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Highlights of Japan

16 days from £4970 per person

Japan is a country with an amazing blend of the modern and the traditional where futuristic cities, smoking volcanoes and snow-capped mountains stand alongside manicured gardens and ancient temples. This predominately self-guided itinerary begins in the nation’s capital Tokyo before visiting Hakone and Mt Fuji. Leaving Hakone travel by train high into the Japanese Alps to beautiful Takayama before heading to the coastal city of Kanazawa. After two days in Hiroshima, including a visit to Miyajima Island, end your journey in spectacular Kyoto, Japan’s former Imperial capital.

Route: Tokyo – Hakone – Takayama – Kanazawa – Hiroshima – Kyoto – Tokyo

Itinerary Highlights

Admire the mesmerising views of the Japanese Alps as you travel between Hakone and Takayama, one of the most scenic train journeys in Japan.

Every spring and autumn there are festivals in Takayama with ornate gilded floats. The historic buildings of the old town and superb backdrop of snowy mountains enhance these events.

The largest city in the Chugoku region, Hiroshima was the first city to be targeted by a nuclear weapon. The new city includes a thought-provoking Peace Park Memorial.

Itinerary: Highlights of Japan

Today depart the UK on the British Airways flight non-stop to Tokyo. (N)
On arrival in Tokyo you will be met by a representative and taken to the airport shuttle bus which will provide your transfer to your accommodation. One of Asia’s great cities, over the decades Tokyo has cemented its position as a global economic powerhouse. With its futuristic skyline, dazzling neon advertisements and surging crowds, it is easy to forget that Tokyo started life as a small 16th century fishing village named Edo. Reminders of this ancient past remain which, when coupled with the surrounding modern city, give Tokyo a unique, forward-thinking identity but one in touch with its past. (N)
Accommodation in Tokyo: The Park Hotel (or similar)
Joining your guide, this morning visit to the Meiji Shrine. Dedicated to the late Emperor Meiji, this atmospheric shrine is surrounded by a vast forested park. From here continue on foot to Omotesando, a broad tree-lined avenue, and then take the metro to Ginza – Tokyo’s entertainment district. Adjoining Ginza is the Imperial Palace and, after a walk though the East gardens, visit Asakusa – part of Tokyo’s old town – home to the Sensoji Temple and Geisha district. End the day with a cruise on the Sumida Gawa River to Hamarikyu Teien – a stunning landscaped garden surrounded by a sea of skyscrapers. (B)
Accommodation in Tokyo: The Park Hotel (or similar)
Today is a self-guide day. You may wish to make an early start to visit the world famous Tsukiji Fish Market, to visit the electronics district of Akihabara or discover Tokyo’s world class museums and art galleries. Alternatively, it is possible to travel outside of Tokyo to the delightful seaside town of Kamakura. One of Japan’s former capitals, Kamakura is a home to many ancient temples and the Daibutsu, a giant bronze Buddha. Alternatively, another option would be to visit the Toshogu Shrine complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which sits high in the mountains of Nikko National Park. (B)
Accommodation in Tokyo: The Park Hotel (or similar)
Today is a self-guided day. Make your way to Tokyo Station and take the train to Hakone, gateway to Mount Fuji. Later explore Hakone National Park and, armed with the included Transport Pass, take advantage of the numerous forms of transport on offer throughout the park. Ride the world’s second longest cable car up Mount Owakudanin for a birds-eye view of Mount Fuji, take a boat cruise on Lake Ashi or ride the Hakone Tozan ‘switchback train’ which zigzags through the mountain giving magnificent views of the surrounding valleys. (B/D)
Accommodation in Hakone: Yugiriso Ryokan (or similar)
Today is a self-guided day. This morning take the Shinkansen Bullet train to Nagoya then connect on to a further train to Takayama. Winding through the mountains of the Japanese Alps, this is one of the most scenic train journeys in Japan. With its beautifully preserved old town, Takayama’s inaccessibility from the rest of Japan allowed it to develop its own unique culture. Stay for two nights at the Honjin Hiranoya Bekkan, a modern ryokan complete with tatami mats and onsen baths. Later visit the town’s many sake breweries. (B/D)
Accommodation in Takayama: Honjin Hiranoya Bekkan (or similar)
Today is a self-guide day. Following breakfast make your way to the Miyagawa morning market, then take a bus to the Hida No Sato Folk Village – an open air museum exhibiting homes and buildings traditional to the Hida region as well as a workshop illustrating wood carving, weaving and lacquering. In the afternoon visit the Takayama Festival Museum, displaying floats from the town’s famous festival, or simply spend the rest of the day wandering through the beautifully preserved old town. (B/D)
Accommodation in Takayama: Honjin Hiranoya Bekkan (or similar)
Today is a self-guided day. Prepare for another stunning journey as you travel by train through the mountains towards the Sea of Japan and the coastal city of Kanazawa. In the 17th century this beautifully preserved castle town was Japan's wealthiest developing into a thriving centre for culture and the arts. Later explore the district of Nagamachi, visiting the Saihitsuan Yuzen Silk Centre and the Nomura Samurai House – a traditional Japanese period home complete with tea-ceremony room, interior courtyard garden and Edo-period artefacts. (B)
Accommodation in Kanazawa: Kanazawa Tokyu Hotel (or similar)
Today is a self-guide day. A highlight of any visit to Kanazawa are the Kenroku-en Gardens and this morning spend ample time in what are considered one of the finest horticultural gardens in Japan. From here continue to the nearby 16th century Kanazawa Castle, reached via the elegant Ishikawa-mon Gate, then head on to the impressive, and futuristic, Museum of Contemporary Art. End the day at the bustling Omicho Seafood Market with its warren of fishmongers and first-rate restaurants. (B)
Accommodation in Kanazawa: Kanazawa Tokyu Hotel (or similar)
Today is a self-guided day. Returning to Kanazawa Railway Station, board a train for the four hour journey to Hiroshima. Perhaps more than any city in the world, Hiroshima is known for one moment in history when, on the 6th August 1945, it became the first target of an atomic bomb. During the post-war period the city was completely re-built and today is one of Japan’s most laid back and vibrant cities. This afternoon head to the Peace Park and Museum for a sobering reminder of the events in 1945. (B)
Accommodation in Hiroshima: Sheraton Hotel (or similar)
Today is a self-guided day. Today take a short ferry ride to Miyajima Island, a famous wooded island located on the Inland Sea near Hiroshima. Here you will find perhaps the most photographed site in Japan – the floating Torii Gate – a Shinto shrine dating back to the 6th century. There is ample time to explore the rest of the island and its many shrines and temples and the ascent to the island’s peak, Mt. Misen, is well worthwhile for the spectacular views of the surrounding islands. (B)
Accommodation in Hiroshima: Sheraton Hotel (or similar)
Today is a self-guide day. This morning take the two hour Shinkansen Bullet train to Japan’s cultural capital Kyoto. This afternoon visit a restored wooden house and take part in a ‘Tea Ceremony’ – a quintessential part of Japanese culture. Home to an astonishing 2,000 shrines and temples, including seventeen UNESCO World Heritage Sights, Kyoto became capital of Japan in 794 AD remaining so until 1868. A highlight of any visit to Japan, roughly one out of four of the country’s national treasures can be found in the city. (B)
Accommodation in Kyoto: Granvia Hotel (or similar)
Following breakfast explore Kyoto’s World Heritage Sites with a local guide. Start the morning with a visit to Nijo Castle, which was completed in 1603 and famous for its Momoyama architecture and stunning gardens, then continue to Kinkakuji, the Golden Pavilion, one of Kyoto’s most famous temples. From here visit the 15th century Daitoku-ji Zen temple complex, home to one of Japan’s best Zen rock gardens, then the beautiful Kiyomizu Temple for fabulous views over the city. End the day exploring the old wooden buildings and atmospheric lanes of Kyoto’s historic Higashiyama district. (B)
Accommodation in Kyoto: Granvia Hotel (or similar)
Today is a self-guide day. Today continue exploring beautiful Kyoto. Alternatively, make the short 45 minute trip by train to the city of Nara. For approximately eighty years during the 8th century Nara was Japan’s capital and many of the temples and shrines built at that time still remain. Highlights include the Todaiji temple complex – site the world’s largest wooden building and home to Japan’s largest Buddha – and the Kofuku Temple which was moved to Nara from Kyoto in 710 AD. You will also have time to wander through Nara Park, home to herds of tame deer. (B)
Accommodation in Kyoto: Granvia Hotel (or similar)
Today is a self-guided day. After breakfast make your way back to Kyoto Station in good time to catch the Shinkansen Bullet to Tokyo. The remainder of the day is at leisure to either relax or further explore Japan’s vibrant capital city. (B)
Accommodation in Tokyo: The Park Hotel (or similar)
This morning take the airport shuttle bus back to the airport to catch the British Airways flight non-stop to the UK. (B)
**KEY: N = No meals, B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner

