Japan is a country that contrasts thousand year old traditions with cutting edge modernity at every turn. You’ll have the opportunity to witness each side of this fascinating country with stays among city centre neon and historic, national park inns. Start in Tokyo, where a private tour will introduce you to sights both iconic and secret. Walk with the crowds on five way crossings and in temples that date back to 600 AD before ducking into locals only sushi counters. Then, swap city slicking for Hakone’s hot springs and lakeside torii gates where you’ll stay in a traditional ryokan, enjoying the best in local cuisine. You’ll also get the opportunity to ride a bullet train down to Kyoto where an expert guide will again tailor-make a private tour for you. Choose between the hundreds of Shinto shrines and thousands of Buddhist temples or take time out in bamboo groves and under historic gated arcades.
Day 1: Depart UK
Your trip will start with included VIP airport lounge access to begin your holiday in style before an overnight flight, arriving on day two.
Day 2: Tokyo
On arrival at Narita Airport, you will be met by a private driver to bring you to your city centre hotel in Shinjuku where you’ll have the first day to explore. Home to the world’s busiest train station, giant government towers and a full range of neon bars, restaurants and karaoke joints, this is the Japanese capital at its lively best. Don’t forget to look behind its skyscrapers into Golden Gai where you’ll find brashness replaced by a rabbit warren of intimate sushi counters and tiny bars.
Day 3: Tokyo
Today you’ll make use of your preloaded transport card to explore Tokyo on a tailor-made private guide service. You might want to explore Shibuya’s fashion hubs along with upmarket Ginza’s art galleries and traditional kabuki theatre or maybe it’s the city’s history that excites. You’ll find vermillion-lacquered torii gates that lead to Buddhist temples dating back to the 7th century while Meiji era shrines and a reconstructed Imperial Palace enjoy a peaceful garden setting at odds with Tokyo’s urban bustle. Whatever your interests, your guide will tailor-make a service for you. Perhaps take it all in with a trip up the iconic Tokyo Skytree.
Day 4: Optional Day Trip out of Tokyo
While you might want to explore Tokyo further – maybe wake up early for the famed commotion of the Tsukiji Fish Market – we’d recommend a day trip out of the city. For a breath of fresh air, sacred Mt. Takao to the west makes for pretty walks and cable car rides. On these, you’ll pass small temples and religious statues on your way to summit views over Tokyo. Alternatively, the once 12th century 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 collection of shrines, temples and an oversized daibutsu Buddha. Lastly, there’s national park Nikko, best known for the Toshogu Shrine. This UNESCO-listed site is a stunning example of Shinto architecture where vivid colours highlight impossibly intricate carvings. Don’t miss out on the surrounding waterfalls, lakes and their indigenous monkeys.
Days 5-6: Hakone
A short train journey will bring you out of Shinjuku Station to Hakone, Tokyo’s green national park 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. Your card will give you access to everything from buses and lake boats to mountain railways and cable cars. Keep your eyes out for waterside shrines framed by fair-weather views of Mt. Fuji and sample the local delicacy – eggs boiled in volcanic waters. For your time here, you’ll stay in a traditional ryokan, complete with tatami mat rooms, private onsen baths and kaiseki multi-course feasts prepared using only seasonal ingredients. In Yumoto Kansuiro, you’ll even enjoy dinner served by kimono-wearing waitresses in the comfort of your room.
Stay: Ichinoyu Honkan (Standard) or Motoyu Kansuiro (Superior)
Days 7-8: Kyoto
A private driver will bring you to nearby Odawara Station where you’ll board a Shinkansen bullet train bound for Kyoto. You’ll then have two days to explore what is one of Asia’s most culturally rich cities. On your first day, perhaps familiarise yourself with some of the more central temples and shrines, making sure to leave time for walks through the grand Imperial Palace gardens. On your second day here, make use of the included private guide service. Once again, a local expert will be able to tailor-make a tour that suits you, 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 first established in 8th century.
Stay: Royal Park Hotel (Standard) or Granvia (Superior)
Day 9: Nara
Just 40 minutes out of Kyoto by local train, Nara is an ideal day trip. And, 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. However, Nara is best known for its grand Todaji Temple, home to a 15m tall, seated bronze Buddha.
Stay: Royal Park Hotel (Standard) or Granvia (Superior)
Day 10: Depart for UK
Your last train journey will be aboard the Haruka Express, bringing you directly to Kansai Airport in Osaka where you’ll board your flight back to the UK.
Day 11: Arrive in the UK
After your overnight flight, continue your onward journey home.
This trip has no fixed departures but restrictions may apply - check operator website
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