Best of Japan - 8 days

  • Overview
  • Itinerary
  • What's Included
  • Reviews
  • Dates
  • On The Go Tours

Discover the best of Japan in 8 captivating days. Travelling from the modern metropolis of Tokyo to enchanting Kyoto, with its age-old temples, shrines and colourful Geisha District. See the bronze Buddha and picturesque bamboo forest at Kamakura, the breathtaking beauty of Mt Fuji at Hakone Izu National Park en route.

Highlights
  • Tokyo - Sensoji Temple district and temple, Harajuku, Takeshita Street, Meiji Shrine and Shibuya Crossing
  • Kamakura - Big Buddha Statue, Hokokuji Zen Temple and the Bamboo Forest with a delightful village atmosphere. Opt to take part in a traditional tea ceremony
  • Lake Kawaguchi located within Fuji Hakone Izu National Park - Spectacular mountain scenery and views of Mt Fuji
  • Staying in a ryokan - Sampling Japanese hospitality, bathing in natural hot springs, wearing a Samue (casual Kimono) and sleeping on a futon
  • Kyoto - UNESCO Listed Nijo Castle, Sanjusagen-do Temple with its 1000 life-like statues and Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Temple)
  • Kyoto - Walking tour of the famed Geisha District (Gion), with its ancient cobbled streets, streams, bridges and quaint teahouses and the opportunity to see Geisha and Maiko en route to their next engagement
Age Policy
16+ if accompanied by an adult.
Destinations
  • Kyoto
  • Asia
  • Japan
  • Hakone
  • Tokyo
  • Asakusa
Tour Types
  • Small Group
  • Cultural
  • Singles
  • History
Day 1: Tokyo

Saturday. Upon arrival to Tokyo you will be met at either Narita or Haneda International Airport by your guide. Travel by train into the heart of the city and check into your hotel. The rest of the day is free to spend at your leisure.

Location: Tokyo

Day 2: Tokyo

Today we explore the capital. Taking the subway to Asakusa we visit the lively Sensoji Temple District, which is home to Tokyo’s first temple and scores of interesting souvenir and craft stalls. In the afternoon we’ll head to Harajuku, which is a magnet for young and fashionable Tokyoites with its hip shops and cafes. Here, we’ll visit the impressive Meiji Shrine where the emperor Meiji and his wife are enshrined. Yoyogi Park, beside the shrine is a popular hangout for locals and there is always a lot going on, especially on Sundays with bands playing, drum circles, dancers and busking.

The last stop of the day is Shibuya Crossing - regarded as one of the busiest intersections in the world. The famed junction has no less than 7 pedestrian crossings and when the traffic lights turn red a wave of pedestrians, up to a 1000, converge onto the intersection from every direction. Known as 'the scramble', it's a well-practised art to duck and weave with sportsman like agility to avoid collision, which we'll watch from the second floor of Starbucks, located directly opposite the crossing. This evening offers free time, though if travelling in January, May and September you might like spend the evening watching a Sumo tournament (must be booked in advance). See our Trip Notes for more information.

Location: Tokyo

Day 3: Kamakura

Tokyo - Kamakura - Tokyo. This morning we board a train for our day trip to Kamakura, Japan’s first feudal capital, which is just an hour from Tokyo. Kamakura is a popular seaside location with a quaint village life feel and some stunning Zen temples. Here we’ll visit the iconic bronze Big Buddha and the Zen Temple of Hokokuji with its beautiful bamboo garden. Here, you can drink tea and learn about the tea ceremony before walking the cobbled shopping district - adorned with lovely locally made items before returning to Japan’s bustling capital for the night. Tonight, we'll organise a Shabu Shubu (a traditional Japanese hot pot meal) if the majority of the group are interested.

Location: Kamakura

Day 4: Tokyo

Today offers a guided tour of the Tokyo Edo Museum which focuses on the lifestyle and culture experienced of Tokyoites over the city’s 400-year history. The museum houses some of the city’s best original artefacts and replicas of Edo-era buildings and landmarks, along with several large-scale models. The remainder of the day offers free time to independently explore.

Location: Tokyo

Day 5: Hakone

Tokyo - Lake Kawaguchi. This morning we travel by highway bus (with luggage forwarding) to Lake Kawaguchi, located at the foot of Mt Fuji in the Fuji Hakone Izu National Park. The scenery is stunning with panoramic views of a snow-capped Fuji most of the year. Upon arrival we’ll travel along the Mount Fuji Panoramic Ropeway and visit the observatory. For tours staying at Lake Kawaguchi between 15 Apr – 28 May each year we'll visit the Springtime Fuji Shibazakura (Phlox Moss) Festival held at Motosu Lake, where the landscape is covered in a vibrant, hot pink moss with Fuji as the backdrop. No trip to Japan would be complete without sampling authentic Japanese hospitality at a traditional ryokan (a Japanese inn), which is where we’ll bed down tonight. At the ryokan, sample tasty local cuisine and take a relaxing dip in the natural hot spring baths.

Location: Hakone

Day 6: Kyoto

Lake Kawaguchi – Kyoto. The area has some great hiking trails and early this morning you might like to opt for a hike along the foreshores of the lake. We then travel by bus to Mishima, then bullet train to Kyoto - Japan’s ancient and cultural capital.

