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Land of the Rising Sun

Trip type: 
Cultural
Adventure level: 
2. Gentle
Max group size: 
12
Avg user rating: 
Awaiting reviews
Asia, Japan | 15 days
Trip code: 
CJST
What's included: 

Transport - Bus, Train, Ferry, Boat, Cable car

Accommodation - Guesthouse (5 nts), Ryokan (7 nts), Hotel (1 nt)

Meals - 2 breakfasts, 2 dinners

Trip Highlights: 
Tokyo & bullet train
Cultural Kyoto
Hiroshima’s Peace Park
see full itinerary >>

Trip Highlights: 
Tokyo & bullet train
Cultural Kyoto
Hiroshima’s Peace Park
see full itinerary >>
What's included: 

Transport - Bus, Train, Ferry, Boat, Cable car

Accommodation - Guesthouse (5 nts), Ryokan (7 nts), Hotel (1 nt)

Meals - 2 breakfasts, 2 dinners

Trip Overview: 

Journey through the cultural and scenic tapestry of Japan from Tokyo to Kyoto and explore mountains, forests and temples. Along with well-known highlights, you'll also uncover the mystique behind some age-old traditions.  Japan provides interest at any time of the year, particularly in the spring when there is an explosion of colour and festivities with the arrival of the cherry blossom.

Itinerary: 
Day
1-2
Tokyo

Tokyo

Take an overnight flight to Tokyo.

Konnichiwa! Welcome to Japan.

Welcome meeting Day 2. There are no planned activities aside from a group meeting on the evening of day 1, followed by dinner. Your leader will leave a note for you at reception informing you of what time and where this important meeting will take place.

Tokyo is a dynamic, modern hub, the thriving capital of an ancient land. Contradictions are everywhere, as hi-tech gadgetry and neon lights play an integral part in the lives of a population steeped in tradition. As we only spend one night in Tokyo, we strongly recommend that you arrive a few days prior to this trip in order to explore the city. Ueno Park, with its many galleries and museums, is a great place to spend a day, the Sensoji Temple is a serene way to pass an afternoon and the sumo stables are a must-see.

Optional Activities

  • Hamarikyu Garden - JPY300
  • Shinjuku Garden - JPY200
  • Tokyo Edo Museum - JPY300

Accommodation

Hotel (1 nt)

 

Day
3

Nikko

On day 2, the morning is free for you to stroll the outer grounds of the Imperial Palace, heading to the famous shopping district of Ginza. Then it's time to catch a train out of Tokyo, a chance to appreciate the countryside that makes Japan one of the world's most beautiful destinations.

From Toyko you take an express train (approx. 1 hr) and then a local train (approx. 1 hr) to Nikko.

Trains in Japan are fantastic and the best you'll ever experience. They are clean, fast, punctual, and have plenty of recycling bins for paper, bottles and cans. There are non-smoking and smoking carriages (you use the former) and a trolley cart comes around regularly, bearing all kinds of yummy things for purchase. Be sure to buy a bento box for lunch - these are compact trays containing tempura, sushi, etc., as well as a popular Japanese drink such as cold green tea or Asahi.

Accommodation

Guesthouse (1 nt)

 

Day
4

Nikko

Nikko has been a sacred site since the middle of the 8th century and the shrines and temples dotted throughout the area are inspiring evidence of the city's glory. We'll visit Toshu-gu Shrine, a resting place of a Tokugawa shogun. The mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the warlord who controlled all of Japan and whose shogunate lasted 250 years, the shrine contrasts with the traditional minimalist style commonly used throughout Japan. Instead, every corner of this monument is covered in intricate gold-leaf and lacquerwork, paintings and patterns.

Our charming accommodation in Nikko has private facilities, a shared onsen and is located next to the river.

Included Activities

  • Nikko - Toshogu Shrine

Optional Activities

  • Bus to Chuzenji Lake (return) - JPY2200
  • Imperial Villa - JPY500

Accommodation

Guesthouse (1 nt)

Day
5/6
Hakone

Hakone

Leaving Nikko, you hop aboard a local train (approx 1 hr), a bullet train (approx 1 hr), another bullet train (1 hr) and finally a bus (approx 30 mins) to reach Hakone.

In the hot spring region of Hakone, you take a boat across Ashino-ko followed by a picturesque cable car journey over the surrounding mountains. On the way, you may be lucky to get a glimpse of Mt Fuji looming in the distance - a shy mountain, getting a glimpse is not guaranteed. However, the lake and its surroundings offer plenty of stunning panoramas.

For those who are adventurous, a bath in an outdoor onsen (hot spring bath) is a real highlight. Although there are separate baths for males and females, remember that no clothes or swimming costumes are allowed in the hot springs - so it's time to shed those inhibitions!

Our family run guesthouse in Hakone is located in a quiet part of town and has shared facilities and a lovely outdoor onsen.

