From temples to tempura, onsens to okonomiyaki and skyscrapers to sake, join us for the ultimate Japan adventure.
On a journey from the bright neon lights of Tokyo to the cultural capital of Kyoto, you’ll see the best Japan has to offer – including the highlights and the hidden gems. Our Japan trips offer something for everyone, whether you’re a family or a foodie, a nature lover or a city slicker. Slurp ramen and learn how to roll sushi like a pro in Tokyo, relax and unwind in a steamy onsen in Hakone, catch a glimpse of an elegantly-attired geisha in Kyoto or experience the peaceful energy of Hiroshima—all while mixing with locals and experiencing the real Japan.
Our Tokyo to Kyoto tours
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Toyko to Kyoto highlights
Feast on Japanese food
From sushi and sashimi to tempura and takoyaki, Japanese food is where it’s at. Sip, slurp and chomp your way from Tokyo to Kyoto, stopping at Japan’s most delicious foodie hotspots. Take part in an Obanzai cooking class to prepare a traditional multi-course feast, learn the secrets of making the perfect sushi roll, find out how to pick the freshest seafood at local markets and experience an ancient tea ceremony.
Tokyo is an intoxicating mix of old and new. One minute you’ll be walking through busy streets lit up with bright neon lights, and the next you’ll be standing at the gates of a 1400-year-old temple. Wander down Omoide Tokocho (Memory Lane) for some street snacks, enjoy a short cruise down the Sumida River, grab a cold Asahi at a beer hall or impress (or entertain!) locals with your best singing voice at a karaoke bar.
Fall in love with Kyoto
Cloaked in centuries of history and peppered with thousands of temples, shrines and immaculate gardens, it’s all too easy to fall in love with Kyoto. Wander the winding lanes of Gion – the city’s cultural centre and most famous geisha district, sip matcha in cosy tea houses, walk under the famous scarlet torii (square archways)at Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine, or stroll down the Path of Philosophy to pause and reflect.
Explore Hida Folk Village
Experience traditional Japanese culture at the Hida Folk Village in Takayama – a charming Edo period town located in the Japanese alps. The village is an open-air museum where you can visit traditional thatched-roof houses, learn the techniques used to build farmhouses that could withstand fierce winters and discover what daily life was like in Japan hundreds of years ago.
Bliss out in Hakone
After the excitement of Tokyo, take a breather and unwind in the scenic hot-spring resort of Hakone in the foothills of Mt Fuji. Staying at a family-run ryokan (a traditional inn), you’ll experience the top-notch hospitality the Japanese are known for. After recharging in a steamy onsen, take a boat over to the scenic Ashinoko Lake, visit the boiling sulphur springs of Owakudani or check out some of the city’s impressive volcanic sites.
Hang out in Hiroshima
Despite its tragic past, Hiroshima is a cosmopolitan city with a thriving food scene, trendy neighbourhoods and a focus on promoting world peace. Stroll around the Peace Memorial Park which was constructed around the hypocentre of the atomic bomb in 1945, sample the city’s signature oysters and okonomiyaki dish (a delicious savoury pancake), or hop on a boat over to the nearby island of Miyajima where curious deer roam the streets.
Tokyo to Kyoto tours reviews
Trips from 1 January 2023 onwards
From 1 January 2023, Intrepid will no longer require travellers to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 (excluding all Polar trips and select adventure cruises). However, we continue to strongly recommend that all Intrepid travellers and leaders get vaccinated to protect themselves and others.
Specific proof of testing or vaccination may still be required by your destination or airline. Please ensure you check travel and entry requirements carefully.
There’s never a bad time to travel to Japan but the most popular months to visit are March, April, and May as the weather is mild and the cherry blossoms are in full bloom. The warm weather (with low humidity levels) of September, October and November are also suitable months to visit Japan – you’ll even be treated to landscapes coloured with oranges, reds, and browns for autumn. While winter can be cold, this is the best time for snow activities such as skiing, snowboarding and snow festivals. On the other hand, the summer months see high humidity levels that can be uncomfortable for travellers who aren't accustomed to the heart.
Under the current restrictions, a visa is required to enter Japan as a tourist. We recommend you apply for a visa no later than one month before your departure date as it can take a few weeks to be processed. Please contact your local consulate or embassy for more information.
Absolutely. All passengers travelling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of their tour. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.
For more information on insurance, please go to: Travel Insurance
Tokyo and Kyoto are two of Japan's most popular destinations, and for good reason! But just because they're popular doesn't mean there aren't any hidden gems to discover – especially with a local leader by your side. Below are some of our top picks of what to see and do in these bustling cities.
- Hit up a karaoke bar in Tokyo
- Sample sushi at Tsukiji Outer Market
- Take a walk down the eclectic alleyways of Omoide Yokocho (Memory Lane)
- Visit Senso-ji – the city’s oldest temple
- Relax on a short cruise down the Sumida River
- Discover quirky fashion and pop culture in Harajuku
- Find your inner zen at Meiji Jingu Shrine
- Discover Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavillion)
- Admire the flora in Kyoto's Botanical Gardens
- Explore Nijo-jo Castle
- Visit the stunning Shimogamo Shrine
- Learn about geisha culture in Gion District
- Pick up a bargain in Nishiki-Koji Market
- Walk among giant bamboo in Arashiyama Forest
Read more about places to visit in Japan
Travellers who identify as part of the LGBTQIA+ community shouldn’t have any issues as violence, outright hostility or overt discrimination is extremely rare. However, Japan’s older generation still holds conservative values when it comes to queer sexuality and non-binary gender expression, especially those that live in regional areas.
Same-sex relationships are considered legal in some districts (such as Tokyo); however, same-sex marriage hasn’t been legalised yet. Public displays of affection are often frowned upon, regardless of sex, gender or sexual orientation, so keep that in mind when you’re out in public.
For more detailed and up-to-date advice, we recommend visiting Equaldex or ILGA before you travel.
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