Land of the Rising Sun - 14 Days
From 2022-05-18 to 2023-01-01
Breakfast daily and 6 dinners.
Arrival transfer via shared public shuttle bus from Tokyo Airport.
13 nights STANDARD hotels and ryokan.
SUPERIOR and DELUXE hotel options are also available upon request.
Accommodation rating – See Trip Notes for details.
Departure transfer via shared shuttle bus to Osaka Airport.
Full day of guided sightseeing in Tokyo.
Cooking class in Tokyo.
Full day of guided sightseeing in Kyoto.
Cycling tour of Hida.
IC Transport Card.
3 day Hakone Freepass.
Train from Ueno to Odawara.
Train from Odawara to Takayama.
Return train from Takamaya to Kyoto.
Train from Kyoto to Hiroshima.
Train from Hiroshima to Miyajima.
Itinerary / more information
Day 1 - Tokyo Welcome to Tokyo! You will be met upon arrival at Tokyo Narita Airport and escorted by shuttle bus to your hotel in the city. Look out for some great views as you ride the elevated highways into town, and spend the rest of the day exploring the city at your own leisure.
Day 2 - Tokyo Enjoy a full day of guided sightseeing in Tokyo led by a local guide, offering a perfect introduction to the city. Travelling by public transport, as Tokyoites do, you will get a real feel for city life and your guide will help you discover aspects of Tokyo that you would not be able to find on your own. Rather than a fixed itinerary, you can enjoy the flexibility of seeing and doing exactly what you want.
You could start the day by visiting Asakusa, Tokyo's historic district. Here you can browse the bustling market place of Nakamise Dori, visit the famous Senso-ji Temple and explore the backstreets lined with Kabuki theatres, rustic bars and restaurants. From Asakusa you can take a river cruise on the Sumida River to the Hamarikyu Gardens, a peaceful oasis of greenery and exquisite Japanese aesthetics in the heart of a bustling city.
A short train journey from here can take you to Harajuku, the focal point for Tokyo's teen culture where you will find teenagers hanging out wearing quirky and extreme fashions. Nearby you can also find Meiji Jingu, one of the most famous and important shrines in Tokyo. Then, why not end the day surrounded by the bright lights of Shinjuku, Tokyo's main business and entertainment district. Spend the rest of the evening discovering the city on your own.
Day 3 - Tokyo Today try your hand at preparing Japanese cuisine with the help of a local. Your host will first take you to a local market and together you’ll shop for fresh ingredients. You’ll then head to a kitchen, located in the Yanaka area, a well-preserved and traditional district of Tokyo, where you’ll be shown how to prepare a traditional Japanese meal including classic dishes such as sushi, tempura or teriyaki chicken, which of course you can then enjoy for lunch.
Day 4-5 - Hakone Tokyo - Hakone - breakfast. On the morning of day 4 make your own way to Tokyo Station where you will get the train to Odawara Station, the access point for the Hakone National Park. Bus routes, railway lines and cable cars criss-cross this mountainous region making it easy to explore and enjoy the surroundings as well as some of the many top quality art museums. Spend rest of day 4 and day 5 taking in the highlights of the region at your own leisure, and if you are lucky with the weather, you may even be rewarded with stunning views of Mount Fuji.
Day 6 - Takayama Hakone - Takayama - breakfast. This morning you will take the train from Odawara to Takayama, a delightful town in the heart of the Hida Mountains. Established in the 16th century as the castle town of the Kanamori family and now famous throughout Japan for its old town area of narrow streets containing many well‐preserved inns, tea houses, shops and merchants houses with the latticed windows and overhanging roofs characteristic of the Edo period. The town has many shrines and temples of its own giving rise to the title of 'Little Kyoto'.
Just on the outskirts of the town is the fascinating Hida Folk Village where old farm houses from across the Hida region have been brought together and rebuilt (beam by beam) on a hillside overlooking the town. Takayama's morning market on the bank of the Miyagawa River is famous and well worth a visit to see the stands selling local farm produce, flowers and crafts. There are also some great micro sake breweries affording the chance to sample the wares of Takayama's most famous product! A stay in Takayama is a chance to get a feel for a way of life that really has all but disappeared from modern Japan.
Day 7 - Takayama Today you will have the opportunity to head deeper into rural Japan and take a cycling tour through the rice fields and rural farming villages of Hida. As well as the rural scenery, you will also visit a natural spring, a local temple, Minka (traditional wood farmhouses) and an orchard, offering real insight into country way of life.
Day 8 - Kyoto Takayama - Kyoto - breakfast. This morning you will travel by train to Kyoto, Japan’s ancient capital and the cultural centre of the nation. One of the most culturally rich cities in Asia, Kyoto is home to 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, over 1,600 Buddhist temples and 400 Shinto shrines, this ancient city showcases the heart and soul of traditional Japan. Spend the rest of the day at your own leisure exploring the city.
