Immerse yourself in the history, culture, and traditions of Japan on this all-encompassing journey through the Land of the Rising Sun
About the Tour
Absorb ancient history and timeless tradition as we travel through the 'Land of the Rising Sun' by futuristic bullet train. Sample Japanese whiskey, soak up the spectacular sight of Mount Fuji, experience an authentic tea ceremony and explore the bustling cities of Tokyo and Hiroshima on an all-encompassing route through Japan's highlights.
- Rail travel onboard Shinkansen bullet trains
- Hotel accommodations for 13 nights
- 16 meals
- Guided tour of Sapporo
- Visit to Yoichi Distillery, including a tasting of Nikka whiskey
- Explore Hakodate, including its bustling seafood market
- Sightseeing tour of Tokyo
- Hakone, including a guided tour and cruise across Lake Ashi
- Visit to Mount Fuji and Matsumoto Castle
- Excursion to Hida Folk Village and tour of Takayama
- Kyoto, including a traditional tea ceremony
- Sightseeing tours of Nara and Hakata
- Discover Hiroshima, with a guided tour and talk from a Hiroshima survivor or descendant
- Transportation by deluxe motorcoach
- Services of a professional tour manager
Day 1 - Sapporo
Meet your Tour Manager and the rest of the group at our hotel in Sapporo. We enjoy dinner together this evening.
Day 2 - Exploring Sapporo
Sapporo is famed for its 19th-century architecture, pretty public spaces, and gastronomy, some of which we explore today on our guided tour. We discover the delights of Otaru, Sapporo's famously romantic port, before heading to the nearby Yoichi Distillery, where award-winning Nikka whiskey is produced. Founded in 1934 by the son of a sake manufacturer who was enchanted by the concept of creating high-quality Japanese whiskey made with traditional Scottish techniques, Nikka has been producing acclaimed malts ever since. We enjoy a tasting of this peaty whiskey before heading back to Sapporo, where you are free this evening for dinner.
Days 3 & 4 - Hakodate
We leave Sapporo behind this morning, traveling to Hakodate on the Super Hokuto limited express train. On arrival, we check into our hotel with overnight bags, as the remainder of our luggage continues ahead to Tokyo. This afternoon, we take a sightseeing tour of the local sights by coach, including Goryokaku, a star-shaped fortress that dates back 150 years. This evening, we ascend Mount Hakodate via ropeway, for fabulous views across the city as it sparkles with evening light. On Day 4 we visit Hakodate's vibrant ﬁsh market, where fresh produce is bought and sold in a lively atmosphere. We explore the vivid array of stalls, which boast fresh seafood, local vegetables, fruit, and sweets, and look out for tanks of live shellﬁsh and clusters of crabs. After our visit, we travel by bullet train to Tokyo, Japan's futuristic capital.
Days 5 & 6 - Tokyo and Hakone
Today we enjoy a full day tour of Tokyo. Japan's capital represents the very best of the nation and is one of the world's most contemporary cities, giving an insight into a high-tech, modern world, yet its ancient attractions are of equal allure. On our tour, we visit the age-old Asakusa Kannon Temple, the imposing Imperial Plaza, the impressive Meiji Shrine and the fascinating Shibuya crossing. On Day 6, we transfer to Shinjuku, where we board the 'Romance Car' train to Hakone. On arrival, we enjoy a sightseeing tour of Hakone's scenic beauty, including a delightful cruise across serene Lake Ashi.
Day 7 - Mount Fuji and on the Matsumoto
Today we visit iconic Mount Fuji, arguably Japan's most distinctive landmark. Traveling by coach, we drive along the foot of the famous mountain, soaking up scenic views along the ascent. We arrive at the Mount Fuji Visitor Center, where we learn more about this world-famous peak. Later we continue to Matsumoto Castle, an impressive fortress completed in 1593. Built on a plain, this ﬁve-story fortiﬁcation is a celebrated National Treasure of Japan. We spend tonight in Matsumoto.
