Shogun Trail

12 Days Starting in Tokyo and ending in Fukuoka

Visiting: Tokyo, Hakone, Kyoto, Nagasaki, Hirado Island, Fukuoka

Tour operator:

Explore!

Tour code:

JS

Guide Type:

Fully Guided

Group size:

4 - 16

Physical rating:

Low, Moderate

Age range:

16-

Special diets catered:

Vegetarians, Vegans

Tour operated in:
English
Interests:

History, Wildlife Tours

Activities:

Sightseeing, Walking

From:
$5910
$5427 Operator discount: -$330 Exclusive Tourhub Discount: -$153

NB: Prices correct on 23-May-2024 but subject to change.

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Tour Overview

Explore Tokyo's neon-lit streets, discover Kyoto's tranquil temples and visit the site of the world's first atomic attack in Hiroshima. Travel away from the tourist trail to uncover the country's rural charm with a stay in a traditional ryokan on the beautiful island of Hirado.



Tokyo - Explore the city's lively neon-lit streets and visit Hakone National Park for a spectacular view of Mount Fuji

Hiroshima and Nagasaki - Reflect at the sites of the world's first atomic bomb attacks

Tea with a geisha - Enjoy Japanese tea with a geisha and learn about her art and her life

Highlights

  • Tokyo - Explore the city's lively neon-lit streets and visit Hakone National Park for a spectacular view of Mount Fuji

  • Hiroshima and Nagasaki - Reflect at the sites of the world's first atomic bomb attacks

  • Tea with a geisha - Enjoy Japanese tea with a geisha and learn about her art and her life

Itinerary

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Day 1: Join Tour In Tokyo

Location: Tokyo

Accommodation: Hotel

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: Walking Tour Through Tokyo's Shrines And Gardens

Location: Tokyo

Accommodation: Hotel

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, Senso-ji, in Asakusa, 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. After arriving in the heart of the city near Hamarikyu Gardens, you may later wish to visit the Meiji shrine and Shinjuku area, where the latest electronic gadgets dazzle from glowing shop-fronts.

Day 3: Boat Ride On Lake Ashi; Transfer To Hakone

Location: Hakone

Accommodation: Ryokan

Today, we spend the day exploring the Hakone National Park - home to the towering Mount Fuji. Although distances are short, we use a variety of forms of transport including bus, funicular rail and cable car as we make our way initially to the hot, bubbling sulphur springs at Owakudani. From here, on a clear day, there are magnificent views of the snow-capped mountain that is so synonymous with Japan. Whilst at the springs, you may wish to join the locals in eating an egg boiled in the sulphur pools - just one is reputed to increase life expectancy by seven years!



Our next stop is Lake Ashi, a magnificent lake created from the eruption of the Hakone Volcano over 3000 years ago. A short boat ride takes us to Moto Hakone where you may choose to relax in one of the lakeside restaurants.



In Hakone, we are accommodated in a traditional inn, known as a ryokan, where we sleep on comfortable, folding futon mattresses. During our stay, we learn about local etiquette, such as when to take off our shoes and the pleasures of taking a Japanese bath, all of which helps enhance our stay in this traditional establishment.

Day 4: Bullet Train To Kyoto; Explore The Geisha District

Location: Kyoto

Accommodation: Hotel

Leaving the mountains behind us, we take the world-famous 'Bullet Train', or Shinkansen, to Kyoto - the cradle of all things uniquely Japanese. This imperial capital was at the heart of events that shaped Japan's destiny for more than 1000 years. As the only major Japanese city to remain unscathed by World War II bombings, signs of the past are in its grand temples and palaces, and also in the many quaint shops selling traditional wares. This afternoon, we head to the famous geisha district of Gion. Here, we hope to catch a glimpse of these enigmatic entertainers as they scuttle to work in the teahouses or high-class restaurants, and we'll meet with one for tea.

