See Japan’s top attractions, and indulge in cultural experiences with a maximum group size 18 guests. 
Smaller Group Departures – Guaranteed a limit of 12 guests are priced from US$6,598 per person.

Start your tour in Nikko, where you will travel along the winding road of Irohzaka before reaching the Kegon Waterfall, one of Japan’s most beautiful waterfalls. Visit the lavishly decorated Toshogu Shrine, a mausoleum built for the founder of the Tokugawa Shogun. From there, experience seeing a Shinto ceremony held by a Shinto priest or priestess. 

Tour through the busiest city in Japan, Tokyo, where our private guides and drivers will help you navigate through the city’s top attractions. Visit Tokyo’s historical monuments, fashionable neighborhoods, and diverse shopping districts. Then, head to Hakone and check out its open air museum before boarding a pirate ship cruise around Lake Ashi. Afterwards, enjoy an outstanding view of Mt. Fuji from the Komagatake Ropeway.

Get a closer look at Mt. Fuji from its 5th Station, then travel through the ever-changing scenery to Matsumoto. See the original-standing Matsumoto Castle, then spend time at one of Japan’s largest wasabi farms. Spend a day in Takayama, a secluded “old” town that has maintained a traditional atmosphere and unique culture. Next, travel to the quaint village of Shirakwa-go, famous for its UNESCO designated gassho-zukuri architecture. Head to Kanazawa and stroll through Kenrokuen Garden, one of Japan’s top three gardens.

Spend four nights in Kyoto, where you will get to visit the city’s top temples and shrines. You will also have the chance to learn about origami, calligraphy, and the art of Ikebana. Wear a kimono for an entire day, practice Zen meditation in a temple, participate in a traditional green tea ceremony, and enjoy Kyoto cuisine with entertainment by an apprentice geisha (maiko). Make your way to Nara and visit the Todaiji Temple, home to the towering Great Buddha statue. Then, see some of the freely roaming Sika deer at Deer Park. In Osaka, you will get to make your own sushi with a professional sushi chef, enjoy a taiko (festival drums) lesson, and a visit to Osaka Castle.

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1

Tokyo Narita Airport or Haneda Airport

Welcome to Tokyo! You will be picked up from the Airport and taken to the hotel.

Imperial Hotel Tokyo or similar class

NOTE 1: If you wish to stay extra nights before the tour starts, please contact us to book hotel accommodations.

Day 2

Nikko (Irohazaka / Kegon Waterfall / Toshogu Shrine – Shinto ceremony with a Shinto priest or miko – priestess)

The Japanese have a saying: “Don’t say kekko (wonderful) without seeing Nikko.” Today, travel overland to Nikko National Park in the mountains north of Tokyo and discover this lovely region. To get to the Kegon Waterfall in Nikko one must travel by the snakelike road of Irohazaka. The name Irohazaka is based on the incredible 48 hairpin turns on a pair of two-way winding roads. The Kegon Waterfall is one of the three most beautiful waterfalls in Japan, which eventually becomes surrounded by spring foliage. The Toshogu Shrine is the final resting place of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first Tokugawa Shogun who ushered in over 250 years of stability in Japan. At the shrine there will be a Shinto ceremony held with a Priest or Miko (priestess). During the ceremony, they will pray for good luck and prosperity for the group.

Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Imperial Hotel Tokyo or similar class

Day 3

Tokyo (Imperial Palace / Tokyo Edo Museum / Asakusa Sensoji Temple / Tokyo SkyTree)

The Imperial Palace is located on the former grounds of the Edo Castle, and it is the current residence of the Imperial family. The Edo-Tokyo Museum provides an interactive exhibit to Tokyo’s past. Then, onwards to Asakusa Sensoji Temple, site of the oldest Buddhist temple in Tokyo and the Kaminarimon (“Thunder Gate”) is symbolic of Asakusa and all of Tokyo. The newest addition to Tokyo is the Tokyo Skytree, which is the new television broadcasting tower. Now, the Tokyo Skytree is the tallest building in the city. You’ll have a great view from the highest observation decks in Japan.

Breakfast / Lunch

Imperial Hotel Tokyo or similar class

Day 4

Hakone (Open Air Museum / Lake Ashi Cruise / Komagatake Ropeway)

Travel to Hakone, which is among Japan’s most popular hot-spring resorts, and view the forested slopes of Hakone National Park. We will first visit the Hakone Open Air Museum. Here, they have a Picasso exhibit inside, while the outside has sculptures that are meant to combine with nature in harmony. The cruise around Lake Ashi will be taken not on just any boat, but on a pirate ship. There are three different ships called Royal II, Victory and Vasa. Each ship has something unique as with each port. Lake Ashi is famous for having Mount Fuji in the background in combination with the lake, for example. Then, board a gondola on the Komagatake Ropeway for a spectacular view of Mount Fuji. Tonight, enjoy unparalleled service and kaiseki cuisine at a top-rated ryokan (traditional inn) in Mt Fuji.

Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Fujisan Onsen Hotel Kaneyamaen or similar class

Day 5

Mt Fuji, Matsumoto (Matsumoto Castle / Wasabi Farm)

We will stop at Mt. Fuji 5th station (depending on weather) to admire the world famous peak and enjoy spectacular views over the Fuji Five Lakes. From there, we drive across Honshu to the breathtaking Japanese Alps. Rice farms dominate the valleys, while lush forests blanket the mountains. We will visit Matsumoto Castle, also known as, Crow Castle for the black color adorning the exterior walls. In contrast with the black colors, the cherry blossoms blooming all around the castle grounds in the spring provide beautiful scenery. Close to the Matsumoto area is Azumino City where one of the largest wasabi farms is located. The wasabi fields are maintained with networks of small streams utilizing the water from the Northern Alps. The shops and restaurants feature a wide variety of wasabi flavored products including wasabi ice cream.

Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Assiocia Takayama Resort or similar class

Day 6

Takayama (Morning Market / Takayama Yatai Kaikan / Kusakabe Heritage House / Old Town)

Takayama is famous for the artisans and craftsmen with traditions continuing to this day from the 9th century. The day starts off with a visit to the Morning Market, where snacks, farm products, and local crafts are sold. The Takayama Yatai (floats) Kaikan Museum features elaborately decorated floats, which are over 700 years old. The yatai demonstrate the legendary craftsmanship of Takayama. Afterwards is a visit to the Kusakabe Heritage House, which is one of the oldest merchant homes in Takayama open to the public. Lastly is the exploration of Sanmach Suji, one of the three Old Town streets that have survived in beautiful state with some businesses that have been around for centuries.

Breakfast

Assiocia Takayama Resort or similar class

Day 7

Shirakawa-go (Shiroyama Viewpoint – Gassho-zukuri Minkaen – Wada-ke House), Kanazawa (Kenrokuen Garden). Train to Kyoto

Shirakawa-go is home of the UNESCO designated Gassho-styled (“praying hands”) farmhouses. First is the Shiroyama Viewpoint, where great views of Ogimachi Village can be seen. Next is the Gassho-zukuri Minkaen open air museum where farmhouses and other structures were relocated to the area. The Wada- ke House was owned by the one of the wealthiest families in Ogimachi, and is now a public museum. The Kenrokuen in Kanazawa is classified as one of the three most beautiful landscape gardens in Japan. This afternoon we board the Thunderbird train for a rail journey to Kyoto for four nights.

Breakfast / Lunch

The Okura Kyoto or similar class

Day 8

Kyoto (Fushimi Inari Shrine / Nijo Castle / Golden Pavilion / Visit to a Traditional Wooden Townhouse to learn about Origami, Calligraphy and the art of Ikebana)

The day begins with a visit in the scenic and historic Fushimi district. We will visit 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 or a nostalgic photograph. Then we travel to the Nijo Castle, a former residence of Tokugawa Ieyasu, first Shogun of the Edo Period. There, a variety of cherry blossom flow into the scenery, creating a romantic scene. Afterwards is the Golden Pavilion (Kinkakuji) known for the upper two stories that are covered in gold leaf designs, which creates a beautiful reflection on the water surrounding it. Continue on to a traditional wooden townhouse to learn about origami, calligraphy and the art of Ikebana. Let your hands bend and fold traditional paper into an crane, rabbit, or a flower with a bright designs. Then, learn swift brush movements for Japanese characters and understand why calligraphy is considered one of the best arts of Asia with every stroke. Lastly, experience the art of flower arrangments and harmonize the delicate flowers with one another in this peaceful and traditional practice.

Breakfast / Lunch

The Okura Kyoto or similar class

Day 9

Kyoto (Kimono Experience / Sanjusangendo Hall / Kiyomizu Temple / Kodaiji Temple – Zen Meditation, Tea Ceremony / Gion – Kyoto Cuisine with Maiko Dinner)

Finally, everyone will experience wearing kimonos (Japanese traditional garments), and wear it for the entire day. Start the tour with a visit to the Sanjusangendo Hall, where 1001 statues of Kannon, Buddha of compassion, are housed. Next is a visit to 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. A scene often photographed for its majestic features. Then at the Kodaiji Temple, belonging to the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism, experience Zen meditation in a real temple. After practicing meditation, participate in a real tea ceremony. The ceremonial preparation and presentation of matcha, ground up green tea was influenced by Zen Buddhism. Lastly, we will tour Gion, the old Geisha Quarters, along with Pontocho, whose cobblestone alleys vibrate with night life. For dinner the finest Kyoto Cuisine made with ingredients representative of the season will be served, and a Maiko (apprentice Geisha) will provide entertainment for her guests. You will have the opportunity to ask questions about her profession and learn why they must train for years before finally becoming Geisha.

Breakfast / Dinner

The Okura Kyoto or similar class

Day 10

Nara (Todaiji Temple / Deer Park), Osaka (Sushi Making Experience / Taiko Lesson / Osaka Castle)

We begin the day with Nara’s Todaiji temple, which is over 1000 years old and home of the Daibutsu, world’s largest bronze Buddha statue. Around the temple is the Nara Deer Park where visitors can feed the free-roaming deer with biscuits sold in the vicinity. The deers are considered to be sacred messengers of the gods in Shinto religion and thus have been designated natural treasures. Afterwards, we go onto Osaka where we will learn how to make sushi, and play the traditional taiko (festival drums). Our last visit for the trip is Osaka Castle, whose construction began in 1583 on the ruins of the Ishiyama Honganji Temple. The castle was the largest of its time and played a major role in the unification of Japan during the sixteenth century.
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 / Dinner

Hilton Osaka or similar class

Day 11

Tour Ends

After breakfast, our tour officially ends. Checkout time is 11 am, free for leisure until transfer to Osaka Kansai Airport or Itami Airport for departure.

Breakfast

NOTE 2: If you would like to stay longer in Japan, please contact us to book hotel accommodations.

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