Best of Japan
Japan is truly timeless, a place where ancient traditions are fused with modern life as if it were the most natural thing in the world.
On the surface Japan appears exceedingly modern, but travelling around it offers numerous opportunities to connect with the country's traditional culture. Spend the night in a ryokan (traditional Japanese inn), sleeping on futons and tatami mats, and padding through well-worn wooden halls to the bathhouse (or go one step further and sleep in an old farmhouse).
Wherever you are in Japan, it seems, you're never far from a great meal. Restaurants often specialise in just one dish – perhaps having spent generations perfecting it – and pay close attention to every stage, from sourcing the freshest, local ingredients to assembling the dish attractively. And as you'll quickly discover, Japanese cuisine has great regional variations.
Japan is a long and slender, highly volcanic archipelago. It's over two-thirds mountains, with bubbling hot springs at every turn. In the warmer months there is excellent hiking, through cedar groves and fields of wildflowers, up to soaring peaks and ancient shrines (the latter founded by wandering ascetics). In the winter, all this is covered with snow and the skiing is world class.
Ease of Travel
Japan is incredibly easy to get around: you can do a whole trip using nothing but its immaculate, efficient public transport. The shinkansen (bullet train) network now runs all the way from the southern tip of Kyūshū (the southernmost of Japan's major islands) up to Hokkaidō (its northernmost), and reasonably priced rail passes make it affordable.
Discipline … A way of life !
The three keys to discipline in Japan are order, cleanliness, and punctuality. For the Japanese, discipline is fundamental and must be instilled in children at an early age. Thanks to it and their sense of integrity, the Japanese maintain a sense of order.
We are presenting you with a unique 9-day Japan itinerary covering essential highlights including the Tokyo metropolis, the ancient capital Kyoto, and the beautiful Hakone National Park in the shadow of Mount Fuji. To ensure you get the best of Japan experience, we have also covered Hiroshima, Kobe, Osaka & Nara as well !
- Day 1
Arrival Tokyo - Day at leisure
On arrival at Tokyo, you’ll be met by our representative and transferred by private vehicle to your lovely accommodation
Yoking past and future, Tokyo dazzles with its traditional culture and passion for everything new.
More than any one sight, it's the city itself that enchants visitors. It's a sprawling, organic thing, stretching as far as the eye can see. Always changing, and with a diverse collection of neighbourhoods, no two experiences of the city are ever the same. Some neighbourhoods feel like a vision from the future, with ever taller, sleeker structures popping up each year; others evoke the past with low-slung wooden buildings and glowing lanterns radiating surprising warmth; elsewhere, drab concrete blocks hide art galleries and cocktail bars and every lane hints at possible discoveries.
Art & Culture
In Tokyo you can experience the whole breadth of Japanese arts and culture. Centuries-old forms of performing arts still play on stages and sumo tournaments draw crowds; every spring, Tokyoites head outside to appreciate the cherry blossoms – a tradition older than the city itself. There are museums covering every era of Japanese art history and also ones that focus on the contemporary – challenging the old distinctions between art with a capital A, pop culture and technology. But there's a playful side to all of this, too: Tokyo is, after all, a city whose public artworks include a scale model of an anime robot.
Tokyo's Food Scene
When it comes to Tokyo superlatives, the city's food scene tops the list. But we're not just talking about the famous restaurants and the celebrity chefs: what Tokyo excels at is consistency across the board. Wherever you are, you're usually within 100m of a good, if not great, restaurant. It's a scene that careens nonchalantly between the highs and lows: it's not unusual for a top-class sushi restaurant to share the same block as an oil-spattered noodle joint, and for both to be equally adored. Tokyoites love dining out; join them, and delight in the sheer variety of tastes and experiences the city has to offer.
Tokyo can seem daunting at first: the subway map – a tangle of intersecting lines – is often compared to a bowl of noodles. But once you get out there, you'll be surprised how easy it is to navigate. That subway can take you everywhere you want to go; trains are frequent (though sometimes uncomfortably crowded) and almost always on time, and stations are well-signposted in English. That's not to say you won't occasionally find yourself frustratingly disorientated, but locals are generally eager to help you get back on track.
Settle in, adjust to your exciting new surroundings, and get ready for your adventure ahead!
Day at leisure to explore streets of Tokyo on your own …
Tokyo is the center of Japanese culture – fashion, food, nightlife, art. With a number 1 ranking in population among the world’s urban areas, it’s no wonder the city has so much to offer. Explore the striking diversity offered around the streets of Tokyo … a must-see areas for travellers
Visit the Takeshita Street - This 360-meter long street is filled with dozens of discount clothing boutiques, cafés and fast food shops. The shops are targeted at mainly Japanese teens Or visit the Omote-sando Avenue - The beauty of this avenue is what makes it such an attractive sight with Zelkova trees lining the pathway. Different from Takeshita Street, Omotesando is known for its upscale boutiques and high-class vibe. It also caters to older clientele or Just explore the area around Shibuya Crossing - The famous 4-way intersection outside of Shibuya Station is popular among tourists, displaying colorful images, lights and large electric billboards.
