This action packed tour includes the classic highlights and hidden treasures of Japan along with fun filled experiences to make lasting memories! You are invited to uncover the best-kept secrets of this iconic destination. Try your hand at making delicious tempura in Tokyo, stay in a traditional ryokan in Hakone, learn samurai swordsmanship in Kyoto, and bow to the friendly deer in Nara. From quiet zen temples to colorful and quirky neighborhoods, there is something begging to be discovered around every corner.
Welcome to Japan! Your adventure begins upon arrival at Tokyo's Narita Airport. Your driver will be waiting in the arrivals lobby, holding a sign with your name on it. They will transfer you by private vehicle to your accommodation in Tokyo, making for a smooth and comfortable start to your trip. Narita Airport is located 40 miles to the east of Tokyo, so the drive into the city will take around 90 minutes, depending on traffic. Sit back, relax and enjoy the views of Tokyo's skyscrapers as you approach your destination. (This service is on a private basis.)
You will be provided with Manaca cards today, Nagoya’s version of the IC card. You will be able to use this throughout your time in Japan for traveling on buses, subways, overground railways and in some places you will even be able to pay for taxis, buy drinks from vending machines and pay for your bento in a convenience store! Your card comes with 2,500 yen of credit and can be topped up in any major city at the automatic ticket machines at any station. And don't worry - instructions in English are provided! We are sure you will get great use out of this during your trip and can have that satisfying feeling of travelling like a local! All in all, an essential accessory for any visit to Japan.
We have also included the rental of a mobile WiFi device for you, which will be delivered to your first hotel. This means that you can enjoy the ease and comfort of having WiFi on the move and at all of your accommodations, which will make it a breeze to stay in touch with friends or browse the internet on your smartphone or laptop! The wi-fi can be shared with up to 10 devices. We have also included full insurance for you, in case of any loss or damage. At the end of your stay, you will simply return the device in the pre-paid envelope provided. The internet provider for your WiFi device is AU. This has wide coverage across Japan, including most small islands and rural areas. There is unlimited data usage.
One quarter of all Japanese live in Tokyo or the near vicinity and with a population of over 12 million inhabitants, Tokyo is one of the largest cities in the world. With its huge skyscrapers, underpasses, overpasses and crowds of pedestrians, Tokyo may not seem the most attractive city on the surface, but the city has a vibrant charm all of its own. The street level detail is what makes Tokyo such an incredibly interesting place to explore and at every turn you will be met with an array of sights, sounds and smells to enliven the senses. The city has many major sights to visit such as Senso-ji Temple in the old downtown area of Asakusa or the fashion hub of Shibuya from where all new trends are said to emanate. All in all a stay in Tokyo is to experience one of the world's most vibrant and interesting cities; a capital hurtling headlong into the future while maintaining its links with the traditions of ancient Japan.
Today you will have the services of a local professional guide for a private tour of Tokyo. Our guides speak excellent English and have a wealth of knowledge to share. With the guide’s expert help, you'll get to grips with Japanese culture and history while gaining a useful orientation of the city.
Your guide will tailor the day’s itinerary around the weather, special events, and most importantly around your children’s ages and interests. They will meet you at your hotel and from there you could visit Tokyo's classic sights, or perhaps your family is looking for something a bit different? Instead of ticking off the "must-see" temples, why not visit residential playgrounds, video arcades, wacky theme restaurants, or fashion stores?
Your guide will meet you at the hotel around 9:00 AM this morning, or any other time you may prefer. Rather than making a fixed itinerary in advance, you will have full flexibility to select the attractions and activities that interest you. This means that you will need to pay for any entrance fees on the day of your tour, in addition to your transport costs. In order to make the most of this experience, please let us know if you have any specific areas of interest, and we will pass that on to your guide in advance. Around 5:00 PM, your tour will end either back to your hotel, or anywhere else in the city that you may wish to spend the evening. (This service is on a private basis.)
While eating Japanese cuisine is the highlight of any trip to Japan, it's nothing compared to learning how to cook it yourself. Today, you'll join local foodie Yoshimi for an in-depth lesson in everyday Japanese cooking. Yoshimi prides herself on using simple, fresh ingredients to prepare hearty food that you can recreate at home.
Step one of Yoshimi's classes is an introduction to Japanese seasonings such as soy sauce, miso, sake, and mirin. You'll learn how these are made, and the differences they can make to any Japanese dish. Next, Yoshimi will brief you on table manners so you'll soon be using chopsticks like a pro. Then the main bulk of your class is preparing an everyday Japanese dish. Following Yoshimi's demonstration, it'll be your turn to get hands-on in the kitchen and cook up a storm.
