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Journey Snapshot

Activity level: Level 2 Requires moderate physical activity. You need to be able to participate in physical activities such as longer walking tours, walking over uneven terrain, climbing steps and be comfortable with some periods of standing. Not suitable if you have limited mobility.
Destination: Wonders of Japan
Duration: 14 days, 13 nights
Flight information: Please arrange your International flights into Narita Airport, Tokyo [NRT] on Day 1 and departing from Narita Airport, Tokyo [NRT] Day 14.
Pickup location: Narita Airport, Tokyo [NRT]

Overview

Choose your own departure date for your group.

Japan is truly timeless, a place where ancient traditions are fused with modern life as if it were the most natural thing in the world.

Journey from Tokyo to some of the most iconic landmarks and locations in Japan including the Kyoto, Hirishima and Kanazawa viewing the old and the new - from Matsumoto Castle to Tokyo Tower. A variety of experiences to enjoy - try your hand at sushi making, visit the world renowned Geisha district and take a boat cruise on Lake Ashi following a visit to the spectacular Mt. Fuji.

Itinerary

Itinerary summary: DAY 1 - Welcome to Tokyo
DAY 2 - Tokyo
DAY 3 - Tokyo
DAY 4 - Tokyo to Matsumoto/Shirahone Onsen
DAY 5 - Shirahone Onsen - Gokayama & Kanazawa
DAY 6 - Kanazawa/Kyoto
DAY 7 - Kyoto
DAY 8 - Kyoto - Nara - Osaka - Hiroshima
DAY 9 - Hiroshima & Miyajima
DAY 10 - Hiroshima to Mishima
DAY 11 - Mt. Fuji & Lake Ashi
DAY 12 - Katsunuma to Tokyo
DAY 13 - Tokyo
DAY 14 - Farewell to Tokyo & home…
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Full Itinerary

DAY 1 - Welcome to Tokyo

Upon arrival you will be met in the arrivals hall by a Big Journey Company representative and taken to the hotel's shuttle service bus. You will then be transferred to your hotel a short distance away to check in and relax after your flight.

Included meals: none 
Accommodation: Hotel Nikko Narita 

DAY 2 - Tokyo

This morning following breakfast you will head out to the Imperial Palace Plaza – A functional palace where the emperor and his family reside. You will then proceed to the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace. Sadly none of the main buildings remain today but the moats, walls, entrance gates and several guardhouses still exist. You can also visit the museum displaying the Imperial Collections.

This afternoon, after we enjoy lunch together in a local restaurant, you will proceed to the Asakusa Kannon Temple which is one of Tokyo’s most famous temple sites. The Asakusa Kannon Temple is dedicated to the Bodhisattva, Guan Yin, the Chinese deity of mercy and benevolence that has its origins in Hindu belief from India. Alleys of shops selling all manner of souvenirs and crafts surround the temple – it is known as the Nakamise shopping street – the temple and its market shops are popular with the locals and visitors alike.

After our day of sight seeing we'll check into our hotel in Tokyo where we'll be staying for 2 nights.

Included meals: Breakfast and Lunch 
Accommodation: Keio Plaza Tokyo 

DAY 3 - Tokyo

Today we venture out to view the iconic Tokyo Tower. You will venture up to the observation deck at 820 feet to enjoy an excellent panoramic view of Tokyo. Later on enjoy a Sushi making class where you will learn how to make some sushi favourites. Sushi is the most famous Japanese dish outside of Japan and one of the most popular dishes among the Japanese themselves who usually enjoy sushi on special occasions. Enjoy your own culinary creations for lunch.

This afternoon, we visit Meiji Shrine – a Shinto Shrine dedicated to the divine souls of Emperor Meiji and his consort, Empress Shoken. We'll end our sightseeing today in Tokyo’s most fashionable shopping district, Harajuku. Omotesando Street is sometimes referred to as "Tokyo's Champs-Élysées". We'll return to the hotel late in the afternoon.

