Japan

Highlights of Japan (14 days)

If you want a comprehensive trip to Japan, one that covers all the main highlights, yet immerses you in local culture, urban and countryside, this Japan itinerary is perfect. You’ll explore Japan’s most famous cities including the capital as well as the cultural centre of Kyoto and Hiroshima, whilst escaping into the mountains to enjoy the more peaceful, spiritual and natural side of Japan. Time your visit right and you can also see the spring cherry blossom or the maples turning ruby red in autumn, too.

Highlights

  Climb Tokyo’s iconic Skytree
  Escape the crowds at Meiji Shrine
  Visit the home of Japan’s pop culture
  Soak in Hakone’s hot springs
  Hike along the Nakasendo trail
  Bike ride through the paddy fields
  Take a bullet train to Kyoto
  See traditional geishas
  Visit the peace park in Hiroshima

14 days from £2,800 pp

Plus international flights from £700

A two-week holiday to Japan for a family of four usually costs a minimum of around £11,200 plus flights.

View pricing guide

Highlights of Japan day-to-day itinerary

Day 1 Tokyo
When you arrive in Tokyo you will be transferred to your hotel.


Day 2 Tokyo
After breakfast, set out to explore Tokyo with a private guide.

It may be a cliche but this really is a city of contrasts. It’s crammed with a diverse range of neighbourhoods that span the spectrum from sleek futuristic neon to graceful  temples and parks that evoke the past. It may seem daunting at first but your guide will help you navigate the city’s efficient public transport system as you explore.

Your day will start with a visit to the Meiji Shrine. This picturesque Shinto shrine is dedicated to the Meiji Emperor and is located in an attractive leafy park. This makes it a relaxing place to explore and a complete antidote to the more hectic side of the city. If you are visiting at the weekend you may well see a wedding taking place, the bride (in a distinctive white kimono) and the groom (in a black one) walking together under a red umbrella.

From here take a walk along Omote-Sando, also known as Tokyo’s Champs-Elysee. This broad, tree lined avenue features a multitude of fashion flagship stores.  Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Bvlgari all have a home here, in extraordinarily striking buildings designed by internationally renowned architects. For a complete contrast, continue on to Harajuku, the ‘spiritual home’ for Japan’s unique pop culture. Tiny independent shops selling trendy clothing and cutsie accessories are frequented by teenagers dressed up as their favourite manga characters.

Towards the end of the day you will head to the ‘Sky Tree’. This is the hottest destination in town, the tallest tower in the world (Burj Khalifa in Dubai is taller, but doesn’t count as a tower!). It offers incredible views over the vast metropolis and on clear days you can see all the way to Mount Fuji in the distance.


Day 3 Tokyo
This morning enjoy a truly mind-blowing experience at teamLab Borderless. This is a digital art museum with a series of rooms that feature incredible art and light installations. The whole experience is completely immersive and provides an extraordinary assault on the senses. The children will absolutely love it.

In the afternoon you are free to explore further. If you are interested we can arrange tickets to the weirdly wonderful Studio Ghibli Museum or perhaps a cycling tour around the backstreets of Tokyo. This follows a quiet route past temples, traditional gardens and markets. Alternatively, head to pretty Asakusa district for a taste of old Tokyo. The chief attraction here is Sensoji Temple, but children will enjoy exploring the small side streets that are home to local restaurants and quirky shops.


Day 4 Tokyo – Hakone
Located around 50 miles west of Tokyo, Hakone lies within a beautiful national park. Here there are endless vistas of tree-clad hills dotted with quaint villages, all in the shadow of Mt Fuji, Japan’s most sacred mountain. There are plenty of activities here to keep the family entertained. Stop at a volcanic pool to boil eggs in the bubbling waters. Wander around the outdoor sculpture park or take a boat ride across beautiful Lake Ashi. Soak away your worries in a therapeutic hot spring bath or ride a cable car for views of Mt Fuji.


Day 5 Hakone
A full day to explore Hakone, using its funicular railways, cablecars and ropeways. We will give you detailed recommendations of how best to fill your day, depending on the ages of your children.

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Day 6 Hakone – Nakasendo Trail – Tsumago
Today you will travel to Magome where you will take a stunning hike along the old Nakasendo Trail. This is the ancient road that once connected Kyoto to the ancient capital of Edo. Follow in the footsteps of samurai and dignitaries along a peaceful cobbled path that takes you out into the countryside on a picturesque route.

