Day 1 Tokyo Meals: None
The tour begins in Tokyo. If you arrive today, your included Japan Rail Pass will cover your airport transfer.
There is a direct airport train to our hotel, and we will provide you with our very own Info-Pack, which contains faultless instructions on how to arrive there safely! Our hotel is located in the Tokyo’s funky Ikebukuro district. Close by you will find the world’s two largest shopping centers, one of the world’s largest car show rooms and Tokyo’s second largest building, Sunshine City. Sunshine City houses a planetarium, aquarium, oriental museum, a theater, and the world’s second fastest elevators! Plenty to keep you occupied if you arrive early.
We will have a group meeting in the evening, giving you the chance to meet your fellow group members and Tour Leader. After the meeting, your Tour Leader will head out for an amazing meal at one of the many great restaurants nearby.
Day 2 Tokyo Meals: Breakfast
Today your Leader will take you on a day tour. There are so many fantastic things to do and see in this amazing city; museums, gardens, and shrines, and your Tour Leader will organize an itinerary for the day to suit everyone’s taste. Of course, feel free if you want to head out and do your own thing – your Leader will be happy to assist with any plans.
You will also have a Japan Rail Pass, should you wish to make one of the many exciting day trips out of the city.
Day 3 Nagano Meals: Breakfast
We leave this vibrant city behind in style as we set out by Japan’s famous Shinkansen bullet train to Nagano. Nestled in the Japanese Alps, Nagano Prefecture is home to nine of Japan’s twelve highest mountains, and was the site of the 1998 Winter Olympics.
Nagano City’s most famous attraction is Zenko-ji temple (entrance is included). Tonight will be a real highlight as we have the opportunity to stay overnight near this amazing 7th century temple in temple lodgings.
Day 4 Matsumoto Meals: Breakfast
An early morning today as we will wake up early to watch the monks chanting – a spine tingling experience.
Following this you will have the option to make an excursion to Yudanaka Onsen to visit Japan’s famous Snow Monkeys. These cheeky macaques come down from the surrounding hills to bathe in natural hot springs. We can guarantee plenty of amazing photo opportunities but we'll be sure to call ahead to make sure the monkeys are about. As wild animals this is not always the case.
After lunch we will make the short journey by train to Matsumoto. Home to one of Japan’s most stunning original castles, it is often called ‘Black Crow’ castle owing to it’s unique black color. Other attractions in Matsumoto include the Ukiyoe (woodblock print) Museum, and strolling through the old merchant’s district.
Day 5 Takayama Meals: Breakfast/Dinner
We continue on our journey through the Japanese Alps to the market town of Takayama. Due to it’s remote position in the mountains, it was cut off from the rest of Japan for most of its history and thus has maintained a very unique and traditional atmosphere.
We will experience one of our accommodation highlights here, staying in a traditional Japanese minshuku. We will sleep on futons laid out on traditional tatami flooring and be able to experience a steaming hot onsen bath to relax (or recharge – the choice is yours!). And tonight we will have a fabulous meal of home cooked food served at the inn.
There are so many great experiences to be had in Takayama, from strolling through the preserved streets to visiting the museum that houses Takayama’s famous Festival Floats.
Day 6 Takayama Meals: Breakfast
Today is free to further explore this charming town. First stop should be the lively morning market, offering lots of free tastes of the local fruit and vegetables. The Hida No Sato folk village, an open air museum of traditional Japanese farm houses is not to be missed. Your Tour leader will be on hand to show you around; and will be more than happy to help you cap what is sure to be a fantastic day by taking you for some tastings at the local sake breweries.
Day 7 Kanazawa Meals: Breakfast
There will be time for some last minute shopping at the morning market before we head off by train to our next destination, Kanazawa.
Located on the Japan Sea Coast, Kanazawa is a showcase of traditional Japan. Take a stroll through the beautifully preserved Nagamachi samurai district or the Chaya geisha district; explore the hidden rooms and secret trap doors in the ninja temple, or just sip a cup of green tea and contemplate life in the stunning Kenrokuen, one of Japan’s top 3 gardens.
