Trails of Japan

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.

Places Visited

New Zealand - Tokyo (2N) - Mt. Fuji (1N) - Nagano (1N) - Takayama (1N) - Nagoya - Kyoto (2N) - Koyasan (1N) - Himeji - Osaka (2N) - New Zealand

Days 1-2: Fly to Tokyo
Fly overnight 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.
Day 3: Discover Tokyo
Explore the two sides of Tokyo, the modern and the traditional. The city tour begins at the Tokyo Skytree, the world’s tallest broadcasting tower at 634 metres. Close by is Asakusa, at the heart of which is Senso-ji, Tokyo’s oldest temple, and the vibrant Nakamise shopping street. This afternoon stop at the famous Shibuya crossing, the tranquil Meiji Shrine and the vibrant district of Harajuku. Finally, it’s time for a unique Tokyo experience – the Robot Restaurant. Experience what can only be described as a sci-fi cabaret! Dinner is at your own expense. (B)
Day 4: Japanese drumming
This morning, try your hand at traditional Japanese drumming with a Taiko class. Learn the fundamental techniques of beating the ‘wadaiko’ with ‘bachi’. Next, head to Akihabara, known as Tokyo’s electronics district. Wander the neon-bill-boarded streets and visit a Maid Café, one of Tokyo’s most popular types of themed establishments. Lunch is at your own expense. In the afternoon, explore Tokyo’s past at the Edo Tokyo Museum. (B) On the May and September departures, there is an extra special addition to this tour, a Sumo Tournament. Many of Japan's most ancient traditions are preserved in the sport, and the ritual involved in its performance are as fascinating to watch as the wrestling itself.
Day 5: Mt Fuji
The perfectly symmetrical cone of mighty Mt Fuji is the iconic image of Japan. This morning journey out of Tokyo into some of Japan’s picturesque rural landscapes. Pick up a hiking trail and walk through alpine forest, across meadows and around lakes at Fuji’s base, pausing often to gaze on the peak towering above you. (B,D)
Day 6: Snow Monkeys
Travel to Matsumoto and explore the Matsumoto Castle.Continue to Nagano stopping in Yudanaka to visit the Japanese Macaques, or Snow Monkeys, at the Jigokudani Yaen-Koen (Monkey Park). These creatures make use of the area’s natural hot springs, bathing and playing in and around the water. (B)
Day 7: Japanese Alps
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). (B,D)
Day 8: Bullet train to Spiritual Kyoto
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. (B)
Day 9: Japanese tea ceremony
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. (B)
Day 10: Kyoto culture and Koyasan
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. (B,D)
Day 11: Morning prayers
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. (B)
Day 12: Himej & sake brewery
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. (B,D)
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. (B)
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 $8,840 per person
May and September Departures include a visit to the Sumo Tournament
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 5 seats or less available.

A visa is required by all nationalities. A single entry visa should be arranged in advance of travel.
Unlike many other tour operators, we include your entry visas in the price of our tour. We handle the entire visa process – all you need to do is fill out the form and send your passport to us. We are always on hand to help you with any questions or queries you might have when completing the form. 

Phone Calls
International and domestic calls can be made from your hotel room. To call the UK the international access code is 00, followed by the country code 44, then the local area code (omitting the first 0), then the number. To call Wendy Wu Tours it is 00 44 207 403 7860. Emergency 24 hour telephone (out of office hours) is 00 44 7984 041 625.
Mobile Phones
Mobile phones are growing in popularity and you will find high quality coverage. There are active roaming agreements with all phone carriers; however SMS and call rates can be expensive. We recommend that you contact your mobile supplier if you intend to use international roaming during your holiday and ensure you investigate all associated costs before you leave the UK.
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 Wi-Fi which usually comes at an additional cost and may only be available in hotel lobbies. 

Tipping is an expected element in the tourism industry today and Japan is no exception. Many passengers are often uncertain of how much to tip so we have established a tipping system whereby every passenger gives a set amount (in US Dollars) to the National Escort who will distribute the amount appropriately. On multi-country tips, this amount will be paid in stages on arrival in each country. If there is no National Escort, you will need to give your money to your Local Guides and tipping amounts for each city will be shown in your final itinerary. The amount for the kitty is calculated for each tour depending on the length, group size and services used during the trip.
We will indicate the tipping amounts in your final documents for guidance.

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 – we do our best to ensure that you don’t get ripped off. 

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 tour members’ 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.

Why Book This Tour?

Get off the beaten track on our most active and culturally immersive tour of Japan. See the Snow Monkeys, trek at the foot of Mt Fuji and stay in both a traditional ryokan and a Buddhist lodge with basic shared facilities