13 Day Splendours of Japan with Hiroshima
Japan reveals its many sides, as you experience the bright lights and buzz of Tokyo, rural life in Takayama and Kanazawa, tradition and modernity in Kyoto and the beauty of Mt. Fuji. It's Insider moments like… experiencing the peace and tranquillity of local life as you join an early morning Buddhist service. Or as you dress in a ‘yukata' for dinner at a monastery inn in Mt. Koya, before bathing in onsen water and sleeping on a futon on tatami mats.
Our adventure map
Day by day
First Day Arrive in Tokyo
Welcome to Tokyo! Upon arrival at Narita International Tokyo Airport, transfer to your centrally located hotel. This evening join your Travel Director and fellow travellers for a Welcome Reception drink and local appetisers.
Hotel: New Otani
Second Day enjoy Sightseeing in Tokyo
Embark on a city tour of Tokyo. Visit the grounds of the Imperial Palace, formally known as Edo Castle, surrounded by its original inner moat. The star attraction, Meiji Shrine, is located in a forest that covers an area of 700,000 square metres and consists of 365 different species of tree. It is a picturesque Shinto shrine where cherry blossoms bloom in springtime. During lunch, enjoy a cooking class and learn how to make sushi, a Local Speciality, in the famous Ginza district. Continue to Asakusa and visit the Sensoji Buddhist temple. It is one of Tokyo's most colourful and popular temples. It has been rebuilt countless times since it was founded in 628 making it Tokyo's oldest temple site. Visit Nakamise, a shopping street over 200 metres long that stretches from the outer gate to the temple's second interior gate. Alongside typical Japanese souvenirs such as yukata and folding fans, various traditional local snacks from the area are sold. This evening, enjoy a Japanese-style dinner at a local restaurant with your Travel Director and fellow travelers.
Third Day its Mt Fuji and Hakone Sightseeing
After breakfast depart on a full day of sightseeing, beginning at the Five Lakes District dominated by majestic Mt. Fuji. At 3776m, it is Japan's highest mountain and most recognisable icon. Ascend to the 5th Station of Mt. Fuji to enjoy some spectacular views at 2,300m (weather permitting). After enjoying lunch at a local restaurant continue to Owakudani via the Hakone Ropeway,ride over the crystal clear waters of Lake Ashi and look down on the volcanic activity. Enjoy black eggs boiled in geysers of Owakudani before continuing to the beautiful town of Hakone, where the cherry blossoms are noted sights in this area in Spring (known as sakura) and in Autumn (susuki). After an enjoyable day of sightseeing return to your hotel for a restful evening.
Fourth Day Travel to Matsumoto
Drive north this morning to visit Mastumoto Castle, one of the most beautiful and complete original Japanese castles. Marvel at its unique timber and stone structure. Later, head to the Matsumoto Folkcraft Museum to see wooden crafts, bamboo wares, glassware, china and porcelain. Matsumoto is also famous for its wasabi cultivation, cherished for decades in the East for its unique flavour and health benefits. Wasabi is best known as an age-old food pairing with sashimi or sushi dishes with raw fish. Wasabi is also served as a garnish with soba noodles and made into pickles, jams, wine and other foods. Today learn all about the production of wasabi, a Unique Insight, before enjoying a lunch of soba noodles with wasabi. Continue your journey through the breath-taking Japanese Alps to the beautiful hillside town of Takayama. Located in the Hida Region, the town has retained a traditional touch like few other Japanese cities, especially in its beautifully preserved old town. Takayama gained importance as a source of high quality timber and highly skilled carpenters during the feudal ages.
Hotel: Hida Plaza
Fifth Day its Takayama Sightseeing
Begin your walking tour of Takayama, known as 'little Kyoto', discover its Edo style streets filled with amazing attractions. Explore the Old Town, stopping at some of the traditional houses and delightful local museums, then wander through a vibrant open-air flower and fruit market (Asaichi). Later enjoy a Regional Meal of Japanese Hida beef at a local restaurant. Hida beef (Hida-gyu) is the specific name given to beef from a black-haired Japanese cattle breed, it is known as one of the finest quality varieties of beef. After lunch, continue to Takayama Jinya. Takayama Jinya was a former government outpost that was established in order to bring the Hida Province under the direct control of the Edo Bakufu (Shogunate) in 1629. The Takayama Jinya served as the local government office, headed by the officials dispatched from Edo. The present building complex includes various rooms for administrative purposes: kitchens, residential space, a court room and storehouses. It was in official use until 1969, and is now open to the public as a museum. Continue to the Kami-Sannomachisu District, home to skillfully renowned local artisans. Take time to sample the delicious rice wine, Sake, a Local Specialty. Walk through the narrow streets and admire the ancient Japanese wooden architecture. This evening is free to explore the many restaurants in this picturesque town.
