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Grand Tour of Japan

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3.3 stars(3 reviews)
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A journey through ancient history and timeless traditions

You are viewing the 2023 itinerary. Select your departure year
20222023
16 days From £5,495 per person

2023 Tour code: JTG23

About the tour

Absorb ancient history and timeless traditions as we travel through the 'Land of the Rising Sun' by futuristic bullet train. Sample Japanese whiskey, see magical Mount Fuji, attend an authentic tea ceremony and explore bustling Tokyo and Hiroshima as you experience the highlights of Japan.

Highlights

What’s included

Itinerary

Day 1 - London and Sapporo

We meet at London Heathrow and board our flight to Sapporo, Japan, travelling via Tokyo.

Day 2 - Sapporo

We land in Sapporo and transfer to our hotel, where we spend the next two nights. Sapporo is the capital of mountainous Hokkaido, Japan's most northerly island, a place that makes up a fifth of Japan's landmass but is home to less than 5% of its population. The city surrounded by stunning nature and is known for its 19th-century architecture and pretty public spaces, as well as its beer.

Day 3 - Otaru

We're introduced to the area surrounding Sapporo. We head to Otaru, a small port city to the northwest of Sapporo that boasts a wonderfully preserved canal area. We visit the Otaru Music Box Museum, a fascinating museum that's home to thousands of music boxes. At its entrance is the largest steam clock in the world, at 5.5 metres high. We continue to the Nikka Whisky Distillery. Founded in 1934, Nikka's malts blend high-quality Japanese whiskey with traditional Scottish techniques, which we have the chance to sample before returning to Sapporo.

Day 4 - Hakodate

We leave Sapporo behind this morning, travelling aboard the Super Hokuto limited express train to Hakodate, where we spend the night. Hakodate is one of Hokkaido island's main cities and is watched over by the imposing Mount Hakodate. In the afternoon, we take a sightseeing tour of the city's main sights by coach. On our tour, we see Goryokaku, a vast, star-shaped, western-style fort that was completed in 1866. This evening, we ascend Mount Hakodate via a ropeway cable car. At the summit, there's fabulous views stretching out across the city.

Day 5 - Hakodate

We get to know the city of Hakodate further today as we pay a visit to the local fish market, where fresh produce is bought and sold in a lively atmosphere. We explore the vivid array of stalls, which boast fresh seafood, local vegetables, fruit and even sweets. Afterwards, we make our way by bullet train to Tokyo, speeding through the countryside on the way to Japan's futuristic capital and our home for the next two nights. Upon arrival in the dynamic city, we transfer to our hotel.

Day 6 - Tokyo

We discover Tokyo on a full-day city tour. Effortlessly blending the old and the new, Tokyo is one of the world's most contemporary cities, and a high-tech, modern world that's still rooted in ancient traditions. We visit the Asakusa Kannon Temple, a Buddhist temple built in pagoda style that's the oldest of its kind in the city. We continue to the imposing Imperial Plaza, before visiting Shibuya crossing - the busiest intersection on the planet and an instantly recognisable sight.

Day 7 - Hakone

We make our way to Tokyo's train station, where we board a train to Hakone for the night. On arrival, we set out on a guided sightseeing tour of the town. Hakone is nestled in the heart of Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, and is famous for its hot spring resorts, also known as onsen, as well as its views of iconic Mount Fuji. Our explorations include a cruise across peaceful Lake Ashi, a beautiful crater lake formed by the last eruption of Mount Hakone, 3000 years ago. We also journey on the Hakone Ropeway, a cable car that offers stunning views.

Day 8 – Mount Fuji

We visit iconic Mount Fuji. Travelling by coach, we drive along the foot of the mountain before arriving at the Visitor Centre, where we learn more about this world-famous peak. Perhaps the most acclaimed landmark in Japan, Mount Fuji is one of nature's greatest masterpieces and seeing it in real life is truly astonishing, with its almost perfectly symmetrical, snow-capped peak rising from a landscape of forests and glistening lakes. We continue to Matsumoto, where we visit the Chihiro Art Museum Azumino. We spend the night in Matsumoto.

Day 9 - Takayama

This morning we stop off at Matsumoto's Ishii Miso factory for an insight into the production of this traditional Japanese ingredient, alongside a tasting of its unique umami flavours. Next, we visit Hida Folk Village, an open-air museum of rustic farm dwellings in the mountains that shows us what traditional rural like was like in Japan. We also visit Matsumoto Castle, an impressive fortress completed in 1593. Built on a lake, this five-storey fortification is a celebrated National Treasure of Japan, and its interiors are made up of an extensive complex of walls, moats and gatehouses. Continuing to Takayama, a town of narrow streets and wooden houses set deep in the mountains, we marvel at landscapes that seem almost untouched by the passage of time.

