13 Day Japan Tour By Rail

Tokyo, Hakone, Takayama, Kyoto & Hiroshima

13 Days

Activity Level:

When To Go:

Countries Visited:

Arrive In / Depart From:
Tokyo / Hiroshima

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Tour Style:

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Discover the country's true culture with the help of experienced local guides.

  • Small group sizes to help escape the beaten path.
  • Authentic local experiences with lots of inclusions.
Tour Overview
Tour Overview

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Countries Visited: 1 Activity Level: 2 Tour Style: Cultural

From its humble beginnings as a small, 16th century castle town, Tokyo - or Edo as it was then known - soon became one of the planet's most populous cities and has since been holding high prominence in the league of the world's most significant, influential and alluring metropolitan areas.

Our Japan by Rail tour visits the central wholesale market, which is the largest in the world, and the beautiful Imperial Palace, complete with its mazes of moats, bridges, cul-de-sacs, parks and gardens.

In Kamakura, slightly south of the capital, we find grand monuments, shrines and temples nestled snugly amid wooded hillsides and it is here that we can gaze upon the bewitching spectacle of the statue of the Great Buddha, the second-largest bronze image in the country.

Come morning, we take to the tracks on the 'bullet train', bound for the forested mountains, deep glens and picturesque ravines of the Hakone region, where we can opt to enjoy stunning vistas from a cable car up Mount Fuji.

Our rail experience continues on to Takayama, a region whose geographic features have resulted the unique cultural evolution of its inhabitants, and on through the scenic Hida River Valley.

In Kyoto, we see the 1,001 life-size statues of the Buddhist teacher Kannon; in Nara, we get a taste of the pervading air of spirituality and mysticism that envelops the area; and in Hiroshima, we visit the Peace Memorial Park and enjoy the sights and sounds of a bustling city that overcame the devastation of five decades ago to become the most vital city of San-Yo.



Dates & Prices
Dates & Prices


Prices below are per person, twin-sharing costs in US Dollars (USD). Pricing does not include airfare to/from the tour and any applicable taxes. For single supplement rates and taxes (if any), please refer to below Prices & Dates table. For general information on flights to/from the tour, click here.


Select a date below to reserve your spot:


PLEASE NOTE that, due to logistical challenges and high costs in Japan, we offer customization services only for groups of minimum 10 participants plus a mandatory tour leader.

Optional Single Supplement: $980 USD (number of singles limited).



Full Itinerary
Full Itinerary

Download Itinerary

Day 1 Arrival in Tokyo
Today we arrive in Tokyo and transfer to our hotel.

Tokyo is Japan's capital and the country's largest city. Prior to 1868, Tokyo was known as Edo. A small castle town in the 16th century, Edo became Japan's political center in 1603 when Tokugawa Ieyasu established his feudal government there. A few decades later, Edo had grown into one of the world's most populous cities.

PLEASE NOTE: Due to Japan Rail procedures related to your passes used for the tour, it is important that you arrive no later than "Day 1", the published start date of your tour.

Overnight in Tokyo.

Included Meal(s): Dinner

Day 2 Tokyo: City Touring
Tokyo is a dazzling modern metropolis rich in history and tradition. While the pace and the glitz of the city can be overwhelming, we will do our best to also showcase the tranquil, traditional side of the world's most populous city.

We have a private bus at our disposal today, though we may, during our time in the city, also make use of its legendarily efficient public transit system, an excellent way to observe the locals going about their daily lives in one of the world’s most vibrant cities.

We’ll kick off our morning with a visit to one of Tokyo’s venerable department stores, the earliest of which were founded during the early 1900s. Their predecessors were kimono stores, which supplied various types of luxurious goods during the Edo and Meiji periods. Japanese department stores are famous for their unparalleled customer service; we’ll aim to be there just before it opens when we will see its employees lined up neatly, waiting to welcome customers. The moment the second hand of the clock hits the opening time, the doors punctually open and customers can make a grand entrance being flanked by bowing and greeting staff.

We’ll take some time to stroll through the food halls, where you will see the amazing variety of beautifully-presented foods being sold at unbelievably high prices. Seeing where and how the Japanese shop, what they buy, for whom and for what occasion, offers instructive glimpses into a highly sophisticated social strata where conventions of human interaction and presentation are minutely-defined. Whether it be for a wedding, business meeting or returning from a trip, the culture of gift giving in Japan is one of the most prevalent in the world. However, unlike in some other cultures, in Japan the emphasis is more on the ritual of gift giving than the gift itself. This dates back to the Edo period when a lucky few would go on pilgrimages and bring back souvenirs for the villagers who weren’t able to go. You’ll have time here to pick up supplies for a picnic lunch at our next stop (a “bento box” is an excellent and convenient option).

