12 days Tokyo to Kyoto
12 day Japan Family Tour
This Japan Family Tour takes you to the heart of this fascinating country. Packed full of cultural experiences, natural wonder and fascinating cities- this tour unlocks the mysteries of this beguiling nation. Jump right in and discover the magic of Tokyo, Hakone, Kyoto, Hiroshima and Osaka.
Experience magnificent views of Mt. Fuji, unearth the history of Hiroshima, learn how to make sushi, discover more about anime, master the art of calligraphy and watch traditional Japanese performances by geisha, comedians and dancers amongst a whole wealth of other activities.
To give you and your family the best travel experience, we made sure there is something for everyone. For an extensive list of the activities, see the trip itinerary below. We currently have fixed departure dates which can be booked for 2021. Burning with questions? Contact us directly!
Itinerary & map
This itinerary is based on public transport and there will be a lot of walking required.
We recommend that you invest in a local sim card while travelling on our Japan family tour. For the guided days, your Adventure Leader will guide you to the activities. For the unguided days, you will be provided with information on how to get around the places you visit.
Day 1 – Tokyo:
Today you will arrive in Tokyo and transfer to your accommodation. Enjoy your free time to get settled and take in your first impressions of Tokyo.
Day 2 – Tokyo:
In the morning, you will meet your Adventure Leader, who’ll be waiting for you in the lobby of your accommodation. You will have a trip briefing, which will give you all the information you need to have a safe and smooth adventure through Japan.
After, you will enjoy the spacious lawns, meandering paths and tranquil scenery of Shinjuku Gyoen, one of Tokyo’s largest parks. During springtime, it becomes one of the most popular places in the city because of the famous cherry blossoms.
In the afternoon, you will take in Tokyo’s skyline thanks to an incredible view from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. Admire Tokyo from 202 meters above ground and learn a bit more about this building which is where the headquarters of the Metropolitan Government are located, governing the wards of Tokyo.
Then, you’ll head to Asakusa to visit the Sensō-Ji temple – an ancient Buddhist temple, which became independent after WWII. You will also explore the charming streets of Asakusa, an area that possesses the atmosphere of an old Tokyo, with traditional craft shops and street-food stands along Nakamise Street.
Day 3 – Tokyo:
In the morning, you’ll visit the Ghibli Museum, which showcases the work of the Japanese animation studio ‘Studio Ghibli’. This is a magical, enchanting experience that brings animations to life and is a great family outing.
(Due to overwhelming demand and a lottery system, tickets are not guaranteed – we will refund you if tickets are not available).
Enjoy an afternoon of traditional-modern contrast in the Harajuku area of Tokyo. First, wander through the forest until you reach the Meiji Shrine dedicated to Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shokun, who, in the early 20th century, began Japan’s transformation from a feudal to a modern society.
Your second stop will be Harajuku, which is Tokyo’s fashion district, you will encounter punks, goths, technicolour hair – anything goes in Harajuku. Take in the industrial vibes and if you want, grab some hair dye and join in on the fun!
Then, you’ll head to the busiest pedestrian crossing in the world and iconic landmark, Shibuya Crossing. When the lights turn red at this busy intersection, pedestrians surge into the junction from all sides, like a floodgate opening. You can observe the organized chaos from the second-floor window of the Tsutaya building on the crossing’s north side.
After, you have the option to rest at one of the city’s quirky owl cafés and interact with some new friends!
Day 4 – Tokyo:
In the morning, you will have the option to experience the hustle and bustle of the world-famous Tsukiji Fish Market. Learn how Japanese demand for fresh seafood drives a huge fishing industry, and try fresh fish from this morning’s catch! You’ll also be amazed by the variety of fish on offer and you’ll catch a glimpse of the famous blue-fin tuna.
Afterwards, you will visit Akihabara, Japan’s ‘electric town’ and hub of Anime and Manga, and also home to Japan’s most famous J-pop group, AKB48. You will find venues specializing in manga, anime and games such as the Tokyo Anime Center and Radio Kaikan. Also, staff dressed as maids or butlers serve tea at nearby maid cafes.
In the afternoon, enjoy a sushi-making class led by a master sushi chef, and then sample your produce for dinner. You’ll learn how sushi evolved from a South-East Asian technique of preserving fish in fermented rice.
You’ll also have the option to learn the ancient art of samurai with a short sword demonstration in Tokyo’s Samurai Museum. The Samurai Museum not only exhibits samurai swords, armor and guns, but also allows visitors to join in by trying on samurai outfits and having a go at the sport themselves!
