- Snow monkeys
Watching these Japanese macaques taking a dip is a pure delight.
- Fuji on film
There are few views to compare with that of Mount Fuji, don’t forget your camera!
- Golden pavilion
See Kinkakuji, a Zen Temple in Kyoto with gold leaf encrusting its upper floors.
- Stay in a Japanese heritage inn - ryokan
Expect traditional architecture, food and customs, plus therapeutic hot-spring baths – onsen
- Small Group 25 or less
- VIP door to door
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
16 meals: 11 breakfasts, 2 lunches and 3 dinners
- Optional travel insurance underwritten by Great Lakes Insurance SE, UK
- Return flights and transfers
- Saga tour manager
- Welcome drink
- Porterage at all hotels
Excursions and visits
- Coach tour of Tokyo
- Sushi making experience
- Kimono wearing 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
- Authentic teahouse visit and tea ceremony
- Walking tour of Tomonoura
- Sake tasting
- Visit Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park
- Explore the historic Senko-Ji temple
- City tour of Osaka
Day 1 UK to Tokyo, Japan
After taking Saga’s UK door-to-door travel service to Heathrow, fly overnight to Tokyo.
Day 2 Tokyo
On arrival at the airport you'll be met and taken to the locally rated 4-star Dai-ichi Hotel Tokyo Seafort for two-night stay.
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, and finally learn about the coded rules of traditional Japanese dress, slip into a kimono, tied with an obi and, thus attired, take a walk in Asakusa where kimono is still everyday dress. 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 1800-metre Komagatake Ropeway to the top of Mount Komagatake, 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, lying at the base of Mount Fuji and one of Fuij’s five lakes, for a one-night stay at the locally rated 4-star Regina Kawaguchiko. B, D
Please note: departures on October 19 and November 2, 2020 will stay instead at the Fuji View Hotel.
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! Move on to 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.
Tonight you’ll stay at the locally rated 4-star Yoyozuya ryokan – 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
Please note: departures on the 6 April 2020, may stay instead at the Biyunoyado ryokan.
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 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 locally rated 4-star Kanazawa Tokyu Hotel. 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 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
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, and stay two nights at the locally rated 4-star Kyoto Tokyu Hotel. 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, Nijo Castle, you can 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.
Dinner tonight will be at an Izakaya – a traditional Japanese pub. B, D
Day 10 Kyoto to Kurashiki
Travel to the small coastal town of Kurashiki and walk the willow-lined canals and get a feel of the local culture and architecture.
Stay overnight at the locally rated 4-star Kurashiki Royal Art Hotel. B
Day 11 Kurashiki to Hiroshima
Head off to the atmospheric old port of Tomonoura, large parts of which date from the Edo period, see the historic harbour and wander the streets. Stop in Okonomi village for lunch where you can try the celebrated Hiroshima dish of okonimiyaki, then move on to the coastal town of Onomichi for superb views across the Seto Sea and to see the Senko-Ji temple, which was founded in 806 AD. As Japan comprises of thousand of islands, you’ll cross over to Innoshima for a taste of traditional island life.
Continue to Hiroshima for a two-night stay in the locally rated 4-star Grand Prince Hotel. B
Day 12 Hiroshima
Visit Okonomi village and try the celebrated Hiroshima dish of okonimiyaki, then move on to Saijo – dubbed the spring water capital of Japan – to visit a Sake brewery. The water here is perfect for the production of top quality sake and you’ll be treated to a tasting to sample the different blends which vary in sweetness, umani, and acidity – just remember it’s commonly at least 15% proof.
Today, you’ll also 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. B, L
Day 13 Hiroshima to Osaka to UK
Tour the thriving modern city of Hiroshima, and 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.
Return to Hiroshima and take the bullet train to Osaka. Embark on a tour of this thriving commercial city and spend time in Dotonbori, a canal-side district famous for its gastronomical offer and neon signs before transferring to the airport for your return overnight flight. B
Day 14 UK
Arrive and take your onward UK door-to-door travel service.
Post-holiday extension - breakfasts included
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.
Departures on March 30, 2020 will stay at Biyunoyado Ryoken instead of Yorozuya Ryoken. Departures on October 19 and 2 November will stay at the Fuji View Hotel instead of Regina Kawaguchiko.