Set off on an adventure highlighting the wonders of Japan, a country bursting with natural beauty, renowned historical sites, and steeped tradition. Experience everything from the ultra-modern marvels of Tokyo and the themed districts of Osaka, to the simple elegance of ryokan inns, the pristine forests and rivers of the Japanese Alps, and the serenity of Buddhist monasteries.
Best time to visit: March-May, September-November
Ideal For: Couples, Families
Day 1 – Arrive in Japan
Arrive in Kyoto City, where you will be met at the airport and driven to your hotel. Settle in with the evening on your own to rest after the long flight, and to start exploring the city.
Days 2-3 – Traditions & Temples of Kyoto City
There are 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Kyoto City, and over the next two days of guided tours, you’ll see the best of them. Visit the massive Kiyomizu-dera Temple, Kinkaku-ji Temple, also known as the Golden Pavilion, and the superb gardens of the Ginkaku-ji Temple.
Kyoto offers an incredible introduction to Japanese tradition, aesthetics, and historical architecture, including the history of the samurai on display at the sprawling Nijo-jo Castle. Enjoy traditional kaiseki dining experiences, visit tranquil Shinto shrines, and explore the charms of the Gion and Arashiyama neighborhoods.
Day 4 – Explore Nara & Mount Koya
Travel from Kyoto to the country’s first permanent capital city, Nara, which is home to the world’s largest wooden building, temples, pagodas, and a forested park full of free-roaming sika deer. Continue to Mount Koya, a sacred mountain and religious center since the 9th century, where you will visit Japan’s oldest and most magnificent cemetery. Gain a deeper appreciation for the spiritual and culinary traditions of the mountain while spending the night at a Buddhist monastery.
Day 5 – The Sea Shrine of Miyajima
Begin the day with a sunrise Buddhist prayer service, followed by a traditional shojin ryori breakfast. Leave the mountain behind and travel to Hiroshima and the nearby island of Miyajima with its famous sea shrine. Spend the night at a local ryokan inn on the island, or travel on to Hiroshima City for a taste of exciting nightlife and the local delicacy, okonomiyaki.
Day 6 – Delve into the History of Hiroshima
Spend today exploring Hiroshima, a city that has redefined itself after its destruction in WWII—an event that’s commemorated at the Peace Memorial Park and Museum and Genbaku Atomic Bomb. Enjoy a visit to a traditional tea house before traveling onward to Osaka for the night, where you will explore the themed markets and entertainment districts of this boisterous and fun-loving city.
Day 7 – Tour the Artisan City of Kanazawa
This morning you will travel from Osaka to the west coast of Japan, to Kanazawa, a city of artisans and masters craftspeople working with gold leaf, ceramics, lacquerware, and kimono dyeing. Take a guided tour through the old geisha and tea house district, the palatial gardens, and a world-class art museum.
Day 8 – Alpine Traditions in Shirakawa & Takayama
Travel out of Kanazawa to the Japanese Alps and tour Shirakawa, known for its farm-fresh foods, mountain streams, and traditional thatch-roofed gassho zukuri farm houses. Explore the heritage and traditions of the Alps and then continue to the village of Takayama and discover its decorative wood architectural style and mountain scenery. If your timing is right, you can attend a seasonal lantern-lit matsuri festival.
Day 9 – Hiking in Takayama
Spend a relaxing day around Takayama, day-hiking in the mountains, strolling through Shiroyama Park around the ruins of Takayama castle, or exploring the many shops and small galleries. After an active day, enjoy another evening soaking in the hot springs at your lodging.
Day 10 – Hot Springs & Snow Monkeys
Leaving Takayama in the morning, you will travel along a scenic mountain road that offers spectacular views over forested slopes and rushing rivers to the town of Matsumoto. Tour its famed black castle, one of the few left intact from the feudal era, and then stroll through markets of Nakamachi. Continue to the town of Yudanaka, which is renowned for its natural hot springs and the snow monkeys who enjoy them. Spend a soothing night at a traditional ryokan inn, soaking in its hot springs.
Day 11 – Lakeside Perfection in Hakone
Journey from Yudanaka to the volcanic landscape of Hakone, a city perched on the shores of Ashinoko Lake in one of Japan’s most beautiful national parks. Go hiking, explore the Chokokunomori Open Air Museum, and on clear days, enjoy great views of Mount Fuji. Spend another evening relaxing in natural hot springs at your ryokan inn.
Days 12-13 – Touring Tokyo
This morning, transfer to Tokyo, one of the world’s most dynamic cities. On guided tours over the next two days, you will delve into the region’s rich history and traditions, and explore the city’s modern architectural marvels. Visit ancient temples and innovative museums, stroll through vibrant fashion districts and exciting markets, and enjoy world-class cuisine in the bustling heart of Japan.
Day 14 – Shrines in the Mountains
Today, take a full-day excursion to the mountain town of Nikko, famous for its palatial Shinto shrine built in 1617 as a monument to shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu. Situated in a beautiful cedar grove in Nikko National Park, the sanctuary comprises elegant wooden structures, ornate gateways, and scenic gardens. Return to Tokyo for the night.
Day 15 – Departure
Transfer to the airport for your international flight home.
Remarkable Journeys has partnered with Lost World Adventures to create this journey. We partnered with Lost World due to their well-mannered relationships with tour guides, hotellers, airlines, and ground management services in the region. In our opinion, they offer the best value and experience in the region.
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