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Discover Japan

You are viewing the 2025 itinerary. Select your departure year
14 days From £5,495 per person
4.4 stars(68 reviews)

Discover the mysteries, traditions and unique culture of Japan with the experts, travelling on high-speed bullet trains, experiencing tranquil countryside and buzzing, futuristic cities

Mobility Rating 2

2025 Tour code: JAG25

About the tour

The 'Land of the Rising Sun' beautifully blends spirituality and modernity, where peaceful temples sit alongside neon-lit streets. Experience the delights of Japan from dynamic cities to timeless mountain towns and serene island shrines with expert local guides.

Arriving in sprawling Tokyo, discover a well-organised metropolis of lantern-filled temples, before basking in iconic views of Mount Fuji and heading into the verdant mountains to explore historic Matsumoto and Takayama.

Journeying on the world-famous bullet trains, visit Hiroshima's poignant sites and authentic Kyoto's ornate temples, before concluding in cosmopolitan Osaka.

Unforgettable experiences

Journey on the renowned Shinkansen bullet trains
Journey on the renowned Shinkansen bullet trains
Travel on Japanese Railways’ revered high-speed ‘bullet trains’ from Nagoya to Hiroshima and on to Kyoto. Riding at speeds of up to 186mph, experience the nation’s efficient and ultra-modern railways.
Explore the majestic temples of enchanting Kyoto
Explore the majestic temples of enchanting Kyoto
Brimming with historic temples, including the ‘Golden Pavilion’, the nation’s historic capital showcases ‘old Japan’ in spellbinding fashion. Discover the charm of Kyoto and enjoy dinner in lantern-lit Ponto-cho Alley.
Admire the serenity of beautiful Miyajima
Admire the serenity of beautiful Miyajima
A secluded island famed for its bright red torii gate that is partially submerged at high tide, explore delightful Miyajima’s age-old temples and fairytale forests on a walking tour and at leisure.
Marvel at breathtaking views of iconic Mount Fuji
Marvel at breathtaking views of iconic Mount Fuji
Japan’s national emblem and a sacred peak, enjoy spectacular vistas of the active volcano before exploring the mountain from a popular sightseeing spot on its slopes.
Uncover poignant sites in Hiroshima
Uncover poignant sites in Hiroshima
Now a symbol for peace, this thriving city has become synonymous with the devastation of war. Explore the expansive memorial park and museum that details the destruction wrought by the dropping of the atomic bomb.
Discover how miso and sake are made
Discover how miso and sake are made
Delicious Japanese cuisine is renowned all over the world. Gain an insight into two of its most important aspects by learning how the distinctive miso paste is made and explore how traditional sake is brewed.

What’s included


Day 1 - Overnight flight direct to Tokyo

Our fantastic tour of Japan begins as we meet our Tour Manager and fellow travellers at London Heathrow for our flight to Tokyo Haneda in the 'Land of the Rising Sun'.

Japan is a fascinating country culturally, spiritually and geographically. An archipelago of more than 14,000 islands, its interior is incredibly mountainous, dotted with pristine forests and fairytale villages. A blend of Shinto and Buddhism, beautifully ornate temples appear seemingly on every street corner. Yet, side by side with these idyllic scenes, are neon-lit futuristic cities piercing the sky with shimmering glass skyscrapers. This union of modern and traditional fuses impressively to create a country of captivating contrasts that has entranced visitors ever since it came out of self-imposed isolation in 1863 - after more than 200 years of being closed off from the outside world.

Day 2 - Magical arrival in the world’s biggest metropolis

We touch down in Tokyo ready to begin an incredible exploration of amazing Japan. With a population similar to that of Canada in an area roughly the same size as North Yorkshire, urban Tokyo is the world's most populus city. Yet, it regularly finds itself in the top ranks for liveability due to its well-organised dynamism and cleanliness.

After transferring to our 4-Star hotel in the lively Shinjuku district, we have the opportunity to view this metropolis from the observatory deck of the nearby Tokyo Metropolitan Government building. Here we can soak up the panoramic views of the iconic Tokyo skyline.

Alternatively, you can spend some time at leisure before we gather for a welcome drink and dinner. As night falls, Tokyo is illuminated by twinkling lights from towers stretching as far as the eye can see. This stunning spectacle is ours to observe from our vantage point in the hotel's restaurant on the 45th floor.

Day 3 - Uncovering Tokyo’s charm on a guided tour

After breakfast at our hotel, we meet our English-speaking guide, who will remain with us throughout our holiday.

