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Discover Japan

You are viewing the 2024 itinerary. Select your departure year
14 days From £4,995 £4,795 per person


Explore the Land of the Rising Sun by rail

Operated by our sister company Great Rail Journeys

Mobility Rating 3

2024 Tour code: JAG24

About the tour

Ancient ceremonies meet futurism in this astonishing country of contrasts. Discover the mysteries, traditions and unique culture of Japan in an itinerary packed with adventures - travel on high-speed bullet trains, experiencing the peace of the countryside and the buzz of its cities.


What’s included


Day 1 - To Tokyo

We take an overnight flight from London Heathrow to Tokyo, Japan's dynamic capital.

Day 2 - Tokyo

We get our first taste of the city with some time at the observatory deck of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building. Here we can soak in the panoramic views of the iconic Tokyo skyline.

Day 3 - Tokyo

We get to know Tokyo more today as taking a full-day tour by coach, beginning at the Hamarikyu Garden in Tokyo Bay, an example of the precise art of Japanese gardening. Afterwards, we visit the 1,400-year-old Asakusa Temple, dedicated to Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of mercy, continuing to Meiji Jingu Shrine then experiencing the famous Shibuya crossing - the busiest intersection in the world.

Day 4 - Hakone

After a free morning, we travel to Hakone by train for the night. Lying in the foothills of Mount Fuji, Hakone is a stunning destination of crystal-clear lakes, dense forests, and bubbling thermal pools. We transfer to Owakudani, known for its sulphurous hot springs, then ride the cable car along the Hakone Ropeway, with panoramic views of Mount Fuji. On reaching Togendai, we descend to Ashi, a lake at the caldera of Mount Hakone, for a short cruise beneath a backdrop of snow-covered mountains.

Day 5 - Mount Fuji

We travel by coach to Mount Fuji, Japan's most distinctive landmark. Driving along the base of the mountain, we arrive at the Mount Fuji Visitor Centre to learn more about this world-famous wonder. Next we continue to Oishi Park, where there are fabulous views of this iconic Japanese mountain. From Mount Fuji, we continue to Matsumoto for an overnight stay.

Day 6 - Miso and Matsumoto Castle

We visit a Miso factory today, discovering why this ingredient is so important in Japanese cooking on a guided tour, before tasting the distinctive flavours - a mixture of fermented soya beans with salt and other umami-based ingredients - for ourselves. We continue to Matsumoto Castle, a five-storey pagoda-style fortress known as 'Crow Castle' due to its unusual black exterior. After time to look around, we continue to Takayama, visiting the Hida Folk Village, an open-air museum depicting more than 30 rustic farm dwellings from the Edo Period, on the way. Set deep in the mountains, Takayama is a fascinating town of narrow streets and wooden houses, a beautiful place to spend the night.

Day 7 – Takayama and the bullet train

We explore Takayama on a guided tour this morning, taking in the traditional Kami Sannomachi Street and Jinya Old House. Our next stop is the Miyagawa Morning Market where we see a neat array of stalls selling local farm products and handicrafts. We then journey on the Hida Train to Nagoya before continuing on the extraordinary bullet train to Hiroshima for two nights. After unprecedented devastation in WWII, Hiroshima's parks and museums now stand as embodiments of peace.

Day 8 - Miyajima Island

Travelling by tram and boat to Miyajima Island today, we leave modern life behind to soak up the tranquillity of this secluded destination known for its age-old temples and fairytale forests. We enjoy a walking tour which includes a visit to Itsukushima Shrine and the iconic Great Torii Gate that guards its entrance. Partially submerged at high tide, it was built in the 12th century and is an enduring image of traditional Japan. Your afternoon is free back in Hiroshima. You could visit Hiroshima Castle, which houses traditional Japanese artefacts and artwork, or head to a café or restaurant to sample the city's famous dish, okonomiyaki - a delicious savoury pancake.

Day 9 – Hiroshima and Kyoto

This morning we visit the World Peace Memorial Park and A-Bomb Dome, both poignant re-minders of the destruction levelled on Hiroshima in 1945. Later, we take the renowned bullet train to Kyoto for three nights, a city that's a living museum of the country's artistic heritage, with an impressive 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites. We enjoy a walking tour of the Gion district, then indulge in a Japanese dinner in Ponto-chō Alley, a lantern-lit street filled with authentic restaurants and shops. This traffic-free alleyway is one of the few places where you might catch a glimpse of a real-life Geisha.

Day 10 - Kyoto sightseeing

We discover Kyoto on a full-day's guided tour. We start with a traditional tea ceremony, enjoying an insight into Japanese culture as we learn how to brew, serve and drink this distinguished drink in the traditional way. We continue to Kinkakuji Temple, a Zen Buddhist temple set beside a lake which reflects its golden façade. We also visit the interesting Railway Museum, and the Kiyomizu Temple, a Buddhist temple and UNESCO World Heritage site, set in the hills above the city.

Day 11 - Nara

We visit Nara, briefly the capital of Japan - an attractive, compact city of narrow streets set with a backdrop of wooded hills. Here we enjoy a walking tour, taking in the beautiful Todai-ji Temple, an early 8th century Buddhist building. The ornate structure is recorded as the largest wooden building in the world, and its Great Buddha is the world's largest bronze Buddha statue. We also visit a Sake brewery for an insight into this traditional beverage, as well as Nara's serene Deer Park. The animals here roam freely and are so used to humans, they'll even bow in greeting.

Day 12 - Osaka

We make our way via the Sagano Bamboo Path to Osaka for the night, futuristic port city which we learn about on a guided tour that includes the Floating Garden Observatory. From this unique vantage point, we enjoy panoramic views over the city and its lively Dotonbori district. We continue to Dotonbori itself. The city's 'entertainment district', Dotonbori is the beating heart of Osaka and recognisable by it bright neon lights.

Day 13 - Osaka to London

After a free morning in Osaka we transfer to the airport for our overnight flight back to London Heathrow via Tokyo.

Day 14 - London

We arrive back in London today, where your to comes to an end.

Additional information

Please note

Please note that while every departure of this tour will feature the same excursions, the order may differ from that shown above.

Some hotels may vary. All alternative hotels are of a comparable standard.

Departure times

Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We will write to you around 10 weeks before your departure date with the precise meeting times for your tour group.

Mobility information

Due to the nature of our tours they are generally unsuitable for those with restricted mobility. If you’d like to discuss any particular holiday with us in this respect, then please don’t hesitate to call us.


Hakone Hotel, Hakone

Hakone Hotel, Hakone

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Hotel Granvia Hiroshima

Hotel Granvia Hiroshima, Hiroshima

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Rihga Royal Hotel

Rihga Royal Hotel, Kyoto

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Hotel Buena Vista, Matsumoto

Hotel Buena Vista, Matsumoto

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Sheraton Miyako Hotel, Osaka

Sheraton Miyako Hotel, Osaka

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Hotel Associa Takayama, Takayama

Hotel Associa Takayama, Takayama

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Keio Plaza Hotel, Tokyo

Keio Plaza Hotel, Tokyo

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Bullet Train

Enhance your holiday


Flight upgrades
UK rail connections
London hotels