Day 8 Hiroshima Meals: Breakfast
Today we have a chance to truly enjoy the wonder that are Japanese trains, as we take a Limited Express from one coast of Japan to the other, then hit top speed on the Shinkansen as we hurtle along the Sanyo Coast to Hiroshima.
Known for all the wrong reasons, these days Hiroshima is a vibrant city which has chosen not to dwell in the past but to strive ahead for a better future.
The Peace Memorial Museum and surrounding Peace Park manage to convey a sense of hope rather than despair, but are not all that Hiroshima has to offer. With some truly world class art galleries, a manga library, a beautifully restored castle and Japan’s worst baseball team, your Tour Leader as always will be on hand to help you take in the sights you want to see. Hiroshima is famous for its local dish Hiroshima-yaki, a kind of as-you-like-it pancake cooked on a grill in front of you, so make sure you join your Leader as he takes you to his favorite restaurant!
Day 9 Hiroshima Meals: Breakfast
A free day to enjoy all that Hiroshima has to offer. You may choose to take a trip out to the sacred Miyajima island, home to shrines, temples, and deer but best known for one of Japan’s top 3 views – the vermilion red floating torii gate. If cars are more your thing, your Tour Leader can arrange a visit to the Mazda Museum, where you can witness their fully automated production line.
Tonight you can hit the town, as your Tour Leader takes you on a tour of Hiroshima’s best bars.
Day 10 Kurashiki Meals: Breakfast
A short trip on the Shinkansen and local train takes us to the charming canal town of Kurashiki. Today you have the option of joining the tour leader for an optional bike ride on the Kibi Plains, one of the most beautiful and historical paved bike rides in Japan. You will pass through ancient burial mounds, rice fields, local temples and Buddhist cemeteries. Alternatively, have a day free to explore some of the quaint local museums and renowned art galleries. Or maybe you can sit at one of the cafes lining the canals, sipping on a hot green tea as you ponder on the town’s fascinating history.
Day 11 Kyoto Meals: Breakfast
Our next destination is Japan’s cultural capital, Kyoto, a short train ride away. There is a host of things to do and see in Kyoto and, as always, your Tour Leader will be on hand to assist.
Day 12 Kyoto Meals: Breakfast
A free day in Kyoto to explore this classic city. Bursting with temples, shrines, World Heritage sites, gardens, museums, geisha and everything that you ever associated with Japan, you Tour Leader will lead an optional tour of some of the famous sites and hidden gems. Of course, if you want to explore solo, than your Leader will be pleased to advise.
Day 13 Yokohama Meals: Breakfast
Today we take our final journey as we take the Shinkansen to our last destination, Japan’s second city, Yokohama. We will speed past the iconic Mt Fuji, and if she is feeling bold, we may catch a glimpse!
Yokohama is the perfect place to end what will have been a truly memorable holiday. Definitely the most scenic of Japan’s big cities, our hotel is located a short walk from the picturesque waterfront. Today’s options include visiting the very unique ramen noodle museum, munching on dumplings and sipping bubble tea in Japan’s largest Chinatown, or heading to the top of Japan’s tallest building, Landmark Tower.
Your Tour Leader will take you out for one last amazing dinner, a chance to reminisce with your fellow group members over all the amazing experiences you have packed into the last 2 weeks.
Day 14 Depart Meals: Breakfast
Sadly, it is time to bid sayonara – for now!
You can take the direct airport train from Yokohama station, located a short walk from our hotel, to Narita Airport. If you arrived on Day 1 of the tour than your Japan Rail Pass will cover this journey.
Note: There is no single supplement for this tour. Single travelers will have a single room free of charge at all of the western style hotels (at least 8 nights). They will be asked to share with another single traveler of the same sex at the Japanese style stays (maximum 5 nights).
Also see tour packages in:
Asia Japan Local Culture Cultural Journey