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For other destinations and types of holiday, visit Kuoni
For other destinations and types of holiday, visit Kuoni 
Experience remarkable Japanese sights like this view of the Kenroku-en garden when you take a tailor-made holiday with Alfred&.

Deep Japan

By Malcolm Holcroft
Japan Travel Expert for Alfred&

Build on your experience of Japan on an adventure that goes beyond the headlines of Tokyo and Kyoto into the country’s most scenic and unspoiled regions. Here you’ll find breathtaking echoes of the past in picturesque alpine towns and coastal fishing villages, on ancient walking routes and in long-established hot-spring resorts once patronised by poets.


14 days
Guide price range
£9,415 - £10,430pp
including international flights.
Best months to go
March, April, October & November

Top Experiences
Itinerary Highlights


The pretty-as-a-picture fishing village

In unspoiled villages such as Ine, outside Kyoto, you can experience a way of life that has barely changed in hundreds of years...


The hands-on noodle-making experience

Noodles are a big part of Japanese cuisine, and learning how to make them helps you appreciate the work that goes into even simple dishes...

Yudanaka Onsen

Getting into hot water in a Yudanaka inn

The best places to stay nourish your body and your soul, and that’s certainly the case at Biyu no Yado...

Day by day
Itinerary in detail


Arrive in Tokyo

On your arrival in Tokyo, you’ll be met at the airport for a shared transfer to your hotel. The rest of the day will be at leisure. Overnight at the Park Hotel.

Things to do:



You’ll spend the day exploring the Japanese capital with a local guide, starting in one of its most atmospheric districts, Asakusa, which retains the feel of an older Tokyo. Its main sight is Sensoji, an ancient Buddhist temple dating from the seventh century. From here, you’ll hop on the Tokyo Water Bus, a memorable way to reach Hamarikyu Garden, an oasis of calm in the midst of gleaming skyscrapers, for matcha and sweets in its charming teahouse. After lunch, your day continues with a tour of Meiji Shrine, followed by window shopping on glitzy Omotesando avenue on the way back to your hotel. Overnight at the Park Hotel.

Things to do:


Kawaguchiko & Mount Fuji

Today you’ll head out of Tokyo by private car, with a guide, to the picturesque lakeside town of Kawaguchiko, known for its panoramic views – weather permitting – of Mount Fuji. First you’ll travel up the Kachi Kachi ropeway on Mount Tenjo, from where there are wonderful views across Lake Kawaguchi. After that, the next stop is Arakura Sengen shrine, home to the spectacular – and much photographed – Chureito pagoda. After lunch, you’ll visit a museum devoted to the traditional art of Tsujigahana silk-dyeing, where you can admire the intricate designs on an array of kimonos. The final call of the day before the return trip to Tokyo is Mount Fuji’s fifth station, where the road runs out and from where the views are impressive. Overnight at the Park Hotel.

Things to do:


Tokyo & Kiso-Fukushima

Using your included Japan Rail Pass, you’ll leave Tokyo and make your way via Nagano to Kiso-Fukushima, gateway to the ancient Nakasendo Way, which takes around three-and-a-half hours in total. In the afternoon you’ll be able to use the included combined entry ticket to visit three worthwhile sights in Kiso-Fukushima: a museum showcasing upper-class life in the past, a temple that’s home to a spectacular Zen rock garden, and a 270-year-old immigration office that provides a fascinating insight into how people travelled in the Edo period. Overnight at Urara Tsutaya.


Nakasendo Way

This morning, you’ll use your Japan Rail Pass for the short journey to Nakatsugawa, from where you can pick up the bus to Magome, a former post town with buildings faithfully reconstructed in a traditional style. You’ll have a little time to explore the town and enjoy lunch here before beginning the scenic five-mile walk along the Nakasendo Way to picture-perfect Tsumago, which looks much as it did 200 years ago. A private transfer will be waiting to whisk you back to your ryokan in Kiso-Fukushima. Overnight at Urara Tsutaya.


Kiso-Fukushima & Matsumoto

The appealing town of Matsumoto in the foothills of the Japan Alps is a 30-minute train ride from Kiso-Fukushima, giving you almost a full day to enjoy its varied cultural attractions. Its dramatic castle is more than 400-years-old and is one of the country’s best preserved and most impressive, while its clutch of galleries includes one with a colourful collection of works by home-grown art superstar Yayoi Kusama, known for her psychedelic polka dots. Matsumoto is also known for its superb soba noodles, which you can learn to make in the kitchens of a local restaurant under the watchful eye of a master. Overnight in a Standard Room at Hotel Buena Vista Matsumoto.

Things to do:


Matsumoto & Yudanaka Onsen

Today you will head deeper into the mountains in two stages. First, you’ll travel to Nagano by limited express train, where you’ll have the opportunity to check out Zenkoji, one of the most important Zen Buddhist temples in Japan, and pick up some local speciality snacks for your onward journey. From here, you’ll use your included ticket to catch a Nagano Electric Railway limited express to Yudanaka, where you’ll be spending the night. Once you’ve checked in, you’ll have time to relax in the fabulous hot-spring baths at your ryokan, Biyu no Yado, before a gourmet Japanese-style dinner.

