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  • Location: Tokyo, Japan
  • Duration:  14 days, 13 nights
Discover the cultural highlights of Japan, from the neon-lit streets of modern Tokyo to the ancient temples of Kyoto, on this 14-day tour through the Land of the Rising Sun. See Nikko’s Toshogu Shrine, soak at a traditional outdoor ‘onsen’ (hot spring baths) in Hakone, enjoy a feast at the Takayama market and visit the Hiroshima Peace Park. Travel by train, boat and bus, with ample leisure time to customize your own itinerary. This small-group tour operates with a maximum of 12 people, ensuring you’ll receive personal attention from your expert guide.

Highlights

  • 14-day tour of Japan from Tokyo to Kyoto
  • Visit the UNESCO World Heritage-listed mausoleums of the Tokugawa Shogunate in Nikko, and Himeji-jo Castle or Nijo-jo Castle near Kyoto
  • Ride a boat across Lake Ashi and a cable car through the mountains to spot Mt Fuji
  • Travel by bullet train to Takayama in the Japanese Alps and stroll through the Hida Folk Village
  • View the A-Bomb Dome and Children’s Peace Monument at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park
  • Explore two UNESCO World Heritage-listed temples or shrines, such as Golden Pavilion Temple, and visit the geisha district of Gion in Kyoto
  • Small-group tour limited to 12 ensures a more personalized experience

Recent Photos of This Tour

What You Can Expect

14-Day Classic Japan Tour: Nikko, Hakone, Takayama, Hiroshima and Kyoto from Tokyo

Miyajima Shrine in Hiroshima

Beginning at the Kinuya Hotel in Tokyo and ending at the Ryokan Shimizu in Kyoto, your 14-day journey through Japan includes 13 nights accommodation: one night in a hotel, five in ryokans (traditional inns) and seven in guesthouses. All travelers must purchase and arrive with a 14-day ordinary JR Rail Pass, the cost of which is about USD $645. (Please see Additional Information for more details.)

In addition to guided tours to top attractions, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to individualize your itinerary. Your guide will always be on hand to recommend sites and dining establishments, answer any questions about alternative options and transportation, and communicate meeting times and schedules for your small group.

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Itinerary

Day 1: Tokyo
Arrive at Kinuya Hotel in Tokyo at any time of day. As there are no planned activities aside from an introductory orientation and dinner (own expense) in the evening, you are free to spend the afternoon at your leisure. Your guide will leave a note for your small group at reception with specific information about the meeting time and place. (If it is likely that you will arrive after 6pm, please inform at the time of booking.)

With only one night in Tokyo, it is strongly recommend that you arrive a few days prior to your trip in order to explore the city on your own. Experience the bustling, neon-lit streets of central Tokyo or catch the train to Ginza, known for its upscale shopping, dining and entertainment. Or, escape the modernity of Tokyo with a visit to peaceful Ueno Park with its iconic cherry blossom trees as well as galleries and museums. You may wish to pass the afternoon at the serene Senso-ji Temple or explore Hama Rikyu Garden, Shinjuku Garden or the Edo Museum before meeting your guide and group.

Overnight: Kinuya Hotel in Tokyo

Day 2: Tokyo – Nikko
With your morning free to explore Tokyo on your own, you can visit a museum, stroll the outer grounds of the Imperial Palace, enjoy world-class shopping or simply discover neighborhood streets lined with restaurants and karaoke bars.

Your guide will let you know when it's time to catch the express train for an approximate one-hour trip, followed by another one-hour ride aboard a local train to Nikko. On these clean and efficient modern rails, enjoy scenic views of Japan’s classic countryside steeped in ancient traditions. When the food cart comes by, you can purchase a popular Japanese drink, such as cold green tea or Asahi, and buy lunch in a bento box – a compact tray containing tempura, sushi and other foods.

When your small group arrives in Nikko, set amid a magnificent cedar forest along the shores of the Daiya River, settle in at your charming accommodation. Located next to the river, it has private facilities and a shared onsen. You’ll have the rest of your day free to enjoy as you wish – simply relaxing in the spring-fed baths or exploring the beautiful town on your own.

Overnight: Hotori An Ryokan in Nikko

Day 3: Nikko
Home to some of Japan's most important shrines and temples since the mid-8th century, Nikko boasts several sacred sites including Toshogu Shrine – housing the mausoleums of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Tokugawa Shoguns.

Your guide will take your small group on a tour of the elaborately decorated mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu, whose shogunate controlled Japan for 250 years. As you admire the ornate gold leaf, lacquer work and multicolored carvings, learn about the elaborate architecture that differs from Japan’s minimalist style used throughout the country.

If you’d prefer, your guide will recommend several alternative activities (own expense); you can take a bus to Lake Chuzenji for a hike along the cedar-covered shores, or hop on a local bus to Nikko’s Tamozawa Imperial Villa.

Overnight: Hotori An Ryokan in Nikko

Days 4: Nikko – Hakone
Leaving Nikko with your guide and small group, hop aboard three consecutive trains – a local train plus two bullet trains – for an approximate one hour ride on each, followed by a 30-minute bus ride to the hot spring region of Hakone.

