- Snow monkeys
- Fuji on film
- Golden pavilion
- Stay in a Japanese heritage inn - ryokan
Into the Heart of Japan
- Small Group 25 or less
- VIP door to door
- All breakfasts and more
Discover the unique culture of Japan
Immerse yourself in Japanese culture from the bright lights of Tokyo to the haunting beauty of Hiroshima’s Memorial Peace Garden. See Mount Fuji and snow monkeys, sleep in a ryokan, explore historic temples, make sushi, and meet a charming and courteous people.
11 nights in hotels and 2 in flight
17 meals: 11 breakfasts (B), 3 lunches (L) and 3 dinners (D)
Saga tour manager
- Return flights and transfers
- Welcome drink
- Porterage at all hotels
Included excursions and visits
- Coach tour of Tokyo
- Sushi making experience
- Owakudani cable-car ride
- Cruise on Lake Ashi
- Marquetry experience
- Visit Mount Fuji’s 5th Station
- Explore a wasabi farm
- Overnight stay in a traditional Japanese Inn
- See the Snow Monkeys of Hell Valley
- Tour of Kanazawa
- Explore the mountain village of Shirakawa-go
- See traditional architecture in Takayama
- Artisan gold-leaf demonstration
- Sightseeing tour of Kyoto
- Dine in an Izakaya (Japanese pub)
- Authentic teahouse visit and tea ceremony
- Walking tour of Tomonoura
- Sake tasting
- Visit Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park
- Explore the historic Senko-Ji temple (2021 departures only)
- Visit to Rabbit Island (2022 departures only)
- Walking tour of Takehara (2022 departures only)
- Visit Hiroshima Castle (2022 departures only)
Use of audio headsets on guided tours
- Day 1 UK to Tokyo
- Day 2 Tokyo
- Day 3 Tokyo
- Day 4 Tokyo to Kawaguchi
- Day 5 Kawaguchi to Yudanaka
- Day 6 Yudanaka to Kanazawa
- Day 7 Kanazawa
- Day 8 Kanazawa to Kyoto
- Day 9 Kyoto
- Day 10 Kyoto to Kurashiki
- Day 11 Kurashiki to Hiroshima
- Day 12 Hiroshima
- Day 13 Hiroshima to Osaka to UK
- Day 14 UK
Dai-ichi Hotel Tokyo Seafort
Kanazawa Tokyu Hotel
Kyoto Tokyu Hotel
Kurashiki Royal Art Hotel
RIHGA Royal Hotel Hiroshima
Day 1 UK to Tokyo
After taking your VIP door-to-door travel service to the airport, fly overnight to Tokyo.
Day 2 Tokyo
On arrival at the airport you'll be met and taken to the 4-star Dai-ichi Hotel Tokyo Seafort (4Q) for two-night stay. Enjoy a welcome drink.
Day 3 Tokyo
Compare and contrast Tokyo's old and new sights, on a tour from the traditional Asakusa district to modern streets swathed in neon signs. Visit Imperial Palace Plaza to see the Japanese Royal Family’s official residence, the upmarket shopping district of Ginza, then, after a sushi demonstration, make your own sushi lunch.
Move on to Tokyo’s oldest temple, Senso-Ji, a famous Buddhist Temple, founded in the 7th century. B, L
Day 4 Tokyo to Kawaguchi
Head for Komagatake in the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park which is celebrated for its ethereal scenery. Ride the Hakone Ropeway to Owakudani Valley, then take a leisurely cruise across Lake Ashi to drink in the world-famous view of snow-capped Mount Fuji, and to see the hot springs that bubble up in this crater lake. After lunch you’ll be treated to a demonstration of the ancient art of Japanese marquetry – Yosegi – and can even try your hand at it.
Move on to Lake Kawaguchi (89 miles, three hours), lying at the base of Mount Fuji and one of Fuij’s five lakes, for a one-night stay at the 4-star Regina Kawaguchiko (4Q). B, D
Day 5 Kawaguchi to Yudanaka
Ascend Japan’s tallest mountain travelling up to the 5th station, the highest point you can reach if you’re not climbing, you may find you’re looking down at the clouds! Make a photo stop at Matsumoto Castle, dubbed Crow Castle because of its black walls and roofs that look like spreading wings. It dates back to the Sengoku period and is the country’s oldest castle. Next stop is Daio Wasabi Farm, where you can learn about the complexities of wasabi cultivation and its culinary uses, you can even treat yourself to a wasabi-themed lunch.
