The perfect introduction to Japan’s main island of Honshu, with its remarkable history and culture. ​Sample local cuisine and experience traditional and modern Japanese accommodation.

From the modern and ancient in Tokyo, where it’s passion for everything new sharply contrasts with the traditional culture that still permeates the city.  Step back in time as you visit historic Takayama and the former samauri district of Kanazawa with its old mansions and narrow lanes.  Explore Koyasan, the center of Shingon Buddhism, where you can join the morning prayers.  Head to the stunning temples and gardens of Kyoto, Japan’s former imperial capital and important cultural centre.  This ancient city boasts over 2,000 classic Buddhist temples, palaces, Shinto shrines, gardens and wooden houses.   
 

Back to Japan Tours

Why We Love It

Explore the sites of Tokyo and Kyoto, one of the world’s most culturally rich cities.

Visit smaller towns like Takayama and Kanazawa

Stay in traditional accommodation

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Day by day Itinerary

World Heritage Japan

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Day 1

Tokyo

Upon arrival you will be met by a representative who will assist with your shuttle bus/train transportation to your hotel.  Enjoy the rest of your day at leisure or begin exploring this vibrant metropolis which pulses with a constant energy.

The mix of old and new is evident with ancient strolling gardens, Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, intertwined with tall skyscrapers.  Its passion for everything new sharply contrasts with the traditional culture that still permeates the city

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Day 2

Tokyo

Visit Hamarikyu, an Edo era Japanese garden. Take tea at Nakajima-no-Ochaya teahouse followed by a scenic river cruise to Asakusa, a part of Tokyo’s old town. The streets around Senso-ji Temple feature many traditional shops and are a delight to wander through. (B)

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Day 3

Tokyo

Today is a self-guided day. Use your day to further explore the sites of Tokyo, or use your rail pass for a day trip to Kamakura, a delightful seaside town. (B)

Day 4

Tokyo - Takayama

Today is a self-guided day. Travel by bullet and express train to Takayama, a charming town high in the Hida Alpine region. Stroll along streets lined with century-old well preserved merchant houses,  traditional wooden Japanese homes and sake breweries. Stay in a ryokan, a traditional Japanese-style inn. (B)(D)

Day 5

Takayama - Shirakawago

Today is also self-guided. Take an optional Food and Culture Walk, learning the town’s history and sampling local delicacies.

Afterwards, travel by bus to Shirakawago, famous for its gassho-zukuri farmhouses, some which are more than 250 years old. In Shirakawago, stay in a minshuku, a simple family-run Japanese-style inn. (B)(D)

Day 6

Kanazawa

Travel to Kanazawa, which was a notorious castle town and headquarters to many samurai nobles between the 16th and 17th centuries.

Kanazawa is the prefectural capital of Ishikawa, a narrow stretch of land on Japan's main island of Honshu along the Sea of Japan. It was one of the most important centres for culture and art during the Edo period and remains a haven for art enthusiasts. This city contains museums and workshops on everything from gold leaf to samurai.

Take a self-guided visit to Kenroku-en Garden, one of Japan’s most famous gardens, and Kanazawa Castle.

Later take an optional Evening Food Scene Tour, through the quaint streets of Higashi Chaya, where Geisha entertain their clients. (B)

Day 7

Kanazawa - Kyoto

After a free morning exploring Kanazawa's modern and historic attractions, travel by train to Kyoto, Japan’s cultural capital and home to around 2,000 shrines and temples, including 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. 

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Surrounded by mountains, and gorgeous natural scenery in Central Honshu. Kyoto is still regarded by many as the spiritual, cultural and historical heart of the nation and birthplace of much of Japanese traditional culture – including geishas, tea ceremonies and imperial cuisine.

Once in Kyoto there is so much to do –  many traditional arts and crafts are kept alive by artisans from generation to generation. Steeped in rich heritage Kyoto is also a bustling modern city, with a contemporary arts and culinary scene. (B)

Day 8

Kyoto

Today’s tour starts with a visit to Nijo Castle, continue to some of Kyoto’s most famous temples and shrines. Finish in the Higashiyama District, a collection of narrow alleyways lined with local shops and eateries. (B)

Day 9

Kyoto

Start today visiting a machiya, a traditional wooden townhouse. Participate in a traditional ceremony conducted by a local tea master.  Learn the rituals behind this ancient tradition that is linked with Zen Buddhism. Enjoy an introductory course in origami. (B)

Day 10

Nara

Take a self-guided trip to Nara using your rail pass. Explore Japan’s 8th century capital and its temples and shrines including Todaiji Temple, the world’s largest wooden building. (B)

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Day 11

Kyoto - Koyasan

Home to over 100 intricately crafted temples, Koyasan is home to one of the greatest active monastic Buddhist centres in Japan, founded twelve centuries ago for the study and practice of Esoteric Buddhism. It is the headquarters of the Koyasan sect of Shingon Buddhism, a faith with a wide following throughout Japan, and is one of Japan's most sacred sites.

The final ascent by cable car is a spectacular mountain experience.  Located on a small plain at the top of Mount Koya is the sacred area known as the Danjo Garan, a complex of temples, halls, pagodas and Buddhist statues. The 25 metre-high Daimon Gate welcomes visitors into this World Heritage site.

The most important place in Koyasan is Okuno-in temple, the mausoleum of the monk Kukai. Stroll through some 1,200 years of history in this vast, peaceful complex, with temples scattered throughout the grounds.

Overnight at a shukubo (temple lodge), where Buddhist cuisine is served. (B)(D)

Day 12

Koyasan - Miyajima

To have a complete experience of Koyasan, join the Morning Prayer, which usually starts at 6:00. Before midday, travel to Miyajima, a sacred island in the Seto Inland Sea. (B)(D)

Day 13

Miyajima - Hiroshima - Miyajima

With your guide, explore the island and sample delicacies like oysters, saltwater eel, and maple leaf-shaped cakes. Visit Itsukushima Shrine, with its huge vermillion o-torii gate seeming to float on the sea.

Later, travel to Hiroshima to visit Peace Memorial Park and Museum. (B)

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Day 14

Miyajima - Osaka

Upon arrival in Osaka you are free to explore on your own. Perhaps head to Dotonbori, a restaurant mecca and known for its giant neon signs and stand-out street food culture, or Umeda, home to the city’s modern architecture.

Osaka offers visitors exciting nightlife, delicious food along with plenty of shopping and modern attractions. Osaka also has a historical side, the highlight of which is Osaka Castle. The castle dating back to 1582 is a great place to discover more about Japanese history and to wander the beautiful grounds, especially during cherry blossom season in April when the sakura blooms and the weather is often at its best. 

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Osaka offers an unlimited choice of diverse experiences and things to do, from cherry blossom viewing, whisky distillery tours, world-class museums, temples and shrines to theme parks. If shopping is more your style a visit to Tenjinbashi-suji, Japan’s longest shopping street is not to be missed. (B)

Day 15

Osaka

Your final day is at leisure until your scheduled rail transfer to the airport. (B)

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