- Majestic Mount Fuji
- Kinkakuji Temple or ‘Golden Pavilion’, Kyoto
- Matsumoto Castle
- Icons of Japan: Mount Fuji and the Bullet Train
Essence of Japan
- VIP door to door
Marvel at the harmonious contrast of Japan’s old and new
Ancient and ultra-modern sit shoulder to shoulder in Japan. Over two weeks, we’ll experience both, exploring high-paced cities, hushed shrines and temples, and serene gardens.
We’ll attend a traditional tea ceremony, learn a little about geisha and samurai culture, catch a glimpse of Mount Fuji and whizz between cities on the sleek, slick Shinkansen (bullet train).
We travel in spring, when cherry blossoms and hydrangea bloom, and autumn, when maple trees are a blaze of fiery red and orange.
12 nights in hotels and 1 in flight
13 meals: 12 breakfasts (days 3-14) and 1 lunch (day 4)
Tour manager and local guide
- International flights†
- Travel in destination by coach
Excursions and visits
- City tours of Tokyo, Kanazawa (including Kenroku-en Garden), and Kyoto
- Mount Fuji Visitor Centre
- Visits to Matsumoto Castle, Shirakawago Village, Miyajima Island and Nara (including Todaiji Temple and Nara Park)
- Sake tasting at a traditional brewery
- Walking tours of Takayama and Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park
- Three journeys on the bullet train
- Traditional tea ceremony
- Lake Ashi cruise
- Cable car to the Owakudani Valley and hot springs
†Prices are based on return flights with British Airways from London Heathrow. Supplements may apply from other airports
Portable audio headset system on excursions
- Day 1 UK to Tokyo
- Day 2 - 3 Tokyo
- Day 4 Mount Fuji to Matsumoto
- Day 5 Matsumoto to Takayama
- Day 6 Takayama
- Day 7 Kanazawa
- Day 8 Kanazawa to Hiroshima
- Day 9 Hiroshima
- Day 10 Nara to Kyoto
- Day 11 Kyoto
- Day 12 Kyoto to Mishima
- Day 13 Hakone to Tokyo
- Day 14 Tokyo to UK
Keio Plaza Hotel
Matsumoto Buena Vista
Takayama Green Hotel
Kanazawa Tokyu Hotel
Rihga Royal Hotel Hiroshima
Kyoto Hotel Okura
Fujisan Mishima Tokyu Hotel
Kawasaki King Skyfront Tokyu Rei Hotel
Day 1 UK to Tokyo
Our VIP door-to-door travel service collects you from home for your overnight flight to Tokyo.
Day 2 - 3 Tokyo
Our hotel in Tokyo places us right in the heart of this buzzing metropolis, in the Shinjuku neighbourhood. A full-day tour helps us to embrace this dazzling city.
We’ll take in legendary landmarks like the moated Imperial Palace, the five-storey Asakusa Kannon Temple and the Tokyo Skytree. One of the star attractions is Meiji Shrine, a picturesque Shinto shrine set on a tree-lined avenue.
Day 4 Mount Fuji to Matsumoto
The Five Lakes District is dominated by majestic Mount Fuji - on a clear day, the snow-capped volcano is mirrored on the placid waters of Lake Kawaguchi. After admiring the scenery, we’ll continue to Matsumoto.
You stay at either Matsumoto Buena Vista (3.5*) or Alpico Plaza Hotel(3.5*).
Day 5 Matsumoto to Takayama
This morning we visit Matsumoto Castle, a striking timber and stone structure with a unique moon-viewing turret. We also take time to sample sake at a traditional brewery.
We’ll then travel through the breathtaking Japanese Alps to the hill town of Takayama. We’ll call in at the Hida Folk Village, an open-air museum with a collection of antique houses from the region and displays highlighting crafts and ancient traditions.
You stay at either Takayama Green Hotel (3*) or Associa Takayama (3*).
Day 6 Takayama
Our walking tour of Takayama, known as ‘little Kyoto’, showcases this traditional city’s highlights, from the open-air flower and fruit market to government house.
Day 7 Kanazawa
We transfer by coach to Kanazawa, visiting the World Heritage Shirakawago Village en route. Kanazawa is a historic castle town, boasting beautifully preserved samurai and geisha districts. Our sightseeing tour includes Omicho market and Higashi Chayagai (the ‘teahouse district’).
Day 8 Kanazawa to Hiroshima
We pack overnight bags whilst our main luggage is transferred to Kyoto for our arrival on day 10.
A second sightseeing tour of Kanazawa this morning includes the gorgeous Kenroku-en Garden and Buke-Yashiki (Samurai's house). We then transfer to Kanazawa Station to depart for Hiroshima, travelling on express and bullet trains.
Day 9 Hiroshima
Today, we’ll catch a ferry over to Miyajima Island. We’ll admire the ancient Itsukushima Shrine - please note that the shrine's torii gate has been under restoration since 2019 and may not be visible. We'll spend some time strolling through the park, which dazzles with red maples in autumn.
Back in Hiroshima, we’ll take a walking tour around Peace Memorial Park and visit the Atomic Bomb Museum.
Day 10 Nara to Kyoto
A bullet train takes us to Osaka, where we’ll board our coach for the onward journey to Nara, a former capital of Japan. Attractions include the 8th-century Todaiji temple, supposedly the oldest wooden structure in the world. As well as touring the temple, we’ll visit Nara Park to see hundreds of freely roaming deer.
Our adventure continues on to culturally rich Kyoto, with its wealth of shrines and temples, colourful gardens, and variety of art and craft shops. We spend time in the Gion area - the country’s most famous geisha district.
Day 11 Kyoto
Highlights of this morning’s tour include the wonderful Ryoanji Temple (a Zen temple with a famous rock garden), and the beautiful Kinkakuji Temple, or ‘Golden Pavilion’, whose top two floors are completely bedecked in gold leaf.
We also visit Nijo, a fortified castle with unique ‘nightingale’ floors designed to replicate the sound of the nightingale song when stepped on.
Day 12 Kyoto to Mishima
It’s time for tea and temples this morning - before leaving Kyoto, we’ll visit the Kiyomizu Temple and enjoy a traditional Japanese tea ceremony. Another bullet train whisks us from Kyoto to Mishima.
We’ll check into our hotel and if the weather is kind you’ll have views of Mount Fuji from your room.
Day 13 Hakone to Tokyo
We drive to Hakone and embark on a cruise on Lake Ashi for stunning views of the snow-capped mountains.
We journey by cable car to the Owakudani Valley and Hot Springs, lying in the crater of Mount Hakone. Later, enjoy marvellous views of Tokyo Bay before continuing to our hotel.
Day 14 Tokyo to UK
Transfer to the airport for your return flight to the UK. Upon arrival, your vehicle will be waiting for the journey home.
May 10 and 15, and September 13 and 18, 2023 departures include an additional night in Tokyo and tickets to a Sumo Wrestling Tournament.
April 10 and October 4, 2023 departures coincide with the Takayama Festival, for the chance to see colourful floats and festivities.
July 6, 2023 departure includes an additional night in Kyoto and a Kawadoko riverside dining experience to celebrate the Gion Festival.
Accommodation is locally rated and may change, but will always be of a similar standard.