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Enchanting Japan

By Claire Ross
General manager for Alfred&

Discover the rich variety of sights and experiences that Japan’s main island has to offer, from dazzling cityscapes and chic seaside retreats to cultural hotspots – some famous, some not so well known – and holy islands, before rounding it all off with a final blast of metropolitan life.

Places

Length
13 days
Best months to go
March, April, October & November
Guide price range
£5,299 - £6,199
excluding international flights.

Top Experiences
Itinerary Highlights

Tokyo

Going backstage at Tokyo’s fish market

Plunging into the hustle and bustle of the world’s largest fish market makes you appreciate just how important seafood is in Japan...

Kyoto

The not-so-simple cup of tea

It’s only when you try the Japanese tea ceremony for yourself that you realise how complex and sophisticated it is...

A tale of two cities: Okayama and Hiroshima
Hiroshima

The tale of two cities: Okayama & Hiroshima

There are so many reasons for visiting Okayama and Hiroshima: fine weather, beautiful scenery, rich history, good food and nice people...

Day by day
Itinerary in details

1

Arrive in Tokyo

On your arrival in Tokyo, you’ll be met at the airport for a shared transfer to your hotel. The rest of the day will be at leisure. Overnight at Park Hotel Tokyo.

Things to do:

2

Tokyo

Discover Tokyo’s residential districts on a guided walking tour with someone who lives there. First up is Asakusa, where you’ll soak up the atmosphere of Tokyo’s old town. Then visit the city’s oldest temple at Sensoji and wander down the ancient shopping street of Nakamise. Next, board Tokyo's Water Bus for a ride down Sumidagawa River to Hamarikyu, an Edo Period Japanese garden surrounded by the Shiodome district’s futuristic skyscrapers. Here you’ll stop for a cup of steaming matcha and Japanese sweets in a tea house on a small island in the park’s lake. After lunch visit Meiji Shrine, dedicated to the deified spirit of Emperor Meiji and a popular place for traditional Japanese weddings. Finally, as the sunlight dims, take a walk down the sparkly Omotesando shopping street, a broad tree lined avenue home to flagship fashion stores and fantastic modern architecture. Overnight at Park Hotel Tokyo.

Things to do:

3

Tokyo

Explore Tokyo on your own today or take an optional tour that focuses on one or two aspects of Japanese culture. If you’ve heard of bonsai and would like to know more about this traditional botanical art, you could pay a visit to the Bonsai Museum in Omiya to admire its extensive collection of diminutive trees, before having an in-depth lesson at the nearby Seikoen Bonsai School. Another possibility is to head to the Fukagawa district in eastern Tokyo for a guided walk in the Kiyosumi Teien gardens, which date back to 1721, and then on to Fukagawa Fudo-do temple to witness its spectacular goma-kito ‘fire’ ceremony. Overnight at Park Hotel Tokyo.

Things to do:

4

Tokyo & Fujinomiya

After an early breakfast you’ll travel by bullet train to Shin-Fuji station, a journey of around 1-hour. Here you’ll meet a local guide and transfer to Fujinomiya City, located dramatically at the foot of Mount Fuji. You’ll enjoy a leisurely cycle ride from Tanuki Lake, famed for its reflected views of Mount Fuji, through traditional Japanese farming landscape to Satoyama village. After lunch at a local fresh trout restaurant, continue to the 20-metre high Shiraito Falls, one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Japan. Between June-October an optional full-day hike can be arranged along the Fujinomiya Trail. Starting from Mount Fuji 5th station you’ll explore Hoei crater, the largest on Mount Fuji. Tonight you’ll stay in a simple ryokan with spectacular views of Fuji. Overnight at Tachibana Ryokan.

5

Fujinomiya & Kyoto

After a taxi transfer back to Shin-Fuji station you’ll board the train to Shizuoka, where you will change to the bullet train for Kyoto, a total journey of around two hours. In the afternoon, you’ll be met by your guide for a special cultural experience: learning about the traditional tea ceremony in the home of an expert. You will discover all about the different types of tea and the instruments used to prepare it, gain an understanding of how each precise step has a meaning, and gain an appreciation of the importance of the ceremony in Japanese life. Overnight at Kyoto Tokyu Hotel.

Things to do:

6

Kyoto

A full-day of temple touring! The former imperial capital has such a wealth of impressive sites that it helps to have a local guide to steer you toward the highlights. One of those is Kinkaku-ji temple, whose top two floors are covered in gold leaf – it’s quite a sight, even on a cloudy day. Another must-see is 400-year-old Nijo-jo, one of the best-preserved castles from this era, which is surrounded by beautiful Japanese-style gardens. You will round off the day with a choice of other temples. It’s a busy day, so if you want to treat yourself it’s worth doing the trip by private car rather than public transport. Overnight at Kyoto Tokyu Hotel.

