This introductory small group tour takes you on a captivating journey across Japan. Discover iconic sights, scenery and the country’s unique fusion of age-old traditions and ultra-modern cities. Great for first time visitors to the country, see Tokyo’s futuristic skyline and uncover Hiroshima’s haunting history, marvel at the majesty of snow-capped Mount Fuji and experience Kyoto’s ancient temples, tea houses and geishas.

• Tokyo: 3 nights
• Kyoto: 4 nights

8nights Escorted Small Group Tour
NATURE
CULTURE
ACTIVE

This introductory small group tour takes you on a captivating journey across Japan. Discover iconic sights, scenery and the country’s unique fusion of age-old traditions and ultra-modern cities. Great for first time visitors to the country, see Tokyo’s futuristic skyline and uncover Hiroshima’s haunting history, marvel at the majesty of snow-capped Mount Fuji and experience Kyoto’s ancient temples, tea houses and geishas.

• Tokyo: 3 nights
• Kyoto: 4 nights

12nights Escorted Small Group Tour
NATURE
CULTURE
ACTIVE
 
 
ITINERARY

Day 1: UK to Tokyo Depart from the UK on your overnight flight to Tokyo.

Day 2: Tokyo On arrival, you’ll be met and then transferred to your hotel by shared airport shuttle bus. The rest of the day is free to spend at leisure. Stay: Grand Prince Hotel New Takanawa (or similar).

Day 3: Tokyo Join a guided city tour by private coach, starting at the Meiji Shrine, which has a serene forested setting by Yoyogi Park, right in the heart of the city. Follow a pretty tree-lined walkway and pass through the giant torii to the shrine which is dedicated to the first emperor of modern Japan. Next, head into the city’s wonderfully chaotic Shibuya shopping district. See the wackiest and wildest fashions and take in the hectic pace of the city as you attempt to cross the world-famous Shibuya crossing; one of the world’s busiest intersections where hundreds of people swarm from all directions at once. Visit the city’s Imperial Palace and the serene East Gardens before you head to the Asakusa District – one of Tokyo’s oldest and most traditional neighourhoods. Once the leading entertainment district during the Edo Period, today this area offers a glimpse into Old Tokyo. Take in the atmosphere and wander along Nakamise Street to see Sensoji, Tokyo’s oldest temple. End the day at the Tokyo Skytree where you’ll take in an incredible panorama of the city’s futuristic skyline. Stay: Grand Prince Hotel New Takanawa (or similar). B, L, D. 

Day 4: Tokyo Today your luggage will be sent ahead to Kyoto so you’ll need to pack an overnight bag with enough clothes for an extra day. It’s a full day out of the city as you depart by coach (8.30am) for the serene mountain town of Hakone. Your first stop is Mount Fuji’s 5th Station; the official entrance to the highest peak in Japan and a popular sightseeing spot that overlooks incredible views. Continue towards Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park where you’ll ride the scenic Hakone Ropeway, a cable car that looks over Owakudani Valley. On reaching the top of Mount Owakudani, bask in the views of the active hot springs below and try a hard-boiled egg that’s been cooked in the sulphuric springs. Later, you’ll join a scenic cruise across Lake Ashi, which offers views of the iconic red torii of the Hakone Shrine. Board the coach and head back to the city where the rest of the evening will be at leisure. Stay: Grand Prince Hotel New Takanawa (or similar). B, L.

Day 5: Tokyo to Kyoto After breakfast, check out and transfer to the station where you’ll board the iconic Shinkansen bullet train to Kyoto. Travelling at speeds of up to 300km per hour, you’ll cover the huge 500km distance in just over 2½ hours. Kyoto is one of the most culturally-rich cities in Asia, home to 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites and more than 1600 temples and 400 Shinto shrines. Arrive into the imperial city and head to the Sanjusangendo Temple, famous for its 1001 statues of Kannon, the goddess of mercy. End the day at the Fushimi Inari Shrine – a complete dream for photographers, ten thousand vermillion torii gates form a path up the mountain and contrast beautifully with the surrounding forest. Stay: The Royal Park Hotel Kyoto Shijo (or similar). B, D.

Day 6: Kyoto It’s a full day exploring Kyoto’s classic, cultural and natural treasures today. Begin at the Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion), which is coated in gold leaf and lies on the shores of a lake, and visit the historic Ryoanji Temple – home to Japan’s most famous rock garden. Carry on to the tranquil Arashiyama District, which lies at the foot of the Arashiyama Mountains, west of Kyoto. Make a stop at the Okochi-Sanso Villa, a former estate of the Japanese film star Denjiro Okochi, and head into the gorgeous gardens which look over stunning views of the city. Continue with a visit into the dense forest of Arashiyama’s famous bamboo groves. Rest your legs with a rickshaw ride alongside the Katsura River and head to the beautiful 14th-Century zen garden of Tenryuji Temple – considered one of the Five Great Zen Temples of Kyoto. Stay: The Royal Park Hotel Kyoto Shijo (or similar), B, L, D.

