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We had a great time.

All of the guides were on time, very well informed and easy people to be with.

We have seen so many things and eaten in local places where we would never have gone by ourselves.

We wouldn't hesitate to recommend you and if you would like more details of our adventures or a statement of recommendation let us know."

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"Arrived home safe and well and had a wonderful holiday in Nepal and Bhutan"

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"Just wanted to thank you for booking our holiday to Koh Lanta.

Everything was perfect and I can thoroughly recommend the Layana Resort and the island of Koh Lanta to any one who wants a laid back, peaceful, non commercialised holiday."

Jane and Andy


"I just wanted to let you know what a great time I had in the Philippines and Borneo.

Everything went without a problem. Great time, great pics, etc.

Thanks for all of your help with this trip"

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Japan Highlights
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Highlights of Japan - 14 Days


Our 14 day Highlights of Japan tour allows you to explore the country's distinct culture. Uncovering both the fascinating old and new faces of Japan, experience authentic and defining cultural pastimes when you stay at a traditional ryokan and bath in an onsen (hot spring bath).

Explore the contrasting landscapes of the archipelago when you leave the sprawling metropolis of Tokyo for the volcanic terrain of Fuji Hakane National Park.

Visit museums and art galleries exhibiting both contemporary and classic works, discover ancient craft techniques still practices and spend some time getting better acquainted with the many shrines, temples and signature architecture of Kyoto.


Day 1 - Tokyo Arrival


Arrive in Tokyo, where you will be welcomed by our airport representative who will also assist you with boarding the right train or airport limousine bus to your hotel. The rest of the day is at your leisure.

Overnight in Tokyo

Distances and journey time:

Narita International Airport (NRT) to Tokyo City (95km): 90mins

Haneda International Airport (HND) to Tokyo City (25km): 50mins


Day 2 - Tokyo (B)


Today you will spend a full day taking in some of the many highlights Tokyo has to offer with a local guide by public transport.

First stop is nearby Meiji Jingu, Tokyo’s most famous shrine, dedicated to the spirit of the late Emperor Meiji. The shrine is a popular site for Japanese Weddings; if you are lucky you may see a bride and groom dressed in traditional Shinto wedding attire.

From old to new Tokyo as we then take a walk down Omotesando, commonly referred to as Tokyo’s Champs-Elysee. This broad, tree lined avenue features a multitude of fashion flagship stores designed by internationally renowned architects within a short distance of each other.

A short subway ride will then take us to Asakusa, part of Tokyo’s shitamachi, or old town. Asakusa is home to Sensoji Temple, Tokyo’s oldest Buddhist temple, and is also the city’s oldest Geisha district. The streets around Sensoji have many traditional shops selling Japanese crafts and souvenirs and are a delight to wander through.

Note: The order of this itinerary may change according to the location of your hotel.

Overnight in Tokyo

Time:

Start (guided tour): 09:00 or 09:30

Duration: 8hrs


Day 3 - Tokyo - Kamakura Day Trip (B)


Today is a self-guided day.

This day is free for you to explore this amazing city. Make an early start to visit the world-famous Tsukji Fish Market; visit the electronics district of Akihabara or discover Tokyo’s world-class museums and art galleries.

Or, you can make an excursion outside of Tokyo to one of the following:

Kamakura

One of Japan’s former capitals, Kamakura is a delightful seaside town home to many ancient temples and the Daibutsu, a giant bronze Buddha.

Nikko

Sitting high in the mountains of Nikko National Park, Nikko houses the Toshogu Shrine complex and mausoleum, Japan’s most extravagant display of religious architecture and also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Overnight in Tokyo

Note: Return train tickets to Kamakura or Nikko need to be arranged in advance at an additional cost.


Day 4 - Tokyo - Hakone/Mt Fuji (B,D)


Today is a self-guided day.

An early start today as you leave Tokyo behind and make the 2-hour journey to Hakone, the gateway to Mt. Fuji and surrounding national park. This small town is famous for its onsen (natural hot springs), and has natural beauty in abundance.

