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Having lived in Singapore, Nepal, South Korea and Hong Kong, I am captivated by Asia. Having traveled to every country in Asia, and worked in luxury travel for many years, curating once-in-a-lifetime trips comes naturally to me.
- from $4,495 PP
- 11 Nights
- Mar - May & Sep - Oct
- 12 hrs from London / 14 hrs from NYC
Take in the highlights of Japan on this classic 11-night tour. Begin amongst the neon lights of Tokyo, with its fascinating mix of old and new. Take a shinkansen bullet train over to Kanazawa, known for its museums, galleries, regional handicrafts, and the magnificent Kenrokuen gardens. Spend three nights in unmissable Kyoto, with the option of an additional day trip to Nara, then head to Hakone National Park to spend two tranquil nights in the shadow of Mount Fuji. This itinerary includes all of Japan big hits and key experiences, and can be easily adapted to your interests, or extended should you have an extra day or two to explore.
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Book your trip with us and pay a reduced deposit with the rest 90 days before your departure
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- 11 nights in 4 or 5 star accommodation
- Daily breakfast plus other meals as per itinerary
- Airport departure and arrival transfers
- Train tickets, rail passes, transport cards, and taxi transfers as described
- Private guided tours in Tokyo, Kyoto, and Kanazawa as described
- 24/7 support from our dedicated staff
- Flexible, personalized itinerary based on your personal preferences
Day by Day Itinerary
Day 1 Tokyo: Transfer from Narita or Haneda Airport
Welcome to Japan! Upon your arrival you will be welcomed to Japan by our local representative who will assist you to the appropriate shuttle bus transfer to your hotel. If you take an overnight flight you’ll have much of the day left to explore. Tokyo is made up 23 wards, each of which is home to several districts, which means there are hundreds of individual neighborhoods to explore. Harajuku is the center of Japanese fashion and youth culture; Akihabara – “AKA” – is Tokyo’s ‘electric town’ and a great place to explore technology stores and games arcades; Shinjuku is where Tokyoites go for lively dining and nightlife, particularly around the Golden Gai which boasts over 200 bars; or Asakusa, a historic neighborhood, home to the iconic Senso-ji temple and many other ancient shrines.
Day 2 Tokyo: Full day city tour
Today you will discover Tokyo with a knowledgeable local guide, getting an in-depth orientation that will allow you to discover the best of this ancient capital and modern metropolis. 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.
This is highly flexible itinerary which can be adapted to suit your interests. You might take in the Imperial Palace, home of Japan’s emperor and the royal family, to walk around the gorgeous grounds and take in the magnificent architecture; venture to Hamarikyu Tien, a scenic park and former duck hunting ground, then take a cruise along the Sumida Gawa river; explore Asakusa, Tokyo’s oldest Geisha district, with its many temples, shrines, and craft stores; or focus on the buzzing downtown districts of Shinjuku and Shibuya, and the chic shopping areas of Omotesando or Ginza.
Day 3 Tokyo: Day at leisure – optional activities or day trips
Having enjoying a thorough orientation with your guide, you then have today free to continue exploring the city on your own utilizing the outstanding public transport to get around. Alternatively, if you want to explore beyond the city there are several great day trips to consider within a couple hours of Tokyo. Have energy to burn? Head to the western outskirts of the city to hike Mount Takao, an easy trek that rewards with spectacular views. Or head to Nikko, the final resting place for the country’s most powerful historical family, the Tokugawas, home to some of the most unique architecture in Japan. Another option is the coastal town of Kamakura with its many temples, or Yokohama, which hosts a lovely promenade and a famous Chinatown.
Day 4 Kanazawa: Bullet train to Kanazawa
Say farewell to Tokyo this morning, hopping on Japan’s famous Shinkansen bullet train service to Kanazawa, over on the western seaboard of Honshu. Ancient Kanazawa was home to the powerful Maeda clan, and in its heyday the city easily rivaled Edo (Tokyo) and Kyoto for size, wealth, and culture. Once you have checked in you will have the rest of the day to explore independently. The obvious starting point would be either Higashi Chaya, the city’s beautifully preserved Geisha district, or Nagamachi, the equally atmospheric former Samurai district.’
