Best of Japan - Best Tours of Japan
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.
The schedule includes a range of the famous, historic and
noteworthy sights and this tour 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
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 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 overnight stays. This
includes being aware that Japanese tourism has increased dramatically over the
last few years, and we often show our guestsampless crowded and quieter sites as
well as some of the "must do" destinations.
To inquire further, you can use the contact us form or email us at
Day 1 Tokyo: We will usually be able to 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: We start the day with a visit to Asukusa and Sensoji
Temple, the oldest temple in Tokyo. Passing through the Kaminarimon
("Thunder gate"), we view the stalls of Nakamise Street established more than
300 years ago, providing a wide range of souvenirs and snacks on the approach to
the second main gate, Hozomon. The temple complex includes a five story
pagoda, Sensoji Temple and a number of other sub-temples in the nearby area.
Departing Asakusa we then head to Ueno which provides some good options and
variety for lunch adjacent to the expansive Ueno Park. The park also contains
several museums (including Tokyo National Museum that we will visit) and Tokyo
Zoo (optional, one of the main attractions are the giant pandas) and the
beautiful Tōshō-gū shine that enshrines the first Shōgun of the Tokugawa
Day 3 Tokyo to Nagano: From Tokyo, the city of Nagano is a short
shinkansen ride into the central alpine area of Japan. Aiming for a midday
arrival, sample the local soba noodles before visiting Zenkoji Temple, one of
the most important and popular temples in Japan founded in the 7th century.
For our stay in Nagano we can choose either western accommodation, or a stay at
a traditional Japanese Inn in the onsen town of Togura, complete with keiseki
dinner, onsen (hot spring baths) and futons. For more information about the inn
we use in Togura, please see our page on
Day 4 Nagano: A highlight of many visitors experiences in the Nagano
prefecture is a visit to the famous "Snow Monkeys." The trip to the park takes
us away from central Nagano and the approach to the park is a pleasant forest
walk (slippery in winter due to snow). With a return to the city
mid-afternoon, there is some free time to explore.
Day 5 Nagano to Takayama: Departing Nagano we head to Matsumoto
arriving mid-morning to allow time to visit the castle and get lunch before
catching the afternoon bus to Takayama.
The Matsumoto Castle is a "flat-land" castle designated a National Historic
Site. One of the few remaining original castles in Japan from the Edo Period, it
was to be destroyed in 1872 on orders of the Meiji Government but, was saved
from destruction by the efforts of the local population. The six-story
main keep includes a display of guns and armour on the second floor.
Departing Matsumoto there is a road connection of approximately 100km to link
to the mountain town of Takayama. This scenic route winds though the Japanese
Alps, taking approximately 2.5 hours.
Day 6 Takayama: Explore the town and its easy walking courses; enjoy
the local morning markets or visit one of the several small museums and temples
scattered around the town. Takayama is famous for its woodworking and its
biannual floats festival (matsuri). A visit to the Festival Floats Exhibition
Hall is a recommended stop on our tours. An additional stop we have recently
added is to 'Showa' period museum. The Showa period covered December 1926 to Jan
1989 and the museum is a great place for nostalgia and a look back to a period
in history many people remember fondly.
After lunch visit the Hida Folk Village, an open air museum featuring gasho
style buildings with their unique steep thatched-roofed houses. This provides a
different range of historic buildings to those found at the World Heritage site
Day 7 Takayama to Kanazawa: Continuing our journey across Japan's
biggest island (Honshu), travel along the scenic Miyagawa River to Toyama before
a short shinkansen ride to Kanazawa.
The local Omi-cho fresh food market provides a good option for a fresh
sushi/sashimi lunch. Time in the city allows for visits to the beautiful
Kenrokuen Gardens (one of the top three gardens of Japan) and Kanazawa Castle
Park. The city also boasts the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art with an
interesting rage of exhibits .
Day 8 Kanazawa to Hiroshima:
Departing Kanazawa, we travel south along the coast before cutting inland though
the alps and to Japan's second largest metropolis Osaka. Transferring at Osaka,
we re-join the shinkansen network for the trip south to Hiroshima.
With an afternoon arrival there is time to visit the Peace Park and the Peace
Museum. An alternative is the Hiroshima Castle (there is a samurai museum inside
the rebuilt castle). The city also boasts extensive covered shopping areas, and
is famous for its style of okonomiyaki (a type of Japanese pancake).
Day 9 Hiroshima:
Taking advantage of our full day in Hiroshima we have time to explore a couple
of different destinations. The main attraction for the day is Miyajima Island
and its Itsukushima Shrine. This is the location of the famous 'floating' torii
gate. Also on the island we can use the ropeway (cable car) and head to the top
of Mount Misen for views across the Seto inland sea. If feeling energetic, the
walk back down the mountain provides some good viewing and vantage points
(otherwise we can get the ropeway back down).
An option for the start of the day is to visit Iwakuni and the famous
Kintai-kyo Bridge. Beyond the bridge is an interesting array of attractions
including stores selling 164 flavours of ice cream (as featured on TV), a
white snake museum, Kikko shrine and a selections of older style buildings and
gardens. We find this area provides an opportunity to see a more
'down-to-earth' side of Japan than the more manicured and established temples
and shrines in locations like Kyoto or Nara.
