Days
12
Price from
FR4,895CHF

Visit Kyoto, Hiroshima and Tokyo and journey into Japan's mountainous heart

Japan, a country steeped in mythical traditions and modern wonders. This journey uncovers the highlights of this fascinating country. Like the history, the country is varied and diverse: from the ancient cities like Kyoto to the historically relevant city of Hiroshima and on to the beautiful Edo era city of Takayama; countryside backdropped by mountains, lakes and waterfalls to the bustling futuristic city of Tokyo. This journey gradually reveals the rich variety of the country as you visit temples, castles, shrines and holy mountains while mixing with locals and experiencing the real Japan. Come on this magical journey and experience all that Japan has to offer.


Start
Kyoto, Japan
Finish
Tokyo, Japan
Country
Japan
Style
Peregrine
Code
PCJJ
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 16

Why we love this trip

  • Journey around the country like a local, travelling at high speed on the efficient bullet train network

  • Visit the historic Hiroshima region, learn about its sombre past and discover its modern, cosmopolitan future

  • Trace the steps of the Geisha around the alleyways of Kyoto’s atmospheric Gion district and sit down with an apprentice Geisha and enjoy some traditional tea and entertainment.

  • Visit the traditional Takayama, enjoy some tastings at a Sake brewery.

  • Culminate in Tokyo, one of the most extraordinary capital cities on the planet.

Is this trip right for you?

  • While we aim to book nights at small, family run ryokans, the recent huge increase in tourism to Japan has put a lot of pressure on accommodation. On occasion, we may need to change accommodation to hotels in order to be able to operate your departure without itinerary changes.

  • This trip travels primarily on public transport, as it is so efficient and convenient in Japan. Fast trains are used to move between cities, as well as some private and public buses.

  • Be aware when packing for this trip that you will need to be able to carry your luggage on and off public transport, and to and from accommodations. In order to make travel on public transport easier, on some days we will forward your large luggage to our next destination, packing an overnight bag for that night’s stay.

  • Japan is excellent for exploring on foot, but please be aware of the amount of walking on this trip, sometimes up to 10–15 km per day. Pack good walking shoes and ensure your fitness level is such that you’ll be comfortable spending majority of the day on your feet.

  • We like to encourage travellers to indulge in traditional Japanese 'onsens' while in the country as it is a quintessential local experience. This means bathing naked in the presence of others of the same gender. While the experience can feel strange at first, most of our groups end up enjoying this activity. If you feel uncomfortable with bathing naked, please feel free to skip taking part.

  • Decorative tattoos are uncommon in Japanese culture and therefore you may receive curious and sometimes disapproving looks from locals. Generally, nobody will make a comment about your tattoos but please endeavour to wear modest clothing and be aware that you may not be able to enter public onsens.

