Day 1: Arrival
Arrive Narita/Haneda Airport in Tokyo and make your own way to accommodation. Directions will be given on pre-departure summary before departure.
Day 2: Tokyo
- Morning: Meet your adventure leader, who’ll be waiting for you at the lobby of your accommodation. Listen to a trip briefing. This will give you all the information you need to have a safe and smooth adventure through Japan. Enjoy the spacious lawns, meandering paths and tranquil scenery of Shinjuku Gyoen, one of Tokyo’s largest parks. In spring it becomes one of the most popular places in the city to see cherry blossoms.
- Afternoon: Take in the cityscape with an incredible view from atop the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. Learn about Buddhism on a visit to the Sensoji Temple in Asakusa, and explore the district’s charming streets.
- Evening: OPTIONAL: Call in at the batting cages to experience first-hand one of the most popular sports in Japan – baseball! Transfer back to accommodation with your guide or keep your adventure by yourself.
Day 3: Tokyo
- Morning: Visit the Ghibli Museum, which showcases the work of the Japanese animation studio Studio Ghibli (due to overwhelming demand, tickets are not guaranteed, we suggest the below activity if Ghibli Museum is not available). Alternative: Stroll around the Sumo District before visiting the Sumo Museum. Then at the Edo Tokyo Museum, learn about how Tokyo changed from a small fishing village into the largest metropolis in the world. Interactive exhibits explain more about the many waterways, trade routes and geography that surround the city.
- Afternoon: 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 the Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shokun, who, in the early 20th century, began Japan’s transformation from a feudal to a modern society. Then move on to the Harujuku shopping district to see maids, punks, goths, and fashionistas – anything goes in Harajuku! See the famous 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.
- OPTIONAL: Take a rest at one of the city’s quirky cat cafés and snuggle up with some furry friends! Transfer back to accommodation with your guide or keep adventuring into the night by yourself.
Day 4: Tokyo
- Morning: OPTIONAL: Experience the hustle and bustle of the world-famous Tsukiji Fish Market – Learn how the Japanese demand for fresh seafood drives a huge fishing industry, and try fresh fish from this morning’s catch! OPTIONAL: Head over to the flashy Ginza shopping area. Then for something different visit Akihabara – Japan’s “electric town”, which is a hub of anime and manga stores and also home to Japan’s most famous J-pop group, AKB48.
- Afternoon: Enjoy a sushi-making class led by a master sushi chef, and then sample your produce for dinner. Learn how sushi evolved from a South-East Asian technique of preserving fish in fermented rice (Please be punctual).
- OPTIONAL: Learn the ancient art of samurai with a short sword demonstration (2pm 3pm 4pm 5pm) in Tokyo’s Samurai Museum
Day 5: Hakone
- Transfer by train to the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park.
- OPTIONAL: Enjoy views of Mt. Fuji (weather dependant), 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 Ashi Lake. Today, you can also sample black eggs – a local delicacy colored by the sulphuric spring waters they’re cooked in. (Hakone Free Pass from Shinjuku 5140 yen, which includes cable car / boat round trip tickets though national park)
- Evening: Tonight you’ll stay in a ryokan – a traditional Japanese inn, where you sleep on futon beds laid over tatami mat floors and enjoy Japanese traditional hot spring- Onsen. As a reminder- guests must bathe naked in the hot springs(gender separated) in the Ryokan.
Day 6: Kyoto
- Morning: Next stop make your own way to the station to board your first bullet train – Hakone to Kyoto. You’ll zoom across the country, covering around 440km in little more than two hours. (UNGUIDED) Make your own way to Odawara train station. UNGUIDED Bullet train – Odawara to Kyoto – 123 mins – Hikari Line – 10:08 – 12:11 Your guide will be waiting for you at Kyoto Station.
- Afternoon: 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. After dropping luggage in the hotel, walk through quaint side streets to the 1,200-year-old Kiyomizu Dera Temple, from where you’ll enjoy postcard-worthy views over Kyoto. Explore Gion District and listen to the history of geishas
- Evening: OPTIONAL: Step into 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 30 minutes~1 hour in advance.