Continue to Yudanaka (145 miles, four hours), where you’ll stay at the 4-star Yoyozuya Ryokan (3Q) – a traditional Japanese inn. Expect traditional architecture and customs - footwear is removed. Ryokan offer therapeutic hot-spring baths – onsen. The custom is to wash before entering the water for a long soak. Baths are communal (single sex only) and it is customary to enter naked, using only a towel to discreetly preserve your modesty, this is then folded and placed on your head while you contemplate your navel. Swimsuits are frowned upon. After bathing don a long cotton robe called a yukata and geta – Japanese sandals. Traditional dishes will be served for dinner and you’ll dine at a low table, sitting on a floor chair. Visitors sleep on a mat on the floor. B, D
Day 6 Yudanaka to Kanazawa
A highlight of your trip will be today’s visit to Hell Valley in Yaen Jigoku National Park, home to snow monkeys. These Japanese macaques survive at lower temperatures than many primates, and here they go about their business and frolic in and out of the hot springs, apparently oblivious to the watchful eyes of the visitors. Move on to Iiyama and catch the bullet train to Kanazawa (three hours) taking just a weekend bag with you so you don’t have much to carry (your main baggage will travel separately to Kyoto by road).
On arrival enjoy a city tour and see the Kenroku-en garden – said to be one of the country’s three great gardens – and the Nomura samurai house, the area is famous for its samurai history.
Stay two nights at the 4-star Kanazawa Tokyu Hotel (3Q). B
Day 7 Kanazawa
Today you’ll visit Shirakawa-go a UNESCO-listed mountain village with Gassho houses with thatched roofs designed to withstand large amounts of snow and constructed ‘like hands in prayer’. Inaccessible for long years, here the locals cultivated mulberry trees and reared silk worms. Tour Wade-Ke house that dates from the mid-Edo period and enjoy some free time here.
Move on to Takayama to explore the perfectly preserved streets of merchant’s houses in Sannomachi street and enjoy an included ‘Hida Beef’ lunch. You could even treat yourself to a ride in a rickshaw before visitng Takayama Jinya, a former government office, now museum, with a traditional rice storehouse. B, L
Day 8 Kanazawa to Kyoto
Gold was found in Kanazawa some 400 years ago, and working gold leaf is a flourishing local craft. The leaf is so thin that if you hold it up, you can see light though it. See an artisan at work and learn about the complexities of the process. Move on to explore the traditional Higashichaya district, to see the wooden houses where ornately costumed geishas and maikos once entertained.
For a change of scene visit Omicho market to see the range of fresh food on offer, and you can get yourself lunch here. Take a coach to the train station for your speedy rail journey to Kyoto (three hours), and stay two nights at the 4-star Kyoto Tokyu Hotel (4Q). B
Day 9 Kyoto
Founded in 794, Kyoto is widely considered Japan's cultural heart and is a virtual living museum.
On a full-day sightseeing tour see the Kiyomizu and Kinkakuji Temples, perhaps treat yourself to lunch in Nishiki market and enjoy a stroll around the Gion district, once the haunt of geisha. While here participate in the intricacies of a tea ceremony and sample matcha tea and Japanese sweetmeats. B
Day 10 Kyoto to Kurashiki
This morning look forward to a visit to the 17th century Nijo Castle, built as a residence for a Shogun. Afterwards, travel to the small coastal town of Kurashiki (150 miles, four hours), and walk the willow-lined canals and get a feel of the local culture and architecture.
Stay overnight at the 4-star Kurashiki Royal Art Hotel (3Q). B
Day 11 Kurashiki to Hiroshima
Take a 15 minute ferry ride to Rabbit Island, and walk amongst the hundreds of wild rabbits which roam the island. Return to Takehara on the mainland, where you’ll have free time for lunch and to explore. Continue to Hiroshima (88 miles, two hours and 30 minutes), where you’ll visit Hiroshima Castle, reconstructed originally constructed in the 1590s, but was destroyed by the atomic bombing in 1945.
Stay two nights at the 4-star RIHGA Royal Hotel Hiroshima (3Q). Enjoy an included dinner this evening at Japanese pub. B, D
Day 12 Hiroshima
Today, you’ll take the ferry to Mijima Island – your luggage will be taken separately to the airport – to see the centuries-old Itsukushima shrine which has been named as one Japan’s three best views. Built over water it seems to float at high tide. Unfortunately the distinctive Torii gate will be undergoing renovation and will be hidden by scaffolding.
Visit Okonomi village for lunch and try the celebrated Hiroshima dish of okonimiyaki, then pay a moving visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. Dedicated to the victims of the world’s first nuclear attack, and build on land flattened by the explosion, it is designed to advocate world peace and is home to museums, monuments and memorials. B, L
Day 13 Hiroshima to Osaka to UK
Take the bullet train to Osaka this morning (90 minutes), where you’ll have free time in the Dotonbori district for lunch.
This afternoon, transfer to the airport for your return overnight flight. B
Day 14 UK
Arrive and take your VIP door-to-door travel service home.
Post-holiday extension - breakfasts included
After your tour stay three nights at the 3-star Regal Kowloon Hotel (3Q). Explore this dynamic, high-rise island. Available if flying with Cathay Pacific.
For ease of travel, on all train journeys your luggage will be transferred separately to the hotel so you have nothing to carry.