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.
Meet your group and Tour Manager at the hotel for your first night in Japan, where we enjoy a welcome 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 and the Imperial Palace Plaza. 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 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.
This morning, we enjoy a free morning in Tokyo before continuing to Hakone by train this afternoon, travelling in a 'Romance Car' (observation car) on the picturesque narrowgauge 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 enjoy a short cruise on tranquil Lake Ashi, a former crater lake, and continue by coach to the sulphurous hot springs at Owakudani.
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. 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. On arrival in Takayama, we embark on a guided walking tour of the city. Later, we travel to the nearby 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 head back into Takayama, where we spend the night at the Hotel Associa Takayama. Set deep in the mountains, Takayama is a fascinating town of narrow streets and wooden houses, which appear almost untouched by time.
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. 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 9 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.
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.
We travel by rail to Osaka today, a futuristic city, which we are introduced to on a guided tour. We visit the Floating Garden Observatory in the iconic Umeda Sky Building, where we enjoy panoramic views over Osaka and its castle, ahead of a farewell dinner in our hotel tonight.
Leave Osaka this morning, as you make your way home.
Please note that while every departure of this tour will feature the same excursions, the order may differ from that shown above.
For this tour, we recommend arriving into Tokyo Haneda Airport or Narita Airport, which are approximately 6/42 miles from your first hotel. Our recommended departure airport is the Osaka Airport, which is approximately 31 miles from your final hotel.
It is your responsibility to check and fulfil the passport, visa, health and immigration requirements applicable to your itinerary. We do not accept any responsibility if you cannot travel, or incur any other loss because you have not complied with any passport, visa, immigration requirements or health formalities. You agree to reimburse us in relation to any fines or other losses which we incur as a result of your failure to comply with any passport, visa, immigration requirements or health formalities.
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 travel during your tour
Comfortable accommodation in your destination
Delicious meals included
Exciting excursions and free time to explore
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 tour 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 tours 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 tour 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