21 Day Grand Tour of Japan - Start from Tokyo

Tour Code: JP211 Departure Date: You Choice! Custom Days: ..14,..19,..25... Days 
Tour Route: Tokyo - Nikko World Heritage - Mt Fuji - Hida Takayama - Kanazawa - Kyoto - Nara - Okayama - Himeji - Hiroshima - Miyajima Island - Osaka - Tokyo - Ueno, Sensoji & Akihabara - Tokyo (Could Customize)

You can always customize a similar tour based on this itinerary. 

   

Day 1: Arrive in Tokyo / Narita International Airport

Tokyo

Upon arrival at Narita International Airport clear customs with your luggage and make your way to the Arrivals Lobby.

Use the Narita Airport Limousine Bus coupon to travel from the airport to your accommodation. Present your coupon at the Limousine Bus Counter and from the designated bus stop travel to the Shinagawa Prince Hotel. (90 min).

Your accommodation at the Shinagawa Prince Hotel is a two minute walk west of JR Shinagawa Station. Shinagawa is the ideal place to stay for its convenient access to wide range of restaurants and shops. Shinagawa Staton is a major stop on the Yamanote Line loop system which circumnavigates Tokyo.

At some time during your stay issue 21 Day Japan Rail Pass. At the Japan Rail Travel Service Centre within JR Shinagawa Station (open 5:45am-22:55pm).

Day 2: Tokyo

Meiji Shrine

This morning you will be collected from the Shinagawa Prince Hotel at 7:50am for your Tokyo Morning Tour. 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 Tokyo from the main observation platform.

Meiji Shrine - The finest example of Japanese shrine architecture nestled in a peaceful, picturesque area.

Akasaka Guest House - Brief photo opportunity outside the Guest House Gate; entrance is prohibited. A magnificent Western-style palace built in the baroque architectural style.

National Diet Building (Drive by) See the imposing Japanese Capitol (House of Parliament) dominated by a massive central tower.

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)

Ginza Shopping District (Drive through)Stroll at Ginza area.

Continue touring along Harumi-Dori Avenue past the Kabuki-Za Theatre as you make your way into the heart of Ginza. Kabuki performances are staged throughout the year, and you can purchase "one act ticket" on the day (approximately JPY 1,000 per performance). The Ginza is the most famous downtown district in Japan with its name deriving from the establishment of the silver coin mint in the 1600's. Here you will find large department stores such as Mitsukoshi, Matsuzakaya and Matsuya in addition to more than 400 art galleries, innumerable restaurants and boutiques all competing against each other in a unique Ginza style.

In the evening return to JR Shinagawa Station on the Yamanote Line local train.

Day 3: Tokyo / Nikko World Heritage Tour

NIkko

This morning, you will join the Nikko & Kengon Waterfall Full day tour. You will be collected from the hotel lobby at 08:05 am (returning approx 7:30pm).

Nikko Toshogu Shrine - Marvel at the ornate architecture of this famous World Heritage site. Tour includes viewing of Yomei Gate and the Main Hall.

Lunch - Enjoy a Japanese-style lunch at a local restaurant.

Tamozawa Imperial Villa - This fascinating villa, which is also a National Cultural Treasure, features architecture that spans three different periods -- Edo, Meiji, and Taisho -- as well as a beautiful garden.

*On Tuesdays, the Tamozawa Imperial Villa is closed, so the tour will instead visit Rinnoji Temple's Treasure Hall, which houses over 1200 years of Nikko history, and Shoyo-en, a peaceful Japanese garden.

Kirifuri Falls - Beautiful Kirifuri Falls is one of Nikko's three famous waterfalls.

Tour disbands on arrival at Ginza and Shinjuku.

(Your tour guide will tell you how to return to your hotel)

Day 4: Tokyo - Hakone / Mt Fuji

Mt Fuji

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 Togendai (via Hakone-Yumoto) and get off at Palace Hotel Hakone Mae (50 min). Your hotel has a volcanic outdoor onsen (hot spring) one of the region's thirteen volcanic spas which is a perfect way to relax after a busy travel schedule.

