Take a short and sweet tour through fascinating Japan.

Home to sumo wrestling, sake, geishas, karaoke and traditional onsens, Japan is an extraordinary land. Here you can expect a frenetic pace one day and a tranquil experience the next. Take in the neon nightlife of Tokyo, relax in the manicured gardens of Nikko and discover thousands of years of culture and history in Kyoto. From world-class sushi to legendary samurai, this enigmatic nation is a traveller’s delight. Get back to basics and see the best of Japan without busting your budget.

Tokyo, Japan
Kyoto, Japan
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Min 15
Group size
Min 1 Max 16
Carbon offset
183kg pp per trip


  • Shed your clothes (and inhibitions) in a traditional Japanese onsen
  • Experience ancient traditions in Kyoto
  • Travel by train through pristine countryside
  • Shop up a storm in Tokyo
  • See the shrines and temples of Nikko


Konnichiwa! Welcome to Tokyo, Japan. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm today. You can arrive at any time during the day as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Please check with hotel reception or look on the reception noticeboard for where and when the meeting will take place. If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.

After the meeting you’ll have some free time to explore Tokyo’s exhilarating nightlife. Perhaps visit Ueno Park, with its many galleries and museums, or the Senso-ji Temple, a serene getaway to pass the day.

Notes: If you can't arrange a flight that will have you arrive at the hotel in time for the meeting, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). Also, we have quoted the approximate cost of some of the most popular optional activities throughout these notes, but these do not include costs of getting to or from sites.
Today is your first free day in Tokyo. Why not start by heading to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building where you’ll have fantastic views over the world’s largest metropolis. Perhaps spend your afternoon in Asakusa, with its beautiful old temple, park and multitude of craft shops. In the evening, there’s Shinjuku’s Memory Lane, where you can try famous Japanese-style grill as well as some more unconventional eats.

If you’re pressed for choice or feeling a little lost in this enormous new city, consider doing an Urban Adventures tour, such as 'Tokyo After 5'. See urbanadventures.com for more information.
Another free day in Tokyo. You might like to get up really early and visit Tsukiji Fish Market – the world’s largest seafood wholesale, or perhaps enjoy an alternative view of Tokyo on a short cruise down the Sumida River. There’s also the shopping district of Ginza, Harajuku where the wild heart of fashion is.
Re-join the group again today and catch a train to Nikko for about two hours. Along the way, you’ll see spectacular countryside scenery and enjoy some snacks on the train.

Once you arrive in Nikko you’ll have free time to spend as you wish. Nikko has been a sacred city since the middle of the 8th century with beautiful shrines and temples. Perhaps visit the Toshu-gu Shrine, a resting place of a Tokugawa shogun who was one of the most powerful rulers of the country. Every corner of this monument is covered in intricate gold leaf, lacquer work, paintings and patterns.

Nikko is considered one of Japan's premier sake producing regions, so be sure to step out in the evening for a shot of this traditional beverage.
Have another free day in Nikko. For those feeling energetic, take a hike at Yumoto, soak in the natural hot springs, or if the weather permits, go skiing. There’s also the option of wandering the nearby national park and relaxing by Chuzenji Lake. You may also like to see the Kegon Waterfall, or get the Akechi Daira Rope Way cable car over the falls and lake.
Enjoy your last free morning in Nikko and then say goodbye to the city. In the afternoon, you’ll take a shinkansen (bullet train) to Kyoto for about three hours.

Kyoto was once the imperial capital of Japan and is one of the most beautiful cities in the country. With over 2,000 temples, shrines and gardens, Kyoto is a great place to get lost in. Spend some free time getting acquainted with Kyoto and walking through the historical streets.

In the evening, head out to Gion, the famous Geisha district. Even today you can observe the age-old tradition of geisha girls visiting members of the wealthy elite. This unfolds in small teahouses tucked away in tiny back streets. You’ll also attend the Gion Corner cultural centre where you’ll enjoy some Japanese performing arts, from flower arranging to the lion dance.
Have a free day to get to know Kyoto at your own pace. We recommend taking a gentle stroll through the ‘Path of Philosophy’ that links Ginkaku-ji (the Temple of the Silver Pavilion) with Nanzen-ji Temple. This walk can be extended south through Kyoto’s well-preserved old town to Kiyamizu-dera (Temple of Clear Water).

Other must-see sites include the extravagantly decorated temple known as Kinkakuji, the architecturally impressive Higashi Honganji, and the surreal temple of Sanjusangendo, home to 1001 statues of the bodhisattva Kannon.

For those visiting in Spring, we also recommended a visit to the theatre for a presentation of Miyako Odori (the Cherry Blossom Dance) performed by an elaborately dressed apprentice geisha.
Make the most of your last day in Kyoto. If you haven’t done so already, you may like to see Japan’s largest pagoda at Toji. Consider doing one of our Urban Adventure tours, such as the cycling tour of the Path of Philosophy (see urbanadventures.com for more information). Make sure to do some last minute shopping and go out for karaoke with your new friends.
There are no activities planned for today and you can depart the hotel at any time. Check out time is 10.00 am. If you are departing later, you can arrange luggage storage at the hotel.
View trip notes to read full itinerary


Bus, Metro, Train, Train (bullet)
Hotel (5 nights), Ryokan (3 nights)


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Important notes

1. Please note no Single Supplement is available for this trip.
2. This itinerary is far from a hand-holding, all inclusive trip, so enjoy the freedom and indulge in some raw fish!

Trip notes

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Your trip notes provide a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what’s included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

View trip notes


Our Japan Express trips score an average of 4.58 out of 5 based on 48 reviews in the last year.

Japan Express , November 2015

Japan Express , November 2015