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12-Day Japan Tour: Tokyo, Okinawa, Osaka, Kyoto, and Nara

A Trip to Embrace Natural Beauty and Timeless Traditions in Japan

Start in Tokyo, a vibrant metropolis, then head to the idyllic shores of Okinawa for a tropical escape. Explore the modernity of Osaka and the timeless traditions of Kyoto. Visit the historic beauty of Nara, home to friendly deer and ancient temples. This well-curated itinerary offers the perfect blend of history, culture, and relaxation, making it an ideal choice for travelers seeking a comprehensive exploration of Japan's urban energy, natural beauty, and ancient heritage.

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:

Learn about Japanese emperors by visiting the Imperial Palace and the Meiji Shrine.

the Imperial Palace of Japan

Participate in an authentic tea ceremony and sample freshly-made green tea in a Japanese tearoom.

local tea ceremony
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 | Meiji Jingu Shrine

Meiji Jingu Shrine: Begin your day in tranquility at Meiji Jingu Shrine, nestled in the serene Yoyogi Park. Stroll through the lush forested grounds, where you can partake in traditional Shinto customs. Admire the massive torii gate, make offerings at the main hall, and write your wishes on wooden ema plaques. If you're here on a Sunday morning, you might witness a traditional Japanese wedding procession, a unique cultural experience.

For lunch, savor local Japanese cuisine at a nearby restaurant. Explore Tokyo's culinary delights by sampling sushi, ramen, tempura, or any other dish that catches your eye.

Sensoji Asakusa and Shibuya: In the afternoon, visit Sensoji Asakusa, Tokyo's oldest temple. Explore the temple grounds, including the iconic Thunder Gate (Kaminarimon) and Nakamise Dori, a bustling shopping street. Then, journey to Shibuya, a hub of modern Tokyo. Be captivated by the world-famous Shibuya Crossing, an icon of the city's contemporary culture. Enjoy the myriad shops, cafes, and entertainment options.

Hama-rikyu Gardens and Shibuya Sky: As the day winds down, discover serenity amidst the urban landscape at Hama-rikyu Gardens. Delight in the traditional Japanese experience of tea in the floating teahouse. Finally, ascend to Shibuya Sky, where you'll be rewarded with panoramic views of the city. Unwind at the café, shop for souvenirs, and capture lasting memories to conclude your journey through Tokyo's cultural tapestry.

Day 3
Tokyo Discovery | Mt. Fuji

Experience the beauty of Mt. Fuji and Hakone National Park on a full-day excursion from Tokyo, guided by a private car to make the most of your journey.

Mt. Fuji: Begin your day with a scenic drive to the iconic Mt. Fuji. You'll make a stop at the Fuji Visitor Center, offering insights into this majestic peak. Weather permitting, you'll ascend to the 5th station, located at 2,300 meters. Please note that heavy snow might affect access, but your guide will take you to the nearest accessible point for the best views of Mt. Fuji.

Lake Ashinoko and Hakone Checkpoint: In the afternoon, head to scenic Hakone, nestled around Lake Ashinoko, which was formed by a volcanic eruption 3,000 years ago. Prepare for a unique journey on a majestic replica pirate ship across this picturesque lake.

Hakone played a significant role in the Edo Period as a strategic checkpoint on the Tokaido highway, connecting Tokyo and Kyoto. Visit the Hakone Checkpoint to explore its historic gates, housing for officers, and more, providing insights into Japan's feudal past.

Lake Kawaguchi: Your day concludes with a visit to Lake Kawaguchi, one of the five stunning lakes near Mt. Fuji. Marvel at the serene beauty and, if you're lucky with the weather, catch a perfect reflection of Mt. Fuji on the still lake's surface. You can also enjoy the local hot springs, excellent fishing opportunities, and various attractions.

Please note that visibility of Mt. Fuji can vary, so the experience is weather-dependent, but your guide will ensure you make the most of your day. This full-day adventure provides a wonderful glimpse of Japan's natural beauty and history, a journey from iconic Mt. Fuji to the serene lakes and historic checkpoints of Hakone and Lake Kawaguchi.

