Starting in the fast-paced capital Tokyo, you’ll visit Senso-ji temple in Asakusa and take a private guided tour across the city. Next you’ll take the bullet train to Matsumoto, home to Matsumoto castle and the gateway to the Japanese Alps; famous for its beautiful views, traditional culture and snow monkeys.
Takayama is next; a mountain town which is home to a lively market as well as temples, shrines and rivers, it’s often referred to as ‘little Kyoto’. From here, take the train to Kyoto, home to traditional shop-houses, the stunning Golden Pavillion and the best place to spot a Geisha. Next, make your way to Hakone, known for its hot springs and stunning views over Mount Fuji.
This itinerary can be tailored to suit your requirements please contact one of our consultants to start planning your dream trip.
Depart the UK from your chosen airport
On arrival in Tokyo, you will be welcomed by an airport representative who will assist you with transferrring by train or shuttle bus to your hotel.
The remainder of the day is at leisure.
Today we’ve included the services of a private guide for the whole day – a great way to gain some local insight and an easy way to get stuck in if you don’t speak Japanese.
Using efficient public transport, your guide will take you on a classic tour of the city or you can make your own suggestions. The last stop will be a visit to Akasuka, a part of Tokyo's old town, home to the Sensoji Temple, Tokyo's oldest Buddhist temple and also the cities oldest Geisha district. The streets around here have many traditional shops selling Japanese crafts, so now is a perfect time to stop and pick up some souvenirs.
Explore Tokyo independently; you could visit Senso-ji temple in Asakusa, get some great views from the top of the Skytree, head to the fashion district in Harajuku or shop for the latest gadgets in Akihabara – aka ‘Electronics Town’.
Use your Japan rail pass to travel to Matsumoto, a journey that takes around 3 hours using the superfast and punctual ‘bullet train’. On arrival you’ll have time to explore at your own leisure.
Matsumoto is surrounded by mountains and as well as having a strong historical & cultural heritage it enjoys spectacular views of the Japanese Alps makinbg Matsumoto a popular spot for hiking & climbing , trails bcan be accessed by local bus transportation.
Explore on your own today - you should visit Matsumotojo castle, then journey out to the historic Zenkoji Temple in Nagano or search out the Snow Monkeys in Jigokudani Park. The monkeys live in large groups and are fun to watch. You’ll see more monkeys during the winter, but they can be seen all year round.
After checking out, you’ll continue on to Takayama by coach.
You’ll have the rest of the day to explore and we recommend visiting one of the towns many ‘sake’ (rice wine) breweries for a taste of the tipple before you spend tonight in a traditional Japanese ryokan. Take a step back in time as you sleep on tatami mats and relax in the 'onsen' (hot springs). Dinner is included tonight and will consist of traditional & delicious Japanese fare.
Today is yours to explore, so why not head over to the Miyagawa morning market and explore the stalls selling local crafts. From here, you could head to Hida No Sato Folk Village, an open air museum exhibiting Japanese farmhouses and other traditional buildings from this region.
In the afternoon you will board a bus to your next destination, Shirakawago. Shirakawago & its neighbouring Gokayama regiong lines the river valley in remote mountains, declared as a UNESCO world heritage site this region is famous for its traditional farmhouses, some of which are over 250 years old. Tonight you will get to stay in one of these houses & experience a traditional Japanese home.
Continue on your journey by bus today heading to the beautifully preserved castle town of Kanazawa, we recommend a trip on the sightseeing bus to visit some of the highlights of the city including the pristine Kenroku Garden and Kanawaza Castle.
In the afternoon using your rail pass, you’ll take the bullet train to Kyoto – which takes around 3 hours.
The rest of the day is at leisure in Kyoto.
Today you’ll have a full day to explore Kyoto by bike with a local guide. Kyoto is a great city to cycle around with no hills and very little traffic. Visit the Nishi-Hongaji Temple & Nijo Castle, famous for its Momoyama architecture, decorated sliding doors and 'chirping' nightingale floors.
After breakfast, use your rail pass for the 2 hour journey to Hakone, in the foothills of Mt Fuji.
Here you can use your Hakone Free Pass on local boats, buses and cable cars to explore this geothermal region with views of Mount Fuji. Sample a black egg if you see one – they’ve been steamed in the sulphurous vents on the sides of the mountain which turns their shells black.
Tonight you’ll stay in a traditional Japanese Ryokan, where we’ve included a delicious meal and you can take a dip in the ‘onsen’ (hot spring) baths.
After breakfast, you’ll take the Romance Car train back to Tokyo.
This afternoon, we’ve included walking tour of Old Tokyo, where you will get to visit old temples, shrines and one of Tokyo’s oldest Buddhist cemeteries. Visit Ueno Park; one of the most popular places for cherry blossom parties. Next stop is Ameyoko-cho, a bustling market street and the last of its kind in Tokyo.
Today is at leisure before departing on your international flight back to the UK.
Prices will be high and availability limited around Golden Week (early May) O-Bon (mid-August) and New Year. Late March to early April is cherry blossom season in the Honshu cities and must be booked well in advance. Autumn foliage (November) is also a very busy time. June & July is rainy season for most of Japan and can be very humid whereas autumn (September to mid-December) is normally cool and clear. Late December and January is cool or cold in Honshu with snow often found on the mountains, many businesses close over the new year period.
This itinerary is purely a suggestion, and can be tailor-made to your requirements; please contact us with your dates and requests and we’ll put together a bespoke quotation for you.
11 nights’ in 4* standard accommodation.
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