Sample Itinerary

Day 1
Arrival to Tokyo

Your flight arrives at Narita International Airport. After clearing immigration, you’ll be met and driven to your hotel in Tokyo (approximately 1.5 hours).

Spend the remainder of the day resting after your long flight.

Overnight Park Hotel

Day 2

You will be met at the lobby of your hotel for your Tokyo orientation session this morning. After orientation, your guide will meet you for a half-day private tour.

This afternoon, you’ll be free to site-see on your own, using maps and advice provided by your guide.

Spend time at the lush Shinjuku Gyoen Gardens, one of Tokyo’s most picturesque spots, to enjoy Japan’s iconic cherry blossoms. Next, venture into the bustling Shinjuku Station area. Famous for shopping and nightlife as well as unparalleled people watching, Shinjuku Station is the busiest station in the world and is surrounded by department stores, restaurants, and izakaya.

Overnight Park Hotel

Day 3

Take the bullet train and connecting mountain train to Hakone in the hills surrounding Mount Fuji (travel time approximately 1.5 hours). Enjoy the onsen (hot spring) baths, peaceful views of the forested hills, and the spectacular kaiseki cuisine, a highlight of ryokan accommodation.

Spend the afternoon visiting the excellent Open Air Museum, which houses an impressive array of international art.

Overnight Ginyu Ryokan

Day 4

After breakfast, set out for the “circular tour” of the Hakone area – by mountain train, funicular railway, cable car, and boat. Weather permitting, there are great views of Mount Fuji from the cable car and from Lake Ashi.

If you’re feeling energetic, the old cobbled Tōkaidō Road to Hakone-Yumoto can be covered on foot in an afternoon, or you can choose to return by boat across the lake.

Overnight Ginyu Ryokan

Day 5

Take the mountain trains to Odawara and from there the bullet train to Kyoto (approximately 3-4 hours). As you will be free of your luggage, you can immediately head off to explore the city independently. We particularly suggest exploring the bamboo groves in the rural outskirts of Kyoto.

For your self-guided tour of Kyoto, start with a visit to the famous Golden Pavilion, which has a lovely strolling garden, and then to Ryōan-ji for Japan’s most famous Zen garden. Time permitting, head to the nearby Ninnaji Temple, which houses one of Kyoto’s loveliest gardens.

Next head to Arashiyama, most famous for its bamboo groves and river bridge. While walking is an excellent option, you can also hire bicycles and explore further afield – Sagano is particularly delightful.

Overnight Mume

Day 6

Enjoy a day trip out of Kyoto by private car, starting with a privately guided morning of sightseeing in Nara, and then moving on to a nearby tea farm for an in-depth specialist tour.

In Nara, start with the impressive giant bronze Buddha (Japan’s largest), housed in the famous all-wood Tōdai-ji temple. Walk through Nara-kōen Park, which is home to very friendly local deer who will follow you hoping you have food. The Kasuga Taisha Shrine, which dates from Nara’s time as the capital of Japan, is also located in the park and is well worth a visit.

At the tea farm you will learn about the production and appreciation of fine Japanese green tea from a specialist guide. The tour will include a special, locally made lunch box, with local tea used as an ingredient for the food.

Overnight Mume

Day 7

After breakfast you will be met in your hotel lobby and escorted into central Kyoto to experience a formal Japanese tea ceremony and a kimono-wearing session with a private teacher.

After this, a guide will meet you for a tour of Kyoto’s highlights. Start in Gion, Kyoto’s famous Geisha district. From there, head on to Yasaka-jinja Shrine and into the cherry-lined Maruyama Park, where the path will lead you past Kōdai-ji Temple and on to Kiyomizu Temple, which looks out over the city from the hillside. There is plenty to explore!

Overnight Mume

Day 8

After breakfast, take a train to Hiroshima and, if you’d like, stop to pay your respects at the moving Peace Park which commemorates the events of 6th August 1945. Afterward, take a short train or taxi ride to Miyajima-guchi station for the ferry over to the sacred island of Miyajima. (Kyoto to Hiroshima 2-3 hours, and then a 10-minute boat ride out to Miyajima Island from Miyajimaguchi Station)

The remainder of the day is yours to relax and explore.

On Miyajima you will be staying at a family owned and operated hotel with only three rooms.

Overnight Watanabe Inn

Day 9

Full day to explore and enjoy the island or take a day trip over to Hiroshima.

On your own in Miyajima, visit Itsukushima Shrine and its famous ‘floating’ torii gate, the five-tiered Pagoda, and Daisho-in Temple.

Later on, take the cable car (or hike) to the peak of Mount Misen for stunning views across the island studded Inland Sea. Deer wander freely on the island, and are traditionally believed to be messengers of the gods. While technically wild, they are fond of any kind of treats. They will happily eat your rail pass, so please keep it tucked away safely.

Overnight Watanabe Inn

Day 10

After breakfast, take a bullet train from Hiroshima Station to Okayama to explore its stunning 18th-century garden (approximately 40 minutes).

In Okayama, you’ll be able to spend part of the day at the lovely Kōrakuen strolling gardens, which are said to be one of the three best in Japan. Characterized by contrasts of ponds, flat lawns and curious tea plantations, the gardens also boast shrines, pavilions, and a teahouse where you can bask in the radiant beauty of the cherry blossoms.

Afterward, continue onto Tokyo (about 4 hours 20 minutes by bullet train).

Overnight Park Hotel

Day 11

You will be transferred to Narita Airport by private car in good time for your flight home.