of its valuable timber resources, the Hida Region around Takayama was put under direct control of the Tokugawa Shogunate in 1692. The Takayama Jinya served as the local government office, headed by the officials dispatched from Edo. The present building complex includes various rooms for administrative purposes, offices, kitchens, toilets, bath rooms, residential space, a court room and storehouses. It was in official use until 1969, and is now open to the public as a museum. End the morning by stopping at a sake brewery and enjoy a tasting on Japan’s national tipple. Takayama’s sake is renowned nation-wide, thanks to the clear water of the surroundings. In the afternoon reach Shirakawa-go region. Your guide will show you around the village, famous for its traditional gassho-zukuri farmhouses, some of which are more than 250 years old. Gassho-zukkuri translates as ‘Praying Hands’, as the farmhouses’ steep thatched roofs resemble the hands of Buddhist monks pressed together in prayer, and are designed to withstand the heavy snows which fall in the region. After the visit, you will separate from your guide and continue on own to Kanazawa (transportation is included but will be unaccompanied). (Full Day; Private Activity; Public Transfers; Fitness level: Easy; Please wear comfortable shoes.)
Kanazawa is perhaps best known for its 17th century castle garden Kenroku-en. It is equally well known as the neighbor of the quintessential Japanese feudal fortress, Kanazawa Castle.
Experience a Japanese Tea Ceremony in Kanazawa Head to a traditional and elegant wooden tea house, cradled in a serene Japanese garden with ponds, botanical shrubs, stone lanterns, waterfalls, and fountains. Your guide will explain the aspects of a tea ceremony and its strong relationship with gardening and nature. Gathering at a cozy room that overlooks the garden, learn the history of the ceremony and its importance in the Japanese way of life. Learn about Japanese Samurai culture during an authentic Chado (tea ceremony) with a tea master. Shortly afterwards, your host will take you along on an elaborate ceremony steeped in tradition and aesthetics. Follow the silent tearoom etiquette and observe the fascinating rituals that unfold. Enjoy sencha and matcha served in exquisite porcelain complemented by platters of Wagashi (Japanese sweets). Before leaving, learn a few basics such as using a Japanese whisk! (Half Day; Private Activity; Time of the Day: 0930 or 1300 hrs; Duration: 3 hrs; Meals: Tea and sweets are included; Fitness level: Moderate, as the tearoom is accessible via a set of stairs with no elevator facility. Please note that the tea ceremony may include other guests.)
Treasures Of Kanazawa Discover the glorious 17th century Kenroku-en, renowned among Japan’s top three gardens. Kenroku-en includes fountains, waterfalls, bridges, stone layouts, and teahouses that enhance its appearance around the year. A sophisticated water system feeds its two ponds – Kasumigaike and Hisagoike. The centerpiece of the garden is a huge two-legged stone lantern – Kotojitoro. Walk on its meandering paths that cut across forests of cherry trees and Karasaki pine. Drop by the well-preserved Seisoanku Samurai villa next door. Later, you will also visit the unique samurai district of Nagamachi. Nomura-ke, the showstopper of this district, is a historic samurai residence with Edo Period heirloom antiques, samurai calligraphy, an lovely courtyard garden, and a tea ceremony room. See the 400-year old Japanese bayberry tree on the premises, Japanese cypress ceilings, and traditional fusuma-e paintings. (Half Day; Private Activity; Time of the Day: 0930 or 1300 hrs; Duration: 4 hrs; Fitness level: Moderate)
Kyoto is to be seen to be believed. With no less than 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites, the city encapsulates traditional Japanese culture and tradition.
Highlights of Kyoto – Golden Temple, Bamboo Forest and Markets Revel in the traditional sights, smells and sounds of feudal Japan’s best preserved city, in the company of your local guide. Visit the many UNESCO World Heritage sites dotting Kyoto, beginning with the Kinkakuji Temple, originally built for the Shogun. At his request, the Shogun’s villa was converted into a Buddhist Temple after his death. Discover the magnificent 15th century Nijo Castle with its splendidly preserved medieval gardens from Japan’s Edo period. Admire the many details and typical architectural features of the old monument, before walking down to the bustling Nishiki Market. Eat your heart out at this food street payable on spot, also known as ‘Kyoto’s Kitchen’, lined with innumerable restaurants and traditional eating houses! Try out typical local delicacies such as pickles, dried fish and sushi. Also visit the beautiful Arashiyama bamboo grove. (Full Day; Private activity & Public transport; Duration: 8 hrs. Please wear comfortable walking shoes; Fitness level- Moderate; Food tasting to be paid by the guests on spot).
Excursion to Nara One of Japan’s most rewarding destinations, consider Nara for a half day trip from Kyoto. History aficionados will have an inspiring time exploring the cultural legacy of the city. Nara takes sightseeing to an exciting new level. Start with the impressive sight of Daibutsu (the Great Buddha). Proceed to catch glimpses of the marvelous Todai-Ji Temple Complex and Kasuga Shrine. Second only to Kyoto’s repository of important ancient landmarks, Nara offers many enchanting experiences, such as feeding the wild deer that roam around in the Nara Park. Travel back to Kyoto. (Half Day; Private activity & Public transport; Duration: 5 hrs. Please bring comfortable shoes. Please don’t carry food items in your bag.)
