Best of Japan
This tour is for those who want to fully immerse themselves within Japan, by travelling to local sites in addition to taking in the basic aspects of Japan along the major cities. Ryokan (Japanese Inn) with Onsen and Kaiseki dinner, Zazen Meditation and Japanese Tea Ceremony are a few of the Japanese original experiences included in this itinerary.
Day 1: Arrive in Tokyo
Welcome to Japan’s capital city, Tokyo! Check into your hotel and the rest of the day is at your leisure!! Overnight in Tokyo.
Day 2: Tokyo [B,D]
On today’s tour of Tokyo, witness the stark contrasts showcased in this dazzling city of ancient traditions, coupled with state-of-the-art technology. To begin, visit the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, a magnificent masterpiece designed by Kenzo Tange, that offers a beautiful view over the whole megacity from the 202 meters high observatory. Travel to Meiji Shrine nestled in a forested area, honoring the first emperor of modern Japan and his empress. Visit Imperial Palace Plaza with view of Nijubashi Bridge. You’ll then travel to Asakusa Kannon Temple; its entrance is dominated by a massive paper lantern, dramatically painted in vivid red and black tones. Walk along the centuries old Nakamise, where everything from souvenirs to genuine Edo style crafts is sold. Enjoy the best view of Tokyo Skytree over Azuma Bridge in Asakusa. Then it will be time to take a stroll down Ginza, Tokyo’s most celebrated upscale shopping, dining and amusement district. Overnight in Tokyo.
Day 3: Tokyo – Nikko – Tokyo [B, L]
Discover Nikko, a city that’s immersed in a magnificent natural environment, and was declared an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visit Nikko Toshogu Shrine, the mausoleum of Shogun Tokugawa ieyasu. Travel to Oku-Nikko to visit Lake Chuzenji, located at the foot of Mt. Nantai, Nikko’s sacred volcano, whose eruption blocked the valley below, thereby creating Lake Chuzenji 20,000 years ago, and Kegon Waterfall, almost 100 meters tall and ranked as one of Japan’s three most beautiful falls along with Nachi Waterfall in Wakayama and Fukuroda Waterfall in Ibaraki. Overnight in Tokyo.
Day 4: Tokyo – Kamakura – Hakone [B,D]
- Heavy luggage is transported separately from the hotel in Tokyo to the hotel in Nagano by courier service, Please prepare a hand-carried luggage for your 2-night stay in Hanoke and Matsumoto.
Leave for Kamakura, which was used to be the political center of Japan when Minamotono Yoritomo chose the city as the seat for this new military government in 1192. Visit Kotokuin Temple with a Great Buddha, with a height of about 44 feet, it is the 2nd tallest bronze Buddha statue in Japan, and Hase Kannon Temple a temple of Jodo sect, famous for its eleven-headed statue of Kannon, the goddess of mercy. You’ll then travel to Kakone to a take a Pleasure Boat at Lake Ashi, formed in the caldera of Mt. Hanoke after the volcano’s last eruption 3,000 years ago. You may be able to enjoy a magnificent view of Mt. Fuji from the lake (if weather conditions permit). Overnight in Hanoke.
Day 5: Hakone – Mt. Fuji – Matsumoto [B]
Leave for Mt. Fuji which at 3,776 meters tall is Japan’s highest mountain. It’s nearly perfectly-shaped volcano has been worshiped as a sacred mountain and is very popular among artists and the general public throughout the centuries., you may visit the 5th Station of Mt. Fuji if condition permits. Continue to travel to Matsumoto, a good vase for trips into the Japanese Alps. Visit Matsumoto Castle, one of the most complete and beautiful among Japan’s original castles, and Japan Ukiyoe Museum, which exhibits Ukiyo E (woodblock prints) from the vast collection of the Sakai Family. Overnight in Matsumoto.
Day 6: Matsumoto – Azumino – Nagano [B]
A further explore in Matsumoto with the Daio Wasabi Farm, one of Japan’s largest Wasabi farms and a popular tourist destination. The farm shows you not only multiple large fields with a meticulously maintained network of small streams that constantly provide each Wasabi plant with clear, flowing water from the Northern Alps, but also an idyllic scene of old-fashioned, wooden water wheels alongside the river. You’ll then travel to visit Jigokudani Monkey Park, monkeys bathing in a natural hot spring. Overnight in Nagano.
Day 7: Nagoya – Takayama [B]
Leave for Takayama, which retains a traditional touch like few other Japanese cities, especially in its’ beautifully preserve old town. Visit Yatai-Kaikan Museum, where four of the autumn festivals eleven float (Yatai) are exhibited. Walk along Sannomachi Street, which survives in a particular pretty state with many old homes, shops, which have been in business for centuries. Overnight in Takayama.
Day 8: Takayama – Shirakawago – Kanazawa [B]
Before leaving for Shirakawago, take a short morning tour in Takayama to visit the Morning Market, where local crafts, snack and farm products are sold. You’ll then travel to Shirakawago for a half day excursion, declared UNESCO World Heritage Site. Ins 1995 and famous for their traditional Gassho farmhouses, some of which are than 250 years old.
