This trip was designed to experience Japan's highlights in style as it includes some of the country's finest hotels and ryokans. Explore the urban landscape of Tokyo and enjoy the serenity of Takayama before continuing onto the cultural capital of Kyoto and mountainside town of Hakone. Enjoy the balance of personal exploration along with expertly guided private tours and experiences that suit your tastes and needs. In a country renowned for its delicate beauty and intrinsic grace, Japan's diverse landscape offers opportunities for adventure that are excitingly unique and wildly entertaining.
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 be taken on a full day private tour of the city with a local guide. In order to get a real feel for Japan's capital, you will travel by public transport, just like the locals. On this fascinating introduction to Tokyo, you will have the chance to explore the classic highlights and best kept secrets. Following in the footsteps of your expert guide, you will discover the exclusive features of Tokyo, known only to locals. You are free to set the pace of the day to be as busy or relaxed as you want, as you get to grips with the excellent transport network.
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. Entrance fees and transport costs are covered for your tour today. 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.)
This evening you will be in for a fabulous evening in Tokyo with one of our Insiders. Hailing from all parts of the English-speaking world, our Insiders have made Tokyo their home and really know where all the best places are so you can be sure to see a side of Tokyo that is rarely if ever seen by first-time visitors. You'll be met at your hotel at 7:00 pm this evening by our Insider who will take you for dinner at an izakaya. At one of these tapas-style gastro pubs, you’ll have the chance to try some delicious, traditional dishes while also gaining local knowledge about eating out in Japan from a real expert. Food and the first couple of drinks are on us but if you feel like a few extra rounds with dinner you can always settle the bill on the night. After dinner, you're welcome to stay out for a few more drinks with your Insider or maybe take a walk to check out some neon-lit scenes of nighttime Tokyo. Whatever you choose, the night can be tailored to suit your style so if you want to move on to a more exclusive establishment for some post-dinner drinks or do a bit of back street bar-hopping, just ask your Insider and they will be pleased to oblige. After a night on the town, your Insider will need to leave you by 11 pm to catch the last train home. Of course, they'll be sure to leave you in a great place so that you can stay for a few more there, try another place or head back to the hotel. The choice is yours! (This service is on a private basis.)
Today the Shinkansen will speed you west to Nagoya at around 300km/hr, passing fairly close by Mt Fuji once it leaves suburban Tokyo so keep a look out the right side. You'll change to a limited express train at Nagoya and make your way up to Takayama in the Japanese Alps. Total journey time is around 4.5 hours, and you will be supplied with Green Car - First Class tickets.
The Hida, Kiso and Akaishi ranges of mountains, known collectively as the Japan Alps, rise majestically in northern Honshu. Mountains in Japan were once believed to be the sacred dwelling places of divine spirits. Takayama, in the heart of the Hida Mountains is a delightful town, established in the 16th century as the castle town of the Kanamori family and now famous throughout Japan for its old town area of narrow streets containing many well-preserved inns, tea houses, shops and merchants houses with the latticed windows and overhanging roofs characteristic of the Edo period. The town was also renowned throughout the Edo era (1603-1868) for the very high quality of its craftsmen and many of the temples in Kyoto were built by workers from Takayama. The town has many shrines and temples of its own giving rise to the title of 'Little Kyoto'.
Just on the outskirts of the town, is the fascinating Hida folk village where old farm houses from across the region have been brought together and rebuilt (beam by beam) on a hillside overlooking the town. Takayama's morning market on the bank of the Miyagawa River is famous and well worth a visit to see the stands selling local farm produce, flowers and crafts. There are also some great micro sake breweries affording the chance to sample the wares of Takayama's most famous product! A stay in Takayama is a chance to get a feel for a way of life that really has all but disappeared from modern Japan.
Today, you will be taken on a delicious 2.5 hour guided food and culture walk around Takayama. This will be a great chance to sample some of the famous local foods, such as Hida beef, sake and sweets. Your experienced local guide will teach you about the history, culture and daily life within the town, as you are led through the charming traditional wooden streets.
Along the way, you will stop at some of the shops that are popular with the locals. Highlights of this foodie adventure include a visit to the Harada Sake Brewery, the lively Miyakawa Morning Market that has been held since the Edo Period, and an old-fashioned coffee shop. Your tour includes the services of your guide, insurance and the local food and sake tastings. (This service is on a private basis.)
