Best of Japan
Experience Japan: futuristic Tokyo; coastal Kamakura & mountainous Hakone w/ iconic Mt. Fuji; historic Takayama; UNESCO site, Gokayama & the ancient city of Kyoto
|Style||Small Group TourTravel with a small, intimate group of no more than 16 likeminded travelers (and often much fewer), escorted by an English speaking guide and/or tour manager for some or all of your journey. More of these packages
Dedicated tour escorts & guides throughout
|Departures||July – December 2023||Group Size||16 travelers max|
|Themes||History & Culture, Grand Tours, Bucket List, Rail Journeys|
|What to Expect||This moderately-paced, escorted tour includes a reasonable amount of walking or hiking and requires an average level of physical fitness. Porterage at train stations is not available. Travel safely and confidently with our new health & safety protocols.|
|Already booked?||Find everything you need to know before you go, including information about passport & visa requirements, flights, luggage, and more.|
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Set in East Asia, Japan is a country of contrasts, blending ancient traditions with innovative technology and calm scenery with bustling cities. This fascinating region will spark all your senses and leave you with memories you won't be able to make anywhere else. Home to symbolic Mt. Fuji, unique, mouthwatering cuisine, magnificent temples and shrines, neon skylines, and a culture steeped in both tradition and modernity, you will discover the absolute best of Japan with every turn you take. Journey through coastal towns, historical cities, and mountain villages to experience all that this country has to offer. Taste your way through the region with hands-on sushi lessons, sake tastings, and enjoying the local fare. Discover Kyoto, Japan's spiritual center home to the Golden Pavillion. Explore the rich history and discover timeless stories from every ancient temple and UNESCO site. From Tokyo's glittering skyscrapers to the peaceful atmosphere dotted with bamboo forests and pagodas, Japan is an adventure waiting for curious travelers.
- Round-trip flights from Los Angeles (LAX) to Narita, including fuel surcharges and taxes and fees
- All ground transportation and transfers
- 10 nights in Deluxe and First-Class Superior hotel accommodations
- 1 night at a ryokan-style resort in Hakone
- 21 Meals: 11 Breakfasts, 7 Lunches, 3 Dinners
- Comprehensive touring program including entrance fees
- Professional English-speaking tour guide
- Flights from other cities are available. Request pricing when making your reservation.
- Exciting optional excursions in Tokyo and Hiroshima
Why you'll love it
- Explore Tokyo's highlights, including Sensoji Temple, Nakamise-dōri Street, and Tokyo Skytree.
- Learn the art of making sushi during a hands-on lesson.
- Cruise along Lake Ashi before ascending 4,300 ft. to the ancient Mototsumiya Shrine on top of Mt. Komagatake and a chance to see Mt. Fuji.
- Set out on a high-speed adventure aboard the Shinkansen Kodama, a bullet train linking Japan's major cities while reaching speeds of over 170 miles per hour.
- Explore scenic Takayama, including the Sannomachi District, the Takayama-Jina Shrine, and the Yatai Kaikan museum.
- Tour a local sake brewery and taste samples of various sakes.
- Get hands-on during a Washi paper-making demonstration and experience.
- Visit the Nomura-Ke Samurai residence, then discover Kanazawa's rich tradition of gold leaf at the Gold Leaf Experience.
- Explore Kyoto, including the Golden Pavillion, Nijo Castle, Heian Jingu Shrine, and Nishiki Market.
- Meander through the renowned Sango bamboo grove of Arashiyama, considered one of the most beautiful woodlands in the world.