On a coach tour of Tokyo, we witness the city's stark contrast, starting at the vast landscaped Hama Rikyu Gardens - an oasis of calm amid gleaming skyscrapers. Maple, ginkgo and peonies gather round sea-fed lakes on the site of a former 17th-century shogun villa.

Next, we visit two enchanting temples. A symbol of the city, the Senso-Ji temple in Asakusa dates from the 7th century and was built to honour Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of mercy. With its sweeping, tiled roof, intricately carved wood and giant red lanterns, Senso-Ji is the epitome of Japanese Buddhist architecture, while Harajuku's Meiji-Jingu shrine boasts fantastic Shinto design, constructed in honour of modern Japan's first emperor.

As if to demonstrate the incredible intertwining of the tranquil and bustling, we travel a short distance to the famed Shibuya crossing, where up to 3,000 people at a time inundate the crossing from all directions. This evening you are free to enjoy some fantastic Japanese cuisine on your own.

Day 4 - A spectacular journey to the tranquil lakeside town of Hakone

A relaxed morning with breakfast at our hotel is followed by our first trip on the famous Japanese railways. Walking the short distance to Shinjuku station - the world's busiest - we board the Shonan Express to Odawara. Transferring into the mountains, we enjoy an incredible ride on the Hakone Ropeway - a 20-minute cable car journey providing amazing views of iconic Mount Fuji in the distance. As we travel above this area of outstanding natural wonders, we witness the rising plumes of steam from the sulphurous hot springs that dot Mount Hakone - a volcano that last erupted in 1170.

Arriving on the glistening shores of Lake Ashi, our fantastic trip continues as we board an enchanting pirate boat for a charming cruise across the crater lake to our hotel. Enroute, look for the striking red of Shinto torii gates dotting the shoreline and keep an eye out for more beautiful views of Mount Fuji.

Our hotel overlooks this spellbinding lake, framed by overlapping mountains dipping towards the tranquil waters. There is time to relax before dinner at the hotel's restaurant this evening.

Day 5 - Iconic views of Mount Fuji, Japan’s national emblem

Today is all about Japan's most revered peak, Mount Fuji - the UNESCO-listed active volcano. Instantly recognisable from artworks including woodcut prints by Hokusai, the country's sacred symbol is astonishing due to its symmetry and prominence.

After breakfast at our lakeside hotel, we set out by coach to visit Mount Fuji Fifth Station (weather permitting). Climbing ever higher through lush woodlands, we reach this popular sightseeing spot. There is time to hopefully admire the views of both Fuji and the surrounding countryside from this excellent vantage point. From here, we visit the World Heritage Centre to learn more about Mount Fuji.

Some of the most iconic images of the volcano are taken from Oishi Park, beside Lake Kawaguchiko. We spend time here this afternoon to stroll amongst the fragrant lavender and search for that picture-perfect view.

Later, we head into the mountains to the charming alpine town of Matsumoto, where there is a free evening after checking in to our hotel.

Day 6 - Learning about miso and visiting Matsumoto’s historic ‘black castle’

An English-speaking guide joins us at our hotel after breakfast today as we explore this charming city. First up, we enjoy a guided tour of a miso factory to discover why this paste - a mixture of fermented soya beans with salt and other umami-based ingredients - is so important in Japanese cooking, before tasting the distinctive flavours for ourselves.

Continuing to Matsumoto Castle, we encounter a five-storey pagoda-style fortress known as 'Crow Castle' due to its unusual black exterior. Built in the 1500s, this is the oldest remaining castle of its kind in Japan.

After time to look around, we continue to Takayama on the renowned Mitsuboshi Kaidou road. This scenic route presents Japan in all its verdant glory, with steep-sided mountains carpeted with forests. In Takayama, we visit the Hida Folk Village, an open-air museum which depicts more than 30 rustic farm dwellings from the Edo Period, with their dark-wood exteriors and deep thatched roofs.

Our 4-Star hotel is on the edge of Takayama, a fascinating town of narrow streets and wooden houses.

Day 7 – Exploring quaint Takayama and the bullet train to Hiroshima

We explore Takayama with an English-speaking guide after breakfast this morning, taking in the 17th-century wood-framed government building with tranquil tatami-walled rooms. Walking down historic Sannomachi Street, we view dark-wood houses and sake breweries in this beautifully preserved example of traditional Edo architecture. Our next stop is the Miyagawa open-air market along the bank of the babbling river, replete with neat stalls selling local farm products and handicrafts.

Leaving Takayama, we travel by train along the Hida River valley to Nagoya before enjoying our first taste of the world-renowned Shinkansen bullet trains. Travelling at speeds up to 186 miles per hour, we dash to Hiroshima for two nights.