Armed with your included Hakone Transport Pass, you can take advantage of the numerous forms of transport on offer throughout the Park. You can ride the Guinness World Record-setting ropeway all the way up Mt. Owakudani, passing over sulfurous fumes, hot springs and hot rivers in this volcanic area, where you can eat an egg hard boiled in the sulfuric hot springs which make Hakone famous. If you do, it will add seven years to your life!

A majestic replica pirate ship will sweep you across the Ashinoko, a lake formed by a volcanic eruption 3000 years ago, and the Hakone Tozan ‘switchback train’ zigzags though the mountains, giving amazing views of the surrounding valleys.

Throughout the day you will have the chance to get a glimpse of Mt. Fuji, however please keep in mind that she is a notoriously shy mountain and it needs to be a clear day.

Tonight you stay in a traditional Japanese-style ryokan accommodation, complete with tatami mats and onsen baths.

This evening, relax in your yukata (lightweight kimono), and dine on a sumptuous kaiseki multi course meal. An onsen after dinner is highly recommended before you bed down on your futon.

*Access to Mt. Owakudani has been temporarily suspended due to volcanic acrivity, affecting the operations of the Hakone Ropeway. Your Travel Consultant will offer the best alternative/s in Hakone but please feel free to let us know if you have any preferences.

Overnight in Hakone

Distances and journey time:

Shinjuku Station to Hakone-Yumoto Station (87km): 85mins


Day 5 - Hakone - Takayama (B,D)


Today is a self-guided day.

Time for one last soak in the onsen before undertaking the 4.5 hour train journey to Takayama. The first leg will be on the world famous Shinkansen bullet train, which reaches speeds of up to 230km/h. You will then change onto the Limited Express Hida Wideview for the one of the most scenic train journeys in Japan, winding your way through tall mountains and stunning gorges.

Due to its previously inaccessible location nestled high in the mountainous Hida alpine region, this beautifully preserved old town was cut off from the rest of Japan, allowing it to develop its own unique culture.

This afternoon we recommend visiting one of the town’s many sake breweries for a taste of the local drop, its high quality due to the area’s clean water sources.

Tonight you will stay in Japanese style ryokan accommodation with hot spring onsen bath.

Overnight in Takayama

Distances and journey time:

Hakone-Yumoto Station to Takayama Station (455km): 4hrs 40mins


Day 6 - Takayama - Shirakawago (B,D)


Today is a self-guided day.

After breakfast, head up to the Miyagawa morning market, where locals come to sell crafts and produce. It's also a good opportunity to try some of the region’s delicious fruit and vegetables. A short ride from the market will take you to the Takayama Festival Floats Museum, which displays the beautiful floats that parade during the famous Takayama Festival. The museum is a bit separated from all other main sightseeing spots in Takayama.

Shortly after lunch, get back on the road as you take the bus to your next destination, Shirakawago. Shirakawago, and its neighboring Gokayama region, lines the Shogawa River Valley in the remote mountains that stretch from Gifu all the way to Toyama Prefecture. Both of these prefectures are famous for their traditional gassho-zukuri farmhouses, some of which are more than 250 years old. They were also declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995.

Gassho-zukuri means "constructed like hands in prayer," as the farmhouses' steep thatched roofs resemble the hands of Buddhist monks pressed together in prayer. The architectural style developed over many generations, intricately designed to withstand the large amounts of heavy snow that falls in the region during winter. The roofs, which were constructed without nails, provided a large attic space used for cultivating silkworms.

Tonight, you will stay in one of these farmhouses, a great way to experience a traditional Japanese family home or minshuku, and get the chance to become more intimate with gassho-zukuri buildings.

Tonight’s dinner will be served in your accommodation.

Overnight in Shirakawago

Distances and journey time:

Takayama Bus Terminal to Shirakawago (49km): 50mins (by bus)


Day 7 - Shirakawago - Kanazawa (B)


Today is a self-guided day.

