Duration: 10 nights
Destinations: Kyoto, Osaka, Hiroshima, Miyajima, Nara, Okayama, Kurashiki & Shimane
Recommended Season: Spring & Autumn
Price: From £1,345 pp

For our Best of the West Tour you can fly in and out of Kansai International Airport (Osaka) and visit the best that western Honshu has to offer over this 10 night independent trip. You will see everything from the modern bustling cities of Osaka and Hiroshima to the smaller, more traditional towns of Kurashiki and Tsuwano in rural Japan. No trip to Japan would be complete without visiting Kyoto, where you will start your adventure.

Download our Best of the West Brochure here The Best of the West and a Reservation Form here The Best of the West Reservation Form

  • Visits to Kyoto, Osaka, Hiroshima, Kurashiki and Tsuwano
  • Travel on Japan’s famous Bullet Train
  • 7 day Japan Rail Pass
  • 10 nights’ accommodation
  • Stays at a ryokan (traditional Japanese Inn) with dinner included for 2 nights
  • Breakfast daily
  • Meet and Greet service upon arrival at the airport
  • Airport transfers to Kansai International Airport by JR Pass

 

HOW OUR INDEPENDENT TOURS WORK

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

Best of the West Itinerary

Days 1-2: UK-Osaka-Kyoto
Fly overnight from London Heathrow to Kansai International Airport (Osaka). From there you will transfer to your hotel in Kyoto for 4 nights.

Day 3: 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 oldgeisha quarter.

Optional guided excursion: Kyoto Day Tour
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 also includes a delicious buffet-style lunch.

Day 4: 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.

Optional guided excursion: Nara Afternoon Tour
Spend the afternoon on a guided coach tour to Nara. Your guide will take you around Todaiji temple and Nara park followed by visits to Kasuga Taisha Shrine before heading back to Kyoto by coach.

Day 5: Kyoto
Spend another day in Kyoto where you may wish to venture out west to the leafy suburb of Arashiyama. Here you will you will find the magnificent bamboo forests and a hill top monkey park where you can feed monkeys and enjoy a rewarding view of Kyoto.

Day 6: Hiroshima/Miyajima (Start using your 7-Day Japan Rail Pass today)
Check out of your hotel and board the Bullet Train to Hiroshima. The Atomic Bomb Dome and the moving Peace Memorial Park and Museum are sights not to be missed. Make the short trip by ferry to the lovely island of Miyajima. Enjoy the beautiful scenery and fantastic views of the o-torii of Itsukushima Shrine, one of the most famous sights in Japan. By late afternoon the day-trippers will have left the island, and you will spend a magical evening in a ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) where a delicious Japanese dinner and breakfast are included.

Day 7: Miyajima-Tsuwano
After breakfast on Miyajima Island you will make your way to the pleasant and relaxing town of Tsuwano affectionately referred to as “Little Kyoto”. You will find koi carp swimming in the waterways along the beautiful streets of Tonomachi where you can explore the well preserved samurai houses and visit the Katsushika Hokusai Museum of Art, home to a fantastic collection of work by the famous nineteenth-century artist Hokusai. Tonight you will stay in a ryokan.

Day 8: Yonago
Today journey east to visit the renowned Adachi Museum famous for its spectacular 6 gardens (and its collection of contemporary Japanese art). The landscape gardens are composed of the best pines and rocks collected from all over Japan and can be enjoyed in any season. In the late afternoon board the train to Kurashiki where you will stay the night.

Day 9: Kurashiki
Wake up in the picturesque town of Kurashiki. Take a stroll along Kurashiki’s beautiful canals and visit a selection of traditional, feudal era warehouses that have been converted into an eclectic collection of museums the finest of which is the Ohara Museum. In the afternoon board the train and bullet train to Osaka where you will stay 3 nights.

Day 10: Osaka
Osaka is Japans third largest city and will give you a taste of modern Japan. Spend the day enjoying the sights of Osaka including the lively Dotonbori district for shopping, eating and entertainment; Osaka castle and the wonderful Osaka aquarium.

Optional Tour: Osaka Bay Half Day
On this tour you will visit the Osaka aquarium, one of the biggest public aquariums in the world. You will then board a replica of Christopher Columbus’ flagship boat the, Santa Maria, for sightseeing cruise around Osaka Bay.