This emotive city is renowned for the unprecedented devastation it suffered during World War Two, but Hiroshima's parks and museums now stand as embodiments of peace. After checking in to our hotel, there is a free evening to dine independently. Japan is famed for its delicious food, and you might like to find a restaurant serving fresh sushi, ramen noodles, yakiniku barbeque or revered wagyu beef.

Day 8 - Serene Miyajima and its sacred temples

Travelling by local train and boat to Miyajima today, we leave modern life behind to soak up the tranquillity of this secluded destination known for its age-old temples and fairytale forests. Also known as Itsukushima (Island of the Gods), we enjoy a walking tour which includes a visit to Itsukushima Shrine and the iconic Great Torii Gate that guards its entrance. Partially submerged at high tide, this stunning red structure was built in the 12th century and is an enduring image of traditional Japan.

There is free time over lunch to explore the peaceful shrines and museums that line this serene shoreline before we return to Hiroshima late this afternoon.

The evening is at leisure, and you might like to take a stroll along the popular Hondori shopping street, or head to a restaurant to sample one of the city's famous dishes - okonomiyaki, a delicious savoury, teppanyaki pancake. Alternatively, spend some time in a lively 'izakaya' in the nearby Nagarekawacho district to enjoy a drink with some local snacks.

Day 9 – Poignant Hiroshima and enchanting Kyoto

This morning we are joined after breakfast by an English-speaking guide as we embark on a morning tour of Hiroshima's most moving locations.

Hiroshima has become a byword for the horrors of war after an atomic bomb was dropped by the US Air Force at 8.15am on Monday 6th August 1945. Friendly Hiroshima is now a symbol of peace.

We begin with a tour of the Peace Memorial Park that commemorates the victims and visit the Atomic Bomb Dome - the emotive remains of the scorched shell of a building destroyed on that fateful day. In the Peace Memorial Museum, we view items salvaged from the rubble.

Early this afternoon, we board a bullet train to Kyoto - Japan's former capital that's a living museum of the country's artistic heritage, with an impressive 17 UNESCO-listed sites. We enjoy a walking tour of the Gion district - one of the few places where you might catch a glimpse of a real-life geisha - then indulge in a Japanese dinner in Ponto-cho Alley, a lantern-lit street filled with authentic restaurants and shops.

Day 10 - The charming traditions of captivating Kyoto

A historic city where the beauty of old Japan is writ large, we explore Kyoto's spellbinding sights today. After breakfast at our hotel, we embark on a full-day tour, beginning with a zen tea ceremony. Learning how to brew, serve and drink this celebrated drink, we also gain a glimpse into the spirituality and culture of Japan.

Renowned for gorgeous blooms of sakura cherry blossom, Kyoto brims with astonishingly beautiful temples - and we visit two of them, starting at Kinkakuji Temple. One of the country's best-known sights, the 'Golden Pavilion' dates from 1397 and shimmers in brilliant gold leaf on the edge of a reflecting pond, surrounded by lush forest. Afterwards, we find Kiyomizu Temple at the end of Sannenzaka Path lined with traditional buildings. Sitting on the edge of Mount Otowa, people have enjoyed the picturesque views from this Buddhist temple since the 8th century.

We also visit Kyoto Railway Museum, to learn about the history of Japanese railways. The evening is free to dine independently, and Kyoto has many excellent restaurants serving refined and traditional cuisine.

Day 11 - Exploring tranquil Nara, Japan’s first capital

Predating Kyoto as the nation's premier city, Nara is our destination today after breakfast. As the capital from 710 to 794AD, this beautiful and compact city oozes history and grace, with a backdrop of wooded hills.

Accompanied by an expert, English-speaking guide, we enjoy a walking tour, including the Todaji Temple where we view one of the world's largest bronze statues. The Great Buddha or 'Daibutsu' was first installed in 752AD and is set within an ornate temple recorded as the largest wooden building in the world.

Nearby, the landscaped grounds of Nara's serene deer park are full of delightful ponds and tame deer. These beautiful animals were once revered as messengers of the gods and now roam freely. They are so used to human visitors that they often bow in greeting. Leaving charming Nara, we stop at a traditional sake brewery on our way back to Kyoto, were we gain an insight into this traditional beverage.

This evening is at leisure, and you can explore Kyoto's picturesque streets and parks or enjoy local cuisine independently.

Day 12 - Serene bamboo forests and Osaka’s floating observatory

Leaving delightful Kyoto after breakfast this morning, we savour time in the otherworldly environment of Arashiyama's spectacular bamboo forest. We stroll down the Sagano path, marvelling at the jade-hued sunlight piercing through the towering bamboo stalks. Listen out for the soothing sounds of trunks creaking and knocking together, and leaves rustling in the captivating canopy above.