We then move on to the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace, part of the inner palace area. The Imperial Palace, or Kokyo, built on the site of the Edo-jo Castle, is an impregnable fortress that housed the Tokugawa Shogunate for 265 years until Emperor Meiji moved the court here in 1860's. Surrounded by moats, the original outer walls extended for over 16 km (10 miles) and were thick enough for a squad of samurai to walk six abreast on top. Even in its original state, it deceptively looked more like an administrative villa than a fortress. The buildings survived until they were all but obliterated by the fire bombings of WWII. You’ll have time to explore a bit, see the iconic bridge, and to enjoy your picnic lunch in a relatively peaceful setting.

Our next stop is Meiji Shrine. Entry into the shrine grounds (a ten minute walk) is marked by a massive torii gate, after which the sights and sounds of the busy city are replaced by a tranquil forest. The approximately 100,000 trees that make up Meiji Jingu's forest were planted during the shrine's construction and were donated from regions across the entire country. At the middle of the forest, Meiji Jingu's buildings also have an air of tranquility distinct from the surrounding city.

While in the vicinity of the shrine, time- and weather-permitting, we may be able to take a stroll down nearby Takeshita Street, possibly the busiest and definitely the most colourful pedestrianized shopping street in Tokyo.

Our last stop is Ueno Park and the National Museum which, among other things, features the finest collection of Japanese art in the country. After our guided tour of the museum we will return to our hotel before our evening meal at a local restaurant.

Overnight in Tokyo.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

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Day 3 Tokyo: Sushi Making Class
This morning we take a fascinating dive into Japanese seafood cuisine during a 3-hour combination walking tour of a local fishmarket and cooking class, where we can learn to prepare traditional style 'washoku' food items like sushi and a Japanese omelette.

We meet up with our guide in front of Tsukiji Honganji Temple, located just outside the market. Then we step inside this temple to all things seafood for an in-depth shopping session including plenty of time for photography and exploration. As you wander the aisles of this colourful and chaotic market, you’ll observe everything from giant tuna to sea urchins to octopus arranged for sale.

We'll then proceed with our guide to the gourmet cooking studio of one of Asia's largest culinary schools, boasting more than 150 studios throughout the region. Following the instruction of an experienced cooking teacher, we'll learn to prepare two 'washoku' recipes, a style of Japanese cuisine emphasizing traditional and homemade techniques. This typically includes a sushi roll along with a Japanese style omelette called Tamagoyaki, plus side dishes. This will be an excellent and fun introduction to Japanese cuisine, definitely a highlight of any trip to Japan.

We finish our session by digging into our tasty creations for lunch. We'll leave with full stomachs and a new-found appreciation for the wondrous world of Japanese cuisine and its top-notch ingredients.

Because of our late/filling lunch and full day tomorrow, and because you may be planning an evening activity before we leave Tokyo, we will leave dinner on your own account tonight. Your Tour Leader can help you plan.

Tomorrow our large luggage is transported to Hakone for us -- please pack an OVERNIGHT BAG for ONE NIGHT. Your larger bags (one per person) will be shipped ahead to Takayama, and you will need to pack an overnight bag to carry with you for the the one overnight in Hakone. Your Tour Leader will advise in advance re recommended items to have with you for the next two days.

Overnight in Tokyo.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Lunch

Day 4 Tokyo - Lake Ashi - Hakone
This morning we take a short metro (train) ride* to Odawara Station where we connect with our private coach towards Lake Ashi near Hakone. Shortly after we leave the station, we'll make a brief stop to see Odawara Castle (exterior visit only).

Wedged between Mt Fuji and the Izu Peninsula, Hakone is a large region encircled by several forested mountains with a beauty accented by deep glens and ravines. In the feudal era, Hakone was a very important checkpoint that safeguarded the security of Edo (now Tokyo) as the seat of the Shogunate. This onsen (hotspring) area has been popular since the 1500s, when Hideyoshi Toyotomi came here to relax in an open-air bath after the hard fought Battle of Odawara.

