Perfect for those who want to visit the well known regions of Japan.
This tour is our current “Golden Route Japan Tour (Reverse)” itinerary, plus highlights of the Shikoku Island and Chugoku regions (Hiroshima & Miyajima). This tour caters to a wide variety of interests from culture, architecture, nature, onsen spa baths, and traditional Japanese cuisine to 21st century sights.
This is the reverse itinerary that starts from Osaka. You’ll visit the famous Himeji Castle and the canal town of Kurashiki. In Hiroshima, visit the Peace Memorial Museum and Park, then head on to Miyajima to view the famed vermilion Torii Gate of Itsukushima Shrine. At high tide, the gates look like they’re floating on 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 Shikoku Island, you will visit the Ritsurin Garden in Takamatsu, climb the 1,368 stone steps to the Konpirasan, enjoy a relaxing boat ride, and take in the panoramic views of the Oboke Gorge. On this tour you will also have a chance to savor the world famous Wagyu beef in Kobe.
We’ll then take you to visit Nara, where you’ll 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. Spend two days in the ancient city of Kyoto, where you will have exclusive access to the city’s gardens, temples, shrine, and specialty shops. You’ll also get the opportunity to observe a kimono fashion show and enjoy a green tea ceremony with an apprentice geisha (maiko).
Visit 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”. Then proceed to Hikone Castle, considered one of the four most beautiful castles in Japan with its three-layered chalk tower. Visit the Genkyuen Garden, a beautiful Japanese landscape garden located on the castle grounds. Take a Shinkansen (bullet train) ride for experience before transfering to Hamanako Kanzanji Onsen. There you’ll stay at an onsen hotel (Japanese style room), where you can unwind in the hot springs (onsen) and dine on gourmet kaiseki cuisine.
Spend a day at Hakone and Mt. Fuji. Enjoy a guided tour through 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 bustling streets of Shibuya, 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.
Osaka Kansai Airport
Welcome to Osaka! You will be met at the arrival gate by an AJT representative holding an “All Japan Tours” sign.
Hotel Nikko Kansai Airport or similar class
Hotel Elsereine Osaka or similar class (NOTE 1 & 2)
NOTE 1: If you wish to stay in the center of Osaka for the first 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 you directions to get to your hotel in advance.
NOTE 2: If you will be flying into Itami Airport (ITM) instead of Kansai International Airport (KIX), we can arrange for you to stay in the center of Osaka (Hotel Elsereine Osaka or similar class) instead of Hotel Nikko Kansai Airport. 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 after 11:00 AM. For guests arriving in Terminal 2, 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.
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 / 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 Elsereine Osaka or similar class
Nara (Todaiji Temple / Deer Park), Kyoto (Fushimi Inari Shrine / Green Tea Ceremony with a Maiko)
In the morning, travel by private coach to Nara — Japan’s oldest capital city. We will first visit Todaiji Temple, the largest wooden building in Japan. The temple also houses the world’s largest bronze Buddha statue, which measures over 49 feet (15 m) high. Venture into the surrounding park, which is filled with over 1,000 Sika deer. Then, make your way to historic Kyoto and the lovely vermillion-colored Fushimi Inari Shrine, home to an almost 2.5-mile-long (4 km) tunnel of scarlet torii gates that were part of the film ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’. The shrine complex wraps around a bamboo forest that features a backdrop of picturesque mountains, streams, and ponds. You will then take part in a once-in-a-lifetime experience – tea with a Geisha in training, known as a Maiko. The Maiko will prepare your tea and show you the Japanese art of the tea ceremony. After, she will be happy to converse, answer questions, and tell tales about local life. (You’ll stay two nights in Kyoto).
