Perfect for those who want to visit the well known regions of Japan.This tour is our current “The Golden Route Autumn Tour” itinerary, plus highlights of the Shikoku Island and Chugoku regions. This tour caters to a wide variety of interests from culture, architecture, nature, Onsen spa baths, and traditional Japanese cuisine to 21st century sights. Our private guides and drivers will help you navigate Tokyo’s cultural landmarks, fashionable neighborhoods, and diverse shopping districts. Learn how to make your own sushi with a professional sushi chef and savor your delicious creations. Explore attractions like the Asakusa district with an atmosphere of old Tokyo, Japan’s largest and busiest fish market, the historical Imperial Palace, and the record-breaking Tokyo Tower. Spend a day at Hakone and Mt. Fuji. Next, experience a bullet train ride and stay at an Onsen Hotel (Japanese style room), where you can unwind in the hot springs (onsen) and dine on gourmet kaiseki cuisine.
Then proceed to Miho Museum, a stunning architecture that accentuates the surrounding nature while exhibiting a variety of items from different ancient civilizations. It was designed by the renowned architect, I. M. Pei, and is named after Koyama Mihoko, one of the richest women in Japan and the founder of the museum. Moreover, the museum has been listed as one of the “1000 Places To See Before You Die”.
Spend two days in the ancient city of Kyoto, where you will have exclusive access to the city’s gardens, temples, shrine, castle and specialty shops. You’ll also get the opportunity to experience a green tea ceremony, taste sake and watch a kimono fashion show. Visit Arashiyama for its famous Togetsu Bridge, bamboo groves, and Tenryuji Temple where you can have a glimpse of traditional Zen landscape garden design. At Nara, be inspired by the intricate architecture and towering monuments, including the Great Buddha statue, and you’ll understand why this city is considered the birthplace of Buddhism in Japan. From Nara, proceed to Osaka, you will have a chance to see why Osaka is called the “night life city”.
Tour the remarkable Himeji Castle and the photogenic canal town of Kurashiki. Continue to Hiroshima to visit the Peace Memorial Museum and Park, then head to Miyajima Island and take in views of the distinguished torii gate of Itsukushima Shrine. At high tide, the vermillion-colored gate appears to “float” on top of the sea. Then, drive through the Shimanami Kaido, a 60 kilometer long toll road that connects Japan’s main island of Honshu to the island of Shikoku, passing over six small islands in the Seto Inland Sea. Overlook views of the Kurushima Kaikyo Bridges from the Kirosan Observatory, along with hundreds of small islands beautifully scattered over the sea.
On the Shikoku Island, take a trip to the Ritsurin Garden in Takamatsu, climb 1,368 stone steps to the Kompirasan Shrine, enjoy a leisurely boat ride, and reflect on panoramic views of the Oboke Gorge. Our group will also have the chance to savor the world-famous Wagyu beef in Kobe. This itinerary is perfect for those who want to visit the renowned regions of Japan.
Welcome to Tokyo! You will be met at the arrival gate by an AJT representative holding an “All Japan Tours” sign.
Hotel Mystays Premier Narita or similar class
Tobu Hotel Levant Tokyo or similar class (NOTE 1 & 2)
NOTE 1: If you wish to stay in the center of Tokyo for the first night instead of Hotel Mystays Premier Narita, we can arrange for you to stay at Tobu Hotel Levant Tokyo (or similar class). In this case, airport transfer is not included, but we will provide you directions to get to your hotel in advance.
NOTE 2: If you will be flying into Haneda Airport (HND) instead of Narita International Airport (NRT), we can arrange for you to stay in the center of Tokyo (Tobu Hotel Levant Tokyo or similar class) instead of Hotel Mystays Premier Narita. In this case, airport transfer and meet- and-greet are not included, but we will provide with full instructions to get to the hotel in advance.
NOTE 3: The meet and greet is ONLY available for flights arriving in Terminal 1 & 2 after 11:00 AM. For guests arriving in Terminal 3, airport pickup is not included, but and we will provide you with directions to get to your hotel in advance.
NOTE 4: If you wish to stay extra nights before the tour starts, please contact us to book hotel accommodations.
Tokyo (Asakusa Sensoji Temple / Sushi Making Experience / Tsukiji Outer Market / Imperial Palace / Tokyo Tower)
Today, you will be taken to the Asakusa Kannon Temple, an active place of worship where you can see the largest paper lantern in Japan. You will also be able to explore the Nakamise Market, which is located right after the temple’s outer gates. It is a traditional-style shopping street with centuries of history. Next, you will have the chance to enjoy a sushi making experience with a professional sushi chef. Whatever you prepare, you will get to eat! Afterwards, we will proceed to the Tsukiji Outer Market, where various restaurants and shops line the streets. Then, pay a visit to the Imperial Palace, the former site of Edo Castle and current residence of Japan’s Imperial Family. In the afternoon, we will visit the the world’s tallest self supporting steel tower. At 333 meters high, Tokyo Tower is 13 meters taller than its model, the Eiffel Tower. You will be able to sightsee 150 meters up at the main observatory deck and get a bird’s eye view of the city.
