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 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
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 overnight stays. This
includes being aware that Japanese tourism has increased dramatically over the
last few years, and we often show our guests less crowded and quieter sites as
well as some of the "must do" destinations.
We usually run our Best of Japan tours based on the dates that suit you. You can use the contact us form or email us at
to request specific dates or join one of the scheduled tours that we are
running. For the late summer and early autumn we have several tours based on our Best of Japan schedules.
Each of these are
confirmed tours. We have also worked around the major sports tournament taking
place in Japan (the Rugby World Cup), as that has an impact on our planning and
our guest enjoyment. Visiting Japan in September and October is one of the
nicest times of the year.
our holiday excellent? No, it wasn't, it was INSANELY excellent. The tour met all our expectations and much more. It was tailored to meet all demands.
Our guides, Wendy, Koji and Patrick could not be more kind, friendly, patient, helpful and knowledgeable. Hotel accommodation was luxurious."
Customer review October 2017.
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: 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
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 Shogunate.
Day 3 Tokyo: We start the day with a visit to the Meiji Shrine. As an
important period of change in Japan's history we explain some of the historical elements of the
Meiji Restoration 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 to Shinjuku.
In the afternoon, we head to Shinjuku to see the expansive Shinjuku National
Gardens with its large number of cherry trees (Note: the gardens are normally closed Mondays,
but are open every day during cherry blossom season). 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. We end the day with a visit to the Tokyo Metropolitan building for a bird's eye view of
the city from the 45th floor (200 meters up).
Day 4 Nikko day trip:
Taking the bullet train north and then a local
train we visit the famous shrines at Nikko including the lavishly decorated Toshugu shrine and Iemitsu mausoleum. After lunch we
take a local
bus to scenic Lake Chuzenji and the Kegon falls. The bus
service takes approximately one hour from the shrine area, climbing through the
mountain scenery to the lake.
Day 5 Tokyo to Hiroshima:
From Tokyo we travel to Hiroshima. This is one of our longer travel days,
covering 900km in less than four hours by shinkansen (the high-speed 'bullet'
train). As the travel crosses the middle of the day we recommend getting a
bento (Japanese lunch box) or other food for lunch, before we board in Tokyo.
With an early afternoon arrival time, there is time to visit the Peace Park
and Museum in Hiroshima city.
Day 6 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
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 7 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 8 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
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 9 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 10 Kyoto to Kanazawa: Continuing our journey across Japan's
biggest island (Honshu), we take the 'Thunderbird' Express train to Kanazawa.
Arriving around mid-day we visit the Omi-cho food market where we can sample local
cuisine including fresh sushi and sashimi for lunch.
After lunch, we head to the beautiful Kenrokuen Gardens
(one of the top three landscape gardens in Japan) and the Kanazawa Castle. The
city also boasts the interesting 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art which
is also an option to round out the day.
Day 11 Kanazawa to Takayama: The city has a number of additional
attractions including an old Chaya tea house district and a small samurai district,
which are available for an early morning visit.
Later in the morning we leave Kanazawa and travel by shinkansen to Toyama and then
train into the Japanese Alps, to the onsen (hot spring) mountain town of
Takayama. The journey from Toyama is through some very scenic valleys and into
the mountain regions of central Japan. After arrival there is time to explore
the town's historic buildings and shops on foot. The local specialty is Hida
beef, very good quality - we recommend enjoying it at one of the local bbq
Day 12 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 world heritage site of Shirakawa-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
Day 13 Takayama to Tokyo: Departing from Takayama we travel back
through the mountains towards Nagoya, to rejoin the shinkansen network for the
bullet train trip back to Tokyo. With an afternoon arrival time and
check-in at your hotel there is some time for exploring the local Tokyo
neighbourhood before dinner.
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 shopping.
For groups of four or more, the price for a fourteen day tour (accommodation for thirteen nights) is from
JPY595,000 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 JPY745,000.
The price 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