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12-Day Tokyo, Hakone, Kyoto, Osaka and Himeji Tour

A Trip to Experience the Culture of Japan

Immerse yourself in the vibrant metropolis of Tokyo, explore the serene landscapes of Hakone, and delve into the rich traditions of Kyoto. Discover the modernity of Osaka and visit the iconic Himeji Castle. This well-balanced itinerary offers a perfect blend of history, culture, and urban exploration, making it an ideal choice for travelers seeking to explore the highlights of Japan. Book now for an unforgettable journey through Tokyo's dynamic energy, the historic beauty of Kyoto, and the cultural treasures of Osaka and Himeji.

We can customize this trip by adding anything you're interested in and scheduling days to fit your pace. We would happily organize a unique theme or activities for birthdays, young children, anniversaries, etc.

  • Days:12±
  • Best For:Slow Pacers and Couples
  • Departure date: Up to you
  • Sample Price:On request

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Tour Route

japan tour map

Tour Highlights

Here are the fantastic attractions, the most must-do activities selected by Asia Highlights (AH Hand-Picked), and exclusive cultural experiences offered by Asia Highlights (Only With AH) included in this tour:

Walk around Higashi District and see a variety of gold-leaf products, a specialty of Kanazawa.

the backstreet of Higashi District

Experience hands-on in Kyoto a few crafts such as pot-making and Yuzen-dying.

pot making
the tag of ah hand picked

Take a walk through Arashiyama's famous bamboo groves and visit a great Zen temple, Tenryuji temple, one of Kyoto's UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

bamboo groves at Arashiyama

Suggested Itinerary for Inspiration

The itinerary serves as a mere example of a personalized tour, designed exclusively for you.
Your preferences will shape the authentic journey. We are fully prepared to craft an tailor-made tour that fulfills your desires.

Day 1
Tokyo Arrival

Your private guide will be ready to meet and greet you at the arrival hall in Tokyo. A comfortable private car with an experienced driver will transfer you directly to your hotel. Your guide will help you to check-in.

Day 2
Tokyo Discovery | Akihabara and Harajuku

Akihabara: Tokyo's Electric Playground. Akihabara, fondly called "Akiba," is a mesmerizing fusion of electronics, maid cafes, and anime. Once the go-to spot for gadgets, it's now a lively district that epitomizes modern Japan.

Harajuku: Style Central. Harajuku, nestled between Shibuya and Shinjuku, is a fashion haven centered around Takeshita Street. Here, explore a mix of boutiques showcasing the latest trends and delectable, Instagram-worthy treats. From Harajuku goth to colorful decora kei and punk, diverse styles flourish. Don't miss classic crepes, rainbow grilled cheese, massive cotton candy, and Korean hattogu snacks. Wander down Cat Street to find hipster cafes, vintage fashion, and international brands.

The Ghibli Museum: Animation Wonderland. Located in Mitaka's Inokashira Park, the Ghibli Museum is a whimsical celebration of Studio Ghibli's enchanting animations. It's a blend of a children's museum, technological marvel, and fine arts gallery, housing treasures like the Catbus from "My Neighbor Totoro." With a cozy café, charming bookstore, serene rooftop garden, and a theater showcasing exclusive Studio Ghibli films, it's a true wonderland for animation enthusiasts.

Kokyo Gaien National Garden: Imperial Palace Prelude. Begin your imperial adventure at Kokyo Gaien National Garden. Admire intricate black pine trees, a statue of samurai warrior Kusunoki Masashige, and captivating views of the iconic Nijubashi Bridge.

The East Gardens of the Imperial Palace: Edo Castle's Legacy. Explore the Imperial Palace East Gardens (Kōkyo Higashi Gyoen), once the inner defense circles of Edo Castle. Although the grand structures are gone, the moats, fortifications, entrance gates, and ancient guardhouses still stand. Ascend the hill to discover a sprawling lawn and the remnants of the former castle tower. At the base of the hill, a serene Japanese-style garden flourishes, blending history and tranquility in Tokyo's imperial grounds.

Day 3
Tokyo Discovery | Shibuya SKY and Sensoji Asakusa

Shibuya SKY: Shibuya SKY is a multi-zone marvel that extends from the 14th floor to the 46th floor. Begin your journey in the SKY GATE, a captivating transition space. Ascend to the SKY STAGE, a rooftop observation area with breathtaking views. Inside the 46th-floor SKY GALLERY, an indoor observation corridor, you'll find unparalleled vistas. Take a breather in the café, explore the souvenir shop, and capture lasting memories with their photo service.