Day 5: Explore Kyoto's Temples And Zen Gardens

Location: Kyoto

Accommodation: Hotel

Kyoto is regarded as Japan's loveliest city, with more than 2000 temples and shrines, many set in manicured landscaped gardens. We start with the Ryoan-ji Temple with its beautiful Zen gardens and famous rock garden. The exact history of the gardens is uncertain but 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. There is also time to stroll along Kyoto's charming streets and tree-lined canals, simply soaking up its unique atmosphere and your Explore Leader will take you to some of their own favourite sites while exploring Japan's former capital.

Day 6: Continue To Explore Traditional Kyoto

Location: Kyoto

Accommodation: Hotel

Today we continue our exploration of Kyoto. We will start 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 grounds and gates are impressive but the real highlights are the nightingale floors and the extensive gardens. It is also possible to take an optional trip to nearby Nara, a journey of 45 minutes each way by train. Nara is one of Japan's greenest cities and is home to the Todai-ji Temple, until very recently the world's largest wooden building, it is also home to a giant bronze Buddha statue. All of Nara's highlights can be explored by foot so it makes for an easy day's exploration.

Day 7: Reflect At Hiroshima Peace Park; Train To Nagasaki

Location: Nagasaki

Accommodation: Hotel

An early morning train takes 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 may choose 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.



This afternoon, we regroup to take the train to Nagasaki, where we will spend the next two nights. This is a city with an eventful history and was, of course, the target of the second atomic bomb attack on Japan. In a cruel twist of fate, the city bore the unimaginable brunt of a last-minute change of plan, when the preferred target of Kokura was obscured by cloud.

Day 8: Take A Walk Though Dejima, Nagasaki's Dutch Quarter

Location: Nagasaki

Accommodation: Hotel

This morning we are given a tour of Nagasaki, which, for long periods in its history, has served as Japan's main contact with the outside world. In the 16th century, the city became established as the main trade point with the Portuguese. As well as providing wealth from trade, the Portuguese introduced Christianity. After almost a century of turmoil, the religion was banned, foreign traders were expelled, and Japan closed its doors to the West.



The one exception was the artificial island in Nagasaki harbour, Dejima. This small, closely guarded enclave was the site of the Dutch Trading Mission, which remained Japan's only contact with the outside world for almost 200 years. During our visit here, we can see that some of the original features remain, as well as some excellent reconstructions of the 18th century buildings. Continuing our tour in the Glover Gardens, we will see fine foreign residences of the Meiji period and enjoy impressive views over Nagasaki Harbour, perhaps the most scenic harbour view in Japan.



The afternoon has been left free to explore this historic city in your own time.

Day 9: Drive Through Scenic Tea Plantations And Ferry Ride To Hirado Island

Location: Hirado Island

Accommodation: Ryokan

This morning we travel light, sending our main luggage on to our final destination of Fukuoka and packing our rucksacks for our stay on the island of Hirado. Our route takes us along a scenic road through tea plantations. We'll stop at a picturesque terraced area and walk through the fields to the tea farmer's house. There'll be an opportunity to sample some of the brew including green 'Sencha' and roasted 'Hojicha' teas before enjoying a traditional style lunch with the local tea farmers. After lunch we continue our journey to the seaside city of Sasebo. Here we board our ferry to the charming harbour quayside in Hirado. Our accommodation for the next two nights is a classic ryokan, furnished in the traditional Japanese style with futon mattresses on the tatami mat floors.

Day 10: Full Day To Explore Hirado And Ikitsuki Islands

Location: Hirado Island

Accommodation: Ryokan

Today, we will explore the pristine and unspoiled islands of Hirado and Ikitsuki, connected by an impressive 400 metre-long bridge which happens to be the longest truss bridge in the world. Accompanied by a local expert on a day-long minibus tour, we will discover rural Japan and take in the remote countryside of the 'Hidden Christians\ . Along the islands\ shores, fishing remains one of the main occupations, but we also have the opportunity to learn about traditional industries along the way. We plan to visit a museum dedicated to the whaling industry, which played a vital role in the history of this region. On our journey, we will gain views of the islands\ spectacular coastlines and towering cliffs.

