Japan – The Grand Tour
- Duration14 Nights
- StylePrivate Tour
- When to GoMar - May & Sep - Oct
- Price GuideFrom $7,399 Per Person
At a Glance
- Private airport transfer from Haneda or Narita airport
- Full-day private city tour including Hamarikyu Gardens & the Imperial Palace, Asakusa, Meiji Shrine, and Omotesando
- Free day for self-guided exploration or side trips to Yokohama, Kamakura, or Nikko
- Transfer to Hakone by bullet train and then pre-booked taxi
- Two-night stay in ryokan accommodation, with breakfast and dinner
- Free day to enjoy hot springs, hikes, and local attractions
- Transfer to Kyoto by bullet train
- Private tea ceremony on day of arrival
- Full-day private city tour including Ryoanji, Kinkakuji, Nijo Castle, Kiyomizudera, and Higasahiyama
- Free day to arrange further activities or side trip to Nara
- Transfer to Miyajima by bullet train and ferry
- Two-night stay in ryokan accommodation including breakfast & dinner
- Half-day private tour of Hiroshima including the Peace Park and Memorial Museum
- Free day to relax and enjoy Miyajima
- Transfer to Osaka by ferry and bullet train
- Private Osaka street food tour
- Scenic train journey into the Japanese Alps
- Two-night stay in ryokan accommodation including breakfast & dinner
- Morning walking tour of Takaya
- Cycling tour of Hida village
- Return to Tokyo by train
- 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.
- 8 nights in 4-star hotel accommodation with daily breakfast
- 6 nights in 4-star ryokan or hybrid ryokan accommodation with breakfast and dinner
- 1x further dinner during Osaka 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
- Train tickets, rail passes, transport cards, and taxi transfers as described
- PASMO Transport Card pre-loaded with JPY 1,500 credit & 3-day Hakone Free Pass
- Privately guided tours and experiences in Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima, Osaka, and Takayama
- 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 by Day Itinerary
- Day 1
Tokyo: Private airport transfer from Narita or Haneda Airport
Welcome to Japan! 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.
Just a few ideas for the rest of the day include strolling through Ueno Park and perhaps taking in one of many nearby museums; heading to Asakusa, a lively historic quarter where you’ll find the ancient temple of Sensō-ji, the oldest in the city; or embarking on a relaxing river cruise along the Sumida River to picturesque Hamarikyu Gardens.
- 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. If time allows, an alternative route could also take you through in the more off-beat and traditional neighborhoods of Yanaka where you can still feel the old Shitamachi atmosphere; stroll along to elegant Rikugien Gardens, and then later along to buzzing downtown Shibuya and the chic shopping street of Omotesando.
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: Free day for self-guided exploration or side trips to Yokohama, Kamakura, or Nikko
Today is completely 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.
Tokyo is a city of neighborhoods, each of which has its own character and appeal. Shinjuku and Shibuya are the city’s commercial heart, packed with skyscrapers, shopping, and busy nightlife and dining districts. In contrast, Asakusa is the historic heart of the city, where amongst the low-lying streets you’ll find the ancient Senso-ji temple, plus the highly attractive Sumida Park along the banks of the Sumida River. South of Asakusa is Akihabara, Tokyo’s ‘electric town’ packed with electrical superstores, arcades, and pachinko arcades, and a little further down the tracks is the Ginza, the destination of choice for high fashion and luxury shopping. For more a laidback side of the city visit Roppongi, which draws Tokyo’s expats to its numerous international restaurants and has a thriving contemporary art scene, or fashionable up-and-coming neighborhoods such as Daikanyama, Naka-Meguro, or Shimokita.
Alternatively, if you want to explore beyond the city there are several great day trips to consider within a couple of hours of Tokyo. Have energy to burn? Head to the city’s western outskirts 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
Hakone: Transfer to Hakone by bullet train and then pre-booked taxi
This morning you’ll say farewell to Tokyo, using your PASMO cards (or jumping in a taxi) to Tokyo station before hopping onto a Shinkansen bullet train to Odawara. From Odawara we are supplying you with Hakone Free Pass tickets, covering all forms of transport into and around Hakone National Park – including local trains, buses, the cable car, and even Hakone’s pirate ship sightseeing cruise. At Odawara station you can take a bus up into the hills (covered by your Hakone Free Pass) which will drop you right outside your hotel – full instructions to be provided. Today’s total door-to-door travel time will be around four hours.
- Day 5
Hakone: Free day to enjoy hot springs, hikes, and local attractions
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 sulfur-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 6
Kyoto: Transfer to Kyoto by bullet train & private tea ceremony
This morning you’ll depart Hakone by bullet train, traveling at up to 190 mph to Kyoto, Japan’s former capital for more than a thousand years. After checking in the remainder of the day is yours to explore this culturally rich city, which is home to over 2,000 shrines and temples, four geisha districts, an Imperial palace and castle, magnificent gardens, famous bamboo groves, and a multitude of cultural activities.
In the late afternoon you’ll 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: tranquility, harmony, purity, and respect, under the guidance of a kimono-wearing expert.
- Day 7
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 8
Kyoto: Day at leisure to explore Kyoto or surrounding cities
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 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. All of these trips can be covered by your included JR rail pass.
