Japan's Golden Route
Japan's Golden Route
Japan's Golden Route

Japan's Golden Route

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Regular price
$4,209.00
Sale price
$4,209.00

From historical sites and stunning nature through to ultramodern megacities replete with incredible food and fashion, Japan is a destination which has something for everyone. This nine day tour takes in many of the best experiences that this wonderful land has to offer, and includes lots of self-guided days to allow you to follow your nose – or your mouth!

Highlights

  • Discover the secret culinary delights of Tokyo on an optional city street food tour.
  • Relax in a traditional onsen in the beautiful mountain town of Hakone, on the doorstep of Mt Fuji.
  • Experience the culture of Kyoto - where cooking classes, tea ceremonies, Geisha shows, and sake breweries are all available. 

Please note that some accommodation is on futon-style flat beds.

Japan experiences dramatic pricing fluctuations based on Festivals, Domestic holidays and in some instances on weekends. Please consult with your Travel Consultant for exact pricing over a specific date. Reservations during weekends, peak season, and Japanese public holidays will be subject to supplementary charges.

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Tokyo

Upon arrival to Tokyo’s airport, our local operator will be waiting to assist with transport into the city (helping to board the right train or finding the appropriate shuttle). After arriving at the hotel and checking in, the remainder of the day is free at leisure.

Overnight in Tokyo

Day 2: Tokyo (B)

Meet up with the guide this morning at the hotel and head towards Hamarikyu, a Japanese garden that once served as a private villa of a powerful feudal lord during the Edo period. Its wide collection of seasonal flowers makes it one of the most visited gardens in Tokyo, however another of its biggest attractions is its teahouse, Nakajima-no-Ochaya.

Have a break in the teahouse and enjoy a cup of freshly made green tea while the guide shares interesting facts about chado (tea ceremony).

From the park, embark on a scenic river cruise to Asakusa, a part of Tokyo’s shitamachi or old town. Asakusa is the city’s oldest Geisha district and also home to Senso-ji, Tokyo’s oldest Buddhist temple. The streets around Senso-ji feature many traditional shops and are a delight to wander through.

The tour ends with a visit to Meiji Jingu, Tokyo’s most famous shrine dedicated to Emperor Meiji and a popular venue for traditional Shinto weddings. The shrine sits in the midst of around 120,000 trees, making it easy to forget that just outside its grounds are two of the city’s popular shopping districts, Harajuku and Omotesando.

Note: The order of this itinerary may change depending on the location of your hotel.

Overnight in Tokyo

Day 3: Tokyo. Optional Day Trip to Kamakura or Nikko (B)

Today is a self-guided day.

Suggested Self-Guided Itinerary:

Spend the entire day exploring this amazing city. Visit the electronics district of Akihabara or discover some of Tokyo’s world-class museums and art galleries.

Alternatively, use the included Japan Rail Pass for a day trip outside Tokyo to one of the following destinations:

Kamakura

One of Japan’s former capitals, Kamakura is a delightful seaside town home to many ancient shrines, temples, and other structures like the Daibutsu, a giant bronze Buddha that stands at 13-meter tall.

Nikko

Located north of Tokyo, Nikko is a city that lies in the mountainous area of Tochigi Prefecture well-known for its national park. Some of the popular places in the park include the Toshogu Shrine complex and the Tamozawa Imperial Villa.

Note: Toshogu Shrine is currently undergoing partial renovations.

Optional Tour: Tokyo Street Food Tour

This tour will take you inside the lively street food scene of Tokyo: an exciting trip across some of the hidden pearls that can only be found with the help of a local, wandering around the city’s narrow streets.

Your local English-speaking food expert will take you to tiny izakayas (Japanese-style pubs) and small traditional restaurants and bars – with their distinctive atmosphere these are the heart of the traditional Japanese entertainment districts.

None of these local taverns normally accepts reservations, but your expert guide will be able to pick, depending on the evening, the right areas (always in central Tokyo) and venues to make sure you find available seats. This way, the tour can be different from time to time but will always include some of the local izakayas recommended by your guide.

Meet your food expert at the train station and enjoy 4 to 5 different venues during the tour. Although the menu is set, your guide will ensure you leave with a full stomach as you will have plenty of chances to eat local dishes accompanied by beer and other Japanese style drinks.

Time:

Start: 17:00

Duration: 3.5 h

Overnight in Tokyo

Day 4: Tokyo – Hakone (B, D)

Travel by train to Hakone, a popular hot spring destination from Tokyo frequented by most tourists who wish to get a sight of Mt. Fuji.

In Hakone, experience a stay in a ryokan, a classic Japanese-style inn furnished with futon beds, tatami flooring, paper sliding doors, and hot spring baths.

Enjoy a traditional multi-course meal for dinner, which usually includes small servings of sushi, sashimi, and tempura.

Overnight in Hakone

Day 5: Hakone (B, D)

Today is a self-guided day.

Suggested Self-Guided Itinerary:

Spend the whole day exploring Hakone with the included transport pass, which serves as a ticket to the numerous forms of transportation in the area.

Ride the Hakone Tozan switchback train that zigzags through the mountains and offers views of the surrounding valleys. Afterwards, ride the Guinness World Record-holding ropeway all the way up to Mt. Owakudani, passing over sulphurous fumes and hot springs.

From the mountain, take the ropeway bound for Togendai and ride the replica pirate ship that cruises along Ashinoko, a body of water that was formed after a volcanic eruption that occurred more than 3,000 years ago.

Hakone is also home to many museums and parks. One of these is the Hakone Open Air Museum. The museum is famous for its harmonic balance between nature and art, featuring a sizable Picasso Collection.

Note: The ropeway that goes to Mt. Owakudani has resumed operations but for safety reasons, hiking on the mountain is still prohibited.

