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Discovering Japan

(20 reviews)
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Explore the Land of the Rising Sun by rail

You are viewing the 2020 itinerary. Select your departure year
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2020 Tour code: JAG20

About the tour

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.


What’s included


Days 1-2 - Fly to Tokyo

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.

Day 3 - Exploring Tokyo

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.

Meiji Jingu Shrine
Day 4 - To Hakone

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.

Romance Car
Day 5 - Mount Fuji and Matsumoto

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.

Mount Fuji
Day 6 - To Takayama

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.

Day 7 - To Hiroshima

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.

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park
Day 8 - Miyajima Island

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.

Please Note: For Departure JAG2011 Days 8 & 9 have swapped around.

Miyajima Island
Days 9-10 - Hiroshima to Kyoto

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. 

Day 11 - Historic Nara

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.

Nara Todai Ji Temple
Day 12 - Osaka

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.

Osaka Castle
Day 13 - Flight to London

We depart this morning for Osaka airport for your flight to London Heathrow, arriving in the evening on the same day. On arrival in London, your tour concludes.

Flying home

Additional information

Please note

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.

Departure times

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.

Mobility information

Please note: This may be suitable for reduced mobility passengers, please call for further information.


Hakone Hotel, Hakone

Hakone Hotel, Hakone

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Hotel Granvia Hiroshima

Hotel Granvia Hiroshima, Hiroshima

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ANA Crowne Plaza Hotel

ANA Crowne Plaza Hotel, Kyoto

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Kyoto Tokyu Hotel

Kyoto Tokyu Hotel, Kyoto

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Richmond Hotel, Matsumoto

Richmond Hotel, Matsumoto

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Sheraton Miyako Hotel

Sheraton Miyako Hotel, Osaka

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Hotel Associa Takayama

Hotel Associa Takayama, Takayama

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Keio Plaza Hotel, Tokyo

Keio Plaza Hotel, Tokyo

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80% of travellers would recommend this tour

Based on 20 verified reviews

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Mr P Rao

Submitted 271019

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.

Mr D Best

Submitted 191019

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

Mrs A Wallis

Submitted 18419

Very enjoyable but very tiring with all the travelling!

Mrs D Howell

Submitted 311018

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

Katiefrom Great Rail Journeys
It certainly sounds like your time in Japan was memorable! We're so pleased to hear you had a great time, and thank you so much for taking the time to leave feedback.

Ms A Perkins

Submitted 7518

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.

Mr M Loveland

Submitted 7518

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

Discovering Japan

Explore the Land of the Rising Sun by rail


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