Itinerary at a Glance
- 1 Depart USA
- 2 Arrive Tokyo, Japan
- 3 Tokyo
- 4 Tokyo
- Optional Excursion: Imperial Palace East Gardens & COREDO Muromachi shopping complex (AM), $120
- Optional Excursion: Taiko Lab, Japanese Drum Experience (PM), $210
- 5 Kamakura , Mt. Fuji & Hakone
- 6 Hakone, Takayama
- 7 Takayama, Gokayama, and Kanazawa
- 8 Kanazawa
- 9 Kanazawa, Kyoto
- 10 Kyoto
- 11 Kyoto or optional Hiroshima & Miyajima
- Optional Excursion: Hiroshima & Miyajima Excursion
- 12 Kyoto, Nara & Osaka
- 13 Osaka & Depart Tokyo/Arrive USA
Dates & Prices
Dates & Prices
Dates & Prices, with flights
per person, double occupancy*, including Instant Savings discounts
Departs U.S.: Sun, Jun 11, 2023
Finishes: Fri, Jun 23, 2023
Jun 11 – Jun 23
Departs U.S.: Sun, Jul 2, 2023
Finishes: Fri, Jul 14, 2023
Book by Thu, Apr 27, 2023 (midnight ET) to get the Instant Savings! Jul 2 – Jul 14
Departs U.S.: Sun, Aug 20, 2023
Finishes: Fri, Sep 1, 2023
Aug 20 – Sep 1
Departs U.S.: Sun, Sep 3, 2023
Finishes: Fri, Sep 15, 2023
Book by Thu, Apr 27, 2023 (midnight ET) to get the Instant Savings! Sep 3 – Sep 15
Departs U.S.: Sun, Oct 15, 2023
Finishes: Fri, Oct 27, 2023
Book by Thu, Apr 27, 2023 (midnight ET) to get the Instant Savings! Oct 15 – Oct 27
Departs U.S.: Sun, Nov 5, 2023
Finishes: Fri, Nov 17, 2023
Book by Thu, Apr 27, 2023 (midnight ET) to get the Instant Savings! Nov 5 – Nov 17
Departs U.S.: Sun, Nov 26, 2023
Finishes: Fri, Dec 8, 2023
Book by Thu, Apr 27, 2023 (midnight ET) to get the Instant Savings! Nov 26 – Dec 8
Dates & Prices, tour only
per person, double occupancy*, including Instant Savings discounts
Starts: Mon, Jun 12, 2023
Finishes: Fri, Jun 23, 2023
Jun 12 – Jun 23
Starts: Mon, Jul 3, 2023
Finishes: Fri, Jul 14, 2023
Book by Thu, Apr 27, 2023 (midnight ET) to get the Instant Savings! Jul 3 – Jul 14
Starts: Mon, Aug 21, 2023
Finishes: Fri, Sep 1, 2023
Aug 21 – Sep 1
Starts: Mon, Sep 4, 2023
Finishes: Fri, Sep 15, 2023
Book by Thu, Apr 27, 2023 (midnight ET) to get the Instant Savings! Sep 4 – Sep 15
Starts: Mon, Oct 16, 2023
Finishes: Fri, Oct 27, 2023
Book by Thu, Apr 27, 2023 (midnight ET) to get the Instant Savings! Oct 16 – Oct 27
Starts: Mon, Nov 6, 2023
Finishes: Fri, Nov 17, 2023
Book by Thu, Apr 27, 2023 (midnight ET) to get the Instant Savings! Nov 6 – Nov 17
Starts: Mon, Nov 27, 2023
Finishes: Fri, Dec 8, 2023
Book by Thu, Apr 27, 2023 (midnight ET) to get the Instant Savings! Nov 27 – Dec 8
If you want a few extra days to explore on your own, we may be able to arrange for you to stay later than the scheduled dates, including extra hotel nights and separate airport transfers, for an additional charge. Ask us about prices and availability when (or after) you book. More information Want to extend your trip?
Options & Fees
|Best of Japan|
|Oct 15, 2023; Nov 5, 2023; Nov 26, 2023||$1499|
|All other dates||$1399|
|Discounted Optional Excursions Package: Includes Imperial Palace & Taiko||$245|
|Imperial Palace East Gardens & COREDO Muromachi shopping complex||$118|
|Taiko Lab, Japanese Drum Experience||$210|
|Hiroshima & Miyajima||$655|
1. Prices based on a minimum of four passengers.
|TRANSFERS FOR PASSENGERS BOOKING LAND ONLY|
|OPTIONAL AIRPORT TRANSFERS|
|Arrival Transfer: Tokyo NRT airport to Imperial hotel via Shared Transfer1||$108|
|Departure transfer: Osaka hotel to Osaka airport via Shared Transfer2||$108|
1. Price based on a minimum of two passengers.
2. Price based on a minimum of two passengers.
So that we can offer you the best deals, our packages are, like most hotels and cruises, priced based on double occupancy rooms or cabins. We charge solo travelers an extra fee to cover the extra costs of single occupancy rooms or cabins. (Consider: if you booked a $200/night hotel room solo, you would pay the $200 yourself; but if a couple booked the same room, each one would pay only $100.) But you only pay extra for the rooms or cabins, nothing else, including meals, sightseeing, tips, etc. Why are single rooms more?
