Best of Japan Tour
What to see in Japan? It does not matter if you are lacking inspiration or detailed knowledge about the best that Japan has to offer. We have designed our Best of Japan tour to provide an in-depth and immersive experience across a two week tour around Japan. This tour includes a range of the famous, historic and noteworthy sights and this schedule is designed to showcase the variety and beauty of the country. From the metropolis of Tokyo, the cultural and historic areas of Kyoto, to the mountain township of Takayama our "Best of Japan" tours allow you to experience some of the best attractions in Japan.
As we provide custom tours, we can personalise the schedule for you and work around your preferred travel dates. Alternatively, check out our other scheduled tours, design your own tour of Japan to suit your own interests, or let us suggest what to see in Japan. We often review our tour schedules to improve the experience we can offer, and this includes tailoring locations for day-trips or over-night stays.
We run the Best of Japan tours based on the dates that suit you. You can use the contact us form or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to request specific dates or join one of the scheduled tours that we are running. Current confirmed dates for our Best of Japan Tours are:
- Best of Japan 8th to 22nd October.
- Best of Japan Garden tour 3rd to 17th November.
Day 1 Tokyo: We will meet you at the airport (Narita or Haneda). After clearing immigration, luggage collection and customs meet us at the exit in the arrivals hall. We then transfer to our Tokyo hotel in the centre of the city. Options include seeing some of the city dining out or just sleep if you are jetlagged.
Day 2 Tokyo: Visit Asukusa Kaminarimon (thunder gate), Hozomon and pagoda. An array of stalls lines the entrance to this shrine selling souvenirs and snacks, a tradition stretching back several hundred years. Also in Asakusa we can arrange a kimono photo-shoot or samurai training for the more adventurous. Either lunch from the food stalls or from a nearby restaurant. In the afternoon, visit one or more of the famous neighbourhood areas of Shinjuku, Shibuya or Ginza. This allows time to see the expansive Shinjuku Gardens or, because we run flexible tours, let us know what you would like to do or see.
Day 3 Nikko day trip: Taking the bullet train north and then the local train to visit the famous shrines at Nikko including the lavishly decorated Toshugu shrine and Iemitsu mausoleum. After the temples and shrines the local bus service takes around an hour to reach lake Chuzenji and the Kegon falls.
Day 4 Sendai day trip: Head north by Shinkansen to Sendai. Then take the local train to visit Matsushima Bay, one of the three 'views of Japan' and the cruise around the bay with its many beautiful pine-tree covered islands. After viewing the pine covered islands, walk to Zuigan-ji past the caves carved into the approach to the temple. The caves were used for memorial services and as a cinerarium to house the ashes of the deceased. The caves were constructed some 700 years ago and remained in use until a few hundred years ago.
Day 5 Tokyo to Kyoto: Leave Tokyo and head south to Kyoto by bullet train. After checking into your hotel visit the Fushimi Inari shrine (10,000 torii gates) which is spectacular, very easy to get to (right next to a train station) and is a good option for sightseeing in the late afternoon. Suggested dinner options while in Kyoto include Japanese pancake (okonomiyaki) or Japanese BBQ restaurants.
Day 6 Kyoto: Visit the "Golden Pavilion" Kinkaku-ji in the north-west of the city and then Nijo Castle (the palace buildings are one the best surviving examples of castle palace architecture of Japan's feudal era). Head back towards the centre of the city visit Nishiki Markets and lunch before walking across to Gion. From here we can visit Kiyomizudera (while the main hall is being renovated there are 16 main buildings that make up the complex).
Day 7 Kyoto: Day trip to the world heritage site at Nara. At Nara there is both Todai-ji temple (with the world's largest bronze Buddha), and Kagusa Shinto shrine. There are sacred deer roaming the park and excellent souvenir and food shops in the railway station area.
Day 8 Hiroshima day trip: Visit Hiroshima as a day trip, achievable using the efficient shinkansen trains and an early start. The highlight is Miyajima Island and Itsukushima Shrine, location of the famous "floating" torii gate. This requires a short local train and ferry ride. Ferry tickets are covered by our JR passes. There is also time to visit the Peace Park and Museum in Hiroshima city.
Day 9 Kyoto: Visit the beautiful Arashiyama district for viewing the gardens and temples of this famous area. Enjoy the view across the Katsura River or from the river with a short and leisurely boat ride before heading to the nearby Sagano bamboo grove. The nearby Ryoanji Temple is the site of Japan's most famous rock garden.
Day 10 Kyoto to Takayama: Travel by Shinkansen and then local train to the onsen (hot spring) mountain town of Takayama. Explore the town's historic buildings and shops on foot. The local specialty is Hida beef, very good quality, and we recommend enjoying it at one of the local bbq restaurants.
Day 11 Takayama: A free morning to explore the town, check the local markets or visit one of the different museums or temples scattered around the town. After lunch head to the world heritage site of Shirakaga-go (a half day bus trip) with its unique steep thatched-roofed houses. The Hida Folk village provides a different range of historic buildings and could be included in the morning activities.
Day 12 Takayama to Kanazawa: Leave Takayama and head to the west coast of Japan and a city renown for its seafood. After dinner there is an opportunity to stroll around the historic Higashi Chaya (geisha teahouse) District.
Day 13 Kanazawa: Omi-cho market is a smaller, friendlier version of the Tokyo Tsujiki fish market (which is due to move in 2016 anyway) and a great location for a fresh sashimi breakfast. The day is set aside to visit the famous Kenrokuen Garden and Kanazawa castle. Additional options include the 21st Museum of Contemporary art or some of the local temples.
Day 14 Kanazawa to Tokyo: Transfer back to Tokyo for a final day to indulge in souvenir shopping or perhaps a visit to Akihabara to explore one of Tokyo's centres of manga/anime/Japanese pop culture. Store destinations in Akihabara include Gamers, Toranorana and Animate.
Optional 2-day extension
Day 14 Kanazawa to Togura/Nagano: Head into the mountains for a stay at a traditional Japanese inn including onsen and local foods prepared on-site. There is a small castle (fort) on the hill behind the ryokan that gives great views across the valley and mountains around the area. We can also arrange Geishas to provide entertainment during the evening meal (music and dancing performance).
Day 15 Togura/Nagano: Several options (including relaxing) are available. Explore the local town, the city of Nagano, or visit the nearby Matsumoto castle or Jigokudani Monkey Park.
Day 16 Togura to Tokyo: Transfer back to Tokyo for a final day to indulge in souvenir shopping
Pricing for our Best of Japan tour is takes into account the accommodation rates that we expect to be in place at the time of bookings. The tour price reflects the fact that rates are lower when booked in advance, and more expensive when booked shortly before the tour commences.
The price for a fifteen day tour (accommodation for fourteen nights) is from Y595,000 per person share twin/double. Shorter or longer duration is also available. The optional 2-day extension is priced at Y57,500 per person including breakfast, dinner, geisha entertainment and Jigokudani bus round trip and entry fee.
For solo travellers (one person, without a shared room), the cost of accommodation is unable to be shared, but we have a policy to limit the extra cost and have priced our tour for a single person at JPY695,000. An early confirmed booking discount would also apply.
Prices include rail transfers from Narita to Tokyo and 14 day rail pass, entrance fees and tour fees. Accommodation is selected to average 4-star or higher and will normally include breakfast. Please let us know if you would like either twin or double beds.
Lunch, dinner and incidental costs are usually excluded unless specifically included. As a guide for budgeting, Y7,000 per day per person would cover lunch and dinner as well as a range of tea/coffee, snacks and vending machine drinks during the day.
Bookings and Inquiries