Discover Japan

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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.

Places Visited

New Zealand - Tokyo (2N) - Kofu or Suwa (1N) - Takayama (2N) - Kanazawa (1N) - Kyoto (2N) - Nara (1N) - Osaka (2N) – New Zealand

Days 1-2: New Zealand to Tokyo
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.
Days 1-2: New Zealand to Tokyo
Day 3: Vibrant Tokyo
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.
Day 3: Vibrant Tokyo
Day 4: Mt Fuji
Take the super-fast bullet train to Odawara for a boat trip on Ashi Lake, which gives spectacular panoramas of this beautiful area before venturing up the Komagatake Ropeway for amazing views back over the lake and Mt Fuji. Heading up to the 5th Station (weather permitting), take in the breathtaking views over the Fuji Five Lakes below. Stay overnight in either Kofu or Suwa.
Day 4:  Mt Fuji
Day 5: Matsumoto Castle
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
Day 5: Matsumoto Castle
Day 6: Takayama
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.
Day 6: Takayama
Day 7: Charming Shirakawa-Go Village
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, where you will visit the Nomura Samurai House. The garden inside the residence has a Japanese bayberry tree, which is over 400 years old and a meandering stream surrounded by ancient and strangely shaped rocks.
Day 7: Charming Shirakawa-Go Village
Day 8: Travel to Kyoto
This morning, wander through the beautiful Kenroku-en, one of the ‘Three Great Gardens of Japan', before strolling down the traditional Higashi Chaya Street. Get a feel for Japan's past and visit Ochaya Shima - a historical Geisha house. Sightseeing this morning will be approximately 3 hours. After lunch, drive 4 hours to Kyoto, Japan's ancient capital, check in to your hotel and enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.
Day 8: Travel to Kyoto
Day 9: Explore Kyoto
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'.
Day 9: Explore Kyoto
Day 10: Kyoto – Nara
Visit the unforgettable Fushimi Inaritaisha 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.
Day 10: Kyoto – Nara
Day 11: Koyasan
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.
Day 11:  Koyasan
Day 12: Osaka Castle
Rise early to witness the monks chant their morning prayers, followed by a traditional Shojin Ryori breakfast. Drive to Osaka, Japan’s largest city, where you will visit Osaka Castle and take a cruise along the Yodogawa River. Tonight you will wander down Dotonbori, a restaurant mecca, where you can sample delicious local delicacies during your farewell dinner.
Day 12: Osaka Castle
Day 13: Depart Osaka
This morning is at your leisure before you are transferred to Kansai airport to board your overnight flight to New Zealand.
Day 13: Depart Osaka
Day 14: Arrive New Zealand
Arrive home today.

Also Available

Tailor Your Tour

If you like most of the itinerary which we have suggested but you'd like to change the route and the accommodation, speak to our specialist Tailormade team, who can build your perfect itinerary based around where you would like to go, what you would like to see and how much you'd like to spend. Just call us on 0800 936 3998 and we'll help plan your dream holiday.

Tour prices are per person, twin share departing Auckland. Regional departures available on request. Additional charges: Tipping is payable on arrival in destination (see Additional Price Information below).

Additional Price Information:

Single Hotel Room Option – From $2,100
Land Only (Tokyo to Osaka), 12 days From $8,680 per person twin share
Tour availability is updated each Monday. While every effort is made to ensure availability status is current, it is advisable to contact our reservations department on 0800 936 3998. Limited seats denotes 4 seats or less available.

New Zealand passport holders do not require a visa for travel to Japan.

Phone Calls
International and domestic calls can be made from your hotel room. It’s a good idea to check call costs with hotel staff or your local guide before making calls, as this can be expensive. A service charge may also be involved. To call New Zealand – the international access code is 00, followed by the country code 64, then the local area code (omitting the first 0), then the number.
Mobile Phones
Mobile phones are quite popular and you will find high quality coverage, with active roaming agreements with most of the service providers. Please make sure you are aware of associated costs and have activated your international roaming prior to departure.
Internet & Email
Internet cafes can be found in all major cities and even in some small towns. This is often the easiest and cheapest way to stay in touch. Most hotels have a business centre with internet access, but at a slightly higher rate. Some hotels may have wifi which usually comes at an additional cost and may only be available in hotel lobbies. 

Tipping is not part of the culture in Japan and is therefore not expected.

Shopping can be a fun and entertaining component to any travel adventure.  In keeping with most people’s interests whilst on holiday, your tour will include a reasonable number of opportunities to shop for local goods and souvenirs.
We have included visits to establishments that not only provide an opportunity to purchase a locally produced, great-value souvenir; but you’ll witness first-hand how these local products are made, their history and how they support the local economy. We are aware that people like to take home souvenirs, so we endeavour to ensure the shops you visit have a reputation for quality, honesty, and authenticity.

The cost of all meals is included in your group tour cost. Breakfast is a combination of local and western food, usually served buffet style at the hotel you are staying in. Lunches and dinners consist of traditional cuisine and are served at reputable local restaurants. As is traditional in this region, lunch and dinner consists of small dishes of local cuisine which is then placed on the table for everyone to share so you can experience the variety of speciality dishes. The amount served is more than ample for the whole group. We aim to cater to the tastes of the majority of people and so the food is not too spicy or unusual in taste.
Drinks will be at each own expense and paid for at the end of each meal. Beer is widely available and cheap. Western style wine is very expensive to import and is not widely available except at upmarket restaurants. Bottled drinking water, soft drinks, and fruit juices are also widely available – remember that you should only have ice or fruit juices from a trusted restaurant, where they will use boiled or bottled water.

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Why Book This Tour?

See the classic sights of Japan including Tokyo, Mt Fuji and the historical capitals of Kyoto and Nara. Also travel across the Japanes Alps to the cultural centres of Takayama, Shirakawago and Kanazawa