Japan Essential: Kyoto, Mt. Fuji & Tokyo

Begin your journey in the metropolis of Tokyo. With its huge skyscrapers, underpasses, overpasses and crowds of pedestrians, this city has a vibrant charm all of its own. Continue on to Hakone, and explore the beautiful national park located at the base of Mt. Fuji, Japan's most sacred peak. Continue on to Kyoto, the cultural heart of Japan, and a fascinating historical city. Highlights include a full day private guided tour of Tokyo and a traditional tea ceremony. An itinerary blending Japan's super-modern & fascinating traditional aspects - all in 7 days.

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1 - Tokyo Arrival

Your package includes the 7 Day Rail Pass (Ordinary Car). The pass entitles you to unlimited travel on any trains in the extensive Japan Railways (JR) network. This includes all of the famous Shinkansen 'Bullet' Trains (with the exception of the Nozomi Shinkansen). You will receive an exchange voucher which must be exchanged for the pass itself after you arrive in Japan. Full details of when and how to do this will be provided with your documents. You can use your rail pass to make seat reservations for no extra charge. However, this cannot be done before you have exchanged the voucher.

You will be making the journey from Narita Airport into Tokyo on the Narita Express train (using your Japan Rail Pass). Journey time is in the region of 1 hour. Narita Airport is around 40 miles to the east of Tokyo itself, so the journey starts with scenes of rice fields and small towns through the train windows, gradually becoming more and more urban until you reach the dense concentration of towering buildings, tightly packed streets and neon lights that signals your arrival in the heart of the amazing Japanese capital. Welcome to Tokyo!

Overnight: Mitsui Garden Hotel Ginza

Day 2 - Tokyo Full Day Tour

Today you will take a full day private 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 Japan's capital. This will be a fantastic introduction to Tokyo and the chance to get a personal insight not only into the classic sights, but also into some more unusual and unique features of the city. With a guide at your disposal you are free to set the pace of the day to be as busy or relaxed as you choose. The guide can help you discover aspects of Tokyo that you would not find by yourself and can also help you get to grips with the city's excellent transport network. Your guide will come to your hotel at around 9:00 AM (or any time you choose) to meet you and your day will proceed from there. We are keen to help you get the most out of today, so if you have any specific areas of interest please let us know in advance, so we can pass this on to the guide. Your day of guiding will finish at around 5:00 PM with the guide either dropping you back at your hotel or anywhere else in the city you wish to spend the evening.

We will provide you with our detailed Info-Pack, so you will be fully equipped to discover Tokyo. Your Info-Pack will be full of information, ideas and advice to help you get the most out of Tokyo!

Overnight: Mitsui Garden Hotel Ginza (Breakfast included)

Day 3 - Tokyo - Hakone

You will be taking the Shinkansen from Tokyo to Odawara Station, the gateway city for the Hakone National Park. Journey time is just 40 minutes. Upon arrival at Odawara you will start using your 2-Day Hakone Free Pass. The pass is valid for two days from today and entitles you to unlimited use of 6 different forms of transport in the Hakone region. These include the mountain buses and railway, one of the longest cable cars in Japan and a funicular railway as well as a pirate ship which cruises across Lake Ashi! These all criss-cross the region making it easy to explore and enjoy the surroundings as well as some of the many top quality art museums. The pass also gives you small discounts at many attractions in the area so be sure to show your pass when purchasing tickets. And of course, if you are lucky with the weather, you will be rewarded with incredible views of Mt. Fuji.

Overnight: Ichinoyu Hatago Sengokuhara (Breakfast and Dinner included)

Day 4 - Hakone - Kyoto

Today you will trace your steps back to Odawara Station (using your Hakone Free Pass). You will travel to Kyoto, Japan's ancient capital and the cultural center of the nation. From Odawara the journey to Kyoto will see you racing down Japan's eastern seaboard by Shinkansen and takes 2 hours 10 minutes.

Overnight: Hotel Screen Kyoto (Breakfast included)

Day 5 - Kyoto Full Day Tour & Tea Ceremony

Today you will embark on a full day tour of the city by public transport with a private guide. Your guide will come to your accommodation at around 9:00 AM and take you on tour that will encompass some of the more famous sights but also some lesser known places of interest. With a knowledgeable local by your side you will be set for a great day in this amazing city and are sure to discover things that you might otherwise miss. Your day of guiding will finish at around 5:00 PM either back at your accommodation or anywhere else in the city you wish to spend the evening.

We will arrange a tea ceremony experience for you today at the tea ceremony house in central Kyoto. The ceremony will take place in a lovely Japanese style room complete with ikebana (Japanese flowers) and calligraphy. Your English speaking tea ceremony teacher will be able to inform you about the history and philosophy of the tea ceremony as well as its relationship with Zen Buddhism before conducting a traditional ceremony in front of you. You can then have a try yourself if you wish, taste the tea and traditional sweets and of course ask any questions that you may have. The experience lasts for 45 minutes.

