13 Day Japan Explorer

This itinerary offers a more off-the-beaten path tour of Japan, perfect for the more active traveler. This itinerary is a balanced mix of structure with plenty of free time to allow you to explore this extraordinary country at your own pace. Highlights include: Tsukiji Fish Market, Takayama Cycling Tour, Fushimi Inari shrine, and sake tasting! In a country renowned for its delicate beauty and intrinsic grace, Japan's diverse landscape offers opportunities for adventure that are excitingly unique and wildly entertaining.

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1 - Tokyo Arrival

Welcome to Tokyo! You will be met upon arrival at Tokyo Narita Airport and given tickets for the airport limousine bus from the airport all the way to the door of your hotel in central Tokyo, making for a smooth and relaxing start to your time in Japan. The bus departs from right outside the door of the arrivals hall and staff will be on hand to load and unload your bags at each end of the journey. Narita Airport is a good 40 miles out to the east of Tokyo itself, so journey time is around 70-90 minutes. However this ride is a great introduction to Tokyo as the towering skyscrapers of the city loom into view as the bus makes its way along the elevated expressway from the airport. Keep your camera handy!

Overnight: Citadines Shinjuku Tokyo

Day 2 - Tokyo Sightseeing (optional)

Tokyo is one of the world's most vibrant cities and today you will have a full day available to explore the sights, shops and restaurants! Although initially a little overwhelming, Tokyo's first class public transport system makes getting around quick and easy and with careful planning you can see a lot in a short space of time. Tokyo has so much to offer any visitor and just wandering the streets of this megalopolis is a fascinating experience with new sights, sounds and tastes to be had around every corner. Armed with a good map and your complimentary Info-Pack 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 all your destinations.

Overnight: Citadines Shinjuku Tokyo (Dinner included)

Day 3 - Tokyo Excursion (optional)

Tokyo is a fascinating city and you will have a full day to enjoy the myriad of sights, sounds and tastes it has to offer. However, you may like to take the opportunity of this free day to take a day trip to one of the many places of interest easily accessible from the capital. The two most popular options are the towns of Nikko (to the north of Tokyo) Kamakura (to the south). Nikko is famous for its ornate religious architecture, some of the most important in all of Japan, in a beautiful woodland setting. Kamakura is a sleepy coastal town that served briefly as capital of Japan in the 1100s, leaving a rich cultural legacy. The town and surrounding hillsides are dotted with attractive temples and shrines, along with one of Japan largest Great Buddha statues. If Tokyo's concrete and neon is getting to you then you might like to head west to sacred Mt Takao, with its range of hiking trails and mountain-top temple complex, virtually untouched by foreign visitors.

Overnight: Citadines Shinjuku Tokyo (Dinner included)

Day 4 - Tsukiji Fish Market Visit

An early start this morning as you will be met at your hotel at 4:30 AM by your guide, who will be taking you by taxi to Tokyo's famous Tsukiji Fish Market. This really is Tokyo's kitchen, and is one of the largest markets in the world. Because of the popularity of visiting the Tuna auctions, the market has recently introduced a limit of 100 people per day who are allowed to watch this is split in to two groups of 50. You will be departing in what should be good time for registration for the first group of the day and therefore ensuring the best chance of being allowed in. Please note that there is however a chance that the first group is full in which case you will need to wait at the market for the second group. Either way seeing the auction is a fantastic experience and your guide will be able to explain exactly what is going on and how the market works.

After the auctions a sushi breakfast at a nearby sushi bar is included - a perfect way to finish up your early morning adventure!

Overnight: Citadines Shinjuku Tokyo (Breakfast included)

Day 5 - Tokyo - Takayama

Your package includes the 7-Day Japan Rail Pass. 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. From Tokyo you will use your Japan Rail Passes to take a Shinkansen (bullet train) to Nagoya, followed by a Limited Express train for the scenic journey into the Japanese Alps and on to Takayama. Total journey time is around 4 hours and 40 minutes.

Overnight: Iwatakan (Breakfast and Dinner included)

Day 6 - Takayama Cycling Tour

Today you will have the opportunity to head deeper into rural Japan and take a cycling tour through the rice fields and rural farming villages of Hida. Your English-speaking guide will take you on an approximately-3.5 hour ride with the beautiful Hida Mountain Range as a back drop. As well as the rural scenery, the tour also visits a natural spring, a local temple, Minka (traditional wood farmhouses) and an orchard. In total you will be cycling a distance of 22km and you will get a real insight into country way of life, hopefully meeting a few residents of Hida along the way. This is a group service so there may be other people on your tour but the maximum group size per guide is just 8 people. There are a few steady inclines on this tour but there are short-cuts available! Pick-up service from Takayama is included but you will need to make your own way back from Furukawa station at the end of the tour (the journey takes 17 minutes and costs just 230yen per person).

