Classic Japan

12 Days | Kyoto, Koya-san and more on a cultural crusade

4.8 out of 5 based on 32 reviews submitted.
GBP £4,000
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Steeped in centuries of tradition and full of culinary prowess, Japan is awash with sights to see and histories to uncover. From Kyoto to Tokyo, spend 12 days exploring the heart of Japan, with memories of the Edo era, sobering warfare sites, lush natural landscapes and eclectic neighbourhoods to discover. Be tempted by tempura, savour your sushi and sip some sochu as you discover the endless variety and diversity of Japan with your small group, all headed by a local leader who knows all of the best places to go. What’s stopping you embarking on a cultural escapade to the home of geisha, torii, sake and nori?

Trip overview

Map of Classic Japan including Japan
Kyoto, Japan
Tokyo, Japan
Physical rating
Indicates how physically exerting a trip is, and how fit you will need to be to enjoy it. More info on physical ratings
Min 15
Group size
Min 1 - Max 12
Trip code
This trip generates 58.1 kg of CO2-e per person per day.
We offset these emissions on your behalf. But we know that is not enough, so we also have a carbon reduction target.

Why you'll love this trip
  • Surrounded in tranquil scenery, an overnight Buddhist temple stay in Koya-san is as peaceful and unique as it sounds. It’s the perfect place to stop and explore between Kyoto and Hiroshima.
  • With three nights spent in Tokyo, you’ll cover the top sights with your small group and have free time to see at your own pace. With so much to do, you have the power to decide in Japan’s capital.
  • A visit to the Hiroshima Peace Park is a sobering but important experience for understanding the tragedies of Japan’s not so distant past – do so with the local knowledge of your leader to show you the way.
  • Spend a memorable night with an included dinner in a traditional Japanese ryokan in tiny Tsumago – one of the best-preserved Edo-era towns along the ancient Nakesendo Highway.
  • Be impressed by the efficiency and ultra-modernity as you zip from city to town. Travel has never been so easy!

Is this trip right for you?
  • Japan is best to explore on foot. In fact, most travellers are surprised at how much distance they end up covering just exploring places on foot! Make sure your shoes are comfy and you are fit enough to spend most of each day on your feet.
  • In some destinations you may be staying in a ryokan, which is a Japanese-style inn. It’s a great taste of tradition, however not everyone finds futon mattresses on the tatami mat floor, tiny bathrooms and proximity to other guests as comfortable as more western-style hotels and beds. This is an important thing to consider if you have problems with your back or knees, as the surface is really firm and there may be no other furniture (eg chairs) in the room. Read more about ryokans here:
  • Be prepared to pack light and smart for this trip as you'll be required to carry your own luggage between train stations and to hotels, which can include going up and down multiple flights of stairs in crowded areas. At some destinations, larger luggage will be forwarded on ahead of you, so it'll be easier to get around if you have a smaller overnight/day pack.


This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 January 2023 to 31 December 2023.

View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2024 - 31 December 2025

Map of Classic Japan including Japan



11 breakfasts, 2 dinners


Public Bus, Subway, Bullet Train, Train, Boat


Hotel/Ryokan (10 nights), Temple Stay (1 night)

