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 before 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 the museum being closed on a Monday, some departures do not include Edo Museum, and visit Miraikan, The National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation. 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 are at leisure to settle in to Matsumoto. We then overnight in Matsumoto.
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 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. We continue to Takayama, where we spend the night at the Hotel Associa Takayama.
After a visit Miyagawa Market this morning, we enjoy a journey to 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. We travel 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. On our return, you have the option to also visit Kyoto Skywalk at Kyoto station. The Skyway tunnel allows visitors to walk the length of Kyoto Station, 45 meters above the central hall.
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
Enhancing your tour
British Citizens do not require a visa to enter Japan.
Please note: This tour may be suitable for reduced mobility passengers, please call for further information.
of travellers would recommend this tour
based on 20 verified reviews
It was all we could expect. Bill McIntosh is a very good tour manager and Haru's presence was very comforting and useful to speak Japanese and organize things.
An excellent tour with a great tour manager and guide. The tour captured the essence of Japan but would have liked more time in Tokyo
Very enjoyable but very tiring with all the travelling!
The holiday was first rate, enjoyed every minute of it. Locations, accommodation, places visited were great. The local Japanese tour guides were professional and good company. Our tour manager worked very hard to ensure we enjoyed ourselves and had a stress free holiday, again very personable and professional. A holiday to remember for all the right reasons
The only reason I have not given a rating of 5 star is because the size of the tour group was too large which did detract somewhat from the enjoyment for all concerned.
A very busy and well organised holiday. All travel arrangements seemed to go smoothly. Tour manager was considerate and helped to make the holiday a success
An Excellent itinerary which balanced the cultural and natural highlights of the country. Our tour rep., Mr. Bill Mackintosh, was on top of his brief and all organisational aspects of the tour ran smoothly. The local guides were very good and even offered extra sightseeing to any of us who were interested. The Cathay Pacific flights were excellent and the transfer at Hong Kong was effortless.
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.
Whatever the rights and wrongs, listening to a Hiroshima survivor or their representative is to understand what happened to individual families in August 1945 and the suffering they experienced long afterwards. It is a very humbling insight into what occurred on that day and something to be experienced by everyone. This incredible tour also gives you the opportunity to experience both Japanese culture and cuisine. You are unlikely ever to meet such polite people elsewhere in the world.
Explore the Land of the Rising Sun by rail