Shogun Trail

12 Day Small Group Adventure from Tokyo to Fukuoka with Explore

Read 4 reviews and enjoy exclusive savings on Explore's 12 Day Shogun Trail. Explore Tokyo's neon-lit streets, discover Kyoto's tranquil temples and visit the site of the world's first atomic attack in Hiroshima. Travel away from the tourist trail to uncover the country' more

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1 Join tour in Tokyo

Arrive in Tokyo, the ultra-modern capital of Japan.

For those arriving on time our Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 6.30pm for the welcome meeting. After this we have dinner included at a nearby local restaurant where you will have the chance to sample various types of 'izakaya' style Japanese cuisine. There are no other activities planned today, so you are free to arrive in Tokyo at any time. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into Haneda Airport (HND) or Narita Airport (NRT). The city centre is around an hour away from Haneda Airport and an hour and a half from Narita. Should you miss the welcome meeting, your Leader will inform you of any essential information as soon as you catch up.

If your flight arrives earlier in the day, we recommend taking the train one stop or walking along the Sumida River and then crossing over to see the Edo Tokyo Museum (it takes approximately 20 minutes to get here). This fascinating architectural structure gives a great history of Japan's capital and it is next to the sumo stadium so there is the chance to spot a sumo wrestler in the area. Also nearby is the Hokusai Museum which displays woodblock prints of Japan's most famous artist. Alternatively you can wander around the Asakusa area and explore the back streets. You will find sword shops, street food, goldfish scooping, rickshaws and plenty more just a few minutes' walk from the hotel. Stay: Asakusa Via Inn (Comfortable) (D)

2 Walking tour through Tokyo's shrines and gardens

Over one-quarter of the Japanese population live within a 50 km radius of the centre of Tokyo, making it the most populous metropolitan area in the world. The result is a bustling and exciting city - the economic powerhouse of Asia. However, scratching its neon-clad surface reveals a city bursting with history and tradition.

A morning stroll to Tokyo's oldest temple, Senso-ji, in Asakusa, will introduce us to Tokyo's unique culture. We then board a boat for a short journey along the Sumida River. Gaining a totally different perspective of the city, we drift past high rise apartments, secluded gardens and busy warehouses. After arriving in the heart of the city near Hamarikyu Gardens, you may later wish to visit the Meiji shrine and Shinjuku area, where the latest electronic gadgets dazzle from glowing shop-fronts. Stay: Asakusa Via Inn (Comfortable) (B)

3 Boat ride on Lake Ashi

Today, we spend the day exploring the Hakone National Park - home to the towering Mount Fuji. Although distances are short, we use a variety of forms of transport including bus, funicular rail and cable car as we make our way initially to the hot, bubbling sulphur springs at Owakudani. From here, on a clear day, there are magnificent views of the snow-capped mountain that is so synonymous with Japan. Whilst at the springs, you may wish to join the locals in eating an egg boiled in the sulphur pools - just one is reputed to increase life expectancy by seven years!

Our next stop is Lake Ashi, a magnificent lake created from the eruption of the Hakone Volcano over 3000 years ago. A short boat ride takes us to Moto Hakone where you may choose to relax in one of the lakeside restaurants.

In Hakone, we are accommodated in a traditional inn, known as a ryokan, where we sleep on comfortable, folding futon mattresses. During our stay, we learn about local etiquette, such as when to take off our shoes and the pleasures of taking a Japanese bath, all of which helps enhance our stay in this traditional establishment. Stay: Fuji Hakone Guest House (Simple) (B)

4 Bullet train to Kyoto

Leaving the mountains behind us, we take the world-famous 'Bullet Train', or Shinkansen, to Kyoto - the cradle of all things uniquely Japanese. This imperial capital was at the heart of events that shaped Japan's destiny for more than 1000 years. As the only major Japanese city to remain unscathed by World War II bombings, signs of the past are in its grand temples and palaces, and also in the many quaint shops selling traditional wares. This afternoon, we head to the famous geisha district of Gion. Here, we hope to catch a glimpse of these enigmatic entertainers as they scuttle to work in the teahouses or high-class restaurants, and we'll meet with one for tea. Stay: Hotel Elcient Kyoto (Comfortable) (B)

5 Explore Kyoto's temples and Zen gardens

Kyoto is regarded as Japan's loveliest city, with more than 2000 temples and shrines, many set in manicured landscaped gardens. We start with the Ryoan-ji Temple with its beautiful Zen gardens and famous rock garden. The exact history of the gardens is uncertain but the temple was converted from an aristocrat's villa in 1450. Whilst in the gardens try testing out the theory that at least one of the rocks is hidden from every vantage point. We then explore the famous Golden Pavilion. The temple is a three storey building with the top two tiers covered in gold leaf. Set in a lake the building appears to float on the water and the reflections, coupled with the background of forest make it worthy of its place on many Japanese postcards. There is also time to stroll along Kyoto's charming streets and tree-lined canals, simply soaking up its unique atmosphere and your Explore Leader will take you to some of their own favourite sites while exploring Japan's former capital. Stay: Hotel Elcient Kyoto (Comfortable) (B)

