Cherry blossoms, geisha, tea ceremonies, sake, Shinto and sacred temples; Japan has it all, and when you travel through cities and countryside alike by rail, it is all too easy to fall in love with this unique country
Board your flight to Beijing, then continue your journey by air, flying directly to Tokyo where you'll arrive on Day 2. A coach transfer is included to your hotel and after time to check, there'll be a short orientation tour of the area.
Begin your Japanese experience with a full-day's guided tour of Tokyo, a city where cutting edge technology sits alongside ancient temples, flashing neon lights, and shining skyscrapers that tower above stunning Shinto shrines. Included in the sights you'll see are Tokyo's government building, whose observation deck you'll visit for panoramic views over the city, the Meiji Jingu Shrine, dedicated to deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken, as well as some free time in Harajuku and Omotesando, one of Tokyo's premier shopping districts. After enjoying beautiful Hamarikuy Garden with tea and sweets, view the regal double-bridged entrance to the Imperial Palace Plaza.
Continue your explorations on the morning of Day 4 by visiting the Edo Museum, then travel by coach to the Senso-ji Buddhist temple, dedicated to the Asakusa Kannon - otherwise known as the goddess of mercy. Afterward, take a stroll along Nakamise shopping street, one of the oldest of its kind in the whole of Japan. Enjoy a group lunch at a local restaurant before an afternoon and evening at leisure.
Today you'll travel by coach to Mount Fuji, one of the highlights of your tour and arguably Japan's most distinctive landmark. Driving along the foot of the famous mountain and up it's northern slopes, arrive at the Fuji Subaru Line 5th Station, which provides the closest view of Mount Fuji possible, unless you make the hike to its summit. If the weather doesn't allow for a safe ascent, there'll be a visit to the Mount Fuji Visitor Centre instead. Following your visit, take the Hakone rope-way (cable car) to the sulphurous hot springs at Owakudani, after which you'll descend to Lake Ashi for a short cruise.
Board the world-famous bullet train today for a high-speed journey to Hiroshima, a city that rose to prominence after the dropping of the atomic bomb by the United States Air Force on 6th August 1945. Approximately 90% of the city was levelled, and Hiroshima's busiest commercial district was eradicated - leaving an open field. This was turned into the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, which opened on 1st April 1954. You'll also spend time at the A-bomb Dome, the closest building to the hypo-centre of the bomb that remained at least partially standing. It would have been demolished, but was more intact than originally thought, and in 1996 it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Entrance is also included to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.
Just off the coast from Hiroshima, Miyajima Island - otherwise known as Itsukushima - is seen as sacred. Trees cannot be cut here, and some animals including monkeys and deer can roam freely. To further preserve the apparent purity of the island, children cannot be born here. There are also a number of shrines on the island, but none are more famous than the magnificent 'floating' Itsukushima Shrine, which is a recognised UNESCO World Heritage site. Its recognisable gate (torii) is one of Japan's most iconic sights and entrance is included in your tour, after which you'll have some free time to stroll around independently.
On Day 8 travel again by bullet train, this time to Kyoto - Japan's ancient capital. Embark on a tour that takes you to the Fushimi Inari shrine, dedicated to the god of rice and sake before, appropriately, making a visit to the Gekkeikan Okura Sake Museum and enjoying a tasting of this unique national tipple.
Continue sightseeing in and around Kyoto today with visits to the secluded Kinkaku-ji temple and Ryoan-ji temple, both built for the practise of Zen Buddhism. This is followed by an excursion to the the incredible Arashiyama bamboo forest which provides a truly otherworldly experience as you walk through the sprawling grove of bamboo trees which tower, seemingly endlessly, above you.
Transfer by coach to ancient Nara, where you'll make a stop at Nara deer park, so named due to the large number of tame deer that roam around it. Originally believed to be messengers of the gods, the deer were seen as sacred, and killing one of these deer was a capital offence punishable by death until relatively recently. As well as being a vast expanse of beautiful parkland, Nara Park is home to Todai-ji Temple, a Buddhist building founded in the first half of the 8th century. On Day 11 you are free to explore at you own pace.
Travel by coach to the futuristic city of Osaka today and explore Osaka Castle, a traditional pagoda-style building dating back to the 16th century, and experience the dynamic Dotonbori district with its neon signs lining the waterfront. On the morning of Day 13 transfer to the airport for your flight back to London, via Beijing arriving on the same day.
Whether you are planning a holiday in the UK, mainland Europe or further afield, a Rail Discoveries tour offers you a superb way to experience some of the world's most beautiful destinations. You can watch the wonderful and ever-changing scenery glide past; after all, rail journeys often go where no other form of transport can.
Rail Discoveries believe that experience counts – and as part of the Great Rail Journeys group, they have over 45 years of it. They create interesting and exciting holidays, combining the best or most scenic rail journeys with conveniently located hotels and inclusive excursions so that you enjoy the journey out and back as much as your time exploring each new destination.
One of the most important features of a Rail Discoveries holiday is the added value that the friendly, helpful and knowledgeable Tour Managers bring to every tour, allowing you to sit back, relax and enjoy your holiday with the knowledge that everything is in capable hands.
You have the peace of mind of 100% financial protection when you book with Rail Discoveries. Their price promise provides transparency and ensures once your booking is confirmed, they won’t increase the price of your holiday, even if their costs go up. They are members of the Association of Independent Tour Operators and flight-inclusive holidays are ATOL or ABTOT protected, while non-flight-inclusive holidays are protected by ABTOT.
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