Overnight: Hotel Screen Kyoto (Breakfast included)

Day 6 - Kyoto - Tokyo

From Kyoto you will use your Japan Rail Pass to take the Shinkansen to Tokyo and then a Yamanote line train to Shinjuku station. We recommend changing trains in Tokyo at Shinagawa station as it is a nice easy transfer. Total journey time is around 3 hours and 20 minutes.

Overnight: Hotel Century Southern Tower (Breakfast included)

Day 7 - Tokyo Departure

Sadly your adventures in Japan must come to an end. You will need to make your way to Shinjuku Station. From here you will be taking the Narita Express which makes the journey direct to the airport in just over 1 hour 15 minutes. The Narita Express trains offer a very comfortable journey, thanks to an upgrade in 2009, adding reclining seats and on board TVs. We wish you a pleasant flight home.

Accommodation Information

Mitsui Garden Hotel Ginza

In Tokyo you will be spending two nights at the Mitsui Garden Hotel, Ginza. Opened in December 2005 in a prestigious new building close to the hugely impressive Shiodome development, the Mitsui Garden set a new standard in hotel design in Tokyo. Located just 10 minutes taxi ride from Tokyo Station and 5 minutes walk to the heart of the Ginza, this hotel is perfectly positioned for you to get the very best from your stay in Tokyo.

The hotel interiors were designed by the famous Italian designer Piero Lissoni, and his use of earthy tones and simple lines gives the rooms a sense of calm away from the hectic push and pull of the streets below. As the only high rise building in the Ginza area, all the rooms command fantastic views across the city, each room featuring floor to ceiling windows that allow guests to truly experience the Tokyo cityscape. The fittings are of the highest quality and the bathrooms beautifully designed with all products from Shiseido, Japan's most famous name in beauty products. The hotel offers simple, understated service that ensures you are always very well looked after and can feel completely relaxed. The 32 inch Sharp Aquos LCD TVs in every room and a selection of more than 100 films to choose from on-demand are the icing on the cake of this first class hotel. Your stay includes a very good buffet breakfast in the hotel restaurant 'Sky'. The views are spectacular and the buffet offers a variety of Japanese and Western dishes as well as plenty of fresh fruit.

Ichinoyu Hatago Sengokuhara

Hatago Ichinoyu Ryokan is a traditional Edo style inn located in the small village of Sengokuhara in the heart of Hakone National Park. Lake Ashi and the the Owakudani cable cars are just 10 minutes away by bus and there are a number of museums near the ryokan. The inn is well known for its natural hot-spring baths and you can choose to bathe either indoors or out. The baths are open all day but you can use them privately between the hours of 11:30pm and 6am. Meals are served in the ryokan's restaurant which enjoys great views of the Hakone mountains.

Hotel Screen Kyoto

In a hotel as small as Kyoto’s The Screen, what matters most is the attention to detail. It’s not simply the fact that it’s a hybrid style, somewhere between a traditional ryokan and a modern design boutique — though of course that certainly helps. In the end what makes it special is the sheer variety and richness of the experience; with thirteen rooms by thirteen different designers, it’s meant to provide a subtly different experience to each guest.

The common thread is the keen design eye (or, rather, twenty-six of them) throughout. While some rooms are more classic than others, with tatami floors and shoji screens, they’re all effortlessly stylish and at the same time quite undeniably Japanese. A hotel of this size thrives on intimacy, which is certainly the case at the restaurant’s weekly “candle night,” where lights are extinguished in the name of saving energy.

Hotel Century Southern Tower

The Hotel Century Southern Tower is one of the best places to stay in Shinjuku. Located just 5 minutes walk from JR Shinjuku Station on the southern terrace opposite Takashimaya Times Square department store, the Southern Tower makes for the perfect base from which to explore not just Shinjuku but the whole of central Tokyo and beyond. The hotel lobby is to be found on the 20th floor of a building which also houses Microsoft's Japan HQ. The lobby offers great views of the city and on clear days you can see Mt Fuji towering up in the distance.

All rooms are stylishly decorated with modern earthy tones and high quality bed linen. The bathrooms have a range of beauty products provided and rooms come with flat screen TVs, direct dial phones and a free high speed internet connection. In the evenings you will have a choice of dining in the hotel with a superb Teppanyaki restaurant, an excellent Chinese, a French influences restaurant and a cafe bar for light refreshments. The hotel fitness corner is also available free of charge - a chance to work out 100 metres above the city! A buffet breakfast is included in your stay served in the hotel restaurant on the 20th floor. The stunning views make a great backdrop to the first meal of the day.

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