Spend the night in a traditional ryokan in Tsumago. This is a beautifully preserved old town that has none of the gadgets and gizmos of a modern Japanese city. Traditional wooden shops with latticed fronts line car free streets. Power and phone lines are hidden, replaced by immaculately sculpted trees and tinkling wind chimes.


Day 7 Tsumago – Takayama
After breakfast continue on foot along the Nakasendo Trail. Your route this morning is an easy hike that takes around an hour, passing through the scenic Kiso Valley. En route you will pass tea fields, farms and shrines.

Later continue by train to Takayama, in the Japanese Alps. This beautifully picturesque town is renowned for its morning market, where old ladies sell piles of fresh fruit and vegetables from the surrounding mountains and the streets are full of stalls selling souvenirs.

The town is extremely well preserved, with traditional wooden houses lining paved streets and many sake breweries trying to tempt you inside. Spend the afternoon exploring.


Day 8 Takayama
This morning, enjoy a guided cycling adventure around the town of Hida Furukawa. This is a pretty route through rice paddy countryside, against the backdrop of the beautiful Hida mountain range. Along the way you will pass local temples, orchards laden with fruit and natural springs.

In the afternoon you can explore Takayama or perhaps head to Shirakawago. This is a quiet and picturesque village located in a secluded area deep in the Southern Japanese Alps. The traditional mountain farmhouses with their steep pitched and thatched roofs are dotted amongst the paddy fields. This is a lovely place for a wander, with many charming shops.


Day 9 Takayama – Kyoto
After breakfast take the train to Kyoto. This is Japan’s ancient capital, a city firmly rooted in the past where deeply held traditions linger on. It is a city of Zen gardens, ancient shrines and geisha. With 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites (more than any other city), this is where you learn about Old Japan. Follow geisha along narrow lamp lit streets, attend a tea ceremony in a traditional tea house or enjoy the serenity of an exquisitely manicured garden.


Day 10 Kyoto
Enjoy a morning guided tour of Kyoto. Your visit will start with the grand Nijo castle, dating back to the early 17th century. This sprawling and impressive building was the Kyoto home of the Tokugawa Shogun. From here head to Ryoanji, famous for its UNESCO protected world heritage Zen gardens. You may recognise certain parts of the gardens as they have been featured in a wide range of films.

Later visit Kinkakaju, an exquisite gold-covered pavilion in a beautiful lakeside location. It was originally built as the summerhouse for a shogun.

The afternoon is free. As the centre of traditional Japanese culture, Kyoto offers a wide range of activities to suit children of all ages. These include dressing up in a kimono, learning to cook ‘Bento box’ style, an origami or taiko drumming class or perhaps watching a ninja show. Also popular with families is a bike tour around the streets of the old town, hoping to catch a glimpse of a geisha strolling along the streets of Gion.


Day 11 Kyoto
Today you can use your rail pass to visit to Nara, Japan’s wonderfully picturesque first capital. Top of the attractions here is the Giant Buddha Todai-ji Temple. Just behind the Buddha statue is a small hole, said to be the same size as Buddha’s nostril. Apparently if you can squeeze through the hole you will achieve enlightenment in your next life! Also make sure you visit Kasuga-Taisha, an ancient Shinto shrine set within a somewhat other-worldly forest that is home to semi-wild deer.

You can also visit one of Kyoto’s most photographed shrines, Fushimi Inari. Here you can enjoy the iconic spectacle of thousands of orange torii gates lining the temple’s sacred mountain trails.


Day 12 Kyoto – Hiroshima
Take the bullet train from Kyoto to Hiroshima. Later you will visit the famous peace park and museum. This is dedicated to the events of August 6th, 1945, when the atomic bomb was dropped on the city. This is a harrowing place to visit but children are fascinated to learn more about events that they may have heard about in school.


Day 13 Miyajima – Osaka
A free morning in which you can take the ferry to the island of Miyajima. The island is renowned for its large red shrine gate, the Grand Torii. This looks (at high tide) as if it is floating on the waters of the Seto Inland Sea. A ropeway to the top of a mountain on the island provides a stunning view of the surrounding landscape.

In the afternoon, take the train to Osaka for your final night in Japan. Osaka is one of the liveliest cities in Japan, with late-opening restaurants and a busy centre. If you are interested we can include a street-food tour, taking you to bustling markets and small local restaurants to enjoy mouth-watering delicacies.


Day 14 Osaka
Make your way to the airport for your flight home.

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Call us and we will be happy to provide you with a free-of-charge no obligation itinerary and quotation designed for you.

01728 752751

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