When you reach Hakone’s lakeside area, relax on a boat ride across Lake Ashi (Ashino-ko), viewing the picturesque lake and landscape. Then, embark on a cable car ride through the surrounding mountains; with plenty of stunning panoramas, you might even catch a glimpse of Mt Fuji looming in the distance!

When you reach your accommodation, a lovely family-run guesthouse located in a quiet part of town, don't miss the chance to soak in one of the many outdoor onsen. No clothes or swimsuits are permitted in the hot springs, but there are separate baths for males and females. Relax in the soothing waters or enjoy a variety of optional activities recommended by your guide.

Overnight: Fuji Hakone Guesthouse in Hakone

Day 5: Hakone
Your day is free to spend as you wish – soaking the hours away or choosing from a range of options, such as a visit to the Hakone Checkpoint Museum or the Open Air Museum.

Overnight: Fuji Hakone Guesthouse in Hakone

Days 6: Hakone – Takayama (D)
Descend from the mountains of Hakone by bus and then travel by Shinkansen (bullet train), reaching speeds of up to 168 miles (270 km) per hour! The bullet train ride takes an approximate two hours, followed by a two-hour express train to Takayama.

Famous for its inns, sake breweries, food festivals and local folk art, Takayama is a delightful town nestled among the Japanese Alps. Your small group will visit the Hida Folk Village, an outdoor museum, to see traditional regional architecture such as thatched-roof houses and a collection of farmhouses. As you tour the village, learn from your guide about life among the artisans and snack on a delicious taiyaki – a fish-shaped cake filled with bean paste, custard or cheese.

Afterward, check in to your ryokan, which features an irori (a traditional sunken hearth used for cooking food or heating tea). Within walking distance of the old town, you can easily access the many folk art galleries, local markets and museums of Takayama.

Overnight: Asuanro Ryokan in Takayama

(Please note: During the Takayama Festival – April 14-15 or October 9 -10 – accommodation in Takayama may be multi-share. Depending on rooming configurations, couples may sometimes have to be split up for these nights.)

Day 7: Takayama (B, D)
In the morning, your guide will accompany your small group to the 600-year-old market to try out some of the unusual specialties that the local farmwomen sell early each day. During your free time, wander the streets of this lovely little town or stop by one of the many sake breweries for a tasting. Optional activities (own expense) include visiting the Merchant House or Festival Float Museum, or renting a bike for a ride around town.

Overnight: Asuanro Ryokan in Takayama

Days 8-10: Takayama – Hiroshima (1B)
Take an approximate five-hour train ride from Takayama to Hiroshima, a bustling metropolis with a vibrant energy that belies its tragic history. Check in to your comfortable accommodation (including Internet access), located within walking distance of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.

During your three days in Hiroshima, you’ll have free time to explore the city at your leisure, including a visit to the peace park or a journey to the nearby island of Miyajima. Visit the ruins of the A-Bomb Dome building, one of 11 structures left partially standing after the atom bomb blast of 1945 as a memorial to the perils of nuclear war. Walk around the surrounding Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, including the Children's Peace Monument and Peace Memorial Museum, dedicated to Hiroshima and international peace.

Alternatively, take a tram with your guide to Miyajima with its famous 'floating’ Torii Gate and the grand Itsukushima Shrine. Keep an eye out for inquisitive and hungry deer that freely roam the streets of the island.

Overnight: Ikawa Ryokan in Hiroshima

Days 11-13: Hiroshima – Kyoto
Embark on a one-hour train ride to either Himeji-jo Castle or Nijo-jo Castle (depending on the season) – both UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Built in 1580 during Japan’s feudal period, the five-story complex of Himeji-jo Castle includes 83 buildings and a highly developed defense system. Your guide will point out the castle’s architectural features, including the white exterior designed to resemble a heron taking flight. If you visit Nijo Castle, learn about the Tokugawa shoguns that resided there and see the famous ‘nightingale’ floors, designed to squeak in order to warn the castle’s inhabitants of intruders.

Continue on with another one-hour train ride to Kyoto, home to more than 2,000 stunning temples, shrines and gardens. During your three days in the ancient capital, explore this heart of Japanese culture with entry to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, such as Kiyomizu Temple or the magnificent gold-plated Golden Pavilion Temple (Kinkaku-ji Temple) – depending on your guide’s choice. As you explore the grounds of each site, admire the classical Japanese gardens.

Spend your free time in Kyoto soaking up the magnificent atmosphere as you stroll the streets, including a meander through the historically preserved geisha district of Gion, established for travelers in the Middle Ages. Optional activities (own expense) include renting a bike, or taking a class in Japanese home cooking or the tea ceremony. Kyoto’s lively nightlife provides plenty of options for your final evening before you say good-bye to new friends made in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Overnight: Heianbo Ryokan in Kyoto

Day 14: Kyoto
With checkout time at noon, there are no activities planned for the day. If you depart at a later time, you can arrange luggage storage at the hotel. With so many things to do in and around Kyoto, you might even choose to extend your stay!

Note: Please see Additional Information for more trip details, including purchase of your JR Rail Pass (own expense) and additional items to bring on your tour.
From USD $ 4,625.00

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Tour code: 5912CJST

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