'Konnichiwa' and welcome to dazzling, futuristic Tokyo, Japan's incredible capital city. One of the most culturally rich cities on earth, Tokyo is the kind of place where everyday is a new adventure, and where no two neighbourhoods are the same. Some are deeply connected to the past, all glowing lanterns and low-slung rustic buildings, whilst others only have eyes for the future.. To say Tokyo is eclectic would be a disservice to a city that prides itself on having something for everyone. Arriving today board your shuttle bus transfer from Tokyo Narita or Haneda Airport. This evening meet up with your Travel Director and fellow travellers for your first taste of Japanese cuisine on your Japan value tour.
Diving in to all that Tokyo has to offer, today's sightseeing tour will kick off 243 metres above the ground as you take in panoramic views of the city from the twin towered Tokyo Metropolitan Observatory. Step inside a forested inner-city oasis with a visit to the tranquil Meiji Jingu Shinto Shrine, which was built to protect the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife Empress Shōken. Soak in the peaceful surroundings here and make a wish on a traditional ema before heading on to Asakusa for a glimpse of Old Tokyo. Browse the craft shops along Nakamise Street, then visit the Sensoji Buddhist Temple which has been rebuilt countless times since it was founded in the 7th century. This afternoon and evening it's all about tailoring your trip your way. Perhaps take advantage of our optional visit to the Tokyo National Museum, where you'll be treated to collections of Japanese art, samurai swords, intricate kimonos and more, followed by a trip to two of Tokyo's premium shopping destinations, Ameyoko and Ginza. This evening, you could choose to dine local style with dinner at a traditional izakaya (Japanese pub).
You may have seen glimpses of its snowcapped peaks but today's the day you get up close and personal when you visit Mt. Fuji, the highest volcano in Japan. Driving up to the Fuji Subaru Line 5th Station (weather permitting), catch your breath as you survey the scenery from 2300 metres above sea level. Take in the spectacular views of the Fuji Five Lakes area below and enjoy some free time for lunch in the shadow of Mt. Fuji's iconic peak. Not done with incredible scenery just yet, you'll then catch the Komagatake Ropeway for equally impressive views of Lake Ashi, a crater formed lake. Driving back through Hakone, take in the incomparable mountain scenery and traditional buildings of this tranquil little city getaway before heading back to your hotel where the evening is all yours to stay in, or get out there and explore the streets on your last night in Tokyo.
Board the bullet train this morning and speed towards the atmospheric city of Kyoto at a staggering 320 kilometres per hour. Known for geishas, gorgeous temples and traditional teahouses, Kyoto will undoubtedly charm you in an instant, then continue to impress on your sightseeing tour this afternoon. Starting off at the iconic Golden Pavilion of Kinkaku-ji, gaze in wonder at this gold leaf covered beauty that shines like a beacon above its reflecting pond. Heading on to the visually stunning Heian-jingu shrine, discover the history of this Shinto masterpiece and visit the 25 metre high torii gate that is equally, if not more beautiful than the shine itself. From here it will be on to a traditional handicraft centre to browse the Japanese crafts, before finally arriving at your hotel. No doubt hungry from an action-packed day, dinner tonight will be at a local restaurant.
Waking up this morning, the day is free to explore your way, and beautiful Kyoto is a prospect that will surely fill you with excitement. Perhaps start your day surrounded by lush greenery at the Ginkaku-ji shrine, or head over to the Gion district in the hopes of catching a glimpse of a geisha. Think of yourself as something of a foodie? You're in the right place. Kyoto is a huge culinary destination where you can enjoy fresh sushi, steaming bowls of ramen or creamy matcha ice cream to your heart's content, most likely at the Nishiki Market. This morning we imagine that you'll find our optional visit to Nara hard to resist. Known as a place that specialises in the art of bokusho (ink making), you'll watch talented artisans create these beautiful masterpieces and even have a go yourself before heading on to Todaji Temple and Nara Park, an area taken over by hundreds of cute, free roaming deer. Keen to see a Kyoto icon? You could join our optional trip to the Fushimi Inari Shrine. It's instantly recognisable for its tunnel of thousands of orange vermilion torii gates stretching upwards through a thickly wooded mountain towards the shrine.
Leaving Kyoto behind your first stop today will be Kurashiki, where you'll meet up with a Local Specialist for a sightseeing tour of the historic Bikan Quarter. With black and white warehouses converted into contemporary museums, old wooden houses and winding laneways, this area exudes a timeless elegance. You'll learn stories about the trading history of the district before heading on to Hiroshima, a place that needs little introduction and a city where peace and hope resound. Destroyed beyond recognition on the 6th August 1945 by the world's first atomic bomb attack, Hiroshima respectfully remembers its catastrophic past while looking to the future with optimism. It's a thriving cosmopolitan city with a lot to offer, including its delicious cuisine. You'll enjoy your first taste tonight as you tuck into okonomiyaki, a type of Japanese savoury pancake and a Hiroshima specialty.
Today's Hiroshima sightseeing tour will begin with a ferry ride across the beautiful Seto Inland Sea, bound for the island of Miyajima. Considered one of Japan's most scenic spots, this is where you'll visit the 12th century Itsukushima Shrine and see the famous orange torii gate which appears to be floating above the sea. Heading back to Hiroshima it will be on to the quiet, leafy space of the Peace Memorial Park. Dotted with memorials and tranquil spaces for reflection, visit the cenotaph displaying the names of all those who lost their lives in the catastrophe before heading on to the Memorial Museum. Here, exhibits of ragged clothes, a melted lunchbox and a watch frozen in time at 8.15am all bring home the horror of a day that changed history forever. Your tour will end at the UNESCO listed Peace Memorial, the only building in the city to survive the bomb, then this afternoon perhaps opt to join our 'Secrets of Hiroshima' Optional Experience.
Heading on from Hiroshima, this morning you'll journey on to Himeji, a city best known for its beautiful and fairy tale-esque 400-year-old castle. After some free time for lunch and exploring the city your way, this afternoon you'll meet up with a Local Specialist to visit the UNESCO listed castle. Known as the White Heron Castle, this site is widely considered Japan's most spectacular castle and looking up at its vast size, beauty and stunning gardens, it won't be hard to see why. Learn about its history before heading on to your hotel for an evening free to spend however you choose.
On the last full day of your Japan tour package, perhaps start with a visit to a sake brewery led by your Local Specialist. Made with a combination of quality rice, clean water, koji mould and yeast, sake is the drink that compliments just about anything in Japan. Learn about its history and brewing process before heading on to the final destination of your Japanese adventure, Osaka, a spirited and liberal city. With an afternoon free to explore your way, explore this neon sign loving metropolis or take advantage of our Optional Experience to the Umeda Sky Building and Osaka Castle. Standing at 170 metres tall, admire the views of the city from the Floating Garden Observatory before heading on to the striking castle to delve into the rich collection of paintings, samurai costumes and historical artefacts that are housed within its walls. This evening and to see out your trip in style, you can opt to join our foodie inspired experience to Namba, Osaka's dining and entertainment hub, for a final feast of local delights.
Culturally satisfied after your incredible Japan journey, head for the airport and your onward flight. We're sure you'll be leaving with big smiles courtesy of Japan's faultless hospitality. Bon voyage!