Day 4
Tokyo to Okinawa | Shuri Castle

Begin your Okinawa adventure in Naha, the capital city. After arriving at Naha Airport, check into your accommodation and savor a taste of Okinawan culture with a steaming bowl of Okinawan soba. The afternoon is dedicated to exploring the historical and cultural heritage of the region. You'll wander through the stunning Shuri Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the peaceful Shikinaen Royal Garden. In the evening, immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere of Kokusai Street, where you can indulge in a variety of local and international cuisine.

Day 5
Okinawa Discovery | Cape Manzamo

Embrace the natural beauty of Okinawa as you venture beyond the city limits. The morning begins with a trip to Manzamo, where you can admire the breathtaking coastal scenery, including the iconic "elephant nose" rock formation. Lunch can be a relaxing picnic by the beach, or you can savor local cuisine at a nearby cafe. In the afternoon, hike to Cape Manzamo for panoramic views of the East China Sea and then explore the rich culture of Okinawa at Ryukyu Mura, a cultural theme park filled with traditional architecture, crafts, and performances. Wrap up your day with a hearty dinner, either back in Naha or at a beachside restaurant.

Day 6
Okinawa to Osaka | Ishigaki or Miyakojima Island

On your final day in Okinawa, set out for an island adventure. Take a ferry or a short flight to one of the nearby islands, such as Ishigaki or Miyakojima. These islands offer pristine beaches and opportunities for water activities like snorkeling, diving, kayaking, or paddleboarding. Enjoy a leisurely beachfront lunch and explore the unique attractions of the island, such as Yubu Island or Sunayama Beach. In the evening, return to Naha and conclude your Okinawan journey with a memorable farewell dinner, savoring local delicacies like Agu pork.

Day 7
Osaka Discovery | Osaka Castle Park

Dotonbori Adventures: Begin your day in the lively district of Dotonbori. As you explore the bustling streets, you'll encounter towering neon signs and a vibrant atmosphere. Dotonbori is a mecca for locals and tourists alike, offering a blend of clubs, bars, and eateries serving up Osaka's beloved street food. Sample the city's renowned culinary delights and soak in its energetic ambiance.

Osaka Castle Park: Next, head to the iconic Osaka Castle, a symbol of the city's rich heritage. Although its roots date back to 1583, the present main tower was reconstructed in 1931. The castle's adjacent history museum provides a glimpse into its storied past, chronicling the struggles leading to the Edo era of 1603. Osaka Castle Park is a green oasis and a favorite spot for locals to jog, cycle, and unwind. Immerse yourself in the lush surroundings and the city's history.

Kamigata Ukiyoe Museum: Step into the world of traditional Japanese art at the Kamigata Ukiyoe Museum. This unique institution is the sole museum globally to feature a permanent exhibition of Kamigata Ukiyoe, a regional style of woodblock prints. Explore the captivating artistry produced in the Osaka-Kyoto region during the Edo Period (1603-1868). Distinguished by their realism, these prints particularly showcase the era's great Kabuki actors. Delve into this unique art form through the museum's collection of around 50 works.

My Cupnoodles Factory Experience: Conclude your day with a delightful visit to the CupNoodles Museum in Osaka's Ikeda district. Delve into the intriguing history of instant noodles and the inventive mind of Momofuku Ando, their creator. A highlight of the museum is the "My Cupnoodles Factory" workshop, where you can craft your own personalized cup noodles. Start by selecting a cup and using markers to create a unique design on its surface. Then, pick your preferred soup flavor and toppings from a variety of options. Your personalized creation is professionally sealed and packaged in an inflatable air package, serving as a one-of-a-kind memento of your visit.

Day 8
Osaka Discovery | Universal Studios

Universal Studios Japan: Prepare for an unforgettable day at Universal Studios Japan, a captivating theme park located in Osaka's Bay area. This remarkable park, opened on March 31, 2001, marked the inaugural Universal Studios establishment beyond the United States. Since its debut, it has drawn a staggering number of visitors, with over 11 million guests in its first year alone, and maintaining an annual visitation of around 8 million people. This accomplishment consistently positions it as one of the world's top five most-visited amusement parks.

Upon entering Universal Studios Japan, you'll step into a realm of excitement and enchantment that promises thrilling rides, live shows, and the chance to encounter beloved characters from your favorite films and TV shows. From heart-pounding roller coasters to immersive 3D experiences, the park offers a wide array of attractions that cater to every age group.

