Cultural Excursion

Authentic Japan: Old & New

Tokyo, Japan

We customize every trip

Prices From: $2,876 per person

Delve into Japan's history in Matsumoto and Tsumago

This custom itinerary is designed to show you many sides of Japan rarely experienced by the casual visitor. The trip is perfectly balanced with a mix of structure and plenty of free time to allow you to explore Japan at your own pace. You will have all the support you need, from meet and greet on arrival to a personalized info-pack with a plethora of truly useful information designed specifically to your trip.

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1 - Tokyo Arrival

You will be met on arrival at Tokyo Narita Airport today and taken by shuttle bus to your hotel in Tokyo. Please note that as other people will be in the same bus there may be a few stops before you arrive at your hotel (maximum of 3 other stops). Journey time is around 2 hours and this is a comfortable and easy way to make today's transfer. Look out for some great views as you ride the elevated highways into town!

Overnight: Ibis Tokyo Shinjuku

Day 2 - Tokyo City Tour

Today you will take a full day private tour of the city with a local guide, traveling by public transport, as Tokyoites do, in order to help you to get a real feel for the Japan's capital. This will be a fantastic introduction to the city and you can ask your guide any questions you may have about Tokyo and life in Japan. Your guide will meet you at your hotel at around 8:00 AM (or any time you choose) to meet you and your day will proceed from there. Your day of guiding will finish at around 4:00 PM with the guide either dropping you back at your hotel or anywhere else in the city you wish to spend the evening. Some places we suggest prioritizing in Tokyo are Asakusa's Sensoji temple, a Sumida-gawa river boat cruise, Hama-rikyu gardens, shopping in Harajuku, Meiji Shrine and the bright lights of Shinjuku. Please note that entrance fees and lunch are not included and will need to be paid for on the day. Local transport is also not included, but your Pasmo can be used for this!

Overnight: Ibis Tokyo Shinjuku (Breakfast Included)

Day 3 - Tokyo

Armed with your complimentary Info-Pack and map, 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. 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 is made up of districts each with their own distinctive flavor and atmosphere. 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.

Overnight: Ibis Tokyo Shinjuku (Breakfast Included)

Day 4 - Shinjuku - Matsumoto

Today your destination is a remote, "un-touristy" section of the Japan Alps! Depart Tokyo for Matsumoto, an alpine city surrounded on all sides by the towering peaks of the Japan Alps. The city is most famous for its original castle, but also boasts a number of sake breweries, hidden in backstreets amongst the traditional buildings, a good museum of Ukiyoe woodblock prints, and delicious soba noodles. The city has a relaxed atmosphere yet cosmopolitan feel befitting a city renowned for its musicians and authors. The direct express train to Matsumoto leaves from Tokyo's Shinjuku Station. Journey time is about 2.5 hours as the train takes you out through the suburbs of Tokyo before you reach the open countryside with paddy fields, rivers, lakes and of course, the steep-sided peaks of the Japan Alps.

Overnight: Nunoya Ryokan (Breakfast Included)

Day 5 - Matsumoto - Nagiso - Tsumago

Today delve further into the alps, to the exceedingly charming town of Tsumago. Once a post town on the Nakasendo highway linking Kyoto with Matsumoto, today it's a well-preserved town, where power lines are hidden away and cars banned from the main roads, ensuring that the beautiful traditional buildings and flag-stone streets can be seen in their true glory. Tsumago is situated in the picturesque Kiso Valley and the hike between Tsumago and Magome along the old post route is highly recommended. To get here you will board the train to Nagiso (1 hour), then a 5-minute taxi to Tsumago. The taxi will cost around 2,000 yen. Full details will be provided in your Info-Pack.

Overnight: Minshuku Daikichi (Breakfast and Dinner Included)

Day 6 - Tsumago

Enjoy a full free day exploring the Kiso Valley. The walk between the villages of Tsumago and Magome is a great way to soak up the traditional atmosphere. The Nakasendo was one of the five routes used to travel between Tokyo and Kyoto during the Edo period and walking it will reveal a side of Japan seldom seen by either foreigners or Japanese alike. Waterfalls, stone paths, mountain views, and tiny villages all make this a walk that truly shouldn't be missed! You will need to pay on the day for any entrance fees or local transport, but this is unlikely to run to much, as the area is best enjoyed on foot.

Overnight: Minshuku Daikichi (Breakfast and Dinner Included)

Day 7 - Tsumago - Nagiso - Kyoto

Today it is time to depart for Kyoto. From Nagiso station you will board a train to Nagoya (just over an hour), where you will change to the Shinkansen to reach Kyoto (35-50 minutes). You should be able to spot the Sanyo Solar Arc on the way, just past Gifu Hashima station.