Flights & Departure Cities
|Los Angeles (LAX)1||included|
1. Upgrades may be available to Premium Economy or Business Class. Request this upgrade during the booking process in the Special Requests section, and we will check the availability and provide you with a price.
This package includes round-trip flights from the city listed above. Please review the flight schedule, especially if you're booking connecting flights.
Want to fly from another city? Unfortunately, we don't offer flights from other cities, but you can book your own.
Day 1 Depart USA
- Depart on your overnight flight to Tokyo
Day 2 Arrive Tokyo, Japan
- Arrive in Tokyo Narita airport, meet your guide, and transfer to your hotel
- Welcome dinner with your fellow travelers
Imperial Hotel Tokyo DinnerFull Day Itinerary
Welcome to Tokyo, Japan's bustling capital and one of the world's foremost economic centers. Upon landing, meet your tour host, who will escort you to your deluxe, centrally-located hotel. En route, take in Tokyo's incredible hustle and bustle, from the neon-lit districts to its iconic skyline. Join your guide and fellow travelers this evening for a welcome dinner featuring traditional, local food and an unforgettable view of the city.
Day 3 Tokyo
- Visit Sensō-ji temple and Nakamise-dōri street
- Enjoy a Sushi Making class followed by sushi lunch
- Stroll along the Ropongi District
- Visit the Tokyo Skytree
Imperial Hotel Tokyo Breakfast & lunchFull Day ItineraryAfter breakfast at the hotel, embark on a guided tour of Tokyo. Make your way to the colorful Asakusa district, home to many famous temples, shrines, and other cultural attractions. Visit the ancient Buddhist temple of Sensō-ji, constructed in 645 BCE. Inside you will find various religious artifacts such as statues of Buddha, Japanese calligraphy, and traditional paintings. The grounds are also home to many other small temples dedicated to various gods or goddesses. Walk through the temple's famous incense smoke, said to be beneficial to your health, and receive an omikuji, or fortune.Then, stroll down Nakamise-dōri Street, a commerce staple in the community since the 1700s. Shop for traditional handmade souvenirs, including folding fans, kimonos and yukatas, toys, and more. The area has also become a popular spot for foodies, offering delicious street food options ranging from taiyaki (fish-shaped pancakes filled with sweet bean paste) to yakitori (grilled chicken skewers).
Follow your shopping adventure with a chance to learn about sushi during a hands-on lesson. Here, your sushi chef will share with you the techniques used to prepare this fresh dish--from the simple ingredients and tools to the ancient methods they use to cut fish and roll maki. Finish off the experience with a sushi lunch, where you'll continue to learn about the accompanying dishes during the meal.
Next, stroll through the Roppongi Hills district, developed as an urban center for Tokyoites to live, work, and play! The area includes more than 200 shops and restaurants, theaters, art galleries, museums, public parks, and more. This high-end area is also a treat for architecture lovers, with some of the tallest buildings in the city (the Mori Tower at 54 stories high!) and several apartment complexes designed by renowned architects, including Kengo Kumo and Toyo Ito.
Continue to the iconic Tokyo Skytree, where you'll enjoy a fantastic city view. Standing more than 2,000 ft. tall, it features two observatories: The Tembo Deck (1,148 ft.) on its upper floors with panoramic views of the Tokyo skyline and an even higher 1,476 ft. Tembo Galleria, which offers beautiful vistas of Mount Fuji on clear days. The Skytree also features souvenir shops, restaurants, and cafes spread across several floors where you can enjoy traditional Japanese cuisine and international dishes.