Overnight at Tokyo
- Day 2
Tokyo Sightseeing - Modern Tokyo Highlights & Evening Izakaya Outing
Today is your first full day to begin taking in the Tokyo metropolis. You’ll begin with an immersive half-day tour introducing you to the city, and end with an exciting evening out at a lively izakaya.
After a delicious breakfast at your hotel, you’ll be met by your insightful private guide. While Tokyo can certainly be enjoyed without a guide, exploring with a fun and knowledgeable expert by your side will dramatically enhance your experience.
We have exceedingly high standards when it comes to private guides, and carefully design each private tour to cater to your unique priorities and interests.
Tokyo is one of the world’s liveliest cities, full of amazing restaurants, beautiful gardens, stunning modern architecture, charming backstreets, and a glittering neon-filled cityscape. Beyond the city lights and crowds, Tokyo is also full of quiet neighborhoods where you’ll find locals going about their daily lives, and countless hidden gems in the form of unsung yet wonderful little shops and restaurants.
Explore charming neighborhoods such as (for example) Aoyama, Daikanyama, Naka-Meguro, and Shimokitazawa; along with one or more peaceful museums, shrines, or gardens such as the Nezu Museum, Meiji Jingu Shrine, and Hamarikyu Garden (explore more of our favorite Tokyo neighborhoods).
Following your fascinating tour, you’ll have some time to relax at your hotel and recover from any remaining jet lag you may have, or continue exploring independently.
This evening we suggest you at casual and authentic izakaya (Japanese-style gastropub), where you can enjoy a truly Japanese-style atmosphere, and sample a delicious and eclectic variety of Japanese foods. This is a quintessential Japanese experience and one of the best ways to immerse yourself in Japanese culture and mingle with locals.
Overnight at Tokyo
- Day 3
Tokyo Sightseeing - Excursion to Mount Fuji, Kawaguchiko Lake and Mt. Fuji Panoramic Rope way
After breakfast, pick up from hotel for a day trip to Mount Fuji covering Kawaguchiko Lake and Mt. Fuji Panoramic Rope way
Of all Japan's iconic images, Mt Fuji (3776m) is the real deal. Admiration for the mountain appears in Japan's earliest recorded literature, dating from the 8th century. Fuji-san was granted Unesco World Heritage status in 2013; these days, around 300,000 people make the ascent every year.
The Japanese proverb 'He who climbs Mt Fuji once is a wise man, he who climbs it twice is a fool' remains as valid as ever. While reaching the top brings a great sense of achievement (particularly at sunrise), be aware that it's a gruelling climb not known for its beautiful scenery or for being at one with nature. During the climbing season routes are packed, and its barren, apocalyptic-looking landscape is a world away from Fuji's beauty when viewed from afar. At the summit, the crater has a circumference of 4km, but be prepared for it to be clouded over.
This scenic day trip is an ideal choice for those wanting to swap the busy city of Tokyo for natural outdoor beauty. You’ll travel with ease in a comfortable bus to Kawaguchiko, where you’ll see incredible views of Mount Fuji and Lake Kawaguchi.
You’ll also access incredible views from an excursion ship, and Mount Fuji Panoramic Rope way
Back to Tokyo by evening
Overnight at Tokyo
- Day 4
Tokyo to Kyoto by Shinkansen (Bullet Train) & Private Walking Tour of Gion Geisha District
After breakfast, take a train to Kyoto [3 hours ride]
Kyoto is one of the most culturally rich cities in the world, and the place most travelers dream of when envisioning Japan. Home to 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites, Kyoto was the capital of Japan for over a thousand years and remains the heart and soul of traditional Japan.
Today it is a large modern city of over a million residents, and at first glance looks almost like any other Japanese town. But the city retains many of its long-established traditions, and despite the neon and concrete prevalent in many parts of town, Kyoto is teeming with beautiful and well-preserved pockets where time seems to move more slowly.
Japan's Spiritual Heart
This is a city of some 2000 temples and shrines: a city of true masterpieces of religious architecture, such as the retina-burning splendour of Kinkaku-ji (the famed Golden Pavilion) and the cavernous expanse of Higashi Hongan-ji. It's where robed monks shuffle between temple buildings, prayer chants resonate through stunning Zen gardens, and the faithful meditate on tatami-mat floors. Even as the modern city buzzes and shifts all around, a waft of burning incense, or the sight of a bright vermillion torii gate marking a shrine entrance, are regular reminders that Kyoto remains the spiritual heart of Japan.