  • Kyoto - Ryoanji Zen Garden
  • Kyoto - Nijo Castle
  • Kyoto - Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion)
  • Kyoto - Gion District walk
  • Koya-san - Okunoin Cemetery
  • Himeji - Himeji Castle
  • Hiroshima - Peace Park & A - Bomb Dome
  • Hiroshima - Peace Museum
  • Hiroshima - Miyajima Island
  • Tsumago - Nakasendo Walk
  • Matsumoto - walking tour
  • Tokyo - Sensoji Temple
  • Tokyo - Sumida River Cruise
  • Tokyo - Hama Rikyu Garden
Add on activities
  • Kyoto - Cooking Class from - JPY7150
  • Kyoto - Bike hire (per day) from - JPY1000
  • Kyoto - Ginkaku-ji (Silver Pavilion) - JPY500
  • Kyoto - Nanzenji Temple - Free
  • Kyoto - Kiyomizu-dera - JPY400
  • Koya-san - Kongobu-ji Temple - JPY1000
  • Matsumoto - Matsumoto Castle - JPY700
  • Tokyo - Samurai Museum - JPY1900
  • Tokyo - Studio Ghibli Museum (advance bookings required - from) - JPY2500
  • Tokyo - Imperial Palace - Free
  • Tokyo - Shinjuku-gyoen - JPY500
  • Tokyo - Meiji Jingu Shrine - Free
  • Tokyo - Edo-Tokyo Museum - JPY600
  • Tokyo - Tokyo National Museum - JPY1000

Dates and availability

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Important notes

1. A Single Supplement is currently not available for this trip due to limited rooms at many of our properties.
2. While we endeavour to cater for specific dietary requirements, some meals and food activities are set in advance and may be difficult to adjust. Please advise us of any dietary requirements at the time of booking so that we can ensure you’ll enjoy this trip.
3. We are currently unable to book pre or post trip accommodation at our start and finish point hotels due to limited room availability. We recommend booking a hotel of your choice through your booking agent.
4. It is essential that you pack light and compact for rail travel in Japan. There are size restrictions for luggage on Shinkansen trains. Luggage from 160cm to 250cm may require an additional JPY1000 oversize luggage fee per train journey. Luggage over 251cm will NOT be permitted on the Shinkansen trains at all. Please notify your tour leader at your Welcome Meeting if your luggage is from 160cm to 250cm so they can make the necessary arrangements.
5. We are not able to book airport shuttle service for Japan now. Japan has an extensive and efficient public transport system and the joining and finishing point instructions are listed in the Essential Trip Information.

Essential Trip Information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides 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.

Read Essential Trip Information


4.8 out of 5 based on 32 reviews submitted.
Reviews are from travellers who have completed their trip and want to share their experience. We show all reviews, but may remove any that include profanity or inappropriate content, are unrelated to the trip or reveal personal details.

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Czesia · Traveled October 2023
The classic Japan tour Offered by Intrepid was One of the best trips I have taken. It was well organized, provide a good overview of Japanese culture and life. Our guide, Susumu was excellent. He was supportive in very way, responded to all questions and never hesitated to look up any information we needed or were curious about. He also provided time for us to explore on our own while at the same time ensuring there was an easy place for us to find to reconnect as a group. The use of public transport was an enriching experience in of itself.
Review submitted 11 Nov 2023

Rosalyn · Traveled October 2023
Great trip! Our tour leader Toshimi was outstanding. The itinerary included a good mix of big cities and small mountain towns including a visit to Koya-san. Our transportation was almost entirely on Japan's excellent public transportation system including the Shinkansen. A wonderful introduction to Japan.
Review submitted 06 Nov 2023

Kevin · Traveled October 2023
We chose Classic Japan because it included an overnight in Koya-san. The itinerary included a wonderful mix of big cities and small mountain towns. With a few nights spent in Osaka prior to the trip we found this to be a perfect introduction to Japan. Our leader Toshimi was fantastic and we had a great group of fellow travelers.
Review submitted 04 Nov 2023

Andrea · Traveled October 2023
Great trip for first time visitors to Japan. Having a Japanese speaking guide Toshimi, was the best. We spent more time doing rather than organising and he was such a fun person to be around. Highly recommended.
Review submitted 04 Nov 2023

Elizabeth · Traveled October 2023
Classic Japan was a great introduction to Japan. We went to a really good mix of places including the big cities and some more rural locations. Travelling by train was a fantastic experience and positive from an environmental perspective. We had a great guide who made sure the trip was fun, insightful and made best use of the time available.
Review submitted 24 Oct 2023
Classic Japan
GBP £4,000