Itinerary

Konnichiwa. Welcome to Japan. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting tonight at 6pm. Your group leader will leave a notice for you at the hotel detailing the exact time and place. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information during this meeting, so please bring these with you. As travellers are arriving from all over the world, there are no activities planned for today. If you have some time, step out onto the streets for your first taste of this beautiful city. Originally founded as Heian-kyo (literally 'tranquillity and peace capital') by Emperor Kammu in 794, Kyoto had its golden age during the imperial court's heyday from 794 to 1185. Tonight’s meeting will be followed by an optional dinner with the group. As the millennium-long home of the imperial kitchen, Kyoto is known as the centre of Japanese culinary tradition, so you’re sure to begin this trip with a delicious meal.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Granvia Kyoto or similar (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Begin your day with a city tour around some of Kyoto’s sights. Visit the wonderful 14th-century Tenryuji temple (whose garden is a delight to stroll around, especially in autumn and spring) the extravagantly decorated Kinkakuji temple, immortalised in Yukio Mishima’s novel “The Golden Pavilion”, and the tranquil Ryoanii zen garden. In the afternoon, enjoy a memorable moment with a tea ceremony with a 'Maiko', an apprentice Geisha, followed by a walk around Gion and its old wooden teahouses and exclusive restaurants. This area is the heartland of geisha culture, and it's a great idea to return here in the evening when it really springs to life. You might spot geikos (geishas) or maikos (apprentice geishas) with their elaborate dress and make up on their way out to events.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Granvia Kyoto or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Kyoto - Gion District Walk
  • Kyoto - Fushimi Inari Shrine
  • Kyoto - Tenryuji Temple
  • Kyoto - Arashiyama Bamboo Forest
  • Kyoto - Tea Ceremony
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
With a full free day, there is much to experience, from historical landmarks to traditional arts and literature. Kyoto is a city that lends itself to walking, and there are a number of walks available. Recommended is a gentle stroll through the nearby eastern hills along the ‘Path of Philosophy’ that links Ginkaku-ji, the Temple of the Silver Pavilion, with Nanzen-ji Temple. This walk can be extended south through well-preserved ‘old town’ areas to Kiyamizu-dera (Temple of Clear Water) from where there is a justifiably famous view across a wooded gorge toward Kyoto. Highly recommended is a visit to the extravagantly decorated Kinkakuji temple, immortalised in Yukio Mishima’s novel 'The Golden Pavilion'. Close to your hotel the architecturally impressive Higashi Honganji temple and the almost surreal Sanjusangendo, home to 1,001 statues of Kannon (whose name was appropriated by a renowned camera company. A great optional activity is a cooking class that introduces you to Japanese cooking methods, from the aristocratic kaiseki ryori (Japan's haute cuisine), to the simple yet refined dishes of obanzai ryori (home-cooked cuisine).
Accommodation
  • Hotel Granvia Kyoto or similar (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Kyoto - Cooking Class - JPY6000
  • Kyoto - Kinkakuji Temple - JPY500
  • Kyoto - Ryoanji Zen Garden - JPY500
  • Kyoto - Kiyomizu Temple - JPY500
  • Kyoto - Nijo Castle - JPY600
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today you will take a day trip to the city of Nara (approximately 1 hour from Kyoto). With eight World Heritage sites, Nara is second only to Kyoto as a fountain of Japan's cultural legacy. While here you’ll visit Todaiji Temple, with friendly wild deer roaming freely in the park around it. You’ll also visit the Kasuga Taisha (Kasuga Grand Shrine), Nara's most celebrated shrine. Kasuga Taisha is famous for its lanterns, which have been donated by worshipers. They symbolise a guiding light and the 3,000 Kasuga shrines throughout the country. Hundreds of bronze lanterns can be found hanging from the buildings, while as many stone lanterns line its approaches. The lanterns are only lit twice a year during two Lantern Festivals, one in early February and one in mid August. Return to Kyoto for the evening, which is free for your own rest or exploration. Perhaps find a theatre putting on shows of Noh – music, traditional dancing, kabuki and banraku puppetry.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Granvia Kyoto or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Nara - Todaiji Temple
  • Nara - Kasuga Grand Shrine
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
As you speed south to Hiroshima, you’ll stop en route for a stop at Japan’s most impressive samurai castle at Himeji. The building, which has survived earthquakes and war since the mid-16th century, was restored to its full glory in 2015. The moats, baileys, towers and walled alleyways were ingeniously designed to trick attackers – perhaps so intimidatingly that they were never in fact tested. Explore the castle that was once home to over 10,000 samurai families and look out over the castle grounds and the city below from the seventh floor. Continue on to Hiroshima, the city indelibly connected with World War II and the atomic bomb. You’ll stay in city centre accommodation close to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial (commonly referred to as the A-Bomb dome).
Accommodation
  • Hotel Granvia Hiroshima or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Himeji - Himeji Castle
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
This morning you’ll visit the Genbaku (A-Bomb) Dome and the Peace Memorial Park and Museum, both of which stand testament to the fateful day in August 1945 when Hiroshima was chosen as target for the first ever wartime use of the atomic bomb. The dome was just metres from where the bomb detonated so it was able to retain its shape; the fact that it looks almost exactly as it did after the bombing means it serves as a reminder and symbol of peace. The memorial park serves the same purpose, and has museums, memorials and monuments dedicated to the memory of victims, education on what lead to the bomb’s use, as well as advocating world peace.

Afterwards head for the serene island of Miyajima, reached after a short ferry ride (30 kilometres) across the Inland Sea. The island is home to the venerable Shinto shrine of Itsukushima, famous for its huge bright orange gate (tori) that rises majestically out of the sea. At high tide it is considered to be one of the most beautiful sights in Japan. The size and physical landscape of Miyajima makes it an ideal place for walking. There is the lovely Momaji Park (known as Maple Valley), from where it is possible to walk or take a cable car up to the top of Mt. Misen. Return to Hiroshima for the night. Maybe try one of the city’s signature dishes for dinner – okonomiyaki, a kind savoury pancake of egg, cabbage, soba noodles, and meat or seafood.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Granvia Hiroshima or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Hiroshima - Miyajima Island Day Trip
  • Miyajima - Itsukushima Shrine
  • Hiroshima - Peace Park & Museum
  • Hiroshima - A-Bomb Dome
Optional Activities
  • Miyajima - Mt Misen Cable Car - JPY2000
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Before we depart Hiroshima the leader will try and organise something special for the group during your time here, due to the sensitivity around the subject of Hiroshima and the availability of our guest speakers, you may just be lucky enough to sit down and talk to a survivor of Hiroshima. This may take place on Day 5, 6 or 7 depending upon circumstances, however we cannot guarantee this will take place. 