Day 4 Tokyo
- Full day at leisure in Tokyo or join an optional tour: Imperial Palace East Gardens & COREDO Muromachi shopping complex, or Taiko Lab, Japanese Drum Experience
Imperial Hotel Tokyo BreakfastFull Day ItineraryOptional Excursion: Imperial Palace East Gardens & COREDO Muromachi shopping complex (AM), $120
After breakfast, proceed to the historical Imperial Palace, which dates back to the 15th century and is the former site of Edo Castle and the present residence of the Emperor of Japan. Visitors are not permitted inside this private residence of royalty, but you will enjoy a walk through the beautiful East Gardens, with views of the ancient castle walls and ruins. Later, visit the COREDO Muromachi shopping complex in the historic Nihonbashi district. COREDO offers a link to Tokyo's past, present, and future. The complex is home to Hakuza Nihonbashi, the flagship store of the Kanazawa gold leaf maker, Hakuza. The store is as beautiful as any gallery, filled with gold leaf accessories for the home, from tableware, interior decoration, cosmetics, and flakes for tea or rice. Don't miss Nihonbashi Kiya, a cutlery specialist shop with roots that date back more than 200 years in Nihonbashi. The many blades inside the shop represent the history of Japanese cutlery, including sashimi knives, classic designs for cutting fish or chicken bones, chopping vegetables, and specialized ones for preparing seafood. Kiya is also an art museum with displays covering the history of Japan's leading blacksmiths and their creations. Enjoy time on your own for tea, shopping, or having a bite at nearby restaurants.Optional Excursion: Taiko Lab, Japanese Drum Experience (PM), $210
Spend the afternoon learning the ancient art of Taiko drumming at Visit Taiko Center, one of the world's most active Taiko Drumming companies! Try this traditional instrumentation featuring large drums (taiko) played with mallets or hands to create powerful rhythms and melodies. Taiko drumming is often used for ceremonial purposes such as festivals, weddings, religious ceremonies, and theatrical performances. It gained popularity worldwide due to its energetic sound and unique style of playing.
Day 5 Kamakura , Mt. Fuji & Hakone
- Enjoy a beautiful panoramic drive from Tokyo to Mt. Fuji
- Visit Kōtoku-in temple and marvel at the giant Buddha
- Embark on a scenic cruise on Lake Ashi
- Board the Komagatake Ropeway and ascend Mt. Komagatake
Hakone Kowakien Ten-yu Breakfast, lunch & dinnerFull Day Itinerary
Today, depart for the picturesque coastal town of Kamakura in the Kanagawa Prefecture. Known for many historical monuments and sites, pay a visit to the Kokoku-in Temple, which enshrines the famous Kamakura Daibutsu (Great Buddha of Kamakura), a 43-foot bronze statue of the Buddha located on the temple grounds.
Continue to the Hase-dera temple, founded in 736 by monk Tokudo Shonin, and known for its 11-headed Kannon statue, which stands an impressive 27 feet tall. The grounds are filled with beautiful gardens and koi fish-filled ponds, providing visitors with a peaceful atmosphere while taking in the sights of the ancient architecture of the buildings onsite.
Enjoy an included lunch in Kamakura before you continue the panoramic drive to Hakone.
Here you'll enjoy a scenic cruise on Lake Ashi, a slender crater lake formed in the Hakone caldera nearly 400,000 years ago. On board, you can admire the crystal-clear waters as you pass by small villages, rolling hilltops, and lush forests. You might even see Mt. Fuji's peak in the distance on a clear day! Afterward, visit the ancient Mototsumiya Shrine on top of Mt. Komagatake. Known as the "Shrine in the Sky," you will ascend via a seven-minute Ropeway ride nearly 4,300 ft up to the top, where you can enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains, lakes, and bamboo fields. The shrine's main hall features a beautiful thatched roof, while its grounds are home to many old trees with rich foliage.
After an exciting day of travel and taking in the sites, transfer to a Ryokan for your overnight stay. A ryokan is a traditional Japanese inn that features tatami-matted rooms and usually has a minimalist aesthetic, with sliding doors, low tables, and futon beds. Guests can enjoy authentic local cuisine served in their room or the dining area and relaxing onsite amenities like hot springs, gardens, spa services, and sauna.