From the castle town of Odawara we board a bus that takes us into the National Park. We then board a lake cruiser on Lake Ashi for scenic views of the surrounding mountains. Weather permitting, we can enjoy views of Mt Fuji. One of the highlights today will be our visit to the Hakone Outdoor Museum, or Chokoku-no-mori, a beautiful park filled with sculptures by renowned Japanese and international artists such as Rodin, Bourdelle, Moore, Zadkine, and Picasso.

Tonight we will enjoy a Keiseki-type meal at our ryokan-style hotel. Originally this type of dining was to accompany tea ceremony and is a feast for both the eyes and the taste buds. You can feel free to wear your "yukata" (bathrobe - provided by the hotel) to the dining room as many of the Japanese do when they stay in ryokan, a perfectly wonderful place to relax after leaving busy Tokyo behind. Our rooms are traditional style with tatami flooring and futon beds.

* OUR LUGGAGE will be sent ahead to Takayama for us -- please pack an overight bag for today/this evening/tomorrow (the cost of this is included in your tour). Our luggage will be waiting for us tomorrow afternoon. Please note that this service may be available elsewhere; your Tour Leader can advise/assist and payment can be made directly.

Overnight in Hakone.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 5 Hakone - Train to Takayama
Today we travel by Shinkansen (Bullet Train) to Takayama.

The region known as Hida, which surrounds Takayama, was cut off from the rest of Japan by almost impregnable encircling mountains. Hida lacked good farmland, which made taxpaying from an agricultural livelihood an impossible burden upon the people. Necessity caused them to diversify, so the craftsmen of Takayama honed their tools to a sharpness matched by their skills and became known as the finest woodworkers in the land. The mountains yielded the most coveted lumber in the empire, which Takayama's artisans fashioned into magnificent works worthy to adorn Japan's finest temples, shrines and palaces. During the Nara period, the central government, in lieu of taxes, required ten Takayama craftsmen to relocate to the capital, where their considerable talents were employed. During the Tokugawa era, the ancestral daimyo of Takayama was reassigned to the far north. Our train journey today takes us through the scenic Hida River Valley.

We arrive in the late afternoon and will have time to wander through the lovely town of Takayama and the merchant quarter of San-machi with its historic wooden structures.

Overnight in Takayama.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 6 Takayama: City Tour
This morning we will visit the colourful early morning market before heading to the Hida Folk Village, consisting of over 30 unique houses which had been scattered in the Hida region.* The houses are attractively laid out around a small lake and display valuable articles showing the way of life and culture of the past. The style of architecture is called gassho-zukuri, or "praying hand" houses, because of the steep pitch of the roofs reminiscent of two clasped hands in prayer. This was to protect the occupants from the large amounts of snow that fall here over the winter months. Upon our return to the town centre we will visit the Yatai Kaikan, or Float Museum.

Your afternoon is at leisure. Takayama is a small, interesting and manageable place for those who enjoy easy-going, on-foot exploration.

Overnight in Takayama.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 7 Takayama - Train to Kyoto
Our journey continues back through the Hida Valley to connect with the Shinkansen train in Nagoya.

Kyoto vibrates with creative energy. For 1,000 years, skilled craftsmen, wise masters, and the nation's most promising fine artists have been lured here. The deep impress of culture and the refinement is indelible; it's in the soul of the city. A long line of Japanese emperors was enthroned here, and the city retains this regal bearing through myriad festivals and commemorative customs preserved from feudal times. In diminutive home workshops along cobblestone alleyways no wider than a footpath, lacquerware, cloisonne, damascene, kimono fabrics, pottery, porcelain, fans, dolls, embroideries, and bamboo ware are still expertly turned out by hand. Kyoto attracts a sophisticated crowd to its vibrant Noh and Kabuki theatres, while the last geisha finishing schools are found in the lantern-lit side streets of the Pontocho and Gion sections of the city.

Thankfully, Kyoto's treasures were spared from bombing during WW II, when American scholars persuaded the military to leave this masterpiece of a city alone. Though Kyoto is now a thoroughly modern city, much of its spirit is intact, with over 200 Shinto shrines; 1,600 temples, 30 of which administer to the major sects of Buddhism throughout Japan; three Imperial palaces, nine major museums, and countless classic gardens.

We arrive in this fascinating city mid-afternoon. Tonight we will venture to the Pontocho District, one of the traditional geisha quarters of Kyoto and next door to its rival, Gion. Wandering down the narrow lanes with the Kama River flowing alongside gives a sense to what this city was like long ago.

Overnight in Kyoto.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 8 Kyoto: City Tour
Today we have a highlight-packed full day of sightseeing in this spectacular city. Please note that the actual order of sites visited may vary from what is listed below, depending on how your Tour Leader and local guide for the day determine what is the best way to deliver the program.