In today's cooking class, you'll be making tempura. You'll be shown simple tips to make perfectly light and crispy tempura batter. The tempura comes with two side dishes and miso soup. Classes have a maximum of six participants. Aprons are provided, and all food and drink, a complimentary dessert and recipe cards are included. (This service is on a group basis.)
Today, you will be provided with tickets for Tokyo's newest iconic landmark: the Tokyo Skytree! The 634 m high tower is the hottest destination in town and saw an incredible 16.6 million visitors in the first 100 days following its opening in May 2012. This is the tallest tower in the world (and the second tallest structure in the world, after the Burj Khalifa in Dubai) and the observation decks located at 350 m and 450 m, offer unparalleled views over Tokyo, arguably the world’s largest metropolis. On clear days you can even see Mount Fuji in the distance towering above the city and its low-lying foothills. But even when the weather isn't so good, the view of Tokyo is genuinely awe-inspiring.
Your ticket allows entry at a designated 30 minute time slot, enabling you to skip the lengthy queues. The ticket gives you access to the first observation deck only. If you would like to go all the way up to the second viewpoint, you can buy an extra ticket for this on the day (1,030 yen per person). There is also a fairly large shopping complex at the base of the tower, as well as the Sumida Aquarium, should you wish to extend your visit. If you would like to have lunch at Skytree's excellent restaurant 'Musashi', let us know and we can arrange a reservation for you in advance of your visit.
From the Shinjuku Station today, you will take the Odakyu Railway's "Romance Car" train all the way to Hakone Yumoto station in the heart of the Hakone National Park. It's a comfortable ride and the wide windows afford great views from start to finish. The journey takes around 85 minutes.
You will be met on arrival at Hakone Yumoto Station by a driver who will take you by private taxi to your accommodation. Your driver won't speak much English but will ensure you get to your accommodation swiftly and comfortably. Travel time is in the region of 20-30 minutes. (This service is on a private basis.)
For your time in Hakone, you will be provided with the 2 Day Hakone Freepass. This pass is valid for two days from today and entitles you to unlimited use of 6 different forms of transport in the Hakone region. These include the mountain buses and railway, one of the longest cable cars in Japan, a funicular railway and even a pirate ship that cruises across Lake Ashi. Between all of these different options, you will be able to easily explore the entire region and make the most of your stay. The pass also offers small discounts at many attractions in the area, so be sure to show your pass when purchasing any tickets.
Hakone is a beautiful National Park region nestled beside Mount Fuji, Japan's most sacred peak. The area showcases a handful of small villages and hamlets, all connected by a variety of local transport routes that wind through the charming hillsides and valleys. Hakone offers plenty to see and do, from tasting eggs boiled in volcanic waters, to boarding a boat cruise across Lake Ashi. The outdoor sculpture park and Picasso gallery is a great place to spend a unique afternoon. An enticing dip in one of the famous therapeutic hot spring baths is always a good idea as well! However, it is Hakone's close proximity to the iconic Mount Fuji, that truly makes this destination so popular. With its near perfect symmetrical form, soaring through the sky above the surrounding hills, it is an attraction that makes a trip to Japan complete. From Hakone, you have one of the best chances to admire Mount Fuji's epic beauty, although she is a notoriously shy mountain!
Today we will arrange for you to have the services of a local professional guide to help you get the most out of your time in Hakone. This will be a fantastic introduction to the National Park; highlights include Owakudani Volcano, cruising across Lake Ashi and exploring the old Tokaido Trail – a feudal era trade route.
Your guide will meet you at 9:00 AM (or any time you choose). Together you'll travel around Hakone using the National Park’s excellent network of buses, railways, cable cars, and even a pirate boat. Transport is covered by your Hakone Freepass. Please note you will need to pay for lunch and any entrance fees. Your day of guiding will finish at 5:00 PM with the guide dropping you back at your accommodation. (This service is on a private basis.)
After an enchanting experience in Hakone, you will be driven by private car from your hotel to Odawara Station. This transfer will take between 35 and 45 minutes. (This service is on a private basis.)
From Odawara, you will travel to Kyoto, Japan's ancient capital and the cultural center of the nation. The journey to Kyoto will see you racing down Japan's eastern seaboard by Shinkansen and takes 2 hours 10 minutes.