Breakfast / Lunch
Grand Prince Hotel Kyoto or similar class
Kyoto (Arashiyama – Tenryu-ji Temple Zen Garden – Sagano Bamboo Forest – Togetsukyo Bridge / Golden Pavilion / Nishijin Kimono Show / Kiyomizu Temple / Gion Geisha District)
Today, we will continue our tour of Kyoto, which once served as Japan’s capital and the emperor’s residence from 794 until 1868. First, we will visit Arashiyama to see the Tenryuji Temple, where you can have a glimpse of a traditional Zen landscape garden design. Then, proceed through a dense bamboo forest, pass several small shrines, tea shops, and private houses before arriving at the Togetsukyo Bridge over Hozu River. Continue on to the Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavilion) covered with 18- karat gold leaf. This three-story structure was originally built by the Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu in 1397. At the Nishijin Textile Center, you can view displays of kimonos, watch an elegant kimono fashion show, and learn how they are made. Our group will tour the Kiyomizu Temple, best known for its large wooden stage that sits 13 meters (42.6 ft) above a hillside. Visitors are granted with a charming view of numerous cherry and maple trees that are particularly beautiful during the spring and fall, as well as a beautiful scene of Kyoto City in the distance. Lastly, we will tour Gion, a famous geisha district in Kyoto lined with many restaurants and ochaya (teahouses).
Breakfast / Dinner
Grand Prince Hotel Kyoto or similar class
Koka (Miho Museum), Hikone (Hikone Castle – Genkyuen Garden), Shinkansen Bullet Train Ride
This morning, we will visit the Miho Museum, which is distinguished for its fascinating architecture designed by I. M. Pei. The museum exhibits various collections from different ancient civilizations. It is named after Koyama Mihoko, one of the richest women in Japan and the founder of the museum. Miho Museum is also listed as one of the “1000 Places to See Before You Die”. The group will continue to Hikone to visit Hikone Castle, an original castle that has survived the post feudal era without undergoing severe damages or reconstruction. It is considered an excellent impression of what a complete feudal castle looks like, and is a national treasure itself. Afterwards, visit the tranquil Genkyuen Garden, located on the grounds of Hikone Castle. Next, our group will experience a Shinkansen bullet train ride, which can reach speeds of up to 320 km/hr. (200mph). Tonight, you will stay at the Onsen Hotel at Hamanako Kanzaiji Onsen, where you can soak in the therapeutic waters of a spa bath (onsen) and feast on a traditional Japanese Kaiseki banquet dinner.
Breakfast / Dinner
The Hamanako or similar class
Note: If Miho Museum is close, we will visit Kyoto National Museum or Sagawa Art Museum instead.
Hakone (Hakone Ropeway / Owakudani), Mt Fuji, Tokyo (Shibuya – Shibuya Crossing – Hachiko Statue)
After enjoying breakfast at the hotel, we will travel to Hakone and take a 20 minute ropeway from Togendai to Owakudani. Much of the area here is considered an active volcanic zone since its creation from the eruption of Mount Hakone some 3,000 years ago. There, you can experience hot springs and hot rivers, where sulfurous fumes still linger. During clear skies, Owakudani also grants great views of Mount Fuji. From Hakone, we will proceed to the famous Mt. Fuji on our private coach. Along the way, enjoy the changing scenery, from thick vegetation to lowlands and rolling clouds. We will stop at Mt. Fuji 5th station (depending on weather) to admire the distinguished peak. In the afternoon, our group will travel to Tokyo. Our last stop of the day is in Shibuya. You will have to chance to see the famed Shibuya Crossing in action and cross the street with the crowd. Afterwards, you will get take photos with the Hachiko Statue, a monument dedicated to Japan’s most loyal dog and his heart- touching story.
Breakfast / Lunch
Tobu Hotel Levant Tokyo or similar class
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 world’s tallest self supporting steel tower. At 333 meters (1092.5 feet) high, Tokyo Tower is 9 meters taller than its model, the Eiffel Tower. You will be able to sightsee 150 meters (492 feet) 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
Hotel Mystays Premier Narita or similar class
Tobu Hotel Levant Tokyo or similar class (Note 5 & 6)
NOTE 5: If you wish to stay in the center of Tokyo for the last 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 full instructions for you to get to the airport in advance.
NOTE 6: If you will be flying out from Haneda Airport (HND) instead of Narita Airport (NRT), we can arrange for you to stay at Tobu Hotel Levant Tokyo (or similar class) instead of Hotel Mystays Premier Narita. 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 Narita Airport can be reached by hotel shuttle bus.
NOTE 7: If you would like to stay longer in Japan, please contact us to book hotel accommodations.