2 Arrive in Tokyo
Welcome to Tokyo, Japan's buzzing capital. This fascinating city combines the ultra-modern with the ultra-traditional. Here we'll find an unlimited choice of shopping, entertainment, culture and exquisite food. After we check in to the hotel, we'll have the rest of the day at leisure to unwind after our flight.
Today is an exciting and fascinating day, dedicated to exploring Tokyo. We begin with a visit to the scenic and spacious Imperial Palace East Garden, which provides a calm oasis amid the bustle of Tokyo. The garden is the former site of Edo Castle's innermost circle of defence. As none of the castle's main buildings remain today, the garden has been created in their place. Special Experience: Watch a sumo wrestling demonstration before enjoying a traditional Chanko Nabe (sumo stew) lunch at a local restaurant. This afternoon we'll stroll through the shopping district of Ginza on our way to dinner. We'll also experience the hustle and bustle of Shibuya, including the famous Shibuya crossing - one of the busiest in the world! Approximately 3,000 people can make their way across the intersection at any one time. Special Experience: Admire the city lights on a dinner cruise around Tokyo Bay in a typical Japanese-style houseboat from the Heian period, known as a Yakatabune. (B/L/D)
Enjoy another exciting day exploring one of the world's largest and most cosmopolitan cities. Our first stop is Asakusa Sensoji Temple. This Buddhist temple is one of Tokyo's most colourful and popular. Nakamise shopping arcade is our next destination, one of the best places in Tokyo to purchase souvenirs. We'll then learn the age-old culinary art of making sushi and enjoy the results for lunch. The rest of the day is free for you to enjoy at leisure. (B/L)
5 Tokyo - Hakone
This morning we'll visit a former farming village, Iyashi no sato Nenba, recently reconstructed and reopened as a museum after being destroyed by a typhoon in 1966. The village has been converted into restaurants, museums and galleries. We'll then arrive in the mountainous town of Hakone, where we'll enjoy a cable car ride on the Hakone Ropeway and see magnificent views of the iconic Mt Fuji (weather permitting). Tonight we will stay in an authentic ryokan guesthouse, where we'll sleep on traditional Japanese-style bedding made up of a futon bed on top of tatami mats on the floor. We will also have the chance to bathe in a natural onsen (hot springs) and enjoy a traditional Japanese dinner. (B/D)
6 Hakone - Matsumoto - Nagano
Today we'll travel to Matsumoto, where we'll visit its beautiful castle, one of Japan's premier historic castles built in the 16th century. Special Experience: Immerse yourself in Japanese culture during a soba noodle class on our way to Nagano. These delicious noodles are used in a variety of Japanese dishes. We'll then visit the historic Old Battlefield of Kawanakajima, where the famous provincial battle took place in 1561. (B)
7 Nagano - Takayama
We travel to the historic town of Takayama. This city retains a traditional touch, especially in its beautiful old town. We'll explore the narrow streets on foot. Highlights include Takayama Jinya, a beautiful and traditional Japanese building and Sanmachi Street, lined with old-style merchant houses and restaurants. (B)
This morning we'll explore the Miyagawa open air market and see the range of fruits, vegetables and sweets at the numerous stalls. We'll then wander through the beautiful UNESCO World Heritage-listed site of Shirakawago with its famous gasshō-zukuri (‘like hands in prayer') thatched roofs, designed to withstand the massive snowfalls of winter. This afternoon we discover the traditional art of Japanese rice paper-making. (B/L)
9 Takayama - Hiroshima
Today we'll take the local train to Nagoya, and then enjoy a bullet-train ride to Hiroshima, located within the Chugoku region. The city was destroyed during World War II, but has since been rebuilt. (B)
We begin today with a cruise to tranquil and sacred Miyajima Island where we'll see the giant Itsukushima Torii Gate. This afternoon we'll visit some of Hiroshima's important sites. Our first stop is Peace Memorial Park, which was built to commemorate the dropping of the atomic bomb. We'll then visit the very moving Peace Memorial Museum and the Atomic Bomb Dome, the city's only remaining bomb-damaged building. (B)A note on Torii Gate renovations: From June 2019, Miyajima's famous floating Torii Gate is undergoing renovations, which are expected to take at least one year. During the renovation works, the Torii Gate will be covered under partially transparent scaffolding. A bridge is being built on the left side of the gate to aid the renovation works.
11 Hiroshima - Kyoto
Travelling by bullet train, we make our way to historic Kyoto, Japan's cultural capital. We explore the incredible orange torii gates that make up Kyoto's famous Fushimi Inari Shrine, dedicated to the god of rice and sake in the 8th century. The magical path consists of more than 5,000 gates that wind through the hills at the base of Inari mountain. Special Experience: Sample the famous Japanese beverage, sake, and learn about the brewing process. (B)
We'll discover more about fascinating Kyoto on a half day sightseeing tour. Learn how to wear a Japanese Kimono and discover the history of this traditional garment. Later this morning, we'll experience a Japanese tea ceremony before enjoying a stroll along the Philosopher's Walk. This path was taken by the influential 20th-century philosopher & Kyoto University Professor, Nishida Kitaro, during his meditation. (B)
Today is at leisure for you to relax or explore more of Kyoto. (B)
14 Kyoto - Arashiyama - Osaka
This morning we visit the stunning Kinkaku-ji Temple (Golden Pavilion). The temple's top two floors are completely covered in gold leaf and the pavilion is set amongst beautiful gardens. We'll then enjoy a typical Buddhist lunch before touring the beautiful UNESCO World Heritage-listed Tenryu-ji Temple, ranked first of Kyoto's five great Zen temples. Later we'll walk through the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest and visit the Togetsukyo Bridge before travelling to Osaka. (B/L)
This morning we visit Himeji Castle, Japan's largest and most-visited castle. It is regarded as the finest surviving example of Japanese castle architecture. Special Experience: Learn the way of the Samurai, the warriors of pre-modern Japan, during an interactive lesson. Samurai were elite soldiers and adept with the bow and sword. Tonight we'll enjoy a group farewell dinner. (B/D)
16 Depart Osaka
Today we begin our journey home.