- Day 9
Miyajima: Transfer to Miyajima with private Hiroshima tour en route
Leaving Kyoto today, you’ll hop on the bullet train again for a 95-minute run down to Hiroshima. On arrival, a local English-speaking guide will meet you and set out to explore the city, visiting the A-Bomb Dome, the ruins of the former Industrial Promotion Hall of Hiroshima. From the dome, crossover Motoyasu Bridge and stop by the Children’s Peace Monument, then pass by the Cenotaph for the A-Bomb Victims, designed by the 1987 Pritzker Prize winner, Kenzo Tange. Conclude the tour with a visit to the Peace Memorial Museum, which displays the history of Hiroshima before the bombing and exhibits a moving collection of articles, from the personal belongings left by the victims to the damages caused by the bombing.
After the tour you will take the short ferry service across to the neighboring island of Miyajima. After settling into your accommodation you have the rest of the day to explore independently. Dinner tonight and tomorrow will be included at your ryokan accommodation.
- Day 10
Miyajima: Self-guided tour of Hiroshima and Miyajima
Today is yours to explore Hiroshima and Miyajima. Just a 15-minute ferry ride across from Hiroshima, Miyajima is a gorgeous island that makes a very relaxed day trip from the city. base from which to explore Hiroshima but also to take time out and enjoy a slower pace of travel. All the island’s accommodation, shops, and restaurants are located in a pleasant village around the ferry port. The remainder of the island is pure untouched natural beauty: ideal for hikes, not spring, and nature walks.
Also known as “Shrine Island,” Miyajima is home to one of the country’s top three sights, the famous red torii gate, which appears to be floating on the water. Other highlights include a scenic cable car ride to the summit of Mount Misen, hikes around the island for sweeping views of Seto Inland Sea and the opportunity to spot native monkeys and deer, or relaxing in the hot spring baths available at several on the island’s ryokan.
Hiroshima is also well-known for its cuisine. For lunch we heartily recommend sampling okonomiyaki, a multi-ingredient savory pancake that you cook yourself on a hot plate. Returning to Miyajima, enjoy highlights like a scenic cable car ride to the summit of Mount Misen, hikes around the island for sweeping views of Seto Inland Sea and the opportunity to spot native monkeys and deer, or relaxing in onsen at ryokan.
- Day 11
Osaka: Bullet train to Osaka; private Osaka street food tour
After returning to the mainland, head back on the shinkansen east to Osaka. Japan’s second largest metro area after Tokyo, Osaka is renowned for its outstanding food scene and lively nightlife. In your free afternoon we suggest visiting Osaka Castle, surrounded by hundreds of cherry trees. You might want to shop Shinsaibashi Shotengai, a merchant district here for four centuries, home to 180 stores selling just about everything you could ever want. After dark, stroll the canals of Dotonbori to soak up the neon lights in the beating heart of the city’s nightlife.
Later in the evening you sample the best that Osaka has to offer on an exciting and enticing food tour. You’ll be met by a private Osaka foodie guide who will take you through several different bars and izakaya where you will sample Osakan favorites such as takoyaki, okinomiyaki, kushikatsu, yakiniku, and more. As the Osakans say, now is the time for “kuidaore” – eat yourself to ruin!
- Day 12
Takayama: Scenic train journey into the Japanese Alps
This morning you will take the shinkansen to Nagoya, then change to the scenic Hida Line up into the Alps to rural Takayama. Located in Gifu Prefecture, this Edo-era merchant town boasts a magnificent setting with a backdrop of the Northern Alps. Spend the afternoon discovering its maze of narrow streets lined with historic homes and wooden buildings that are two to three hundred years old. They’re fun to wander – by venturing south in Old Town, you’ll run into Sannomachi Street, one of the loveliest in the area, lined with shops, restaurants, gorgeous homes and sake breweries where you can enjoy a free sample. This is also the ideal place to try Hida beef, comparable to Kobe beef. There are multiple museums to explore, including Takayama Jinya which hosts a Japanese garden as well as a torture chamber and rice warehouse housed inside old wooden buildings. The Fujii Folkcraft Museum is a preserved merchant’s storehouse with Japanese ceramics, furniture, yuzen, and lacquerware.
Hidatei Hanaougi, TakayamaRead More
- Day 13
Takayama: cycling tour around Hida village
This morning you’ll meet a private guide for an exploratory walking tour of Takayama, focusing on its excellent food and unique culture. Situated high in the mountains, this once-isolated town has retained its own distinctive traits which are best discovered in the old town. Walk the streets of the old town where Alpine architecture and traditional houses can be found at every turn. Learn about the history of the shops, each one having its own link to the city’s history and culture. A large part of Takayama’s heritage lies in its food. While walking through the town and its market, stop at some of the most popular local shops to sample regional delicacies. Savor items such as miso soup, rice dumplings, and homemade sweets.
In the afternoon you will take delve into Japan’s traditional culture with a guided cycling tour of nearby Hida. This gentle cycling trip takes you around the quiet village streets and along the banks of the Seto River. Stop to take a closer look at Hida’s machiya houses, Japanese traditional dwellings built centuries ago, then cross into rural Hida-Furukawa and ride along quiet trails surrounded by rice fields and farms. There are also plenty of chances to take photos of the Alps and the small villages that dot the landscape.
- Day 14
Tokyo: return to Tokyo; Final afternoon and evening free
After enjoying the peace and tranquil of the Alps, it’s time to return to Tokyo where you’ll have the rest of the 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. If you haven’t experienced the unique café culture, this is a perfect time to discover some of the maid, Pokemon, cat or one of a long list of many other quirky, themed cafes. Be sure to immerse yourself in Shibuya’s neon lights, one of the most energetic districts in the city.
- Day 15
Tokyo: Transfer back to airport
It is sadly now time to say ‘sayonara’ to Japan. At the appropriate time you’ll be transferred to Narita or Haneda Airport to begin your journey 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.
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