Tokyo is a city that never sleeps, Yudanaka Onsen is a region dressed in powdery snow, and Kyoto is made up of traditional districts reflecting old-world Japan. These destinations are but a few of the remarkable places you will uncover Japanese culture, appreciate the country’s history, and tuck into its gorgeous cuisine during this handcrafted 18-day tour to the buzzing cities and far-flung rural towns.
Tokyo - A City of Many Faces
Tokyo is a city of many faces, equal parts modern and sophisticated, while traditional and antiquated. From enormous skyscrapers that reach towards the heavens to rural wooden homes stationed in historic neighborhoods, the cityscape is a window that you may peer through to see Japan’s distinct blend of the old and the new. You will meet your private transfer at the international airport and head for your accommodation, capturing these remarkable sights for the first time along the way and acclimating to the energetic atmosphere after checking in.
Tokyo - Japan’s Culture and Spirit
While Tokyo is dazzling and its skyline seemingly set in the future, there is a wealth of cultural experiences peppering its lively districts for you to discover on your first full day in Japan. Guided by a list of must-do experiences, you will set off in the morning to uncover what the city has to offer, moving through it via the Tokyo subway. From the manicured gardens hemming the Meiji Shinto Shrine to the distinct architectural design of the Senso-Ji Temple, you will be introduced to Japanese culture and the origins of the country’s spirituality.
Tokyo - Museums, Markets, and Sumo
The Shibuya Crossing, the world’s busiest intersection, is but one indicator of Tokyo’s enormous population that will blow you away as you cross it to reach the manicured parks peppering the city. After a light stroll through the fragrant flower fields, you will continue to an assortment of magnificent museums, Sumo wrestling theaters, and bustling food markets to submerge yourselves in the spirit of Japan and partake in the country’s local lifestyle. Both educational for the mind and tantalizing for the taste buds, your city tour will be one for the books.
Tokyo - The Thrill of Tokyo Disneyland
Today, you will visit Tokyo’s Disneyland for a day of youthful entertainment enjoyed by the whole family. From racing rollercoasters to plummeting water slides, the famous park is all the rage, and you will lose yourself in the jubilant spirit pouring from the thrilling activities on offer. There is so much to do in this magical wonderland, where every minute will be spent enjoying thrilling rides and finding performances to marvel over. Then you will return to your hotel and find a comfortable spot to tuck into delicious Japanese delicacies for dinner.
Yudanaka Onsen - Monkeys Bathing in Hot Springs
You may have stumbled upon images of the Yudanaka Onsen hot springs in National Geographic as they are set in one of the country’s most idyllic snowy regions. More so, the springs are famous as being a balmy bath for the wild monkeys that warm their bodies in the Jigokudani Monkey Park. The steamy pools flood parts of the white powdery landscape, creating a stunning scene made all the more extraordinary once the troop of monkeys climbs inside as we would do in hot springs of our own.
Kanazawa - Peace amongst the Green in the Kenroku-en Garden
The next stop on your journey through the untamed bucolic countryside of Japan is Kanazawa, a destination famous for its illustrious Kenroku-en Garden that draws hundreds of thousands of people across the globe here each year. Strolling through the emerald fields, you will practically watch as the flowers blossom before your eyes while butterflies flutter from petal to petal and the wind rustles the leaves. Your peaceful afternoon by the ponds will be a welcoming escape from the high-octane energy of Tokyo’s buzzing cityscapes.
Shirakawa-go - The Beauty of Rural Japan
Flung deep into the mountain landscape of Japan, Shirakawa-go is a hidden gem that will be enchanting from the minute you arrive in this breathtaking destination. Poised beneath mountains covered in snow and boasting a town constructed by thatched-roof homes, Shirakawa-go is an image of ancient Japan that will spotlight the rural charm of a bygone world. You may spend your afternoon wallowing in the serene atmosphere before ravishing a mouth-watering home-cooked Japanese meal prepared by a welcoming family in the town.
