Explore the Land of the Rising Sun by rail
Ancient ceremonies meet 21st century technology in this astonishing country of contrasts. This fascinating tour goes a long way to interpret the mystery of Japan as we cross the country on high-speed bullet trains. Join us for 13 days as we explore the 'Land of the Rising Sun' by rail.
We depart on the overnight flight from London Heathrow and arrive in Tokyo on Day 2 to be met by our Japanese guide. We transfer to our hotel for our first night in Japan, where we enjoy a welcome drink berfore having dinner together this evening to celebrate the start of our adventure.
Today we take a full-day tour of Tokyo by coach, discovering the sights of this incredible city. Our guided tour includes a visit to the ancient Asakusa Kannon Temple, as well as taking in the Meiji Shrine. Later we visit Nakajima no Ochaya, a tea house in the Hamarikyu Garden that dates back to 1704, where there is the opportunity to sample authentic Japanese tea and traditional sweets.
We also visit the world famous Shibuya crossing, which is said to be the busiest intersection in the world. We also spend time at the Edo Tokyo Museum*, where exhibits depict the fascinating history of Japan's capital during the peaceful Edo period. The last era of feudal rule in Japan, the Edo period spanned from 1603-1867, and is considered one of the most significant times in Japanese history.
*Due to renovation of the museum, early departures do not include Edo Museum. Please call for more details.
Today, after a morning at leisure, we continue to Hakone by train, travelling in a 'Romance Car' (observation car) on the picturesque narrow-gauge line. On arrival, we tour the spectacular Hakone National Park. Lying in the foothills of Mount Fuji, Hakone is a stunning area of lakes, forests and hot springs. We take a cable car to the sulphurous hot springs at Owakudani, after which we descend to Lake Ashi for a short cruise. We then transfer to our hotel for the night, and enjoy dinner together.
This morning we travel by coach to Mount Fuji, arguably Japan's most distinctive landmark. Driving along the foot of the famous mountain, we arrive at the Mount Fuji Visitor Centre to learn more about the snow-capped peak. We also stop at Oishi Park, which boasts of unparalleled views of the iconic Japanese mountains. Later we enjoy a visit to Matsumoto Castle, an impressive fortress completed in 1593. Built on a plain, this five-storey fortification is a celebrated National Treasure of Japan. We then overnight in Matsumoto.
Our tour continues by coach today, as we travel to Takayama. Set deep in the mountains, Takayama is a fascinating town of narrow streets and wooden houses, which appear almost untouched by time. On arrival, we enjoy a walking tour of the fascinating city, taking in Kami Sannomachi Street and Jinya Old House
After our tour, we take an excursion to the nearby Hida Folk Village, an open air museum of rustic farm dwellings depicting the traditional architectural styles found in the mountains. Set on a hillside overlooking the idyllic Takayama Valley, some of the buildings in the picturesque village date back 500 years.
After exploring here, we return to Takayama, where we spend the night at the Hotel Associa Takayama.
This morning, we visit Miyagawa morning market. This afternoon, we enjoy a journey on the Hida Train to Nagoya, continuing onwards by bullet train to Hiroshima. Having seen devastation in World War II, Hiroshima is now a symbol of peace.
Today we travel by tram and boat to Miyajima Island, where we leave modern life behind in the tranquility of the wooded island. During our time on the island we enjoy a walking tour, which includes a visit to the beautiful Itsukushima Shrine. Your afternoon is free in Hiroshima.
This morning we visit the World Peace Memorial Park and the A-Bomb Dome Museum, both poignant reminders of the destruction levied here in 1945. We also listen to a talk from a Hiroshima survivor or successor. Later we travel to Kyoto which was the Japanese capital for more than a thousand years and is a living museum of the country's artistic heritage. Afterwards, we take a walking tour of the Gion. Later we enjoy a dinner in Pontocho Alley, a lantern-lit street lined with traditional wooden buildings. Famed for its archaic atmosphere, this traffic-free alleyway is one of the few places in modern Japan where you may catch a glimpse of a real-life Geisha.
A morning of sightseeing on Day 10 takes us to the Kinkakuji Temple, Nijo Castle and the Kiyomizu Temple. In the afternoon we enjoy a traditional tea ceremony in a thatched farmhouse set amongst formal gardens.
We visit Nara today, another former capital and a short train ride away from Kyoto. Nara is an attractive, compact city of narrow streets set against a backdrop of wooded hills. Here we enjoy a walking tour, taking in the beautiful Todai-ji Temple, the largest wooden building in the world and its Great Buddha, Kasuga Shrine and the Deer Park.
We travel by coach to Osaka today, a futuristic city, which we are introduced to on a guided tour. We visit the observatory in the iconic Umeda Sky Building, where we enjoy panoramic views over Osaka and its castle, ahead of a farewell dinner tonight.
We depart this morning for Osaka airport for the flight to London Heathrow, via Hong Kong, arriving in the evening on the same day. On arrival in London, your tour concludes.
Please note that while every departure of this tour will feature the same excursions, the order may differ from that shown above.
Some hotels may vary. All alternative hotels are of a comparable standard.
Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with our dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We write to all booked customers approximately 10 weeks prior to the start of their tour to advise the exact departure and return time for their particular group.
An escorted experience and all travel arrangements
Comfortable accommodation in your destination
Delicious meals included
Exciting excursions and free time to explore
British Citizens do not require a visa to enter Japan.
of travellers would recommend this tour
based on 11 verified reviews
Excellent tour manager and local guides but hotel accommodation standard was rather variable: one or two smart hotels and several that needed a refresh. Itinerary was interesting but quite demanding.
An amazing experience of a culture so totally different from our own. Superb accommodation and visits to outstanding sights and sites. Horoshima was deeply, deeply moving. Another visit at some stage is a must.
The organisation cannot be faulted. Everything arrived on time, no worries at all, tour guides/managers were excellent, no problem too large to handle. The tour itself (discovering Japan) had a few niggles. Travelling via Paris CDG added hours to the journey. Although we started in Tokyo we did not spend much time there. A few af the places visited were somewhat irrelevant given the time in each place, and the 3 nights spent in a hotel bedroom in Kyoto with no wardrobe (just two clothes pegs on the wall), no shelves or drawers and little space was annoying. We thought at least one of those nights could have been spent in one of the other towns. However we would go back to Japan, a fabulous place.
It was a fascinating and fairly comprehensive tour, with first class guides.
Enjoyed the holiday but fond that some the itinerary was a bit misleading.
What we saw was amazing, many wonderful sights and experiences. Hotels were great. But the organisation was not perfect and the first Japanese guide very poor. He told us very little and seemed to have little idea of what we would want to do/see. eg One hour for lunch followed by 15 minutes in a museum (Mt Fuji)! Tour managers should travel the tour with another manager before leading themselves. Then she would have been able to overrule and guide him more often. By the end and with the other two Japanese guides changes were being made which improved the tour.
Had an amazing time but this was not one of my best holidays with Great Rail. The whole trip left me with a feeling of being rushed from place to place with not enough time to relish my surroundings.
This tour packed a lot in and gave a good cross section of Japan. This was a travel experience which is what we expected and not a holiday for relaxing. Having experienced the good hotels we stayed in it was good value. The only down side was not flying direct.
I have already returned a paper feedback form to Great rail and do not want to repeat it here.
Explore the Land of the Rising Sun by rail