Day 5 Kanazawa: Full day city tour
Today you will meet a knowledgeable local guide for an in-depth tour of Kanazawa. The obvious starting point is Kenrokuen, Japan’s most celebrated landscape garden, made up of seven distinct mini gardens, which could easily take up an entire morning’s exploration in itself. Also well worth visiting is the Ninja-dera (Ninja Temple), which along with all the usual spiritual trappings also houses numerous hidden doors, traps, secret tunnels, and labyrinthine corridors and stairwells. Continue the theme with a stroll through Kanazawa’s pleasant backstreets to the museum of D.T Suzuki, dedicated to the man who brought Buddhism to Japan. Bringing you up to contemporary times, Kanazawa’s 21st Century Museum of Modern Art is one of the best in the country, and the Katamachi ‘scramble’ area is lots of fun to explore, packed with shops, craft stores, restaurants, and bars.
Day 6 Kyoto: Bullet train to Kyoto; Gion food tour
This morning another Shinkansen bullet train journey takes you in a flash to your next destination: Kyoto, the former capital of Japan, and arguably its most compelling destination. In the evening you will head to Kyoto’s Gion district. This is many visitors’ favorite part of the city: historic cobblestone streets lined with narrow wooden machiya shophouses selling tea and local crafts. Discover the culinary secrets of the Gion on this memorable walking tour, taking in hidden dining and drinking establishments barely known even to locals.
Day 7 Kyoto: Full day city tour & afternoon tea with a Maiko
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. The itinerary is flexible and can be catered to your interest, with your guide helping to cover many of the top sights – such as Kinkaku-ji (the Golden Temple), Ryoan-ji with its renowned Zen rock garden, or Kiyomizu-dera with it’s fabulous views across the city – as well taking time to cover the backstreets and lesser-known highlights of the city.
In the late afternoon you will learn about the revered art of the ancient tea ceremony. Venture to a beautiful teahouse in the historic Gion district to take part in this centuries-old ritual, which is based on four principles: tranquillity, harmony, purity, and respect, under the guidance of a maiko (trainee Geisha).
Day 8 Kyoto: Day at leisure – optional activities or day trips
Today is free to explore Kyoto as you wish. There is so much here, from stunning gardens and ancient temples to winding alleyways. Just outside the city, 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 with its spectacular gardens.
There 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 9 Hakone: Transfer to Hakone National Park
Say farewell to Kyoto, hopping on the Shinkansen bullet train to Odawara, gateway to Hakone National Park, your destination for the next two nights. While it is only about 55 miles from Tokyo, you’ll feel like you’re in 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 these two nights 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 10 Hakone: Day to explore Hakone and Fuji Five Lakes
You’ll have a full day to spend as you choose in Hakone. A few suggestions including taking Hakone Ropeway (cable car) to Owakudani, known as the “Valley of Hell” during the Edo period. Formed by 3,000-year-old volcanic eruptions, the crater is still active today, with white smoke billowing out across the landscape. While you’re here, try one of the sulphur-blackened hard-boiled eggs, which are said to prolong life by seven years. Alternatively, take a pirate-themed sightseeing cruise across Lake Ashi, visit Gora’s Open Air Sculpture Park or Venetian Glass Museum, or hike one of the many scenic trails which crisscross the park.
Day 11 Tokyo: Return to Tokyo
You’ll have time for one last onsen (hot spring) soak before it’s time to return to Tokyo. Once arrived you’ll have the remainder of your final day to fit in anything you missed at the start of your trip. There are countless shops to pick up last-minute souvenirs and gifts along with restaurants, bars, and karaoke joints.
Day 12 Tokyo: Departure Day
After an enthralling 12 days it is sadly now time to say sayonara. You’ll be transferred back to the airport by express train, shuttle bus, or taxi in time for your flight home. If you’re looking to extend your trip please chat with our travel experts for ideas and inspiration.
What's not Included
- As we have clients from all over the world. Our itineraries do not include flights. If you would like us to include flights in your trip, we are happy to do so. Please speak to your travel specialist at the planning stage to include them.
- Gratuities for local guides
- We strongly advise all guests purchase comprehensive travel insurance
- Visas if required
Let’s get started making this itinerary yours.
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Why book with Unforgettable Travel Co.
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We are a licensed and fully bonded tour operator financially protected by both the Civil Aviation Authority (ATOL) and the Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust (ABTOT). All clients that travel with us are fully financially protected.
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The Best Guides
What makes our trips extraordinary is the unique immersive experiences we include. We pride ourselves in our black book of sought after expert guides, game rangers and local contacts who believe in our philosophy, unforgettable.
From the moment you book your trip, we are on hand 24/7 to assist you throughout your journey. With regional offices around the world, we have ground logistics teams on hand to help you every step of the way.
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