Tokyo - Nagano - Matsumoto - Takayama - Kanazawa - Hiroshima - Kurashiki - Kyoto - Tokyo
The tour begins in Tokyo: the beating, neon heart of Japan. The first of many rides on the Shinkansen bullet train then whisks you into the Japanese Alps, where you'll spend the night at a shukubo temple lodgings, try vegetarian Buddhist cuisine and search for the key to paradise in the pitch-dark tunnels underneath Zenko-ji - one of Japan's most important temples.
A chance for you to see the mischievous snow monkeys soaking in the natural hot spring pools of Yudanaka will be followed by a visit to the "Black Crow", Matsumoto's magnificent original samurai castle.
Delving deeper in the mountains you'll experience warm Japanese hospitality at a traditional ryokan inn in Takayama, where the old-town streets hide sake breweries, craft shops and morning markets loaded with fresh produce.
Kyoto and Kanazawa offer a glimpse of traditional Japan - one a magnificent former capital with an astounding 17 World Heritage Sites, the other a small but beautifully preserved city with lamp-lit streets and one of the best gardens in Japan. Walking around the Gion district in Kyoto you might be lucky enough to spot a geisha in full regalia.
Further west you'll visit Hiroshima, where the Peace Memorial Park offers a sobering reminder of Japan's darkest hour. Though haunted by its past, Hiroshima today is a city teeming with life and optimism. Be sure to try the region's favourite savoury pancake: okonomiyaki.
Finally you'll visit Kurashiki - a real gem of a town that often goes unseen by foreign visitors but whose beautiful merchant canal district, wealth of excellent museums and cosmopolitan atmosphere make it well worth the trip.
Important Practical Information
Maximum Group Size: 14
Single Supplement: There is no single supplement for this tour. Single travellers will have a single room free of charge at all of the western style hotels (at least 8 nights). They will be asked to share with another single traveller of the same sex at the Japanese style stays (maximum 5 nights).
Accommodation: All western-style hotels have private en suite. The ryokan accommodation in Takayama, as well as the shukubo temple lodging in Nagano have shared bathroom and toilet facilities. At the ryokan in Kyoto we can usually get rooms with en suite facilities but this cannot be guaranteed.
International flights: This tour starts and finishes in Tokyo for arrivals and departures at Tokyo Narita Airport.
Check-in: Please note that rooms at the Tokyo hotel are only available from 12 noon. (You can, however, securely leave your luggage at the front desk at any time).
This trip has no fixed departures but restrictions may apply - check operator website
Sign up to our weekly Trip Finder email and get a selection of the best trips to feed your Wanderlust