By deluxe motorcoach, train and ferry, spend 12 days exploring the “Land of the Rising Sun” from Tokyo to Miyajima.
About the Tour
Come experience the insatiable pull of Japan through its colorful cities, fascinating points of interest and amazing historical sites. The tour begins in Tokyo, where you have two days to explore before moving on to cities such as Hakone at the base of Mt. Fuji, the mountain town of Takayama, Hiroshima, Miyajima Island, Kyoto, Nara and Osaka, where futuristic innovation is brought to life. Guided excursions through places like Mount Fuji and Matsumoto Castle present intriguing facts, and our cruise to see the Itsukushima Shrine is truly memorable. A true highlight of this journey is the traditional tea ceremony in a thatched farmhouse. The contrasts of modern life and Japan’s rich history are exemplified beautifully on this expedition.
- Rail travel on Shinkansen bullet trains
- Hotel accommodations for 11 nights
- 15 meals, including a welcome dinner in Tokyo, dinner of contemporary Japanese cuisine in Pontocho Alley and a farewell dinner in Osaka
- Full-day guided tour of Tokyo
- Excursions to Mount Fuji and Matsumoto Castle
- Visit to the Hida Folk Village and a tour of Takayama
- Cruise to Miyajima Island to see the Itsukushima Shrine
- Visit to the A-Bomb Dome Museum and a talk from a Hiroshima survivor or successor
- Guided tours of Hiroshima, Hakone, Osaka, Nara and Kyoto
- A traditional tea ceremony
- Deluxe motorcoach, rail, and ferry travel provided throughout tour
- Services of a professional tour manager
Day 1 – Tokyo
As your flight arrives in Tokyo today, make your way to the 4-star Keio Plaza Hotel to meet your group and Tour Manager. Tonight’s group welcome dinner is the perfect way to celebrate the start of our Japanese adventure. Overnight Tokyo. (D)
Day 2- Exploring Tokyo
Tokyo is a place where the ultra-modern amenities of today collide with incredible history and culture, and today, we experience it all on our full-day motorcoach tour of the city. With a knowledgeable guide dictating our excursion, we visit places such as the ancient Asakusa Kannon Temple and the Imperial Palace Plaza. The tour continues with a visit to Nakajima no Ochaya, an early 18th-century tea house in the Hamarikyu Garden, where we have the opportunity to sample traditional Japanese teas and sweets. The hustle and bustle of Tokyo is apparent as we pass the world’s busiest intersection, Shibuya crossing, and we learn about the peaceful Edo Period in Japan’s capital city at the Edo Tokyo Museum. In between these sights, enjoy glimpses at the various landmarks and interesting neighborhoods throughout the city. The remainder of the day is yours at leisure as you return to the hotel. Overnight Tokyo.
Day 3 – To Hakone
Take the morning at leisure to relax at the hotel or to sightsee at your own pace. There are many stunning buildings to see, such as the Mode Gakuen Cocoon Tower, and points of interest, including Shinjuku Chuo Park, to explore all within walking distance of our hotel. Later, we transfer to Tokyo’s station to board our Romancecar luxury express train to the mountain resort town of Hakone. Some of the most picturesque scenes in Japan are presented as we weave through the countryside toward our destination. On arrival, we tour Hakone National Park, an area of stunning natural beauty in the foothills of Mount Fuji. Gaze upon the pristine lakes, emerald forests and beautiful hot springs as we make our way through the park. A cable car takes us to the sulfurous hot springs at Owakudani, and after, we descend to Lake Ashi for a short cruise. Following our cruise, we transfer to our hotel and enjoy dinner together. Overnight Hakone. (D)
Day 4 - Mount Fuji and Matsumoto
Arguably Japan’s most distinctive landmark, Mt. Fuji is our destination this morning. We travel by coach along the foot of the world-famous mountain, making our way toward the Mount Fuji Visitor Center. The center offers a wealth of information on the snow-capped mountain, including its flora and fauna, the culture of the area surrounding the peak and even knowledge about mountain climbing. We continue to Oishi Park on the shores of Lake Kawaguchiko to take in unparalleled views of Mt. Fuji against the colorful flowers in the park. Back on the coach, the journey takes us further north into the mountains of Japan to the scenic city of Matsumoto. The evening is yours to take in the splendor of this serene destination once we arrive at the 4-star Hotel Buena Vista. Overnight Matsumoto.
Day 5 - To Takayama
This morning, we visit Matsumoto Castle, an impressive fortress that was completed in 1593. A National Treasure of Japan, this 5-story castle is also called the Crow Castle, thanks to its black exterior. The intricate traditional architecture and striking red bridge surrounded by lush cherry blossom trees is a wondrous sight to behold.