Wedged 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 are a magnificent scene to remember.

Spend the remainder of the day exploring the many sights of this spectacular resort town.

Day 5: Hakone / Mt. Fuji

Lake Ashi, Hakone

Using your Hakone Free Pass and the provided tourist maps & brochures, explore the many sites of the Hakone region which includes:

Lake Ashi: The 400,000 year-old volcanic crater lake that never freezes! Lake Ashi 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 Edo (Tokyo).

 Day 6: Hakone - Hida Takayama

Hida Takayama

Check out of the Palace Hotel and return to Hakone Station by bus. (50 min). Within Odawara Station board a bullet train to JR Nagoya Station. Change trains at JR Nagoya Station and board the Limited Express (Wide View Express) Hida train to JR Takayama Station (2 hrs 20 min). This magnificent train journey through the Japan Alps is often compared to the Alps of Europe. It may well be one of the highlights of your trip to Japan.

Hida Takayama is a traditional medieval town located in the mountains of Gifu Prefecture. It is possible to walk across the centre of Hida Takayama in about 20 minutes with most of the attractions concentrated in the old part of town. Your accommodation at the Hida Hotel Plaza is a 5 minute walk from the station.

Enjoy the afternoon strolling around this museum-like town, dotted with a number of attractions including a variety of small museums devoted to traditional crafts embodying the town's long-standing tradition of the fine craftsmanship. Visit the old private houses that lie in the area between Miyagawa River and the famously lush and picturesque Shiroyama Park. This quite residential area is complete with shops selling traditional antiques, Japanese-style inns, sake breweries and restaurants serving local specialities.

Day 7: Hida Takayama

Takayama Morning Market

An excellent start to the day can be had at the Takayama Jinya Market and the Miyagawa Market.

Located on the banks of the Miyagawa River these morning markets are open daily from 7am to noon. Here you will find people from nearby farms selling fresh produce and flowers.

Return to JR Takayama Station where you can purchase a Hida-no-Sato (Hida Folk Village) discount ticket - 900 yen - (Hida-no-Sato Setto-Ken) which includes a return bus ride (10 minutes each way) and admission to the Hida Folk Village.

Here you will find restorations of more than 30 typical old thatched-roofed (gassho-zukuri) houses, relocated here from the various places around the Hida area. The site recreates the atmosphere and scenery of mountain villages of old in a beautiful mountain setting. Open 8:30am to 5:00pm.

Day 8: Takayama - Kanazawa

Kanazawa

From JR Takayama Station take the JR Hida train to Toyama (84 min) change trains and then take the JR Limited Express Hakutaka for Kanazawa (36 min). The complete journey between Takayama and Kanazawa via Toyama currently takes about 4 hours and is fully covered by the Japan Rail Pass.

Kanazawa is a lovely little seaside town with a number of hidden treasures.

Your accommodation at the Kanazawa Miyako Hotel is a two minute walk from the station.

After check in, spend the afternoon exploring the city of Kanazawa.

Your sightseeing may include a trip to the Omicho Market which is a 10 minute walk or 3 minute bus ride from Kanazawa Station.

For a rare look inside Japan's traditional entertainment culture, take an evening trip to Kanazawa's famous "Higashi Geisha District" where you may see a geisha scampering between appointments in full traditional costume. Shima, a former geisha house, is open for public viewing.

Day 9: Kanazawa

Kenrokuen Garden, Kanazawa

Take a day trip to Kenrokuen which is a 15 minute bus ride from Kanazawa Station.

Kenrokuen is an exquisite garden constructed in the 19th Century and 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.

Day 10: Kanazawa - Kyoto

Gion Street, Kyoto

Check out of your accommodation at the Kanazawa Miyako Hotel and board the JR Thunderbird train from JR Kanazawa Station to JR Kyoto Station (132 min).