Takayama - Meticulous Craftsmanship of Japan’s Carpenters
Each stop along your journey through the Japanese countryside will lead you deeper into the country’s history, and Takayama is no different. Dubbed “Little Kyoto”, the carpentry town is a symbol of the meticulous craftsmanship of Japan’s local woodworkers. During your stay, you will admire the remarkable works housed in magnificent museums as well as reflected in the facades of the humble, wooden homes forming the town. There is a real simplicity to the Takayama lifestyle that is alluring in more ways than one.
Matsumoto - The Marks of Feudal Japan
Former castle town turned modern cityscape, Matsumoto is a step back towards the modern vision of Japan that you will have witnessed in Tokyo. Alas, there is still a significant cultural lifestyle that underpins Matsumoto, and there are iconic heritage sites worth exploring in this former imperial destination. One such highlight will be the Matsumoto Castle, an architectural image of feudal Japan that stands out against the glass-facade of the sophisticated city skyline. Views from the hill on which it rests will provide picture-perfect moments worth snapping up before you descend to town for dinner.
Kyoto - A Touch of Another Time
The former imperial capital of Japan, Kyoto, is the next destination on your vacation, and you will transfer by train after breakfast. Approaching Kyoto, you will catch a glimpse of ancient shrines’ curved roofs peeking out from between sprawling green forests. Kyoto is, unlike Tokyo, a more traditional city by design, showcasing the artistic flair of Japan’s former architects in its preservation of the old-world buildings. You will appreciate the distinct Japanese style down to the finest detail as you drop off your belongings in a hotel room dressed in antique furnishings.
Kyoto - Spiritual Significance Sprinkling the Forests
Today, you will be joined by a tour guide and shown to some of the city’s most iconic landmarks. Arriving at the foot of the Kinkaku-Ji Temple, its glimmering golden facade will tower above you, shadowing the tranquil lake that circles its sacred complex. As the birds sing from the nearby trees, you will peruse the spiritual grounds, discovering more about Zen Buddhism with each step you take. This is the first of many mesmerizing spiritual constructs that you will admire during your days in Kyoto, another one being the endless orange arches of the Fushimi Inari Shrine’s torii gates.
Kyoto - Dreamy Walks through the Bamboo Grove
On the western outskirts of Kyoto, a bamboo grove unlike any other reaches towards the clouds and stretches wide within the forest. After breakfast, you will transfer to Arashiyama to stroll along its fairytale paths. The grove is a dreamy slice of unspoiled wilderness that, once you are inside, you will not be able to see the world beyond the bamboo. The rich green will enwreathe you in the forest that is as picturesque as it is described in the fables.
Kyoto - Remnants of an Imperial Era
Whether you are a history buff or casual traveler, you will be thrilled to visit Japan’s first capital city Nara today. Holding the capital title as early as 710, Nara is a pivotal piece in the origin puzzle of Japan as we now know it. A myriad of bejeweled shrines and meticulously crafted sculptures, constructed centuries ago during the reign of Nara’s empirical rulers, lay preserved across the royal districts for you to discover once you arrive. Each impeccable spiritual site surrounded by the wilderness will share insight into Japan’s bygone nobility.
Kyoto - Osaka’s Culinary Arts
A short way from the quiet towns of Kyoto lies the thrumming city of Osaka, a boisterous entertainment destination perfectly suited for a day of adventurous fun. After breakfast, you will make the short trip here and be swept away by the contagious spirit and friendly atmosphere sweeping the cityscape. Your day will be dedicated to indulging in Japanese cuisine, prepared gorgeously at Osaka’s array of exuberant eateries and decadent restaurants. Whether it's at a pleasantly chaotic market or a sophisticated fine-dining restaurant, your culinary tour in Osaka will be divine.
