One of the greatest success stories of the 20th century, Japan is a country that defies easy categorization. It has the world’s third largest economy (after the United States and China) and is at the forefront of many hi-tech industries, yet at the same time, remains deeply tied to time-honored traditions. Its society, almost painfully slow to adapt to changes, observes conformity to national order not seen in many other nations. It is also a country of varied natural beauty steeped in history and cultural achievements that make it one of the most appealing of travel destinations.
Arrival to Tokyo On arrival into Tokyo Narita / Haneda International Airport. After clearing immigration and customs entry formalities, you will be welcomed by an assistant at the Arrival Greeting Hall. You will be transferred to your hotel by private vehicle with assistant.
Luxury: The Peninsula Tokyo
Deluxe: Park Hyatt Tokyo
(Breakfast) – Tokyo
Located in the center of Tokyo, encircled by stone walls, stately trees and moats, the Imperial Palace Plaza is where the Emperor of Japan resides. Today, much of the palace grounds is closed to the public. Adjacently, the palace’s East Gardens houses what remains of the Edo Castle - moats, walls, entrance gates and a few guardhouses - as well as the Museum of Imperial Collection and the Imperial Concert Hall.
Built in 645 AD, Asakusa Kannon Temple is Tokyo’s oldest temple and one of its most venerated. Legend tells of two fishermen netting a statue of Kannon, the goddess of mercy, prompting their village leader to erect a temple in her honor. It has attracted countless worshippers since, from shoguns and samurais to modern-day tourists. Approach the temple via Nakamise shopping street, a marketplace serving up authentic souvenirs and seasonal snacks since the early 18th century.
Next, enjoy a boat ride on the Sumida River (from Asakusa to Hamarikyu Garden – shared basis), to see this interesting city in a different perspective. You will pass many of Tokyo’s historic bridges, each one is unique and architecturally different.
Then, visit Hamarikyu Japanese Garden, which is a large, attractive landscape garden in central Tokyo. Located alongside Tokyo Bay, Hamarikyu features seawater ponds which change level with the tides, and a teahouse on an island where visitors can rest and enjoy the scenery. The traditionally styled garden stands in stark contrast to the skyscrapers of the adjacent Shiodome district.
Later this afternoon, enjoy an authentic Japanese Kabuki Performance. It is one of the most famous forms of Japanese theater, known for colorful costumes and expressive makeup in white, black and red.
(Breakfast) – Tokyo
Enjoy the bustle of Tokyo’s Toyosu / Tsukiji Fish Market outer section, where over 2,000 tons of fresh marine produce are received daily.
Enjoy a Private Sushi making class – you will learn how to make sushi favorites. Sushi is the most famous Japanese dish outside of Japan, and one of the most popular dishes among the Japanese themselves who usually enjoy sushi on special occasions. During the Edo period, "sushi" was pickled fish conserved in vinegar. Nowadays sushi can be defined as a dish containing rice which has been prepared with sushi vinegar. There are many different types of sushi.
Enjoy what you made as lunch.
Erected in 1920 amidst a peaceful forest, the Meiji Shrine is dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji, the first emperor of modern Japan, and his consort, Empress Shoken. Consisting of three areas - Naien, the main shrine buildings; Gaien, the outer precinct including the Meiji Memorial Picture Gallery and sports facilities; and the Meiji Memorial Hall - it offers a serene setting for wedding processions as well as Shinto blessing rituals and purification rites.
Shinjuku is a special ward in Tokyo. It is a major commercial and administrative center, housing the busiest railway station in the world (Shinjuku Station) and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, the administration center for the government of Tokyo. The current city of Shinjuku grew out of several separate towns and villages, which have retained some distinctions despite growing together as part of the Tokyo metropolis.
Robot show at Robot Restaurant – The robot show opening act starts at 4:30 p.m., main show starts at 5:30 p.m. When in Tokyo, don't miss an evening of eye-popping entertainment at the Robot Restaurant. Located in the Shinjuku’s Kabukicho district, Robot Restaurant puts on an eclectic 90 minutes cabaret show with performances full of flashing lights, taiko drums and techno music.