To make this journey it's a two and a half hour ride on the Limited Express from Takayama south to Nagoya, then just another 37 minutes further by Shinkansen west to Kyoto. You will be supplied with Green Car - First Class tickets.
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.
Today, you will be taken on a full day tour of Kyoto by public transport. Learning through the eyes of a local guide offers the best way to discover this city, that is so rich in UNESCO World Heritage sites, it can be hard to know where to begin! Your guide can offer the insight of a local's perspective, to truly reveal the city's authentic culture, iconic highlights and best kept secrets.
Your guide will meet you at the hotel around 9:00 AM, or any other time you choose this morning, from where you will begin your tour by public transport. Although Kyoto does offer an extensive bus route, we recommend taking a few taxis along the way as well, in order to speed things up and make the most of this experience. Please note that you will need to pay for your own lunch, but transport costs and entrance fees are included on the day of your tour. It will be time to say goodbye to your guide around 5:00 PM, either back at your hotel, or anywhere else in the city you may wish to spend the evening. (This service is on a private basis.)
For many people, the quintessential image of Japan is a graceful geisha in an exquisite kimono, darting through a sliding screen door into a traditional tea house. It’s a scene that embodies both the geisha’s beauty and mystery, as the geisha and their maiko apprentices move almost in secret, through a world largely hidden behind closed doors. Often misunderstood in the West, geisha are essentially artists. They are highly skilled in traditional arts and are masters of wordplay and social etiquette. Although geisha numbers have dropped dramatically since their heyday in the 1920's, in modern day Japan, they are also the caretakers of these traditions, making sure time-honored Japanese arts and crafts are not lost.
The majority of geisha live and work in Kyoto and are known as geiko in the local dialect. Gion is Kyoto’s most famous geisha district with a large concentration of ochaya tea houses, where the geiko entertain guests most evenings. Not just anyone can enter an ochaya however; in traditional Japanese society, hierarchy and social connections are everything, and most Japanese will never have the honor of an official invitation.
Fortunately, we have solidified a strong link with one ochaya run by a very hospitable hostess, who speaks good English. We will arrange a 45 minute visit for you, to receive a fascinating glimpse into the geisha world. Over a cup of green tea and a Japanese cake, you'll be entertained by a geisha or maiko, who will perform a traditional dance for you. An introduction to the life of a Geisha in Kyoto will be given in English, and you will also be able to take photos and ask any questions you may have. Please note that a visit to such a special tea house is subject to availability, and cannot be arranged at short notice. Date or time changes are also unlikely to be accommodated. (This service is on a private basis.)
Cooking Sun is a small local food school, perfect for international travelers who want to learn more about Japanese cuisine. The course is based out of a lovely old machiya, which is a traditional town house, located in central Kyoto. During this hands-on lesson, you will have the opportunity to cook 5 or 6 different Japanese dishes under the instruction of friendly English-speaking Japanese staff. These seasonal courses are designed by a professional chef named Yasuhiro Nakai.
Upon arrival to the school, you can enjoy an introduction briefing and tasty welcome drink, before getting your hands dirty. During this particular class, you will learn how to create a delicious 'Izakaya' style meal. This means several little dishes that you would find in Japanese gastropubs. Typical dishes you will learn to make include smashed cucumber salad with plum sauce, gyoza dumplings, grilled eggplant with miso sauce and cold beef shabu-shabu. Of course, you will have the opportunity to eat each dish and taste the delicious flavors of your hard work. Please note that dietary requirements can be catered for, so please let us know your preferences in advance, if necessary. This group experience has a maximum of just 8 participants, and will last from 2:00 PM to 5:30 PM. (This service is on a private basis.)
Today, you will travel to Hakone National Park, located in the foothills of Mount Fuji. You will take the Shinkansen from Kyoto to Odawara Station, which is the gateway to the National Park. Journey time is about 2 hours and 10 minutes in total and you will be provided with Ordinary reserved seat tickets.
Upon arrival at Odawara station, you will be greeted by a private taxi driver, who will be holding a sign with your name on it. Although your driver will probably not speak that much English, they will make sure you are transferred to your accommodation in Hakone safely and comfortably. This ride will take between 40-60 minutes. (This service is on a private basis.)
