A magical land of contrasts where the hyper-modern capital Tokyo contrasts with ancient traditions, culture and heritage in the historic Imperial capital, Kyoto. Highlights include Mount Fuji, insights into the world of the Shoguns and Emperors, temples and shrines, castles and gardens, the famous Bullet Train and a poignant visit to Hiroshima where the first atomic bomb was used in anger.
Tokyo • Shogun Castles • Kyoto Gardens • Mount Fuji • Bullet Train • Hiroshima
Day 1 Depart London Heathrow for a direct, overnight flight to Tokyo.
Day 2 Arrival transfer to the hotel and a chance to rest before an afternoon excursion to Asakusa, Tokyo's oldest temple; lively Nakamise Street, one of the oldest shopping streets in Japan; Sensoji, a colourful Buddhist temple and the observation deck of the Tokyo Sky Tree.
Day 3 A full day excursion to Nikko for Japanese history and culture in a stunning natural setting. The shrines and temples of Nikko are a UNESCO World Heritage site. Visit Toshogu Shrine, the final resting place of Tokugawa Ieyasu, founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate; Tamozawa Imperial Villa, a summer residence for the Japanese Imperial family. Stop at the 97 metre Kegon Falls, Nikko National Park has 48 waterfalls and this is one of the most beautiful in Japan.
Day 4 Today is free for independent sightseeing in Tokyo.
Day 5 A full day excursion to Mount Fuji. Including a cruise on Lake Ashi, a ride on the Owakudani Ropeway (cable car) and a visit to Mount Fuji 5th station, the highest point reachable by coach, weather permitting, for great views. Our hotel is near Mount Fuji where we enjoy an included dinner.
Day 6 A full day excursion visiting Matsumoto Castle, one of the most complete and beautiful in Japan. Its characteristic black wainscoting gives it an air of grandeur and poise. Next stop is Takayama Jinya from the Edo period (1600-1868) remaining in use until 1969. It includes tatami mat rooms that once served as offices. The last stop is Takayama's old town, beautifully preserved with buildings dating from the Edo Period including coffee houses and sake breweries.
Day 7 Visit the Shirakawa River Valley in a mountainous region that was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1995, famous for its historic farmhouses, some of which are more than 250 years old. Stop in the Higashi Chaya District with its traditional teahouses. Visit Omicho Market, Kanazawa's largest fresh food market since the Edo Period. Today, it is a busy and colourful network of covered streets lined by shops and stalls.
Day 8 Start at Kenroku-en Japanese garden in Kanazawa, maintained for generations by the Maeda family, rulers of the feudal Kaga Clan. Next is Seisonkaku, an elegant samurai villa from the Edo Period. Finally visit Gujo Hachiman, a riverside town of pristine waterways, canals and fountains still used for washing rice, vegetables and laundry.
Day 9 A full day in Japan's Imperial Capital, Kyoto. Begin at UNESCO listed Nijo Castle built in 1603 as the home of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first shogun of the Edo Period. Next is UNESCO listed Kiyomizu-dera, one of Japan's most celebrated temples. Finally visit Kinkaku-ji a Zen temple in northern Kyoto whose top two floors are completely covered in gold leaf. Formally known as Rokuon-ji, the temple was the retirement villa of the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, and it became a Zen temple after his death in 1408.
Day 10 Take the Bullet Train to Hiroshima and visit Itsukushima Shrine, a Shinto site dating from 1168, which seems to float above the water. Next is Hiroshima's Peace Memorial Park, over 120,000m2 of trees, lawns, and paths contrasting with the surrounding cityscape. Within the park is the Peace Memorial Museum, The UNESCO listed A-Bomb Dome or Hiroshima Peace Memorial and the Cenotaph for the A-Bomb Victims which holds a stone chest with a register of more than 220,000 names.
Day 11 Today experience more of Kyoto's cultural delights starting with Heian Shrine commemorating the 1100th anniversary of Kyoto. A giant torii gate marks the approach flanked by two museums and the main buildings are a replica of the Heian Period Imperial Palace. Visit Arashiyama, a popular natural setting since the Heian Period where the most famous sights include Togetsukyo Bridge and the bamboo groves. Then Gion, Kyoto's most famous geisha district,filled with restaurants and teahouses, where geiko (Kyoto dialect for geisha) and maiko (geiko apprentices) entertain.
Day 12 Today we have a full day's independent sightseeing in Kyoto.
Day 13 Morning visit to Todaiji Temple, constructed in 752. See the main hall, the world's largest wooden building housing a 15m tall bronze Buddha and encounter deer in Nara Park. Next is Isuien, an attractive Japanese garden with features such as the use of Todaiji Temple's Nandaimon Gate as 'borrowed scenery'.
Day 14 Today we transfer to the airport and depart Tokyo on our return flight to the UK.
All tours are tailored to your requirements and can be adapted for travel by coach and/or air as you prefer
All hotels are a minimum standard of 4 star. Full details of the hotels will be provided with your quotation.
Your tour includes:
• Flights from the UK to Japan
• Return transfers from destination airport to the hotels
• 12 nights bed and breakfast accommodation in Japan with:
• English speaking guide
• Transport/excursions/admissions with many extras not stated in the itinerary (full details available on request)
• Coach and train travel as detailed in the itinerary
• Baggage transfers when travelling between cities by train
While we offer a very wide range of destinations it is impossible to feature everything here. If you cannot see what you are looking for please contact us to discuss your requirements.