Note: For Sushi Making Experience, if you are vegetarian, on gluten-free diets, have seafood allergy, or don’t eat raw fish, please contact us for other ingredient options.
Breakfast / Lunch
Tobu Hotel Levant Tokyo or similar class
Mt Fuji, Hakone (Hakone Ropeway / Owakudani), Shinkansen Bullet Train Ride
We will depart from Tokyo to Mt. Fuji on our private coach. Along the way, enjoy the changing scenery, from thick vegetation to lowlands to rolling clouds. Stop at Mt. Fuji 5th station (depending on weather) to admire the world famous peak. Next, we will travel to Hakone, which is among Japan’s most popular hot- spring resorts, and view the forested slopes of Hakone National Park. We will take a 20 minute ropeway ride from Togendai to Owakundani. Most of the area around Owakundani is considered an active volcanic zone since its creation from the eruption of Mount Hakone some 3,000 years ago. Now, you can experience hot springs and hot rivers there, where sulfurous fumes still linger. Owakundani also has splendid views of Mount Fuji in good weather. Next, take a Shinkansen bullet train ride for experience, which can reach speeds of up to 300 km/hr. We will stay at the Onsen Hotel at Hamanako Kanzaiji Onsen, where you can soak in the therapeutic waters of a spa bath and feast on a traditional Japanese Kaiseki banquet dinner.
Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner
The Hamanako or similar class
Koka (Miho Museum), Kyoto (Kiyomizu Temple)
After breakfast at the hotel, our group will visit the Miho Museum, a stunning architecture that accentuates the surrounding nature while exhibiting a variety of items from different ancient civilizations. It was designed by the renowned architect, I. M. Pei, and is named after Koyama Mihoko, one of the richest women in Japan and the founder of the museum. Moreover, the museum has been listed as one of the “1000 Places To See Before You Die”. We will then continue to Kyoto, a historical city that was spared from air raids and saved from the atomic bomb during World War II for its cultural and historical value. We will visit the famous Kiyomizu Temple, best known for its wooden stage that juts out from its main hall, 13 meters above the hillside below. The stage affords visitors a nice view of the numerous cherry and maple trees below that erupt in a sea of color in spring and fall, as well as of the city of Kyoto in the distance. We will stay two nights in Kyoto.
Breakfast / Lunch
Grand Prince Hotel Kyoto or similar class
Note: If Miho Museum is close, we will visit Kyoto National Museum or Sagawa Art Museum instead.
Kyoto (Nijo Castle / Nishijin Kimono Show / Golden Pavilion / Arashiyama – Tenryuji Temple Zen Garden – Bamboo Grove – Togetsukyo Bridge / Gion Geisha District)
Today we will continue our tour of Kyoto, once the capital of Japan and still considered its cultural center. First is a visit to the Nijo Castle, built in the early 17th century. Ninomaru- goten, renovated in 1626, is a building renowned as a priceless example of the architectural style of that period. At the Nishijin Textile Center, you can view displays of kimonos and even watch a kimono fashion show. Visit the Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavilion) covered with 18 carat gold leaf. This three story structure was originally built by the Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu in 1397. Next is a visit to Arashiyama to see Tenryuji Temple where you can have a glimpse of traditional Zen landscape garden design. Then proceed through a dense bamboo grove, past several small shrines, tea shops and private houses before arriving at the Togetsukyo Bridge over Hozu River. Lastly, we will tour Gion, the old Geisha Quarter, and Pontocho, whose cobblestone alleys vibrate with night life.
Breakfast / Dinner
Grand Prince Hotel Kyoto or similar class
Kyoto (Fushimi Inari Shrine / Gekkeikan Sake Museum), Uji (Green Tea Ceremony), Nara (Todaiji Temple / Deer Park), Osaka (Dotonbori – Shinsaibashi)
The day begins with a visit in the scenic and historic Fushimi district, which is also one of the brewing capitals of Japan. First is a visit to the stunning vermilion colored Fushimi Inari Shrine, whose 4km long tunnel of scarlet torii gates was featured in the film Memoirs of a Geisha. This complex wraps around a bamboo wilderness that includes mountains, streams, and ponds, the perfect backdrop for a scenic hike. At the Gekkeikan Okura Sake Museum, you will learn the facinating history of sake brewing with its nostalgic buildings, tasting experience, and valuable collection of traditional brewing tools. We will continue our tour to Uji where you can experience a traditional Japanese tea ceremony. From there we continue to Nara, the oldest capital city of Japan. We will visit Todaiji Temple, the largest wooden building in Japan. The temple also houses the largest bronze statue of Buddha at 16.3 meters high, and the surrounding park is filled with over 1,000 Sika Deer. In the afternoon we will travel to Osaka by private coach. Our last visit for the day is Dodonbori, which runs parallel to the Dotonbori canal. A popular shopping, entertainment, and food district, Dodonbori is known for the hundreds of neon and mechanized signs that line the street, including the famous Glico Running Man and Kani Doraku Crab signs.
