Your overnight trip to Kyoto by way of Nara includes pickup from selected Tokyo hotels, your choice of first-class or tourist-class accommodation in Kyoto, and all entrance fees. Your guide will lead you through magnificent temples and shrines in both cities, offering expert commentary on Japanese culture along the way!
Day 1: Tokyo – Nara – Kyoto (L):
After hotel pickup around 9am, transfer to Tokyo Station and board a Shinkansen train with your guide and tour group, headed for the classical city of Kyoto. As you zoom by bullet train to your destination, take in the spectacular views (weather permitting) of impressive Mt Fuji, Japan’s highest mountain, which hovers 12,389 feet (3,776.24 meters) above sea level.
Upon arrival in Kyoto, you’ll have lunch at the New Miyako Hotel, located in front of the bullet train stop at Kyoto Station. After your meal, travel by coach to Nara – Japan’s first permanent capital city, established in 710 AD – located in the Kansai region about an hour from Kyoto. In the afternoon, enjoy a guided city tour of Nara’s historical treasures, including some of Japan's oldest Buddhist monuments and UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
First, visit the 8th-century Todaiji Temple, considered one of the country’s most historically significant temples, and admire Japan's largest Buddha image – an enormous bronze statue – housed in the Daibutsuden (Great Buddha Hall). Next, visit the colorful Kasuga Shrine with its 3,000 antique stone and bronze lanterns.
Before returning to Kyoto by coach, your guide will take you to the Deer Park, where you can observe more than 1,000 tame deer that freely roam over its 1,250 verdant acres (505 hectares).
Overnight: Kyoto Hotel Okura or Kyoto Monterey Hotel (first class); New Miyako Hotel or Rihga Royal Hotel (tourist class) in Kyoto
Day 2: Kyoto – Tokyo (L)
Embark on a morning sightseeing tour around Kyoto, an ancient capital and home to more than 2,000 gorgeous temples, shrines and gardens. Visit Kyoto Imperial Palace, where Japan’s emperors once resided, and two UNESCO World Heritage Sites – the gold-plated Golden Pavilion Temple (Kinkaku-ji Temple) and Nijo Castle, noted for its gorgeous interior and ‘nightingale’ floors, which were designed to squeak in order to warn the castle’s Tokugawa shoguns of intruders.
After lunch at a restaurant at Kyoto Handicraft Center, where you’ll find many traditional Japanese and Kyoto-made specialty items, enjoy an afternoon sightseeing tour of the city. Starting at Sanjusangendo Hall (also called Sanjusangendo Temple), Japan's longest wooden structure, admire the 1,001 images of Senju Kannon – the goddess of mercy.
Next, take in the glorious vermilion-hued Heian Shrine (a renowned Shinto shrine) followed by a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Kiyomizu Temple to enjoy its wooden veranda and classical Japanese gardens.
In the evening, board the Shinkansen bullet train back to Tokyo at approximately 6:40pm, arriving at Tokyo Station around 9pm.