Highlights of Japan

Highlights of Japan

8 Days



Highlights of Japan

8 Days Starting in Tokyo and ending in Kyoto

Visiting: Tokyo, Nagano, Jigokudani Valley, Kenrokuen Garden Kamisaka Gate, Kanazawa, Osaka, Kyoto, Hiroshima

Tour operator:


Tour code:


Guide Type:

Fully Guided

Group size:

4 - 16

Physical rating:

Low, Moderate

Age range:


Special diets catered:

Vegetarians, Vegans

Tour operated in:
Trip Styles:

Small Group

$3919 (USD) The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$111
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Tour Overview

From the bright lights of Tokyo to the tranquil temples of Kyoto, this fast-paced tour explores Japan's highlights. We take time to reflect at Hiroshima, site of the world's first atomic attack before visiting the holy island of Miyajima, dotted with beautiful temples and free roaming deer. In Osaka we try street food and in Kyoto we relax in perfectly manicured Zen gardens.

Tokyo - Explore the traditional temples of Asakusa

Kyoto - Discover the temples and gardens of Japan's Imperial Capital

Jigokudani Onsen - Watch the famous snow monkeys bathing in the hot springs


  • Tokyo - Explore the traditional temples of Asakusa

  • Kyoto - Discover the temples and gardens of Japan's Imperial Capital

  • Jigokudani Onsen - Watch the famous snow monkeys bathing in the hot springs


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Day 1: Tour Begins In Tokyo
Location: Tokyo
Accommodation: Hotel, Sunroute Asakusa
Meals Included: Dinner

Arrive in Tokyo, the ultra-modern capital of Japan.

For those arriving on time our Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 6.30pm for the welcome meeting. After this we have dinner included at a nearby local restaurant where you will have the chance to sample various types of 'izakaya' style Japanese cuisine. There are no other activities planned today, so you are free to arrive in Tokyo at any time. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into Haneda Airport (HND) or Narita Airport (NRT). The city centre is around an hour away from Haneda Airport and an hour and a half from Narita. Should you miss the welcome meeting, your Leader will inform you of any essential information as soon as you catch up.

If your flight arrives earlier in the day, we recommend taking the train one stop or walking along the Sumida River and then crossing over to see the Edo Tokyo Museum (it takes approximately 20 minutes to get here). This fascinating architectural structure gives a great history of Japan's capital and it is next to the sumo stadium so there is the chance to spot a sumo wrestler in the area. Also nearby is the Hokusai Museum which displays woodblock prints of Japan's most famous artist. Alternatively you can wander around the Asakusa area and explore the back streets. You will find sword shops, street food, goldfish scooping, rickshaws and plenty more just a few minutes' walk from the hotel.

Day 2: Explore Tokyo’S Neon Streets And Peaceful Gardens
Location: Tokyo
Accommodation: Hotel, Sunroute Asakusa
Meals Included: Breakfast

Over one-quarter of the Japanese population live within a 50 km radius of the centre of Tokyo, making it the most populous metropolitan area in the world. The result is a bustling and exciting city - the economic powerhouse of Asia. However, scratching its neon-clad surface reveals a city bursting with history and tradition. A morning stroll to Tokyo's oldest temple, Sensoji, will introduce us to Tokyo's unique culture. We then board a boat for a short journey along the Sumida River. Gaining a totally different perspective of the city, we drift past high rise apartments, secluded gardens and busy warehouses. Arriving in the heart of the city near Hamarikyu Gardens, you may wish to board a train and visit the Meiji shrine and Shinjuku area, where the latest electronic gadgets dazzle from glowing shop-fronts.