Suggested Alternative Itinerary:

Begin by heading towards Togendai to board the aforementioned pirate ship, crossing the volcanically formed Ashinoko Lake.

Disembark at Hakone-machi and walk towards Hakone Shrine, the most photographed spot in Hakone for its iconic “floating” torii gate. From the shrine, continue to trek along the Preserved Old Tokaido Walking Trail, of which the most popular track stretches around 8 km long. The next 40 minutes heads towards Amazake Chaya, a traditional house serving Japanese-style snacks accompanied by sweet rice wine (amazake).

Overnight in Hakone

Day 6: Hakone – Kyoto (B)

Today is a self-guided day.

Take one last soak in the onsen before getting on the bullet train to Kyoto, the reigning cultural capital of Japan, home to 2,000 shrines and temples with 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The rest of the day is at leisure.

Suggested Self-Guided Itinerary:

Start exploring this magnificent city or take part in one of the many cultural experiences on offer such as cooking classes, tea ceremonies, and visits to sake breweries.

To end the evening in style, we can also arrange a Geisha performance in a traditional theatre. Witness the arts and music that the Geishas have been passing on through generations.

Note: The cultural experiences and the Maiko performance need to be arranged in advance at an additional cost.

Overnight in Kyoto

Day 7: Kyoto (B)

Today’s tour starts with a visit to Nijo Castle, an ornamental castle that was originally built to serve as the private villa of a powerful feudal lord. The main building was completed in early 1600s and has since then been known for its Momoyama-style architecture, decorated sliding doors, and “chirping nightingale” floors.

Next on the list is the serene Ryoan-ji Temple, which is famous for its well-maintained rock garden and known to be the home of the Myoshinji School of the Rinzai Buddhist sect.

Just a short distance from Ryoan-ji is the stunning golden pavilion collectively known as Kinkaku-ji Temple. The temple grounds are relatively smaller than that of most temples and shrines in Kyoto, but what is undoubtedly impressive is the pavilion that is completely covered in handmade gold-leaf.

A visit to Kiyomizu-dera Temple follows later in the day. The view from the 13-meter high building is indeed breath-taking, and the fact that this veranda was built without using any nails or joiners is quite unbelievable.

The tour ends with a stroll along the busy streets of Higashiyama district, a collection of narrow alleyways lined with local stores, souvenir shops, small eateries, and even pottery centers.

Note: Kiyomizu-dera Temple is currently undergoing partial renovations.

Overnight in Kyoto

Day 8: Kyoto. Cultural Experience, Optional Afternoon Trip to Nara (B)

This half-day tour offers a unique and unforgettable chance to learn about Japanese culture in a machiya, a traditional Kyoto-style wooden townhouse which has been beautifully restored. Head on a short tour of the house and learn a bit about its architecture before trying on a traditional kimono, the iconic Japanese garment.

While in the kimono, take part in a tea ceremony led by a tea master, a quintessential part of Japanese culture. This allows some unique insight into Japanese tea culture, from making the tea to the movements involved in serving it.

This cultural experience ends with a choice of two options:

Option A:

Walk through the old neighborhood and visit a nearby sake brewery with a chance to try the local brew.

Option B:

Take a short introduction to origami, the Japanese art of paper folding.

Note: In case the sake brewery is closed, an origami class will be arranged instead.

Suggested Self-Guided Itinerary:

In the afternoon, head out of town and travel to Nara with the included Japan Rail Pass. For 74 years during the 8th century, Nara was Japan’s capital and many of the temples and shrines built at that time still remain.

Nara is just a small town, with most of its main tourist spots located around Nara Park, where a large amount of tame deer roam free. Visit Todaiji Temple, the world’s largest wooden building housing Japan’s largest Buddha, or Kasuga Taisha, Nara’s most celebrated shrine.

Day 9: Departure from Kyoto (B)

The rest of the day is at leisure until the scheduled transfer via shared shuttle to Kansai International Airport.

TOUR INCLUSIONS:

  • Hotel accommodation with daily breakfast
  • Meals as mentioned in the itinerary (B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner)
  • English meet and greet at the airport and return transfers to the airport
  • PASMO Card for local transportation in Tokyo with 1,500 JPY worth of credits

(Note: Additional credit will be charged by our guides to cover transportation during guided days. Clients are free to further charge their card should they wish to make use of it during self-guided days).

  • 7-Day Japan Rail Pass in ordinary class, activated on Day 3
  • 3-Day Hakone Free Pass from Day 4
  • English-speaking guides for tours on Days 2 and 7 (supplementary charges apply for other languages)
  • All entrance fees and public transportation fees as mentioned in the itinerary on Days 2 and 7
  • Japanese cultural experience in Kyoto on Day 8
  • Information pack

TOUR EXCLUSIONS:

  • International airfares
  • Optional tours and excursions
  • Port Taxes and fuel surcharges
  • Porterage
  • Tipping/Gratuities (please refer to tour notes for a recommended guideline)
  • Personal Expenses
  • Departure taxes
  • Hotel charges for minibar or any extra charges
  • Visas (unless specified)
  • Any other services not clearly mentioned in the inclusions above

Trip prices and dates are correct at the time of the website going live, however all offers are subject to reconfirmation at the time of booking. Note prices usually display available discounted rates if any, (eg. Early Bird Deals if applicable).   All featured tour itineraries and offers maybe subject to change due to seasonal variations without notice, or due to local conditions or other conditions. Please confirm all details at time of booking. Travel insurance is mandatory for all Innovative Travel bookings. All passports must be valid for 6 months prior to your return to your home country.   Visas are the responsibility of the traveller. Special VIP meet and assist offers are valid for New Zealand passport holders, for other nationalities please check at the time of booking. For full terms and conditions, please refer to our Booking Conditions  page.

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