- 14 Day Japan Rail Pass
- JPY 1,500 Pasmo Card for use on the non JR trains
- Tokyo Guided Morning Tour
- Kyoto Guided Morning Tour
- 4 nights at the Shinagawa Prince Hotel - Tokyo
- 2 nights at the Hotel Mystays Premier Kanazawa - Kanazawa
- 2 nights at the Hotel Granvia Okayama - Okayama
- 2 nights at the Hotel Granvia Hiroshima - Hiroshima
- 3 nights at the Miyako Hotel Kyoto Hachijo - Kyoto
Arrive in Japan (Tokyo)
Upon arrival at Narita International Airport clear customs with your luggage and make your way to the Arrivals Lobby.
Take the escalator downstairs to the train station and at the JR East Travel Service Centre (06:30 – 21:45) issue your Japan Rail Pass.
Board the Narita Express train from Narita Airport to Shinagawa Station. Your accommodation at the Shinagawa Prince Hotel is a two minute walk across the road from the Takanawa Exit of JR Shinagawa Station. Shinagawa is the ideal place to stay for its convenient access to wide range of restaurants and shops. Shinagawa Station is a major stop on the JR Yamanote Line loop system which circumnavigates Tokyo.
Stay: Shinagawa Prince Hotel - 1/4
This morning you will be collected from the Shinagawa Prince Hotel at 07:50am for your Tokyo Morning Tour operated by Japan Holiday Tours. Your tour will disband in the Ginza shopping district at approximately 1:00pm. You will be guided by an English-speaking Japanese local and transported by coach to the following sites:
Tokyo Tower - Enjoy a panoramic view of the famous Tokyo skyline from the main observation platform;
Meiji Shrine - The finest example of Japanese shrine architecture nestled in a peaceful, picturesque park containing over 120,000 trees;
Imperial Palace East Garden - Enjoy a pleasant walk in the East Garden of the Imperial Palace, of historical interest and scenic beauty. (Mon. & Fri. Visit Imperial Palace Plaza, Double Bridge, instead of East Garden) Visit the inner moat, 15-feet thick walls and gnarled pine trees surrounding the 250-acre fortress, home of the Emperor and Empress);
The tour disbands in the Ginza shopping district. Take time to explore the Ginza's famous upmarket shopping, numerous department stores and wide range of boutiques, galleries and dining. The basement of any Japanese department store is home to an incredible food court where foods are expertly prepared and presented for sale.
Next, board a Toei Subway Asakusa Line train from Higashi-Ginza Station to Asakusa Station (11 mins) to visit the nearby Sensoji Temple (popularly known as Asakusa Kannon Temple), Tokyo’s oldest and most impressive temple which is said to have been founded in the 7th century. Nakamise Dori, the colourful shopping promenade, extends from Kaminarimon Gate to Hozomon Gate and is an excellent place to buy everything from kimono to traditional sweets. Positioned across the road from Kaminarimon Gate the Asakusa Rickshaw tour guides await to guide you around the area by rickshaw.
Time permitting, using your Pasmo Card board an Asakusa Subway Line train from Asakusa Station to Asakusabashi. (3 min) Change trains to a JR Chuo/Sobu Line train to Akihabara Station. (2 min) To most foreign visitors Akihabara is known as "Electric City" due to hundreds of electronic stores found in this district. In recent years Akihabara has become home to a number of shops specialising in Japanese animation "Anime and Manga" which is growing increasingly popular around the world.
In the evening return to Shinagawa Station using the JR Yamanote Line.
Stay: Shinagawa Prince Hotel - 2/4
Continue to explore the highlights of Tokyo. From Shinagawa Station board a JR Yamanote Line train to Shibuya Station. (12 mins)
At Shibuya Station, exit via Hachiko-Guchi Exit for the famous Shibuya crossing. Enjoy a light refreshment at the Starbucks across the road as you sit by the window overlooking the bustling pedestrian crossing. Shibuya is an area popular among young people and rich in cinemas, cafes, restaurants, department stores, fashion-store buildings and boutiques.
From Shibuya Station it is only one stop north to Harajuku Station on the JR Yamanote Line.
For lunch, explore the selection in the side alleys off Takeshita Dori - the lively street that leads out from Harajuku Station (Takeshita Exit) and which prides itself as the font of new teenage Tokyo street fashion. Bargain hunters will enjoy a visit to ‘Daiso’ to delight in what you can buy for only 100 yen!
Running almost parallel to Takeshita Dori is Omotesando, a long street lined with international boutique brands.
From Harajuku Station, board a JR Yamanote Line train two stops north to Shinjuku Station – the busiest train station in Japan! Take time to explore some of the great shopping that surrounds the station. A walk to Takashimaya Times Square and an exploration of a shop called Tokyu Hands which sells a range of unique gadgets is recommended.
