22 October 2016
This unforgettable two-week tour of Japan takes in incredible contrasts: one day you're taking a relaxed stroll through a breathtaking natural park, or learning about rural Japanese life in centuries past, the next you're exploring the nightlife of buzzing modern Tokyo. Along the way you'll have the chance to climb Mount Fuji, sample delicious local food and sake, and even meet a real Geisha, as well as having plenty of time to relax.
Your adventure begins as you're met on arrival at the airport and transferred to your hotel in the Asakusa area, home to Senso-ji, the city's oldest temple. This evening you'll meet your tour leader at the first night dinner.
Today you'll enjoy a full-day tour of the city, including a cruise down the Sumida River and a relaxing stroll through Hamarikyu tei-en, a tranquil Japanese garden where you may stop for green tea. You'll then head to the trendy Harajuku district and will have time to explore the Meiji Shrine.
Today you'll travel to Hakone to explore the Mount Fuji area. A quick ride on the Bullet Train from Tokyo will bring you to the famous hot spring town of Hakone. Here you'll be staying in a large Japanese-style hotel very close to the Hakone Open-Air Museum, which you'll be visiting with your group today.
You'll spend today exploring Hakone. You may like to take a short hike along what remains of the old Tokaido highway, which used to be the main road linking Edo (modern-day Tokyo) with Kyoto and Osaka. You'll want to visit the open-air sculpture museum, which features pieces by many world-renowned artists, set against a stunning mountain backdrop, and don't miss the chance to pick up one of Hakone’s famous "trick boxes" as a unique souvenir.
This morning you'll take a three-hour ride on the famous bullet train to Osaka, heart of the Kansai region and home to some of Japan's best food, drink and entertainment. This afternoon you'll head to the spectacular Osaka castle.
You have a range of options today, including an excursion to Nara to see the massive "Big Buddha" at Todaiji Temple, or to Himeji, famous for its stunning castle. You could also visit Hiroshima to see the Peace Park and museum or perhaps visit Miyajima Island, or you may like to continue exploring Osaka's fantastic shopping, excellent aquarium and huge range of videogame arcades and karaoke parlours.
You'll set off for Kyoto early this morning to allow a full day of sightseeing in this historic city. This afternoon you'll head to Gion and the Geisha districts, and will visit a small tea house to meet a Geisha and gain a unique insight into this hidden world.
Today you're free to explore the city yourself, or to join your tour leader on an excursion to Kameoka, from where you can take a white-water ride back down the river to Arashiyama, one of the city's most charming districts. From here the famous temples of Ryoanji, with its Zen rock garden, and Kinkakuji, the Golden Pavilion, are within easy reach.
Today you'll travel by bullet and express trains to Takayama and begin exploring this intriguing mountain town. You'll stay at a ryokan, a traditional Japanese inn, a short walk from the historic old town, with its craft shops and sake breweries.
You'll spend today exploring Takayama. Don't miss the Hida-Takayama folk village, a fantastic outdoor museum of traditional-style houses from all around the Hida region – a fascinating insight into rural Japanese life in times gone by. Takayama's riverside morning market, filled with craft goods and local produce, is another must-see. In the afternoon, you may like to visit a museum, stroll round the beautiful shrines and temples or join a sake tasting. Tonight you may like to join your tour leader for an optional dinner at a local restaurant.
After breakfast you'll take the bus up into the mountains and onto the Kamikochi National Park, nearly 1,500m above sea level and one of the most beautiful places in Japan. Tonight you'll enjoy a delicious traditional dinner, served at your accommodation – a highlight of the tour.
Today you have an opportunity to relax or perhaps do some walking or hiking. There are a variety of walks available to suit all abilities, from gentle riverside rambles to hikes up to the National Park's craggy, snow-covered peaks, where you may spot the park's many resident wild monkeys. There is also an onsen, or hot spring, where you can take a relaxing dip. Another sumptuous dinner is included tonight.
This morning you'll take an early bus down to Matsumoto, a stunning journey, as the road twists and turns down the valley through a series of tunnels, past scenic rivers and dams. You'll stop in Matsumoto for a couple of hours for lunch and a visit to the castle before catching the express train to Tokyo, where you can join your tour leader and travel companions for a farewell dinner.
Today your adventure comes to an end, although you may well want to extend your stay to explore this fascinating city further.
Standard fr £2551pp
Rates based on twinshare
International flights not included unless otherwise stated