Things to do:

7

Kyoto & Nara

Your guide will meet you at your hotel for the 45-minute train journey to Nara, Japan’s first permanent capital in the eighth century. First, you’ll visit the beautiful Isuien Garden, then wander through Nara Park to see the semi-tame Sika deer that live there. Within Nara Park is Todaiji temple, the world’s largest wooden building and home to Japan’s largest Buddha. Next stop is Nara’s most celebrated shrine, Kasuga Taisha, famous for its hundreds of bronze and stone lanterns. You’ll end the day with a stroll around Naramachi, a charming historic merchant district showcasing well-preserved ‘Machiya’ Japanese town houses. Overnight at Kyoto Tokyu Hotel.

Things to do:

8

Okayama

This morning you’ll take the one-hour bullet train trip to Okayama, home of one of Japan’s loveliest gardens. After leaving your luggage at your hotel, you’ll make the short journey to Kurashiki, where you have the rest of the day to explore the enchanting Bikan historical quarter. Kurashiki was once an important hub of the rice trade, the legacy of which is a network of canals lined with storehouses and weeping willows and crisscrossed by stone bridges. Many of the old buildings have been converted into galleries, small shops and cafés, making it a delightful place to wander. Overnight at Granvia Okayama.

9

Okayama & Hiroshima

After breakfast you’ll travel by bullet train to Hiroshima, a journey of around an hour. You’ll have the rest of the day to relax in this pleasant coastal city, ready to learn more about its tragic history as the first city to be hit by an atomic bomb – which completely obliterated almost everything and everyone within a mile of the impact – on a guided tour tomorrow. Overnight at Hotel Granvia Hiroshima.

Things to do:

10

Hiroshima & Miyajima

Today you will take a day tour of Hiroshima with a local guide, starting at the Peace Memorial Park, located in what was one of Hiroshima’s busiest central districts before 6 August 1945. The park is dedicated to those who lost their lives to the atomic bomb, and contains memorials – including the iconic Atomic Bomb Dome – statues and an affecting museum. From Hiroshima, it’s a short ferry ride to Miyajima, otherwise known as the ‘Island of the Gods’. It’s been a holy place for centuries and is home to an array of beautiful temples and shrines; the atmosphere is particularly soothing in the evening, so it’s well worth considering the option of spending the night here in one of the island’s ryokans. Overnight at Hotel Granvia Hiroshima.

Things to do:

11

Hiroshima & Osaka

Today you’ll travel by bullet train to Osaka, a journey of around 1.5-hours. On arrival, much of the day is free to relax and explore this modern and vibrant city, renowned for its culinary scene. In the late afternoon you’ll be joined by a local guide for an evening food tour, exploring the pedestrian streets of Shinsekai or Dotonbori. Colorful eateries and bars line the streets, with hole-in-the-wall takoyaki stands and ramen bars rubbing shoulders with upscale eateries serving the finest wagyu beef. You’ll sample a variety of local dishes, including the famous takoyaki ‘octopus balls’, okonomiyaki pancakes and kushikatsu (skewered meats and vegetables). Overnight at Hilton Hotel Osaka.

Things to do:

12

Osaka & Tokyo

Today you’ll travel by bullet train to Tokyo, a journey of around 2.5-hours. After checking in to your hotel, enjoy a day of leisure continuing to explore this mesmerising city. Overnight at Park Hotel Tokyo.

Things to do:

13

Tokyo & Departure

Your day is free until your scheduled shared transfer to Narita Airport in time for your return flight.

Holiday Budget
Guide price information

Low Season

4 Jan – 28 Feb, 21 May – 30 Jun & 21 Nov – 10 Dec

£5,299

Mid Season

1 Mar – 19 Mar, 7 May – 20 May, 1 Jul - 22 Jul, 11 Aug – 30 Sep & 11 Dec – 28 Dec

£5,599

High Season

20 Mar – 19 Apr & 1 Oct – 20 Nov

£6,199

Alfred & Claire Ross

Claire has been with Kuoni for 12 years, most recently as head of the company’s specialist products, but her love of travel dates back much further, to the slideshows her globetrotting grandparents used to inspire her with. She has visited many countries in South East Asia and never tires of learning new things about their unique cultures.

Alfred & our Japan holiday experts

Freephone an expert

01306 744 656