- 14 Day Japan Rail Pass
- JPY 1,500 Pasmo Card for use on the non JR trains
- Tokyo Guided Morning Tour
- Ainokura & Shirakawago Tour
- Kyoto Guided Morning Tour
- 4 nights at the Shinagawa Prince Hotel - Tokyo
- 2 nights at the Hakone Hotel inc b/fast - Hakone
- 2 nights at the Hida Hotel Plaza inc b/fast - Takayama
- 2 nights at the Hotel Granvia - Hiroshima
- 3 nights at the New Miyako Hotel - Kyoto
Arrive in Japan
Welcome to Japan! 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
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 - 3/4
Continue your exploration of Tokyo by taking a trip to Odaiba - the huge amusement zone where you can enjoy shopping, delicious food, entertainment, and a view of Tokyo Bay simultaneously.
From Shinagawa Station board a JR Yamanote Line train to Shimbashi Station. (7 min) At Shimbashi Station, using your Pasmo Card, board the Yurikamome Line unmanned monorail across the 918 metre span Rainbow Bridge to Daiba Station. (14 min)
Odaiba was built on reclaimed land in the Tokyo Bay in the southeast of Tokyo. This ultra-modern island is home to the Fuji TV Studio, Toyota Motor Company Showcase, Palette Town, Giant Ferris Wheel, the Museum of Maritime Science, Odaiba Marine Park, and the Sega Game Centre. A visit to the Oedo Onsen Monogatari volcanic hot springs (JPY2,700) is an excellent way to soak away the stresses of exhilarating travel. Luxuriate in open air, foot, sand and steam baths, tatami rooms and massage salons. The hot water spouts up naturally from 1400 meters below the surface.
Later in the day, return to Shimbashi Station and then board the JR Yamanote Line to Ueno Station. Use the Central Exit and visit the Ameyoko Ueno Markets which run from Ueno Station to Okachimachi Station. This area has over 500 shops that sell everything from basic foods to high-class imported goods at reasonable prices, and thus it is always crowded with shoppers.
In the nearby Ueno Park, there are a number of places to visit including the first zoo in Japan which is renowned for its giant pandas, the Shinobazu Lake which is famous for its lotus flowers.
Return to your hotel by boarding a JR Yamanote line train from Ueno Station to Shinagawa Station. (14 min)
Stay: Shinagawa Prince Hotel - 4/4
Onsen in Hakone
Check out of the Shinagawa Prince Hotel and board a Kodama bullet train from JR Shinagawa Station to Odawara Station (35 min).
At Odawara Station, purchase a 3 Day Hakone Free Pass which entitles the holder to 3 days of unlimited travel on a variety of local transport including the unique mountain railway, bus, cable car, ropeway and cruise boat. Use your pass to also gain discounted entry at the regions many hot springs, museums, galleries, gardens, temples and shrines.
From Odawara Station board the Hakone Tozan Bus for Hakone-machi and get off at Hakone Hotel-Mae bus stop (55 min). Your accommodation at the Hakone Hotel is right outside the bus stop. Make sure you visit the hotel's volcanic onsen (hot spring) which is a perfect way to relax after a busy travel schedule.
Located between Mount Fuji and lzu Peninsula, encircled by forested mountains and deep ravines, extraordinary views (weather permitting) from Hakone of Mount Fuji and the Japan Alps make this a magnificent scene to remember.
Spend the remainder of the day exploring the many sights of this spectacular resort town.
Stay: Hakone Hotel - 1/2
Using your "Hakone Free Pass" and the provided tourist maps & brochures explore some of the many sites of the Hakone region, including:
Lake Ashi: The 400,000 year-old volcanic crater lake that never freezes! Ashiko is a popular place for fishing, boating and water sports. Use your Hakone Pass to cruise the lake by pirate ship. On a clear day you will be able to take pleasure in Mt. Fuji's inverted reflection.
Owakudani (Greater Boiling Valley): Accessible by ropeway this entire gorge reeks of sulphurous fumes, spewing clouds of steam from crevasses among bubbling hot springs.
Ancient Cedar Avenue: Enjoy a leisurely stroll along this superb 2km flora-lined winding passage; once the pathway to Tokyo.
Stay: Hakone Hotel - 2/2
Check out of Hakone Hotel and board a Hakone Tozan bus to Odawara Station. (55 min) From Odawara Station board the Hikari #507 at 10:08 which arrives in Nagoya at 11:17. Change trains within Nagoya Station and board the Limited Express (Wide View) Hida #9 train at 11:43 which arrives in Takayama at 14:18.
This magnificent train journey through the Japanese Alps is often compared to the Alps of Europe. It may well be one of the highlights of your trip to Japan.
Takayama is a traditional medieval town located in the mountains of Gifu Prefecture. Most of the attractions are concentrated in the old part of town, within minutes of each other.
Your accommodation at the Hida Hotel Plaza 5 minute walk from the station. Make sure you try their rooftop and indoor Japanese-style onsen bath which is free for guests to use.
After check in, enjoy an afternoon stroll around this museum like town with a number of attractions including a variety of small museums devoted to traditional crafts embodying the town's long standing tradition of fine craftsmanship. Visit the old private houses that lie in the area between Miyagawa River and the famously lush and picturesque Shiroyama Park. This quiet, residential area has shops selling traditional wares, antique shops, Japanese-style inns, sake breweries and restaurants serving local specialities.
Stay: Hida Hotel Plaza - 1/2
Traditional Thatched Roofing
Today visit Shirakawago and Ainokura on your guided tour operated by Nohi Bus. Make your way to the Nohi Bus Centre (next to Takayama Station) by 08:20 and present your tour voucher at the ticket office.
At 08:30, your tour will take you to the Mt Gokayama Ainokura Gassho Village. Here you will have 60 minutes of free time to explore this UNESCO-protected village and its steep, thatched roofed houses, some of which date back to the 17th century. Enjoy the beautiful scenery at your own pace. A local lunch is included on today’s program at a venue with beautiful scenery from the observatory.
After lunch, your next stop on the tour will be the traditional UNESCO World Heritage village Shirakawago. Located in a gorgeous mountain valley, the natural setting is divine. You will find more of the same traditional "gassho zukkuri" houses here as you did in Gokayama Ainokura, some which have been renovated into museums, shops and cafés. You will have two hours to spend in this peaceful village. Make sure you walk up to the viewpoint to admire the panoramic view over the area. Your tour will conclude upon arrival at the Takayama Nohi Bus Centre at 15:10.
For dinner tonight we recommend you walk in to town and try one of the many restaurants which specialise in the Japanese "hida beef" which is delicious in sukiyaki or grilled on a hotplate.
Stay: Hida Hotel Plaza - 2/2
Atomic Peace Park
Check out of your accommodation and board the Limited Express Hida train from JR Takayama Station to JR Nagoya Station (2.5 hrs). Change trains within the station and board a bullet train to Hiroshima.(3 hrs) You may need to swap trains at Shin Osaka on the way.
Your accommodation at the Hotel Granvia Hiroshima is a 2 minute walk from 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 August 6, 1945 bombing
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
Miyajima Itsukushima Shrine
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 New Miyako Hotel 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: New Miyako Hotel - 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: New Miyako Hotel - 2/3
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: New Miyako Hotel - 3/3
Check out of the New Miyako Hotel 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 Haruka train 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.