Rise up early today as you continue on with your journey by bus, heading all the way down to Kanazawa. In the 17th century, this beautifully preserved castle town used to be Japan's wealthiest area and a thriving center for culture and the arts.

Our suggestion for the day is to take the Kanazawa Sightseeing Bus to visit some of the major highlights in the city. Start with the prisitine Kenroku Garden, which is ranked as one of Japan’s top 3 gardens. The name ‘kenroku-en’ literally means ‘Six Attributes Garden,’ and it has been said that a perfect garden comprises of these six attributes - spaciousness, seclusion, artifice, antiquity, water-courses, and panoramas.

Located adjacent to Kenroku-en is Kanazawa Castle, which can be easily accessed through Ishikawa Gate, one of the major gates of the castle. One unique characteristic of Kanazawa-jo is that its whitish roof tiles are made out of lead.

Make your way to the final suggest stop of the day which is in the Higashi Chaya District, one of the three, well-preserved chaya districts in Kanazawa. A cha-ya, which means ‘tea house’ in Japanese, was where geisha used to entertain her guests with a song or a dance. Here you will find Hakuza, the shop that sells Kanazawa’s specialty – gold leaf products. The tearoom inside the shop is totally covered with gold!

Overnight in Kanazawa

Distances and journey time:

Shirakawago to Kanazawa Eki-mae Bus Stop (73km): 75mins (by bus)


Day 8 - Kanazawa (B)


Today is a self-guided day.

Today is at your leisure to explore more of this amazing city.

We suggest starting with Nagamachi, the old samurai district of Kanazawa. Here you will find Nomura-ke, a restored samurai house that showcases the artifacts during the golden era of the Japanese warriors.

Across town is the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, which is known for its progressive architecture and ever-changing exhibits. Also in the area is the D.T. Suzuki Museum, an homage to the man who helped bring zen buddhism to the west.

Kanazawa is also home to many interesting temples as well as a bustling seafood market that you may want to explore.

Overnight in Kanazawa


Day 9 - Kanazawa - Hiroshima (B)


Today is a self-guided day.

Back on the train for the 4.5 hour journey to Hiroshima.

Perhaps more than any city in the world, Hiroshima is famous for one moment in history. On 6 August 1945, it became the first target of an atomic bomb. However, Hiroshima has risen phoenix-like from the ashes, and rebuilt itself as one of Japan's most laid back, vibrant cities full of wide boulevards and Art Museums, great food and friendly, welcoming people.

This afternoon head to the Peace Park and Museum for a sobering reminder of the events of 1945.

However, far from being a depressing experience the overriding theme of the Museum is one of hope and peace.

Overnight in Hiroshima

Note: The Peace Memorial Museum is currently undergoing partial renovation. The East building will be closed from September 2014 to spring 2016.

Distances and journey time:

Kanazawa Station to Hiroshima Station (605km): 4hrs 30mins


Day 10 - Hiroshima - Miyajima (B)


Today is a self-guided day.

Today take a short ferry ride to Miyajima Island, a famous wooded island located in the Inland Sea near Hiroshima. Here you will find perhaps the most photographed site in Japan - The Floating Torii Gate.

Designated as one of Japan's '3 Most Beautiful Views', the shrine itself dates back to the 6th century and is designed in a pier like structure. Mere 'commoners' were not allowed to set foot on this holy place.

You will have time to explore the island and its many shrines and temples, sample local goodies like maple leaf shaped cakes, and have the option to hike up to the peak of the island, Mt. Misen, to see spectacular views of the surrounding islands.

Overnight in Hiroshima

Distances and journey time:

Hiroshima Station to Miyajimaguchi Station (22km): 28mins

Miyajiimaguchi Station to Miyajimaguchi Port (400m): less than 10mins (on foot)

Miyajimaguchi Port to Miyajima Port (island): approx. 10mins (ferry)


Day 11 - Hiroshima - Kyoto (B)


Today is a self-guided day.

