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9-Day Japan Highlights Tour

A Stimulating Fusion of East and West

This 9-day classic itinerary has been designed to cover most highlights of Japans unique culture. We explore the country's most illustrious cities, Tokyo and Kyoto, and make day-trips to the nearby hilly hot-spring town Hakone and the tranquil Nara. Meanwhile, we arrange plenty of family-bonding activities to help create memorable experiences along the way.

  • Days:
  • Best For:First-timers
  • Departure date:up to you
  • Sample Price:from US$3,899 each (2 per room)

This is an ideal tour for first-time visitors and families. Sign up for your favorite part of the tour or simply treat the whole tour as inspiration, designing each element specially for you.

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Have your own guide and private vehicle during the guided day.

private driver and vehicle service

Enhance your culinary expertise by participating in a genuine sushi-making experience.

sushi making
the tag of ah hand picked

Enjoy Hakone's picturesque scenery from various perspectives.

cruise on Lake Ashinoko
the tag of ah hand picked

Experience total peace at a traditional Japanese ryokan and onsen in scenic Hakone.

Japanese ryokan with onsen in Hakone
the tag of ah hand picked

Understand Japan more deeply by visiting Kyoto's World Heritage Sites.

Kinkakuji Temple in Kyoto

Adorn yourself in a traditional Japanese kimono, and immerse yourself in the authentic charm of Kyoto.

Kinkakuji Temple in Kyoto

Engage in the enriching experience of learning the ancient art of Matcha-making in Uji.

Japanese matcha tea
the tag of ah hand picked

Visit Todaiji temple, the world's largest wooden building and home to Japan's largest Buddha.

Todaiji temple

Wander through Nara Park and feed some of the 1,200-plus tame deer.

feeding the deer in Nara Park

Witness the most famous shrine at Fushimi Inari, and quench your thirst at a sake brewery.

Japanese sake brewery
the tag of ah hand picked

Journey Route

japan travel guide

Itinerary in Detail

We arrange plenty of cultural activities to help create memorable experiences along the way; such as lessons in Iaido, a form of Japanese swordsmanship, and shodo, Japanese calligraphy. We also take time to observe deer, regarded by Japanese people as messengers of the gods, and sample Japanese sake in a local brewery.

Day 1
Arrival in Tokyo

Welcome to Tokyo! It is a city of contrasts, one of the world's cutting-edge capitals. On the surface, Tokyo is a mix of digital trends and conspicuous consumption, but dig deeper and you will find a city rooted deeply in traditional culture.

You will be met on arrival at Narita International Airport and have your own transfer to your accommodation. The rest of the day is free for your own leisure.

Nighttime scene in the district of Shinjuku
Nighttime scene in the district of Shinjuku

A late-afternoon stroll as the neon starts to light up will take in both sides of this fascinating, bustling area. Shinjuku has several huge department stores, music stores, and electronics stores, along with hundreds of bars and restaurants catering to every taste.

Day 2
Tokyo Highlights

Enjoy a day-tour of this fascinating city with your own guide. The day begins with a visit to Meiji Shrine, dedicated to the deified spirit of Emperor Meiji, and a popular place for traditional Japanese weddings. Walk along Omotesando shopping street, a broad tree-lined avenue, home to flagship stores of the world's top fashion brands.

Meiji Shrine
Meiji Shrine, the most important shinto shrine in Tokyo

Head across town to Asakusa, Tokyo's old town, where you can soak in the atmosphere of the Tokyo of old. Visit Sensoji, Tokyo's oldest temple and wander down Nakamise, a shopping street that for centuries has been providing temple visitors with a variety of traditional snacks and tourist souvenirs.

Sensoji Temple
Sensoji Temple, Tokyo's most sacred and spectacular temple

End your day in Hamarikyu garden, an Edo period Japanese garden surrounded by the Shiodome district's futuristic skyscrapers. This is a great advert for the land of contrasts. You will stop for Japanese sweets and a cup of steaming matcha in a tea house on a small island in the park's lake.

Hamarikyu Gardens
Hamarikyu Gardens, an uncrowded place to stroll and sit
Day 3
Tokyo Treasures: Fish Market, Sushi Making & Anime Cafe

Start by diving into the lively ambiance of Tsukiji Fish Market, celebrated for its extensive selection of seafood and dynamic market atmosphere.