You will then travel to Takayama, a charming Edo-period town located in the Japanese alps. Renowned for its traditional inns, sake breweries and tranquil atmosphere, this riverside jewel of central Honshu may well be one of the most enjoyable stops on your trip. Later, enjoy free time to make your own discoveries, we highly recommend finding a good restaurant that specialises in Hida beef, as its famous in this region of Japan.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today you will visit the local Takayama farmers market, try some Japanese treats and peruse the stalls. Afterwards you will visit Hida Folk Village, an open-air museum of traditional architecture that gives a sense of centuries past. Cross your fingers for clear skies, as the alps are stunning from this vantage on a clear day. You will also visit a sake brewery this afternoon. The alpine climate and crystal clear mountain waters are perfect for creating this signature drop. Enjoy a walk around the brewery, followed by a sake tasting.
Included Activities
  • Takayama - Morning Market Visit
  • Takayama - Sake Brewery Tasting
  • Takayama - Hida Folk Village
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
In the morning you will make your way by train to Japan’s amazing capital, Tokyo, and your centrally-located hotel where you’ll be based for the next three nights. Bursting with contemporary urban culture, there are many sides of Tokyo to explore: fascinating museums, world-class shopping, bustling energy and futuristic architecture, as well as a gentler side of neighbourhood backstreets where citizens often reveal themselves – particularly outside of working hours – to be some of the friendliest of any capital city in the world. There are many vestiges of the past, with historic temples and shrines still to be found in some of the most unexpected places, as well as an abundance of parks and gardens – particularly exquisite in spring when the cherry trees and azaleas are in bloom. After you arrive, your leader will take your for a short late afternoon/night tour of the area – you will then have some free time to explore. Perhaps see the Imperial Palace and its gardens, then enjoy the myriad food options for dinner.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Niwa Tokyo or similar (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today you’ll undertake a varied, full-day tour of the city, beginning in the historic Asakusa area. This is one of the older and more traditional parts of Tokyo, and is often called the temple district. Here you’ll stop by Senso-ji, the city’s oldest temple – founded almost 1,400 years ago when Tokyo was nothing more than a fishing village. Browse the many interesting stalls – filled with tasty treats, crafts and souvenirs – that line the shopping street of Nakamise dori. After lunch you’ll enjoy an alternative view of Tokyo as you relax on a short cruise down the Sumida River. You’ll pass significant buildings like the Sky Tree Tower and Tsukiji Fish Market, under the bridges that bisect the river, and then alight at the delightful urban oasis of Hama Rikyu gardens. Here you’ll have time to stroll along paths that were once the sole preserve of the shogun, who would hunt ducks here in the feudal era.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Niwa Tokyo or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Tokyo - City tour
  • Tokyo - Sensoji Temple
  • Tokyo - Sumida boat trip
  • Tokyo - Hamarikyu Garden
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Enjoy a free day to explore this pulsating city. Perhaps head to the eastern districts which are magnets for the city’s fascinating youth subcultures. See the crowds at Shibuya Crossing, the costumes in Harajuku, as well as the important Meiji Jingu Shrine, dedicated to the 19th-century Emperor. Take in history at the Imperial Palace in Chiyoda, or see ancient treasures at the National Museum in Ueno. Another great museum, which gives insight into old time Tokyo, is the Edo-Tokyo Museum in Ryogoku. Spend some time in the city’s green spaces like Yoyogu and Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, browse high-end shops in Ginza, experience the theatre of a sumo bout, or create your own entertainment with some karaoke. This evening, join your group for a farewell dinner as you say sayonara to Japan.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Niwa Tokyo or similar (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Tokyo - Edo Tokyo Museum - JPY600
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
With no further activities planned, you're free to check out any time before 12 pm. If you are departing later, you can arrange luggage storage at the hotel.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

11 breakfasts, 1 dinner

Transport

Bullet train, Local train, Public bus, Subway, Taxi, Boat

Accommodation

Hotel (9 nights), Ryokan (2 nights)

Included Activities

  • Kyoto - Gion District Walk
  • Kyoto - Fushimi Inari Shrine
  • Kyoto - Tenryuji Temple
  • Kyoto - Arashiyama Bamboo Forest
  • Kyoto - Tea Ceremony
  • Nara - Todaiji Temple
  • Nara - Kasuga Grand Shrine
  • Himeji - Himeji Castle
  • Hiroshima - Miyajima Island Day Trip
  • Miyajima - Itsukushima Shrine
  • Hiroshima - Peace Park & Museum
  • Hiroshima - A-Bomb Dome
  • Takayama - Morning Market Visit
  • Takayama - Sake Brewery Tasting
  • Takayama - Hida Folk Village
  • Tokyo - City tour
  • Tokyo - Sensoji Temple
  • Tokyo - Sumida boat trip
  • Tokyo - Hamarikyu Garden

Dates & availability

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Important notes

1. A 7 day Japan Rail Pass is included in the price of your trip (validated on day 4). For those wishing to stay and travel longer in Japan, an Japan Rail Pass extension (total 14 days) is available. Please contact us at time of booking regarding this service.
2. A Single Supplement is currently not available for this trip due to limited rooms at many of our properties.
3. Tipping is not included in this trip as tipping is not customary in Japan.
4. In order to make our travel on public transport easier, there are some days where we will forward our large luggage to our next destination and pack an overnight bag for that night’s stay. See the Itinerary for details.

Essential Trip Information

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