Included meals: Breakfast and Lunch 
Accommodation: Keio Plaza Tokyo 

DAY 4 - Tokyo to Matsumoto/Shirahone Onsen

After breakfast we will walk to Shinjuku Station on foot (approximately 10 minutes walk). Once here we will board the JR Express Train to Matsumoto.

First stop on your sightseeing tour is Matsumoto Castle one of Japan’s most complete and beautiful original castles. It is a "hirajiro" - a castle built on plains rather than on a hill or mountain. Afterwards, we'll drive to Shirahone Onsen (approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes).

* Separate luggage transfer from Tokyo to Kyoto. Please prepare hand carry-on bags for the 2 night visit to Shirahone Onsen and Kanazawa. One piece per person. Large luggage is not able to travel with you on the train.

Included meals: Breakfast and Dinner 
Accommodation: Shirahone Grand Hotel 

DAY 5 - Shirahone Onsen - Gokayama & Kanazawa

Following breakfast this morning, you will go to Shirakawa and visit neighbouring Gokayama which lines the Shogawa River Valley in the remote mountains that span from Gifu to Toyama Prefectures. Declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1995, the region is famous for their traditional farmhouses some of which are more than 250 years old.

Gokayama is less developed and less crowded than Shirakawa, its villages are smaller, more intimate and with less intrusion from modern buildings. The Gokayama region has been well known for its washi paper since Taira Clan refugees brought the art here from Kyoto. At the factory you can watch how washi paper is made and try your hand at making some yourself.

We'll have lunch at a local restaurant together and then go to Kanazawa to check into our hotel.

Included meals: Breakfast and Lunch 
Accommodation: Kanazawa Tokyu Hotel 

DAY 6 - Kanazawa/Kyoto

After breakfast you will visit the Nagamachi, a samurai district located at the foot of the former Kanazawa Castle, where samurai and their families once resided. One of the main attractions of the district is the centrally located Nomura-ke, a restored samurai residence displaying the lifestyle and artifacts of the era when samurai were prosperous. Kenrokuen Garden is a beautiful Japanese garden with an area of 11.4 hectares located on the heights of the central part of Kanazawa and next to Kanazawa Castle. From its scale and beauty, it is regarded as one of the most beautiful feudal lords' gardens in Japan.

Within the Kenrokuen Park is the Seisonkaku – a villa that the 13th lord of the Maeda family built for his mother in Kenrokuen Garden in 1863. Fine techniques in a wide variety are used for the inner pillars and walls of Seisonkaku. After sightseeing, you will transfer to the Kanazawa Station to buy a bento (Japanese boxed lunch) to enjoy during the bullet train journey. Once you arrive in Kyoto, proceed to the hotel on foot, the New Miyako Kyoto is located next to the Kyoto Station.

Included meals: Breakfast 
Accommodation: New Miyako Hotel 

DAY 7 - Kyoto

Following breakfast this morning you will visit to the Golden Pavilion or Kinkakuji Temple, one of the landmarks of Kyoto and an epitome of Kitayama culture. Continue on to Nijo Castle built by Tokugawa Ieyasu in 1603 as his personal residence in Kyoto. This afternoon, after lunch in a local restaurant together, we'll proceed to Kiyomizu Temple. According to legend, Priest Enchin built his hermitage and a small chapel here in 788 A.D. With support from General Sakanoueno Tamuramaro, the temple was erected in 798. Many of the present buildings were reconstructed between 1631 and 1633 by order of Shogun Iemetsu Tokugawa. From the platform in the main hall you can enjoy a panoramic view of Kyoto surrounded by cherry blossoms in the spring, green foliage in the summer, and crimson maples in autumn.

This afternoon, enjoy a walking tour in the Gion district. The walk will take you through the old back streets lined with wooden houses and down the alleyways of Kyoto’s world-renowned geisha districts as the geiko or maiko make their way to and from their lessons. You will receive an insider’s view into the past, present and future of this unique and exotic world.