A Trip for the Tastebuds
Few cities of this size pack such a punch when it comes to their culinary cred, and at its heart is Nishiki Market ('Kyoto's kitchen'). Kyoto is crammed with everything from Michelin-starred restaurants, chic cocktail bars, cool cafes and sushi spots to food halls, izakaya (Japanese pub-eateries), craft-beer bars and old-school noodle joints. Splurge on the impossibly refined cuisine known as kaiseki while gazing over your private garden, taste the most delicate tempura in a traditional building, slurp down steaming bowls of ramen elbow-to-elbow with locals, then slip into a sugar coma from a towering matcha (powdered green tea) sundae.
A City of Artisans
While the rest of Japan has adopted modernity with abandon, the old ways are still clinging on in Kyoto. With its roots as the cultural capital of the country, it's no surprise that many traditional arts and crafts are kept alive by artisans from generation to generation. Wander the streets downtown, through historic Gion and past machiya (traditional Japanese townhouses) in the Nishijin textile district to find ancient speciality shops from tofu sellers, washi (Japanese handmade paper) and tea merchants, to exquisite lacquerware, handcrafted copper chazutsu (tea canisters) and indigo-dyed noren (hanging curtains).
If you don't know your matcha (powdered green tea) from your manga (Japanese comic), have never slept on a futon or had a bath with naked strangers, then it doesn't matter as this is the place to immerse yourself in the intricacies of Japanese culture. Whether you watch matcha being whisked in a traditional tea ceremony, spend the night in a ryokan, get your gear off and soak in an onsen, join a raucous hanami (cherry-blossom viewing) party or discover the art of Japanese cooking – you'll come away one step closer to understanding the unique Japanese way of life.
Check in hotel on arrival. You’ll have part of the afternoon free to settle in and adjust to your new surroundings.
In the early evening, you’ll head out on a fascinating private walking tour through the backstreets of Kyoto’s best-known geisha district, Gion. As you slowly meander your way through the narrow lanes and hidden alleys of this enigmatic district, your expert guide will teach you about the history and reality of Kyoto’s geiko (as geisha are called in Kyoto) and maiko (apprentice geisha).
This is a great way to learn about Japan’s most misunderstood traditional profession, and it’s likely you’ll come across geiko or maiko en route to their evening appointments.
Overnight at Kyoto
- Day 5
Kyoto Sightseeing - Unique Highlights of Kyoto (On & Off The Beaten Path)
After breakfast, sightseeing tour of Kyoto
Kyoto is full of famous sights, but to experience the city on a deeper level it’s also essential to spend time wandering off the beaten path.
No trip to Kyoto would be complete without visiting some of its remarkable temples, shrines, and gardens. For your time in the ancient capital, you will have the chance to take in an exceptional selection of Kyoto’s gems, carefully curated around your unique priorities and interests.
Explore Kyoto highlights such as the historic Higashiyama district, the charming Philosopher’s Path, and the picturesque Arashiyama district, along with off-the-beaten-path strolls through lesser-known Kyoto areas with your expert guide.
Kyoto is also rightly renowned for its cuisine and artisans. The colorful Nishiki Market is crowded but a must-visit for food and market lovers. For travelers interested in the arts and traditional crafts, the chance to visit with a shokunin (master craftsperson) in their private workshop is an unforgettable experience.
Beyond the extraordinary sights and wealth of traditional culture, Kyoto is also home to a booming creative scene, and throughout the ancient capital you’ll also find stunning modern design in museums and galleries, along with shops and cafes.
Following your private tour you’ll have the remainder of your day to relax at your lovely hotel, or continue exploring independently
Overnight at Kyoto
- Day 6
Kyoto - Excursion to Nara & Kobe
After breakfast, embark on a day long excursion covering parts of Kyoto, Nara & Kobe [Total journey of 110 kms. one way]
A guided sightseeing trip of Kyoto, Nara, and Kobe makes it easy to see the highlights of each location, like the Kyoto Arashiyama, Nara Park and Kobe Mosaic. Board a comfortable bus for this day trip and make the most of a day
Start with a stop at the Arashiyama district is located in the Western part of Kyoto. Upon arrival you will have a full three hours to tour Arashiyama. This area is considered to be most attractive around early April and late November when the cherry blossoms bloom and fall colors usually peak. During the summer months, traditional cormorant fishing is practiced on the Hozu River for tourists to watch. One highly recommended spot is the Sagano Bamboo Forest. It is a pleasantly cool 100m long walkway that begins from the side of the world heritage Tenryuji Temple.