Day 10 - Takayama

We're introduced to Takayama on a fascinating guided tour, during which we call at the Miyagawa Open Air Market for a taste of local life. The market is one of the biggest morning markets in Japan, and sells a wide variety of treats from vegetables, fruit and spices to Japanese souvenirs such as chopsticks and local wooden carvings. Afterwards, we take a train to Nagoya where we board the sleek bullet train to Kyoto. Once the capital of Japan, Kyoto is a culturally rich city known for its 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites, and more than 2000 temples and shrines. We stay here for two nights.

Day 11 - Kyoto

We discover the delights of historic Kyoto, taking in the attractions of this ageless city on a guided tour, seeing sights including the fascinating Kyoto Railway Museum, the ethereal Sagano Bamboo Path and Kinkakuji Temple. We also enjoy a traditional tea ceremony, learning how this iconic drink should be brewed, poured and drunk. Later, we take an evening stroll through the historic Gion area of the city. This is Kyoto's famous geisha district, and as we wander the lantern-adorned streets, keep your eyes open for one of Japan's last-remaining geishas, who are often sighted here in their colourful kimonos.

Day 12 – Nara

We enjoy an excursion to Nara, another former ancient capital and home to an impressive eight UNESCO World Heritage sites. A tour of the city includes the Todaiji Temple, the largest wooden building in the world and home to an imposing Great Buddha that dates from the 13th century, built from solid bronze. We continue to Nara Park, a delightful deer sanctuary spread over almost 1,300 acres and home to deer that are so tame, they even bow in greeting to humans. Later, we transfer to Osaka, catching another bullet train to Hiroshima, our base for two nights.

Day 13 – Hiroshima and Miyajima Island

A tour of Hiroshima, famous as one of the sites of an atom bomb drop towards the end of the Second World War, reveals a now a peaceful and thriving city. We learn about the powerful history that helped shape modern-day Japan, as we see the Peace Memorial Park and the A-Bomb Dome, dedicated to the victims of the tragic devastation of August 6th, 1945. Afterwards, we delve into the city's more ancient past with a boat ride out to Miyajima Island. This tranquil wooded island is a UNESCO World Heritage site, famed for its bright red Shinto shrine.

Day 14 - Hakata

Travelling by bullet train, we make our way to Hakata. We take a sightseeing tour, taking in the Dazaifu Tenman-gu Shrine, dedicated to the Shinto god of literature, and Komyozenji Temple, a Zen temple and Japanese rock garden that dates back to the 13th century. We also see the Kyushu National Museum. The first national museum opened in Japan for over 100 years, its displays show the history of Japanese culture through an impressive collection of artefacts and exhibitions. This evening, we head to a local restaurant for a farewell dinner to celebrate the end of our adventures in the 'Land of the Rising Sun.'

Day 15 - Fukuoka to London

Our holiday begins to draw to a close today. We transfer to Fukuoka airport for our flight back to London Heathrow, travelling via Tokyo.

Day 16 - London

We arrive back in the UK, and your tour comes to an end.

Additional information

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

Due to the nature of our tours they are generally unsuitable for those with restricted mobility. If you’d like to discuss any particular holiday with us in this respect, then please don’t hesitate to call us.

Hotels

Hotel New Otani Hakata

Hotel New Otani Hakata, Fukuoka

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La Vista Hakodate Bay

La Vista Hakodate Bay, Hakodate

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The Prince Hakone Lake Ashinoko, Hakone

The Prince Hakone Lake Ashinoko, Hakone

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Sheraton Grand Hiroshima Hotel

Sheraton Grand Hiroshima Hotel, Hiroshima

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Rihga Royal Hotel, Kyoto

Rihga Royal Hotel, Kyoto

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Matsumoto Hotel Kagetsu

Matsumoto Hotel Kagetsu

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JR Tower Nikko Sapporo

JR Tower Nikko Sapporo, Sapporo

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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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Reviews

3.3 stars3.3 / 5 · 3 reviews

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Mr B McLean

3 stars

Submitted 15 May 2018

Holiday and tour manager was fantastic.Being single and paying supplements and getting double rooms with single beds were very poor. I would expect if paying supplements I would get a double bed the same as any couple.

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Mr S Fancourt

3 stars

Submitted 08 May 2018

Far to many on the tour - 37, took a long to embark and disembark trains and coaches. Itinerary very good, some descriptions in the itinerary were misleading.

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Mr R Butters

4 stars

Submitted 23 May 2017

The travel and hotel arrangements were excellent. One gripe for the elderly is having to constantly move cases at each hotel (with one exception, Thank you Granvia, Kyoto). The Tokyo tour had perhaps one too many historic visits (I personally would have passed on the Edo museum for a daytime look at Shibuya crossing).One day in Tokyo is simply not enough. Similarly, too much Kyoto in 1 day where a 'rest' day would have been priceless. In retrospect, I now query the value of the Hokkaido sector in the tour. Perhaps the time spent here would have served us better elsewhere as it is more of a specialist winter destination, just not enough content for 3+ days.

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Grand Tour of Japan

A journey through ancient history and timeless traditions

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