Grand Tour of Japan

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Immerse yourself in Japan's history, culture, and traditions on this extensive journey through the Land of the Rising Sun.

Absorb the ancient history and timeless tradition as we travel through the 'Land of the Rising Sun' by bullet train.

Sample Japanese whiskey, soak up the striking sight of Mount Fuji, experience an actual tea ceremony, and explore the busy cities of Tokyo and Hiroshima on an all-encompassing course through Japan's high points.

Highlights

  • Guided tour of Sapporo
  • Discover Hiroshima with a guided tour from a Hiroshima survivor or descendant
  • See Yoichi Distillery, including a sampling of Nikka whiskey
  • Explore Hakodate, including its well-known seafood market
  • Tour of Tokyo
  • Hakone, including a tour and cruise across Lake Ashi
  • See Mount Fuji & Matsumoto Castle
  • Enjoy an excursion to Hida Folk Village and a tour of Takayama
  • Kyoto, including a traditional tea ceremony
  • Sightseeing tours of Nara and Hakata

Day 1 - Sapporo

At our hotel in Sapporo, we meet our Tour Manager and the rest of our group. We enjoy dinner together this evening.

Day 2 - Exploring Sapporo

Sapporo is famed for its 19th-century architecture, lovely public spaces, and gastronomy, some we explore today on our tour. Next, we discover the sites of Otaru, Sapporo's famously romantic port, before heading to the nearby Yoichi Distillery. Award-winning Nikka whiskey is produced here. Yoichi Distillery was formed in 1934 by the son of a sake manufacturer interested in creating high-quality Japanese whiskey with traditional Scottish techniques. Nikka has been producing acclaimed malts ever since. We enjoy tasting this peaty whiskey before returning to Sapporo, where you are free this evening for dinner.

View of Hakodate City

Days 3 & 4 - Hakodate

This morning we leave Sapporo behind, traveling to Hakodate on the Super Hokuto limited express train. When we arrive, we check into our hotel with overnight bags, as the remainder of our luggage continues ahead to Tokyo. This afternoon, we tour the local sights by coach, including Goryokaku, a star-shaped fortress dating back 150 years. Later today, we ascend Mount Hakodate via ropeway for amazing views across the city.

On Day 4, we visit Hakodate's vibrant fish market, where fresh produce is bought and sold in a lively atmosphere. You will experience the vivid array of stalls, which includes fresh seafood, fruit, vegetables, and sweets. Look out for tanks of live shellfish and clusters of crabs! Next, we travel by bullet train to Tokyo, Japan's futuristic capital.

Days 5 & 6 - Tokyo and Hakone

Today we enjoy a full-day tour of Tokyo. Japan's capital represents the best of the nation and is one of the world's most modern-day cities, giving an insight into a high-tech, modern world, yet its ancient attractions are of equal allure. On our tour, we visit the age-old Asakusa Kannon Temple, the imposing Imperial Plaza, the impressive Meiji Shrine, and the riveting Shibuya crossing.

On Day 6, we transfer to Shinjuku, where we board the 'Romance Car' train to Hakone. We enjoy a sightseeing tour of Hakone's scenic beauty on arrival, including a delightful cruise across serene Lake Ashi.

Day 7 - Mount Fuji and on the Matsumoto

Today we visit iconic Mount Fuji, Japan's most distinctive landmark. Traveling by coach, we drive along the foot of the famous mountain, soaking up scenic views along the ascent. We arrive at the Mount Fuji Visitor Center, where we learn more about this world-famous peak. Later we continue to Matsumoto Castle, an impressive fortress completed in 1593. This five-story fortification, built on a plain, is a famous National Treasure of Japan. We spend tonight in Matsumoto.

Day 8 - Hida Folk Village and Takayama

Today our tour takes us to Hida Folk Village, an open-air museum of rustic farm dwellings in the mountains. Set on a hillside overlooking the idyllic Takayama Valley, some of the buildings in the picturesque village date back 500 years. We continue to Takayama, where we spend the night.

Red Umbrella in Arashiyama bamboo grove kyoto japan

Day 9 - To Kyoto

Set deep in the mountains, Takayama is an exciting town of narrow streets and wooden houses almost untouched by time - some of which we explore today on a guided walking tour. After time to enjoy the ancient architecture, we leave Takayama behind, traveling by bullet train to Kyoto, Japan's ancient capital.

Day 10 - Exploring Kyoto

Discover the delights of historic Kyoto today on a guided tour. We take in the attractions of this ageless city, from the UNESCO-listed Nijo Castle, an incredible fortifications and gardens that date to the 17th century, to some of the charming temples in Kyoto. Later, we enjoy a traditional tea ceremony at the Kodaiji Temple, observing the tea preparation ritual passed down through generations.

Day 11 - Sightseeing in Nara

Today we explore Nara, another former capital of Japan's fractured ancient history and home to an impressive eight UNESCO World Heritage sites. On our sightseeing tour, we take in the Toda-ji Temple, the largest wooden building in the world, where we find the imposing Great Buddha, a 13th-century bronze statue that dominates with its 37-foot frame. We continue to scenic Nara Park, a delightful deer sanctuary spread over almost 1,300 acres, before transferring to Osaka, where we catch a bullet train to Hiroshima.

Hiroshima peace park

Day 12 - Hiroshima

Today's tour takes us around Hiroshima, a city whose ancient architecture contrasts the modern age. Our explorations take in the highlights of this peaceful, thriving city, from the Peace Memorial Park and the A-Bomb Dome, both dedicated to the victims of the tragic devastation of WWII. We also hear from a Hiroshima survivor or descendant. Their moving account of the events of August 6th, 1945, brings greater context and understanding to the powerful history that helped to shape Japan as we know it today, as well as delving into the city's ancient past with a boat ride out to Miyajima Island. This tranquil wooded island is a UNESCO World Heritage site, famed for the bright red torii gate, a Shinto shrine that seemingly floats off the island's coast during high tide.

Day 13 - Hakata

After breakfast, we take another bullet train, this time to Hakata. On arrival, we take a sightseeing tour in the Dazaifu Tenman-gu Shrine, dedicated to the Shinto god of literature, Komyozenji Temple, a Zen temple, and rare 'karesansui', or Japanese rock garden, dating back to the 13th century, and the Kyushu National Museum. The museum reveals the history of Japanese culture through an impressive collection of artifacts and modern displays.

This evening, we explore Hakata after dark, visiting the food stalls that spring to life in the evening. These pop-up kitchens, known as 'yatai', line the river banks, serving authentic local and national dishes, and are synonymous with the city's culture. After time to explore the vibrant market, we head to a local restaurant for a farewell dinner to celebrate the end of our fantastic tour of the 'Land of the Rising Sun.'

Day 14 - Return Home

After breakfast, you transfer from your hotel to Fukuoka Airport for your flight back home.

Let me know when you are ready to look into this, or a similar itinerary. There are so many ways to design a rail trip of Japan to fit exactly what you are looking for.