Duration: 13 nights
Location: Tokyo, Kyoto, Takayama, Hakone and Matsumoto
Price: from £1,655 pp

Our Essential Japan Tour is a 13 night “Golden Itinerary” which takes in the beautiful Japan Alps, the castle town of Matsumoto as well at Mt Fuji (and the nearby resort of Hakone), Kyoto and Tokyo.

Download our Essential Japan Brochure here: Essential Japan Brochure and our Reservation Form here: Essential Japan Reservation Form

Essential Japan Tour


  • Visits to Tokyo, Hakone, Kyoto, Takayama and Matsumoto
  • Travel on Japan’s famous Bullet Train
  • 14 day Japan Rail Pass
  • 13 nights’ accommodation
  • Dinner included for two nights
  • Breakfast daily
  • Meet and Greet service upon arrival at the airport
  • Airport transfers from/to Narita International Airport



Enjoy independent travel but not the hassle of planning? One of our Independent Tours could be just the ticket. Carefully put together by our team of specialists, our excellent collection of sample itineraries are designed to inform and inspire your next Japan adventure. Every one of our Independent Tours is fully tailor made for you, ensuring your trip is everything you want it to be.

It’s quite straight forward to travel independently in Japan. We will provide just the right amount of support and logistical planning to make you feel comfortable in a very foreign land. These itineraries are available for any departure date (with a few exclusions which coinciding with Japanese National Holidays and some weekends). We’ll do all the work for you and provide you with an information pack to make your trip run smoothly. You can also add guided tours as indicated and if you do want your own personal guide we can arrange this too.

To find out more, call one of our specialists now on 020 7766 5267.

ItineraryLocation GuideAccommodationInclusions

Day 1: Arrival in Japan, Meet & Greet at Narita Airport (Tokyo)
Welcome to Japan! Our friendly Meet & Greet service representative will be waiting in the Arrivals lobby and holding a sign with your name on. The Meet & Greet will direct you to the Narita Express train or limousine bus bound for Shinjuku. Check in to your clean and comfortable 3* hotel in the fantastic neon-filled district of Shinjuku for 3 nights.

Day 2: Tokyo
Your options are unlimited in this incredible city. Explore Tokyo’s past in the bustling, traditional Asakusa district, visit the world’s largest fish market at Tsukiji, shop in the fashionable districts of Shibuya and Harajuku and dine on Japan’s finest cuisine. Tokyo is relatively straightforward to navigate, and our Information Pack will make travelling around the city a breeze.

Optional guided excursion
Enjoy a full day of sightseeing by coach in Tokyo, with lunch included. Your guide will show you the highlights of this vast metropolis, from the Imperial Palace and serene Meiji Shrine to the ‘Electric City’ of Akihabara.

Day 3: Tokyo
Enjoy a further day of exploring in Tokyo, or use your Japan Rail Pass to venture further afield to Kamakura, a former capital of Japan.

Optional guided excursion
Join a fantastic guided excursion to Nikko, a beautiful temple town in the mountains north of Tokyo. You will visit Toshogu Shrine, a mausoleum to one of Japan’s most famousshogun, and drive through the picturesque countryside to Lake Chuzenji and Kegon Waterfall before heading back to Tokyo.

Day 4: Tokyo to Hakone
It’s time to say goodbye to Tokyo for a few days as you speed on the Bullet Train to Hakone, a beautiful resort set in the foothills of Mt Fuji. For the next two nights you will stay in a very comfortable 4* hotel with its own private hot spring baths.

Day 5: Hakone
Hakone is the perfect place to relax and unwind. Today you can enjoy wandering in the peaceful, beautiful surroundings of this resort town. You might like to visit some of the surrounding attractions such as the Open Air Sculpture Park, Lake Ashi and Owakudani(literally ‘Great Boiling Valley’).