Day 9 - Kyoto Today enjoy a full day of sightseeing in Kyoto, again travelling by public transport with a private guide. With no fixed itinerary and a knowledgeable local at your side, you will be set for a great day in this amazing city and are sure to discover things you might otherwise miss.
You may want to start your day at Kinkakuji - Kyoto's famous Golden Pavilion Zen Temple which is decorated with gold leaf and stands over a tranquil pond. From Kikakuji in the north of the city you can then head to Kiyomizu Dera Temple in the east. This impressive wooden structure is perched on a hillside surrounded by woodland and looks out across the city.
The afternoon could be spent at Fushimi Inari Shrine in the south of the city. This shrine's appeal is the thousands of red torii gates which create a network of pathways through the wooded forests of Mt Inari, linking the various buildings of the shrine together. You may want your guide to finish the day of sightseeing by taking you to the Gion Geisha District where, if you are lucky you will be able to see a Geisha shuffling through the streets between appointments. Spend the evening at your own leisure.
Day 10 - Nara Kyoto - Nara - breakfast. This morning take the train to Nara, renowned for the wealth of its Buddhist and Shinto heritage. Nara was formerly the end of the Silk Road and it was for this reason the area which first saw Buddhist teaching making the transition across the ocean from China. The myriad of shrines and temples are all set against the backdrop of the low lying mountains and in the midst of Nara Park, which is famously home to a vast population of pesky deer. Return to Kyoto this evening.
Day 11 - Hiroshima Kyoto - Hiroshima - Miyajima - breakfast. Today you will take the train to Hiroshima, a city that needs little introduction. It is of course infamous for being the site of one of two atomic bombs dropped on Japan at the end of the Second World War. The Peace Park and Museum are a poignant reminder of the reason for Hiroshima's fame and everyone should spend an afternoon in this part of town. Other attractions in Hiroshima include Hiroshima Castle and the baseball stadium. Shukkei‐en Garden is well worth an afternoon stroll with a number of tea houses dotted about the grounds, and the Hiroshima Prefectural Museum of Art contains some wonderful paintings by both Japanese and Western artists.
After spending some time exploring Hiroshima you will need to make your way to Miyajima Island, where you will be staying for the next two nights. Located just off the coast of Hiroshima, is one of Japan's most loved places with a charming rural atmosphere to match the beautiful surroundings.
Day 12 - Miyajima Enjoy a free day exploring the highlights of Miyajima Island. The island is perhaps best known for the red torii gate of Itsukushima Shrine which appears to be floating in the sea. In the evening this gate and the shrine behind it (as well as other traditional buildings in the area) are floodlit and the atmosphere is magical. A cable car takes you to see fantastic views across the Inland Sea from Mount Misen, the highest point of the island. There are many pleasant walks on Miyajima among the temples and along the bustling shopping street in the island's small village.
You may also see some of the island's native fauna; the sacred deer are easy to spot as they roam freely, but you'll have to work a little harder to spot any of the resident monkey population - keep your eyes peeled! Miyajima is a wonderful place to slow down, unwind and relax, so take your time and let the magic of this island enchant you!
Note: From June 2019 the floating Torii Gate is undergoing renovations – please see the Trip Notes for further details.
Day 13 - Osaka Miyajima - Osaka - breakfast. This morning you will leave Miyajima Island behind and travel to Osaka, Japan's second largest urban area and an extremely vibrant and lively place to stay. The city aquarium is world class and you cannot stay in Osaka without taking a ride on one of the city's several giant big wheels, perhaps the most dramatic of which is perched on top of the Hep 5 Department Store in the Umeda District of the city ‐ just don't look down if you are afraid of heights! Osaka Castle is well worth a visit despite being a reconstruction as the original was burnt down during the firebombing at the end of World War II and you will find a variety of very interesting museums are scattered throughout the city.
After dark Osaka really comes alive, and a walk through the bright lights of the Nanba District is a great way to take in the atmosphere, with some great people‐watching opportunities. With literally thousands of restaurants, bars and entertainment spots to choose from, Osaka is perfect for a big night out, some hearty local food and the chance to let your hair down.
Day 14 - Osaka Today your adventure in Japan comes to an end. A departure transfer by shuttle bus will take you to Kansai Airport for your onward travels.
Consider spending some extra time exploring more of Japan’s amazing history and UNESCO Listed Sites. Extend your stay by a day, a week or even two! We offer a variety of properties for you to choose from. Browse our best places to visit, [[best time to visit|121716]], [[top 10 Japan experiences|124274]] pages for suggestions on what to see and do on your holiday. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, please let us know so we can accommodate your request.
For information about visas, top travel tips and much more, take a look through our [[travel guide|126582]].
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