Map of Japan Highlights including Japan

Tokyo to Kyoto, and all the donburi in between

Home of the sumo, the geisha, sake, karaoke, onsen and izakaya – Japan is a true feast for all of your senses. This 8-day journey hits all the right spots giving you a true appreciation for the land of the rising sun. Absorb the bustle of Tokyo before heading into the countryside for a farmstay with local tea harvesters and a quiet hike featuring spectacular views of Mt Fuji. Travel on a futuristic bullet train to Kyoto and step into history before wrapping up your adventure in the foodie paradise of Osaka.


Start
Tokyo, Japan
Finish
Osaka, Japan
Destination
Japan
Style
Original
Theme
Explorer
Code
CJSH
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 12

Why you'll love this trip

  • This is THE trip to take in Japan – a cultural and culinary whirlwind from the streets of Tokyo to the eats of Osaka.

  • Explore the many sides of Shibuya in Tokyo, from busy intersections to rooftop city views and from the tranquillity of the ancient Meiji Shrine to quirky Harajuku.

  • Settle into rural Japanese life at a local farmstay, where you might help harvest tea and prepare a home-cooked, farm-to-table feast and hike a quiet country trail passing through tea plantations and featuring the unmissable view of Mt. Fuji along the way.

  • Ride the rails like the locals, from lightening-fast bullet trains to scenic mountain rails offering seasonal views of cherry blossoms and autumn leaves.

  • Immerse yourself in the history and tradition of Kyoto among shrines, geishas and a 300-year-old sake brewery, and follow it up with the mouth-watering street food in Osaka.

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 when walking! Make sure your shoes are comfy and you are fit enough to spend most of each day on your feet.

  • 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.

Itinerary

Konnichiwa! Welcome to Japan. Bursting with contemporary urban culture, Tokyo has fascinating museums and world-class shopping plus backstreets stuffed with restaurants and karaoke bars. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm tonight. You can arrive at any time during the day as there are no activities planned, but make sure you get here in time for this meeting. Afterwards, you’ll have some free time to explore Tokyo’s exhilarating nightlife. Perhaps take a walk down Shinjuku’s Omoide Tokocho or Memory Lane – a crowded alley of busy restaurants and bar stalls started in the 1940s and quickly gained infamy as a black-market quarter. Today, it is one of the best spots to try some of Tokyo’s local fast food.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Tokyo - welcome meeting and orientation walk
Optional Activities
  • Tokyo - Tsukiji Fish Market - Free
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
It’s very important that you attend the welcome meeting as we will be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this time. If you are going to be late please let your travel agent or hotel reception know. Ask reception or look for a note in the lobby for more information on where the meeting will take place.
Dive right into Tokyo today by exploring historic Asakusa – one of the older and more traditional parts of the city. Visit the city’s oldest temple – Senso-ji – founded almost 1400 years ago when Tokyo was nothing more than a fishing village. Browse the many interesting stalls filled with tasty treats, crafts and souvenirs that line the shopping street of Nakamise Dori. Then we hop on the metro and head to the buzzing Shibuya area. Check out one of the busiest intersections in the world before heading into a depachika (underground food hall) for a mouth-watering array of tempting Japanese treats. Then get a birds-eye view of Tokyo from Shibuya Sky, a three-floor, 360-degree, open-air observation deck 46 storeys above the city. Next up, allow the city sounds to fade away as you visit Meiji Shrine, surrounded by a tranquil forest. Then back into the city streets to explore the Harajuku district, the home of Japan’s quirky youth pop culture. The rest of the afternoon is free for you to spend at your leisure. 
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Tokyo - Sensoji Temple
  • Tokyo - Meiji Jingu Shrine
  • Tokyo - Shibuya walking tour
  • Tokyo - Shibuya Sky Observation Platform
Optional Activities
  • Tokyo - Shinjuku-gyoen - JPY200
  • Tokyo - Yoyogi Park - Free
  • Tokyo - Imperial Palace - Free
  • Soba noodle class - JPY2000
  • Tokyo - Edo-Tokyo Museum - JPY600
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today, we hop on the Shinkansen (Japanese bullet train) and local train to Kanaya station where we’ll transfer to the scenic train that travels through mountains and gorges in Kawane. The ride is especially beautiful during Cherry blossom season in the spring and the color turning autumn. After disembarking at Senzu station, you’ll be welcomed into the village with a welcome ceremony and then head on to tonight’s farmstay. This afternoon, visit a local tea farm and try your hand at tea picking, learn about how tea is properly brewed and try some tea tempura, too. Your farm host will also show you the local seasonal vegetables that they’ve got in their garden. Don’t be afraid if you need to get your hands dirty and help out with some farm work! Dinner will be a home-cooked feast using seasonal vegetables from the farm and your host will be able to teach you a trick or two about Japanese home cooking.
Accommodation
  • Farm house (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Kawane - Farm Stay & Home-cooked Dinner
  • Kawane - Tea Farm Visit & Tea Brewing & Tasting
  • Kawane - Scenic Train Ride
Meals Included
  • Dinner
Special Information
Today’s travel time is approximately 2 hours.