Sixth Day see Shirakawago and Kanazawa
Take a step back in time with a Local Expert during a visit to the peaceful mountain village and UNESCO World Heritage site of Shirakawago. Here you'll will find the Gasshozukuri houses built of wooden beams combined to form a steep thatched roof that resembles two hands together. Walk around this wonderful outdoor exhibition of farmhouses and other traditional buildings typical of the region. Later continue towards the coast to Kanazawa, a historic castle town which boasts beautifully preserved samurai districts. On arrival, take time to see the Nagamachi District with old Samurai houses. Stop to visit the Normura house, an elegant Samurai mansion with beautiful small gardens belonging to a high-ranked samurai family. Later check in to your centrally located hotel and enjoy a relaxing evening.
Hotel: Kanazawa Excel
Seventh Day visit Kanazawa then Kyoto
Begin the day at the gardens of Kenroku-en, rated as one of the top 3 most beautiful gardens in Japan. Explore the ornate landscapes, temples and ponds or enjoy an optional visit to a Japanese tea house within the gardens. Later in Kanazawa, discover the secrets of gold leaf painting, a Local Speciality, during a visit with a local artist. The production of gold leaf started in Kanazawa at the end of the 16th century and now 99% of Japan's high quality gold leaf is produced in the area. Before taking the train to Kyoto take a short walk through the Omicho market to see the local fish catch and enjoy an insiders view of everyday life in a busy coastal town. Kyoto is home to some of Japan's most important works of art, most refined cuisine and richest culture. On arrival at your centrally located hotel, explore this historic town or relax for the afternoon. Later enjoy a traditional Japanese Kaiseki Regional Meal and dance performance featuring Maiko and Geisha.
Hotel: Nikko Princess Kyoto
Eighth Day experience Sightseeing in Kyoto
This delightful city has an abundance of fine architecture in its shrines, temples and gardens as well as a variety of art and craft shops. See Nijo Castle, the old Shogun residence and then visit Kinkakuji Temple famous for its Golden Pavilion. The Kinkakuji history dates back to 1397, when the villa was purchased by Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu. When Yoshimitsu died, the building was converted into a Zen temple by his son. This afternoon, enjoy a special Be My Guest Farewell Lunch at a traditional Ryokan nestled in the peace and quiet of Mt. Yoshida. The Ryokan was built in 1932 by master craftsmen to serve as the second residence of the uncle of the current Japanese emperor, Akihito. Learn more about local Japanese customs as your hosts welcome you into their beautiful home. Enjoy the pleasures of a truly flavorful and unique dining experience of Kaiseki cuisine, crafted from the very freshest of seasonal delicacies. Later continue on to the Heian Shinto Shrine and discover its beautiful inner Garden. Then head to Nishiki-koji market to explore the hundreds of local shops and purchase last minute souvenirs. The evening is free to enjoy Kyoto. Relax at the hotel, explore the town or join an optional trip to the Gion Corner for a cultural performance.
Ninth Day more Free Time in Kyoto
Today is a free day to enjoy Kyoto at your own pace or to join an optional experience to the historic treasure of Nara. During the trip visit the Todaiji Temple with Japan's largest bronze statue of Buddha. Interact with over 1200 wild deer that roam Nara park, visit Kasuga Grand Shrine and Nara Nagomikan, Naras biggest souvenir shop selling goods exclusive to Nara.
Hotel: Nikko Princess Kyoto
Tenth Day your off to Mt. Koya
Today travel to Mt. Koya, a UNESCO World Heritage designated site. Before departing Kyoto you should pack a lightweight overnight bag for the next two days of the trip. Mt. Koya is where the Shingon Buddism sect was introduced in 805 by the priest Kukai (also known as Kobo Daishi). Here visit the Kongobunji Temple and Okunoin, Japan's largest cemetery and the site of Kobo Daishi's mausoleum, set in an enchanted forest of towering ancient cedar trees. Later enjoy a leisurely Japanese style lunch before transferring to your Authentic Accommodation. This delightful monastery inn is one of the best places to experience simple temple lodging (shukubo) in Japan. This evening enjoy a traditional Kaiseki Regional Meal dining on vegetarian cuisine (shojin ryori). Tonight rest 'Japanese style' on a futon mattress and tatami matted floors with the option to bathe in the communal indoor hot spring (onsen) bath.
Hotel: Fukuchi-in (Monastery Inn)
Eleventh Day Travel to Hiroshima
Early this morning, you have the option to attend a Buddhist service in the Temple, a Unique Insight, followed by a hearty Japanese breakfast at your Monastery Inn. Travel back to Osaka, (with your lightweight overnight bag) to transfer onto the JR super express Bullet train to Hiroshima. On arrival, take a city tour visiting the Peace Memorial Park, Atomic Bomb Museum and Shukkeien Garden before checking into your hotel to relax for the evening.