We start with a quick stop at Nishi Honganji (West Honganji), a designated UNESCO world heritage site, built in 1591 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Nishi Honganji is the head temple of the Honganji faction of the Jodo-Shin sect with over 10,000 sub-temples across the country and 200 temples overseas. The two largest structures are the Goeido Hall, dedicated to Shinran, the sect's founder, and the Amidado Hall dedicated to the Amida Buddha, the most important Buddha in Jodo-Shin Buddhism.

We then visit Heian Shrine, built in 1895 to commemorate the 1,100th anniversary of the founding of the capital. It is a replica to three-fifths of the size of the first imperial palace in the ancient capital Heiankyo. We also visit the beautiful "go-round" style garden with a total area of 30,000 sq metres, which is well-known for the beauty of its weeping cherry trees, Japanese iris, and waterlilies.

At some point we will make a stop to acquire some picnic lunch items followed by a break, possibly combined with a walk on Philosopher's Path (Tetsugaku no michi), a pleasant route through the northern part of Kyoto's Higashiyama district. The path follows a canal which is lined by hundreds of cherry trees.

We continue to Ginkakuji, the Silver Pavillion, and then proceed to Kinkakuji, the Golden Pavilion, one of Japan's most famous architectural and historical icons. We also visit Ryoan-ji, the famous raked gravel Zen Garden, for which the Zen Buddhists are renowned. The essential dichotomy and harmony of the universe, which lies at the heart of this belief system, is symbolized in these tranquil gardens.

After a busy day, we’ll have a break before reconvening for our evening meal at a local restaurant.

Overnight in Kyoto.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 9 Kyoto & Nara
Today we travel by local train to Nara.

The crest of every mountain, the slope of every hill, the mute testimony of every rock, the waterfall, rivulet, and the valley of Nara are infused with the intangible spiritual energy that accompanied the birth of the Japanese civilization. Nara, meaning "level land, " occupies the great basin of what was Yamoto, or the Land of Great Peace. Here was the centre of the half-real, half mythical kingdom of Japan before it became a nation. Jimmu Tenno, the first emperor of Japan, was purportedly buried at Nara, the Imperial Japan, the oldest existing dynasty in the world, established its first permanent court within the city in 710. Arts, culture, and literature also bloomed in this fertile valley. The earliest histories of the nation were compiled in Nara by noble court ladies in colloquial Japanese, and from the ancient city Buddhism spread throughout the land.

In its glory days, Nara covered an expansive area linked by palaces, temples, shrines, public buildings, and nobles' villas. The temples were massive and extremely powerful, almost like independent city-states. Numerous fires, the ravages of time, war, and pestilence have reduced many of the ancient structures, but plenty remain in their original states, especially in the eastern sections of the city. Part of this legacy is the Great Buddha of Todai-ji Otera, the largest bronze statue in the world, tipping the scales at over 500 tonnes.

Nara Koen, at over 500 ha (1235 acres), is Japan's largest park and is home to the sacred deer of nearby Kasuga Taisha. This shrine, moss-covered and illuminated by over 3000 stone lanterns, was first erected in 768 and is second in importance only to the Grand shrines of Ise. As we walk through this park dotted with temples and deer wandering about, you will be struck at how the sublime cultural richness of the quiet past lingers on.

Overnight in Kyoto.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 10 Kyoto: Nijo Castle & Leisure time
This morning we visit Nijo Castle, built in 1603 as the Kyoto residence of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first shogun of the Edo Period (1603-1867). His grandson Iemitsu completed the castle's palace buildings 23 years later and further expanded the castle by adding a five story castle keep. After the Tokugawa Shogunate fell in 1867, Nijo Castle was used as an imperial palace for a while before being donated to the city and opened up to the public as a historic site. Its palace buildings are arguably the best surviving examples of castle palace architecture of Japan's feudal era, and the castle was designated a UNESCO world heritage site in 1994.

The balance of the day is yours to explore Kyoto on your own. A good place to start may be the small Japanese garden named Shoseien, located another few street blocks east of Higashi Honganji. Your Tour Leader can help you plan your afternoon.

Overnight in Kyoto.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 11 Kyoto - Train to Hiroshima
Today we take the Shinkansen train to Hiroshima. Passing through Osaka and Kobe, just minutes from Kyoto on this fast train, we will arrive at our destination in just a couple of hours.

