Watch for real-life geishas pottering through Gion
Kyoto, , Tokyo
Includes return economy airfares
14 days priced at £4499pp flight and hotel inclusive
Get under the skin of Japan on this Small Group Journey covering the history, culture and scenery of this fascinating country.
Ride the legendary Bullet Train and discover the cultural hotpot of Kyoto, the beautiful central mountains and the haunting history of Hiroshima, then finish it all off with the glittering skyline of Tokyo.
Some of the highlights included are:
- Take a stroll through the tranquil temples and Zen gardens of Kyoto
- Watch for real-life geishas pottering through Gion
- Breathe in the crisp mountain air of Mount Koya
- Take a sobering stroll though Hiroshima’s Peace Park
- Explore the defensive ramparts and fortifications of Himeji Castle
- Step back in time in medieval Tsumago
- Shop for handcrafted souvenirs in Nakamachi
- Feel the energy of buzzing Tokyo
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- Small Group Journey with maximum group size 16
- All authentic local experiences mentioned except where specified optional
- International flights
- 9 nights in 4* hotels & hand-picked local gems
- 1 night at a homestay & 1 night in a Ryokan
- 11 breakfasts, 3 dinners
- 7-day Japan Rail Pass
- Arrival transfers & all internal transport
Need to know+
- Arrives: Kansai International Airport (KIX)
- Time difference: GMT+9
- Visa requirements: British passport holders do not require a tourist visa for stays up to 90 days
- Language: Japanese
- Currency: Japanese Yen (JPY)
- Flying time from UK: Around 19 hours (via Dubai)
- Plug type: 2-prong flat blade plug
- Voltage: 100 volts/50 cycles
Fly from UK to Kyoto
Arrive in Kyoto and meet the rest of your group. Take a walk to some of Kyoto’s highlights with your guide, including the opulent Nijo Castle, handicraft workshops, and Japan’s most famous Zen garden at Ryoan-ji. On your free afternoon you can take a walk along the Path of Philosophy, which links various temples and pavilions with the old town, and has some pretty gorgeous views to boot. Rejoin your guide for a walking tour of the geisha district at Gion and investigate the teahouses.
Take the train through some beautiful scenery to Koyasan, where you’ll explore beautiful Mount Koya, which is covered in various monasteries and cemeteries. The 800 metre-high mountain was first settled in 816 by a monk, and the original monastery has now grown in to the town. Visit the Okunoin mausoleum, which is lit up by thousands of lanterns and surrounded by an atmospheric graveyard within a cedar wood. The 200,000 graves are pretty ornate, with some intricate and bizarre sculptures. Stay the night in a traditional temple.
Ride the Bullet train south and admire the most splendid castle in Japan, Himeji, its five-storey keep towering majestically over surrounding gardens, moats and cherry trees. Continue on to Hiroshima and the Peace Memorial Park. Hiroshima is of course most famous for the events of August 1945, but those expecting a sombre city will be pleasantly surprised by the city’s vibrancy. Take the boat across to Miyajima Island and admire the Itsukushima-jinja Shrine, known for its torii gate that appears to float at high tide (shrine optional, extra cost).
Take the bullet train to Tsumago, a town filled with traditional buildings where you’ll spend the night in a traditional ryokan, a type of travellers’ inn from the Edo period. Tsumago is one of Japan’s best-preserved towns, with the atmosphere of the Edo period lovingly recreated. This includes concealing power cables and phone masts, and banning cars from the high street in the daytime. There are several well-maintained examples of Honjin and Wakihonjin, travellers’ inns for officials and the general public respectively.
Continue to the pretty castle town of Matsumoto and explore its craft shops and atmospheric restaurants. Take a look around Matsumoto Castle, a Japanese national treasure (optional, extra cost) with an elegant black roof, completed in 1614, and with an excellent exhibition of Japanese weapons. Matsumoto is well known for its delicious soba noodles, thin and made of buckwheat, so be sure to try some while you’re in town.
Enter the thronging streets of Japan’s vibrant capital, Tokyo. Join your guide for a full-day tour of the city, starting with the temple district of Asakusa and the famous Senso-ji temple. Take a cruise down the Sumida River to see the city from a different perspective, then head down to Ginza and catch a performance of Kabuki, a form of dance-drama. On your free day, perhaps head to Shibuya or Harajuku for some shopping, or maybe Shinjuku for glittering city views from the skyscrapers.
Depart Tokyo and return to the UK
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