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Essential Honshu (Small Group Tour)

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Key Information:
Tour Duration: 14 day(s)
Group Size: 4 - 14 people
Destination(s): Japan  
Specialty Categories: Cultural Journey  
Season: July - November
Airfare Included: No
Tour Customizable: No
Minimum Per Person Price: 2880 US Dollar (USD)
Maximum Per Person Price: 2880 US Dollar (USD)

We'll start and finish in Tokyo giving you three nights to try and get to grips with this modern metropolis, a city of pulsating energy. In between you'll have the chance to experience the many different sides that combine to make Japan such a unique and fascinating country.

From the hi-tech speed and efficiency of the bullet train which will whisk you down to Osaka, to the serenity of Kyoto's Zen gardens; from the tops of sky-scrapers to the summit of Mt. Fuji, Japan's highest and most sacred mountain; from the glowing neon nights of futuristic cities to the wondrous star filled skies above the Kamikochi national park.

Several nights in traditional inns (ryokan) in Kyoto, Hakone and Kamikochi complete this never to be forgotten adventure in the land of the rising sun. As one of our most popular tours the Essential Honshu always sells out quickly so please book as early as possible to avoid missing out.

Tour Itinerary:

Day 1: Tokyo

The tour group convenes in Tokyo where we stay in Asakusa, the ‘down-town’ area of the old Edo. Many of our customers choose to arrive a day early in order to get over jet-lag and get the most out of the tour. The tour leader will arrange a welcome meeting tonight and an optional dinner out a nearby restaurant. A great chance to get to know the rest of the group. Meals: None

Day 2: Tokyo

After breakfast, your Tour Leader will be leading a full day tour of the city. We’ll be checking out the amazing Tokyo Metropolitan Government buildings, Meiji Shrine and the fashionable district of Harajuku, and the stunning new development at Shiodome before relaxing in the beautiful Hamarikyu Gardens. You might like to take a cup of freshly made green tea served in the tea house which is the focal point of the garden. The day will end with a 45 minute boat trip on the Sumida River which runs through the centre of Tokyo taking us back to Asakusa from where we began our day’s exploring. Meals: Breakfast

Day 3: Hakone

After breakfast at our hotel we will move on to Hakone. Total journey time is around 2h30. The tour includes a Hakone Free-Pass which allows you unlimited travel on all of the many forms of transport in the Hakone region; buses, funicular railway, cable car, rope-way, and even the sightseeing ‘pirate’ boat which crosses Lake Ashi. From here, if you’re lucky and the skies are clear, you will get a stunning view of Mt. Fuji. There are lots of things to see and do in Hakone and we’ll make sure you have all the necessary maps and information. Our Japanese style inn has a very nice outdoor hot sping ‘rotemburo’ bath, so you can relax after a hard day’s sightseeing with a soak under the stars. Meals: Breakfast

Day 4: Hakone

A full day to explore Hakone. You may like to take a short hike along what remains of the old Tokaido highway that used to be the major road linking Edo (modern day Tokyo) with Kyoto and Osaka. The Open Air Sculpture Museum features pieces by many world-renowned artists all set against a stunning mountain backdrop. There is an assortment of museums to visit and of course one of Hakone's famous wooden marquetry "trick boxes" would make for a great souvenir. On our summer tours you will also have the opportunity for an optional climb of Mt. Fuji if you wish. Meals: Breakfast

Day 5: Osaka

After breakfast we’ll be moving on to Osaka, taking a three hour ride on the world famous ‘Bullet’ Train. Osaka is the concrete beating heart of the Kansai region and home to some of the best food, drink and entertainment in all of Japan. Your hotel is right in the heart of the city, in the Umeda district, about a 10 minute walk from Osaka station. Meals: Breakfast

Day 6: Osaka

Today you have the option of taking an excursion to Nara where you will find the huge Big Buddha at Todaiji Temple, or to Himeji, famous for the stunning original castle. Alternatively, you may like to remain in Osaka to explore this exciting city. There is fantastic shopping, one of the world’s best aquariums, an Olympic sized swimming pool, and an enormous proliferation of video game arcades and karaoke parlours. You could also visit Hiroshima for the Peace Park and museum as well as Miyajima island. Most of your transport costs today will be covered by the included Japan Rail Pass. The evening will be spent back in Osaka for some great food and great nightlife. Meals: Breakfast

