Japan-Shades of Japan

Shades of Japan

Style: TravellerCultural discovery away from the crowds
Duration: 11 days
Type: GroupTravel with a small group of other travellers


Our group tour of Japan finds a country that combines the past and the present effortlessly. The hectic metropolis of Tokyo, beautiful ancient Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, the tragic and moving Hiroshima Peace Memorial and Kyoto, one of the best-preserved cities in Japan, are all included. The little visited Nara is home to no less than 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites and to some of the most important temples in the country. We journey on the impressive Bullet Trains and stay on a farm with a local Japanese family. But what charms the most is the proud promotion of age-old traditions and culture and the respect and courtesy that is evident everywhere.


Tour Rating

 Fitness ●●○○○ | Off the Beaten Track ●●●○○ | Culture ●●●●○ | History ●●●●● | Wildlife ●○○○○

 Tour Pace


Tour Highlights

● The vast metropolis of Tokyo
● The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and Park
● A night at a minshuku in Asuka with a local family.
● Miyajima Island and the Itsukushima Shrine
● The many fabulous sites of Kyoto

Tour Essentials

Accommodation: Mix of comfortable hotels, 1 night in a ryokan and 1 night in a minshuku (Bed and Breakfast).
Included Meals: Daily breakfast (B), plus lunches (L) and dinners (D) as shown in the itinerary
Group Size: Maximum 12
Start Point:Tokyo
End Point:Tokyo
Transport: Private cars or minibuses, coach, ferry, trains, local public transport.
Countries: Japan

Tour itinerary notes

While our intention is to adhere to the day-by-day itinerary as printed below, a degree of flexibility is built in. Overnight stops may vary from those suggested and on occasions alternative accommodation, of a similar standard to that named below, will be used.

Tour Guide

Our guides are a key strength, chosen for their knowledge of and passion for the areas in which they work. All of our guides are carefully hand-picked, and are not just passing through these countries, but are usually locally born. Unlike some companies it should be noted we do not send a guide or tour leader from Undiscovered Destinations in the UK as we have every confidence in our locally appointed representative who is responsible for operating the tour on our behalf. On this tour you will be accompanied by local guides and assistants rather than the same guide throughout.

Day 1 –Tokyo

Arrive at Narita Airport where you will be welcomed by an English speaking assistant who will help you transfer to your hotel by shared minivan. The rest of the day is at leisure with no organised activities. Overnight at the Park Hotel Tokyo or similar.


Tokyo is one of the most interesting cities in the world, simultaneously mixing old and new, high tech with centuries of tradition. It is a fast paced city where psychedelic pop culture thrums alongside serene ancient Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines. Officially Tokyo Metropolis, it is the capital of Japan and one of its 47 prefectures. The Greater Tokyo Area is the most populous metropolitan area in the world and is the seat of the Emperor of Japan and the Japanese government. Prior to 1868, Tokyo was known as Edo; a small castle town in the 16th century, Edo became Japan's political center in 1603 when Tokugawa Ieyasu established his feudal government there. A few decades later, Edo had grown into one of the world's most populous cities. With the Meiji Restoration of 1868, the emperor and capital moved from Kyoto to Edo, which was renamed Tokyo ("Eastern Capital"). Large parts of Tokyo were destroyed in the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 and in the air raids of 1945. Today, Tokyo offers a seemingly unlimited choice of shopping, entertainment, culture and dining to its visitors. The city's history can be appreciated in its many districts, and in the excellent museums, historic temples and gardens. Contrary to common perception, Tokyo is also home to a number of attractive green spaces in the city centre area.

Day 2 - Tokyo

After breakfast we begin our exploration of Tokyo with our guide, using the city’s public transport systems, and taking lunch in a local restaurant. This full day tour will include visits to the Meiji Shrine, the Imperial Palace Plaza, the Tokyo Tower, Hama-rikyu Garden, Asakusa Kannon Temple, the Nakamise Shopping District and a relaxing cruise on the Sumida River. This is a great introduction to the diversity of one of the world’s busiest cities. Overnight at the Park Hotel or similar (BL)

Day 3 – Tokyo

Today we continue our exploration of this vibrant city calling into the Tsukiji Fish Market and discovering the districts of Ueno, Yanesen and Kagurazaka. Once again we will use public transport to navigate the city with our guide, and take lunch in a local restaurant. Overnight at the Park Hotel Tokyo or similar (BL)

Day 4- Hakone- Onsen- Ryokan stay
After breakfast our guide will meet us at the hotel for the transfer by public transport to Shinjuku station, to board the train for Hakone. On arrival we will enjoy the Open Air Museum, take the 30 minute Ropeway cable car ride, observe the volcanic splendour of Owakudani Valley and drink in the views of Mount Fuji from a cruise on Lake Ashi. We will then retire to a local restaurant for lunch. The afternoon provides the opportunity for a soak in one of the many onsen for which Hakone is famous, before retiring to your ryokan and dinner. Overnight at Ryokan Kajikaso (BLD)

Please note: Your luggage will be transferred separately from Tokyo to Kyoto today with a limit of 1 bag per person- you should pack a separate bag for your overnight stay in Hakone.