Rendezvous with a Geisha in Kyoto Explore the fascinating world of the traditional geishas in the company of Peter Macintosh, an academic and expert on geisha studies at the Kansai University. Take a walk through Kyoto’s old geisha districts with Peter, catching interesting bits of information on this almost dying art form of traditional Japanese entertainment. You may spot a geisha and her apprentice – a maiko – along the way. Peter takes you to a private and exclusive geisha ochaya teahouse and be your translator for your visit. Enjoy a cup of matcha green tea and traditional sweetmeats in the company of a genteel maiko or geisha in her graceful costume and customary makeup. Enjoy the pleasant flow of conversation, games and artistic entertainment with traditional song and dance performances by your graceful hostess. Make the best of the great photo ops for the folks back home, as you experience a charming afternoon, reminiscent of an era long departed…. (Half Day; Time of Day: Afternoon; Duration: 2 hrs; Private Activity & Transfer; Meals included: Tea & Refreshments; Fitness level: Easy; Please bring comfortable walking shoes and cameras).
Kurashiki is a charming city in the Okayama Prefecture facing the Seto Inland Sea, and embracing the banks of Takahashi river. With a bustling modern center and an old heritage quarter, the city beautifully blends the best of the old and the new.
Highlights of Kurashiki Discover the lovely town of Kurashiki. This major trading town dating back to Japan’s Edo period, is today a prosperous amalgamation of traditional Japanese and modern global influences. A one hour ride from Hiroshima on the Shinkansen bullet train will take you to Kurashiki, which is reminiscent of Italy’s Venice with its small boats sailing on the Kurashiki River. Visit the Bikan Quarters, marked by an old canal lined with willows and old warehouses in the center of town. Most of the town’s old feudal trading houses have been converted into museums, cafés and shops. Interact with local artisans and learn more about their works of art. Drop by the Ohara Museum of Art, which is the oldest private collection of Western art in Japan, and also displays contemporary Japanese art. (Half Day, Fitness Level: Easy; Please bring comfortable walking shoes).
Hiroshima evokes powerful images and emotions attached to its war-torn past. Yet today, Hiroshima has emerged as a symbol of peace, beauty, and hope.
Peace Memorial Tour (Public Transport with English Guide) Drive to the center of Hiroshima by ferry and public transport. Appreciate the resilient spirit of the Japanese people during your day trip to the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima. While the visit helps you relive one of mankind’s darkest hour, the park also stands as a symbol of the hope that underlines the indomitable spirit of the human race to this day. Ground zero of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, is dedicated to all the lives lost in the Second World War. Stroll through the park and discover the many memorials, monuments and statues, leading up to a museum. You can also walk up to the 17th century Shukkeien Garden, or “”shrunken-scenery garden””, where valleys, mountains, and forests are landscaped in miniature form. Enjoy the traditional aesthetics of this Japanese garden, while relaxing over fragrant cups of tea at one of the charming traditional tea houses that surround the central water body. (Half Day; Fitness Level: Easy; Some guests can find the historic representations upsetting, Tea/sweets to paid on spot from guests)
Tokyo is a city like no other! Defined by cutting-edge design, quirky creativity and its own unique ancient culture, the city defines the best of both worlds.
Train from Tokyo Train Station to Narita Airport (1 hr)
Price & Inclusions
Option 1 From $ 12,670 /person
Option 2 From $ 15,530 /person
Prices are in USD and exclude international flights. This trip price is based on low season rates for accommodation and other applicable services, and may change depending on availability, currency fluctuations and number of people traveling together. For high season prices, please contact us with your exact travel dates and preferences.
Accommodation in one double room for 17 days / 16 nights
Meals as indicated
The following train journeys in the highest class available :
Tokyo – Odawara Hakone (Shinkansen Train-Standard Class)
Odawara Hakone – Nagoya (Shinkansen Train – Standard Class)
Nagoya – Takayama (Train – Standard Class)
Kanazawa – Kyoto (Train- Standard Class)
Kyoto – Okayama (Shinkansen Train – Standard Class)
Okayama – Hiroshima (Shinkansen Train – Standard Class)
Hiroshima – Tokyo (Shinkansen Train- Standard Class)
Tokyo Train Station – Narita Airport (Train – Standard Class)
All activities as listed :
Tokyo: Tokyo’s Finest by Day
Tokyo: Day out at Mt Fuji National Park
Hakone: Visit to Mount Fuji National Park
Hakone: Onsen: Japanese Hot Spring Baths
Takayama: Shirakawa-gō Village Excursion
Kanazawa: Experience A Japanese Tea Ceremony in Kanazawa
Kanazawa: Treasures of Kanazawa
Kyoto: Highlights of Kyoto – Golden Temple, Bamboo Forest and Markets
Kyoto: Excursion to Nara
Kyoto: Rendezvous With a Geisha in Kyoto
Kurashiki: Highlights of Kurashiki
Hiroshima: Peace Memorial Tour (Public transport with English Guide)
All activities specified in the itinerary, including entrance fees, when accompanied by our local, English-speaking tour guide
All airport, train station and hotel transfers as indicated. For private transfers our representative will meet you at the airport or the station and accompany you to your vehicle (and vice versa).
Your Trip Coordinator: a 24/7 point of contact, supporting you during your trip
Welcome kit including all important documents and information regarding your itinerary