Trip reference number: 142654

Trip Operator: Wexas Travel

Essential Japan

From: £2690.00

Holiday overview

Japan is a country that contrasts thousand year old traditions with cutting edge modernity at every turn – witness this with stays among city centre neon and historic national park inns. Start in Tokyo, where private tours will see you walking with the crowds on five way crossings, exploring temples that date back to 600 AD and ducking into locals-only sushi shops. Then, swap city slicking for Hakone’s hot springs and lakeside torii gates to stay in a traditional ryokan. You’ll also get the opportunity to ride a bullet train down to Kyoto, where an expert guide will tailor-make a private tour for you, covering everything from the Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples to bamboo groves and historic gated arcades.

Holiday itinerary

Day 1: Depart UK

Relax with included VIP airport lounge access before your overnight flight, arriving in Tokyo on day two.

Day 2: Tokyo

On arrival at Narita Airport, a private driver will bring you to your city-centre hotel. You’ll have the first day to explore at leisure; perhaps head to Shinjuku. Home to the world’s busiest train station, giant government towers and a range of neon bars, restaurants and karaoke joints, it's the Japanese capital at its lively best. Look behind the skyscrapers into Golden Gai, where the brashness is replaced by a rabbit warren of intimate sushi counters and tiny bars.

Stay: Shiba Park Hotel (Standard) or Century Southern Tower (Superior)

Day 3: Tokyo with private guide

Today you’ll make use of your preloaded transport card as you explore the city via a tailor-made private guide service. Visit Shibuya’s fashion hubs and Ginza’s art galleries, or perhaps it’s the city’s history that excites. You’ll find vermillion-lacquered torii gates that lead to 7th-century Buddhist temples, Meiji era shrines and a reconstructed Imperial Palace at odds with Tokyo’s urban bustle. Round it all off with a trip up the iconic Tokyo Skytree for panoramic city views.

Stay: Shiba Park Hotel (Standard) or Century Southern Tower (Superior)

Day 4: Optional Day Trip out of Tokyo

While you might want to explore Tokyo further we’d recommend a day trip out of the city. For a breath of fresh air enjoy pretty walks and scenic cable car rides at sacred Mt. Takao. Alternatively, the former Japanese capital – Kamakura – is just an hour’s train ride away from Shinjuku Station. Those that make the trip will be rewarded with a sleepy coastal town dotted with shrines, temples and an oversized daibutsu Buddha. Lastly, there’s national park Nikko, best known for the Toshogu Shrine. This UNESCO-listed site is surrounded by waterfalls, lakes and packs of indigenous monkeys.

Stay: Shiba Park Hotel (Standard) or Century Southern Tower (Superior)

Days 5-6: Hakone

A short train journey will bring you out of Shinjuku Station to Hakone, Tokyo’s green lung. Making use of your included Freepass, you’ll have two days to explore its village hamlets, shimmering lakes, hot spring baths and forest walks – keep your eyes out for waterside shrines framed by fair-weather views of Mt. Fuji. Come evening, retreat to a  traditional ryokan, complete with tatami mat rooms, private onsen baths and kaiseki multi-course feasts – eggs boiled in volcanic waters are a local delicacy here. 

Stay: Ichinoyu Susukinohara (Standard) or Motoyu Kansuiro (Superior)

Days 7-8: Kyoto

A private driver will bring you to Odawara Station, where you’ll board a Shinkansen bullet train bound for Kyoto. On your first day, perhaps familiarise yourself with some of the more central temples and shrines, leaving time to walk through the grand Imperial Palace gardens. On your second day here, make use of the included private guide service, bringing you to the time-honoured teahouses of the geisha district and some of Kyoto’s 17 UNESCO-listed World Heritage Sites. There’s everything from samurai castles to Buddhist temples established in the 8th century.

Stay: Royal Park Hotel Kyoto Sanjo (Standard) or Granvia (Superior)

Day 9: Nara

Just 40 minutes out of Kyoto by local train, Nara is an ideal day trip. It was here that Buddhist teaching first gained a foothold in Japan, arriving from China by way of the Silk Road around the 6th century. As such, you’ll find a range of monasteries and temples along with pretty Japanese gardens and a central park famed for its overly friendly deer. Nara is perhaps best known for its grand Todaji Temple, home to a 15-metre seated bronze Buddha.

Stay: Royal Park Hotel (Standard) or Granvia (Superior)

Day 10: Depart for UK

Board the Haruka Express to Kansai Airport in Osaka, where you’ll board your flight to the UK, arriving the same day.

Holiday pricing

  • Complimentary UK airport lounge access
  • Return flights between London, Tokyo and Osaka
  • Private car from Osaka airport to hotel, Transport passes in Tokyo & Hakone, Taxi from Hakone to Odawara, Train travel for all destinations from Odawara to Kansai airport, as per itinerary
  • 8 nights accommodation in 3* (Standard) hotels on a mix of B&B and half-board
  • 8 hour private guide service in Tokyo and Kyoto
  • Portable WiFi device

This trip has no fixed departures but restrictions may apply - check operator website

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