Time for one last ride on the Shinkansen as you undertake the 2 hour journey by Shinkansen to Japan’s cultural capital, Kyoto.

Kyoto is home to an astonishing 2,000 Shrines and Temples, including 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The rest of the day is at your leisure.

Overnight in Kyoto

Distances and journey time:

Hiroshima Station to Kyoto Station (380km): 2hrs


Day 12 - Kyoto (B)


Today, you will explore the former imperial capital with a knowledgeable local guide, utilizing Kyoto’s comprehensive bus and subway system to visit some of Kyoto’s World Heritage Sites.

You will start your day with a visit to Nijo Castle. This ornamental castle, surrounded by stunning gardens, was built by the founder of the Edo Shogunate as his Kyoto residence. The main building was completed in 1603 and is well-known for its Momoyama architecture, decorated sliding doors, and ‘chirping’ nightingale floors.

Continue on to Ryoan-ji, the site of Japan's most famous rock garden. Originally served as an aristocrat's villa during the Heian Period, the site was later on converted into a Zen Buddhist temple in the year 1450. Now, it belongs to the Myoshinji School of the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism and serves as a perfect spot for a zazen meditation.

You will also visit Kinkakuji, or the Golden Pavilion, which was originally built as a retirement villa for the Shogun. After his death, it became a Buddhist Temple at his request and is now one of Kyoto’s most famous temples.

Next in the list is Kiyomizu, or “pure water,” Temple. From the 13-meter high veranda jutting out from the main hall, you can enjoy amazing views of the whole of Kyoto, whilst pondering the fact that both the main hall and the veranda were built without the use of nails or any kind of joiners.

Before the tour ends, stroll through the atmospheric Higashiyama district, wherein busy lanes lead up to Kiyomizu and are filled with quaint shops selling souvenirs including Kiyomizu-yaki pottery, sweets, and pickles.

Note: Kiyomizu Temple has been undergoing renovation since 2008, with some of its halls and structures wrapped up with covers. The construction has a certain but not overwhelming impact on a visit.

Overnight in Kyoto

Time:

Start (guided tour): 09:00 or 09:30

Duration: 8hrs


Day 13 - Kyoto - Cultural Experience, Optional Afternoon Trip to Nara (B)


Today is a self-guided day.

This morning, we have in store for you a truly amazing experience, as you learn more about the Japanese culture in a machiya, a beautifully restored wooden town house that is typical for Kyoto. You will first get a short tour of the house and an explanation of the architecture before trying on a kimono, the traditional Japanese garment. This is followed by an induction to the tea ceremony, a quintessential part of the Japanese culture. The tea master will teach you every movement that is crucial in preparing and serving the tea.

The cultural experience will end with a stroll around the old neighborhood and a visit to a nearby sake brewery to try some of the local brew.

In the afternoon, you have the option to go out of town and take that short train ride to Nara. For 74 years during the 8th century, Nara was Japan’s capital and many of the temples and shrines built at that time still remain.

We recommend visiting Todaiji Temple, the world’s largest wooden building and home to Japan’s largest Buddha; or Kasuga Taisha, Nara’s most celebrated shrine.

You will also have time to wander through Nara Park, which is called “deer park” by the locals due to the large population of tamed deer living there.

Note: Return train tickets to Nara need to be arranged in advance at an additional cost.

Overnight in Kyoto

Time:

Start (cultural experience): 11:00

Duration: 3.5hrs


Day 14 - Departure from Kyoto (B)


Departure day. At leisure until your included transfer by shared shuttle van to Kansai Airport.

Distances and journey time:

Kyoto to Kansai International Airport (KIX) (94km): 2hrs


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If you don't see the holiday you require, please let us know! The majority of holidays we sell are tailored to customers' requirements, and we can usually create a bespoke itinerary that will fit in with your needs.



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