'Kenbu' literally translates to ‘sword dance’ and is the name given to a traditional style of Japanese dancing with a katana sword and fan. During the feudal period, samurai performed kenbu in order to hone their mental concentration and summon up strength before a battle. You may remember a kenbu scene in the film, "The Last Samurai". The dance is usually accompanied by Japanese poems set to music.
This afternoon we will arrange for you to visit a kenbu studio where you'll first see a kenbu demonstration by experienced practitioners. This will set the scene for the hour lesson that follows - it's now your turn to dress up as a samurai and learn a range of basic swordplay techniques, fan dances and ancient samurai etiquette. By the end of the session you'll know a choreographed sequence of steps which you can film and show your friends back home! (This service is on a group basis.)
Kyoto is one of the most culturally rich cities in all of Asia. Home to 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites, over 1,600 Buddhist temples and 400 Shinto shrines, this ancient city showcases the heart and soul of traditional Japan. Kyoto boasts a variety of world class gardens, majestic festivals and delicate cuisine, which collaborate into something truly beautiful. The colorful changing seasons, feature a different adventure in itself, during every time of year. At first glance, Kyoto appears to have its fair share of neon and concrete, typical of large Japanese cities. However, you will quickly be able to pick out Kyoto’s charming treasures - sacred shrines tucked between shopping arcades, time-honored tea houses nestled amidst modern businesses and mysterious geishas scuttling down backstreets between tourists.
After a hearty breakfast, you will be accompanied by a local professional guide today. This is the best way to explore Kyoto, a city so rich in UNESCO World Heritage sites that it can be hard to know where to start! Our carefully-selected guides will reveal Kyoto’s intricate culture, introducing you to famous must-see spots as well as secret corners of the city that only the locals know.
Your guide will meet you at your hotel at 9:00 AM (or any time you choose). Together you'll travel around the city by public transport. While Kyoto has an extensive bus network we recommend taking a few taxis to speed things up. Please note you will need to pay for transport, lunch and any entrance fees on the day. Your day of guiding will finish at 5:00 PM with the guide either dropping you back at your hotel or anywhere else in the city you wish to spend the evening. (This service is on a private basis.)
From its ancient origins, as military exercise and entertainment in castles and shrines, taiko drumming has evolved into ensemble drumming, amusing audiences across the world. Requiring nothing more than a willingness to learn, a taiko drumming class is a fantastic way to immerse yourself deeper into the Japanese culture. Not to mention, it’s a great work out too! Today, you are invited to join a group taiko drumming lesson, where you will learn the basic rhythms of this traditional instrument. Skill after skill, you will be able to create your very own stage worthy performance by the end of the class. The session is taught in English and will last about 1.5 hours. Please note that you will need to make your own way to the taiko studio, but you will be provided with full transportation instructions. (This service is on a group basis.)
Today, you may be interested in taking a day trip to Nara. This city lies just 40 minutes by local train from Kyoto and is renowned for the wealth of its Buddhist and Shinto heritage. Formerly, Nara was the end of the Silk Road, making it the first area to see Buddhist teaching transition across the ocean from China and into Japan. In 710, Nara became the first permanent capital of Japan, during which time the large monasteries rapidly gained in political power and influence. This resulted in frequent bloodshed, as the different sects fought for supremacy and power. It was because of this, that in 784 the capital was moved away from Nara, in order to protect the position of the Emperor and the central government.
Today, Nara retains many dramatic attractions as reminders of its former power and influence. The huge wooden structure that houses the Big Buddha, is the world's largest wooden building, despite the current structure being even a third smaller than the original! The myriad of shrines and temples are set against a beautiful backdrop of low lying mountains. In the midst of the Nara Park, which is famously home to a vast population of pesky deer, you will find these furry friends wandering about town, completely unfazed by tourists. Although given the chance, they will gladly munch on anything can get their noses into, so beware! Trains run regularly between Kyoto and Nara starting shortly after 5:00 AM and continuing until late in the evening.
From Kyoto, you will take the JR Local line to Osaka station. The journey takes about 30 minutes.
Today, we recommend a visit to Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan, one of the largest aquariums in the world! This fantastic butterfly shaped building is home to a massive whale shark in the world's largest aquarium tank. After taking an elevator to the top of the aquarium, you will slowly wind your way down, through displays of life found on eight ocean levels. It's quite an eerie feeling, as you pass giant spider crabs and a wealth of other sea life in the ocean depths section. Some of the tanks stretch over several floors, making it possible to observe the marine life from a variety of depths and perspectives. The aquarium is open from 10:00am until 8:00pm and is a 20 minute subway ride from Osaka's Namba Station.