Mount Fuji and Hakone

At 3776 metres Mount Fuji is Japan’s highest mountain and one of its most iconic images; a view of the near perfect cone on a clear day is a highlight of any visit. Among the highlights are a cruise on Lake Ashi and a ride on the Ropeway cable car providing panoramic views of the amazing scenery. Situated in the Fuji Hakone Izu National Park Hakone is known for its magnificent mountain scenery, inspiring views of Mount Fuji, and its many onsen and hot springs

Day 5 – Kyoto- Arashiyama- Sagano Bamboo Grove

We leave our hotel after breakfast and transfer to Odawara train station by private vehicle, where we will be helped by our driver to board the 1008 JR Shinkansen high-speed train (also known as Bullet Trains), for Kyoto. Travelling in tourist class at speeds of up to 200mph we will arrive in Kyoto at 12:11 where our guide will be waiting. A short walk will take us to the hotel which is opposite the station, after which we continue to a local restaurant for lunch. This afternoon we will take a local train to the picturesque town of Arashiyama; once there we will begin a walking tour, crossing Togetsukyo Bridge, and continuing to Tenryuji Temple and the adjoining and rather ethereal Sagano Bamboo Grove, before returning to Kyoto. Overnight at New
Miyako Hotel or similar (BL)


Kyoto, once the capital of Japan is famous for its numerous classical Buddhist temples, as well as gardens, imperial palaces, Shinto shrines and traditional wooden houses. It is also known for formal traditions such as kaiseki dining, consisting of multiple courses of precise dishes, and geisha, female entertainers often found in the Gion district. Gion is Kyoto's most famous geisha district, located around Shijo Avenue between Yasaka Shrine in the east and the Kamo River in the west. It is filled with shops, restaurants and ochaya (teahouses), where geiko (Kyoto dialect for geisha) and maiko (geiko apprentices) entertain.

Day 6 – Kyoto

Our guide will lead us on a tour to discover some of the many sites of Kyoto including Nijo Castle, Kinkakuji Temple, Nishiki Food Market, Kyoto Imperial Palace, and Sanjusangendo Temple, as well as a walk through the Gion district. Lunch will be in a local restaurant. Overnight at New Miyako Hotel or similar (BL)

Day 7 – Nara- Omiwa Shrine and Sake Tasting- Minshuku Homestay, Asuka
After breakfast leave Kyoto by local train for the 35 min journey to Nara; once there we catch a local bus for Todaiji Temple, Nara Deer Park and the Naramachi District. After lunch in a local restaurant a local train will take us to Miwa where we will discover the Omiwa shrine on a walking tour. One of Japan's oldest shrines, legend has it that a white snake is one of the gods protecting and residing in the mountainside. The sweet aroma of the Japanese cedar trees from the forest surrounding the Shrine is wonderful. We then visit the local Imanishi Sake brewery and have the opportunity to sample, and buy, Sake from Japan's longest continuously operating Sake maker. Leave Miwa for Asuka, the birthplace of Imperial rule, and transfer to your minshuku for the night, where a traditional Japanese dinner will be served. Overnight at the Minshuku Kitamura or similar, sleeping on a futon, with shared bathroom facilities) (BLD)

Please note: You should pack a small bag with only the items you will need for the night in the minshuku.

Day 8 –Asuka - Kyoto
After breakfast we will learn how to prepare a traditional Japanese lunch box with our host, followed by a tour of Asuka, the birthplace of Imperial rule. Using electric bikes we will visit the Ishibutai Kofun Burial Mound and the Oka-dera Temple, and cycle through the rice terraces if time permits. A local train ride carries us back to Kyoto. Overnight at New Miyako Hotel or similar. (BL)

Day 9– Hiroshima

We transfer to Kyoto station after breakfast where you will be helped to board the JR Shinkansen highspeed train (tourist class seat) to Hiroshima. On arrival we will meet our guide and travel to Miyajima Island, one of the most scenic spots in Japan, for a day exploring the island. We will take the ferry across to the island, passing the orange “floating gate” of the Itsukushima Shrine. On reaching the island we will visit the shrine, the Miyajima Ropeway and Mount Misen, and take lunch at a local restaurant before returning to Hiroshima. Overnight at the New Hiroden Hotel, or similar (BL)

Please note: Your luggage will be transferred separately from Kyoto to Tokyo with a limit of 1 bag per person- you should pack a separate bag for your overnight stay in Hiroshima.

Hiroshima Peace Memorial

The Hiroshima Genbaku Dome is the only structure left standing near the hypocenter of the first atomic bomb which exploded on 6 August 1945. Through the efforts of many people, including those of the city of Hiroshima, this ruin has been preserved in the same state as immediately after the bombing. Not only is it a stark and powerful symbol of the most destructive force ever created by humankind, it also expresses the hope for world peace and the ultimate elimination of all nuclear weapons. The inscribed property covers 0.40 ha in the urban centre of Hiroshima and consists of the surviving Genbaku Dome (“Genbaku” means atomic bomb in Japanese) within the ruins of the building. The 42.7 ha buffer zone that surrounds the property includes the Peace Memorial Park.

Day 10 – Hiroshima - Tokyo

This morning we will explore Hiroshima on a half day city tour using public transport. You will visit the Peace Memorial Museum, the Peace Memorial Park and the Atomic Bomb Dome. We will have lunch in a nearby restaurant before we leave Hiroshima for Tokyo by JR Shinkansen high-speed train. On arrival we will transfer to our hotel by taxi with the help of an English speaking assistant. Overnight at the Park Hotel or
similar (BL)

Day 11 – Tour ends

Breakfast will be in the hotel and you will transfer to Narita Airport by shared minivan to catch your international flights.

Arrival and departure transfers
Transport throughout
All accommodation
Services of English speaking guides and assistants.
Meals as listed (B – Breakfast, L – Lunch, D – Dinner)
Entrance fees for sites listed as part of the itinerary unless otherwise stated.

International flights
Any airport taxes
Travel Insurance