From the West Exit of Shinjuku Station walk 10 minutes through the high-rise business district to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office Building to view the city skyline which is best seen at night. (9:30am-10:30pm / free entry)
Return to Shinagawa from Shinjuku on the JR Yamanote Line. (20 mins)
Stay: Shinagawa Prince Hotel - 3/3
The Great Buddha
Take a day trip to the seaside town called Kamakura. Located just 45 minutes from Shinagawa Station on the Yokosuka Line, Kamakura is one of Japan's most popular sightseeing destinations, famous for a number of temples, shrines and beautiful Japanese gardens.
Surrounded by wooded mountains on three sides and Sagami Bay on the south, Kamakura was once the capital of Japan from 1192 to 1333.
Many of the wonderful sites in Kamakura are within walking distance of Kamakura Station, so one can easily spend the day exploring the many temples, shrines, parks and gardens. Some of the sites you might like to visit include:
The Great Buddha, this giant bronze statue of Buddha stands at 13.35m tall and is the second largest in Japan. The Buddha once was housed inside a temple, but late in the 15th century, a large tsunami washed away the wooden structure and the Buddha has remained outside ever since.
Komachi-dori St, leading out from Kamakura Station, this strip of shops has many great places to buy souvenirs and a number of good places to buy some snacks from nuts and crackers, to cute little cakes and sweets.
Hasedera Temple, situated high on a hill, the main temple has a fine view of the coastal city. The temple is home to a wooden statue of Kannon, the 11-headed goddess of mercy that stands at 9m high.
Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine, This iconic Shinto shrine is Kamakura's geographical and cultural centre and attracts many visitors with its beautiful peony gardens and two museums, the Museum of Modern Art and the Kamakura Museum of National Treasures.
Hokoku-ji Temple, this Zen temple is a must-see attraction in Kamakura. Behind the temple is a magnificent bamboo garden which is tranquil escape. Towards the back of the bamboo garden is a small tea house where you can enjoy a special cup of green tea while taking in the beauty of the serene surroundings.
Return to Tokyo in the late afternoon.
Stay: Shinagawa Prince Hotel - 4/4
Higashi Geisha District
Check out of your accommodation at the Shinagawa Prince Hotel and board a JR Yamanote Line train to Tokyo Station. (10 min) Within Tokyo Station, change trains to a Hakutaka or Kagayaki bullet train to Kanazawa Station. (2.5-3hrs)
Kanazawa, often referred to as "little Kyoto", is a lovely seaside town with a number of hidden treasures.
Your accommodation at the Hotel Mystays Premier Kanazawa is a five minute walk from the West Exit of Kanazawa Station.
After check in, spend the afternoon exploring the city of Kanazawa.
Your sightseeing should include a trip to the Omicho Market which is a 10 minute walk or 3 minute taxi or bus ride from Kanazawa Station. Omicho is the liveliest of all markets in Kanazawa and is popular with the residents of the city. many of the 170 shops specialise in fresh fish and vegetables. Lovers of seafood will delight in some of the surrounding sushi bars and restaurants that serve fresh seafood from off the coast of Kanazawa. For those who prefer their seafood cooked, tempura and grilled options are available.
For a rare look inside Japan's traditional entertainment culture, make a visit to Kanazawa's famous "Higashi Geisha District" where you can walk down the winding lanes which features rows of old geisha houses. Late in the afternoon and early evening you may see a geisha scampering between appointments in full traditional costume. Shima, a former geisha house, is open for public viewing (9am to 6pm) where you can also enjoy a cup of green tea and a traditional Japanese sweet.
Stay: Hotel Mystays Premier Kanazawa - 1/2
Continue your exploration of Kanazawa today by visiting one of Japan's top three most beautiful gardens - Kenrokuen, which is a 15 minute bus ride from Kanazawa Station.
Kenrokuen is an exquisite garden constructed over 300 years ago and is said to be one of the three most beautiful landscape gardens in Japan along with Kairakuen in Mito and Korakuen in Okayama. The literal meaning of Kenrokuen is "The Garden of Six Sublimities" which refers to its spaciousness, seclusion, artificiality, antiquity, abundant water and broad views. It took 150 years to complete the ponds, streams, waterfalls, flowers and teahouses which are all truly breathtaking.
Surrounding Kenrokuen is a number of popular sightseeing sports including Kanazawa Castle Park, Kanazawa Museum of Art, 21st Century Museum of Modern Art and the Kanko Bussankan where local Ishikawa traditional crafts, confectionary and sake are sold.
In the evening make your way to the bright lights of Katamachi which is Kanazawa's lively entertainment district. The area's "Izakayas" (Japanese-style pubs) are a must to visit where cold drinks and inexpensive dishes are served.