Included meals: Breakfast and Lunch 
Accommodation: New Miyako Hotel 

DAY 8 - Kyoto - Nara - Osaka - Hiroshima

Following breakfast you will transfer to Nara and visit Todai-ji Temple, first built in 752 and housing the world’s largest bronze casting, the giant Daibutsu. Commissioned by the Shommu in 743 the Buddha image required 437 tons of bronze and 130 kilograms of pure gold. The wooden structure which houses the Buddha image is believed to be the largest wooden structure on earth and it has undergone several reconstructions due to the frequent fires which have ravaged it.

Afterwards, enjoy a stroll through Nara Park, a vast nature park famous for its many deer, which graze in the grassy serenity of the park. Spectacular cherry blossoms, Japanese Andromeda and many other flowers also bloom here. You will also visit the Kasuga Shrine, which was built in 768 and reconstructed every 20 years thereafter (as was the custom in ancient times). The temple is complemented by 3,000 lanterns of which over 1,600 are made from stone and the remainder bronze. The lanterns are lit twice a year on the eve of the Mandoro Festival.

This afternoon we will go to Shin-Osaka Station to board the train to Hiroshima where upon arrival you will be transferred to the hotel.

* Separate luggage transfer from Kyoto to Lake Yamanaka. Please prepare hand carry-on bags to visit Hiroshima for 2 nights. (One piece per person) Large suitcases cannot be transported on the train.

Included meals: Breakfast and Lunch 
Accommodation: ANA Crowne Plaza Hiroshima 

DAY 9 - Hiroshima & Miyajima

This morning after breakfast you will head out on a sightseeing trip to the Peace Memorial Park. Hiroshima's Peace Memorial Park is one of the most prominent features of the city. Even visitors not looking for the Peace Park are likely to stumble upon the large park of over 120,000 square metres. Its trees, lawns and walking paths are in stark contrast to the surrounding downtown area. The park's main facility is the Peace Memorial Museum,displaying a history of Hiroshima and the advent of the nuclear bomb. The Hiroshima Orizuru Tower is located beside the A-Bomb Dome in Hiroshima. The 50m tall tower is one of the few tall buildings around the Peace Memorial Park and offers a great view of the surroundings, including the less commonly seen view of the A-Bomb Dome from above.

This afternoon, after lunch in a local restaurant together, we transfer to Miyajima-Guchi to take a local ferry to Miyajima to enjoy a walking tour of the Itsukushima Shrine. The shrine and its torii gate are unique for being built over water, seemingly floating in the sea during high tide. After sightseeing, head back to the Miyajima-guchi by the local ferry and transfer back to hotel.

Included meals: Breakfast and Lunch 
Accommodation: ANA Crowne Plaza Hiroshima 

DAY 10 - Hiroshima to Mishima

This morning following breakfast you will transfer to Hiroshima Station for the bullet train for Nagoya and connections to Mishima. Once you arrive in Mishima, you will be transferred to the ryokan at Lake Yamanaka. Dinner will be served at the hotel.

Included meals: Breakfast and Dinner 
Accommodation: Fuji View Hotel 

DAY 11 - Mt. Fuji & Lake Ashi

This morning after breakfast you will visit the iconic Mount Fuji – Japan's highest and most prominent mountain. Mount Fuji is divided into ten stations with the first station at the foot of the mountain and the tenth station being the summit. Paved roads go as far as the fifth station, which is around 1400 to 2400 meters above sea level. You can alternatively choose to visit the Fuji Visitor Centre. An information desk on the first floor provides details about climbing and weather conditions, as well as about tourist attractions around the mountain. On the second floor there is a restaurant and an observation deck with views onto Mount Fuji.

Lake Ashi is one of the principle attractions of Hakone. Created by volcanic activity, it lies at approximately 2,380 feet above sea level. We will go on a boat cruise on the picturesque lake, framed by the majestic mountain landscape. For those who are not afraid of heights, we will also visit Mt. Komagatake – a 1,637 meter volcano mountain rising above Lake Tazawa's eastern edge. Hop on the aerial cableway for a journey up and down Mt. Komagatake providing you with a sweeping view of celebrated Hakone National Park and Mt. Fuji.