Transferring by coach to spirited Osaka, we get to know this relaxed port city from one of its most jaw-dropping sights. Connecting the two distinctive 40-storey towers of the Umeda Sky Building is the Floating Garden Observatory. Standing nearly 570-feet above the ground, this unique vantage point provides panoramic views across Osaka. After observing Japan's third most populus city from above, we delve into its neon-lit Dotonbori district to experience the beating heart of Osaka from street level. With illuminated signs, mechanical billboards and even a huge blowfish lantern lining the streets, Dotonbori is a quintessentially Japanese experience, full of vibrant entertainment and fascinating restaurants.

There is free time to relax after checking in to our 4-Star hotel before we have dinner together tonight.

Day 13 - Homeward bound

After breakfast at our hotel, we have a day at leisure in Osaka until we transfer to the airport in mid-afternoon.

Built at the end of the 16th century, the grounds of Osaka Castle cover 15 acres and its main keep is recognised as one of the most important cultural sites in Japan. Surrounded by moats and imposing stone walls, this multi-storey swirl of jade, gold and white sits at the centre of tranquil parkland where you can wander amongst sculpted topiary more than 1,000 plum trees.

For some last-minute retail therapy, head to the long, covered shopping street of Shinsaibashi or the quirky nearby neighbourhood of Amerika-Mura, where the eagle-eyed may spot a replica of the Statue of Liberty perched on a rooftop.

This afternoon, our fantastic holiday to Japan concludes as we leave our Osaka hotel and travel to the airport ready for our flight home, via Tokyo.

Day 14 - Arrival in London

Landing back in the United Kingdom this morning, we can recall the wonderful sights of Japan that have captivated and enchanted us for the past 11 days.

The peaceful spirituality of Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines sits assuredly alongside the frenetic energy of Japan's capital to create an intriguing metropolis that sets the tone for the rest of the country. From the slopes of iconic Mount Fuji and the tranquility of the quaint mountain town of Takayama, we travelled by world-famous bullet train to emotive Hiroshima. Here, not only did we uncover poignant reminders of the devastation caused in World War Two, but we discovered the beauty of serene Miyajima and its beautiful temples.

Japan's historic former capitals of Kyoto and Nara enthralled us with their temples and welcoming wildlife, before Osaka impressed us with its blend of history, bustling streets and laid-back charm.

On arrival in London, we bid farewell to our Tour Manager and fellow travellers with whom we have shared these unforgettable experiences, knowing that the memories will last a lifetime.

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

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.


Hakone Hotel, Hakone

Hakone Hotel, Hakone

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ANA Crowne Plaza, Hiroshima

ANA Crowne Plaza, 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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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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4.4 stars4.4 / 5 · 68 reviews

  1. 5 stars
  2. 4 stars
  3. 3 stars
  4. 2 stars
  5. 1 star

Christina Lee

5 stars

Submitted 10/May

A very memorable holiday. We were very lucky with the weather.

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Emma Fagg

5 stars

Submitted 6/May

This was a truly wonderful tour of Japan. We could not fault the running of the tour and for this we thank our two guides, Mitchio from Japan and Kevin Childs from the UK. Their efficiency of running the tour was second to none. Never did we have to queue or wait for anything - it was remarkable. If I had one criticism, it would be the choice of hotels (except the ones with Onsens) - they were too big and soulless for my taste and the rooms were often very small. But having said that, the beds were always comfortable and their locations were great - so you can't have everything. We also had a very large group of 40 people plus our 2 guides which was quite a group to herd around - however we had a great time getting to know them all - it was fabulous. Well done Great Rail Journeys - we will definitely be booking with you again x

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Mr John Emmett

5 stars

Submitted 3/May

Absolutely amazing

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Andrew Goodacre

5 stars

Submitted 3/May

This trip was really well organised from start to finish. We saw all the sights we hoped to see. The guides were informative and really helpful. Hotels great

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5 stars

Submitted 3/May

The holiday was an exciting, exotic and well organised experience.

Collected by Trustpilot

Denise Herbery

4 stars

Submitted 26/Apr

Beautiful country. The local tour guide was excellent and very knowledgable. The hotels were all excellent and fellow travellers pleasant company. When we booked I thought it was an expensive holiday but now I appreciate it was good value for money. I would have liked just a bit more free time but appreciate there was a lot to fit in and this might not have suited everyone.

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Worldwide Holidays 2025

Worldwide Holidays 2025

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