Stay: Hotel Mystays Premier Kanazawa - 2/2
Check out of your accommodation and from Kanazawa Station, board the Thunderbird bullet train departing at 09:54 to Shin Osaka Station. (160 min) Within the station, change trains to a Sakura bullet train to Okayama Station. (45 min)
Your accommodation at the Hotel Granvia Okayama is one minute walk, directly connected to the station.
After check-in, commence exploring the city of Okayama. Okayama is home to the magnificent landscape garden of Korakuen - another of Japan's three most beautiful gardens. The garden, covering about 14 ha., was completed in 1700. It contains rustic tea arbours, extensive lawns, lovely ponds, graceful groves, and peaceful hills, lanes and streams. All are tastefully arranged to harmonize with the surrounding hill and mountain. The maple trees, cherry and Japanese apricot groves offer beautiful seasonal contrasts.
Okayama Castle is a 3 minute walk from the south exit of Korakuen Garden, and was originally constructed in the 16th century. The four-storied donjon was rebuilt in 1966, which displays many relics of local history. Okayama Castle is sometimes referred to as the Crow Castle due to its black exterior.
You might also want to visit the Hayashibara Museum of Art, a 5 minute walk from Okayama Castle, exhibits over 10,000 works of swords, armour, fine arts and calligraphy. The museum was established in 1964.
Stay: Hotel Granvia Okayama - 1/2
Today take a daytrip to the famous Himeji Castle, which is only a 20 min train ride away from Okayama Station. From JR Okayama Station board the Shinkansen Hikari bullet train to JR Himeji Station. (20 min)
Himeji Castle is the star attraction as one of Japan's most magnificent castles. History has been kind as it is one of the few castles that has never been destroyed by wars, fire or earthquake. Himeji Castle, known as the "White Heron" due to its white plaster fireproof walls, is a national treasure and a World Heritage site.
A free tour of Himeji Castle is available for English speaking visitors. Please note that reservations are not accepted for this service. Inquire when you purchase your admission tickets. Allow about 1 hour and a half for the tour.
From the station, the castle is either a 15 minute walk or a 5 minute local bus ride. It is open daily from 9am til 4pm and an entrance fee of JPY 600 applies.
In the evening, from JR Himeji Station board the Shinkansen Hikari bullet train back to JR Okayama Station.
Stay: Hotel Granvia Okayama - 2/2
Hiroshima Atomic Bomb Dome
Check out of your accommodation and return to JR Okayama Station to board the Shinkansen Hikari or Kodama bullet train to JR Hiroshima Station (40 min).
Your accommodation at the Hotel Granvia Hiroshima is a two minute walk from JR Hiroshima Station.
Hiroshima was a city left in ashes after the Atomic bomb was dropped. Hiroshima has made a remarkable recovery and has been rebuilt as a modern thriving city. The area which felt the full force of the bomb has been transformed into a Peace Memorial Park with gardens of great beauty and nearly forty memorials to the victims of the atomic explosion. Hiroshima is now known as the "International City of Peace" dedicated to a total ban on the use of Atomic weapons. A visit to the Peace Memorial Park should be included in every Hiroshima itinerary.
To visit the Park, board a tram in front of Hiroshima Station and get off at Genbaku Domu-Mae (Atomic Bomb Dome) stop (cost 180 yen - 15 min.)
Using your tour map, visit a number of exhibits including the Atomic Bomb Dome: Positioned below the epicentre, this skeleton of melted steel and concrete has been left as it was after the bomb was dropped. It stands as a stark reminder of the city's bombing on August 6, 1945.
The highlight of the Park is the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. This state of the art museum focuses on Hiroshima both before and after the explosion. It also tells the story of Hiroshima's rapid rebuild into the beautiful city it is today.
On the way back to station, make sure you visit Hiroshima Castle. This castle was first built in 1589 until its destruction in 1945. Having been rebuilt in all its glory, it is now used to exhibit historic artefacts from Japan's feudal past
Stay: Hotel Granvia Hiroshima - 1/2
Enjoy a day of exploration upon the sacred earth of Miyajima Island (Shrine Island).
From Hiroshima Station board the JR Sanyo Line to Miyajimaguchi Station (26 min). Miyajima is reached by JR ferryboat (10 min / using your JR Pass) from Miyajimaguchi Pier, a few minutes walk from JR Miyajimaguchi Station.
The entire 30 sq. km. island is designated by the Japanese government as a Special Historic Site and Special Place of Scenic Beauty. The must see Itsukushima Shrine, built in the sixth century, is dedicated to the maritime guardian goddesses. The shrine buildings are connected by corridors which stretch out over the water giving it the appearance of floating on the sea at high tide. The giant red wooden O-Torii (Grand Gate) is the most noted symbol of Miyajima.