Sensoji Asakusa: Tokyo's Ancient Spiritual Haven. Tokyo's oldest temple, Sensoji, enshrines Kannon, the goddess of mercy. Surrounded by impressive gates, a five-story pagoda, and Nakamise Dori's lively stalls, Sensoji is a must-visit destination in Japan. This sacred site is also a bustling marketplace, where you can experience holy rituals, seek fortunes, and embrace Tokyo's iconic temple atmosphere.

Meiji Jingu Shrine: Tranquility Amidst Tokyo's Bustle. The grounds of Meiji Jingu Shrine provide serene walking paths within a lush forest, creating a serene retreat from the urban hustle. Engage in traditional Shinto practices, such as offering prayers at the main hall, purchasing protective charms, and inscribing your wishes on ema. On Sunday mornings, you might witness a majestic Shinto wedding procession, a bride in white, a groom in formal attire, and Shinto priests leading the way. Discover the enchantment of shrines, particularly during festive occasions.

Hanami Along the Sumida River: Cherry Blossom Bliss. The Sumida River's banks burst with cherry blossoms, creating a vibrant and joyful spectacle during spring. While cruising along the Sumida River, you'll enjoy stunning views of riverside picnics, as people lay out their mats under the blooming trees to relish Hanami, the traditional cherry blossom viewing.

Sumida River Cruise: Navigating Tokyo's Waterways. Experience Tokyo's scenic waterways aboard water buses from Tokyo Cruise. These boats connect Asakusa with Hinode Pier at Hamamatsucho, Toyosu, and Odaiba Kaihin Park, offering a unique perspective of Tokyo. Tokyo Cruise, an operator with a century-old legacy, once provided common Tokyoites with a convenient mode of transport to navigate the city's bustling core. Explore Tokyo's waterborne history while savoring the sights.

Day 4
Tokyo to Hakone | Journey Through Serenity

Embark on a captivating journey to Hakone, the perfect gateway to the awe-inspiring Mt. Fuji and its enchanting national park.

Exploring the National Park: Discover Hakone's stunning National Park, where you'll have a plethora of transportation options to traverse this natural wonderland. Your adventure begins with a ride on the world's second-longest cable car, ascending Mt. Owakudani. Along the way, you'll pass over sulfurous fumes, hot springs, and steaming rivers in this volcanic landscape. And don't miss the chance to enjoy a sulfuric hot spring-boiled egg – it's said to add seven years to your life!

A Lake Voyage on a Pirate Ship: Set sail on a majestic replica pirate ship across Lake Ashinoko, a pristine body of water formed by a volcanic eruption some 3000 years ago. The voyage offers unforgettable vistas and the tranquil beauty of the lake.

Scenic Train Adventure: Experience the Hakone Tozan 'switchback train' as it zigzags through the mountains, treating you to breathtaking views of the surrounding valleys. Each twist and turn unfolds more natural splendor, making this a ride to remember.

Day 5
Hakone to Osaka | City Transfer

Exploring Odawara and Beyond. Today, your adventure begins with a visit to Odawara station. You'll utilize your Hakone pass and train ticket to board the Shinkansen, ensuring a smooth journey.

Heading to Shin Osaka: Get ready to embark on your next journey as you travel from Odawara (Hakone) to Shin Osaka aboard the Hikari Train. This comfortable ride in standard class ensures you reach your destination in approximately 2 hours and 21 minutes. Please note that this option is for ticket-only purchases and does not include transfers or guiding services. Enjoy the scenic ride!

Day 6
Osaka to Himeji | Himeji Castle

Join our local guide for a day trip to Himeji, where you'll explore two incredible destinations.

Himeji Castle - The White Heron Castle. Begin your adventure with a visit to the iconic Himeji Castle, fondly known as "Shirasagi-jo" or the "Castle of the White Heron." This splendid castle, freshly renovated and a UNESCO World Heritage site, stands as a testament to Japan's rich history. Its majestic size and remarkable preservation make it one of the nation's twelve original castles, having withstood wars, earthquakes, and fires.