Modern Hiroshima rose like a phoenix from its own ashes. Less than five decades since its obliteration, it is once again the most vital city of San-Yo with a population of one million and growing. Hiroshima is referred to as the "River City." In its confines, the Ota-gawa River fans out into six delta tributaries that flow into the immense and very busy bay. In the years just following the A-bomb blast, scientists doubted if Hiroshima could ever live again. Today the streets hum with activity, trees and flowers grow, and birds sing. Nature may not forget, but it does forgive!

On the morning of August 6, 1945, the people of war-torn Japan hurried to begin the day. Then suddenly buildings melted, people evaporated, and humankind lost the first battle of the atomic age. Seventy thousand buildings were flattened and 200,000 people perished, the lucky ones quickly; the unlucky lingered. Hiroshima, fringed by mountains forming a natural amphitheatre, seethed and fumed.

Our visit takes us to the Peace Memorial Park (Heiwa Kinen Koen). Here the Cenotaph, shaped like an ancient tomb, holds the names of the dead. The prayer, the hope, the Japanese reads "Repose ye in peace, for the error shall not be repeated." The skeleton of the Atomic Bomb Dome (Genbaku Domu) turns green with age against a blue sky. Until all nuclear arms are banned and destroyed, the Eternal Flame will flicker. We will visit the Peace Memorial Museum and walk to the A-Bomb Dome, passing the many monuments, memorials, and statues.

Overnight Hiroshima.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 12 Hiroshima & Miyajima
Today we travel by train and ferry to Miyajima where we spend the day.

Since ancient times, Miyajima has been regarded as one of the "Three Most Beautiful Spots" of Japan and, as part of the Seto Inland Sea National Park, it has received several distinctions, such as a place of extraordinary scenic beauty, exceptional history, and a natural monument. The virgin forests neighbouring Mt. Misen are representative of the lush greenery and abundance of nature which still covers the entire island even now. A surprisingly large number of southwestern Japan native botanical specimens can still be found on Miyajima. The island is like a miniature model of Japan, showing the harmonious ecology of all living things from the ocean depth to the top of mountains.

Our walking tour of the island will include a visit to the famous Itsukushima Shrine, which together with its large wooden tori, stands in the ocean during high tide.* You will also have some free time to admire this World Heritage Site before returning to Hiroshima.

* Please be advised that the tori may be undergoing regular maintenance at the time of our visit. This occurs every 30 years and can, depending on its needs, take anywhere from 6 months to two years to complete. Please be prepared for the gate to be either partially or completely covered by scoffolding during this time.

Overnight in Hiroshima.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 13 Hiroshima - Departure
Departure for home.

LAND ONLY CLIENTS: You could book your return flight from Osaka or Fukuoka instead of Hiroshima, though you would have to make it late enough in the day to allow for your arrival by train on the same day. Trains are very regular and your Tour Leader will assist. Your flight from Fukuoka or Osaka should be no earlier than 4pm. YOU MAY also fly directly from Hiroshima to Tokyo and connect to homeward flights if this is easier/more economical for you (though beware of possible change of airport). Land & Air passengers may be offered this option.

Departure from Hiroshima.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast



Trip Info
Trip Info

Services of a full-time Tour Leader with local guide support.

Hotel breakfast and most dinners (mostly at local restaurants) are included daily.

All transport, accommodation, sightseeing and entrance fees for sites noted as 'visited' in the detailed itinerary.

We include luggage forwarding services on one train journey (as per the tour itinerary); this service may be available elsewhere with your Tour Leader's assistance (payment can be made locally).

Gratuities for restaurant staff, porters (when available), drivers, local guides.

International airfare to/from the tour.

Tour Leader gratuities, lunches, drinks, international (if applicable) air taxes, and any excursions referenced as 'optional'. Items of a personal nature.

Optional trip cancellation insurance (please refer to "Resources" tab for more info).

PLEASE NOTE that at variance with our common policy on airport transfers for most tour arrival points, we do NOT include or pre-book arrival airport transfers in Tokyo, regardless of whether or not you book your air with us. We provide detailed information on your various options as part of your pre-trip information package. We will, however, include departure transfers for "Land & Air" customers at the end of the tour (your Tour Leader will assist).

Seasonality and Weather
Our April tours can expect cool-warm temperatures with moderate humidity. April dates can expect daytime high temperatures of about 18-23 C (66-72 F), with chilly mornings and evenings. May will be a bit warmer, with highs to 26-28C (77-82 F) depending on daily conditions and location.