6 Continue to explore traditional Kyoto

Today we continue our exploration of Kyoto. We will start with a visit to Nijo Castle. Built in 1603 as a Shogun palace, it is a great example of the sumptuous setting in which the Shogun would have held audiences with his samurai warriors. The grounds and gates are impressive but the real highlights are the nightingale floors and the extensive gardens. It is also possible to take an optional trip to nearby Nara, a journey of 45 minutes each way by train. Nara is one of Japan's greenest cities and is home to the Todai-ji Temple, until very recently the world's largest wooden building, it is also home to a giant bronze Buddha statue. All of Nara's highlights can be explored by foot so it makes for an easy day's exploration. Stay: Hotel Elcient Kyoto (Comfortable) (B)

7 Reflect at Hiroshima Peace Park

An early morning train takes us to Hiroshima, where we will spend the morning exploring this thought-provoking city in our own time. Completely destroyed on 6th August 1945, when it was the target of the first atomic bomb to be used in wartime, Hiroshima has literally risen from the ashes, and is now a thriving, friendly city.

You may choose to visit The Peace Memorial Park and the well-presented museum on the site of the 1945 A-bomb hypocentre. Whilst serving as poignant reminders of the nuclear holocaust, their over-whelming message is of hope that such horrors will never reoccur. Travel around the city is easy, thanks to the provision of colourful street trams, brought in from all over Japan after the war.

This afternoon, we regroup to take the train to Nagasaki, where we will spend the next two nights. This is a city with an eventful history and was, of course, the target of the second atomic bomb attack on Japan. In a cruel twist of fate, the city bore the unimaginable brunt of a last-minute change of plan, when the preferred target of Kokura was obscured by cloud. Stay: S-Peria Hotel Nagasaki (Comfortable) (B)

8 Take a walk though Dejima, Nagasaki's Dutch quarter

This morning we are given a tour of Nagasaki, which, for long periods in its history, has served as Japan's main contact with the outside world. In the 16th century, the city became established as the main trade point with the Portuguese. As well as providing wealth from trade, the Portuguese introduced Christianity. After almost a century of turmoil, the religion was banned, foreign traders were expelled, and Japan closed its doors to the West.

The one exception was the artificial island in Nagasaki harbour, Dejima. This small, closely guarded enclave was the site of the Dutch Trading Mission, which remained Japan's only contact with the outside world for almost 200 years. During our visit here, we can see that some of the original features remain, as well as some excellent reconstructions of the 18th century buildings. Continuing our tour in the Glover Gardens, we will see fine foreign residences of the Meiji period and enjoy impressive views over Nagasaki Harbour, perhaps the most scenic harbour view in Japan.

The afternoon has been left free to explore this historic city in your own time. Stay: S-Peria Hotel Nagasaki (Comfortable) (B)

9 Drive through scenic tea plantations and ferry ride to Hirado Island

This morning we travel light, sending our main luggage on to our final destination of Fukuoka and packing our rucksacks for our stay on the island of Hirado. Our route takes us along a scenic road through tea plantations. We'll stop at a picturesque terraced area and walk through the fields to the tea farmer's house. There'll be an opportunity to sample some of the brew including green 'Sencha' and roasted 'Hojicha' teas before enjoying a traditional style lunch with the local tea farmers. After lunch we continue our journey to the seaside city of Sasebo. Here we board our ferry to the charming harbour quayside in Hirado. Our accommodation for tonight is a simple hotel with comfortable futon beds and the chance to take another hot spring bath. Stay: Hirado Wakigawa Hotel (Simple) (B/L/D)

10 Full day to explore Hirado and Ikitsuki Islands

Today, we will explore the pristine and unspoiled islands of Hirado and Ikitsuki, connected by an impressive 400 metre-long bridge which happens to be the longest truss bridge in the world. Accompanied by a local expert on a day-long minibus tour, we will discover rural Japan and take in the remote countryside of the 'Hidden Christians\ . Along the islands\ shores, fishing remains one of the main occupations, but we also have the opportunity to learn about traditional industries along the way. We plan to visit a museum dedicated to the whaling industry, which played a vital role in the history of this region. On our journey, we will gain views of the islands\ spectacular coastlines and towering cliffs. Stay: Hirado Wakigawa Hotel (Simple) (B/L/D)

