Essence of Japan
- Duration7 Nights
- StylePrivate Tour
- When to GoMar - May & Sep - Oct
- Price GuideFrom $3,956 Per Person
At a Glance
- Private airport transfer from Haneda or Narita airport
- Full-day private city tour including Hamarikyu Gardens, Asakusa, Meiji Shrine, and Omotesando
- Private tour of Tsukiji market with sushi-making class
- Transfer to Hakone by bullet train and then pre-booked taxi
- Overnight stay in ryokan accommodation, with breakfast and dinner
- Free afternoon to enjoy hot springs, hikes, and local attractions
- Transfer to Kyoto by bullet train
- Evening private dining tour of the Gion district
- Full-day private city tour including Ryoanji, Kinkakuji, Nijo Castle, Kiyomizudera, and Higasahiyama
- Free day to arrange further activities or side trip to Nara or Osaka
- Transfer to Osaka Kansai Airport by express train or shuttle bus
Meet Our Expert
I am totally captivated by Asia. Having lived in Singapore, Nepal, South Korea and Hong Kong, travelled extensively across all of our destinations in Asia, and worked in luxury travel for many years, curating exceptional trips comes naturally to me.
- 6 nights in 4-star boutique hotel accommodation with daily breakfast
- 1 night in 4-star ryokan accommodation with breakfast and dinner
- 1x further dinner and 1x further lunch including during food tours in Tokyo and Kyoto
- Private arrival transfer from Tokyo Narita or Haneda Airport to Tokyo hotel
- Shuttle bus or train departure transfer to Osaka Kansai Airport
- Individual train tickets for all mentioned train travel in Ordinary Class
- PASMO Transport Card pre-loaded with JPY 1,500 credit & 2-day Hakone Free Pass
- Privately guided tours and experiences in Tokyo and Kyoto
- Comprehensive self-guide travel pack and app
- 24/7 support from our dedicated staff
- Flexible, personalised itinerary based on your interests
What's not Included
- International flights from your country of origin
- Tips or gratuities to guides, drivers, hotel staff
- Any meals, tours, or activities other than those specifically mentioned in itinerary
- Incidental local expenses - souvenirs, laundry, taxis, etc
- Travel insurance - we strongly recommend you purchase travel insurance as soon as you have booked your trip.
Day by Day Itinerary
- Day 1
Tokyo: Private transfer from Narita or Haneda Airport
Welcome to Japan! You will be met in the arrivals hall by our local representative, who will welcome you to Japan and go through any immediate questions you might have. You will then be assisted to a private car to enjoy a relaxed, hassle-free transfer to your downtown hotel. Depending on traffic, this transfer will take around 75-90 minutes.
After arriving and settling in, you might want to stretch your legs by doing a little exploring. There’s no clearly marked center, rather a patchwork of diverse neighborhoods, some evoking the past with their wooden buildings, temples, and glowing lanterns, others looking like something out of the future with their soaring skyscrapers.
- Day 2
Tokyo: Full day private city tour
After a peaceful night’s rest, meet your local guide to discover some of the city’s most fascinating places, utilizing Tokyo’s user-friendly public transportation system. Your guide will first give you a practical overview of the tour to come, addressing any queries you have on public transport, trains, and activities, before you head out together to explore.
You will then head out together to explore. Start by visiting the home of the Imperial family, the Imperial Palace, and then explore the traditional side of the city in Asakusa, including a visit to Sensoji Temple, Tokyo’s oldest and most popular temple. Continue by subway to the Meiji Shrine, a shrine dedicated to the deified spirit of Emperor Meiji, and then if time allows, take a stroll down Omotesando shopping street, lined with the flagship stores of some of the top fashion brands in the world.
Please note the above is a recommended itinerary only. Your private guide will join you for 8 hours and your time together can be adapted to suit your particular interests. Please speak to the guide on the day on how best to spend your time together. You will get around the city using public transport and taxis – these costs are payable locally but will be covered by a pre-loaded transport card included in your pack.
- Day 3
Tokyo: Tsukiji Market tour and sushi making class
This morning you’ll travel to the world-famous Tsukiji market for a guided tour through its maze of narrow streets and produce sellers, which – of course – a heavy focus on fresh sushi. Meet your guide at the of the market and start the day with a sumptuous sushi breakfast, enjoying the freshest cuts you’ve ever tried! You’ll then be led through Tsukiji, with your guide blending in conversation with local vendors and tips to select delicious seafood. Many of the shops and restaurants here have been in business for decades and hand down the store from generation to generation. Get a taste of fresh fish cooked in different ways, and stroll through the alleys of the charming Tsukiji area while learning entertaining historical anecdotes about the area.