Breakfast / Lunch
Hotel Elsereine Osaka or similar class
Himeji (Himeji Castle), Kurashiki (Canal Area)
Today we take a 2-hour ride by private coach to Himeji to visit the Himeji Castle. It is known as “White Egret Castle” and “White Heron Castle” because of its brilliant white exterior, resembling a bird taking flight. Himeji Castle is the largest and most visited castle in Japan, and is one of the few remaining original castles in Japan. This splendid example of traditional architecture was declared one of the first UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Japan. Next is a visit to Kurashiki. In merchant days, this scenic town thrived as a port for rice shipments. Several old rice granaries and examples of historic architecture still remain, in addition to the stone lined canal. In the afternoon, we will continue our journey to Hiroshima.
Breakfast / Lunch
Hiroshima Grand Prince Hotel or similar class
Hiroshima (Peace Memorial Park / A-Bomb Museum / Miyajima – Itsukushima Shrine), Shimanami Kaido (Scenic Driving / Kirosan Observatory)
Today we will visit the Peace Memorial Park and Atomic Bomb Museum. After lunch, we will take a short ferry ride to the island of Miyajima. At high tide, the famed vermilion torii gate of the Itsukushima Shrine looks like it’s floating in the middle of the sea. The shrine complex is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Miyajima has been selected as one of Japan’s three most scenic places (nihon sankei). In the afternoon, we will drive through the Shimanami Kaido to Shikoku Island. The Shimanami Kaido is a 60 kilometer long toll road that connects Japan’s main island of Honshu to the island of Shikoku, passing over six small islands in the Seto Inland Sea. It is also known as the Nishiseto Expressway. We will stop by Kirosan Observatory where you can take in views of the Kurushima Kaikyo Bridges standing among hundreds of islands beautifully scattered over the Seto Inland Sea. The modern observation deck was cleverly designed and built halfway into the ground of the hillside so as not to spoil the natural surroundings.
Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner
Imabari Kokusai Hotel or similar class
Oboke Gorge (Oboke Gorge Boat Ride), Kotohira (Kotohira-gu Shrine), Takamatsu (Ritsurin Park), Kobe (Wagyu Beef Dinner)
After breakfast, we continue our journey to Oboke Gorge, one of three hidden mountain regions of Japan. Oboke is the valley located upstream of the Yoshino-gawa River. “Boke” means “dangerous to walk along,” and Oboke (big “boke”) was named for its jagged V-shaped rocks and narrow path which, no matter how carefully or slowly you walk, makes walking dangerous. Enjoy a relaxing boat ride and take in the panoramic view of the valley. Then, climb the 1,368 stone steps to the Kotohira-gu Shrine, a Shinto shrine. In Takamatsu we will visit Ritsurin Park, a masterpiece of Japanese landscape 100 years in the making. This sprawling park features beautiful ponds and pavilions, with Mt. Shiun as the perfect backdrop. From there, our private coach takes us across Awaji Island through a series of spectacular bridges. In the evening we continue to Kobe, where we will savor the world famous Wagyu beef.
Breakfast / Dinner
Hotel Nikko Kansai Airport or similar class
Hotel Elsereine Osaka or similar class (NOTE 5 & 6)
NOTE 5: If you wish to stay in the center of Osaka for the last night instead of Hotel Nikko Kansai Airport, we can arrange for you to stay at Hotel Elsereine Osaka (or similar class). In this case, airport transfer is not included, but we will provide full instructions for you to get to the airport in advance.
NOTE 6: If you will be flying out from Itami Airport (ITM) instead of Kansai International Airport (KIX), we can arrange for you to stay at Hotel Elsereine Osaka (or similar class) instead of Hotel Nikko Kansai Airport. In this case, airport transfer is not included but we will provide full instructions for you to get to the airport in advance.
After breakfast, our tour officially ends. Checkout time is 11 am and Osaka Kansai Airport can be reached in a three minute walk.
NOTE 7: If you would like to stay longer in Japan, please contact us to book hotel accommodations.