Traditional versus modern, nature versus urban – Japan is a land of contrasts. This exhilarating tour encompasses it all, delving deeper into Japan's rich past, present and future, covering robot restaurants to tranquil temples to potent saké and all that's in between.
Our Off-Beat Japan tour will see you exploring the most iconic sites, delving into deep-rooted culture and dining on delicious cuisine.
Experience the wacky Robot Restaurant in this buzzing ward of Tokyo
Watch a exhilarating Sumo Wrestling Tournament (on selected dates)
Hike around the base of Japan's stunning highest mountain
Meet the adorable Snow Monkeys in their natural habitat
Our Off-Beat 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.
Enjoy the peace and serenity inspired by the sacred chanting of Buddhist monks as you join them for their morning prayers in a beautiful 13th-century temple.
A unique and utterly Japanese experience, an evening at Tokyo's Robot Restaurant is an unforgettable experience featuring loud music, neon lights and plenty of robot performances!
Have a go at traditional drumming with a Taiko drumming class, taking part in an energetic and age-old ensemble performance on big, floor tom drums.
Fly to the dazzling metropolis of Tokyo, Japan’s capital city, for a three-night stay. Depending on your time of arrival the rest of the day is yours to start soaking up the local culture.
Begin your tour of Tokyo and immerse yourself into the local culture by spending the morning trying your hand at traditional Japanese drumming with a Taiko class, where you will learn how to beat the 'wadaiko' with 'bachi'. Later, stop by Meiji Jingu Shrine and continue to the vibrant district of Harajuku before stopping by the famous Shibuya Crossing. Finally, it's time for a uniquely Tokyo experience - the Robot Restaurant! This may not be everyone's cup of tea, but well worth the insight into modern Japanese culture.
Tokyo is a city that is always moving forward from the ever-changing skyline to the fashions and trends of the people who call it home. As modern as it may appear, behind the neon façade is a traditional soul that is easy to find amongst the old alleyways, temples and shrines of the Edo era. Sightseeing today begins with a stroll through the Imperial Palace East Garden and a visit to the observation deck of the 634m Skytree for views over the sprawling city below. You'll also stop by Sensoji Temple - Tokyo's oldest, and stroll along Nakamise shopping street. In the afternoon, explore the Edo-Tokyo Museum. Housed in the Ryogoku district of Tokyo, the museum powerfully illustrates Tokyo's past (known as Edo until 1869) right up to recent decades.
Journey out of Tokyo to the foot of mighty Mount Fuji and the Fuji Five Lakes area. Pick up a walking trail and make your way through lush alpine forest at Fuji’s base, pausing often to admire the landscapes around you.
Travel to Matsumoto and explore its magnificent 16th-century castle. Continue to Nagano, stopping in Yudanaka to watch the Japanese macaques (snow monkeys) at Jigokudani Monkey Park bathe and play in and around their hot spring pool.
Travel to Hotaka and ride up into the Japanese Alps on the Shin-Hotaka Ropeway, reaching an observation platform at 2,156 metres, which gives breathtaking views over the surrounding mountains (weather permitting). Drive to Takayama where you will be staying at an onsen hotel. Here you can relax and bathe in the natural hot spring pools and experience this most traditional pastime. This afternoon you will have time to explore Kamisannomachi Street and sample the street food on offer (at your own expense).
Take a Limited Express train to Nagoya, where you will change onto a Shinkansen bullet train to Kyoto. This afternoon, start discovering Kyoto's rich heritage with a visit to the enchanting Fushimi Inaritaisha Shrine with its pathway of torii gates before admiring the views over the city from Kiyomizudera Temple. Stroll around the old neighbourhoods of Higashiyama and Gion, the geisha district, with a stop at Gion Corner.
Start today by visiting Kinkakuji Temple, known as the 'Golden Pavilion', and Ryoanji Temple, home to Japan's most famous zen garden. Continue to the Arashiyama district where you will have some free time to explore the Bamboo Forest as well as enjoying a rickshaw ride. Later, witness the rituals involved in the preparation and pouring of matcha tea in a traditional tea ceremony.
Spend the morning discovering the craft of kimono creation at Nishijin Textile Centre, before learning the paper-folding art of origami and the complicated process of dressing in a traditional kimono. This afternoon, travel by road to Koyasan, where you will spend the night in a 13thcentury temple in a traditional tatami room.
Rise early to join the monks for their morning service – hearing the recitation and chanting is a magical experience. After breakfast, take a walking tour of Koyasan. Visit Kongobu-ji and Okunoin before travelling to Osaka.
Take a day tour to Himeji to visit the 17th-century Himeji Castle which is considered a prime example of Japanese feudal period architecture. Continue to a sake brewery, where you can learn about the brewing process of this potent rice wine and enjoy some tasters. Return to Osaka and experience the bright and brash Dotonbori district. In the evening, enjoy a farewell dinner.
Fly to New Zealand, arriving home the same or following day.
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.
Places Visited: Tokyo (3N) - Mt Fuji (1N) - Yudanaka - Nagano (1N) - Takayama (1N) - Nagoya - Kyoto (2N) - Koyasan (1N) - Himeji - 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.
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