Day 11: Osaka
Spend a day at leisure in Osaka or take a day trip to the beautiful port town of Kobe. Considered one of Japan’s most attractive city, Kobe is sandwiched between the sea and the Rokko Mountain range where you can take a cable car to the top for a panoramic view of the city. You may wish take the opportunity to dine on world famous Kobe beef.

Day 12: Depart Japan
Transfer to Kansai International Airport (Osaka) for your flight back to the UK.

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

The Best of the West Tour Location Guide

Kyoto is where you will find the Japan of silent temples nestling in bamboo groves, gardens of finely raked sand and bewitching geishaKyoto

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.

You can also use the tram to take the scenic route to Miyajima islandHiroshima, Miyajima island

Hiroshima is an attractive, cosmopolitan city which has risen from the ashes of the world’s first atomic bomb attack on 6 August 1945. The hypocentre of the explosion is now the Peace Memorial Park, a beautiful expanse of greenery housing monuments to the tragedy. The park is flanked by the A-Bomb Dome, the former Industrial Promotion Hall which is the only surviving building from the blast, and the Peace Memorial Museum which tells of the bomb and the devastation of Hiroshima.

A superb network of trams will transport you around the city to some of Hiroshima’s other attractions, namely Hiroshima Castle and Hiroshima Museum of Art. You can also use the tram to take the scenic route to Miyajima island.

The highlight of Yonago is the garden of the Adachi Museum of ArtTsuwano and Yonago

A quiet mountain town in rural Japan. The former samurai quarter houses some wonderful old building with colourful carp swimming up and down the roadside water channels. Just outside of town you can ride a cable car to the castle ruins for a beautiful view of the town and the surrounding mountains. The highlight of Yonago is the garden of the Adachi Museum of Art which have been named the best garden in Japan annually since 2003 by the Journal of Japanese Gardening.

 

With arching bridges and weeping willows flanking the Edo period canal, Kurashiki will give you a sense of where people lived and worked in old Japan.Kurashiki

In the Edo period Kurashiki was an important trading town for rice and later becoming known for textiles. Having largely escaped World War II bombing much of Kurashiki’s old storehouses, mills and shops remain in good condition. With arching bridges and weeping willows flanking the Edo period canal, Kurashiki will give you a sense of where people lived and worked in old Japan – and indeed still do today.

OsakaOsaka

Known as the “kitchen of Japan”, Osaka is renowned for its warm-hearted, lively locals. Osaka Castle dominates the city as the old mixes with the very modern skyline and the aquarium is not to be missed. The city comes alive at night with endless opportunities to wine, dine and party. The beautiful port city of Kobe is also a stones throw away.
 

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

A selection of accomodation in Kyoto

Hoshinoya Kyoto

Kyoto
Deluxe

Upon arrival at Hoshinoya Kyoto, guests are picked up by boat from a landing located near Togetsukyo bridge. The journey is a leisurely ten minutes up the Oi River, allowing guests to enjoy the beautiful scenery all the way to the serene hills of Arashiyama.
The guest rooms are located in a renovated ryokan inn that was built 100 years ago on the former premises of Kyoto business tycoon Suminokura Ryoi’s private residence. It was modernized just enough to ensure a pleasant stay without sacrificing the heart of traditional Japanese architecture.
Every guest room features paper furnishings known as karakami decorated by skilled Kyoto artisans using historical woodblock print patterns. Sliding doors and other traditional furnishings feature modern embellishments that enhance their functional and aesthetic elegance.
Hoshinoya offers Head Chef Ichiro Kubota’s unique brand of Kyoto banquet cuisine that pays respect to Kyoto’s traditions yet defies classification. It is playful, yet precise and artistic–always abundant with flavour, and has earned him fame in France and London. Guests can dine at their leisure surrounded by the deep serenity of the hills at night, either at an open counter or in private rooms under the hotel’s soft, warm lighting.