Day 9
Osaka to Nara and Kyoto | Nara Park and Todaiji Temple

Nara Park, set at Mt. Wakakusa's foothills, is a vast natural wonderland home to friendly, frolicsome deer. The serene surroundings feature ancient temples nestled in pristine woods, along with a tranquil lake inhabited by turtles and carp. Nara's temples, dating back centuries, offer a unique, historical experience.

Todaiji Temple, an iconic and historically significant site, embodies Nara's rich heritage. Established in 752, it once served as the primary temple for Japanese provinces. The colossal Daibutsuden, once the world's largest wooden building, houses an impressive 15-meter bronze Buddha statue, flanked by two Bodhisattvas.

Scenic Nara Views: The summit of Mount Wakakusa provides stunning vistas of Todaiji Temple, Kodaiji Temple, and more. An annual "yama yaki" event showcases the mountain's charm with a controlled brush burn, a testament to Nara's enduring traditions and splendid landscapes.

Day 10
Kyoto Discovery | Fushimi Inari Shrine

Fushimi Inari Shrine: Fushimi Inari Shrine, located on Kyoto's outskirts, boasts an elegant layout made famous by the film "Memoirs of a Geisha." The striking path, adorned with vibrant red torii gates, is a must-visit for photo enthusiasts.

Gion District: Where Geiko Grace the Streets. Gion District is renowned for its enchanting geishas, known here as Geiko, meaning "women of art." Stroll through this district to fully immerse yourself in Kyoto's unique charm.

Nishiki Market: A Culinary Adventure. Nishiki Market is a centuries-old food market, offering a vast array of fresh and seasonal Japanese delicacies. Explore the market's authentic atmosphere and savor traditional treats like sushi, pickles, mochi, and matcha. Vendors provide free samples for you to discover your favorite flavors.

Sanjusangendo: A Thousand-Handed Wonder. Sanjusangendo, or Rengeo-in, is an eastern Kyoto temple celebrated for its 1,001 statues of Kannon, the goddess of mercy. The temple, founded in 1164 and rebuilt a century later, features Japan's longest wooden structure. Witness the awe-inspiring sight of a massive 1,000-armed Kannon statue flanked by 500 life-sized Kannon statues in ten rows.

Traditional Tea Ceremony: Immerse in Japanese Culture. Experience an authentic traditional tea ceremony led by a local English-speaking host, providing an in-depth encounter with Japanese culture. You'll even have the opportunity to don a traditional kimono and have your hair styled for an immersive and memorable experience. Opt for kimono attire and capture unforgettable photos. Learn the art of preparing your own tea using traditional tools. It's a once-in-a-lifetime Japan experience.

Day 11
Kyoto Discovery | Nijo Castle and Bamboo Grove

Nijo Castle: Explore the grandeur of Nijo Castle, one of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites. This vast complex includes two formidable rings of fortifications, the elegant Ninomaru Palace, the remains of the Honmaru Palace, and exquisitely landscaped gardens.

Arashiyama: Wander through the enchanting landscapes of Arashiyama, a nationally designated Historic Site and Place of Scenic Beauty. Amidst the stunning autumn beauty, you can experience the area in various ways, whether by taking the Sagano train, a Hozugawa River Boat Ride, or strolling through the iconic bamboo grove. Nearby, you'll discover the serene Tenryuji and Jojakukoji temples.

Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavilion): Behold the magnificent Kinkakuji, a Zen temple adorned with top two floors glistening in gold leaf. Originally built as the shogun's retirement villa, it was later transformed into a Zen temple. While it has faced destruction over the years, it remains a dazzling monument in Kyoto.

Bamboo Grove: A walk through the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove is an unforgettable experience. This iconic Kyoto sight in the Sagano village immerses you in a short yet magical path where dappled light plays on the forest floor.

Hozu River Boating: Delight in a one-hour Hozu River boating experience. The river meanders through stunning mountains along Kyoto and Kameoka, offering breathtaking views, especially when the foliage turns vibrant red in autumn. Enjoy your personal rowboat, suitable for up to three people, as you explore the picturesque lower Hozu-gawa area.

Day 12
Kyoto Departure

Our guide will help you transfer from your hotel to Kyoto Airport 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-4

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