Day 7: Kyoto

We’ll head off to Kyoto reasonably early this morning so as to allow a full day of sightseeing in this historic city. Kyoto is a great city in which to sightsee on foot and has hundreds of things to see. There are several walking tour routes all of which have many different places of interest along the way and your Tour Leader will be on hand to make sure you get to see the things you want to. This afternoon we will be taking a tour of Gion and the Geisha districts with a local Geisha expert, giving you a truly unique insight into this hidden world. Meals: Breakfast

Day 8: Kyoto

A free day to further explore this amazing city. Your Tour Leader may lead an excursion out of town to Kameoka from where you can take a white water ride back down the river to Arashiyama, one of the most charming districts of the city. Don’t be concerned though, it’s not really a hair-raising ride! From here the famous temples of Ryoanji with its timeless zen rock garden and Kinkakuji, the Golden Pavilion, are within easy reach. Meals: Breakfast

Day 9: Takayama

Today it’s on by ‘Bullet’ and express trains to Takayama. We’ll be arriving early afternoon and after leaving our bags at our hotel, we'll have a chance to start exploring this intriguing mountain town. The hotel is just a short walk from the historic old town area which is particularly good for craft shops. Tonight we will have an optional dinner at a local restaurant in town followed perhaps by a visit to a bar. Meals: Breakfast

Day 10: Takayama

Takayama is packed with things to see and do. In the morning your Leader will be visiting the Hida-Takayama folk village. This fantastic outdoor museum is made up of a collection of old traditional style houses from all around the ‘Hida’ region. This is a rare chance to catch a glimpse of what rural life was like for ordinary Japanese before industrial advancement was undertaken by the new Meiji regime in 1868. In the afternoon you might like to check out some of the museums in the area or perhaps take a stroll round the beautiful shrines and temples. Sake tasting at a brewery is also a popular option! Meals: Breakfast

Day 11: Kamikochi

After breakfast we will take the bus up into the mountains and onto the Kamikochi National Park. The plateau is nearly 1500m above sea level and even in summer it can be quite cool. If you are coming in the Spring or Autumn remember to bring warm clothing for night time as temperatures can fall below freezing. The park is one of the most beautiful places in Japan with each season providing a different experience. We are staying at a traditional minshuku, Japanese style inn where we have meals included both nights. Meals: Breakfast/Dinner

Day 12: Kamikochi

This is a great chance for you to relax or perhaps do some walking or hiking. Walks are available for all abilities - from gentle riverside rambles to hikes up a number of peaks for some fabulous views and crystal clear air! If you are lucky you might get to laugh at the antics of the park’s many resident wild monkeys! There is also an onsen where you can take a natural hot spring bath. Meals: Breakfast/Dinner

Day 13: Tokyo

We’ll be taking an early bus down to Matsumoto, from where we will transfer by express train back to Tokyo. The journey is absolutely stunning as the road twists and turns down the valley through a series of seemingly never-ending tunnels. Once we reach Matsumoto we will have time to stop off for a couple of hours to visit the famous castle before grabbing some lunch and heading back to the station to catch the train to Tokyo. We will arrive late afternoon into Shinjuku Station - seemingly a world away from the peace and tranquility of Kamikochi. This is the final day of the tour so we hope that you might join with your Tour Leader for an optional farewell meal in the evening: A chance for one last night of good food and drink before heading home. Meals: Breakfast

Day 14: Depart

Sadly the tour is over and we all have to say our farewells and go our separate ways. We hope to welcome you back to Japan soon! Meals: Breakfast

Airfare is not included in the tour price.

Price Includes:

- Full time services of your expert IJT Tour Leader
- 13 nights accommodation including traditional Japanese style stays
- All transport between destinations including a 7 day Japan Rail Pass
- A mix of Western and traditional Japanese style breakfasts everyday
- 2 evening meals in Kamikochi
- Walking tour of Kyoto Geisha district
- Tokyo Transport Pass
- Hakone Free Pass for local transport in Hakone
- Luggage forwarding on 2 occasions
- Complimentary Info-Pack.

Price Excludes:

- International flights
- Airport transfers
- Additional local transport (except that covered by the transport passes in Tokyo and Hakone)
- Any entrance fees including those for shrines, temples and museums
- Baggage handling.