Ancient ceremonies meet 21st century technology in this astonishing country of contrasts. This fascinating tour goes a long way to interpret the mystery of Japan as we cross the country on high-speed bullet trains.
12 nights from £3995pp
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Discovering Japan Itinerary
Days 1-2 - Fly to Tokyo
We depart on the overnight flight from London Heathrow and arrive in Tokyo on Day 2 to be met by our Japanese guide. We transfer to our hotel for our first night in Japan, where we enjoy a welcome drink before having dinner together this evening to celebrate the start of our adventure.
Day 3 - Exploring Tokyo
Today we take a full-day tour of Tokyo by coach, discovering the sights of this incredible city. Our guided tour includes a visit to the ancient Asakusa Kannon Temple, as well as taking in the Meiji Shrine. Later we visit Nakajima no Ochaya, a tea house in the Hamarikyu Garden that dates back to 1704, where there is the opportunity to sample authentic Japanese tea and traditional sweets.
We also visit the world famous Shibuya crossing, which is said to be the busiest intersection in the world. We also spend time at the Edo Tokyo Museum*, where exhibits depict the fascinating history of Japan's capital during the peaceful Edo period. The last era of feudal rule in Japan, the Edo period spanned from 1603-1867, and is considered one of the most significant times in Japanese history.
Day 4 - To Hakone
Today, after a morning at leisure, we continue to Hakone by train, travelling in a 'Romance Car' (observation car) on the picturesque narrow-gauge line. On arrival, we tour the spectacular Hakone National Park. Lying in the foothills of Mount Fuji, Hakone is a stunning area of lakes, forests and hot springs. We take a cable car to the sulphurous hot springs at Owakudani, after which we descend to Lake Ashi for a short cruise. We then transfer to our hotel for the night, and enjoy dinner together.
Day 5 - Mount Fuji and Matsumoto
This morning we travel by coach to Mount Fuji, arguably Japan's most distinctive landmark. Driving along the foot of the famous mountain, we arrive at the Mount Fuji Visitor Centre to learn more about the snow-capped peak. We also stop at Oishi Park, which boasts of unparalleled views of the iconic Japanese mountains. Later we are at leisure to settle in to Matsumoto. We then overnight in Matsumoto.
Day 6 - To Takayama
We enjoy a visit to Matsumoto Castle, an impressive fortress completed in 1593. Built on a plain, this five-storey fortification is a celebrated National Treasure of Japan.
We travel to Takayama. Set deep in the mountains, Takayama is a fascinating town of narrow streets and wooden houses, which appear almost untouched by time. On arrival, we enjoy a walking tour of the fascinating city, taking in Kami Sannomachi Street and Jinya Old House. We continue to Takayama, where we spend the night at the Hotel Associa Takayama.
Day 7 - To Hiroshima
After a visit Miyagawa Market this morning, we enjoy a journey to nearby Hida Folk Village, an open air museum of rustic farm dwellings depicting the traditional architectural styles found in the mountains. Set on a hillside overlooking the idyllic Takayama Valley, some of the buildings in the picturesque village date back 500 years. We travel on the Hida Train to Nagoya, continuing onwards by bullet train to Hiroshima. Having seen devastation in World War II, Hiroshima is now a symbol of peace.
Day 8 - Miyajima Island
Today we travel by tram and boat to Miyajima Island, where we leave modern life behind in the tranquility of the wooded island. During our time on the island we enjoy a walking tour, which includes a visit to the beautiful Itsukushima Shrine. Your afternoon is free in Hiroshima.
Days 9-10 - Hiroshima to Kyoto
This morning we visit the World Peace Memorial Park and the A-Bomb Dome Museum, both poignant reminders of the destruction levied here in 1945. We also listen to a talk from a Hiroshima survivor or successor. Later we travel to Kyoto which was the Japanese capital for more than a thousand years and is a living museum of the country's artistic heritage. Afterwards, we take a walking tour of the Gion. Later we enjoy a dinner in Pontocho Alley, a lantern-lit street lined with traditional wooden buildings. Famed for its archaic atmosphere, this traffic-free alleyway is one of the few places in modern Japan where you may catch a glimpse of a real-life Geisha.
A morning of sightseeing on Day 10 takes us to the Kinkakuji Temple, Nijo Castle and the Kiyomizu Temple. In the afternoon we enjoy a traditional tea ceremony in a thatched farmhouse set amongst formal gardens.
Day 11 - Historic Nara
We visit Nara today, another former capital and a short train ride away from Kyoto. Nara is an attractive, compact city of narrow streets set against a backdrop of wooded hills. Here we enjoy a walking tour, taking in the beautiful Todai-ji Temple, the largest wooden building in the world and its Great Buddha, Kasuga Shrine and the Deer Park.
Day 12 - Osaka
We travel by coach to Osaka today, a futuristic city, which we are introduced to on a guided tour. We visit the observatory in the iconic Umeda Sky Building, where we enjoy panoramic views over Osaka and its castle, ahead of a farewell dinner tonight.
Day 13 - Flight to London
We depart this morning for Osaka airport for your flight to London Heathrow, arriving in the evening on the same day. On arrival in London, your tour concludes.
Please note that while every departure of this tour will feature the same excursions, the order may differ from that shown above.
Some hotels may vary. All alternative hotels are of a comparable standard.
- Bullet Train rail travel
- Tokyo and Hiroshima
- Miyajima Island tour
- Kyoto and a traditional Japanese dinner
- Historic Nara
- Hida Folk Village & Matsumoto Castle
- Mount Fuji and Hakone Park
- Lake Ashi and Owakudani Springs
- Standard Class Rail
- 4-5* Accommodation
- Breakfast Every Day
- Selected Evening Meals
- Selected Porterage
- 11 Nights' Hotel Accommodation
- Bullet Train journeys