Kokoen Garden - A Serene Japanese Oasis. Your journey continues with a short trip to Kokoen Garden, a haven of tranquility designed in the traditional Japanese style. The garden's natural beauty shines throughout the seasons, offering a breathtaking backdrop to your stroll. Explore the garden's meandering paths, all meticulously crafted to harmonize with nature's elegance.

Day 7
Osaka to Kyoto | Kamigata Ukiyoe Museum

Kamigata Ukiyoe Museum: Discover Osaka's artistic heritage at the Kamigata Ukiyoe Museum, the world's sole repository of Kamigata woodblock prints. Unlike Edo prints, these Osaka-Kyoto region works from the Edo Period are celebrated for their realism, particularly in portraying iconic Kabuki actors. With around 50 pieces on display, it's a glimpse into Osaka's rich cultural history.

Shinsekai: Osaka's Nostalgic Neighborhood. Step back in time in Shinsekai, a district embodying old Osaka's charm. Dominating its landscape is Tsutenkaku Tower, an iconic symbol. Dive into its lively atmosphere and savor local delights like kushikatsu (skewered meats and veggies), takoyaki (octopus balls), and fugu (pufferfish). The tower, though not towering by today's standards, holds a special place in local history. Enjoy panoramic views from the top and explore exhibits that tell the story of this captivating district.

Day 8
Kyoto Discovery | Delve into Kyoto's enchanting geisha culture

Enchanting Geisha (Maiko) Tea Ceremony & Show: Delve into Kyoto's enchanting geisha culture with our Geisha (Maiko) Tea Ceremony. Immerse yourself in tradition as a Maiko leads a ceremonial dance of powdered green tea (Matcha) preparation, taking you on a sensory journey into the "Way of the Tea." This unique experience ensures you witness Kyoto's geisha customs firsthand. Limited availability guarantees an unforgettable memory!

Gion District: Gion District is synonymous with geisha culture. Stroll its streets and be captivated by the presence of geiko, the local term for geishas, translating to "women of art." The district emanates Kyoto's unique allure, offering an authentic experience of the city's charm.

Kyoto Traditional Pottery Lesson: Immerse yourself in the world of pottery in the heart of Kyoto. Accompanied by skilled potters, learn the art from the masters. They'll guide you through each step with patience, ensuring accessibility for all, including beginners. As you shape your own piece of Kyoto pottery, you can savor the changing seasons through the window, making this an enriching sensory experience. Elevate it further by having your masterpiece shipped home, creating a personal keepsake that connects you to Kyoto's culture.

Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavilion): Kinkakuji, the Golden Pavilion, graces northern Kyoto with its Zen beauty. Clad in gold leaf on its top two floors, it was once the retreat of Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu. Today, it stands as a Zen temple, a testament to timeless elegance. Despite enduring fires, including a 1950 incident, Kinkakuji remains an awe-inspiring structure overlooking a tranquil pond.

Pure Water Temple (Kiyomizudera): Perched on an eastern Kyoto hill, Pure Water Temple (Kiyomizudera) offers a commanding city panorama. Its iconic stage, supported by massive pillars, is one of Japan's most famous images. But the journey to the temple is equally entrancing, building anticipation as you approach this exquisite destination.

Day 9
Kyoto Discovery | Arashiyama and Nonomiya Shrine

Arashiyama: Natural Beauty and Tranquility. Arashiyama, a nationally designated Historic Site and Place of Scenic Beauty, is a breathtaking destination. This enchanting district is set against the backdrop of the Ōi River and boasts captivating autumnal beauty. Enjoy the region in various ways, from the Sagano train and Hozugawa River Boat Ride to leisurely walks through the enchanting bamboo grove. Nearby, you'll find the serene and beautiful Tenryuji and Jojakukoji temples, inviting you to explore their tranquil grounds.

Nonomiya Shrine: A Hidden Gem Amidst Bamboo. Nestled within Arashiyama's stunning bamboo forest lies Nonomiya Shrine. This small sanctuary, formerly a retreat for princesses, served as a temporary sanctuary for young noblewomen preparing to become high priestesses at the Grand Shrine of Ise. As you explore the bamboo's serene embrace, you'll uncover this hidden gem's rich history and natural beauty.

Bamboo Grove: A Magical Stroll. The Arashiyama Bamboo Grove stands as one of Kyoto's iconic treasures, creating an indelible memory of the city. Located in the charming village of Sagano on the western side, the path through the bamboo offers a short yet immersive journey. Witness the enchanting play of light on the forest floor, immersing yourself in the magical ambiance.