Enjoy a foodie tour – Take a stroll around one of Tokyo’s trendiest areas, conveniently located minutes away from Shinjuku. A popular local ranging from their mid-twenties to early forties to grab and a bite, this area boasts some of Tokyo’s best casual eateries competition among local restaurants.
(Breakfast) – Tokyo
This morning start with a Samurai experience – enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime experience with a master swordsman – you will learn how to put on the traditional kimono worn by samurai. The sword-master will explain and show you various swordplay techniques, and teach you how to hold and swing sword.
Continue to Samurai Museum. Displayed under dramatic lighting are more than 70 examples of samurai armor, kabuto helmets and weapons gathered here from Japanese and foreign collections.
Harajuku began attracting visitors worldwide during the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, its proximity to the Olympic village offering the prospect of sighting famous athletes. Since then, it has seen a proliferation of international as well as local fashion and lifestyle brands, emerging as a cradle of Japanese youth cultures and trends.
In collaboration with DMM Planets, TeamLab Planet has come up with another amazing art installation for Fuji TV’s summer festival. Visitors can experience an otherworldly and interactive art form; Incorporating lights, music, and digital art to enhance the senses in the several exhibitions featured in this year's ‘A World of Wonders.’
Tokyo Skytree Observatory - Towering some 634 meters above the Japanese capital, the Tokyo Sky Tree is the tallest free- standing broadcasting tower in the world. The tower cost an estimated $650-million to build. The Skytree has two pod-shaped observation decks, the first of which (The Tokyo Skytree Tembo Deck) is stationed 350 meters up. The 360-degree panoramic views from this height are reported to extend some 70 kilometers into the distance.
(Breakfast) Tokyo to Hakone
Today, you will be transferred to Hakone by private vehicle with your guide. After arrival, you will have a full day tour in Hakone:
Ride the Hakone Ropeway, with the large windows of cabins are designed to allow visitors to fully appreciate the sweeping panorama of Hakone's unspoiled natural settings, such as the beautiful calm waters of Lake Ashi, magnificent Mount Fuji, and the volcanic clouds from Owakudani.
Visit to Owakudani Valley, also known as ‘Big Hell’ due to the white smoke that pours constantly from the fumarole in the remains of the crater from the last eruption of the Hakone volcano. The valley is divided into two areas, Jikokuzawa and Enmadai. Here you can get a great view of Mt. Fuji and the Nagao Pass.
Blending seminal artworks with the region’s natural beauty, the Hakone Open-Air Museum is home to hundreds of modern and contemporary masterpieces. Sculptures from the likes of Rodin, Moore and other masters are scattered throughout the sprawling 17-acre compound. Additionally, there are four indoor exhibition halls, including the Picasso Pavilion, which houses over 300 of his creations.
After sightseeing, you will be transferred back to your hotel.
Luxury: Gora Kadan Hakone
Deluxe: Gora Hanaougi Hakone
(Breakfast) Hakone to Kyoto
*Baggage will be transported separately from Hakone to Kyoto.
This morning, you will be transferred to Odawara station by private vehicle with an assistant and take the Shinkansen to Kyoto.
Upon arrival Kyoto, meet with your guide and commence half day tour in Kyoto by private vehicle.
Visit Kiyomizu Temple (*main building is under renovation) which is one of Japan's most popular temples. It stands in the wooded hills of eastern Kyoto and offers visitors a nice view over the city from its famous wooden terrace. The busy approach to the temple is lined by dozens of shops and restaurants that have been catering to pilgrims and tourists for centuries.
Lined with beautifully restored traditional shophouses and blissfully free of the overhead power lines that mar the rest of Kyoto, Sannen-zaka and Ninen-zaka are a pair of pedestrian-only lanes that make for some of the most atmospheric strolling in the whole city.
After sightseeing, you will be transferred back to your hotel.
Luxury: The Ritz Carlton Kyoto
Deluxe: Hyatt Regency Kyoto Hotel
(Breakfast) – Kyoto
Begin your morning with a visit to Nishiki Market, a thriving market that came into being in the early 17th Century. Extending about 400 meters east to west, the market is lined with shops selling mainly fish, Kyoto vegetables, bean curd products, dried goods, pickles, ready-prepared side dishes, indeed any kind of food that might be required for Kyoryori traditional cuisine.