Day 3: Travel On The Bullet Train To Nagano And Meet The Snow Monkeys Of Jigokudani
Location: Nagano, Jigokudani Valley, Kenrokuen Garden Kamisaka Gate
Accommodation: Hotel, Econo Kanazawa Ekimae
Meals Included: Breakfast

No trip to Japan would be complete without a journey on a high speed train and this morning we leave Tokyo and board the Shinkansen. The bullet trains are known for the extremely punctual service, comfortable carriages and the lack of noise as you travel at speeds of up to 300 kilometres per hour. Alighting at Nagano in the Japanese Alps, we make our way this morning by private coach to Jigokudani Onsen, home to Japan's famous snow monkeys. Here the indigenous macaques descend from the hills to bathe and play in the hot springs, a unique behaviour not found anywhere else in the world. Despite their wintry moniker, the monkeys can be observed in and around the pool throughout the year. Our walk to the spring takes 30 minutes along a pretty forest trail which is mostly flat. Once at the spring we spend around an hour observing the monkeys before returning along the same path.

Leaving Nagano behind we head for Kanazawa, until 150 years ago the 4th largest city in Japan. The city has shunned mass industrialisation and retains the charm of winding back streets, delicate tea shops and the beautiful autumn maples and spring cherry blossoms of Kenrokoen Gardens. Once ruled by the Maeda Clan, one of the most powerful Samurai families in Japan, the city has several traditional samurai districts and, along with Kyoto, is one of Japan's cultural capitals.

Day 4: Explore Kanazawa
Location: Kanazawa, Osaka
Accommodation: Rihga Place Higobashi
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

As the town was not targeted during World War II, much of Kanazawa consists of old buildings and gives a sense of what Japan was like in the 19th century. We'll spend some time wandering around the colourful stalls at the town's Omicho market, where fresh fish and crab are brought daily from the Sea of Japan along with vegetables from the surrounding countryside. A great dish to try here, particular to the region, is chirashi-zushi, which consists of pieces of sushi piled on the top of rice and often garnished with shredded egg. We also visit Kenrokoen Gardens which took nearly two centuries to complete and translating from their original Japanese as the 'Garden of the Six Sublimities'.

This afternoon, we travel train once more to the city of Osaka. Japan's second city is famed for its modern architecture, buzzing nightlife and tasty street food. We'll take a street food tour around the Namba area, one of Osaka's most vibrant and interesting districts where miles of covered arcades criss-crossed by canals and rivers open up to back streets filled with history and small shops. We'll get to try a few local delicacies such as Takoyaki - also known as Octopus balls, Okonomiyaki - a type of savoury cabbage-based pancake filled with pretty much whatever you like, Kushikatsu - skewered meat and vegetables that are deep fried, and ramen - pulled noodles served in a meat or fish-based broth, often flavored with soy sauce or miso.

Day 5: Travel By Train To Hiroshima And Experience The Poignant Peace Park And Peace Museum
Location: Kyoto
Accommodation: Hotel, Washington Hiroshima
Meals Included: Breakfast

A couple of morning train journeys take us to Hiroshima, where we will spend the morning exploring this thought-provoking city in our own time. Completely destroyed on 6th August 1945, when it was the target of the first atomic bomb to be used in wartime, Hiroshima has literally risen from the ashes, and is now a thriving, friendly city. You will have time to visit the Peace Memorial Park and the well-presented museum on the site of the 1945 A-bomb hypocentre. Whilst serving as poignant reminders of the nuclear holocaust, their over-whelming message is of hope that such horrors will never reoccur. Travel around the city is easy, thanks to the provision of colourful street trams, brought in from all over Japan after the war. Just off the coast of Hiroshima is the tiny island of Miyajima. The relaxed feel of this island is enhanced by the deer that roam freely through the streets. As you arrive on the ferry you can take in the famous view of the floating torii gate. Considered to be one of the most beautiful sights in Japan, these red gates appear to float on the water with the hills of the island forming a spectacular backdrop. Take time to explore some of the islands many shrines before we take the ferry back to the mainland.

Day 6: Take The Bullet Train To Kyoto And Explore Nijo Castle
Location: Hiroshima
Accommodation: Hotel, Elcient Kyoto
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

After breakfast we make our way back to the train station for the journey to Kyoto, which takes around two hours. The imperial capital for more than 1000 years has more than 2000 temples and shrines, many set in perfectly manicured landscaped, tranquil gardens.