Tenryuji Temple: Zen Garden Oasis. Founded in 1339, Tenryuji Temple's garden harmoniously blends aristocratic tradition and Zen culture. This temple once boasted over one hundred sub-temples but today retains a few structures. The garden is the highlight, showcasing exemplary traditional Japanese garden design that invites contemplation and serenity.

Togetsu-kyo Bridge: A Timeless Landmark. For over four centuries, the Togetsu-kyo Bridge has graced the Arashiyama District in Western Kyoto. This wooden bridge gracefully spans the Katsura River, offering awe-inspiring views of Arashiyama Mountain. Its spring cherry blossoms and vibrant fall foliage draw visitors from near and far. The breathtaking scenery makes it a timeless and beloved landmark.

Day 10
Kyoto Discovery | Philosopher's Path and Nijo Castle

Cherry Blossom Magic at Philosopher's Path: Discover the enchanting Philosopher's Path, a delightful stone trail winding through Kyoto's Higashiyama district. This scenic path meanders alongside a serene canal adorned with a captivating array of cherry trees. When early April arrives, these trees burst into vivid, breathtaking blooms, turning this route into one of Kyoto's premier spots for hanami, or cherry blossom viewing.

Nijo Castle: Nijo Castle is a monumental piece of Kyoto's history, and it's no wonder it's part of the UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site. This grand site is a fusion of architectural marvels, including two formidable rings of fortifications (Kuruwa), the elegant Ninomaru Palace, and the evocative remains of the Honmaru Palace. It's also graced with meticulously designed gardens that add to its allure.

Heian Shrine: Standing tall to celebrate Kyoto's 1,100-year reign as Japan's capital, Heian-jingu Shrine is a remarkable tribute. Its most iconic feature is the towering red torii gate, an emblem of the city. With its vibrant hues and meticulously kept grounds, the shrine serves as an enduring symbol of Kyoto's rich heritage, captivating the hearts of travelers from around the world.

Day 11
Kyoto to Nara | Nara Park and Todaiji Temple

Nara's Timeless Heritage: Your adventure kicks off with a train ride from your hotel to Nara, a former capital that held sway over Japan for 74 years during the 8th century. Many of the splendid temples and shrines constructed during that golden era still stand proudly, waiting to share their stories.

Todaiji Temple and the Great Buddha: Nara unveils Todaiji Temple, home to a remarkable feat of wooden architecture—the world's largest wooden building. Within its hallowed halls resides Japan's colossal Buddha. The temple is an awe-inspiring testament to the craftsmanship of the past.

Kasuga Taisha Shrine: Your journey continues with a visit to Kasuga Taisha, a shrine that dates back to 768 AD. This sacred place is renowned for its breathtaking array of bronze and stone lanterns, each lovingly donated by devoted worshipers.

The Charming Deer Park: Nara Park, affectionately known as Deer Park, welcomes you for a leisurely stroll. The park is home to more than 1,000 friendly and tame deer, and as you wander through, you'll find it easy to see why locals hold this place close to their hearts.

Sake Brewery Delights: To tantalize your taste buds, the journey takes you to a traditional-style sake brewery. Here, you'll have the chance to sample different varieties of sake. Savor each sip as you discover your personal favorite among these exquisite flavors.

Fushimi Inari Shrine and its Magical Gates: As your adventure draws to a close, you'll head to Fushimi Inari Shrine, a location made famous by the movie "Memoirs of a Geisha." The shrine is an awe-inspiring sight with its maze of over 10,000 vibrant red torii gates, creating a captivating path that winds its way up the mountainside behind the temple.

Day 12
Kyoto to Tokyo for Departure

Our guide will help you transfer from your hotel to the train station for departure with independentcar/van and guide.

Our Service Includes:

12 days from
On request
Private tour for 2 people in low seasons. Price varies based on program, travel date, number of people, chosen hotel. We accept payments in multiple currencies (GBP, AUD, CAD, EUR...).
  • Private transfers and English-speaking tour guide
  • All guided sightseeing as detailed in the itinerary
  • Hand-picked star-rating accommodations
  • Breakfasts at hotels and lunches for every guided day
  • Governmental taxes

Tour code: ah-jp-cx-3

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