Hyatt Regency

Kyoto
Deluxe

Hyatt Regency Kyoto, located in the beautifully verdant Higashiyama Shichijo, is an example of how Japan’s ancient history and tradition can be combined with the present. Contemporary Japanese style based on traditional Japanese beauty comes together to form a cosmopolitan and modern look, offering you Kyoto’s warm and signature hospitality. Each day at 6:15 pm, a Maiko (an apprenticed geisha), from Kyoto’s Miyagawa-cho district, will offer a magical and elegant traditional dance.

Rooms in this hotel blend traditional Japanese taste with modern practicality using ample plain wood to create a warm, welcoming atmosphere. The rooms are arranged with a beautiful kimono tapestry (from the Edo to Taisho period), a gorgeous lantern and more, to make for a traditional Japanese environment while also implementing the latest technology such as flat-screen TVs and a Blu-ray player, as well as a work desk for practicality. The restroom has granite flooring and a large bath for better relaxation.

Dining at this Hyatt Regency is world class, and proudly offers a wide variety of restaurants for you to choose from. From prime cuts of meat cooked in a wood burning oven at “The Grill”, to the timeless tradition at “Touzan”, with the restaurant’s interior  resembling an old Japanese-style house, complemented by views of the hotel’s rock garden.

 

Kyoto Hotel Okura

Kyoto
Deluxe

A wonderful, deluxe modern hotel, superbly located in the heart of Japan’s cultural capital. On one side lie the Kamo river and the Higashi mountains, and on the other, the ordered streets of this ancient metropolis – all of which provide stunning views from the hotel’s excellent high-floor restaurants. With the geisha district of Pontocho just a few minutes’ walk away, and eating and shopping opportunities abound, you will want for nothing at this exceptional property.

The rooms here are generously proportioned, with large en-suite bathrooms and comfortable furnishings. Of course, all luxury amenities are provided as standard.

Among the 6 restaurants in the hotel, possibly Pittoresque Sky Restaurant stands out the most, offering delicious French cuisine and an excellent wine selection, complete with stunning views. Relax in one of the hotel’s tasteful bars or cafes, or go for a swim in its indoor pool.

The Ritz Carlton

Kyoto
Deluxe

Set along the shores of the Kamogawa River and featuring panoramic views of the Higashiyama Mountain, The Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto redefines luxury in a city that transcends expectations. The hotel offers beautifully refined rooms and suites, as well as four restaurants and a peaceful spa.
The immaculately designed hotel rooms and suites at The Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto feature spacious layouts and gorgeously realized details, tempting guests to forgo exploration in favor of relaxed seclusion. Suite amenities include handmade soaps, 600-count linens and complimentary Internet access.
Showcasing both Japanese and Western cuisine, The Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto transports the art of fine dining to unprecedented new heights. Sample four classic styles of Japanese cooking, including sushi, teppanyaki and multi-course kaiseki dinners, at Mizuki. La Locanda, the enchanting Italian restaurant, offers classic yet contemporary dining in a historic setting.

Hotel Granvia Kyoto

Kyoto
Superior

This excellent 4* hotel is integrated into Kyoto station, providing a quiet haven with superb access to the entire country, let alone the entire city of Kyoto. You also are right above all the excellent shopping facilities, museum and department store within the station complex.
Although we list this property as Superior, it is really at the higher end of the category and in many regards borders on Deluxe. The spacious rooms are furnished in style, capturing the essence of Kyoto with that characteristic combination of delicate minimalism and lavishness. For your relaxation and fitness needs, there is an indoor pool, a gym, a jacuzzi and a steam room.
There is a fantastic range of restaurants in and around the hotel, with an abundance of Japanese, Oriental and Western style options available. For example, the exceptional “Teppanyaki Gozanbo” serves renowned Oumi Beef and seafood, using only the freshest seasonal ingredients.

Kyoto Royal Hotel & Spa

Kyoto
Superior

This centrally located, superior quality Western style hotel is located right near Kawaramachi and Kamogawa river, a prime spot for shopping, exploring and sightseeing.

The rooms are spacious and comfortable, furnished in a simple, modern style, featuring a full range of high quality amenities and private bathrooms.

Enjoy a meal in Prandia Restaurant, with a range of flavoursome Western and Oriental options. Linger in Haven Bar, a classic English style bar. Or some pampering and relaxation, choose to soothe your mind, body and spirit at the Kotoran Spa.