Tsukiji Fish Market
Tsukiji, the famous local fish market

Following that, enhance your culinary prowess through an authentic sushi-making session, guided by an experienced local sushi chef. Relish the delectable flavors of your handmade sushi during a delightful lunch, taking pride in your newly acquired skill.

After your sushi-making session, venture to the serene Hama-rikyu Gardens. Traverse its lush landscapes, delight in the peaceful ambiance, and behold the remarkable views it offers, enriching your Japanese journey further.

Anime Cafe
Have you ever entered an Anime Cafe in Japan?

Time to dive into the vibrant world of Japanese pop culture with an enjoyable visit to the anime-themed cafe!

Your guide will assist you with Hakone pass and train tickets for the following days.

Day 4
Tokyo to Hakone

Today, make your way to Shinjuku station and use your Hakone pass together with your Romance car ticket to make the 90-minute journey direct to Hakone Yumoto station.

On arrival, you may board a shuttle bus to your accommodation. The rest of the day is free time for your own leisure.

We recommend visiting Gora Park, a western-style landscape park located on the steep slope above Gora Station. It is a relaxing place for unwinding and enjoying the scenery and views of Hakone.

Gora Park
Gora Park

The park is mainly in French style, featuring a large fountain and a rose garden. It has two greenhouses, one housing a tropical botanical garden while the other contains a flower garden.

Traditional Accommodation in Hakone

Japanese ryokans are the perfect places to stay in Hakone, with their Japanese western-style rooms and atmosphere of total peace and harmony.

The accommodation we have selected caters to a range of budgets and needs, including spacious rooms with marble bath, and balconies overlooking Hakone's natural beauty, to simple, affordable, and conveniently located traditional inns.

Day 5
Hakone Free Day

Use your pass today to explore Hakone.

The pass allows you to get on and off freely within a specified area, as well as providing discount admission to various attractions in the area. It covers 8 forms of transport including trains, buses, cable cars, cableway and boat, sufficient to get you around all the major sights of the region.

Hakone Cableway
Hakone Cableway

Or you could stay at the hotel, enjoying the hot spring bath.

Japanese open air bath
Japanese open air bath

Sample Itinerary

Ride the world's second longest cable car up Mt. Owakudani, passing over sulfurous fumes, hot springs, and hot rivers in this volcanic area. 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 Lake Ashinoko, formed 3,000 years ago by volcanic eruption. The Hakone Tozan 'switchback train' zig zags through the mountains, providing amazing views of the surrounding valleys.

Sulfurous fumes over Mt Owakudani
Sulfurous fumes over Mt. Owakudani
Day 6
Hakone to Kyoto

This morning, make your way to Odawara station using your Hakone pass and use your train ticket to board the shinkansen down to Kyoto.

On arrival at Kyoto station, make your own way to your hotel. The rest of the day is free for your leisure.

Higashiyama district
Higashiyama district, remains one of the city's most charming and unspoiled districts

Hotels in Kyoto

We have selected hotels with different styles and for different budgets. Let us know your preferences and we will help you find the right one.

For easy access to all city attractions as well as to Nara, Osaka and beyond, we recommend business hotels conveniently located right in front of Kyoto Station, a major hub in Kyoto where the bullet trains stop.

For experiencing traditional Kyoto, we recommend boutique hotels, located in the heart of the Gion district, with amenities providing the best of Kyoto atmosphere and allowing guests to visit conveniently the city's best-known geisha quarter.

For those wishing to travel the city by public transport or to be just a short walk away from some famous sites, we recommend hotels near subway stations or near the Kawaramachi area.

Day 7
Kyoto Highlights

Today you explore the former imperial capital with a knowledgeable local guide, have your own private vehicle to visit some of Kyoto's World Heritage Sites.

You will start your day with a visit to Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavilion), which was originally built as a retirement villa for a shogun (military dictator). At his request, it became a Buddhist Temple after his death, and is now one of Kyoto's most famous temples.