Day 6: Hakone to Kyoto
Board the Bullet Train again and head to Kyoto which is blessed with many temples and shrines. The journey takes less than 3 hours, leaving you plenty of time to enjoy the late afternoon in Kyoto, where we recommend a stroll around the lovely side streets. You will stay in a comfortable, superbly located 3* hotel in the heart of Kyoto for 4 nights.

Day 7: Kyoto
A rich history of religion, art and craft have combined to make this glorious city a spiritual home for the Japanese. For temples we recommend Kiyomizu-dera and Ginkaku-ji in the hills to the east of the city. Nijo Castle is also well worth a visit, and make sure you allow yourself plenty of time for the wonderful craft shops and delightful streets of Gion, the old geisha quarter.

Optional guided excursion
Join a guided coach tour. As well as visits to Nijo Castle, Kinkaku-ji (The Golden Temple), Sanjusangendo Temple and Kiyomizu Temple, today’s tour includes a delicious buffet-style lunch.

Day 8: Nara at leisure
Whilst smaller than Kyoto, Nara is no less rich in attractions, with 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sights. The most outstanding of these is Todai-ji temple, the largest wooden building in the world and home to the Great Buddha statue – Japan’s biggest. Other essential sights include Yakushi-ji and Horyu-ji temple, whose buildings include some of the world’s oldest wooden structures.

Day 9: Kyoto/Osaka at leisure
Spend another day in Kyoto or alternatively use your JR Pass to explore the surrounding area. Japan’s lively second city, Osaka, is only a short train ride away. Hiroshima is also possible as a day excursion.

Day 10: Kyoto to Takayama
Leave Kyoto and transfer by Bullet train to Takayama, a lovely town in the Japan Alps. Takayama’s charming streets, museums and folkcrafts make it a great place to discover rural Japan. It is also a superb base for exploring the surrounding Hida district and National Park. The town hosts the spectacular Takayama Festival (April and October) which attracts over half a million visitors.

For two nights you will stay in a lovely minshuku (inn) with Japanese style rooms. A delicious dinner is included both nights.

Day 11: Takayama, Furukawa
Further sightseeing in Takayama might include Hida no Sato, an open-air museum of traditional architecture and crafts. Another excursion we recommend is Furukawa, a lovely village less than 20 minutes from Takayama. If you’re around in April you might be lucky enough to catch the Naked Man Festival!

Day 12: Matsumoto
Travel by coach to Matsumoto, where you will arrive around lunchtime. Spend the afternoon at Matsumoto Castle, one of the most impressive castles in Japan, and enjoy strolling around the pretty, laidback streets of this mountain town. You will stay one night in Matsumoto.

Day 13: Tokyo
After breakfast board the Bullet train and head back to Tokyo. Return to your hotel in Shinjuku for your final night in Japan. You might like to catch a kabuki play or splash out on a fabulous farewell meal at one of Tokyo’s Michelin star restaurants.

Day 14: Depart Japan
Transfer from your hotel to Narita International Airport (Tokyo).
Return to the UK (arrive same day).

To find out more, call one of our specialists now on 020 7766 5267.

Essential Japan Tour Location Guide


Home to over 12 million people, the vast metropolis of Japan’s capital must be seen to be believed. Tokyo embraces the modern and ancient like no other city on earth and offers something for everyone who wants to delve into the Japanese phenomenon: the towering skyscrapers and frenzied neon of Shinjuku, the pop culture and gadget paradise of Akihabara, the sophisticated chic of Ginza, the biggest and liveliest fish market in the world, the old downtown area of Asakusa, and the tranquil, understated beauty of Meiji Shrine. Not to mention superb restaurants and great bars as well as fabulous shopping and museums befitting the capital of the world’s second-largest economy.


Kyoto is where you will find the Japan of silent temples nestling in bamboo groves, gardens of finely raked sand and bewitching geisha. This city is home to over 2,000 temples and shrines, exquisite crafts and some of the best cuisine in the country. In short, Kyoto is the heartbeat of traditional Japan.