This afternoon, we travel to Takayama, which is set deep in the mountains. Like many other destinations in Japan, a sense of the old world intermingles with modern life. The city features narrow streets and wooden houses, seemingly untouched by time, as well as museums, breweries and shops. On arrival, a walking tour takes us along Kami Sannomachi Street in Old Town, as well as to Takayama Jinya, a traditional-style government building that was constructed in the 1690s. We continue to our hotel, the Hotel Associa Takayama, where the evening is yours to relax or sightsee as you please. Overnight Takayama.
Day 6 - To Hiroshima
A visit to the 300-year-old Miyagawa Morning Market this morning gives us a chance to peruse the local artisan wares and fresh produce. Following, we journey to nearby Hida Folk Village, which is set on a hillside overlooking the idyllic Takayama Valley. This open-air museum depicts life in the rural mountainous region of Takayama over the past centuries. There are 30 traditional buildings onsite, all of which demonstrate traditional architecture in various forms. Some of the structures include thatched roofs and date back over 500 years. As we tour, enjoy presentations by traditional folk artists.
We leave Takayama aboard the Hida Train and enjoy a picturesque voyage through the countryside to Nagoya. Upon arrival, we continue to Hiroshima by bullet train. Having seen devastation in World War II, Hiroshima is now a symbol of peace. Overnight Hiroshima.
Day 7 - Miyajima Island
Traveling by tram and then boat, today’s adventure takes us to Miyajima Island, one of the most scenic and romantic destinations in Japan. This wooded island is perhaps most notable for its “floating gate,” the Great Torii Gate, which appears to float on the water at high tide. During our time on the island, we enjoy a guided walking tour through the most popular sights, including the UNESCO World Heritage-protected Itsukushima Shrine. We also see the island’s beautiful shrines and temples and take in the splendor of the scenic walking trails.
As we return to Hiroshima this afternoon, take some time to explore at your own pace. Perhaps visit Shukkeien, a historic garden in the heart of Hiroshima, or take a tour of Hiroshima Castle. You could also seek out some of Hiroshima’s famous oysters or wander through one of the many museums, including the Hiroshima Prefectural Art Museum. Overnight Hiroshima.
Day 8 - Hiroshima Sightseeing/Kyoto
This morning we visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, which features monuments, memorials and museums that demonstrate that peace should not be taken for granted. During our time here, we see the UNESCO World Heritage Atomic Bomb Dome, which is one of the only buildings that remained standing after the A-bomb was dropped on Japan in 1945. At the onsite museum, a Hiroshima survivor or successor recounts their heart-wrenching tale of the world event.
The day continues as we travel to Kyoto, which was the Japanese capital for more than a thousand years and is a living museum of the country's artistic heritage. On arrival, we take a walking tour of Gion, Kyoto’s famous Geisha District. Here, we walk amongst traditional wood buildings and tea houses and enjoy archaic sights that may even include authentic Geishas in full costume. Our evening concludes as we visit Pontocho Alley, a lantern-lit street lined with traditional wooden buildings, for dinner. Overnight Kyoto. (D)
Day 9 - Kyoto
Admire the historic atmosphere of Kyoto during our sightseeing excursion this morning. Points of interest along the way include the golden-hued Kinkakuji Temple; Nijo Castle with its lavish buildings and lovely gardens; and the ancient Kiyomizu Temple, which dates back over 1,200 years and features the Otowa Waterfall - three streams of water that when drank from offer good fortune.
In the afternoon, we participate in a customary tea ceremony at a thatched farmhouse. As we taste the authentic offerings, take in the lovely views of the surrounding Japanese gardens. Overnight Kyoto.
Day 10 - Historic Nara
Our excursion today takes us to Nara, which is located just a short train ride from Kyoto. This former capital city dates back to the 700s and features an attractive cityscape of narrow streets and Japan’s oldest and largest temples against the wooded hills beyond. We see the sights of this ancient, compact city with a guided walking tour. One of the first stops we make is at Todai-ji Temple, which was constructed in 752 and is perhaps one of the most significant temples in Japan. The temple’s Great Buddha Hall houses a massive Buddha statue and until recently, held a world record as the largest wooden building in the world. We continue with visits to Kasuga Shrine, with its hundreds of bronze lanterns, and Nara Park, which is home to deer that roam freely and can be fed by visitors. We return to Kyoto with the remainder of the day at leisure. Overnight Kyoto.