Kinkakuji Temple
Kinkakuji Temple, a glimmering legacy of medival Japan

Nijo Castle is an ornamental castle built by the founder of the Edo Shogunate (1603-C1868) as his Kyoto residence. It is surrounded by stunning gardens. The main building was completed in 1603, and is famous for its architecture, decorated sliding doors and 'chirping' nightingale floors.

The gate to Ninomaru Palace at Nijo Castle
The gate to Ninomaru Palace at Nijo Castle

Take a walk down Nishiki Market, a narrow, five-block long shopping street lined by more than a hundred shops and restaurants.

Known as "Kyoto's Kitchen", this lively retail market specializes in all things related to food, like fresh seafood, knives and cookware. It is a great place for seasonal foods and Kyoto specialties, such as Japanese sweets, pickles, dried seafood and sushi.

Nishiki Market
Nishiki Market, known as "Kyoto's Kitchen"

To end the day, select from a multitude of traditional Japanese kimonos, and be expertly dressed and styled by local professionals. Embrace this unique opportunity to traverse local landscapes in authentic Japanese attire for a truly enriching travel experience.

Maple trees forming a sea of red along the hillside of the kiyomizu temple
Maple trees forming a sea of red along the hillside of the Kiyomizu Temple

Embark on a leisurely walk uphill to Kiyomizu, also known as the "Pure Water" Temple, donned in the elegant folds of a traditional Japanese Kimono for an immersive cultural experience. As you marvel at panoramic views of Kyoto from the 13-meter-high veranda of the Main Hall, appreciate the architectural mastery of constructions achieved without nails. Despite ongoing restorations, this iconic Kyoto landmark remains a fantastic sightseeing destination.

Day 8
Nara and Fushimi Full Day Excursion from Kyoto

Transfer to Nara from your hotel with a local guide. 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.

Stopping en route for an immersive Matcha making experience at Kanbayashi Shunsho Honten in Uji, Kyoto - a famed tea company steeped in over 450 years of history. Enjoy a day rich in tradition, history, and exquisite Matcha.

traditional Matcha-making machine
Enter the world of Matcha

Visit Todaiji temple, the world's largest wooden building and home to Japan's largest Buddha.

The tree ensconced temple of Todaiji
The tree ensconced temple of Todaiji

Take a wander through Nara Park, called Deer Park by locals, due to the 1,200-plus tame deer living there.

Deers, messengers of the gods, in Nara Park
Deers, messengers of the gods, in Nara Park

Quench your thirst at a sake brewery. In this building constructed in traditional style, you will sample different types of sake and see which you like the most!

On the way back from Nara, visit Fushimi Inari Shrine, which was used in the movie 'Memoirs of a Geisha'. It is home to over 10,000 red tori gates, which form a path up the mountain behind the temple.

Girls wearing kimonos in Fushimi Inari
Girls wearing kimonos in Fushimi Inari
Day 9
Departure from Kyoto

Meet at your hotel for a private transfer to Kansai International Airport.

Have a safe flight home. We trust there were some moments during your trip to Japan you will remember fondly forever.

Hand-Picked Hotels

We have selected hotels with different styles and for different budgets. Let us know your preferences and we will help you find the right one.

hotel in Tokyo
Hotel in Tokyo with great location
Family friendly hotel in Kanazawa
Kid-friendly hotel with hot spring in Hakone
Hotel with Garden in Kyoto
Centrally located hotel in Kyoto

Tour Price:

9 days from
US$ 3,899 p/p (with 4-star hotel options)
  • The price is based on a private tour for 2 people during the low season.
  • The price varies based on program, travel date, number of people.
  • We could also price a tour including both 4-star and 5-star hotels for you.
  • We accept payments in multiple currencies (GBP, AUD, CAD, EUR...).

Price Includes:

  • Privately-driven air-conditioned vehicle with ample space (except where stated)
  • English-speaking local guide for the sightseeing
  • Attraction tickets and itinerary activities
  • Accommodation for all nights
  • Trains between itinerary cities
  • Hotel breakfasts and itinerary lunches/dinners
  • 24/7 helpline while touring
  • Governmental taxes

Price Excludes:

  • International flights not mentioned in the itinerary
  • Meals not mentioned in the itinerary
  • Visa fee, if applicable
  • Tips for guides and drivers
  • Personal expenses

Tour code: ah-31

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