Day 10 Hiroshima to Kyoto: Leaving Hiroshima, we head north by
shinkansen to Kyoto. On the way we have an opportunity to visit Himeji and its
world famous castle, one of the finest examples of Japanese castle architecture.
With the stop at Himeji taking a couple of hours, we arrive in Kyoto - the
historic old capital of Japan - late afternoon. This still gives us time to
visit the very accessible Fushimi Inari Shinto shrine with its famous 10,000
torii gates. The walk to the top of Inari Yama (to see all 10,000!) takes a
couple of hours and is definitely optional.
Day 11 Kyoto: The day begins with a visit to Nijo Castle (the
palace buildings are one the best surviving examples of castle palace
architecture of Japan's feudal era). From Nijo we then head to the 'Golden
Pavilion' Kinkaku-ji in the north-west of the city.
From Kinkaku-ji, we travel across the city to the beautiful Arashiyama
district. At Arashiyama we enjoy the view across the Oi River from the
Togetsukyō Bridge and a ride on one of the punt boats on the river can be a
relaxing interlude into the day. Among the famous sights in the area is the
Sagano bamboo grove (although the large number of tourists makes it hard to
get 'travel brochure' photos.) From the bamboo grove we enter the beautiful
Tenryu-ji temple gardens before making our way back to the train and the
conclusion of the day at Kyoto Station.
Day 12 Kyoto - Day trip to Nara: To experience one of the most
important cultural and historic places in Japan, we visit Nara, Japan's first
capital. 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
some excellent souvenir shopping options.
Kyoto does have a lot to offer and some people might like to check some of
the other sights and sites in the city. A few suggestions include:
- Nanzen-ji temple on the eastern side of the city has a number of
interesting (small) temples and shrines dating back 400-years, and also
features a rather picturesque Meiji period aqueduct.
- Explore some of the eastern side of the city with Kodai-ji Temple and
Ishibe Alley, before heading across to the Gion district. The famous
Kiyomizudera is also on the eastern side of and accessible from Kodai-ji, but
is unpleasantly crowded (the down-side of being famous).
- The centre of the city has the 400 year old Nishiki Markets, 300 year old
Teramachi shopping street, and also the nearby Pontocho district.
- Also on the east side of the city is Sanjusangendo that has 1,001 hand
carved statues that were more than 100 years in the making. Opposite the
Sanjusangendo temple is the Kyoto National Museum.
Day 13 Kyoto to Tokyo: After dropping luggage at our hotel, we visit
the Meiji Shrine. As the Meiji Restoration was an important period in Japan's
history we explain some of the historical elements of the change from feudalism
to the modern era before visiting the shrine buildings located in a central
Tokyo forest. As the shrine is adjacent to Harajuku, we then walk through
Takeshita Street, which is a trend-setting shopping area for Tokyo youth.
Leaving Harajuku there is a distinct transition as we move to the nearby
upmarket shopping district of Omotesando to access the subway to take us across
In the afternoon, we head to Shinjuku to see the expansive Shinjuku National
Garden. From the gardens, we head to the Golden Gai area of old style bars
before seeing Godzilla towering above the night life area of Kabukicho.
Day 14 Tokyo:
To allow time for transfers to the airport (either Haneda or Narita), this last
day is scheduled as free time for you to complete last minute sightseeing or
For groups of four or more, the price for a fourteen day tour (accommodation for thirteen nights) is from
JPY695,000 per person share twin/double. For a group of two the price
is JPY795,000 per person.
Shorter or longer duration tours are also available. We will discuss with
you your requirements before and after the tour regarding any additional nights'
accommodation as we can make those hotel bookings for you at cost. We can also
convert the Japanese yen price into your local currency for you.
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 set the price at JPY795,000.
Our standard pricing includes:
- Our tour service, including a dedicated guide for the duration of your
tour. That includes a meet&greet at the airport and transfers to the hotel in
- Accommodation, averaging 4* - 5* properties and usually including
breakfast. We aim to book superior rooms to give additional space
and comfort during your trip.
- Transport; the train travel, subways, and transfers during the tour. Taxis are also covered
during the day for our some of our scheduled sightseeing, as are the occasional bus connection.
Transport outside of the daily schedule is not included. Examples are
travel in the evening to a restaurant or choosing to return to the hotel by
taxi where we have scheduled a different option.
- Entrance fees for temples, shrines, castles, parks, gardens, and museums.
These are listed in your agreed tour schedule.
- Breakfast is included for the majority of hotels at we use. Evening
meals at ryokan (Japanese inn) accommodation may be included depending on the
specific tour arrangements. In general, we do not include lunch and
dinner meals because Japan has a huge range of foods and we prefer not to
restrict options, especially when food is a significant part of enjoying Japan.
Exclusions are generally items such as theatre performances, sporting or
other special events, theme parks, lunch and evening meals, snacks/drinks and
other incidental costs such as hotel room service/laundry.
Flights to/from Japan are also not included in the price or transport
Bookings and Inquiries
If you are interested in joining this tour, please contact us or email us