Your accommodation at the New Miyako Hotel in Kyoto is a 2 minute walk from Kyoto Station across the road to the south west of the station.

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.

Day 11: Kyoto

Golden Pavillion, Kyoto

Commence your exploration of the ancient city of Kyoto. At 08:45am, you will be collected from your hotel's lobby to join the Kyoto Morning Tour. Your English-speaking local guide will take you by bus to Nijo Castle, the Golden Pavilion, and the Kyoto Imperial Palace (on Sat., Sun. & national holidays, visit Higashi Honganji Temple instead). The tour will disband at the Kyoto Handicraft Centre. This is an excellent place to purchase authentic Japanese arts and crafts at affordable prices. (The centre offers courtesy sending services to major hotels in Kyoto and a likely return being around 1:30pm)

From the Kyoto Handicraft Centre set out on an afternoon walk to explore the Higashiyama area. From nearby Maruyama Park head south where you will come across an array of small and large temples and shrines. Make your way to Kiyomizu Dera (Temple) (JPY300) along the attractive winding road lined with colourful souvenir and craft shops. Kiyomizu Dera is famous for its giant wooden Butai (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.

In the evening board a subway to Shijo Station and walk towards Gion, Kyoto's famous geisha district. Gion is the one place in Japan where you may see Maiko or Geisha walking between appointments. As darkness falls watch the traditional lanterns gradually come to life and you wander down tiny alleys housing a variety of tempting cuisine.

Day 12: Kyoto - Nara - Kyoto

Todaiji Temple, Nara

A full day of sightseeing awaits you in Nara. Here, you can find peace of mind and natural beauty as you uncover the many treasures of Japan's former capital (710-784AD).

From JR Kyoto Station board a JR Nara Line limited express train for Nara (45 min). All sightseeing is within comfortable walking distance of Nara Station. From the station make your way through to town towards Nara Park.

You may like to have your lunch in the picturesque Nara Park, famous for the 1200+ tame deer that roam the area. At the end of the park is the impressive World Heritage listed cultural assets Todaiji Temple. This is the world's largest wooden architecture, housing the "Giant Buddha" that soars 16 metres in height - a star attraction (JPY500). 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.

Day 13: Kyoto - Okayama

Korakuen Garden, Okayama

Check out of the New MIyako Hotel and from JR Kyoto Station and board the Shinkansen Hikari or Kodama bullet train to Shin Osaka Station (14 min) change trains here and board the Shinkansen Hikari to JR Okayama Station (50 min).

Your accommodation at ANA Hotel Okayama is one minute walk from JR Okayama Station.

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, was originally constructed in the 16th century. The four-storied donjon was rebuilt in 1966, which displays many relics of local history. It is called Crow Castle since it is painted black.

Hayashibara Museumof Art, a 5 minute walk from the Okayama Castle, exhibits over 10,000 works of swords, armour, fine arts and calligraphy. Established in 1964.

Day 14: Okayama - Himeji - Okayama

Himeji Castle, Himeji

From JR Okayama Station board the Shinkansen Hikari bullet train to JR Himeji Station.

Himeji Castle is a 15 minute walk from Himeji Station. It is open daily from 9am until 4pm and an entrance fee of 600 yen applies.

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 JR Himeji Station board the Shinkansen Hikari bullet train to JR Okayama Station.

Day 15: Okayama - Hiroshima

Atomic Bomb Dome, Hiroshima

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).

From JR Hiroshima Station, your accommodation at the New Hiroden Hotel is a 5 minute walk from the Central Exit.

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 150 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.

Day 16: Hiroshima / Miyajima Island / Hiroshima

Itsukushima Shrine, Miyajima

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!

Day 17: Hiroshima - Osaka

Namba, Osaka

Spend your last day in Hiroshima completing any final sightseeing or shopping.

From JR Hiroshima Station board the Shinkansen Hikari bullet train to JR Shin Osaka Station (2 hrs). Change trains and board the local JR line to Osaka Station (4 min).

