Take a Shinkansen bullet train to Kanazawa to explore the charming streets and tea shops, discover the Zen gardens of Kyoto, learn about the devastating history of Hiroshima and visit the city of Himeji with its 'White Egret' Castle.

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Explore Tokyo’s temples and commercial hubs

Discover imperial Kyoto and its stunning culture

Watch the famous snow monkeys bathing in hot springs

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Day by day Itinerary

Highlights of Japan

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Day 1

Tokyo

Arrive in Tokyo and transfer to your hotel. In the evening, meet your tour leader and fellow travellers for dinner.

Day 2

Tokyo

Over one-quarter of the Japanese population livewithin 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, Sensoji, will introduce usto 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. Arriving in the heart of the city near Hamarikyu Gardens, you may wish to board a train and visit the Meiji shrine and Shinjuku area, where the latest electronic gadgets dazzle from glowing shopfronts. (B)

Day 3

Tokyo - Kanazawa

This morning board the Shinkansen, Japan’s famous bullet train, for Kanazawa. This city retains the charm of winding back streets, delicate tea shops and the beautiful autumn maples and spring cherry blossoms of Kenrokoen Gardens, and has several traditional samurai districts which we explore. Tonight stay in a traditional inn, known as a ryokan, where we sleep on comfortable, folding futon mattresses on woven tatami mats. Learn about local etiquette including Japanese bathing. (B)

Day 4

Kanazawa - Osaka

As the town was not targeted during World War II, much of Kanazawa consists of old buildings and gives a sense of whatJapan waslike in the 19th century. We'll spend some time wandering around the colourful stalls at the town's Omicho market, where fresh fish and crab are brought daily from the Sea of Japan along with vegetables from the surrounding countryside. A great dish to try here, particular to the region, is chirashi-zushi, which consists of pieces of sushi piled on the top of rice and often garnished with shredded egg. We also visit Kenrokoen Gardens which took nearly two centuriesto complete and translating from their original Japanese asthe 'Garden of the Six Sublimities'.

This afternoon, we travel train once more to the city of Osaka.Japan'ssecond city isfamed for its modern architecture, buzzing nightlife and tasty street food. We'll take a street food tour around the Namba area, one of Osaka's most vibrant and interesting districts where miles of covered arcades criss-crossed by canals and rivers open up to back streets filled with history and small shops. We'll get to try a few local delicacies such as Takoyaki - also known as Octopus balls, Okonomiyaki - a type of savoury cabbage based pancake filled with pretty much whatever you like, Kushikatsu - skewered meat and vegetablesthat are deep fried, and ramen - pulled noodles served in a meat or fish-based broth, often flavored with soy sauce or miso. (B)(D)

Day 5

Kyoto

We spend today visiting some of the cities many temples: Ryoan-ji Temple with its beautiful Zen gardens and famous rock garden, then the famous Golden Pavilion. The temple’s top two tiers are covered in gold leaf, a spectacular sight beyond a tranquil duck-covered lake in a forest garden. Also enjoy a traditional tea ceremony, nd stroll along Kyoto’s charming streets with many traditional scenes on hand. (B)

Day 6

Hiroshima - Kyoto

After breakfast we make our way back to the train station for the journey to Kyoto, which takes around two hours. The imperial capital for more than 1000 years has more than 2000 temples and shrines, many set in perfectly manicured landscaped, tranquil gardens. We will start exploring this fabulous city this afternoon 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 extensive gardens and gates are impressive, but the real ingenuity of the castle are the nightingale floors, so called because they are designed to make a chirping noise when walked upon, thus making it impossible to sneak up on the castle'sinhabitants. (B)(D)

Day 7

Kyoto

We spend today visiting some of the cities many temples. We start with a a traditional tea ceremony and take time to explore Kyoto's charming streets, soaking up the unique atmosphere. Accompanied by a professional local guide we will head on to Ryoan-ji Temple with its beautiful Zen gardens and famous rock garden. The exact history of the gardensis unknown, but it is thought the temple was converted from an aristocrat's villa in 1450. Whilst in the gardenstry 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. (B)

Day 8

Kyoto

After breakfast your journey ends. (B)

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