Amble through the alleyways of Gion, Kyoto’s famed geisha district. Visitors wander these back streets - lined with bars, restaurants and teahouses clad in old-style wooden facades - hoping to catch a glimpse of elusive geishas and maikos as they flit between lessons and appointments.
Afterwards, enjoy a Japanese tea ceremony which is called chanoyu or sado in Japanese and the bitter tea served is called matcha. It is basically a choreographic ritual of preparing and serving tea together with some sweets. Each movement is predefined. The whole process is not about drinking tea, it is about aesthetics.
In the afternoon, continue to the Kyoto National Museum, which focuses on traditional Japanese art. It features both, exhibitions from its permanent collection and various temporary special exhibitions. Special exhibitions are shown in the museum's brick building from the Meiji Period, while the permanent collection is housed in a modern building newly opened in 2014.
(Breakfast) – Kyoto (Day Tour to Arashiyama)
This morning, a visit is arranged to Arashiyama is a pleasant, touristy district in the western outskirts of Kyoto. The area has been a popular destination since the Heian Period (794-1185), when nobles would enjoy its natural setting. Arashiyama is particularly popular during the cherry blossom and fall color seasons.
The walking paths that cut through the bamboo groves make for a nice walk or bicycle ride. The groves are particularly attractive when there is a light wind and the tall bamboo stalks sway gently back and forth. The bamboo has been used to manufacture various products, such as baskets, cups, boxes and mats at local workshops for centuries.
Embark on a comfortable ride on the rickshaw (30 minutes) with your eye level slightly higher than usual, will let you enjoy different views of the surrounding scenery. While you are traveling, you can enjoy the explanations given by their staff and the interesting conversations with them. In some courses, you can visit famous sights and take photos.
Built during the Heian Period and reconstructed in 1934, the Togetsukyo Bridge is Arashiyama’s most iconic landmark. Backdropped by the mountainside’s ever-changing colors, it provides an idyllic setting from which to take in the area’s seasonal sceneries - perhaps most famous of all, the springtime bloom of the cherry blossom trees that line the Oi River.
The Monkey Park Iwatayama, located in the mountain itself, is home to over 170 Japanese macaque monkeys, whom visitors can feed at the designated feeding site.
Kinkakuji Temple sits on the edge of Kyokochi Pond, its gold-leafed facade dancing brightly on the water’s surface. Originally a villa belonging to the powerful Saionji family, it was purchased by Shogun Yoshimitsu Ashikaga in 1397 and upon his death, was converted into a Zen temple, henceforth known as the Golden Pavilion.
Ryoanji Temple was established in 1450 by Hosokawa Matsumoto, a powerful warlord who transformed this mountain villa into a place of worship for the Rinzai branch of Zen Buddhism. It is known to possess the most magnificent Zen garden, consisting solely of symbolically arranged rocks, moss and raked gravel, who’s origin and meaning remains unknown.
(Breakfast) - Kyoto (Day Tour to Nara)
Your visit to Nara will include the city’s most noted sites including the Todai-ji Temple, first built in 752 and housing the world’s largest bronze casting, the giant Daibutsu. Commissioned by the Shommu in 743 the Buddha image required 437 tons of bronze and 130 kilograms of pure gold. When it was finally dedicated in 752 some 10,000 monks and nuns were in attendance. The Daibutsuden is believed to be the largest wooden structure on earth and it has undergone several reconstructions due to the frequent fires which have ravaged it.
Continue to the Nara Park. The park is home to hundreds of freely roaming deer, which are considered messengers of the gods in Shinto. Nara's deer have become a symbol of the city which has been designated a National Treasure.
Nara-Machi Town – The former merchant district of Nara where several traditional warehouses and residential buildings have survived. Small boutiques, shops, cafes and restaurants can also be found along the district's narrow lanes.
Following your exploration in Nara, you will travel overland back to Kyoto with an en route visit to the Fushimi Inari Shrine. The most famous of several thousands of shrines dedicated to Inari across Japan, the Fushimi Inari Shrine is surrounded by countless torii gates, offerings by worshippers that cover the hiking trails of Inarisan, the wooded mountain behind the shrine's main buildings.
(Breakfast) – Departure from Kyoto (Osaka)
Today, you will be met by an assistant and transferred to Osaka Kansai International airport by private vehicle.