This afternoon you'll visit the Hakone Open-Air Museum, home to hundreds of modern and contemporary art masterpieces. Sculptures from the likes of Rodin, Moore and other masters are scattered throughout the sprawling 17-acre compound. Additionally, there are four indoor exhibition halls, including the Picasso Pavilion, which houses over 300 of his creations. Return to the ryokan where dinner will be served.

Included meals: Breakfast and Dinner 
Accommodation: Fuji View Hotel 

DAY 12 - Katsunuma to Tokyo

This morning after breakfast you will transfer to Yamanashi and visit a winery. Katsunuma lies in the beautiful countryside north of Mount Fuji. Katsunuma is one of the Japan’s most famous kingdoms of fruit where grapes, peaches and plums are grown. There are 31 wineries, large and small, in Katsunuma where 27% of Japanese wine is produced.

We'll have lunch in a local restaurant as we head back to the hotel in Tokyo.

Included meals: Breakfast and Lunch 
Accommodation: Keio Plaza Tokyo 

DAY 13 - Tokyo

Day at leisure to explore all that Tokyo has to offer. Meet up with the group again this evening for our farewell dinner.

Included meals: Breakfast and Farewell Dinner 
Accommodation: Keio Plaza Tokyo 

DAY 14 - Farewell to Tokyo & home…

After breakfast today say farewell to Tokyo until next time... You will be transferred to Narita airport by shared airport limousine bus.

Included meals: Breakfast 

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More information

What's includedWhat's not includedImportant information

What's included

  • International flights into Narita Airport, Tokyo [NRT] on Day 1 and departing from Narita Airport, Tokyo [NRT] Day 14. Please ask for a flight quote at the time of booking for departures from regional airports.
  • Meet & Greet at the airport on arrival and airport shuttle transfers as detailed in the itinerary.
  • Accommodation as detailed in the itinerary.
  • Transportation in an air-conditioned, deluxe vehicle and train travel as detailed in the itinerary.
  • Meals as detailed in the itinerary. Where a meal is not included your guide will suggest local restaurants/eateries for you.
  • All activities, visits and excursions as detailed in the itinerary
  • Experienced English speaking tour guides
  • Tour Director from The Big Journey Company as well as the local tour guide (subject to minimum group size of 15 being reached)

What's not included

  • Drinks
  • Gratuities
  • All entrance fees to non-stipulated attractions
  • Visas, travel insurance
  • Any personal items and anything not mentioned under included in price above
  • Any meals not mentioned in itinerary
  • Any optional activities offered

Important information

  • Please note: some hotels may vary but any alternative hotels offered will be of a comparable standard.
  • Please let The Big Journey Company know prior to travelling if you have any medical needs or take any medication that we need to be made aware of to ensure that you have a safe and pleasant journey.
  • Check in is after 2-3pm and check out is before 10am unless otherwise specified in the itinerary.
  • Cancellation 90 - 0 days prior to departure cancellation fee is 100%. It is your responsibility to ensure the correct travel insurance in place to protect you against the need to cancel your holiday.
  • A non-refundable deposit is due at the time of booking. Full balance will be due 14 weeks prior to departure.
  • All passengers must have valid travel insurance prior to travelling (to include but not limited to health insurance and cancellation insurance).
  • Further terms and conditions apply and will be provided upon request or at the time of booking.
  • The Big Journey Company reserves the right to withdraw any offer prior to accepting a reservation request. This does not affect your statutory rights.

The big journey promise

The big journey company was set up with one goal in mind, to share our passion for inspirational cultures, destinations and experiences. Over the last 10 years we have had the privilege to escort thousands of travellers on awe inspiring and sometimes life changing journeys. Our promise to every guest who joins us is that we will do everything possible to make sure your journey not only exceeds expectations but delivers at least one moment of true amazement.

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Holiday tours are operated by The Big Journey Company Limited. Registered in England. Registered office: Marron Bank, Branthwaite, Cumbria, CA14 4SZ. Registered number: 6532140. VAT number: 290797457. The Big Journey Company Limited is a member of The Travel Trust Association member number U5675 and holds an Air Travel Organiser’s License number T7282.

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