Overnight: Iwatakan (Breakfast included)

Day 7 - Takayama - Kyoto

From Takayama you will be using your Japan Rail Passes to travel by Limited Express train to Nagoya, where you will make the easy change to the Shinkansen for Kyoto. Total journey time is around 3 hours and 30 minutes.

Overnight: Hotel Sunroute Kyoto (Breakfast included)

Day 8 - Kyoto Day Tour

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.

Overnight: Hotel Sunroute Kyoto (Breakfast included)

Day 9 - Fushimi Inari Tour & Sake Tasting

Today you will be taken on a guided tour of the wonderful and ancient Fushimi Inari shrine. Here thousands of red shrine gates line the maze-like paths all over Mount Inari. This shrine and its stone fox guardians are dedicated to the rice Gods. After visiting the shrine you'll be taken to a nearby sake brewery where the local rice production is put to good use! You'll learn all about the sake brewing process before visiting a local liquor shop. There are more than 80 types of sake on sale here and you will be able to sample three different types. This is a half-day tour and the remainder of the day is at leisure to explore using your info-pack.

Overnight: Hotel Sunroute Kyoto (Breakfast included)

Day 10 - Kyoto - Odawara - Hakone

Today you will travel to Hakone National Park in the foothills of Mount Fuji. You will take the Shinkansen from Kyoto to Odawara Station, the gateway to the national park. Journey time is 2 hours 10 minutes. Upon arrival at Odawara you will start using your 3-Day Hakone Free Pass to take the bus up into the mountains of Hakone and on to your accommodation, the Ichinoyu Honkan.

Overnight: Ichinoyu Honkan (Breakfast and Dinner included)

Day 11 - Hakone

A full free day to take advantage of your 3-Day Hakone Free Pass. The pass 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 stunning views of Mt. Fuji.

Overnight: Ichinoyu Honkan (Breakfast and Dinner included)

Day 12 - Hakone Sightseeing (optional)

Exploring the Hakone region is a lot of fun, with a great mix of scenery, culture and history. The classic circular sightseeing loop will take you around the major points of interest, including some great viewpoints for Mt Fuji (weather permitting!), the boat cruise on Lake Ashi, and the Hakone checkpoint, highlighting the region's important historical role. There are many excellent museums in Hakone, so you might like to step off the classic circular loop to visit some of these. The other major attraction is of course the hot-spring baths, so you may like to do as the Japanese do, and spend some (or all!) of the day soaking in the famous waters of Hakone.

Overnight: Ichinoyu Honkan (Breakfast and Dinner included)

Day 13 - Hakone - Odawara - Tokyo Departure

We can arrange a taxi for your transfer to Odawara station (pay on day). You will take the shinkansen to Shinagawa station and then the express train onto Narita Airport. Total travel time is about 1hr 45 -2h 45 depending on connections. Have a safe flight home!

Accommodation Information

Citadines Shinjuku Tokyo

The Citadines Shinjuku is a modern apartment-hotel located in Tokyo's vibrant Shinjuku district. Each room has its own small kitchenette giving the convenience of home and the comfort of a hotel. Rooms are well sized for Tokyo and the hotel has its own coin laundry and small gym. The hotel is a short walk from Shinjuku San-chome and Shinjuku Gyoen-mae subway stations and less than 5 minutes by taxi from JR Shinjuku Station - access to all of Tokyo is a breeze.


Iwatakan is a friendly, family run Japanese style inn. This minshuku also features a natural hot spring bath house (private use available on request), Internet access and fine home cooked food. Free of charge rental bikes are also available to help you get around. You will be staying in a twin room with shared bathroom facilities.

Hotel Sunroute Kyoto

This hotel has a great location in the center of the city, just a 10-minute walk from Minami-za Theatre and the Gion Geisha district. The hotel has its own restaurant and cafe, free internet is available in the lobby and the staff speak some English. Rooms are of a moderate size but are clean and comfortable. Your stay includes a buffet breakfast (Japanese & Western style foods available) served in the hotel restaurant on the top floor from where there are some lovely views over the city towards the Higashi-yama mountains.

Ichinoyu Honkan

The Ichinoyu Honkan is an inn with a rich history dating back to 1630 when the inn opened as a pioneer in the hot spring industry of Hakone. The Honkan (literally 'main building') featured in the famous series of Ukiyoe prints of the region produced by Ando Hiroshige and has been welcoming guests for the best part of the past 400 years. The Ichinoyu holds true to the traditional values of service for which Japan is famed. Being a famous onsen area the Ichinoyu has large communal baths for you to enjoy, some of which can be used privately so if you are a bit shy then please do not worry! All in all, a great place to stay and an establishment with a significant history.

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