Be sure to take the 1.7km ropeway (JPY 1,800 round trip) to Mount Misen's summit to absorb one of the three most spectacular panoramic views in Japan. Keep your eye on the summit's mischievous monkeys before descending on a peaceful walk through the ancient forest.
Return to Hiroshima early evening to feast upon the city's popular delicacy Okonomiyaki - a savoury, layered noodle pancake cooked on an iron hotplate at your table. The locals are very proud of their contribution to Japanese cuisine!
Stay: Hotel Granvia Hiroshima - 2/2
Check out of the Hotel Granvia Hiroshima and board a bullet train to Kyoto Station. (2hrs) You may need to swap trains at Shin Osaka on the way.
Your accommodation at the Miyako Hotel Kyoto Hachijo is a 2 minute walk from Kyoto Station.
After check in, commence exploring the sights of Japan's old capital and board a Subway Karasuma Line train 2 stops to Shijo Station, the busiest shopping district in Kyoto. There are a number of cafes, restaurants and shops to explore. From Shijo Station, walk down to Nishiki Food Market. (10 min) Here you can try various Japanese food from traditional sweets to fresh seafood.
In the late afternoon walk towards Gion, Kyoto's famous geisha district. Gion is the one place in Japan where you may see a Maiko or Geisha walking between appointments. As darkness falls watch the traditional lanterns gradually come to life and wander down the tiny alleys exploring the many restaurants and bars offering a variety of tempting cuisines.
Stay: Miyako Hotel Kyoto Hachijo - 1/3
Today you will be collected by your tour guide, to commence your exploration of the ancient city of Kyoto.
Please make your way to the Sunrise Tours Desk (B1F) within the Avanti shopping complex and arrive 10 minutes prior to the official pick up time. The Avanti shopping complex is directly opposite the Hachijo East Exit of Kyoto Station. At 08:30am, you will be collected to join your Kyoto Morning Tour operated by Sunrise Tours. Your English-speaking local guide will take you by bus to Nijo Castle, the Golden Pavilion and the Kyoto Imperial Palace (on Mon., or Tue. if Monday is a public holiday, May 14-17, late Dec.-early Jan., visit Higashi Honganji Temple instead). The tour will disband at approximately 1:30pm.
In the afternoon, board a local bus to the base of Kiyomizu Dera Temple. Walk up this attractive winding road lined with colourful souvenir and craft shops. Kiyomizu Dera is famous for its giant wooden stage overlooking panoramic views of Kyoto and its main hall purely constructed of wood and sustained by huge columns and beams without the use of a single nail, screw or bolt.
Be sure to visit the Sky Plaza Observation Deck on top of Kyoto Station for a free panoramic view of the surrounding area of Kyoto. This modern station also contains a large shopping mall, specialty shops and restaurants.
Stay: Miyako Hotel Kyoto Hachijo – 2/3
Fushimi Inari Shrine
A full day of sightseeing awaits you in Nara. But first, take a trip to visit Kyoto's famous Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine. Anyone who has seen Memoirs of a Geisha will be familiar with the thousands of red Torii gates which stretch towards Mt Inari.
From Kyoto Station, board the JR Nara Line to JR Inari Station. (5 min) Follow the signs and the walking path leading up to the shrine. It is one of the oldest Shinto Shrines in Kyoto and is famous for its thousand red torii gates which lead up the mountain. The shrine is dedicated to Inari - the Shinto god of rice, commerce and business. Each of the torii gates have been donated by different Japanese businesses.
From JR Inari Station continue on to Nara. (40 min) Here, you can find peace of mind and natural beauty as you uncover the many treasures of Japans former capital (710-784AD).
From JR Nara Station all of the sightseeing is within comfortable walking distance. Walk through the town towards Nara Park. Should the weather be kind you may like to have your lunch in the picturesque Nara Park amongst the many tame deer that roam the area. At the end of the Park is the World Heritage listed cultural asset Todaiji Temple - the worlds largest wooden building, which houses the Giant Buddha that soars 16 metres in height. Return to Nara Station via Nara-machi, an old precinct full of traditional houses, shops and tearooms in calm and pleasant surroundings, giving a good contrast to the great temples and old burial mounds.
Board a JR Nara Line train back to Kyoto Station in the evening.
Stay: Miyako Hotel Kyoto Hachijo - 3/3
Check out of your accommodation and leave your luggage in storage at the porter's desk for your later return.
Spend your last morning in Kyoto completing any final sightseeing or shopping.
For those departing from Tokyo, board a Hikari bullet train from Kyoto to Shinagawa Station. (2.5 hrs) Within Shinagawa Station board the Narita Express Train to Narita Airport. (65 min)
For those departing from Osaka, board the direct Haruka train service from Kyoto Station to Kansai International Airport (80min).
*Please note all airport trains must be reserved in advance.
Be sure to check in for your scheduled flight at least 2 hours prior to its departure.