An Introduction to Japan

blossom Tokyo Skyline Kyoto river

Introduction to Japan Tour

For those with only a week to explore Japan we recommend splitting time between Tokyo and Kyoto.  This allows people to see the contrasts between the old and the new, the huge metropolis of Tokyo and the history and culture of Kyoto.

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.  You can use the contact us form or email us at admin@japancustomtours.co.nz

Introduction to Japan Tour - Seven days

Day 1 Tokyo: We meet you at the airport in Tokyo (either Narita or Haneda). After clearing immigration, luggage collection and customs meet us at the exit in the arrivals hall. From the airport we utilise the train network to get to our hotel in the city. From Narita the express train takes approximately 90 minutes to Shinjuku. Our preferred property in Tokyo is the conveniently located Century Southern Hotel. Options for the day depend on the arrival time.

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. Making our way through the neighbourhood gives time to spot a variety of interesting features of Japan and how it all fits together.

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 usually visit) and Tokyo Zoo (which is an 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 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 the Harajuku district with Takeshita Street, a trend-setting shopping area for Tokyo youth, we walk through the area. Leaving Harajuku there is a distinct transition as we move to the nearby upmarket shopping district of Omotesando.

In the afternoon, we head to Shinjuku to see the expansive Shinjuku National Gardens. From the gardens, head to the Golden Gai area of old style bars before seeing Godzilla towering above the night life area of Kabukicho.

Day 4 Tokyo to Kyoto: The journey south to Kyoto is a modest 520km and can be completed in under three hours. This delivers us to the historic old capital of Japan around midday. We choose to stay nearby to the main Kyoto station as this provide good access to the city. (Example properties are the Kyoto Century or the Daiwa Royal Hotel Grande.)

During the afternoon we 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. From Fushimi Inari we visit one of the other nearby attractions in the eastern side of the city - Sanjusangendo that has 1,000 hand carved statues. This impressive display was more than 100 years in the making with each hand-carved statue being unique.

Day 5 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 had to the 'Golden Pavilion' Kinkaku-ji in the north-west of the city which typically takes us to mid-day.

From Kinkaku-ji we have two main options. One is to head across the city to the beautiful Arashiyama district. At Arashiyama we enjoy the view across the Oi River from the Togetsukyo Bridge. 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 system and the conclusion of the day at Kyoto Station.

As an alternative we return to the centre of the city. This area includes the 400 year old Nishiki Markets, the 300 year old Teramachi shopping street (covered mall), and also the nearby Pontocho district. Being a large city Kyoto also has the usual range of department stores and many other points of interest.

Day 6 Kyoto - day trip Nara: To experience one of the more important cultural and historic places in Japan, we visit Nara, Japan's first capital (a 45 minute train ride from Kyoto). At Nara there is both Todai-ji temple (with the world's largest bronze Buddha), and Kagusa Shinto shrine. We visit several temples and shrines across the day with entry to some and viewing others. There are sacred deer roaming the park and some excellent souvenir shopping options.

Day 7 Kyoto to Tokyo: A transit day as we head back to the capital of Tokyo for departing flights. (Alternatively, flights from Kansai International might be preferred as KIX is easily accessible from Kyoto.)  

Price Inclusions/exclusions

The following pricing assumes a minimum of four people in a group.  The price for a seven day tour (accommodation for six nights) is from Y295,000 per person share twin/double.  Shorter or longer duration is also available.

For a two person tour for two pricing is from Y395,000 per person.

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 JPY345,000. 

The price includes:

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 arrangements

Bookings and Inquiries

If you are interested in joining this tour, please contact us or email us directly at admin@japancustomtours.co.nz.