Included Activities

  • Hakone - Lake Ashino-Ko boat trip
  • Hakone - Cable car

Optional Activities

  • Checkpoint Museum - JPY500
  • Hakone - Onsen (hot spring bath) - JPY1200
  • Open Air Museum - JPY1600

Accommodation

Ryokan (2 nts)

 

Day
7/8

Takayama

Travelling by Shinkansen (bullet train) is an absolute buzz as you reach speeds of up to 270 km per hour! Needless to say, after you descend from the mountains of Hakone by bus and get on the bullet train, you get to Takayama very quickly (approx. 2 hrs by bullet train and 2 hrs by express train).

Takayama is famous for its traditional inns, sake breweries and the Hida Folk Village. You visit the outdoor museum of the Hida Folk Village which aims to preserve the traditional architecture of the area and has a collection of farmhouses you can explore. There is free time here to explore the many folk art galleries, local markets, museums or just wander the streets of this delightful little town nestled amongst the Japanese Alps as well as to pop in to one of the many sake breweries to taste their products. You visit the 600-year-old morning market as well, to try out some of the unusual local specialities that farm women put out on sale from 6:00am every morning.

Our stunning ryokan in Takayama has an irori hearth, included meals and is located within walking distance of the old town. Please note that during the Takayama Festival (14-15 April, 9-10 October), accommodation in Takayama may be multishare. Depending on rooming configurations, couples may sometimes have to be split up for these nights.

Included Activities

  • Takayama - Hida Folk Village
  • Takayama - Market visit

Optional Activities

  • Bike hire (per day) - JPY800
  • Merchant House - JPY700
  • Festival Float Museum - JPY820

Accommodation

Ryokan (2 nts)

 

Day
9/11
Hiroshima

Hiroshima

Hiroshima is a bustling metropolis with a tragic history (approx. 5 hrs from Takayama by train). You have free time here to visit the ruins of the A-Bomb Dome building, one of 11 structures left partially standing after the nuclear bomb blast on 6 August 1945, left as a horrifying reminder of the destruction of nuclear war. Around its perimeter is the peace park with monuments and a museum dedicated to Hiroshima and international peace. Alternatively, you can spend an afternoon at the nearby island of Miyajima with its famous 'floating' Torii Gate and the grand Itsukushima-jinja Shrine - be sure to watch out for inquisitive and eternally hungry deer that roam the streets of the island.

Our comfortable accommodation in Hiroshima is within walking distance of the peace park and has internet access.

Optional Activities

  • Hiroshima - Peace Park & Museum - JPY40
  • Hiroshima - Miyajima Island - JPY450
  • Hiroshima - Itsukushima-jinja Shrine - JPY300

Accommodation

Guesthouse (3 nts)

 

Day
12-14
Kyoto

Kyoto

You travel on to Kyoto via Himeji-jo Castle, a sight to behold. Built in 1580, this 5-storey castle is not only a fantastic example of amazing architecture, but a great insight into ancient life in Japan. From Hiroshima to Himeji-jo, the journey takes approx. 1 hr, and then it's a further 1 hr on to Kyoto.

Once in Kyoto there is just so much to do - this ancient city boasts over 2,000 temples, shrines and gardens! The magnificent gold-plated Kinkaku-ji Temple should not be missed, nor should the chance to join in a Tea Ceremony class (optional). Kyoto is also a great place to get 'lost' in - walk the streets and soak up the wonderful atmosphere. The city's lively nightlife provides plenty of options for our final evening. There is so much to do in and around Kyoto you might choose to extend your stay here.

Included Activities

  • Himeji - Himeji Castle
  • Kyoto - Temple/Shrine entrance (2)

Optional Activities

  • Bike hire (per day) - JPY800
  • Kinkakuji Temple - Free
  • Sanjusangendo Temple - JPY600
  • Home-cooking class - JPY3800
  • Kiyomizu Temple - JPY400
  • Tea Ceremony - JPY2000

Accommodation

Ryokan (3 nts)

 

Day
15
Tour ends

Tour ends

Your adventure ends today and you will be transferred to the airport for your flight home.

 

Tokyo

Tokyo is a whirlwind of colour, neon lights and fast lifestyle. While in Hakone you can explore the area's famous sulphur pools. In Takayma there is chance to visit traditional inns and sake breweries, plus a morning market. Mixed emotions prevail in Hiroshima as you discover its tragic past and visit the serene peace park.

Travel by train

Travelling by train in Japan is a fantastic experience. The trains are fast, punctual and clean. They even have recycling bins on board for paper, cans and bottles. A trip on a Shinkansen or bullet train is exhilerating as you reach great speeds of 270 km per hour!

Kyoto

You finish your tour in Kyoto where you can visit an ancient castle before exploring the gold-plated temple and joining in a traditional tea-ceremony.

Our Japan Explorer trip is just one of our many Asia tours. To find out more visit our Asia holidays page.