It is the land of the future, with humanoid robots, bullet trains and bizarre subcultures. And yet, it lives in the past: centuries-old art forms like kabuki, sumi-e and haiku are still practiced, still cherished. Suit-clad businessmen walk the same streets as geishas garbed in kimonos. It is here that you will find ancient Shinto shrines and astoundingly avant-garde buildings. The Land of the Rising Sun refuses to be pigeonholed into a single era.
Tokyo is bizarre, mercurial and alive. It’s a hub of subcultures: Lolita fashion, cosplay and manga fandom. And yet, even as gadgets get outdated within a day, you’ll notice that old traditions live on. Ikebana arrangements are still found everywhere. And paper fortunes are still tied outside Shinto shrines. While many find this dichotomy baffling, it’s best not to dissect Tokyo’s culture. Enter Tokyo ready to experiment; you’ll find it most enthralling.
Kyoto, it seems, is jealous of her heritage. Enter the city with its concrete walls and neon lights, and you’d never suspect that it is here that the Japan of one’s imagination exists. Pagoda roofs partly obscured by branches of cherry blossom. Boatmen in conical hats guiding their boats down the river. Geishas teaching their apprentices the art of pouring sake. The heart of Kyoto is hidden to the casual observer; but show even the slightest inclination to explore and you will be rewarded with glimpses of exquisite beauty.
At Hakone you will see one of the most enduring symbols of Japan — Mount Fuji. Blessed with exceptional natural beauty, Hakone comes as a pleasant interlude. Here you can take a dip at an onsen (Japanese hot spring), eat eggs boiled in them, or go hiking. For those who want to get a taste of Japan’s great outdoors, Hakone is the place to be.
Nara boasts architecture and history that matches Kyoto’s (its more popular neighbour); but a fraction of the tourists. Here you will find some of Japan’s oldest and largest temples and poetry-inspiring scenes. Nara might be much more diffident than its famous neighbour, but it’s just as charming a host.
Home to the headquarters of Toyota and Mistubishi, Nagoya is something of a Mecca for car lovers. There’s also a 17th century castle; Atsuta Shrine, Japan’s second most venerable shrine; and best of all, few tourists. Nagoya is one of Japan’s best kept secrets.
Hiroshima has risen from the ashes as an avant-garde cosmopolitan with a great nightlife and excellent restaurants. True, the bombing has not been forgotten; but it’s remembered through eternally optimistic monuments. Hiroshima uses its traumatising past as a reason to be thankful for the present and embrace the future.
From exotic Japanese delicacies to elaborate tea ceremonies, ancient Shinto shrines to modern-day skyscrapers; it all comes together most beautifully in the cultural extravaganza that is also known as Japan.
Welcome to Japan. Once you arrive at Narita Airport, our local representative will greet you and escort you to your hotel where you will be spending the night.
After a hearty breakfast, proceed for a half day tour of Tokyo city. Visit the iconic Tokyo Tower, National Diet Building, Imperial Palace Plaza, Asakusa Kannon Temple and the Nakamise Shopping Arcade. Drive by Tokyo’s busiest train station, Ueno, also known as ‘Gateway to the North’. Spend the rest of the day at leisure. Overnight in Tokyo.
After breakfast, leave for Mt. Fuji. Visit the Fuji Visitor Centre and admire cultural art dedicated to Fujisan. Later, drive up to the Mt. Fuji 5th Station from where you have a vantage view of Japan’s stunning landscape. Enjoy a traditional Japanese meal at lunch. Then, drive to Togendai and take a ride on the Hakone Ropeway. Get down at Owakudani Valley to observe the active volcano and hot water springs. Return to Togendai and take a ride in the Pirate Boat. Drive through Hakone-machi and then depart to Odawara Station for your train to Kyoto. In Kyoto, check into your hotel where you will spend the night.
After breakfast, go see the Nijo Castle, the Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavilion) which houses the sacred relics of the Buddha and the ancient Kyoto Imperial Palace (Kyoto Gosho). After lunch, drive to Nara where you will visit Todaiji Temple and see the Great Buddha, Japan’s biggest Buddha statue. Later, see Nara Park, Kasuga Taisha Shrine and Nara Nagomikan. Spend the night in Kyoto.
Spend the day exploring the culturally rich city of Kyoto. You will find that a bicycle is the fastest and best way to get around the city and you can rent one for as cheap as 1,000 Yen.
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast and spend the day at will until departure. Travel to Kansai Airport to board your flight home.
Japan’s history, architectural accomplishments and natural beauty make their presence felt in this action-packed holiday. Spend nine days in fascinated discovery.
Welcome to Japan. Once you arrive at Narita Airport, our local representative will greet you and escort you to your hotel where you will stay the night.
Take a tour of Tokyo by coach. Visit the Meiji Jingu Shrine, the Imperial Palace East Garden, Sensoji Temple and Nakamise Shopping Arcade. Later, you will go on a leisurely Tokyo Bay cruise, and end your day with a visit to the Odaiba area.
After a delicious breakfast at your hotel, take the coach to Nikko, where you will visit the Nikko Toshogu Shrine and take the Irohazaka zigzag driveway up to the mountains. After a traditional Japanese lunch at a restaurant, you will visit Lake Chuzenji and the KegonnoTaki waterfall. Drive back to your hotel in Tokyo, where you will stay the night.
Set off to the country’s most beautiful geographic icon, Mt. Fuji. Visit the Fuji Visitor Centre and admire cultural art dedicated to Fujisan. Later, drive up to the Mt. Fuji 5th Station from where you have a vantage view of Japan’s stunning landscape. Savour traditional Japanese cuisine at lunch. Later, head to Hakone for a cruise on Lake Ashi. Take the Hakone Ropeway (an aerial lift) to the Owakudani valley. Overnight at Hakone.
Check out of your hotel this morning and take a Shinkansen (bullet train) from Odawara Station to Kyoto. After lunch, continue your journey to Nara by coach. Visit the Todaiji Temple, where you can admire a magnificent statue of the Buddha. Explore the Kasuga Shrine with its 3,000 lanterns; and Nara Park, where several herds of deer roam free. Check in at your hotel in Kyoto, where you will spend the night.
Spend the day wandering around Kyoto. Your sightseeing tour spans Nijo Castle, Kinkakuji Temple and Kyoto Imperial Palace. After lunch, explore the Heian Jingu Shrine, Sanjusangendo Hall (where you will see 1,001 images of the Buddha), and Kiyomizudera Temple. Overnight in Kyoto.
Set off to Kyoto station this morning, where you will take the Shinkansen to Hiroshima. On reaching, take the coach to the Itsukushima Jinja shrine at Miyajima Island, and the Peace Memorial Park. Return to Kyoto by the bullet train. Overnight in Kyoto.
The day has been kept free for you to explore Kyoto on your own. Go shopping, sample the fare at the local restaurants, or simply find a park bench from which to absorb the spirit of the city.
The day is yours to spend as you please, until the time comes for you to travel to Kansai Airport to board your flight home.