Hotel: Rihga Royal Hotel Hiroshima
Twelfth Day go from Hiroshima onto Osaka
Begin your journey at Miyajima Port, where you catch a ferry over to Miyajima Island, otherwise known as Itsukushima, or Divine Island. On arrival, admire the elaborate gate and Itsukushima Shrine, rising majestically out of the sea, and spend time strolling through the park. This afternoon leave Hiroshima for Osaka by JR super express train. On arrival transfer to check into your hotel before enjoying a Farewell Dinner at a local restaurant.
Hotel: Sheraton Miyako Hotel Osaka
Thirteenth Day Depart Osaka for home
Transfer by Airport Bus service to Kansai International airport, Osaka for your onward flight home.
- City tour of Tokyo and Kyoto, Takayama and Hiroshima
- See the traditional Gassho-zukuri houses at Shirakawago and the beautiful gardens of Kenrokuen in Kanazawa
- View Mt. Fuji at 3376m and a Shingon buddhist service in Mt. Koya
- Visit the grounds of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Matsumoto Castle. The Kinkakuji Temple, Nijo Castle and Heian Shrine in Kyoto and the the Atomic Bomb Museum, Peace park and Itsukushima Shrine in Hiroshima
12 buffet breakfasts, 5 evening meals: (including Welcome Reception, Regional Meal and Farewell Dinner), 8 lunches: (including Regional Meal, 6 lunches and Be My Guest Farewell Lunch).
Experience the ambience of a traditional Japanese Tea House, located in the beautiful tranquil Kenroku-en Garden. A professional ‘tea maker’ can spend many years learning their craft, which is often presented in a ceremony influenced by Zen Buddhism. Powdered green tea (matcha) is prepared by adding hot water and mixing it with a bamboo whisk. Enjoy sampling the tea in the Shigure-tei Tea House and also take the opportunity to try some Japanese sweets. Afterwards enjoy a stroll in the garden, which is regarded as one of Japan’s three most beautiful gardens. NB. The above price is in Japanese Yen.
Experience an hour long calligraphy lesson in the natural surroundings of Mt Koya Monastery. Discover the ancient writing form using traditional ink and brushes, while seated on an authentic tatami matted floor. Learn about the history and techniques of calligraphy as you experiment with different brushstrokes to create characters. Copy the Japanese Sutra yourself, and feel the calmness of your spirit as you concentrate on each brush stroke. NB. The above price is in Japanese Yen.
The Gion corner is a unique experience where you can observe seven of Kyoto’s traditional performing arts, all on one stage! See a Bunraku puppet play; A UNESCO listed Traditional Japanese Puppet performance. Listen to the wonderful harmonies of Koto Music, as a master plays an ancient six stringed zither using ivory plectrums worn on their fingers. Watch Kyo-Mai, an elegant and dazzling dance performed by Maiko dancers in beautiful and ornate dress. Enjoy a performance of Kyogen Theatre, a comical play portraying humorous stories of daily life. Experience Gagaku (court music), the indigenous Japanese music performed at imperial court shrines and temples. During the evening observe the art of creating flower arrangements and a traditional ‘Ryurei style’ tea ceremony. There is also a Maiko Gallery, displaying costumes, hair decorations and videos of Maiko Dancers. NB. The above price is in Japanese Yen.
Discover Nara, the first permanent capital of Japan, full of historic treasures, including some of Japan's oldest and largest temples and several UNESCO designated sites. Visit Todaiji Temple, home to the world’s largest bronze statue of Buddha; whose tremendous height of 14.98m (49.1 ft) took nearly 10 years to make and over 3000 metal plates. At Nara Park, interact with over 1200 wild deer that roam the park. According to local folk-law, the elegant deer are considered sacred messengers of Shinto gods. At Kasuga Grand Shrine, study the thousands of stone lanterns that line the path to this serene shrine hidden in the woods. Enjoy a stop at Nara Nagomikan, where you can splurge at Naras biggest souvenir shop, selling a vast variety of food, sweets, and local goods exclusive to Nara. NB. The above price is in Japanese Yen.
Where you stay
All hotels included in your tour package are hand-picked, of an outstanding standard and far better value than if booked individually. Our valued travel partners who organise these tours also own the Red Carnation Hotel Group and where possible Red Carnation Hotels are used and please see our link for further details.
- Expertly sourced accommodations - always with private facilities
- Audio Headsets: provided throughout your trip to enhance your included sightseeing experiences
- The services of a professional Travel Director throughout your journey
- All hotel service charges and tips, baggage handling fees and local taxes included
- Optional Experiences and free time
- All porterage and restaurant gratuities
- All your transportation and airport transfers
- A travel wallet with your travel documentation
Guarantees, Bonds and Awards
- This tour is run by our outstanding travel partners who are multi-award winning Globe Best Tour operator in the world 2013, 2014 and 2015.
- Tours are fully bonded, protected and guaranteed and you pay the operator directly when booking.
- ABTA, IATA and ATOL protected
- Part of the Trade Right Foundation
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