Day 6 Hakone, Takayama
- Travel to Nagoya aboard the Shinkansen Kodama, Japan's bullet train
- Travel to Takayama aboard the limited express Hida
- Enjoy the beautiful views of the Japanese Alps
- Stroll in Sannomachi
- Continue on foot to Visit Takayama jinya
- Enjoy a Sake brewery and Sake Tasting
Tokyu Stay Hida Takayama Musubinoyu Breakfast & lunchFull Day Itinerary
This morning set out on a high-speed adventure aboard the Shinkansen Kodama, Japan's bullet train! A tourist attraction in its own right, this quiet train efficiently links Japan's major cities while reaching speeds of over 170 miles per hour. After a quick and comfortable ride, arrive in Nagoya, where you'll transfer to the express train to Takayama. Along the way, enjoy spectacular views of the peaks and forests of the Japanese Alps through the train's wide-picture windows.
Known for its traditional atmosphere and beautiful natural scenery, start your exploration of Takayama with a local lunch. Then, stretch your legs with a stroll to some of the city's most famous sights.
Begin with an afternoon walk through the Sannomachi District. This historic area dates back to the Edo period. Explore the picturesque streets lined with shops and restaurants selling local specialties such as Hida beef, one of Japan's most famous beef brands. Then, visit the Takayama-Jinya Shrine. This traditional wooden building served as a local government office until 1969 and now operates as a public museum where visitors can explore the grounds, storehouse, and the large tatami mat rooms that were once used as offices and residential spaces.
Next, continue to a local sake brewery for a tour and tasting. Enjoy a guided tour of the facility, learning how workers make this iconic Japanese rice spirit using centuries-old methods. After, indulge in a tasting session with samples of different sakes ranging from light to fruity to robust.
Finally, enjoy a leisurely walk from the brewery to the hotel for check-in.
Day 7 Takayama, Gokayama, and Kanazawa
- Experience a local farmers market of Takayama
- Explore the Yatai kaikan museum
- Take a stroll in Gokayama
- Visit a traditional Washi workshop
ANA Crowne Plaza Kanazawa Breakfast & lunchFull Day ItineraryAfter breakfast, visit the nearby farmers' market for an authentic, local experience. Soak up the casual, friendly atmosphere as residents and visitors alike take their time perusing the stalls, stopping to make small talk and catching up with one another. Explore the myriad of things for sale, ranging from colorful fruits and vegetables to handmade artisan goods and freshly-cut flowers.Continue exploring Takayama's rich history with a trip to the Yatai Kaikan museum, Takayama Festival Floats Exhibition Hall. This museum showcases some of Japan's most beautiful festival floats--used during the Takayama Matsuri. This traditional festival occurs in two parts: Spring, in which 12 floats take part, and Autumn, which features 11. This parade of showmanship representing the region's vibrant lumber industry began more than 300 years ago as a simple village ceremony. The exhibition hall consists of several floors, each dedicated to different aspects of the floats and their history.Next, step back in time as you explore the mountain village (and UNESCO World Heritage Site) of Gokayama. This small, traditional village offers an up-close look at an ancient way of life. The houses were built with a unique construction technique called gassho-zukuri, which gives them their distinctive shape resembling hands joined together in prayer. This style was chosen to help protect against strong winds and heavy snowfall that frequently occur during wintertime. Explore the area's tranquil streets, beautiful shrines, and more.Then, get hands-on during a Washi paper-making demonstration and experience! Learn about this age-old Japanese paper craft from artisans. Discover its long history, traditional techniques, and the art form's sustainable nature. Get creative, make and then take home three postcard souvenirs of your own!Finally, check into your hotel and enjoy dinner independently.