Our April date is also set to coincide with cherry blossom season (exact timing and location is reliant on weather conditions and can vary year to year). By May, the cherry blossoms give way to riotous azaleas that colourfully explode in hillsides, parks, gardens, and pretty much everywhere. Again, the timing of this can vary year to year, but the plant has a long blooming season so we should be able to enjoy in several places during this time.

Our fall dates coincide with the beginning of the cooler and drier time of year and should coincide with autumn leaf colour in some locations, as well as chrysanthemum season, which can be quite festive in some locales.

Rain showers can occur at any time, though their likelihood decreases the later we get into the fall which is a cooler/drier time of year.

Transport and Travel Conditions
Our primary means of transportation throughout Japan is via the very efficient rail system, including the famous Shinkansen, or Bullet Train. Distances are not great and most journeys are only a few hours duration. A combination of buses and taxis will be used elsewhere as part of our local sightseeing program.

The tour is physical in that it is busy and that YOU MUST BE ABLE TO MANAGE YOUR OWN BAGS ONTO/OFF TRAINS AND IN TRAIN STATIONS. Japanese stations can be large and crowded and may not have escalators or elevators. You must pack VERY lightly, preferably in wheeled soft-sided baggage plus a day-bag that you can fit into the overhead luggage compartments in the trains.

You must also be steady on your feet and be able to endure some heat and long days. We have numerous walking tours and visit several sites that are LARGE with steps and uneven surfaces.

There is also a very strong culinary element to this trip. Breakfasts feature Asian as well as Western items, but our dinners out at local restaurants will feature a wide range of local specialties. Eating is very much a cultural experience in this part of the world, and this aspect of our program is an integral part of the overall experience. Though individual tastes and requirements will be taken into account by your leader who will be organizing our evening meals on-the-go, if you are strictly a meat-and-potatoes person, or a strict vegetarian/vegan/gluten-free etc, you may find your needs/preferences significantly challenged on this tour.

Am I suitable for this tour? Please refer to our self-assessment form.

Activity Level: 2
These are particularly busy tours that feature a lot of moving around, sometimes by train and short journeys on local transport. Walking tours of towns and cities are leisurely but you should be prepared to be on your feet for several hours. Some of our cultural trips that occur at high altitude and/or require greater independence with baggage handling (at hotels, airports, train stations) also fall into this category.

To learn more about the Activity levels, please visit our tour styles page.

All hotels are centrally-located, air-conditioned, 3-4 star standard with private bath facilities. We spend one night at a traditional Ryokan (in Hakone), which features tatami rooms and futon bedding. Laundry service is available at most hotels (except Hakone) for a rather high price. All hotel rooms are well equipped and usually include coffee/tea making facilities. Most hotels have hairdryers and irons. Some hotels have indoor/outdoor swimming pools.

Single rooms are limited and possibly smaller than twins.

Porters are generally available (see 'Inclusions').

Staff and Support
Tour Leader throughout, local guides at various locations.

Group Size
Maximum 18 plus Tour Leader

Tour Extensions
This tour is part of a series that can be upgraded to make for a longer trip. For more options, please refer to tour code/s:

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Map & Hotels
Map & Hotels

Regions visited: Far East
Countries visited: Japan

*The red tour trail on the map does not represent the actual travel path.

The following is a list of sample hotels at some locations included on this tour. The hotels shown here are meant to provide a general sense of the standard of hotel we usually aim for; they are not necessarily confirmed for your chosen departure.