Day 11 – Osaka
Departing Kyoto, we travel by coach to the futuristic city of Osaka, Japan’s second-largest metropolis. The drive is just over an hour, and upon arrival, we are introduced to the sights of Osaka with a guided tour. One particular point of interest is the Umeda Sky Building. Here, we travel up to the building’s 39th floor to take in panoramic views of Osaka and its castle from the amazing Floating Garden Observatory. Tonight, the group joins together once again to bid a fond sayōnara to Japan with a farewell dinner. Overnight Osaka. (D)
Day 12 - Tour Conclusion
After breakfast this morning, make your way to Osaka International Airport, where your exciting journey comes to a close. (B)
Keio Plaza Hotel, Tokyo
An ideal base for exploring Tokyo, the 4-star Keio Plaza Hotel has a premier location just minutes from Shinjuku Railroad Station. This hotel prides itself on being a pioneer in the hospitality industry, and as such, offers a wide range of amenities for guest enjoyment. There is an outdoor pool (seasonal) on the 7th floor, a shopping floor, a traditional Japanese tea room, a convenience store, a fitness center, a coffee shop, an art gallery and a beauty salon (payable locally). Further, there are several restaurants onsite that serve Japanese, Chinese, Korean and European cuisine. A highlight of the hotel is the Sky Bar, which offers magnificent views over Tokyo from the 45th floor. In the guest rooms, Western conveniences, such as air conditioning, television, minibar and coffee- and tea-making facilities, pair with sleek modern decor for a memorable experience.
Hakone Hotel, Hakone
Also known as the Fujiya Hotel Lake View Annex, the 4-Star Hakone Hotel has an outstanding location on the shores of Lake Ashi and offers breathtaking views of Mt. Fuji. There are two restaurants located on the premises, one offering teppanyaki and another with fantastic French cuisine. Other onsite amenities include hot springs baths, an open-air spa, a private jetty leading out into the lake, beautiful gardens on the lakeshore, a bar and a souvenir shop. Guests enjoy free wireless Internet throughout the campus, as well as air conditioned rooms with television, telephone, Japanese tea sets and refrigerators.
Hotel Buena Vista, Matsumoto
Enjoy a premier location in the heart of Matsumoto at the Hotel Buena Vista. This hotel enjoys a 4-star rating and an array of amenities to make each guest’s stay comfortable. There are several restaurants onsite, including those that serve Japanese, Chinese and French cuisine, as well as a bar and a bakery. Rooms come equipped with a telephone and television.
Hotel Associa Takayama, Takayama
A modern facility situated at the edge of verdant forest, the Hotel Associa Takayama is a 4-star hotel with an idyllic location and fantastic amenities. There are several restaurants in the hotel that feature delectable Japanese cuisine, a lounge and a bar. Other amenities include a souvenir shop, a karaoke room, a children’s playroom and a tennis court (payable locally). Guests enjoy en-suite bathrooms, sitting areas, television, coffee- and tea-making facilities, yukata lounge clothes and beautiful views of the nature that surrounds.
Hotel Granvia Hiroshima, Hiroshima
The Hotel Granvia is a 4-star establishment that is directly connected to JR Hiroshima Train Station and enjoys an ideal location within Hiroshima. The hotel features an array of eateries, including bbq, a steakhouse, sushi, Japanese cuisine, Chinese cuisine and a cafe. There is also a sky restaurant on the 21st floor, which offers wonderful views across the city. Further amenities within the hotel include a fitness center, a lobby lounge, a karaoke bar and a salon (payable locally). Each well-appointed room comes complete with air conditioning, television, a minibar and complimentary Wi-Fi.
Kyoto Tokyu Hotel, Kyoto
The 3-star Kyoto Tokyu Hotel has a convenient location within Kyoto that landmark sites, such as the city’s Buddhist temples, within easy reach. The hotel includes amenities such as a spa, fitness center, beauty salon (payable locally) and Chinese and Japanese restaurants, a Japanese tea lounge and a rooftop bar. Guests enjoy complimentary wireless Internet in their rooms, as well as tea-making facilities and thoughtful modern decor.
Sheraton Miyako Hotel, Osaka
Both public transportation and interesting landmarks are within close proximity at the Sheraton Miyako Hotel. This 4-star establishment features a delicate mixture of traditional and modern decor and fantastic amenities including four restaurants, a bar, a café, a flower shop, a health club and a beauty salon (payable locally). Each comfortable guest room features television, minibar, tea-making facilities, air-conditioning and an en-suite bathroom.
Beloved for their punctuality, frequency and safety, the Shinkansen “Bullet Trains” are a preferred method of transportation between the cities on the islands of Honshu and Kyushu. These high-speed trains travel at speeds of up to 186 mph (300 km/h) and navigate through the Japanese landscape with ease and style. Passengers enjoy the trains’ large panoramic windows and the comfortable reclining seats. Most rail journeys also include refreshment trolleys that sell snacks and drinks.
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