As one of the most culturally rich cities in Asia, Kyoto is home to an abundance of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines. Here we enjoy a guided tour of Sanjusagen-do Temple, famous for its statues of Kannon, the goddess of mercy. The one thousand life-size statues of Kannon are made of Japanese cypress clad in gold leaf. They stand in 10 rows of 50, each hand crafted and slightly different from the next. Late this afternoon we head to Gion, for a walking tour of this famous Geisha District. After, you may wish to watch a cultural performance at Gion Corner Theatre where you'll have the opportunity to see a Maiko (apprentice Geisha) performing.

Location: Kyoto

Day 7: Kyoto

This morning, we enjoy a guided tour of Nijo Castle, one of the city’s most impressive UNESCO sites. Built by the first Tokugawa shogun in 1603, the exquisite Nijo Castle is a wonderful example of Momoyama architecture. After, we visit Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion) a stunning Zen Buddhist temple and part of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto World Heritage Site. The top two floors of the monument are completely covered in gold leaf. Set upon a small lake with landscaped gardens, the large completely gilt structure is impressive, as it is a beautiful Temple. Kinkakuji Temple continues to be one of Japan's most visited temples.

This afternoon offers free time for you to relax or to further discover the many sights of Kyoto your own way. Consider visiting Fushimi Inari Shrine, famous for its winding path lined by thousands of bright red torii gates. Just a short train ride away from the main Kyoto Station, this must-see sight is free to visit and is open 24 hours a day. You might also wish to hire a Kimono and walk the streets as many Japanese do or take part in a cooking lesson.

Location: Kyoto

Day 8: Kyoto

Saturday. On day 8 our tour comes to an end after hotel check out.

For information about visas, top travel tips and much more, take a look through our travel guide.

Location: Kyoto

  • 3 breakfasts and 1 Japanese dinner at the Lake Kawaguchi
  • 7 nights 3 star (inclusive of 1 night in a traditional Japanese Inn)
  • Guided sightseeing and walking tours in Tokyo, Kamakura, Lake Kawaguchi and Kyoto
  • Lake Kawaguchi and Mt Fuji - Kachikachi-yama Ropeway and observatory. For tours staying at Lake Kawaguchi between 14 Apr – 28 May each year we'll visit to the Fuji Shibazakura (Moss Phlox) Festival with Mt Fuji as the backdrop
  • Escorted by a licensed English speaking Japanese tour guide
  • All transportation and transfers - buses, trains and rail passes (including Suica Swipe Card)
  • Baggage forwarding service from Tokyo to Kyoto (one bag per person)
  • Airport arrival transfer to tour hotel (by train) from Narita or Haneda International Airport on day 1
  • Maximum Group size: 16 persons


NB - the following are not included:

-Airport departure transfer
-International flights and visa
-If you are opting to pay the single supplement, allowing you the privacy of your own room on this tour, a single room will be provided for all nights with the exception of day 5 (at Lake Kawaguchi), where single rooms are not available. For this night you will be matched up with a fellow tour member of the same gender
-Tip for your tour guide. We recommend you allow USD$3-5 per day, per traveller. Tipping your guide is an entirely personal gesture
-Entrance Fees: USD$25-35pp, paid locally in local currency

Catherine Maiden 21-May-2019

Thank you Yuki - she made this trip perfect. My highlight was seeing a geisha and Mt Fuji.

Rating: 5/5




Shanice Mesquita 25-Mar-2019

I really enjoyed the tour. Most of the arrangements and organisation was very good and our tour guide Yuki was amazing, super polite, patient,really took care of us, went over and above in making our holiday so enjoyable. From the daily well written with cute drawings on her daily schedules, tiny treats she bought us, to the knowledge and expertise in the way she took us through all the public transport so efficient, I give her top marks. My suggestions are few ....taking the bus in Tokyo was the most inconvenient. There were long waits and buses were overcrowded. Train rides were fine and agree the most efficient but local bus rides in Tokyo could have been on a tour bus instead. If the tour could add a few alternative like visiting The monster cafe, teamlab, robot restaurant, just to give it a mix from temples and museums and considering the varying age groups and interests. On the hotels, Kyoto and the traditional were good and location of hotel accommodations were very good , Tokyo hotel rooms were very tiny and I a single occupant found it difficult so can only imagine how the couple's managed but I guess it's usual and the location was really good so its a plus. Overall I did have a great holiday. I enjoy using your company on your escorted tours and will continue to do so. Thank you very much and please share our sincere appreciation with Yuki. Regards Shanice

Rating: 4/5




Jessica Hall 09-Jun-2018

Yuki is a fantastic guide and such a lovely person! She gave us very clear information on what to expect each day, what we needed and where to meet. She was also very patient at explaining all aspects of Japanese culture and happy to answer any questions. She had excellent recommendations and knows the locations inside out. She works extremely hard to give guests the best experience. I can't imagine a better tour guide!

Rating: 4/5




Deevi Williams 01-Dec-2017

Tour guides were friendly and attentive and helpful which made the experience enjoyable. The flexibility to explore at our own pace was also very good and a nice balance between planned activities and free time. In Kyoto, may have been useful to have a coach bus as we spent a lot of time waiting for public transport which meant less time at sites.

Rating: 5/5




Ian Thomlinson 27-May-2017

Excellent trip all round.

Rating: 4/5



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