Hotel Monterey Akasaka
4 Star Accommodation 4 Star Accommodation 4 Star Accommodation 4 Star Accommodation
Location: Tokyo
Country: Japan
Hotel Kajikaso
3 Star Accommodation 3 Star Accommodation 3 Star Accommodation
Location: Hakone
Country: Japan
Hotel Kajikaso is proud to offer a wide range of Onsen Hot Springs facilities including, an open-air bathing area, a rock-lined bathing area, and a large bathing spa with wooden bathtubs made ... Hinoki (Japanese cypress). Exceptional Japanese cuisine is also another outstanding feature of Hotel Kajikaso, where you can enjoy traditional Japanese cuisine and fresh seafood from Sagami Bay.
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Hotel Associa Takayama Resort
4 Star Accommodation 4 Star Accommodation 4 Star Accommodation 4 Star Accommodation
Location: Takayama
Country: Japan
Hotel Associa Takayama Resort is surrounded by the majestic trees of Takayama. In the surrounding area, the beautiful streets that once prospered as a castle town still remain. Feel the slow flow ... time away from the noise of the city.
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Mitsui Garden Hotel Kyoto Sanjo
3 Star Accommodation 3 Star Accommodation 3 Star Accommodation
Location: Kyoto
Country: Japan
Whether for sightseeing or business, your Kyoto trip will be fascinating. With the city offering so much, your stay should be simple. To reflect on the impressions of your day, you desire ... worry-free, quietly-sized place to stay, Mitsui Garden Hotel Kyoto Sanjo will be the perfect place.
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Mitsui Garden Hotel Hiroshima
3 Star Accommodation 3 Star Accommodation 3 Star Accommodation
Location: Hiroshima
Country: Japan
Spend an active day in a great location, starting with a meal on the top floor that overlooks the islands of the Seto Inland Sea. As the Mitsui Garden Hotel Hiroshima offers ... view of islands floating among the waves, the art in the hotel also focuses on the natural beauty of the Seto Inland Sea. The hotel features art pieces designed for the area, including a carpet in the lobby featuring a sunset view of the Seto Inland Sea, and artwork in the guest rooms featuring oysters and lemons, two of the hotel's specialties.
Read More






Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions
01. What is the maximum number of participants on a trip?
Most of our tours carry a maximum of 18 participants; some tours (ie hiking tours) top out at 16. In the event that we do not achieve our minimum complement by our 90-day deadline, we may offer group members the option of paying a "small-group surcharge" as an alternative to cancellation. If all group members agree, we will confirm the trip at existing numbers; this surcharge is refundable in the event that we ultimately achieve our regular minimum. If the small group surcharge is not accepted, we will offer a refund of your deposit or a different trip of your choice.
02. Can I extend my tour either at the beginning or end? What about stopovers?
Yes, you can extend your tour either at the beginning or the end and we can book accommodation in our tour hotel. Stopovers are often permitted, depending on air routing. Stopovers usually carry a "stopover" fee levied by the airline.
03. How do I make a reservation? How and when do I pay?
The easiest way to make a reservation is via our website; during office hours, you are also more than welcome to contact us by telephone. A non-refundable deposit is payable at the time of booking; if a reservation is made within 90 days, full payment is required. Some trips require a larger deposit. If international airline bookings require a non-refundable payment in order to secure space or the lowest available fare, we will require an increase in deposit equal to the cost of the ticket(s). Early enrolment is always encouraged as group size is limited and some trips require greater preparation time. Once we have received your deposit, we will confirm your space and send you a confirmation package containing your trip itinerary, any visa/travel permit related documents, invoice, clothing and equipment recommendations, general information on your destination(s), and forms for you to complete, sign and return to us. Your air e-tickets (if applicable), final hotel list, final trip itinerary, and instructions on how to join your tour, will be sent approximately 2-3 weeks prior to departure.
04. What about cancellations, refunds, and transfers?
Please review our cancellation policy page for details.
05. I am a single who prefers my own room. What is a single supplement?
All of our tours have a single supplement for those who want to be guaranteed their own room at each location. This supplement is a reflection of the fact that most hotels around the world do not discount the regular twin-share rate for a room by 50% for only one person occupying a room. Most hotels will give a break on the price, but usually in the range of 25-30% of the twin-share rate. This difference, multiplied by each night, amounts to the single supplement. The conventional amount can also vary from country to country and some destinations are more expensive than others for single occupancy. In order to be "single friendly," the supplements we apply are not a profit centre for us and we do our best to keep them as reasonable as possible. On most tours we limit the number of singles available, not to be punitive, but rather because many hotels allow for only a limited number of singles; some smaller hotels at remote locations also have a limited number of single rooms available. Please note that most single rooms around the world are smaller than twin-share rooms and will likely have only one bed.
06. Do you have a shared accommodation program?
Yes! If you are single traveller and are willing to share, we will do our best to pair you with a same-gender roommate. On most of our tours, if we fail to pair you, we will absorb the single supplement fee and you will default to a single room at no extra charge. At some destinations, however, where single rooms are not significantly discounted, or not at all, we may apply a "mandatory" single in the event that we cannot find you a share partner. This is usually 50% of the usual supplement, but can be as much as 100%. If applicable, this proviso will be noted on each tour page on this website, on your invoice, and in our tour date/price book (available for download under "Resources").