Kyoto - Marvelous Marbled Wagyu Beef
Kyoto, as you will be well aware by now, is a gateway to many other Japanese destinations off the beaten path. Today, you will be delighted to explore more beginning with a trip to the feudal-era highlight of Himeji, the “White Heron Castle”. Washed in white and flanked by cherry blossoms, the Himeji Castle is a picture worth a thousand words that you will swoon over before transferring to Kobe. The harbor city, fringed by the mountains, is famous for its exceptional marbled wagyu beef which you may savor at one of the many exalted restaurants dotting its modern skyline.
Hakone - A Peaceful Hot Spring Retreat
A famous hot spring resort in Japan, Hakone is the ideal place to rest and unwind as your vacation draws to a close. The destination's natural beauty is second to none, with emerald forests blanketing the hills that rise and fall beneath the looming white-snow summit of Mount Fuji. After checking into your accommodation, you may take a dip in the temperate waters of a still hot spring while the gentle breeze rolls through the trees and the endemic wildlife rustle through the leaves. Your afternoon in Hakone will be a peaceful retreat from your adventures thus far.
Tokyo - Simple Pleasures in the Capital
After breakfast, you will embark for Tokyo to spend the remainder of your vacation amongst the ecstatic spirit of the capital city. The train trip from Hakone will share more countryside scenes, from cascading hills to stretching forests, until the towering Tokyo skyline begins to rise into view the closer you get to the city. After checking into your accommodation, you may spend the afternoon enjoying the simple pleasures of Japan, such as steamy bowls of noodle broth slurped from seats at authentic Japanese eateries or decorated shrines witnessed at historic museums peppering Tokyo’s districts.
Tokyo - Gone with Greater Cultural Understanding
Though the end will be in sight as you wake up with the sun this morning, you will take delight in the fact that you have explored this marvelous country. You will return home with a wealth of knowledge, a broader understanding of Japanese culture, and a collection of stunning pictures to commemorate your experiences. The sound of the vigorous city, from shuffling feet slipping along the sidewalk to foreign chatter echoing in the distance, will soundtrack your breakfast as you savor your last few bites of Japanese cuisine before transferring to the international airport.
- Marvel at Tokyo’s magnificent cultural landmarks, including the impressive Meiji Shinto Shrine and Senso-Ji Temple, on an immersive spiritual tour of the city
- Let the thrills of Tokyo Disneyland take you back to your childhood as you and your family relish a day absorbed by the park’s magical atmosphere
- Witness troops of monkeys bathing in the warm waters of the snow-flanked hot springs of Yudanaka Onsen in the Jigokudani Monkey Park
- Appreciate a peaceful day exploring the picturesque parks of the Kenroku-en Garden, composed of tranquil ponds and blooming flower fields
- Gaze upon a mark of feudal Japan imprinted in the city of Matsumoto as you visit the city’s age-old castle standing mightily on a hill overlooking the cityscape
- Learn more about Zen Buddhism and Japanese spiritual beliefs as you tour many of Kyoto’s magnificent temples, including the golden Kinkaku-Ji Temple and the orange gates of the Fushimi Inari Shrine
- Stroll through one of the world’s most mesmerizing bamboo groves, Arashiyama, a spectacular display of nature’s might when left unspoiled by the intervention of man
- Traceback Japanese noble history dating back to 710 as you admire the age-old aristocratic remnants and sacred sculptures of Nara’s former rulers
- Explore the world of Japanese cuisine on a delicious taste tour of Osaka’s decadent restaurants and long-established eateries, as well as tucking into authentic wagyu beef in Kobe
- Refresh your mind and body within the balmy waters of the spectacular Hakone hot springs, flooding the forests beneath the snowy summit of Mount Fuji
$7,735 per person (excluding international flights)
- In-country transportation
- Some or all activities and tours
- Expert trip planning
- 24x7 support during your trip
Your final trip cost will vary based on your selected accommodations, activities, meals, and other trip elements that you opt to include.
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