Wonders of Japan
- Day 1
Day 1-2 Fly overnight to the dazzling metropolis of Tokyo, Japan’s capital city. On arrival, transfer to your hotel by shared shuttle bus. Please note that as this is a shared bus, there may be a few stops before you arrive at your hotel. The journey time is around 2 hours. Look out for some great views as you ride the elevated highways into town! Depending on your time of arrival, the rest of the day is yours to start soaking up the local culture.
- Day 2
- Day 3
Today, take an 8-hour private day tour of the city with a local guide, travelling by public transport, as Tokyoites do, in order to help you to get a real feel for the Japanese capital. Your guide will come to your hotel at around 9am (or any time you choose) to meet you and your day will proceed from there. Start at Hamarikyu Gardens to enjoy its delightful landscapes, followed by a leisurely cruise on the Sumida River. Continue to Tokyo Skytree, the highest tower in Japan, to enjoy panoramic views over the city and beyond. Your day of guiding will finish at around 5PM with the guide either dropping you back at your hotel or anywhere else in the city you wish to spend the evening.
- Day 4
Today you will be taking a full day excursion to Mount Fuji and the Hakone National Park. Your day will get underway with a shared coach to the 5th Station of Mount Fuji where, on a clear day, you will be able to take in the spectacular views. Please note that travelling to the 5th station at Mount Fuji is only possible if weather conditions permit it. Continue by coach to Hakone and take a boat trip across Lake Ashi to Hakone-en Garden. Stroll around the garden before taking a ropeway up Mount Komagatake for spectacular panoramic views of Mount Fuji and the valley below. In the late afternoon, begin the drive back to Tokyo, arriving early evening. The tour drops you off in the Ginza and Shinjuku areas from where you will make your own way back to your hotel.
- Day 5
You will need to make your own way to Tokyo train station this morning. From here, take the Shinkansen (bullet train) to Nagano, the main access point for many areas of the Japanese Alps and host city of the 1998 Winter Olympics. The 222km journey takes around 1 hour and 45 minutes. In Nagano, you may wish to visit the famous Buddhist Zenkoji Temple, home to what is thought to be the first Buddhist statue ever brought to Japan. Continuing your journey from Nagano, take a local train to Yudanaka; the 33km journey takes 45 minutes and all seats are unreserved. In the summer this journey will see you through fruit groves and vineyards, in the winter a blanket of snow covers the rural landscape. On arrival, a shuttle bus will take you to your ryokan in Yudanaka. Dinner tonight will be a traditional Kaiseki meal made up of the freshest local ingredients.
- Day 6
Today is a day at leisure, which you can use to independently explore the hot spring resort of Yudanaka. One of the highlights is the Snow Monkeys who spend their days soaking in the natural hot pools of the Jigokudani Monkey Park, which is easily reached from the town. In the afternoon you may wish to visit the nearby town of Obuse, with its many open gardens, and stop by a sake brewery. Enjoy dinner at your ryokan.
- Day 7
This morning, make your own way to the train station and take the 45-minute train back to Nagano. From Nagano you will use your Japan Rail Pass to take a Limited Express train to Nagoya and change to the super-fast bullet train which will take you to the enchanting city of Kyoto. It's an easy journey to make and full details will be in your info-pack. The journey time is just under 4 hours.
- Day 8
Today, take a full day tour of the city by public transport with a private guide at your discretion. You will pay a visit to Kinkakuji Temple, known as the Golden Pavilion, which was originally built as a retirement villa for the Shogun. After his death it became a Buddhist Temple at his request and is now one of Kyoto’s most famous temples. Next, visit Ryoanji temple with its famous zen garden and Nijo Castle, an ornamental castle built by the founder of the Edo Shogunate and surrounded by stunning gardens. The main building was completed in 1603, and is famous for its architecture, decorated sliding doors and ‘chirping’ nightingale floor
- Day 9
There is so much to see in Kyoto that you have a full day to explore independently. If you want to take your explorations farther afield, you can use the included Japan Rail Pass to make a day trip to another destination independently. Nara, 40 minutes south of Kyoto, is an excellent choice with its collection of UNESCO World Heritage sights centred around an attractive park area (with friendly sacred deer!). Nara was capital of Japan for a short period around AD700 and the legacy of this is a wealth of beautiful temples and shrines including the huge bronze Buddha statue inside Todaiji temple, the world's largest wooden building. If Kyoto has shown you enough of the traditional side of Japan for now, you may like to make a day trip to one of the more modern destinations nearby. The vibrant metropolis of Osaka (30mins) is famous for the down-toearth attitude of its people and is considered one of the best places in all of Japan for eating and drinking. Kobe (30mins) is another good option; an attractive, cosmopolitan port city famous for its fine local beef and its remarkable recovery from the devastating earthquake of 1995. The castle town of Himeji (45mins from Kyoto) has long been a popular day trip from Kyoto. There is another fine original castle at Hikone (1hr from Kyoto), overlooking Lake Biwa, which makes an excellent day trip if you are keen to see an original Japanese castle in all its glory.
- Day 10
Your day is at leisure before your train to Osaka Kansai Airport (total journey time around 1 hour and 45 minutes) for your flight back to the UK, arriving home the same or following day.