We are unable to provide tickets in advance, but these are easily obtained online prior to your trip!
This evening, you will join an English-speaking guide on a street food safari of Osaka’s famous Dotonbori area! Running alongside the beautiful canal, this brightly lit street is packed with restaurants and food stalls, serving up some of Osaka’s tastiest cuisine. This foodie’s paradise makes for the perfect culinary adventure for the senses!
Dotonbori is typically crowded with visitors and locals vying for entry to the city's best restaurants. On this 3 hour tour, you will venture off the beaten path, to uncover hidden izakayas and bars, known only to locals. Enjoy a sample of Osaka's finest specialties, including octopus dumplings and kushikatsu fried skewers. This tour offers the chance to experience Osaka’s nightlife as a true, fun loving local, rather than as a tourist. At the end of your excursion, you can either continue to explore the vibrant Dotonbori and Nanba areas on your own, or return to your hotel. Please note that your tour includes street food, sit down restaurant food, a drink and dessert. You are welcome to order more of anything that you wish, however it will be on your own account. Your tour group will consist of no more than 10 people, promising an intimate and personalized experience. (This service is on a group basis.)
We will be supplying you with tickets for the journey from Shin-Osaka to Kyoto. The journey takes around 25 minutes.
From Kyoto, you will make the 2.5 hour Shinkansen journey to Tokyo today. Not long past Shizuoka, take a look out the left side windows of the train, for sightings of the enchanting Mount Fuji! You will be provided with Ordinary Nozomi Super Express tickets for this transfer.
We have made a reservation for you this evening at Ninja Akasaka. On arrival, you'll be led through a secret maze and trapdoor to the restaurant where your ninja serves you throughout dinner. Ninja magicians are also on hand for some tableside entertainment. Among many themed restaurants in Japan, this ninja-themed restaurant is one of the best in both atmosphere and food, and they also accommodate many dietary requests. You will need to pay on the day for your meal and any drinks. We have pre-booked this course for you this evening. It will cost 7,000 yen (not including tax and service charges).
Unfortunately, your journey through Japan must come to an end today. We have arranged a private taxi service from your hotel to the Tokyo Narita Airport, so you can end your adventure in comfort and style. This ride will be about 90 minutes, depending on traffic conditions. You will be dropped off directly at the door of the Narita Airport departures lobby, making for a seamless transition to your flight.
We hope you had a wonderful trip and we wish you safe and happy travels home! (This service is on a private basis.)
A great alternative to a hotel stay, Hundred Stay offers sleek, modern apartments in a great location in the Shinjuku district on the western side of central Tokyo. The apartments are furnished well, with Simmons beds, BOSE audio equipment and iPod docking station. Situated on the 13th floor upwards, the apartments offer great views of Tokyo, giving you a real sense of living in this amazing city. Your apartment offers 2 bedrooms, a bathroom, a lounge and dining area, and a small kitchen with cooking facilities and a washing machine. The service at Hundred Stay goes beyond the accommodations themselves, with facilities including a gym, lounge, library and business center. The location is excellent; a 15-min walk from Shinjuku station, with several subway and overland stations also within a few minutes walk.
Built with the aim of creating harmony between traditional Japanese hospitality and nature, the Hakone Kowakien Tenyu is a wonderful addition to the Hakone National Park's luxury ryokan scene. Opened in 2017, the inn is simple, yet beautifully decorated, with traditional tatami-mat floors, muted color schemes, and dark wood finishings. Each guestroom has its own private, open-air hot spring bath and Western-style beds in place of futon mattresses. There is an in-house spa with a full menu of spa treatments, and a large infinity-style outdoor hot spring bath overlooking the mountains. The inn also offers morning yoga lessons in the garden and serves outstanding seasonal food in the in-house restaurant.
In Kyoto you will be staying at Anzu-An. This is a lovingly restored Machiya, a traditional Kyoto townhouse. You will have exclusive use of the house, which features two bedrooms (one Western style, one Japanese style), a dining area and kitchen, a bathroom, washroom and a discreet computer corner with a laptop. The dining area can also be used as a third bedroom, if need be. This two story wood-built cottage boasts its own Japanese style garden and is set in a great location, a short walk from Kawaramachi Station. It comes with everything you could possibly need, including a Skype phone and Plasma TV, washing machine and dryer, kitchenware and tableware, a microwave, fridge and air conditioning in all rooms. There is even a convenience store and plenty of restaurants nearby too.
*Pricing is based on two persons traveling together, based on availability, subject to change.
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