What To Do Next?

We design unique, tailor-made holiday itineraries to suit you, by combining your ideas with our knowledge and experience. Once you have an idea of what you’re looking for, or if you require some advice, please call us or complete the enquiry form online for a quotation.

What's included

  • International flights from the UK
  • Train travel as specified
  • Hotel accommodation and taxes

What's not included

  • Cost of visas
  • Travel Insurance
  • Expenses of a personal nature

Guide to Price

The above price is based on two people travelling together and sharing accommodation in low season. The price is only a guide and can vary according to selected airlines, hotels and date of travel. If you wish to travel with your family, friends or on your own we will be very happy to assist you with your arrangements.

Japan Holiday Review

Our whole holiday ran smoothly, each day perfectly organised.  At our first hotel the Sunroute Plaza in Tokyo, we found the room to be small with no wardrobe or storage, however the staff were very friendly and the breakfast tasty.  Our day with our Guide, Mutsuko was invaluable.  She was a lovely lady, who gave us the confidence to navigate the vast railway system.  The highlights of our day were the beautiful gardens at the Imperial Palace and visiting Asakusa.

On to Kanazawa, our favourite place, the gardens of Kenroken, although popular were very tranquil and peaceful. We had a lovely day visiting the places as advised on 'Our Perfect Day'.  

Shirakawago was a picture postcard village.  Takayama was certainly an experience, typical Japanese, where our shoes were left in lockers and we went around the hotel in bare or stocking feet.  We even had Japanese clothing to wear around the hotel if you were brave enough to use it.

Our hotel in Kyoto was right in the heart of the station, but you would never have known.  Again we had an excellent Guide in Reiko. We had an energetic day visiting the Bamboo forest, and climbing the mountain to feed the monkeys at Arashiyama, as well as Nijo-jo Castle and the Golden Temple.

We really enjoyed our Tea Ceremony, it was a wonderful experience. All  in all we have had the most amazing holiday. From travelling on the most extraordinary trains, to staying in lovely hotels and experiencing the wonderful hospitality of the Japanese people. We could not believe how clean everywhere was.  No litter, no graffiti and no smoking in the street,  We were impressed by the smartness of all levels of the workers.

So again 'Arigato gozaimasu'  to all concerned for making this a truly remarkable and memorable holiday.

P & R - Japan - July 2018

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