Highlights of Japan
- Duration11 Nights
- StylePrivate Tour
- When to GoMar - May & Sep - Oct
- Price GuideFrom $5,652 Per Person
At a Glance
- Private airport transfer from Haneda or Narita airport
- Full-day private city tour including Hamarikyu Gardens, Meiji Shrine, the Ginza, and Omotesando
- Arts & crafts tour of Asakusa
- Free afternoon for self-guided exploration or side trips to Yokohama, Kamakura, or Nikko
- Transfer to Kanazawa by bullet train
- Half-day private tour including Kenrokuen Gardens, Kanazawa Castle, Omicho Market
- Half-day private tour exploring Kanazawa’s samurai history and present
- Transfer to Kyoto by bullet train
- Evening private dining tour of the Gion district
- Half-day private city tour including Nijo Castle, Ryoanji, Kinkakuji
- Tea ceremony and Zazen meditation session in a private temple
- Free day to arrange further activities or side trip to Nara or Osaka
- Transfer to Hakone by bullet train and pre-booked taxi
- Two-night stay in ryokan accommodation, with breakfast and dinner
- Free day to enjoy hot springs, hikes, and local attractions
- Scenic ‘Romance Car’ train back to Tokyo
- Final afternoon and evening free to cover any missed shopping or sightseeing
- Transfer to Tokyo Narita or Haneda 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.
- 9 nights in 4-5 star boutique hotel accommodation with daily breakfast
- 2 nights in 4-star hybrid ryokan accommodation with breakfast and dinner
- 1x further dinner during Kyoto food tour
- Private arrival transfer from Tokyo Narita or Haneda Airport to Tokyo hotel
- Shuttle bus or train departure transfer to Tokyo Narita or Haneda Airport
- Individual train tickets for all mentioned train travel in Ordinary Class
- PASMO Transport Card pre-loaded with JPY 1,500 credit & 3-day Hakone Free Pass
- Privately guided tours and experiences in Tokyo, Kanazawa, and Kyoto
- Comprehensive self-guide travel pack and app
- 24/7 support from our dedicated staff
- Flexible, personalized 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 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 in which you’ll enjoy a relaxed, hassle-free transfer to your downtown hotel. Dependent on traffic, this transfer will take around 75-90 minutes.
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 private 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.
You will then head out together to explore. Start by visiting the Hamirikyu Gardens, where you will stop for a cup of green tea, then continue to the home of the Imperial family, the Imperial Palace. 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.
The final stop of the tour is Hie Shrine. This beautiful, serene Shinto shrine in bustling Akasaka is one of the city’s major shrines. Various statues of mythical creatures said to guard the shrine can be found dotted around the complex. Another special feature of this shrine is the back entrance, which consists of a staircase framed by 90 bright red torii gates beneath a canopy of trees.
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: Arts & Crafts tour of Asakusa; free afternoon for self-exploration
This morning you will head into the traditional heart of Tokyo – Asakusa – for a hands-on experience of Edo-era arts and crafts. During the tour you will meet a artisan to for a hands-on class dedicated to Edo Kiriko glass cutting; explore the crafts shops of Denobin-dori; visit Matsuchiyama Shoden, a temple dedicated to daikon radish; and finish at Imado Jinja, a shrine home to one of several competing legends about the famous Japanese beckoning cat statue. Your guide will leave you to independently explore Asakusa’s iconic Sensoji Temple – the most famous in Tokyo.
After the class you are free to explore Tokyo at your leisure. Armed with your transport cards, and having had a thorough orientation with your guide the previous day, you should feel ready to dive and explore one of the world’s most enthralling capital cities.
- Day 4
Kanazawa: Bullet train to Kanazawa & guided city tour
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.
In the afternoon you will meet a knowledgeable local guide for an in-depth city tour. The obvious starting point is Kenrokuen, Japan’s most celebrated landscape garden, comprised of seven distinct mini gardens, which could easily take up an entire morning’s exploration. 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.
- Day 5
Kanazawa: Legacy of Samurai tour
This morning will have an in-depth focus on the legendary samurai who helped shape Kanazawa. Set off with a local expert guide to first discover the beautifully preserved samurai quarter where samurai and their families resided in centuries past. Nearby is the excellent samurai museum, housing a fine collection of armor and weapons, as well as paintings and calligraphy created by the well-educated samurai elite.
As you walk through the neighborhood, you’ll pass by numerous locations of interest including former homes, artisanal shops, and stables. You’ll also visit a restored samurai home where some of the finer points of samurai domestic life are on display, including examples of traditional gardens and tea ceremony rooms. The final stop of the tour takes you into the home of a descendant of a prominent samurai household, who has inherited a stunning collection of genuine katana swords. He will proudly show you the collection, explaining the intricacies of their design, history, and role in the lives of samurai.
The tour will last around four hours, after which the remainder of the day is free to continue exploring independently.
- Day 6
Kyoto: Bullet train to Kyoto; Dining tour of the Gion
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.
After dessert your guide will escort you back to Shijo Station or – should you wish! – you can continue exploring the bars and eateries of historic Kyoto under your own steam.
- Day 7
Kyoto: Private city tour; tea ceremony & meditation in a private temple
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.
Later in the afternoon you’ll enjoy a serene immersion in Kyoto culture. Journey to Kodai-ji, one of Kyoto’s most renowned Zen Buddhist temples. Step foot inside the 400-year-old temple and meander through its exquisite Zen garden. You’ll be introduced to a tea master, who will impart knowledge about Japanese tea and its profound connection to the ceremony and Zen Buddhism. Following the tea ceremony, engage in a session of Zazen meditation, an integral practice in Zen Buddhism. Guided by the instructor’s directions, assume a seated posture and clear the mind of all distractions.
- 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: Bullet train & taxi 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 include 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 that 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.
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