Please prepare an overnight pack for today as your main luggage will be forwarded to your hotel on Day 4 directly and you’ll need to take your essentials and valuables for your farmstay tonight.

Japan’s train system is one of the most efficient in the world but you’ll need to do exchanges between trains to get to the countryside of Japan. Be ready to move fast through crowded train stations to catch your next train so we advise you to pack light.

Your farmstay tonight is a rare chance to have some real insight into the rural life in Japan. The group may be split and stay in different houses. There may be up to 3 to 4 people sharing one household and the facilities will be shared. You will sleep on the traditional tatami tonight just like the Japanese do.

Tea picking season is from the end of April to October and outside of this season, you’ll still be able to learn about how tea is properly brewed at the farm.
Rise and shine to a hearty home-cooked traditional Japanese breakfast at the farm. Say goodbye to your host and take the local train to Kusanagi station where you’ll set off on an easy hike along country trails that pass through tea farms and tangerine fields. You’ll reach Kusanagi shrine, built 1900 years ago, and continue to Nihondaira. Don’t miss the incredible views of Mt Fuji along the way and from the Nihondaira Yume Terrace at the end of the hike. Continue on to Shimizu by local bus and train where you can enjoy a free afternoon of relaxation or more exploring. Shimizu is one of the oldest ports in Japan and was one of the stops on the ancient Tokaido Trail. The seaside town's iconic view of the sea and Mt Fuji was often depicted in the Hokusai’s Ukioe art. If you’d like to catch a glimpse of that view, head to Miho no Matsubara on the coast.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Kawane - Home-cooked Japanese Breakfast
  • Shizuoka - Tokai Nature Trail Soft Hike
  • Shizuoka - Nihondaira Yume Terrace​ (Mt. Fuji viewing platform)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Today's travel time is about 3.5 hours.
The hike today will be about 5km (about 2.5 hours) on the countryside trail, with elevation change about 300 meters. You'll need to have sturdy footwear and comfortable clothes for the hike.
This morning, visit the seaside Shimizu fish market and enjoy a seafood brunch here fresh out of the sea. After brunch, hop back on the Shinkansen bullet train to Kyoto. One of the Kyoto’s original names was Heian-kyo, which literally translates to ‘tranquillity and peace capital’, and the thousands of temples, shrines and gardens make it a great place to unwind. In the afternoon, head to the Noshiki Market and stroll through ‘Kyoto’s Kitchen’. It’s the perfect introduction to Kyoto's regional specialties – from pickled vegetables hidden beneath layers of fermented rice to delicious and ornate Kyo-wagashi (Kyoto sweets) and other local produce. As the sun goes down, continue to Gion, the city’s cultural centre and most famous geisha district. You may catch a glimpse of an elegantly attired geisha or maiko moving between teahouses here, though much of this high-class world of entertainment is still off-limits to outsiders.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Kyoto - Gion District walk
  • Kyoto - Nishiki-Koji Market
  • Shizuoka - Shimizu Fish Market & Brunch
Optional Activities
  • Kyoto - Gion Corner cultural centre - JPY3150
  • Kyoto - Imperial Palace - Free
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Today’s train travel time is approximately 2 hours.