Day 11: Sail Among The '99 Islands' Then Travel To Fukuoka

Location: Fukuoka

Accommodation: Hotel

This morning will be spent soaking up the charms of Hirado, a city which has prospered as a castle town for almost 500 years. Its excellent port enabled it to become the central stage for trade with China, Holland and Portugal from the 17th century. Our walking tour will offer fascinating insights into the way things were here in the early 1600s. We will discover the wonderful Matsura museum, housed in the former residence of the Matsura family who ruled the area from the 13th Century. We will also take in the church commemorating Saint Francis Xavier who preached here in the 1500s; the sites of the old trading houses and the foreigners' cemetery. Later we will enjoy spectacular views on a relaxing cruise through the fabled 'Ninety Nine Islands'. In actual fact, 170 islands, mostly uninhabited, lie alongside the indented saw-toothed coastline.



This afternoon, we travel to our accommodation near the airport in Fukuoka, for our final afternoon.

Day 12: Tour Ends In Fukuoka

Location: Fukuoka

The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Fukuoka.



There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Fukuoka at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel, while you head for some last minute shopping or sightseeing. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you need to depart from Fukuoka Airport (FUK) which is around 20 minutes away.

What's Included

  • Meals
    Breakfast: 11 Lunch: 2 Dinner: 3

  • Accommodation

  • All Domestic Transportation (including internal flights)

  • Fully Guided

  • Train Tickets

What's Not Included

  • Tipping and Gratuities

  • 1 bottle of Mineral Water per person per day

  • Country Entry Visas

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Check out our Q&As

  • Can you assist with pre or post tour accommodation?

    Yes

  • Will there be an escort accompanying this tour?

    Yes

  • What is the maximum group size?

    16

  • Are the local guides on the tour English speaking?

    Yes

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

    Yes

  • Are children permitted to take part in the tour?

    No

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

    Yes

  • 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

Ian  

Shogun Trail

Thoroughly enjoyed the range of information and vi

Thoroughly enjoyed the range of information and visits offered. To visit the Maiko was very interesting. Tea plantation was very different to those seen in Sri Lanka and India.

Tracey  

Shogun Trail

This was a well organised tour giving aod introduc

This was a well organised tour giving aod introduction to Japan. Our guide was excellent. I appreciated the stay in Hirado which is ‘a bit off the beaten track’. The highlight though is the country itself, the people and the culture.

Alison  

Shogun Trail

Tour guide Charly was great with extensive knowled

Tour guide Charly was great with extensive knowledge of Japan.

Sara  

Shogun Trail

The trip was well planned and very enjoyable. We h

The trip was well planned and very enjoyable. We had great weather and the cherry blossom was perfect.

Annette  

Shogun Trail

This will be my first of many Explore trips, other

This will be my first of many Explore trips, other participants reinforced their recommendations by this being one of many trips with Explore I will for sure recommend to friends too Thank you, wings to fly in my new world!!!

Margaret  

Shogun Trail

I highly recommend this trip. Japan & it’s people

I highly recommend this trip. Japan & it’s people are wonderful. So courteous & welcoming. Bowing is so gracious compared to shaking hands ...

Katherine  

Shogun Trail

I had an incredible time on a once-in-a-lifetime t

I had an incredible time on a once-in-a-lifetime trip (which will now become just the first of many to see more of Japan). The itinerary, weather, cherry blossom and activities all exceeded expectations and I would highly recommend it to friends.

Aynsley  

Shogun Trail

The trip seems expensive, but is actually quiteod

The trip seems expensive, but is actually quiteod value as so much is included - travel, entry to museums etc. We loved the way the route was based on the James Clavell book, Shogun. One of the scrolls in the Hirado museum tracked it exactly. And it was perfect ending with a view of the tombstone of William Adams, the Navigator the story is based on.

Louise  

Shogun Trail

Great trip with lots to do and see.

Great trip with lots to do and see.

William  

Shogun Trail

Kevin is an excellent caring guide he went the ext

Kevin is an excellent caring guide he went the extra mile for all the of us on this trip.

Read all 15 reviews

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Book with Confidence

  • 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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