Later pass by Arashiyama Station Hannari Hokkori Square. Her you will ride the local tram "Randen" from Arashiyama to Shijo-Omiya station. Randen has a 100-year-old history and is the only tram in Kyoto.
Later the tour proceeds to Nara - Japan's first permanent capital, Nara is one of the country's most rewarding destinations. The biggest draw is the awe-inspiring Daibutsu (Great Buddha), a towering effigy first cast in the 8th century. Historically important temples and shrines house treasures of Buddhist art, and more can be found in the excellent Nara National Museum. All of this occupies a compact area in and around Nara-k?en, a large, grassy park home to many (somewhat) tame deer.
Nara is popular as a day trip from Kyoto or Osaka – there's just enough time to see the highlights. If you stay longer, you can visit one or more of the temples on the city's outskirts (less crowded but no less rewarding), stroll through the old merchant district of Naramachi and really immerse yourself in early Japanese history, art and architecture, for which Nara is famous.
Visit the Nara Park - Nara Park is famous for the 1,200 or so wild deer that live freely within the park. Within Nara Park you will find the Todai-ji Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Later the tour proceeds to Kobe - Perched on a hillside sloping down to the sea, Kobe is one of Japan's most attractive and cosmopolitan cities. It was a maritime gateway from the earliest days of trade with China and home to one of the first foreign settlements after Japan reopened to the world in the mid-19th century. K?be is compact, designed for walking, and easily visited as a day trip from Osaka or Kyoto, or as a stopover en route to points west. Stay overnight to immerse yourself in the city's distinct atmosphere and dining options.
At Kobe visit the Kobe Mosaic - Kobe Mosaic is a shopping mall. There are roughly 80 restaurants and shops selling fashion goods and Kobe souvenirs. There is also a Ferris wheel at the amusement park in Mosaic Garden, which you can ride and enjoy the Kobe night scenery.
Back to Kyoto in the evening
Overnight at Kyoto
- Day 7
Kyoto - Excursion to Hiroshima & Miyajima
After breakfast, transfer to station for train to Hiroshima [1 hr. 40 mins. journey]
To most people, Hiroshima means just one thing. The city's name will forever evoke images of 6 August 1945, when Hiroshima became the target of the world's first atomic-bomb attack. Hiroshima's Peace Memorial Park is a constant reminder of that day, and it attracts visitors from all over the world with its moving message of peace. And the leafy city, with its wide boulevards and laid-back friendliness, is far from a depressing place. Present-day Hiroshima is home to an ever-thriving cosmopolitan community, and it's worth spending a couple of nights here to experience the city at its vibrant best.
On arrival, continue the journey to Miyajimaguchi by coach or train then board a boat traveling to the majestic Sacred Island, a landmass hailed as one of Japan’s most beautiful landscapes.
Disembark and discover the natural and cultural treasures of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed island with your guide. See the shimmering Itsukushima Shrine then revitalize with a delicious lunch in a local eatery (own expense).
Reboard the boat and cruise back to Hiroshima to reflect on the heartbreaking history of the region. Take a moment of contemplation at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, a historical site near to where the atomic bomb exploded. See exhibitions that articulate the carnal destruction the bomb caused and marvel at the city’s regenerative recovery. Finally, board a bus to the Atomic Bomb Dome (Genbaku Dome), a skeletal structure that miraculously survived the 1945 attack.
Return to the station for the exhilarating return journey on the bullet train, where the tour concludes.
Overnight at Kyoto
- Day 8
After breakfast, you’ll be free until departure
Depending on your flight time, you may have time for some last-minute explorations (and eating!).
In good time for your departure flight, you’ll be picked up at your accommodations for the comfortable private transfer to your departure airport at Osaka [50 kms. / 1 hr. drive]
Round the Year Destination ... Extension available for cruise to Port cities & Islands across Japan & Busan [South Korea]
Tour Inclusions [Best of Japan]
9 nights as per itinerary
Daily breakfast at hotels
Airport transfers by private vehicle
Sightseeing & excursions with an English spekaing guide
Travel between cities by Japan Rail Pass
Notes on itinerary
All our itineraries are "Just for Ideas" ... We will get to know you and customise an itinerary just for you that matches your requirements ... dates of travel, category of hotels, preferred airline, flexibility in choosing sightseeing, mode of travel between cities, etc.
Many of our clients have us design more relaxing, slower paced holidays with more in-depth experiences whereas some simply want to visit various destinations and cover only the highlights.
Together, we will determine the ideal route, pace of travel, accommodations, levels of pampering, style of touring, sightseeing to be included, dining preferences, adventure levels, options to meet locals, dates of travel & much more ! and based on this arrive at a price.
Do feel free to get in touch with us by a quick call on +91 79 29602961 or a short mail on firstname.lastname@example.org ... Looking forward