Day 7: Kyoto Early this morning (8am), transfer by train to Hiroshima, Japan’s haunting city with a tragic past. It’s a full day of sightseeing, starting with a visit to the thought-provoking Peace Memorial Park and Museum; a UNESCO-listed World Heritage site and a moving dedication to the city’s legacy of being the first in the world to have suffered a nuclear attack. Read first-hand accounts of the attack and visit the famous A-Bomb Dome – also known as the Hiroshima Peace Memorial and what remains of the former Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall. Later, catch a ferry over to Miyajima Island, a peaceful retreat with stunning mountain scenery and ancient Shinto shrines. This tiny island is a sacred national treasure and is home to the UNESCO-listed Itsukushima Shrine; one of the most photographed sites in Japan thanks to its iconic red torii gate which appears to float at high tide. Return to the mainland and travel back by train to Kyoto where you’ll arrive at your hotel later this evening (approx. 9pm). Stay: The Royal Park Hotel Kyoto Shijo (or similar). B, L.

Day 8: Kyoto Today embark on a full day tour of Kyoto, starting with a visit to the popular 8th-Century Kiyomizu-dera Temple. One of Japan’s most celebrated temples, enjoy fantastic views of Kyoto from the temple’s unique wooden cliffside platform. Leave the temple behind as you wander down to the streets of the Higashiyama District; a historic neighbourhood found on the lower mountain slopes, spend some time shopping for souvenirs and delicious snacks. Join a traditional Japanese tea ceremony and experience Chado or Sado – translated as ‘the way of tea’ – before making your way to Nishiki, a bustling market street known as ‘Kyoto’s Kitchen’. Over a hundred vendors sell local delicacies here, with specialities including the likes of octopus skewers, dried seafood and tofu doughnuts. Continue to Nijo Castle and discover its magnificent audience halls that were built for the Tokugawa Shoguns during the Edo Period. As you walk the castle’s corridors, listen out for the squeak of the ‘nightingale floors’; so-called for their chirping sound that warned against potential intruders. End your day in the city’s historic Gion district, one of the most famous Geisha neighbourhoods in Kyoto. Watch an authentic Maiko performance before sitting down for a farewell group dinner at a nearby restaurant. Stay: The Royal Park Hotel Kyoto Shijo (or similar). B, L. D.

Day 9: Kyoto Transfer to Osaka airport by shared airport shuttle bus for your return flight to the UK. B.


Stay longer

Essential Japan can be easily combined with our Highlights of South Korea tour, an itinerary which explores this fascinating country that's somewhat off the beaten tourist track.

Day 1: UK to Tokyo Depart from the UK on your overnight flight to Tokyo.

Day 2: Tokyo On arrival, you’ll be met and then transferred to your hotel by shared airport shuttle bus. The rest of the day is free to spend at leisure. Stay: Grand Prince Hotel New Takanawa (or similar).

Day 3: Tokyo Join a guided city tour by private coach, starting at the Meiji Shrine, which has a serene forested setting by Yoyogi Park, right in the heart of the city. Follow a pretty tree-lined walkway and pass through the giant torii to the shrine which is dedicated to the first emperor of modern Japan. Next, head into the city’s wonderfully chaotic Shibuya shopping district. See the wackiest and wildest fashions and take in the hectic pace of the city as you attempt to cross the world-famous Shibuya crossing; one of the world’s busiest intersections where hundreds of people swarm from all directions at once. Visit the city’s Imperial Palace and the serene East Gardens before you head to the Asakusa District – one of Tokyo’s oldest and most traditional neighourhoods. Once the leading entertainment district during the Edo Period, today this area offers a glimpse into Old Tokyo. Take in the atmosphere and wander along Nakamise Street to see Sensoji, Tokyo’s oldest temple. End the day at the Tokyo Skytree where you’ll take in an incredible panorama of the city’s futuristic skyline. Stay: Grand Prince Hotel New Takanawa (or similar). B, L, D. 

