Journey across the Japanese Alps to the cultural centres of Takayama, Shirakawago and Kanazawa on this extensive tour of Japan. You will of course see modern Tokyo and beautiful Mt Fuji as well as historical Kyoto and Nara.
Tokyo is the ultimate 24-hour city, but look behind its frantic, high-tech frontage and you'll find plenty of tranquil backstreets and old temples to explore. Kyoto was capital for a thousand years; today it is the legacy of ancient Japan, full of tranquil temples, silk-clad geisha and sublime gardens.
Take the super-fast bullet train to Odawara. Enjoy a boat trip on Lake Ashi for spectacular panoramas of this beautiful area before venturing up the Komagatake Ropeway for amazing views back over the lake and Mt Fuji.
- International flights
- Domestic transportation
- All meals
- Touring with guides
- Entrance fees
Day 1 & 2: UK - Tokyo
Fly overnight to the dazzling metropolis of Tokyo, Japan's capital city. Depending on your time of arrival, the rest of the day is yours to start soaking up the local culture.
Day 3: Tokyo
Tokyo is the ultimate 24-hour city, but look behind its frantic, high-tech frontage and you'll find plenty of tranquil backstreets and old temples to explore. Today's city tour starts on the observation deck of the 634-metre Skytree, the world's tallest tower, before seeking out the tranquillity of the ancient Buddhist Sensoji Temple, Tokyo's oldest. Discover Tokyo's historical heritage at the Imperial Palace Plaza. Later, stroll through the classical landscapes of Hamarikyu Garden. This evening, take a relaxed dinner cruise on Tokyo Bay for some excellent city vistas.
Day 4: Mount Fuji
Take the super-fast bullet train to Odawara. Enjoy a boat trip on Lake Ashi for spectacular panoramas of this beautiful area before venturing up the Komagatake Ropeway for amazing views back over the lake and Mt Fuji. Travel to Fuji Visitor Centre. Heading up to the 5th Station (weather permitting), take in the breathtaking views over the Fuji Five Lakes below.
Day 5: Nagano
This morning, drive 2 hours to Nagano to explore the formidable 16th century Matsumoto Castle. After lunch, visit a sake brewery to learn about the process of making Japan's most revered liquor, before travelling a further 2 and half hours to Takayama, nestled high in the mountainous Hida region.
Day 6: Takayama
Takayama has an air of old world Japan, particularly around its wonderfully preserved old town. Browse the local handicrafts and fresh produce at the Miyagawa morning market, wander past some of the lovely traditional houses and visit several of the excellent local museums – Takayama Festival Floats Museum, Kusakabe Folk Museum and Takayama Jinya.
Day 7: Shirakawago - Kanazawa
Get a glimpse of rural Japan at UNESCO-listed Shirakawago which is famous for its farmhouses built in the unique gassho-zukuri architectural style. Continue to Gokayama to experience washi paper making, then travel to Kanazawa and visit the Nomura Samurai House.
Day 8: Kenroku-en
Meander through the beautiful Kenroku-en Garden, one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan, before viewing the excellent art collection of the Kanazawa 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, which only exhibits works produced since 1980. Transfer to Kyoto, capital city of Japan until 1879.
Day 9: Kyoto
Kyoto was capital for a thousand years; today it is the legacy of ancient Japan, full of tranquil temples, silk-clad geisha and sublime gardens. This morning visit the Ryoanji Temple complex which means 'temple of the peaceful dragon'. Next visit the famous Kinkakuji, a Zen temple known as the 'Golden Pavilion', the top two floors are completely covered in gold leaf. Head to a restored Japanese wooden townhouse for a traditional handicraft experience (such as origami) and to enjoy the rituals of a tea ceremony.
Day 10: Nara
Visit Fushimi Inari Shrine, remarkable for its 10,000 torii (shrine gates). Later travel to Nara, a relaxed and charming town virtually untouched by the ravages of modernity. Home to many archetypal pieces of early art and architecture, you will stroll through Nara Park to Todaiji Temple, meeting the resident Sika deer en route, before exploring Isui-en Garden.
Day 11: Koya-san
This morning, drive 2.5 hours to Koya-San, the centre of Shingon Buddhism. See Okunoin, Japan's largest cemetery and home to the mausoleum of Kobo Daishi, founder of Shingon Buddhism. Next, visit the Kongobuji Temple and Garan temple complex. This evening, transfer to Osaka for dinner and an overnight stay.
Day 12: Osaka
In the morning, visit Osaka Castle before enjoying a 1-hour cruise along the Yodogawa River. Take a stroll around the Dotonbori district, a restaurant mecca, where you can sample delicious local delicacies. Enjoy the rest of the afternoon at leisure before a farewell dinner this evening.
Day 13: Osaka - UK
Fly to the UK, arriving home the same or following day.
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