Not to be missed are Kinkaku-ji, Ginkaku-ji and Kiyomizu temples, although be aware that these do become crowded. For a more peaceful, intimate temple experience we recommend the temple complex of Daitoku-ji, in particular Daisen-in sub-temple, and the Arashiyama area to the west of the city.



Established as a castle town in the 16th century, Takayama has retained its unique charm to the present day. Sights include the Sanmachi district of traditional buildings, the bustling morning markets and dozens of museums, galleries and traditional craft shops. Situated in the Japan Alps, this small city offers wonderful views of the surrounding mountains and is a good base for exploring the Hida region.

hakone_tourHakone and Matsumoto

Cruise across lake Ashino on a seventeenth century styled galleonHakone is a popular resort area amongst the Japanese, not far from Tokyo and located in the foothills of Mt Fuji. On a clear day you can enjoy the beautiful scenery of Hakone with great views of Mt Fuji. There is plenty to do such as a cruise across lake Ashino on a seventeenth century styled galleon and taking a cable car up Owakudani Valley where you can see constant bubbling and steaming due to the volcanic activity. After a day of sightseeing you can unwind in one of the many onsens (hot springs) in the area.

Matsumoto is considered the gateway to the Japan alps and is famous for its beautiful castle and Nakamichi area where you can see traditional white walled houses many of which have converted into craft shops and cafés. For art lovers there is the Japan Ukiyo-e Museum where you can enjoy a selection of traditional Japanese wood block prints.

To find out more, call one of our specialists now on 020 7766 5267.

Your selection of hotels in Tokyo

Toyoko Inn Ikebukuro (3* package)

Toyoko Inn

Located just a 5 minute walk from Ikebukuro station (on the Yamanote Line). The hotel is close to several shops, restaurants and only a short walk from Sunshine City.

This business class hotel features compact well equipped rooms with flat screen TVs, refrigerators and bathroom amenities. All rooms have free wi-fi. Computer terminals are available in the lobby along with 24 hour coin laundry.

Breakfast is a light Japanese breakfast consisting of rice balls, miso soup, some salad items and also a little bread.


Shinjuku Prince Hotel (Tokyo 4* package)


Shinjuku Princece hotel is located but 5 minutes away from Shinjuku station and its various train lines (JR, subway and private railways). It is also not far from both the lively, tree-lined Omotesandō Avenue and the wooded, lake filled Yoyogi Park.

All the room are cozy and modern, and come with free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, telephones and your usual amenities.

The hotel has a cafe, a relaxed buffet eatery, and a refined Japanese restaurant/bar with panoramic views.

Your hotel in Hakone

The Prince Hakone (Your room category will depend on whether you choose the 3 or 4* package)


A luxurious resort hotel set on the shores of the spectacular Lake Ashi. On clear days you can enjoy views of Mt Fuji.

Rooms at the Prince Hakone are spacious and well stocked with robes, slippers, TV, refrigerator, CD player and free high speed LAN internet.

You can relax and unwind in the hotel’s natural hot spring baths. You have a choice of outdoor and indoor baths and also a sauna and cold plunge pool.

The hotel has a high end Japanese and French restaurant where breakfast is also served.

The vast grounds include tennis courts, a selection of shops and restaurants and even a petting zoo and aquarium. The hotel is surrounded by beautiful woodland perfect for a gentle walk.

Your selection of hotels in Kyoto

Toyoko Inn Shijo Karasuma Kyoto (3* package)

Toyoko Inn

A superbly located business class hotel on Shijo Street which is the main street for shopping with a number of department stores and fantastic restaurants. Nearby is the fascinating Nishiki food market and the covered markets.

Rooms are compact and well equipped with flat screen TVs, refrigerators and bathroom amenities. All rooms have free wi-fi. Computer terminals are available in the lobby along with 24 hour coin laundry.

Breakfast is a light Japanese breakfast consisting of rice balls, miso soup, some salad items and also a little bread.

Kyoto Royal Hotel (4* package)


Located on Kawaramachi Street, one of Kyoto’s main restaurant and shopping streets and a stone’s throw from the covered markets.