Day 8 Kanazawa
- Visit the Nomura-Ke (Old Samurai House) and stroll through Kenrokuen Garden
- Discover Kanazawa's rich tradition of gold leaf at the Gold Leaf Experience
- Pay a visit to the Shima House
- Enjoy a walking tour of Higashi Chaya
ANA Crowne Plaza Kanazawa Breakfast & lunchFull Day Itinerary
Start today with a visit to the Nomura-Ke Samurai residence. Located in the historic city of Nagamachi, this traditional samurai home is one of Japan's most important cultural sites. Imagine the life of an ancient samurai warrior and his family as you learn about the villa's history and peruse its many artifacts, carvings, and gardens.
Next, stroll through the expansive Kenrokuen Garden--a serene place that will leave you feeling refreshed and inspired regardless of when you visit. In spring, visitors can admire over 1,000 cherry trees blooming; summer brings lush greenery; fall showcases vibrant foliage; and winter transforms the garden into a tranquil snowscape. "Kenrokuen" means "garden that combines six characteristics,” comprised of spaciousness, seclusion, artifice, antiquity, water sources, and magnificent views.”
Recognized by UNESCO as a Creative City of Crafts and Folk Art, discover Kanazawa's rich tradition of gold leaf at the Gold Leaf Experience. Watch artisans painstakingly create stunningly intricate pieces using impossibly-thin sheets of hammered gold. This technique embellishes everything from national treasures to family heirlooms, including lacquer work, ceramics, and decorative and religious items. After the demonstration, give the craft a go and create a keepsake to cherish!
After a delicious lunch at a local restaurant, pay a visit to the Shima House in Higashi Chaya. Built around 1820, this traditional home offers an authentic cultural reflection of life during the Edo period. Lovingly restored to its original condition, explore the house and admire its intricate woodwork, tatami mat flooring, and exquisite artwork adorning the walls.
Finally, enjoy a walking tour of Higashi Chaya--a district featuring streets lined with restored wooden merchant houses. These historic buildings have found a new life as tea houses and venues for live music and performances, including kabuki and shamisen.
After the sightseeing, you may transfer back to the hotel via bus. If you prefer to continue exploring or have dinner in Higashi Chaya, you can return to the hotel independently.
Day 9 Kanazawa, Kyoto
- Transfer Kanazawa to Kyoto by limited express thunderbird
- Enjoy lunch at a Local restaurant In Kyoto
- Visit the Golden Pavilion
- Visit Arashiyama and stroll in the Sango Bamboo Grove and across the Togetsu bridge
Hotel Granvia Kyoto Breakfast & lunchFull Day Itinerary
Today, board the Limited Express Thunderbird for a quick trip to Kyoto! Founded in the 7th century, this ancient city was once the capital of Japan and is still considered the country's spiritual center. Today it is home to more than 1.5 million people, lush gardens, modern museums, and several important historical and religious sites.
Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before a visit to the Golden Pavillion (Kinkakuji Temple). One of the most iconic landmarks in Kyoto, this temple was initially constructed in 1397 and was later converted into a Zen Buddhist temple. The two-story pavilion is covered with gold leaf on the top two floors, and its reflection shimmers on the surface of the surrounding pond, known as Kyoko-chi.
Finally, end your day with tranquility as you visit Arashiyama, a district on the western outskirts of the city known for its beautiful landscapes and temples. Meander through the renowned bamboo grove, considered one of the most beautiful woodlands in the world. The area also features some historical sites, such as Togetsukyo Bridge, which has been standing since the 16th century. This bridge spans the Katsura River and provides stunning views of Arashiyama's lush landscape.
Day 10 Kyoto
- Enjoy a full-day exploration of Kyoto, including Nijo Castle, Heian Jingu Shrine, and Nishiki Market
- Admire the beautiful Buddhist of Kiyomizu Temple
Hotel Granvia Kyoto BreakfastFull Day Itinerary
Get ready for a full day of exploring Kyoto, starting with Nijo Castle. Built in 1603 by the founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate, this sprawling castle complex served as his residence and headquarters for over 250 years. Its grand Ninomaru Palace is surrounded by beautiful gardens, moats, and walls that are all designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Inside you'll find an impressive collection of artwork, including wall paintings depicting battles from Japan's feudal period. Take some time to explore Nijo Castle's hidden gems, like its nightingale floor (which chirps when stepped on) and watchtowers with magnificent views of Kyoto City.