You can also call in at the batting cages to experience first-hand one of the most popular sports in Japan – baseball!
Day 5 – Hakone:
Today, you will transfer by train to the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park. This is where you will enjoy spectacular views of Mt. Fuji, an iconic volcano which has come to symbolize Japan, with a perfectly symmetrical cone that rises to 12,388 feet.
Take a series of cable cars and mountain railways through the park, before descending for a cruise on scenic Lake Ashi. You’ll cross Lake Ashi’s clear blue waters and, on a cloudless day, get an unforgettable view of the famous Mount Fuji.
You will have the chance to sample black eggs – a local delicacy coloured by the sulphuric spring waters they’re cooked in.
In the evening, you’ll stay in a ryokan, which is a traditional Japanese inn, where you sleep on futon beds laid over tatami mat floors and enjoy Japanese traditional hot springs, or “onsen”. (Please note: those with tattoos may not be able to enter the “onsen” in Japan as tattoos are associated with gang culture – you can read more about it here )
Day 6 – Hiroshima:
In the morning, enjoy some free time in Hakone before making your way to Hiroshima. Without a guide, you will board a speedy bullet train from the Odawara station in Hakone to Hiroshima and then transfer by tram to your accommodation.
For dinner, experience all-you-can-eat Okonomiyaki – a savory pancake that both the people of Hiroshima and Osaka claim is best in their home city!
Day 7 – Hiroshima:
Hiroshima, a modern city on Japan’s Honshu Island, was largely destroyed by an atomic bomb during World War II. Today, you will visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park that commemorates the 1945 event.
Here, you will find out how this city came to suffer the consequences of the world’s first atomic bomb, but you will also learn that Hiroshima is now the standard bearer for a peaceful and nuclear-free world.
In the afternoon, you will take a train ride and a short ferry trip to Miyajima Island, you’ll reach the Itsukushima shrine. To avoid angering the gods on the island, the main temple buildings were built on stilts on the shores of the island. Just offshore, you will see an enormous Torii gate standing in the sea. At low tide, you can walk across the sand to take a closer look.
Make your way back to the hostel and enjoy a free evening to relax.
Day 8 – Kyoto:
On to your next destination: Kyoto!
Make your way to the Hiroshima train station for your next bullet train that you will take without a guide. Your next Adventure Leader will be waiting for you at Kyoto Station.
Start the afternoon off with some traditional meditation. Discover your inner peace with a Zen Buddhist monk who will take you on a journey of tranquillity, during a meditation class at the Daisen-In Temple. Afterwards, explore the temple, and enjoy an informal tea ceremony with volunteers from the temple.
Later, you will head to Kyoto’s most iconic site: The Golden Pavilion at the Kinkaku-ji Zen Buddhist Temple. Walk around the lake and be mesmerized by the shimmering golden reflection of the pavilion on the water.
In the evening, you will have the option to visit the theatre at Gion Corner where you’ll see a show of traditional Japanese performances. The program includes real geisha performing their traditional arts, as well as other Japanese performances of comedy, spoken word and dance. The various performances have English translations in the accompanying program. (We recommend queuing for the show at least 1 hour in advance.)
Day 9 – Kyoto:
In the morning, wander down quaint, hillside streets until you reach the stunning 1,200-year-old Kiyomizu Dera temple, from where you’ll enjoy postcard-worthy views over Kyoto. After, stroll through the Higashiyama District, one of the city’s best-preserved historic districts, where you can get some souvenirs from traditional merchant shops.
In the afternoon, you will visit the district of Arashiyama, on the Western outskirts of Kyoto. You will also navigate through Arashiyama’s lush bamboo forests.
Later, you will move on to the Tenryu-Ji Temple, one of the most important Zen temples. Here, you’ll walk around the temple’s gardens, that are a real show-stopper. Designed in the 14th century, they have survived fires and wars, remaining in pristine condition for centuries. Whilst there, make sure to look into the Dharma Hall to see the dragon’s eyes on the mural – they’ll follow you as you walk past.
You’ll have the option to climb up to the Arashiyama Monkey Park. This is where you can feed mischievous monkeys or simply enjoy the panoramic views of Kyoto below.
In the evening, you can choose to explore Nishiki Market, nicknamed Kyoto’s Kitchen, where you can find all kinds of local food. A great spot for some local dinner!