Your accommodation at the Hotel New Hankyu is a 2 minute walk from JR Osaka Station.

Osaka has a long history as one of the oldest seaports in Japan and has flourished as a window open to the culture and the goods of the Asian continent and is known for its bargain shopping and delicious restaurants. For entertainment and shopping the Umeda and Namba districts have it all. Umeda, centred on Umeda Station, has a number of modern arcades which are always teaming with visitors and shoppers.

The Namba area boasts a 700-metre long arcade leading to the Dotombori River, a man-made canal completed in 1615. In the Edo Period, the area along the river was the city's amusement quarter where five theatres entertained the citizens. Today, theses theatres are still there, though transformed into cinemas and comedy halls. Dotombori is even busier at night, glittering with colourful neon signs and extravagant restaurant decorations, and alive with pop music. The night life may keep you awake until the early hours!

Day 18: Osaka

Osaka Bay Area

Continue your exploration of Osaka with the visit to the city's most prominent symbols which is Osaka Castle. Osaka Castle was build by Hideyoshi Toyotomi, who succeeded in unifying the entire country in the 16th Century. The inside of the castle has been made into a museum which has a number of exhibits celebrating Japan's samurai history. A panoramic view of Osaka City can be seen from the observation deck on the 8th floor. The castle grounds now form a large tree-filled park. Only a 15 minute walk from Morinomiya Station on all lines or Tanimachi 4-chome Subway Station.

Take a 60-minute cruise on the "Aqua Liner" waterbus from the Osaka Castle harbour (where it will also return). Osaka is a "water city" where its people and culture have benefited by this access to water since long ago. The tour through waterways presents views of Osaka Castle from every angle, Tenmangu Shrine, Nakanoshima Island, etc. The boat cruise starts at three piers, Osakajo, Tenmabashi and Yodyabashi every 30 minutes from 10:00am to 7:30pm.

Day 19: Osaka - Tokyo

Tokyo

From JR Osaka Station board JR local train to JR Shin Osaka Station. Change trains here and board the Shinkansen Hikari bullet train to JR Shinagawa Station (3 hours).

Your accommodation at the Shinagawa Prince Hotel is a two minute walk west of JR Shinagawa Station.

Later in the day, return to JR Shinagawa Station and board the JR Yamanote Line local train to Shinjuku Station ?the largest and busiest train station in Japan. From the West Exit walk 10 minutes through the high-rise business district to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office Building to witness the commanding views of the city from its 45th story observation deck which is best seen at night! (9:30am-10:30pm / free entry).

Day 20: Tokyo / Ueno, Sensoji & Akihabara

Asakusa Kannon Temple, Tokyo

Continue your exploration of Tokyo by boarding a JR Yamanote Line train to Uenot Station. Walk to the Ameyoko Ueno Markets. lanes run 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 is a concentration of cultural institutions such as the first zoo in Japan, Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, Tokyo Cultural Hall, National Western Art Museum, National Science Museum and Tokyo National Museum, all offering recreation and relaxation for the citizens. With its 1000+ cherry trees, Ueno Park is the most popular cherry blossom viewing point in Tokyo.

From Ueno take a subway to Asakuda to visit the nearby Sensoji Temple (popularly known as Asakusa Kannon Temple), Tokyo's oldest and most impressive temple 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.

Return by subway to Ueno Station and then board a Yamanote Line train for Akihabara. Akihabara is the known as "electric town" to foreign guests as it boasts the largest number of consecutive electronic shops in the world.

Day 21: Depart Japan / Tokyo - Narita International Airport

Check out of the Shinagawa Prince Hotel and store your luggage at the porter's desk.

Spend your last day in Tokyo completing any final sightseeing or shopping.

From JR Shinagawa Station board the Narita Express train to Narita International Airport (80 min). All seats on this train are reserved, so make sure you book your seat in advance

e sure to check in for your scheduled flight at least 2 hours prior to its departure.

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