Day 7: Kyoto
- Morning: Set in an old elementary school building, the International Manga Museum houses over 300,000 publications, many of which are in English, so grab one, settle into a quiet corner, and enter a whole new world of Japanese Manga. You’re free to watch one of the manga artists stationed there, deep in concentration as they create their art!
- Afternoon: Visit the district of Arashiyama, on the Western outskirts of Kyoto. Navigate through Arashiyama’s lush bamboo forests, before starting the 30-minute climb up to Arashiyama Monkey Park. At the top, feed mischievous monkeys or simply enjoy the panoramic views of Kyoto below. Move on to the Tenryu-Ji Temple. It’s the most important of Kyoto’s five great Zen temples, but the temple’s gardens are the real show-stopper; Designed in the 14th century, they have survived the fires and wars that damaged the buildings and have remained 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.
- Evening: OPTIONAL: In the evening- sing your heart out as you try one of Japan’s favorite past-times; karaoke. (On Average prices are 350yen per person per half hour)
Day 8: Kyoto
- Start the day with a slice of meditation. Discover your inner peace with a Zen Buddhist monk who will take you on a journey of tranquility, during a meditation class at the Daisen-In Temple. Afterwards, explore the temple, and enjoy an informal tea ceremony with volunteers from the temple. OPTIONAL: Then head to perhaps the most iconic site of Kyoto: 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. OPTIONAL: Pick up a bike outside Golden Pavilion (1,400yen) and cycle to the Imperial Palace gardens. This public park, in the center of this most magical of cities, has been beautifully landscaped around the walls of the Palace, and contains quaint bridges, ponds and gardens.
- Evening: OPTIONAL: For something quintessentially Kyoto, 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 9: Kyoto – Hiroshima
- Morning: Experience Japanese culture first hand with a calligraphy lesson led by a Japanese master of calligraphy in her personal work shop.
- Afternoon: UNGUIDED Bullet train – Kyoto to Hiroshima – 111 mins – Hikari Line then change at Shin-Kobe to Sakura Line – 14:16 – 16:37 Evening: Arrive in Hiroshima and transfer by tram to accommodation by yourself. FOOD SUGGESTION: Experience an all you can eat Okonomiyaki – a savory pancake that both the people of Hiroshima and Osaka claim is best in their home city!
Day 10: Hiroshima
- Morning: Learn about Hiroshima’s tragic past connected with the atomic bomb and its subsequent recovery and pacifist mission at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park & Museum.
- Afternoon: Explore Miyajima, an island where tame dear accompany you as you explore the stunning shrines, beaches and waterfalls. Just offshore you will see an enormous torii gate standing in the sea, one of the most loved sights of Japan.
Day 11: Osaka
- Morning: Make your own way Hiroshima station. UNGUIDED Bullet train – Hiroshima to Shin-Osaka – 86 mins – Sakura Line – 08:27 – 09:54 Meet your guide at the station and drop your luggage at the hotel
- Afternoon: Visit Osaka Castle. Walk through the enormous double moat and then check out the nine-level ‘donjon’ or keep. Prepare for an assault on your senses as you visit a hugely popular, 9-level gaming arcade. (Games are not included) Explore Shinsaibashi and the Dotonbori Riverfront.
- Evening: FOOD SUGGESTION: Osaka is known as Japan’s kitchen, and one of its most famous dishes is takoyaki, battered octopus shaped into a ball and fried. Give it a try this evening!
Day 12 Osaka
- Today is time for your epic adventure through Japan to come to an end. Either transfer to Osaka’s Kansai airport to fly home, or hop on the bullet train back to Tokyo with JR PASS, and fly home from there (airport transfer not included).
- Dragon Trip can provide Narita airport limousine bus E-ticket with extra charge, please feel free to request once you have your flight time.