11 Sail among the '99 Islands' then travel to Fukuoka

This morning will be spent soaking up the charms of Hirado, a city which has prospered as a castle town for almost 500 years. Its excellent port enabled it to become the central stage for trade with China, Holland and Portugal from the 17th century. Our walking tour will offer fascinating insights into the way things were here in the early 1600s. We will discover the wonderful Matsura museum, housed in the former residence of the Matsura family who ruled the area from the 13th Century. We will also take in the church commemorating Saint Francis Xavier who preached here in the 1500s; the sites of the old trading houses and the foreigners' cemetery. Later we will enjoy spectacular views on a relaxing cruise through the fabled 'Ninety Nine Islands'. In actual fact, 170 islands, mostly uninhabited, lie alongside the indented saw-toothed coastline.

This afternoon, we travel to our accommodation near the airport in Fukuoka, for our final afternoon. Stay: Route Inn Hakata Eki-mae (Comfortable) (B)

12 Tour ends in Fukuoka

The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Fukuoka.

There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Fukuoka at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel, while you head for some last minute shopping or sightseeing. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you need to depart from Fukuoka Airport (FUK) which is around 20 minutes away. (B)

Explore! Inclusions

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Journey Highlights
  • Tokyo - Explore the city's lively neon-lit streets and visit the nearby Hakone National Park for a spectacular view of Mount Fuji
  • Bullet Train - Experience comfortable rail travel at an average speed of 174 mph
  • Kyoto - See the traditional side of Japan, with its stunning temples, immaculate Zen gardens and enigmatic geishas
  • Tea with a geisha - Enjoy Japanese tea with a geisha and learn about her art and her life
  • Hiroshima and Nagasaki - Reflect at the sites of the world's first atomic bomb attacks
  • Hirado - Discover this island's rural charm and spectacular scenery
Trip Pace: Moderate
  • Moderate pace tours are ideal if you want a holiday which combines exciting activities and experiences with plenty of time to relax and unwind. Typically you'll be active and busy for part of the day but then also have time to rest and recharge your batteries.
Read Trip Notes
  • Trip Notes outline what's included, visa information, important notes, how to get to your accommodation, packing checklist, optional activities, travel insurance requirements - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more. Please take time to have a read through, and contact us if you have any questions. View Trip Notes
About Explore!
About Explore!
Launching in 1981, Explore offer trips from over 130 countries - from classic small group tours. Read more
Explore Leaders
Explore Leaders
Explore's leaders are more than just your typical guide. They're your local expert are are passionate about sharing their expertise with you. Read more
Where do we Stay?
Where do we Stay?
The places Explore stay are every bit as important as the sights they visit and the things you do. Read more

Reviews (4)

12 Day Shogun Trail reviews from past clients of Global Journeys.

Rating 5.0 out of 5
5 Star
4 Star
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2 Star
1 Star
“Great rail journey through Japan.”
- Australia Apr 2019

Japan was not as expensive as I thought it would be. Great rail service and I'd recommend this to trip to others considering travelling to Japan for a couple of weeks. Highly recommend Explore! (Review provided by Explore Worldwide.)

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“Massive thanks to Evan.”
- Australia Feb 2019

Massive thanks to Evan, Van, for his excellent leadership and thanks for the wonderful insight into rural Japan, provided by the trip to Hirado (Review provided by Explore Worldwide.)

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“Will definitely recommend to others.”
- Australia Feb 2019

I really enjoyed my trip as I have always enjoyed my Explore trips. The group were great company and Van looked after us really well. Will definitely recommend to others. (Review provided by Explore Worldwide.)

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“Here's a good tip?”
- Australia Feb 2019

First experience with Explore! - v impressed! Here's a good tip - the overnight bag which is mentioned in the trip notes really has to be quite small because we walk with them a fair distance and put them in lockers whilst we go out exploring. My overnight bag was too big. Eating out was much more affordable than expected and really good. Overall a fantastic trip with Explore. (Review provided by Explore Worldwide.)

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Sunday 12 Sep 2021 Thursday 23 Sep 2021 320per person 7,690per person Enquire
Sunday 26 Sep 2021 Thursday 07 Oct 2021 320per person 7,690per person Enquire
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Sunday 17 Apr 2022 Thursday 28 Apr 2022 326per person 7,814per person Enquire
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Sunday 09 Oct 2022 Thursday 20 Oct 2022 326per person 7,814per person Enquire
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Trip Notes
Trip prices are per person, and reflect applicable discounts. Discounts are subject to availability, exclusive to Global Journeys and may be withdrawn at any time without notice. Trip prices are correct at the time of the products going live, however are subject to confirmation at the time of booking. All trip information is correct at time of trips going live, however are subject to change by Explore. Full terms & conditions are available here.