Japan is a country of contrasts, where ancient gods rub shoulders with modern technology, skyscrapers give way to paddy fields and crowds disperse into the tranquillity of a classical garden. This tour is the perfect introduction to this fascinating archipelago.
Our Discover Japan tour will see you exploring the most iconic sites, delving into deep-rooted culture and dining on delicious cuisine.
Ascend Japan's iconic and inspirational highest mountain
Stop in amazement at the dramatic flair of the Matsumoto Castle
Explore this authentic Japanese town known as the 'thousand-year capital'
Meander through the 10,000 red torri arches of this stunning shrine
Our Discover Japan Tour has been thoughtfully designed and thoroughly researched to bring you a range of once-in-a-lifetime experiences, many of which are entirely exclusive to us.
Discover the traditional process of paper making before getting your hands dirty making 'washi' (Japanese paper) the age-old way.
Join a dedicated craftsperson in a small workshop to learn all about the lovely and intricate art of gold leaf making, discover what the gold leaf is then used for and have a go at doing it yourself!
Learn all about the traditional production of an essential element of Japanese cooking, the fermented soybean paste 'miso', at an old wooden miso house.
This adventure is ideal for travellers with a reasonable amount of time to spend and who want to see the very best bits of Japan. We have designed the tour to make the most of the time available to showcase the key highlights of Japan and have incorporated travel by road to give the opportunity to see the beautiful Japanese countryside.
Fly overnight to Tokyo, Japan's capital, for a two-night stay. Tokyo was once known as Edo and was a small fishing town. Depending on your time of arrival the rest of the day is yours to start soaking up the local culture.
Head to the top of Tokyo Skytree for sweeping views of the city. Next, visit Asakusa and wander through Nakamise shopping street and Senso-ji Temple, one of Tokyo's most colourful and popular temples. Enjoy lunch and stop at the Imperial Palace to view the Nijubashi, two bridges that form an entrance to the inner palace grounds. This afternoon, stroll through the Hamarikyu Gardens and in the evening, enjoy a dinner cruise around Tokyo Bay.
Take the super-fast bullet train to Odawara. Enjoy a boat trip on Lake Ashi for spectacular panoramas of this beautiful area before venturing up the Komagatake Ropeway. Next, ascend over 2,000 metres up Mount Fuji to the 5th Station, (weather permitting) and take in the breathtaking views over the Fuji Five Lakes area below.
This morning, drive 2 hours to Nagano to explore the formidable 16th century Matsumoto Castle. There are steep ladder-style steps in the Matsumoto Castle that you must climb up and back down again. If you choose not to look inside the castle, you can enjoy the surrounding gardens, moat and architecture of Matsumoto Castle. After lunch, stop at a Miso House to learn about the process of making this Japanese seasoning. Try Miso soup before travelling a further 2 and a half hours to Takayama, nestled high in the mountainous Hida region.
Wander to the Miyagawa morning market and sample some of the region’s fruit and vegetables. Later you will visit traditional houses and local museums, including the Takayama Festival Floats Exhibition Hall, Kusakabe Folk Museum and the Takayama Jinya. Enjoy some free time to explore the local shopping streets, which date back to the 17th century.
Travel to the UNESCO World Heritage listed village, Shirakawago, famous for its traditional gassho-zukuri farmhouses, some of which are more than 250 years old. Try your hand at making traditional Japanese washi paper before continuing to Kanazawa. On arrival, wander through the beautiful Kenroku-en, one of the ‘Three Great Gardens of Japan’, before checking in to your hotel.
This morning, learn the process of how gold leaf is made and applied to everyday objects. Try it for yourself by decorating a pair of chopsticks and take your newly created artwork home! Later, stroll down the traditional Higashi Chaya (Eastern Teahouse District), visiting Ochaya Shima – a historical geisha house. After lunch, drive 4 hours to Kyoto, Japan’s ancient capital, check in to your hotel and enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.
Kyoto was capital for a thousand years; today it is the legacy of ancient Japan, full of tranquil temples, silk-clad geisha and sublime gardens. This morning, head to a restored Japanese wooden townhouse and try your hand at origami and enjoy the rituals of a tea ceremony. In the afternoon, visit Ryoanji Temple, which means 'temple of the peaceful dragon', and the famous Kinkakuji, a Zen temple known as the 'Golden Pavilion'.
Visit the unforgettable Fushimi Inari Shrine, which features in the movie Memoirs of a Geisha. It is famous for its thousands of orange torii gates and is dedicated to Inari, the Shinto god of rice. Foxes are thought to be Inari’s messengers, and you will see many fox statues here. Later travel to Nara, a charming town virtually untouched by the ravages of modernity. Home to much early art and architecture, you will stroll through Nara Park to Todai-ji Temple, meeting the resident Sika deer en route, before exploring Isui-en Gardens.
The holy mountain of Koyasan is home to a cluster of over a hundred monasteries nestled in a valley enclosed by peaks said to resemble a lotus flower. Full of atmosphere, savour the tranquillity and spectacular views as you discover Kongobu-ji Temple and the Garan Temple complex before wandering around Okunoin – a vast forest cemetery of 200,000 stupas. Continue on to Osaka.
This morning, visit the famous Osaka Castle before taking a stroll around the Dotonbori district, a restaurant mecca, where you can sample delicious local delicacies. Next, enjoy a 20-minute cruise along the Yodogawa River. Spend the rest of the afternoon at leisure before a farewell dinner this evening.
Fly to New Zealand, arriving home the same or following day. (B)
We draw from a wide range of hotels on our holidays, each one is chosen to suit the tour you are travelling on meaning your accommodation can range from a smart business hotel in one city to a family run guesthouse in a smaller town. Here are some examples of the type of hotel you can expect to find on this tour.
The best time to visit Japan is during spring (March to May) when the Cherry Blossoms are bursting into life and autumn (September to November) when the scenery is ablaze with colour, and the climate is temperate.
Places Visited: Tokyo (2N) - Mt. Fuji - Suwa (1N) - Takayama (2N) - Kanazawa (1N) - Kyoto (2N) - Nara (1N) - Osaka (2N)
If the dates we have available for this tour don't suit your needs or you prefer travelling with your own personal guide, contact us to arrange this as a Private Tour.
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There are no dedicated Solo departures for this year. You can enjoy any of our tours with no Single Supplement on our Happy to Share option or explore the solo departures in other years.
Extend your holiday or break up your journey with one of our extensions and stopovers. Choose from city breaks or some beach time, or spend more time in your chosen destination.
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