New Miyako Hotel

Kyoto
Superior

This excellent 4* hotel is located at the heart of Kyoto, it’s only a 6 minute walk from Kyoto Station, and a wide variety of facilities are offered, from quaint antique watch shops to beauty salons.

The rooms are fantastic and very spacious, with a décor that echoes the ambience of ancient Kyoto.

The hotel also boats an impressive selection of bars and restaurants, offering Japanese, Chinese as well as Western cuisine and beverages. One restaurant even allows you watch your meal being made with fresh ingredients by the chef.

Karasuma Kyoto Hotel

Kyoto
Standard

Located a few minutes walk from Shijo Street which is the main street for shopping with a number of department stores and fantastic restaurants.

Single rooms are compact and doubles more generously sized and recently renovated. All rooms have TV, refrigerator and tea making facilities. Free LAN internet is available in room and free wifi is available in the lobby.

The Karasuma Kyoto Hotel has a large selection of Western and Japanese breakfast items and there is also an onsite Starbucks and bakery. Other facilities include a Chinese and Japanese restaurant and a bar.

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.

Superbly located 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.

A selection of accomodation in Miyajima

Iwaso

Miyajima
Deluxe

This stunning, luxury ryokan is the oldest on Miyajima. Its beautiful Japanese style rooms have been delighting guests, including many prominent Japanese figures (even members of the imperial family), throughout its more than 100 years of history. Being set in the Momijidani (maple valley) park, autumn is really the best time to visit, when the foliage in the forest changes from deep green to vibrant reds, oranges and yellows.

Rooms in the main building are offered as well as private, detached cottages called hanare. A stay in a hanare is a very special experience as you will enjoy the calm and quiet of a beautiful and secluded space. Some of these also have their own private hot spring baths. Whichever type of room you choose, you will enjoy a delicious kaiseki (Japanese haute cuisine) dinner, served to you in your room in the traditional style.

Jukeiso

Miyajima
Superior

A traditional Japanese ryokan perched on a hill giving it arguably the best views of any property over Itsukushima shrine and the famous tori gate. Rooms are large traditional tatami mat rooms with en suite bath and toilet. A small TV, safe and refrigerator are available in the room. Jukeiso has communal male and female Japanese style baths and also a private bath with fantastic views over the island that can be reserved making it perfect for families or couples. A delicious, elaborate dinner will be served to you in the dining room where you will also take breakfast (which is a choice of Japanese or Western). Free wifi is available in the lobby.

Your accommodation in Tsuwano

Yoshinoya

Tsuwano
Superior

A short walk from the only station in this quiet, unspoilt mountain town, Yoshinoya is a first-rate ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) which can offer you a very pleasant stay in true Japanese style.
The rooms are mostly in the traditional Japanese style, with tatami mats and futon bedding. At Yoshinoya, they are furnished with tastefully chosen art objects, flowers and screen paintings again in the traditional Japanese style. Every room is en-suite and comes with a light cotton kimono.
Dinner consists of an impressive kaiseki (Japanese haute cuisine) spread, featuring numerous dishes produced with locally sourced ingredients, brought to you in your room. A traditional Japanese breakfast is served in the main dining area, but can be served to you in your room if requested.

A selection of accommodation in Kurashiki

Kurashiki Royal Art Hotel

Kurashiki
Deluxe

Situated just at the entrance to Kurashiki’s Bikan Chiku canal district, it is easy to dive in to one of Japan’s best preserved old town areas at a moment’s notice from this lovely deluxe hotel.

The rooms are spacious and the beds are generous. The marble-finished bathrooms are comfortably sized and all luxury amenities provided as standard.

There are numerous restaurants in the nearby Bikan Chiku area, as well Japanese and French dining options in the hotel. For breakfast a generous buffet of Western and Japanese options is provided in the in-house Ravenna Café, starting from 7:00.

Kurashiki Kokusai Hotel

Kurashiki
Superior

Situated just at the entrance to Kurashiki’s Bikan Chiku canal district, it is easy to dive in to one of Japan’s best preserved old town areas at a moment’s notice from this superior modern hotel with an artistic twist. The interiors have elements of Western and Japanese traditional woodblock printing to their design. Articles of local Bizen ware pottery can be found around the hotel, tracing back to the ancient cultural traditions of the region.