Next, head to the Heian Jingu Shrine. This 5/8 scale reproduction of the Heian Palace was built in 1895 to commemorate the 1100th anniversary of Emperor Kanmu's ascension to the throne and is dedicated to two imperial deities: Emperor Kanmu and his consort, Empress Koken. Here you'll have an opportunity to walk around the shrine's beautiful court and have a photo stop in front of the giant Torii Gate.
Visit the Nishiki Market, known for its lively atmosphere and friendly vendors who will often let you sample their products before buying them. This famous shopping district has been around since the 16th century. It is one of the oldest markets in the country, offering a variety of traditional Japanese food and other goods such as fresh produce, pickles, seafood, dried foods, kitchenware, handmade souvenirs, and more.
Make your way to Kiyomizu Temple, a beautiful Buddhist temple in the Higashiyama district. The temple is known for its large terrace, which overlooks the city below, offering stunning views of Kyoto from every angle. This temple is particularly showstopping in April, when cherry blossoms abound, and in November, when maple leaves show their autumn colors. Then, spend time exploring the Higashiyama district, where you can find some of Japan's best-preserved traditional architecture. Home to some of Kyoto’s oldest shrines, temples, gardens, and other cultural attractions, this area has been a popular destination for locals and travelers since ancient times. Spend time wandering the neighborhood's narrow winding streets, filled with shops, restaurants, tea houses, and more.
Finally, experience one of Kyoto's most famous attractions--the Gion District! Meticulously preserved, this iconic geisha neighborhood features traditional wooden machiya houses, cobblestone alleyways, ornate temples, craft shops, restaurants, tea houses, and more! As you admire the historical constructions and soak in the peaceful atmosphere, you'll get a glimpse into the life of authentic Japanese geisha. Visit some of Gion's famous teahouses to enjoy matcha tea while experiencing traditional entertainment, such as music and dance performances by local maiko (geisha's apprentice).
After the sightseeing, you may transfer back to the hotel via bus. If you prefer to continue exploring or have dinner in the Gion District, you can return to the hotel independently.
Day 11 Kyoto or optional Hiroshima & Miyajima
- Free day in Kyoto, or optional Hiroshima & Miyajima excursion
Hotel Granvia Kyoto BreakfastFull Day Itinerary
Enjoy a day at leisure to explore Kyoto on your own, or join an optional full-day excursion to Hiroshima and Miyajima.Optional Excursion: Hiroshima & Miyajima Excursion
Start your day with a visit to Hiroshima. Pay your respects to victims of the Atomic Bomb and learn about the devastating horrors of war at the Peace Memorial Park's memorial site. This museum also expresses and celebrates the desire for long life and happiness.
After lunch at a local restaurant, enjoy a short cruise from Peace Memorial Park to Miyajima, home to the Itsukushima Shrine. This UNESCO World Heritage site is one of the most photographed sites in Japan and was constructed in 593 to honor fishing gods. The orange paint on the shrine's entrance gate provides a stunning color contrast against the crystal blue waters of the bay. Afterward, visit the Hiroshima Bomb Dome, a skeleton of a building that survived the atomic bomb blast in 1945.
Note: The Shrine of Itsukushima's large torii gate will not be fully visible due to renovations. The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum's main building is currently being renovated, but the fully renovated East building will be open to visitors and includes displays from the Main Building.
Day 12 Kyoto, Nara & Osaka
- Drive to Nara, one of the earliest capitals of Japan
- Visit Todai-ji Temple and the Kasuga Shrine
- Pay a visit to the Asuka Village
- Enjoy a farewell dinner
Hilton Osaka Breakfast, lunch & dinnerFull Day Itinerary
After breakfast, drive to Nara, one of the earliest capitals of Japan. Located in the Kansai region, Nara is home to some of the country's most important historical monuments. Visit Toda-ji Temple, built in the 8th century. The main hall contains an enormous 49ft-tall Buddha statue that towers over all who enter. Another highlight is Kasuga Shrine, famous for its many bronze and stone lanterns that line the paths of both inner and outer precincts. Its surrounding gardens are home to many small deer that have free rein to mingle with visitors and beg for treats that you can buy from local vendors for a few yen!