We will start exploring this fabulous city this afternoon with a visit to Nijo Castle. Built in 1603 as a Shogun palace, it is a great example of the sumptuous setting in which the Shogun would have held audiences with his samurai warriors. The extensive gardens and gates are impressive, but the real ingenuity of the castle are the nightingale floors, so called because they are designed to make a chirping noise when walked upon, thus making it impossible to sneak up on the castle's inhabitants.

Day 7: Explore Kyoto's Temples And Gardens
Location: Hiroshima
Accommodation: Hotel, Elcient Kyoto
Meals Included: Breakfast

We spend today visiting some of the cities many temples.

We start with a a traditional tea ceremony and take time to explore Kyoto's charming streets, soaking up the unique atmosphere. Accompanied by a professional local guide we will head on to Ryoan-ji Temple with its beautiful Zen gardens and famous rock garden. The exact history of the gardens is unknown, but it is thought the temple was converted from an aristocrat's villa in 1450. Whilst in the gardens try testing out the theory that at least one of the rocks is hidden from every vantage point. We then explore the famous Golden Pavilion. The temple is a three-storey building with the top two tiers covered in gold leaf. Set in a lake the building appears to float on the water and the reflections, coupled with the background of forest make it worthy of its place on many Japanese postcards.

Day 8: Tour Ends In Kyoto
Location: Hiroshima
Meals Included: Breakfast

The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Kyoto.

There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Kyoto at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel, while you head out for some last minute shopping or sightseeing. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you need to depart from Kansai International Airport (KIX), which is around one and a half to two hours away, or Osaka International Airport (ITM) which takes around an hour.

What's Included

  • Meals
    Breakfasts:7 Dinners:3

  • Train Tickets

  • All Domestic Transportation (including internal flights)

  • Fully Guided

  • Accommodation

What's Not Included

  • Tipping and Gratuities

  • Country Entry Visas

  • 1 bottle of Mineral Water per person per day


Check out our Q&As

  • Are children permitted to take part in the tour?


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  • Will I know the names and details of all the accommodation before I depart?


  • Is there any free time to explore places during the tour?


  • Will there be an escort accompanying this tour?


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  • Are the local guides on the tour English speaking?


  • I'm going on a walking/cycling trip-do I need to train?

    It will depend on the grade and how fit you already are. Check the trip page for details of the walking or cycling grade and how far you’ll be walking/cycling each day. For moderate or challenging trips in particular we’d recommend doing some walks or cycles before you leave to build up your fitness and prepare you for the distances being covered.

  • Who will be my travelling companions on the tour?

    We have a wide range of ages nationalities on our small group trips and they come from all walks of life.

  • Should I get travel insurance?

    Yes–it is a condition of booking that you are fully insured when travelling with us

  • How long has the tour company been trading?

    At Explore, we're the experts in adventure travel. Our small group adventure holidays have been running since 1981. Today, Explore is one of the most trusted travel companies in the UK with over 500 trips to more than 120 countries.

  • Can I join the tour once it has departed?

    Yes, but there are no concessions for doing so, and we must have a record in your booking advising as such before the trip departs.

  • Am I contributing to any charity by booking the tour?

    Being a responsible company is a large statement, something that has to be entwined within the very fibre of a company. Discover the charities and partnerships we support as part of this at https://www.explore.co.uk/about/sustainability/charities-and-partners

  • What happens if I need to change my holiday date once I’ve booked?

    We want to be as clear as and as honest as possible about what happens if you decide to that you no longer wish to travel on your trip. Our booking conditions have details of the costs you’ll incur when you cancel-these charges depend on how long it is before your planned departure.

  • What is the accommodation like?

    We choose comfortable accommodation in the best locations possible. We opt for small, local and family-run accommodation where we can, as opposed to large chain hotels. We typically use hotels that are the equivalent of European 3-star, and you’ll usually have an en suite room. Occasionally, where we want to get off the beaten trail we may stay in more basic accommodation.

  • What Ethical Travel credentials does the tour company have?

    Sustainability is embedded within the fibre of Explore, it emanates from the inside out. But as we enter a new decade it is clearer than ever that our world needs help, and Explore has created a sustainability strategy based on the 2015 UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

  • What policies are in place for Covid-19?