The modern and brightly furnished rooms include complimentary wi-fi and LCD TVs with BBC as well as refrigerator and tea making facilities.

A breakfast buffet serving both Western and Japanese dishes available in the hotel restaurant.

Other facilities include an English bar and Spa facilities to help you relax and unwind.

Your selection of hotels in Takayama

Minshuku Sosuke (3* package)


Experience the 180year-old house life-style! Minshuku Sosuke is a traditional 13-room minshuku (a budget Japanese-style Inn). All guest rooms are Japanese style with tatami mats.

All rooms are air conditioned. In the lounge there is an old fire place called an irori. It is a type of traditional sunken hearth which is difficult to find nowadays.

Sitting on the tatami mats surrounding the irori is sure to make you slip back in time. The atmosphere is authentically Japanese, and will bring you true peace of mind.

Hagi Takayama (4* package)


Welcome to Hagi Takayama. This Modern Ryokan is located on the hills of Takayama. Hida no Sato open-air museum can be accessed easily from here.

This ryokan has 2 buildings, and each building has 4 stories, the Honkan and the Bekkan. In the Honkan guest rooms you have a view on the mountain or on Takayama city. The guest rooms in the Bekkan have a view on te Takayama city. There are 43 rooms in this ryokan, all of them have their own private bath and toilet. Featuring tatami floors, futons and traditional short-legged tables, every room comes with a TV, mini-fridge, and tea and coffee-making equipment.

Hagi Takayama also has a family bath that can be reserved for private use. For dinner guests will have a chance to try Hida beef.

Your selection of hotels in Matsumoto

Matsumoto Tokyu Rei (3* package)


Matsumoto Tokyu Rei is located across the street from Matsumoto Bus Terminal, or a 2-minute walk from JR Matsumoto train station. The hotel is also only a 15-minute walk from Matsumoto Castle.

The rooms are contemporary, and equipped with free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, mini-fridges, and tea and coffeemaking facilities.

A Japanese and Western-style breakfast buffet is served in the restuarant. Bike rentals and parking are also available for a surcharge.

Matsumoto Buena Vista (4* package)

Located 7 minutes away from JR Matsumoto station, Matsumoto Buena Vista Hotel is well situated for local sightseeing.


The hotel has a Japanese, French and Chinese restaurant, as well as a cafe and dining area, and its own pastry shop.

All rooms are equipped with free Wi-Fi, TV, hair dryer, iron and ironing board.

Breakfast is served daily featuring a variety of Japanese and Western dishes.

5* hotels available on request.

To find out more, call one of our specialists now on 020 7766 5267.

Price Includes

  • Meet & Greet service on arrival at Narita International Airport (Tokyo)
  • 13 nights accommodation in a double/twin room on a bed and Japanese breakfast basis
  • Japanese dinner for 2 nights
  • Breakfast daily.
  • Transfers from and to Narita International Airport/Tokyo (by Japan Rail Pass)
  • 14-day Japan Rail Pass allowing you unlimited travel on the entire Japan Rail network including Shinkansen (Bullet Train) services.


Not included in Price

  • International airfare.
  • Meals not mentioned in the itinerary.
  • Takayama to Matsumoto coach tickets.
  • Entrance fees.
  • Taxi, subway and tramway fees.
  • Insurance.
  • Optional excursions (see below)


Price: from £1,655 per person on a sharing basis (in a 3* hotel at low season)

Single room Supplement: from £375

Optional Guide Tours:

Tokyo city tour: £101
Nikko: £146
Kyoto: £109

Upgrade to 4* or 5* accommodation available: contact us for details

Download our Essential Japan Brochure here: Essential Japan Brochure and our Reservation Form here: Essential Japan Reservation Form

To make a booking, a deposit of £200 per person is required.

The balance of the price of the trip must be made 12 weeks prior to departure.

Full terms and Conditions

All price estimates are based on current rates of exchange and are subject to availability.

To find out more, call one of our specialists now on 020 7766 5267.


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