Today, you’ll head to one of the most photogenic spots in Kyoto – Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine. Famous for the thousands of scarlet torii (square archways) along the path, this shrine is dedicated to Inari – the god of rice. Because foxes do his bidding, there are also plenty of fox statues along the way, ranging from the cute to the creepy. Then visit a nearly 300-year-old sake brewery – the city’s oldest continuously run brewery. Learn about their special sake-brewing techniques and the importance of rice and water to sake before sampling the wares.
The rest of the day is free for you to explore at your own pace. If you’re in a contemplative mood, the Path of Philosophy might have what you’re after. Stroll beside a stream, beneath the dappled shade of blossoming trees, past the Zen temple Ginkaku-ji, the Temple of the Silver Pavilion and Nanzen-ji Temple. You can keep walking south to the Old Town and explore the wooden houses, or perhaps visit Kinkakuhi Temple, immortalised in Yukio Mishima’s novel ‘The Golden Pavilion’. Or maybe check out the onsens in the city – it won’t be a full experience in Japan without a soak in a public onsen.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Kyoto - Fushimi Inari-Taisha
  • Kyoto - Sake Brewry Visit & Tasting
Optional Activities
  • Kyoto Tower - JPY770
  • Kyoto - Bike hire (per day) - JPY800
  • Kyoto - Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion) - JPY500
  • Kyoto - Ryoanji Zen Garden - JPY500
  • Kyoto - Arashiyama Bamboo Forest - Free
  • Kyoto - Path of Philosophy (Tetsugaku-no-Michi) - Free
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Back on the train this morning and head onto Osaka – arguably Japan’s food capital. To get situated, follow your leader on an orientation walk, and then explore this eclectic city in your free time. Meet in the evening again and take a street food walking tour with your leader through Dotombori district and Kuromon market and celebrate the end of this fast and furious journey in Japan with your fellow travellers.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Osaka - Dotombori and Kuromon Street Food Walking Tour
Meals Included
  • Dinner
Your trip comes to an end this morning in Osaka.
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.

Meals

1 breakfast, 2 dinners

Transport

Public bus, Metro, Local Train, Bullet Train

Accommodation

Hotel (6 nights), Farm stay (1 night)

Included activities

  • Tokyo - welcome meeting and orientation walk
  • Tokyo - Sensoji Temple
  • Tokyo - Meiji Jingu Shrine
  • Tokyo - Shibuya walking tour
  • Tokyo - Shibuya Sky Observation Platform
  • Kawane - Farm Stay & Home-cooked Dinner
  • Kawane - Tea Farm Visit & Tea Brewing & Tasting
  • Kawane - Scenic Train Ride
  • Kawane - Home-cooked Japanese Breakfast
  • Shizuoka - Tokai Nature Trail Soft Hike
  • Shizuoka - Nihondaira Yume Terrace​ (Mt. Fuji viewing platform)
  • Kyoto - Gion District walk
  • Kyoto - Nishiki-Koji Market
  • Shizuoka - Shimizu Fish Market & Brunch
  • Kyoto - Fushimi Inari-Taisha
  • Kyoto - Sake Brewry Visit & Tasting
  • Osaka - Dotombori and Kuromon Street Food Walking Tour

Dates & availability

Trip departures are unavailable.

There are currently no scheduled departures on our Japan Highlights trip. If you are interested in other trips in the region visit one of the links below.

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Important notes

1. A Single Supplement is currently not available for this trip due to limited rooms at our chosen accommodation.
2. 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.
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. This trip does not include a Japan Rail Pass. You will need to buy your own train tickets for any independent rail travel you wish to do in Japan pre or post tour.

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Essential trip information

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