Day 8 - Hida Folk Village and Takayama
Today our tour takes us to Hida Folk Village, an open-air museum of rustic farm dwellings in the mountains. Set on a hillside overlooking the idyllic Takayama Valley, some of the buildings in the picturesque village date back 500 years. We continue to Takayama, where we spend the night.
Day 9 – To Kyoto
Set deep in the mountains, Takayama is a fascinating town of narrow streets and wooden houses which is almost untouched by time - some of which we explore today on a guided walking tour. After time to enjoy the ancient architecture, we leave Takayama behind, traveling by bullet train to Kyoto, Japan's ancient capital.
Day 10 - Exploring Kyoto
Discover the delights of historic Kyoto today on a guided tour. We take in the attractions of this ageless city, from the UNESCO-listed Nijo Castle, an incredible complex of fortiﬁcations and gardens that dates to the 17th century, to some of the charming temples Kyoto is famed for. Later, we enjoy a traditional tea ceremony on the Kodaiji Temple, discovering the time-honored ritual of tea preparation that has been passed down through generations.
Day 11 - Sightseeing in Nara
Today we explore Nara, another former capital from Japan's fractured ancient history, and home to an impressive 8 UNESCO World Heritage sites. On our sightseeing tour, we take in the Toda-ji Temple, the largest wooden building in the world, where we ﬁnd the imposing Great Buddha, a 13th-century bronze statue that dominates with its 37-foot frame. We continue to scenic Nara Park, a delightful deer sanctuary spread over almost 1,300 acres, before transferring to Osaka, where we catch a bullet train to Hiroshima.
Day 12 – Hiroshima
Our tour today takes us around Hiroshima, a city whose ancient architecture stands in contrast to the modern age. Our explorations take in the highlights of this peaceful, thriving city, from the Peace Memorial Park and the A-Bomb Dome, both dedicated to the victims of the tragic devastation of WWII. We also hear from a Hiroshima survivor, or descendant, whose moving account of the events of August 6th, 1945 brings greater context and understanding to the powerful history that helped to shape Japan as we know it today, as well as delving into the city's ancient past, with a boat ride out to Miyajima Island. This tranquil wooded island is a UNESCO World Heritage site, famed for the bright red torii gate, a Shinto shrine that appears to be floating just off the coast of the island during high tide.
Day 13 – Hakata
After breakfast, we take another bullet train, this time to Hakata. On arrival, we take a sightseeing tour, taking in the Dazaifu Tenman-gu Shrine, dedicated to the Shinto god of literature, Komyozenji Temple, a Zen temple and rare 'karesansui', or Japanese rock garden, dating back to the 13th century, and the Kyushu National Museum. The ﬁrst national museum opened in Japan for 100 years, the museum reveals the history of Japanese culture through an impressive collection of artifacts and modern displays.
This evening, we explore Hakata after dark, visiting the food stalls that spring to life in the evening. Known as 'yatai', these pop-up kitchens line the river banks, serving authentic local and national dishes, and are synonymous with the city's culture. After time to explore the vibrant market, we head to a local restaurant for a farewell dinner, to celebrate the end of our fantastic tour of the 'Land of the Rising Sun.'
Day 14 – Return Home
After breakfast this morning, you transfer from your hotel to Fukuoka Airport, for your ﬂight back home.
JR Tower Nikko Sapporo
Instantly recognizable in the Sapporo skyline, granting exceptional views across the lights of the city, the 3-Star JR Tower Nikko Sapporo occupies a central position, close to many attractions. The well-appointed facilities here include a spa area (payable locally), a restaurant and a bar. With a modern and tasteful interior, the sophisticated rooms have air-conditioning, and many have excellent views across the city below.
La Vista Hakodate Bay
The fantastic 5-Star La Vista Hakodate Bay is our hotel whilst in Hakodate. Boasting of an enviable location overlooking the waters of Hakodate Bay, this wonderful hotel boasts of numerous amenities that are typical of a 5-Star establishment. Situated at the top of the hotel, with views overlooking the city, is a hot spring, which relaxes and invigorates those who bathe in it. There are also spa facilities, offering a range of beauty treatments (payable locally), and a restaurant that specializes in seafood. The rooms are en-suite throughout and come equipped with a television, tea & coffee-making facilities, air-conditioning, and LAN internet connection.