Day 10 – Kyoto:
In the morning, experience Japanese culture with a calligraphy lesson led by a Japanese master of calligraphy in her personal workshop.
After, you’ll have the option to dress up in a traditional Kimono or Yukata and stroll around in the city – this will create memorable photos for your family and friends!
In the afternoon, you will have the option to visit the International Manga Museum that houses over 300,000 publications. So, grab one, settle into a quiet corner, and enter a whole new world of Japanese Manga.
After, you will visit the Fushimi Inari Shrine, a major Shinto shrine complex in wooded hills. To get onto the beautiful walking trails at the back of the complex, you’ll pass through corridors of thousands of bright red gates.
For your final evening in Kyoto, and for something quintessentially Japanese, wander through Pontocho Alley, full of lanterns and intimate wood-panelled restaurants for dinner. Quietly sip on sake and look out for geishas wandering past.
Day 11 – Nara or Osaka:
Today, you have the option to choose between two day tours: Nara or Osaka!
You can enjoy a day trip to Nara. This is where you will visit the Todaiji Temple, encounter deer as you explore the temples and halls in the surrounding grounds of Nara Park, and feed the deer with their favourite snacks – Japanese Senbei.
Or you can visit Osaka Castle. Walk through the enormous double moat and then check out the nine-level castle keep or “donjon”. You can also visit a hugely popular, six-level gaming arcade and explore Shinsaibashi shopping district and the Dotonbori Riverfront.
Day 12 – Kyoto:
Sadly, today marks the end of your Japan family tour. You can either transfer to Osaka’s Kansai airport to fly home, or hop on the bullet train back to Tokyo and fly home from there. We can arrange transfers at an extra cost.
Happy and safe travelling!
- 3-star hotels in twin/double or triple rooms.
- Your stay in Hakone will be a traditional Japanese ryokan in a family room on futon beds
Accommodation will be in the following hotels. These are subject to change and based on availability:
- Tokyo – Shiba Park Hotel or similar
- Hakone – Hakone Gora Onsen Yumenoyu or similar
- Kyoto – The Palace Side Hotel or similar
- Hiroshima – Hotel Sunroute or similar
- Osaka – Sunny Stone Hotel or similar
- 7-day JR PASS (Day 6 to Day 12) for bullet trains
- A public transport card loaded with 8,000 Yen credit per adult (those aged 12 and over), 4,000 Yen credit per child (6 to 11 years old). Infants (0 to 5 years old) travel free. The credit may not be able to cover all your journeys but will get you to all of the places included on the tour. The public transport card cannot be used on a very small number of journeys, therefore you will occasionally be required to buy tickets separately.
English speaking guides are included on 6 days (8 hours guided on each of these days as standard). You can arrange additional guides for an additional cost. Any unguided days have been carefully arranged so that they are manageable without a guide. You will be given written instructions on these days.
All entrance tickets to attractions listed on the itinerary, unless marked as optional.
The following highlights:
- Shinjuku Gyoen
- Ghibli Museum
- Sushi Making Class
- Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park
- Meditation Class
- Golden Pavilion
- Kiyomizu Temple
- Tenryuji Temple
- Calligraphy Lesson
You are not obligated to give tips, however, feel free to praise any extraordinary service that you receive.
Optional activities (tickets can be purchased at each location):
|Activity||Approx. Price Per Person (yen / USD)|
|Batting Cages||400 yen / 4 USD|
|Owl Café (price depends on what you order)||1500 yen / 15 USD|
|Samurai Museum||1,900 yen/ 18 USD|
|Hiroshima Peace Park||200 yen/2 USD|
|Monkey Park||550 yen/ 5.5 USD|
|Gion Corner Show||3,100 yen / 29 USD (2,200 / $20 for children)|
|Kimono Rental||3500 yen / 35 USD|
|Todaiji Temple||500 yen/ 5 USD|
|Osaka Castle||600 yen/ 6 USD|
|International Manga Museum||800 yen / 8 USD|
|Total per person for all optional activities||Approx. 13,050 yen / $131 USD|
Please note: These prices are subject to change.
Food and Drink – Your guides can suggest various food to try and restaurants to visit. This tour does not include restaurant bookings. Guides are given a budget by The Dragon Trip for their own meals.
A deposit is required to make a reservation on our Japan tours, with the balance due 30 days prior to departure (unless booking with one of our promotions, for which specific balance due dates may apply).
The deposit is 10% of the group tour price (unless stated otherwise).
No bookings can be accepted within 90 days of a trip departure date.