    Our flexible booking and safety policies mean you're protected before and during your travels with us. Receive a full refund if your trip is cancelled, transfer your trip free of charge up to 10 days before departure minus any irrocoverable costs.

  • Do I need to be very fit to book with you?

    All our trips require some level of active participation. This could be on a cultural trip, trek, safari, expedition or voyage. It is in the interests of all members of the group that everyone should be capable of fully participating in the activities of their chosen trip.

  • What documents will I receive before I travel?

    Final documents will include a comprehensive trip itinerary, climate and country information, budgeting and packing advice visa and passport information and details on optional activities available.

  • Do you operate a “single share” option and how does it work?

    Yes on most of our trips. Most trips are based on customers sharing twin-bedded rooms. If you book a group trip as an individual, you will share a room with someone of the same sex. However, on many trips we offer the opportunity to pay a supplement to pre-book a single room, known as our single room option. On some trips a single room will be provided every night, on others it will be provided o

  • Do we have to be vaccinated against Covid-19 to travel

    It’s now a condition of booking a trip with us that customers should have one of the following before they travel - — Be vaccinated against COVID, having received the full recommended course, and allowing enough time for immunity to take effect. Full vaccination includes any booster required to keep the vaccine valid. — Have taken a negative test (rapid antigen or PCR) within 72hrs of departure.

  • Will the accommodation included meet local health and safety regulations?

    Explore will only offer hotels that have specific COVID-19 protocols in place and comply with local government guidelines. We will ensure these measures include; enhanced room cleaning, ventilation, social distancing, regular cleaning and disinfection of high frequency touch points in public areas, food safety, staff re-training and minimising contact within the properties.

Reviews from Travellers on this Tour


Highlights of Japan

I can only restate what a truly professional guide

I can only restate what a truly professional guide Thomas Siebert proved to be; for example, as a teacher myself, I was impressed by the way he always gathered our group when we were using public transport and counted us at every opportunity.


Highlights of Japan

At least for us Norwegians I would say that there

At least for us Norwegians I would say that there could have been more food on the included dinners I hope you takeod care of Thomas Siebert, he was, in every sence a perfect tour leader.


Highlights of Japan

Well organised from start to finish. The guide was

Well organised from start to finish. The guide was knowledgable and helpful. Richard steered the group to the key points of interest at each of the visits, whilst giving us space to enjoy the sites at our own pace.

Dates & Availability

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Sunday - Sunday

Oct 27, 2024 - Nov 03, 2024
$4100 $3987 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$113 (USD)

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The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$111 (USD)

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Feb 23, 2025 - Mar 02, 2025
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The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$114 (USD)

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Mar 16, 2025 - Mar 23, 2025
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The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$114 (USD)

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Mar 30, 2025 - Apr 06, 2025
$4160 $4046 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$114 (USD)

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Sunday - Sunday

Apr 06, 2025 - Apr 13, 2025
$4160 $4046 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$114 (USD)

Instant Booking Available

Sunday - Sunday

Apr 13, 2025 - Apr 20, 2025
$4160 $4046 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$114 (USD)

Instant Booking Available

Sunday - Sunday

Oct 26, 2025 - Nov 02, 2025
$4160 $4046 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$114 (USD)

Instant Booking Available

Sunday - Sunday

Nov 09, 2025 - Nov 16, 2025
$4160 $4046 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$114 (USD)

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  • Free Date Changes

    Explore! allows you to make 1 free date changes, as long as the change is made at least 60 days before the start of the tour.

  • Low Deposit

    Explore! requires a minimum deposit of 10% or the full booking value, whichever is less, with the final balance not due until 60 days before departure.

  • Cancellation Policy

    We don't charge a cancellation fee, here is a summary of explore! charges.

    Up to 60 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of deposit.

    At 59 days before tour starts: Forfeit 30% of booking price.

    At 41 days before tour starts: Forfeit 60% of booking price.

    At 27 days before tour starts: Forfeit 90% of booking price.

    At 13 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of booking price.

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