Day 4: Tokyo Today your luggage will be sent ahead to Kyoto so you’ll need to pack an overnight bag with enough clothes for an extra day. It’s a full day out of the city as you depart by coach (8.30am) for the serene mountain town of Hakone. Your first stop is Mount Fuji’s 5th Station; the official entrance to the highest peak in Japan and a popular sightseeing spot that overlooks incredible views. Continue towards Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park where you’ll ride the scenic Hakone Ropeway, a cable car that looks over Owakudani Valley. On reaching the top of Mount Owakudani, bask in the views of the active hot springs below and try a hard-boiled egg that’s been cooked in the sulphuric springs. Later, you’ll join a scenic cruise across Lake Ashi, which offers views of the iconic red torii of the Hakone Shrine. Board the coach and head back to the city where the rest of the evening will be at leisure. Stay: Grand Prince Hotel New Takanawa (or similar). B, L.

Day 5: Tokyo to Kyoto After breakfast, check out and transfer to the station where you’ll board the iconic Shinkansen bullet train to Kyoto. Travelling at speeds of up to 300km per hour, you’ll cover the huge 500km distance in just over 2½ hours. Kyoto is one of the most culturally-rich cities in Asia, home to 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites and more than 1600 temples and 400 Shinto shrines. Arrive into the imperial city and head to the Sanjusangendo Temple, famous for its 1001 statues of Kannon, the goddess of mercy. End the day at the Fushimi Inari Shrine – a complete dream for photographers, ten thousand vermillion torii gates form a path up the mountain and contrast beautifully with the surrounding forest. Stay: The Royal Park Hotel Kyoto Shijo (or similar). B, D.

Day 6: Kyoto It’s a full day exploring Kyoto’s classic, cultural and natural treasures today. Begin at the Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion), which is coated in gold leaf and lies on the shores of a lake, and visit the historic Ryoanji Temple – home to Japan’s most famous rock garden. Carry on to the tranquil Arashiyama District, which lies at the foot of the Arashiyama Mountains, west of Kyoto. Make a stop at the Okochi-Sanso Villa, a former estate of the Japanese film star Denjiro Okochi, and head into the gorgeous gardens which look over stunning views of the city. Continue with a visit into the dense forest of Arashiyama’s famous bamboo groves. Rest your legs with a rickshaw ride alongside the Katsura River and head to the beautiful 14th-Century zen garden of Tenryuji Temple – considered one of the Five Great Zen Temples of Kyoto. Stay: The Royal Park Hotel Kyoto Shijo (or similar), B, L, D.

Day 7: Kyoto Early this morning (8am), transfer by train to Hiroshima, Japan’s haunting city with a tragic past. It’s a full day of sightseeing, starting with a visit to the thought-provoking Peace Memorial Park and Museum; a UNESCO-listed World Heritage site and a moving dedication to the city’s legacy of being the first in the world to have suffered a nuclear attack. Read first-hand accounts of the attack and visit the famous A-Bomb Dome – also known as the Hiroshima Peace Memorial and what remains of the former Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall. Later, catch a ferry over to Miyajima Island, a peaceful retreat with stunning mountain scenery and ancient Shinto shrines. This tiny island is a sacred national treasure and is home to the UNESCO-listed Itsukushima Shrine; one of the most photographed sites in Japan thanks to its iconic red torii gate which appears to float at high tide. Return to the mainland and travel back by train to Kyoto where you’ll arrive at your hotel later this evening (approx. 9pm). Stay: The Royal Park Hotel Kyoto Shijo (or similar). B, L.

Day 8: Kyoto Today embark on a full day tour of Kyoto, starting with a visit to the popular 8th-Century Kiyomizu-dera Temple. One of Japan’s most celebrated temples, enjoy fantastic views of Kyoto from the temple’s unique wooden cliffside platform. Leave the temple behind as you wander down to the streets of the Higashiyama District; a historic neighbourhood found on the lower mountain slopes, spend some time shopping for souvenirs and delicious snacks. Join a traditional Japanese tea ceremony and experience Chado or Sado – translated as ‘the way of tea’ – before making your way to Nishiki, a bustling market street known as ‘Kyoto’s Kitchen’. Over a hundred vendors sell local delicacies here, with specialities including the likes of octopus skewers, dried seafood and tofu doughnuts. Continue to Nijo Castle and discover its magnificent audience halls that were built for the Tokugawa Shoguns during the Edo Period. As you walk the castle’s corridors, listen out for the squeak of the ‘nightingale floors’; so-called for their chirping sound that warned against potential intruders. End your day in the city’s historic Gion district, one of the most famous Geisha neighbourhoods in Kyoto. Watch an authentic Maiko performance before sitting down for a farewell group dinner at a nearby restaurant. Stay: The Royal Park Hotel Kyoto Shijo (or similar). B, L. D.

Day 9: Kyoto Transfer to Osaka airport by shared airport shuttle bus for your return flight to the UK. B.