Keio Plaza Hotel
The 4-Star Keio Plaza Hotel in Tokyo is located close to Shinjuku railroad station and is ideally placed for exploring the city. The hotel has a wide range of restaurants serving Japanese, Chinese, Korean and European cuisine, as well as a coffee shop, cocktail and tea lounge, and two bars including the Sky Bar, which offers magnificent views over Tokyo from the 45th floor. There is a drugstore, boutiques, beauty salon (payable locally) and guests have complimentary use of the hotel's outdoor pool (seasonal) and gym. The contemporary western-style rooms are equipped with air conditioning, television, tea and coffee making facilities, minibar, hairdryer and a safe and most offer excellent views over the city.
Hotel Buena Vista
Set in the heart of Matsumoto, the 4-Star Hotel Buena Vista boasts a broad range of eateries, featuring Japanese, Chinese and French cuisine, plus a cafe, bar, and a bakery. Rooms come equipped with a telephone, television and other facilities typical of a Japanese hotel of this standard.
Matsumoto Marunouchi Hotel
Set in a fascinating grey stone building, the 3-Star Matsumoto Marunouchi Hotel is exceptionally close to the finest attractions which the 400-year old Matsumoto has to offer including the majestic Matsumoto Castle. The hotel itself is comfortable and stylish with amenities including complimentary WiFi, a restaurant and a laundry service (payable locally). Rooms include television and air-conditioning.
Hotel Associa Takayama
The 4-Star Hotel Associa Takayama is our base whilst in Takayama. Located at the edge of a beautiful and verdant forest, this hotel boasts of some fantastic amenities, including a restaurant, serving a plethora of delectable Japanese food, a lounge, and a bar, perfect for relaxing in after a long day of exploration. Other leisure facilities include a tennis court (payable locally) and a karaoke room. All of the guest rooms have spectacular views of the surrounding area and come well equipped with an en-suite bathroom, a sitting area, tea & coffee-making facilities, and a television.
Kyoto Tokyu Hotel
Our hotel in Kyoto is the 3-Star Kyoto Tokyu Hotel. Located within walking distance of many of the beautiful Buddhist temples that dot the city. The rooms are minimalist yet comfortable, and come well equipped with tea making facilities, complimentary Wi-Fi, and complimentary toiletries. The hotel itself boasts amenities such as a gym, a spa, a beauty salon, and a currency exchange machine.
Sheraton Hiroshima Hotel
In Hiroshima, we stay at the 5-Star Sheraton Hiroshima Hotel, located a short walk away from the train station. This luxury hotel offers a range of amenities, including a restaurant serving traditional Japanese food, an elegant bar, and a relaxing lounge. There is also a spa, which offers a variety of massage and beauty treatments (payable locally), a gym, and a pool. The rooms are light and comfortable and come with a television, a hairdryer, air-conditioning, an in-room safe, and complimentary Wi-Fi.
Hotel New Otani Hakata
Combining contemporary, business-standard hospitality with classic Japanese courtesy, the Hotel New Otani Hakata is perfectly placed for your explorations of high-rise Fukuoka. The interiors are a mix of classic Japanese design and western modernism and facilities include several restaurants and bars. Each room features a television and complimentary WiFi.
Shinkansen refers to the dedicated high-speed Japanese rail network that provides a link to most major cities on the islands of Honshu and Kyushu. The name 'Shinkansen' is also used to refer to the trains that run on the network - which are perhaps better known as 'Bullet Trains'. Renowned for their punctuality, comfort, and safety, the trains are frequent and fast, regularly running at speeds of up to 186mph (300km/h). The trains offer comfortable reclining seats and large windows and there are usually refreshment trolleys selling snacks and beverages.