This afternoon, drive to Osaka. En route, pay a visit to the Asuka Village, believed to have been founded during the Asuka period (538 - 710 AD). Explore the Ishibutai Kofun burial mound, one of Japan’s most significant megalithic structures.
Finally, welcome to Osaka! This vibrant and exciting city is known for its modern architecture, nightlife, delicious street food, and friendly locals. End your incredible journey with your fellow travelers at a special farewell dinner.
Day 13 Osaka & Depart Tokyo/Arrive USA
- Board transfer to Osaka airport for Haneda airport in Tokyo
- Transfer to Narita airport
- At Narita Airport to board your return flight to Los Angeles
- Arrive in the USA later today
Save by pre-booking a discounted package of our most popular optional excursions:
- Imperial Palace East Gardens & COREDO Muromachi shopping complex (AM), $120
- Taiko Lab, Japanese Drum Experience (PM), $210
You purchase this special package ahead of time. These are not "seat in coach" excursions that pick up passengers at various hotels; all are operated for Friendly Planet groups only.
Prices based on a minimum of four passengers.
As a prestigious member of the Leading Hotels of the World, the 5-star Imperial Hotel Tokyo boasts an impressive historic pedigree. Centrally located just south of Tokyo Station and the Imperial Palace grounds, the property has long drawn a high-profile clientele. Rooms are situated in the main building or in the gleaming tower, and many look across 40-acre Hibiya Park, the Imperial Palace or the dazzling Ginza neighborhood. The hotel also features a number of health and beauty options including a barber, nail salon, cosmetic dentistry and luxurious spa treatments. The Imperial hotel’s state-of-the-art fitness center, pool and sauna facilities are available to hotel guests for a small daily usage charge.
Hakone Kowakien Ten-yu is a ryokan-style resort nestled away from the bustling city life in Hakone and offers magnificent views of endless horizons. The property is a 15-minute walk from Chisuji Falls and a few miles from the Owakudani Valley. The ryokan concept is embedded in the harmony of authentic Japanese hospitality and nature, where you can enjoy the sunrise sky while bathing in an enormous onsen or open-air bath and experience genuine Japanese service.
Tokyu Stay Hida Takayama Musubinoyu is set in Takayama and just a few minutes from Takayama Station. The hotel offers a blend of Traditional Japanese and modern amenities and decor.
Spanning 400 years of history and culture, a stay at ANA Crowne Plaza Kanazawa is bound to keep you in awe of the beautiful cityscape of Kanazawa. The hotel is just steps away from the train station, keeping you close to the local traditions, food, and art.
Hotel Granvia Kyoto is found within the unique architectural structure of the JR Kyoto Station Complex. Because the hotel is in the center of the world-renowned international tourist destination of Kyoto, it is within walking distance of many famous temples, castles, and gardens. In addition, there are several other tourist attractions you can get to just by taking a short ride on the multiple public transportation options available.
Hilton Osaka is located just across from Osaka Train Station. The station and the hotel are connected by an underground path leading to the hotel and one of Osaka's largest shopping malls.
In the unlikely event that a particular hotel is not available, a similar or better hotel may be substituted.
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- What should I know before I go? We've compiled a comprehensive checklist, including information on how to pay your balance due, flights & transfers, packing & luggage, and more.
- Do I need a visa or other documents? Are there any entry requirements? Please review the visa & entry requirements.
- Can I make changes to my trip? Want to upgrade your seats? Stay a few extra days? Something else? Just ask!
- Can I bring my kids? Are there any age restrictions? To book this package, you must be 18 or older. Your traveling companions must be 8 or older at time of travel.
- Should I purchase travel insurance? Yes! We recommend you purchase travel insurance to help protect you and your travel investment against the unexpected. For your convenience, we offer a plan provided by Travelex Insurance Services.
- What's the fine print? Review the terms & conditions for this package.
- What should I know about Japan? Check out our guide for practical travel tips, the best time to go, videos, and more.
More Common Questions
- Common Questions Answers to our travelers' most frequently asked questions.