The rooms here are relatively spacious, with comfortable furnishings and a reserved aesthetic. They are equipped with the full range of amenities, including free Wi-Fi and en-suite bathrooms.

There are several restaurants in house, including Japanese and French, serving locally sourced wagyu beef from Setouchi. There is also an affiliated casual Japanese restaurant called Kiyutei opposite the excellent Ohara Art Museum.

The hotel is conveniently placed between the station and the city’s main attraction, the Bikan Chiku canal district. This is a great base for sightseeing in the area, and there are plenty of restaurants, shops and bars around for your evening entertainment needs.
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.

A selection of accommodation in Osaka

Imperial Hotel Osaka

Osaka
Deluxe

Being a little distance from the busy transport hub of Osaka/Umeda Stations, this luxury riverside hotel demonstrates the right way to take a break in a city known for its hustle and bustle. Imperial Hotels boast over a century of experience in providing the very best hospitality.

Superior category and above rooms here have views over the Okawa river, one of the most beautiful cherry blossom viewing spots in the city come the spring. All rooms here are spacious and comfortable, with a classic, refined interior style.

The hotel has 6 restaurants which are well worth taking advantage of. With French, Chinese and Japanese options available (including devoted teppanyaki and sushi restaurants), there is more than enough to savour. Breakfast starts at 6:30 comprising of an impressive range of Western and Eastern buffet dishes. Osaka Nadaman restaurant on the 24th floor offers a delicious Japanese style meal set from 7:00.

Hotel Granvia Osaka

Osaka
Superior

Hotel Granvia Osaka, located in the center of the spirited and historic city of Osaka, Japan, offers guests a sophisticated retreat and direct connection to JR Osaka train lines.
Generously proportioned and astutely decorated, the rooms here have a mixture of chic and warmth that mirror the personality of the city of Osaka, with its dizzying skyline rising above the bustling and cheerful streets. There is a full range of quality amenities as one would expect from a hotel of this calibre.
The Granvia, Osaka, features an array of fine dining and casual restaurants, including Japanese, Italian, French and Chinese cuisines. Revel in the city’s nightlife at the hotel’s chic bar and two lounges, or grab a quick snack at the café.

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.

This hotel is right in the heart of Osaka, only a few minutes’ walk from the popular Shinsaibashi shopping district, trendy street fashion distict Amerika Mura, and from Dotonbori, Osaka’s famous covered arcade. Osaka is really a party town, so there are an exceptional range of restaurants, shops and bars to get stuck into. Stations of various central subway lines are nearby, so access to the rest of the city by subway is also very easy.

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

Price Includes

  • 8 nights hotel accommodation at centrally located comfortable business hotels on a bed & breakfast basis
  • 2 night accommodation in a traditonal Japanese ryokan (inn) including a delicious dinner and a breakfast
  • 7 Day Ordinary Class Japan Rail Pass
  • Meet & Greet service on arrival at Kansai International Airport (Osaka)
  • Airport transfer to the airport on Day 12

 

Not included in Price

  • International airfare.
  • Meals not mentioned in the itinerary.
  • Airport transfer on arrival
  • Entrance fees
  • Taxi, subway and tramway fees.
  • Insurance.
  • Optional excursions (see below)

 

Price: from £1,345 per person based shared occupancy (in a 3* hotel at low season)

Single room Supplement: from £250

Optional Guided Tours

Kyoto 1 Day Tour: £102 per person
Nara Afternoon Tour: £62 per person
Osaka Bay Half Day: £79 per person

All price estimates are based on current rates of exchange and are subject to availability. All prices are good for travel before the end of 2016 but exclude blackout periods which coincide with Japanese National Holidays and some weekends.

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

Download our Best of the West Brochure here The Best of the West and a Reservation Form here The Best of the West Reservation Form

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.
 

INSURANCE

Travel can be a great experience, but it can also be fraught with problems, so when going anywhere it is essential you are properly covered with good travel insurance. You should be protected against cancellation, curtailment and loss or damage to your belongings as well as medical emergencies and have peace of mind if the unexpected happens.

Japan Journeys in association with Holiday Extras, is now able to offer excellent low cost cover to their customers.

Please click on the image below for a quote.

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