What People are Saying
Doris B.
Arlington, MA - US
I most enjoyed the ancient religious sites, especially Kyoto and Nara. Loved the open air sculpture museum in Hakone. Both of the local guides were wonderful, especially Miae, whose fluency in English, liveliness and sense of humor were a pure delight. Narumi added some personal touches that gave a picture of family life in Japan. I'm thinking especially of the photo album she shared with us in which we see her children in school. Transportation was all fine. Love Japanese trains! The food was good and interesting. Our tour leader was incredibly energetic, articulate, knowledgeable, organized, and resourceful. He handled things so competently that none of us spent a moment worrying. The hotels were excellent. Tour was outstanding. Lived up to my expectations based on a previous trip with AA.
Bernard P.
Toronto, ON - CA
The entire itinerary was very enjoyable. All our local guides were knowledgeable and personable. The transportation was organized, interesting and effective. One of the attraction for us was the fact that most of the transportation between locales was by train. The food surpassed our expectations. Full credit must be given to our tour leader for putting so much effort into selecting a wide variety of restaurant types and all of high quality. Our tour leader was He was fun to be with, easy going, knowledgeable, respectful, and resourceful. He was excellent.
Fred H.
Huntington Beach - US
Nothing less than EXCELLENT! I can't say enough about the sites, guides and their personalities, local knowledge, care of all their charges. We all agreed an OUTSTANDING trip!!!!!!!!Japanese cuisine..Hadn't eaten much of it in the past..ate and enjoyed it...All of it. Thank You. Many dishes, many different settings, ALL prepared in Japanese eating situations.How can I describe Stephen...Excellent is not high enough. He managed all our trips, all our personalities, from transportation to meal sites and did this with good cheer and specially with reverence to Japanese requirements. If anyone had a problem with food, question, early debarkation, transportation, missing member, train location and our abilities to navigate them.. they were immediately dealt with humor and positive support. He always double checked to make certain all was clear and acceptable with us.A VERY special Leader. Better than any we have ever had in the past.
Fred H.
Huntington Beach - US
Nothing less than EXCELLENT! I can't say enough about the sites, guides and their personalities, local knowledge, care of all their charges. We all agreed an OUTSTANDING trip!!!!!!!!Japanese cuisine..Hadn't eaten much of it in the past..ate and enjoyed it...All of it. Thank You. Many dishes, many different settings, ALL prepared in Japanese eating situations.How can I describe Stephen...Excellent is not high enough. He managed all our trips, all our personalities, from transportation to meal sites and did this with good cheer and specially with reverence to Japanese requirements. If anyone had a problem with food, question, early debarkation, transportation, missing member, train location and our abilities to navigate them.. they were immediately dealt with humor and positive support. He always double checked to make certain all was clear and acceptable with us.A VERY special Leader. Better than any we have ever had in the past.
Jan Z.
Oakland, CA - US
Enjoyed all the excursions. Local guides were all good. Meals more than met expectations. Our tour leader Stephen did an excellent job of choosing different types of meals each night and made sure our group was separated from smoking and could sit comfortably. Stephen did an excellent job of guiding us everyplace. He's very knowledgeable, caring, and helpful. He really was excellent in every way.
Joy I.
Victoria. BC - CA
The itinerary was excellent and I enjoyed Stephen Scroggings the primary guide very much-articulate, knowledgeable, thoughtful about our comfort and very good at managing the group dynamics. I was satisfied with the pace of the daily excursions and given that we were seeing some of the top attractions, I was amazed that we managed to be ahead of the crowds on many days. The combinations of transport were excellent.
Linda C.
Calgary, AB - CA
Spring in Japan is absolutely magical; cherry blossom time is breathtakingly beautiful. The timing of this trip was perfect for cherry blossoms.
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Countries Visited: 1

Activity Level: 2

These are particularly busy tours that feature a lot of moving around, sometimes by train and short journeys on local transport. Walking tours of towns and cities are leisurely but you should be prepared to be on your feet for several hours. Some of our cultural trips that occur at high altitude and/or require greater independence with baggage handling (at hotels, airports, train stations) also fall into this category.

To learn more about the Activity levels, please visit our tour styles page.
Tour Style: Cultural

These three- and four-star hotel-based, "soft adventure" trips concentrate on the culture, history, and natural attributes of our destination. Though there are no strenuous activities built into these tours, you need to be prepared for some full days with some early starts, plenty of walking on uneven surfaces through villages, cities and archaeological sites, and not a lot of "down time." Independence, reasonable fitness, and an ability to be steady on one's feet are critical in order for you to get the most out of these programs.

To learn more about the Tour Styles, please visit our tour styles page.
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