For your time in Hakone, you will be provided with the 3 Day Hakone Freepass. This pass is valid for three 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!
The Hakone region features an idyllic blend of scenery, culture and history. The classic circular sightseeing loop offers a great way to explore the area's best attractions, including beautiful Mount Fuji viewpoints, a scenic boat cruise on Lake Ashi and the Hakone checkpoint, which highlights the region's rich history.
You may also want to venture off the classic sightseeing route, to visit some of Hakone's fascinating museums and unique art displays. Or perhaps, you would rather treat yourself to a relaxing soak in one of the local hot-spring baths. Do like the Japanese do, and make the most of this natural attraction, enjoying a day of pampering yourself in the famous pristine waters!
You will make the journey from Hakone Yumoto to Shinjuku on the charming Romance Car Express. Thanks to the extra wide windows on this stylish train, you can marvel at the beautiful sights en route to Tokyo's Shinjuku station. You will be supplied with Limited Express tickets for this 90 minute direct transfer.
You will be picked up from your accommodation in Hakone this morning and transferred to Hakone Yumoto Station by private vehicle. Your driver will probably not speak that much English, but will ensure you get to the station safely and comfortably. Travel time is approximately 20-30 minutes. (This service is on a private basis.)
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.)
Featuring a rich legacy that goes back more than half a century, the Palace Hotel Tokyo is heir to some of the city’s most exclusive real estate. With a fascinating view of the city and a tranquil moat-side location adjacent to the Imperial Palace, the property opened with a splash in 2012, following a complete three year rebuild from the ground up. Guestrooms offer floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the picturesque palace gardens and the higher grade rooms even boast private balconies. All rooms are equipped with quality Japanese linen, spacious bathrooms, large flat screen TVs, DVD players and complimentary WiFi. Enjoy the Palace’s exquisite dining options, including Japanese, Chinese, French and Italian restaurants.
The Hanaougi Bettei Iiyama is one of the highest grade ryokans in Takayama, housed in a beautiful traditional building built with local cypress wood. The inn has a great number of natural hot spring baths and the higher grade guest rooms have private gardens and patios with outdoor hot spring baths; a real treat. The food is a highlight of a stay here and dinner will feature many seasonal specialities from Takayama and the wider Hida region including wild mushrooms, river fish and the famous Hida beef. The ryokan has a big lobby lounge, ramen shop for casual dining, bar and small souvenir shop. The location is a little out of the town center, but the ryokan offers a free shuttle bus service for the 7 minute drive to and from Takayama Station.
The luxurious Hyatt Regency Kyoto is a unique property that has successfully blended creative artwork and quality amenities, into a contemporary Japanese concept. Conveniently located just minutes from JR Kyoto Train Station, in the traditional and cultural district of the city, this property features idyllic rooms & suites to meet the needs of any traveler. Those seeking wellness and relaxation, will be lured by the elegant RIRAKU Spa treatments and those ready to explore, will love the hotel's close proximity to a variety city landmarks and attractions.
Gora Kadan exemplifies a fusion of tradition and personalization with captivating oriental charm. A perfect union of past and present, this magnificent property is set in the stunning context of the National Park of Hakone. Once a retreat for the Kaninnomiya Imperial family, this noble estate can be considered one of the area's most coveted treasures. This ancient Japanese hideaway offers a truly exquisite and unforgettable experience. The rooms at Gora Kadan are Japanese tradition at its best. As you walk around and through many of the passages, staircases, external and internal walkways, you begin to uncover a rich and detailed architecture and a rich interplay of solids and voids. Gora Kadan also offers a full service spa, offering an international menu of aromatherapy, thalasso therapy, Italian foot and leg treatments and Dead Sea salt therapy.
Hoshinoya Tokyo has introduced an entirely new concept to the Tokyo hotel scene: The hospitality and warmth of a traditional Japanese inn, but located at the top of a skyscraper in the capital's economic heart! The charming guest rooms are furnished with soft tatami mat flooring, bamboo embellishments on the sofas and wardrobes, shoji screens at the windows and Japanese fabrics throughout. With access to the entire city at your doorstep, you are only a short walk from Tokyo Station, Otemachi Station and even the Imperial Palace. The front desk is open 24 hours, so any request you have, day or night, may be engaged.
*Pricing is based on two persons traveling together, based on availability, subject to change.
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