Things to do:


Yudanaka Onsen

Your day is free for exploring the local area, and it’s the perfect opportunity to make your way to Jigokudani Yaen Koen reserve to see the famous ‘snow monkeys’. This local troop of Japanese macaques is the only one in the country to have discovered the joy of sitting around in the thermal pools that abound in the area and it’s a thrill to be able to get close enough to these wild creatures to observe how they behave among themselves. After that, you could check out some of the traditional public bathhouses for which Yudanaka Onsen is known or take advantage of your Nagaden Free Ticket to visit the nearby town of Obuse, famous for chestnuts and sake. Overnight Biyu no Yado.

Things to do:


Yudanaka Onsen & Kanazawa

Today you will make the two- to three-hour train journey via Nagano to Kanazawa, famed for its stunning gardens and well-preserved old town district. Once you’ve checked in, the rest of the day is free for you to soak up the atmosphere in the quiet historical streets of the city justly nicknamed ‘Little Kyoto’. Overnight at Nikko Hotel Kanazawa.

Things to do:



Enjoy a full and fascinating day in Kanazawa with a local guide, starting in the ravishingly beautiful Kenroku-en garden, one of the country’s best. You’ll also visit the imposing Kanazawa castle, located next to the garden, and a small cultural centre where you can see a demonstration of a centuries-old silk-painting technique. From here, you’ll head to the Nagamachi Samurai district, where you can see inside a traditional Japanese home with tea-ceremony room, an interior courtyard garden and artefacts from the Edo period. Kanazawa has three geisha districts, of which Higashi is the largest and most interesting. Its central street is lined with intriguing shops, cafés and teahouses, in one of which you’ll stop for a cup of green tea to round off the visit. Overnight at Nikko Hotel Kanazawa.

Things to do:


Kanazawa & Kyoto

Today you will use your Japan Rail Pass for the two-hour journey to Kyoto, the cultural heart of Japan. Arriving in Kyoto, your day is at leisure to begin exploring this fascinating city. In the evening, enjoy a rare peek into Kyoto’s mysterious Geisha districts with dinner at a historical Kyoto ryokan restaurant with a Geisha and Maiko (apprentice Geisha). As well as a memorable 9-course traditional dinner, you’ll witness an authentic Maiko dance to live music performed by a senior Geisha shamisen player. You’ll also have the chance to partake in a traditional Geisha game, ask questions and hear stories translated directly by your personal translator - an expert in Kyoto geisha culture. Overnight at Kyoto Tokyu Hotel.

Things to do:



After breakfast, head out on a cycle tour with an expert local guide, riding through the Miyagawacho and Gion Geisha districts. Then continue along the Shirakawa Canal, lined with weeping willow trees, past traditional Kyoto style tea houses to the Imperial Palace Park with its beautiful gardens. You’ll cycle back to Kyoto station along the Kamogawa River, whose riverbanks are popular with locals for strolling, particularly in spring when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom. After a break for lunch, you’ll meet another guide to explore the traditional Higashiyama district - one of the city's best-preserved historic areas. The streets are lined with small shops, cafes and restaurants, which have been catering to tourists and pilgrims for centuries. Highlights include the Kodaiji temple, Yasaka pagoda, and the Chionin temple with its huge Sanmon gate standing 24-meters tall and 50-meters wide. It is the largest wooden gate in Japan and featured in the movie ‘The Last Samurai’. Overnight at Kyoto Tokyu Hotel.

Things to do:


Kyoto & Ine

Take a day trip out of the city to the north, where you’ll find quaint seaside villages that will give you a glimpse of a different side of Japanese life. One of the most picturesque of these is Ine, known for its unique traditional houses called funaya. There are over 200 of them arranged around a small bay, and the effect is striking, especially when seen from the sea. Accompanied by a local guide you’ll explore the village by electric bike, learning traditional fishing techniques en route. You’ll visit a funaya house, as well as the oldest house of Ine, then take a local boat to the other side of the village to taste sake at the Mukai brewery. At the end of the tour, you’ll be driven back to Kyoto to enjoy your final evening in Japan. Overnight at Kyoto Tokyu Hotel.

Things to do:


Kyoto & Departure

Your day is free until your scheduled shared transfer to Kansai International Airport in time for your return flight. If you are departing from Tokyo, you can use the Japan Rail Pass to take the bullet train to Shinagawa station and there pick up the Narita Express bound for Narita International Airport.

Holiday Budget
Guide price information

Low Season

1 Jan – 28 Feb, 1 Jun – 30 Jun & 1 Dec – 31 Dec


Mid Season

1 May - 31 May, 1 Aug - 31 Aug & 1 Sep - 30 Sep


High Season

1 Mar - 30 Apr, 1 Jul - 31 Jul & 1 Oct – 30 Nov


Alfred & Malcolm Holcroft

Seasoned Far East traveller Malcolm Holcroft is fascinated by Japan’s distinctive culture, its full-on neon-lit megacities and its less intense corners. Among the latter, he fell for Nara, the history-laden former capital where ancient temples and shrines are dotted around a deer park – and where they make some of the best sake in the country.

Plan your holiday withAlfred&

Your journey will start with one of our UK team – someone like Richard, who's travelled extensively in Japan. They’ll shape your ideas into the trip of a lifetime. But they won't do it alone. They'll draw on the expertise of our contacts on the ground, connecting you to the people who'll make your holiday one you'll always remember - the tea devotee who'll introduce you to the ceremony surrounding Japan's national drink, the noodle guru who'll teach you how to make the perfect bowl of soba and the ryokan owner who'll tutor you in the relaxing art of the onsen.

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