Stay longer

Essential Japan can be easily combined with our Highlights of South Korea tour, an itinerary which explores this fascinating country that's somewhat off the beaten tourist track.

ABOUT THIS TOUR

Is this for you?

This tour is perfect for first time visitors interested in seeing the main sights of Japan without too much travelling around.

Good to know

• For guests over 16 (unless travelling on a private journey, where the minimum age is 12)
• Average group size of 14 guests
• A maximum of 18 guests
• Journey times do not take into account stops or local traffic conditions
• We recommend travelling with no more than one suitcase and one day bag
• A good level of fitness is required
• Tipping is not expected in Japan

What to expect

• This tour is not suitable for those less mobile - sightseeing mainly takes place on foot and many miles will be covered each day
• The Hakone Ropeway may be closed in bad weather
• You will need to pack an overnight bag for your last night in Tokyo
• Areas of the Kiyomizu-dera Temple are currently undergoing renovations
• Japanese hotel rooms can be small in comparison to other countries
• Travelling around Japan is unlike travelling in any other destination; you should arrive with an open mind and flexible approach
• Mount Fuji is often shrouded in cloud so visibility may be limited
• The order of the itinerary may change depending on traffic and weather conditions.

Accommodation on tour

Japan is renowned for its hospitality and throughout your stay you’ll experience consistently high standards and superb service. We have chosen just two modern and westernised hotels in Tokyo and Kyoto so you can set up a comfortable base without having to move around too much. Both the hotels are centrally located, with great facilities and nearby to restaurants, bars and shops if you’re keen to get out and explore.

Single travellers

Sole use room from £4864

Is this for you?

This tour is perfect for first time visitors interested in seeing the main sights of Japan without too much travelling around.

Good to know

• For guests over 16 (unless travelling on a private journey, where the minimum age is 12)
• Average group size of 14 guests
• A maximum of 18 guests
• Journey times do not take into account stops or local traffic conditions
• We recommend travelling with no more than one suitcase and one day bag
• A good level of fitness is required
• Tipping is not expected in Japan

What to expect

• This tour is not suitable for those less mobile - sightseeing mainly takes place on foot and many miles will be covered each day
• The Hakone Ropeway may be closed in bad weather
• You will need to pack an overnight bag for your last night in Tokyo
• Areas of the Kiyomizu-dera Temple are currently undergoing renovations
• Japanese hotel rooms can be small in comparison to other countries
• Travelling around Japan is unlike travelling in any other destination; you should arrive with an open mind and flexible approach
• Mount Fuji is often shrouded in cloud so visibility may be limited
• The order of the itinerary may change depending on traffic and weather conditions.

Accommodation on tour

Japan is renowned for its hospitality and throughout your stay you’ll experience consistently high standards and superb service. We have chosen just two modern and westernised hotels in Tokyo and Kyoto so you can set up a comfortable base without having to move around too much. Both the hotels are centrally located, with great facilities and nearby to restaurants, bars and shops if you’re keen to get out and explore.

Single travellers

Sole use room from £4864

DATES AND INCLUSIONS

Tour dates

2020 Mar 27; Apr 03; 17; May 08; Sep 25; Oct 02, 30

Included in price

• Quality accommodation
• Insightful local tour leaders
• Hand-picked itineraries
• Flexible arrival times
• Small groups
• Meals where most convenient (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
• All specified flights.

Upgrade your tour

Private tour Upgrade to a private tour with a local tour leader on the same itinerary, departing on the date of your choice from £7237 per person.

Tour dates

2021 Mar 3, 24; Apr 14; May 5; Oct 10; Nov 3

Included in price

• Quality accommodation
• Insightful local tour leaders
• Hand-picked itineraries
• Flexible arrival times
• Small groups
• Meals where most convenient (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
• All specified flights.

Upgrade your tour

Private tour Upgrade to a private tour with a local tour leader on the same itinerary, departing on the date of your choice from £7237 per person.

Kuoni highlights

This tour is a fantastic introduction for first time visitors to Japan, visiting many of its must-see attractions and including plenty of special experiences. You’ll get to ride the iconic bullet train to Kyoto and try a hard-boiled egg cooked in the sulphuric hot springs in Hakone, join a traditional Japanese tea ceremony and watch an authentic Maiko performance in Kyoto’s historic Gion district.

Kuoni highlights

This tour is a fantastic introduction for first time visitors to Japan, visiting many of its must-see attractions and including plenty of special experiences. You’ll get to ride the iconic bullet train to Kyoto and try a hard-boiled egg cooked in the sulphuric hot springs in Hakone, join a traditional Japanese tea ceremony and watch an authentic Maiko performance in Kyoto’s historic Gion district.