The remainder of the day is then at leisure for you to explore independently. Please ask your consultant for suggestions on how to make the most of your free time in the Japanese capital.
- Day 4
Tokyo: Transfer to Hakone by bullet train and then pre-booked taxi
This morning you will take Japan’s famous shinkansen bullet train to Odawara, just 35 minutes’ west of Tokyo, gateway to the beautiful Hakone National Park. The final leg of your transfer is by pre-booked taxi from Odawara station up into the hills of Hakone National Park to your deluxe ryokan accommodation.
On arrival you have the rest of the day to explore Hakone independently. While only 55 miles from Tokyo, Hakone feels like a totally different world, gazing out at the mountain scenery that towers above Lake Ashi and the hot spring villages that are dotted through the hills. You’ll be spending tonight in traditional ryokan accommodation, where after a long day you can enjoy a relaxing soak in the hot springs and be treated to lavish kaiseki dinners.
- Day 5
Kyoto: Transfer to Kyoto by bullet train; evening Gion dining tour
This morning you’ll transfer back down to Odawara by taxi and then board the shinkansen again for the three-hour journey to Kyoto. Once arrived at your Kyoto hotel, take time to settle in and get refreshed.
In the evening you’ll meet a passionate Kyoto food guide for a voyage of gastronomic discovery. Your guide will be taking you on a food-influenced walking tour of the historic Gion district. This is Kyoto’s traditional heart, and for many visitors the most enticing neighborhood in the city: a network of tight cobbled streets lined with wooden machiya houses and stores, and an entrance into the world of the geisha. End the tour by indulging in one last dessert, after which the guide will drop you back at your hotel or – should you wish! – you can continue exploring the bars and eateries of historic Kyoto under your own steam.
- Day 6
Kyoto: Full day private city tour
Today will be spent in the company of a private guide, using public transport and taxis to discover Kyoto’s rich array of cultural treasures. As with Tokyo, your guide will be with you for 8 hours, and again the itinerary is flexible and can be catered to your interest. A standard itinerary will cover the top heritage sights of the city: ornamental Nijo Castle, Kinkaku-ji (the Golden Temple), Ryoan-ji with its renowned Zen rock garden, and Kiyomizu-dera with its fabulous views across the city. With an experienced private guide at your side you’ll cover ground as efficiently as possible, as well as taking time to cover the backstreets and lesser-known highlights of the city.
- Day 7
Kyoto: free day with optional day trip to Nara
Today is free to explore Kyoto as you wish. There is so much here, from stunning gardens and ancient temples to winding alleyways. Perhaps head out early to shop in Nishiki Market, gathering up local goodies for a later picnic in the grounds of the Imperial Palace. Away from the city center, the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove in western Kyoto is a magical wonderland of soaring bamboo trees, some of which tower more than 65 feet. When the sun filters through the darkness, walking in feels like walking into a dream. You can also continue to the Tenryuji Temple and Okouchi Sanso Garden, or Nijo Castle with its spectacular gardens and famous nightingale floors, an anti-ninja security measure designed to make chirping sounds when walked upon.
There are also many day trips possible from Kyoto: to the busy city of Osaka, Himeji with its’ fine castle, or Kobe with its excellent wagyu beef. The closest day trip is Nara, former capital of Japan from 710 to 784 AD. Here you can take in the largest wooden building in the world, Todaiji Temple, which also hosts the country’s largest Buddha. You’ll also marvel at Nara’s most celebrated shrine, Kasuga Taisha, and perhaps visit Nara Park, often referred to as Deer Park, home to more than a thousand free-roaming deer.
- Day 8
Kyoto: Transfer to Osaka Airport for flight home
It is sadly now time to say ‘sayonara’ to Japan. At the appropriate time you’ll be transferred to Osaka Kansai International Airport for your return flight home. Transfer will be by express train or shuttle bus (whichever is most appropriate for you) and timed to have you at the airport in good time to check in for your onward flight. If you’re not ready to leave Japan just yet, contact our travel experts who will be happy to create a bespoke addition to your itinerary.
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