Overnight: Machiya Residence "Kohakuan"

Day 8 - Kyoto City Tour

Today enjoy the company and insight of your private local guide. Your guide will meet you at around 9:00 AM and take you on a 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. Please let us know in advance if there are any sights you particularly wish to see, or areas of interest you have, as we can pass this information on to the guide for you. Your day 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: Machiya Residence "Kohakuan"

Day 9 - Kyoto

A free day to explore Kyoto at your leisure.

Overnight: Machiya Residence "Kohakuan"

Day 10 - Cycling Tour Of Kyoto

Today you will be able to enjoy a private cycling tour around Kyoto accompanied by an attendant. The recommended half day Back Street Tour visits Miyagawacho and the Gion Geisha districts, as well as the old streets around the Shirakawa-river and the Kyoto Imperial Palace Park. Where you go is open to your input and interests. Accident insurance and entrance fees are included (for sites mentioned). In the case of bad weather, please note that we recommend making this a walking tour instead.

Overnight: Machiya Residence "Kohakuan"

Day 11 - Kyoto - Tokyo

Today it is time to return to Tokyo. You will board the bullet train, and journey time is between 2.5 to 3 hours. Not long past Shizuoka keep your eyes open for the views of Mt. Fuji from the left side windows of the train.

Overnight: Hotel Villa Fontaine Shiodome

Day 12 - Tokyo Departure

You will transfer by shuttle bus today to Tokyo Narita Airport, the driver will wait for you at the lobby of the hotel with a sign with your name on it. Please note that as other people will be in the same bus there may be a few stops before you arrive at the airport (maximum of 3 other stops). Journey time is around 2 hours and this is a comfortable and easy way to make today's transfer.

(Breakfast Included)

Accommodation Information

Ibis Tokyo Shinjuku

This is in an unbeatable location in the heart of Shinjuku, just minutes on foot from the station and with numerous restaurants and shops on its doorstep. The hotel has its own bar, café and restaurant and offers compact but clean and comfortable rooms. A handy coin laundry is available and there is an internet computer in the lobby. A great base from which to do some sightseeing, shopping and eating.

Nunoya Ryokan

Nunoya is a delightful Japanese style inn located in the lovingly preserved old town area. This 80 year old ryokan is housed in a 3 storey wooden building. Rooms are clean and well kept with an authentic Japanese simplicity of touch. As is traditional, the rooms do not have attached bath but the shared Japanese style bath is available for private use.

Minshuku Daikichi

Daikichi is an authentic old style minshuku (small family-run traditional accommodation) known for its warm welcome and local cuisine. The Minshuku has just 5 guest rooms. Rooms are not en-suite but there is a shared bath which can be used privately.

Machiya Residence "Kohakuan"

This is a lovingly restored "machiya," a traditional Kyoto townhouse. The house is on two storeys and has its own lovely Japanese style garden. You will have exclusive use of the house which has 2 bedrooms (one western style, one Japanese style), a dining area and kitchen, a bathroom, two washrooms and a discreet computer corner (laptop provided). The dining table and cushions as well as the bedding are hand-made by skilled Kyoto craftspeople. The woodbuilt cottage is in a great location a short walk from Tofukuji Station (one stop from Kyoto main station) and just a short taxi ride from Gion. Tofukuji Temple, Sennyuji Temple and the World Heritage Sanjusangen-do hall are just 10 minutes on foot.

Hotel Villa Fontaine Shiodome

Your hotel for your last evening in Tokyo is the The Villa Fontaine, a well-located and clean hotel just a short walk from Shimbashi Station and close to Ginza. This brand new hotel has excellent design and compact but modern en-suite rooms.


Region: Asia - North and East



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General Information

The price includes:

  • Meals as indicated in itinerary
  • All accommodations as indicated in itinerary
  • All transfers as indicated in itinerary
  • Manaca IC Transport Card
  • Japan Rail Pass (7-Day Pass)
  • 8 Hours Private Guide Service In Tokyo
  • 8 Hours Private Guide Service In Kyoto
  • Cycling tour of Kyoto
  • Comprehensive tailor-made Info-Pack
  • Full telephone support from English-speaking staff in Japan
  • Full support before, during & after your trip

The price excludes:

  • International and domestic flights
  • Meals not indicated
  • Taxes & Fees
  • Travel insurance (recommended)
  • Tips and gratuities where appropriate
  • Expenses of a purely personal nature
  • Entrance fees to shrines, temples, museums etc. unless otherwise stated above
  • Baggage Handling
  • Services not mentioned