Continue to travel to Kanazawa, which served as the seat of Maeda Clan and grew to become a town of great cultural achievements, rivaling Kyoto and Edo (Tokuyo). Walk along Higashi-Chayagai District, where you can find Chaya (teahouses), an exclusive type f restaurant which guest are entertained by Geisha who perform song and dance. Overnight in Kanazawa.
Day 9: Kanazawa – Kyoto [B]
Before leaving for Kyoto, explore more in Kanazawa. Visit Kenrokuen Garden, one of Japan’s most beautiful landscape gardens along with Kairakuen in Mito and Korakuen in Okayama and open for the public in 1871. The spacious grounds used to be the outer garden of Kanazawa Castle and were constructed by the ruling Maeda Family. You’ll then walk along Nagamachi Former Samurai District, which preserves a historic atmosphere with tis remain Samurai residences, earthen walls, private entrance gates, narrow lanes and water canals. Overnight in Kyoto.
Day 10: Kyoto [B]
A full day tour in Kyoto, which served as Japan’s capital and the emperor’s residence from 794 until 1868, where countless temples, shrines and other historically priceless structures have survived. Visit Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavilion), a Zen Temple in northern Kyoto whose top two floors are completely covered with gold leaves. Feel the Zen atmosphere at Ryoanji Temple, with its Zen garden made out of stones. Walk through Sagano Bamboo Grove and the walking paths that cut through the bamboo groves, Tenryu-ji Temple and Arashiyama, where you can see Togetsukyo Bridge, Arahsiyama’s wellknown central landmark, and handicrafts shops and restaurants along Hozu River. In the late afternoon, walk along Gion District, Kyoto’s most famous Maiko/Geisha area and filled with shops, restaurants and Ochaya (tea houses), where Geisha/Maiko entertain. Overnight in Kyoto.
Day 11: Kyoto [B]
Further trips in Kyoto beginning with Zazen Meditation, the practice of seated meditation which provides beneficial effects for physical health, mental functions and emotional well-being. You’ll then travel to Kiyomizu Temple, best known for its wooden stage that juts jour from its main hall, 13 meters above the hillside below. Walk through Nijo Castle from the Chinese-style Karamon Gate too Ninomaru Palace which served as the residence and office of Shogun Tokugawa ieyasu during his visit to Kyoto. Wal along Nishiki Market, a narrow, five blocks long shopping street specializing in all things food related and is a great place to find seasonal foods in Kyoto. At the end of Kyoto tour, visit Fushimi Inari Shrine with it’s tunnel of thousands of Torii gates. Overnight in Kyoto.
Day 12: Kyoto – Uji – Nara – Kyoto [B,L]
A full-day excursion to Uji and Nara. In Uji, a small city between Kyoto and Nara, two of Japan’s most famous historical and cultural centers, visit Byodoin Temple. Together with its garden, the temple represents Buddhist Pure Land (Jodo) and was influential on later temple construction. Experience Japanese Tea Ceremony at a teahouse, a traditional Japanese way of preparing and drinking tea. Continue to Nara, Japan’s first permanent capital established in 710. Visit Todaiji Temple with Great Buddha Hall, the one of the largest wooden architectures in the world, where you will meet Great Buddha with a height of 16 meters, made of of 437 tons of bronze and 130 kilograms of gold.
Walk to Kasuga Grand Shrine, Nara’s most celebrated shrine established at the same time as the capital and is dedicated to the deity responsible for the protection of the city. Overnight in Kyoto.
Day 13: Kyoto – Hiroshima – Miyajima [B]
*Heavy luggage will be transported separately to your hotel in Kobe by courier. Please prepare a hand carried luggage for 1-night stay in Hiroshima.
Leave for Hiroshima by Shinkansen (2nd class reserved seat) and explore Hiroshima and Miyajima. In Hiroshima, visit the Peace Memorial Park & Museum, consisting two buildings, the museum surveys the history of Hiroshima and the advent of nuclear bomb, and Atomic Bomb Dome, one of the few buildings to remain standing and a tangible link to Hiroshima’s unique past. After traveling to Miyajima Island by ferry, visit Itsukushima Shrine, known worldwide for its iconic “floating” Torii gate in the ocean. Overnight in Hiroshima.
Day 14: Hiroshima – Kurashiki – Himeji – Kobe [B,D]
Leave for Kurashiki by Shinkansen (2nd class reserved seat). In Kurashiki, visit Kurashiki Bikan-Chiku, where a former canal system for rice trades has been preserved, and you can find many of original; warehouses with white walls and black tiles, most of those are converted into cages, boutiques, souvenir shops and museums, along the canals. Proceed to Himeji, visit Himeji Castle, Japan’s most spectacular castle for its grounds. Unlike any other Japanese castles, it has never been destroyed by war, earthquake or fire and it has become a National Treasure and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Overnight in Kobe.
Day 15: Kobe – Departure from Osaka [B]
Own transfer to Kansai International Airport (KIX). Note: hotel room will be available until 11:00 am *SAYONARA*