Duration: 12 nights
Destinations: Kyoto, Kurashiki, Okayama, Osaka, Mt Koya, Matsue, and Tsumago
Recommended Season: Spring, Summer & Autumn
Price: from £1,595 pp

Our Traditional Japan itinerary is a wonderful 12 night self-guided tour where you venture off the beaten track and experience “old” Japan as you explore some of the country’s most important cultural sites. Spend your first few days in Kyoto with its wealth of temples and shrines before exploring the picturesque old town of Kurashiki. Head on to the lakeside city of Matsue (with its famous castle and samurai houses) which will act as your base for exploring the beautiful gardens of the Adachi Museum and the Izumo Taisha – the oldest shrine in Japan.

Briefly stay in Osaka and before making your way to the top of the sacred Mt Koya where you will immerse yourself in the monk’s way of life by staying in temple lodgings. Then head east to Nagoya from where you will visit the wonderfully restored ancient post town of Tsumago, where you can walk along theNakasendo Route which linked Tokyo to Kyoto. Before heading back to Kyoto for your final night you will take a tour to Ise Jingu Shrine- the holiest and most important site of Shintoism in Japan.

Download our Traditional Japan Brochure here Traditional Japan Brochure and a Reservation Form here Traditional Japan Reservation Form

Traditional Japan TourTOUR INCLUDES:

  • Visits to Kyoto, Kurashiki, Okayama, Osaka, Mt Koya, Matsue, and Tsumago
  • Travel on Japan’s famousBullet Train
  • 14 day Japan Rail Pass
  • 11 nights hotel accommodation and 1 night in traditional temple lodgings
  • Dinner included at the temple
  • Fully guided Tour of Ise Jingu Shrine and Mikimoto Pearl Island with lunch
  • Breakfast daily
  • Meet and Greet service upon arrival at the airport
  • Airport transfers to and from Kansai International Airport and Kyoto Station



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.

Daily ItineraryLocation GuideAccommodationInclusions

Traditional Japan: Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Japan, Meet & Greet at Kansai Airport (Osaka)
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 train to Kyoto. Check in to your hotel in Kyoto for 4 nights on a bed & breakfast basis.

Day 2: 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 3: 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 4: 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 5: Kyoto-Kurashiki-Matsue
Leave Kyoto early to make your way to Matsue located on the eastern shore of the attractive Lake Shinji. Before getting to Matsue you will stop off 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 to Matsue where you will stay 2 nights.

Day 6: Matsue
Matsue is home to one of the few original castles in Japan in an area of wonderful old samurai houses. In the afternoon make a short trip to the renowned Adachi Museum which is 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.

Day 7: Matsue-Korakuen-Osaka
You will make your way to Japan’s third largest city of Osaka where you will stay for 1 night. Osaka will give you a little taste of modern Japan and the amazing aquarium is definitely worth a visit. En route to Osaka stop off at the fantastic Korakuen Garden a traditional stroll garden in Okayama and one of Japan’s three most beautiful gardens and if you have time you can wander over to the nearby Okayama Castle also known as “Crow Castle” due to it black exterior.

Day 8: Osaka-Koyasan
The wooded mountain top of Koyasan is the centre of Shingon Buddhism in Japan and one of Japan’s holiest mountains. This peaceful temple town will be you base for the night and you will have the unique opportunity to stay in temple lodgings where you can experience the monk’s way of life in this simple setting by dining on delicious vegetarian Buddhist cuisine, shojin ryori, prepared and served to you by the monks themselves. If you are able to drag yourself away from your comfortable futon you can attend early morning prayers tomorrow morning.

Day 9: Koyasan-Osaka
After breakfast venture over to Okunoin cemetery the largest cemetery in Japan and one of the most sacred. It is the final resting place for many feudal lords, samurai, and famous monks and the centuries old tombstones eventually lead to some very interesting modern twists on tombstones. In the afternoon return to Osaka where you can explore the lively Dotonbori district for shopping, eating and entertainment. Check back in to your hotel for 1 night.

Day 10: Nagoya
Leave Osaka early and head to Tsumago one of Japan’s best preserved post towns on the Nakasendo route between Kyoto and Edo, modern Tokyo, which was used by everyone from feudal lords to pilgrims in its heyday in the 17th century. If you are feeling particularly energetic you may wish to taxi to the nearby post town of Magome and hike back along the famous preserved trail of the Nakasendo route. Catch the train back to Nagoya and check into your hotel for 2 nights.

Day 11: Nagoya
Today join a guided tour to Ise Jingu Shrine and Mikimoto Pearl Island. Ise Jingu shrine is considered the most important and holiest site in the Shinto religion. It is also the supposed home to the sacred mirror, one of the Three Sacred Treasure of Japan. Following Ise Jingu Shrine you will visit Mikimoto Pearl Island where you can learn all about pearls and how they were first cultivated. You will also get to see how the impressive female pearl divers, known as Ama, plant and harvest the pearls. If you are feeling extravagant why not buy some beautiful Mikimoto Pearls as a souvenir before you head back to Nagoya. A delicious lunch is included today.

Day 12: Nagoya-Kyoto
This morning catch the Bullet Train back to Kyoto for your final night in Japan. You will have most of the day to do some last minute shopping and sightseeing.

Day 13: 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.

Traditional Japan: Location Guide

Traditional Japan Tour


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.


Kurashiki & Okayama

Kurashiki & Okayama

In the Edo period Kurashiki was an important trading town for rice and later becoming known for textiles. Having largely escaped war time damage 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. The nearby town of Okayama is home to Korakuen, a traditional stroll garden and considered one of Japan’s three most beautiful gardens.


Osaka & Koyasan

Osaka & Koyasan

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. From Osaka you can access the peaceful temple town at the top of Koyasan, one of Japan’s holiest mountains and the centre of Shingon Buddhism in Japan. Koyasan is the perfect place to experience a Buddhist monk’s way of life as you have the chance to stay in temple lodgings and eat special monk’s cuisine known as shojin ryori. Not to be missed is a walk through Okunoin Cemetery, Japan’s largest and one of the most sacred.


Traditional Japan Tour


Matsue is the capital of Shimane prefecture and located on the eastern side of Lake Shinji. It is home to one of the few original castles left in Japan and the castle moat, lakes and canals give the city an almost Venetian feel. Matsue is the perfect base for visiting the wonderful Adachi Museum to the east which is famous for its stunning gardens and art collection and also Izumo Taisha to the west, Japan’s oldest shrine.


Ise Jingu & Tsumago

Ise Jingu & Tsumago

From your base in Nagoya you will explore Tsumago, one of the best preserved post towns on the historic Nakasendo route that linked Kyoto to Tokyo. The town was lovingly restored and wandering around Tsumago will make you feel like you have been transported back to ancient Japan.

Ise Jingu is where the Sacred Mirror (One of the Three Sacred Treasures of Japan) is said to be stored and is Japan’s most sacred shrine. After visiting the shrine it is worth taking a stroll along Oharaimachi, a shopping street made up of Edo and late Meiji era style buildings.

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

A selection of accommodation in Kyoto

Hoshinoya Kyoto


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


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


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


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


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.

Karasuma Kyoto Hotel


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.

Kyoto Royal Hotel & Spa


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


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.

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 accommodation in Matsue

Matsue Hotel Excel Tokyu


Conveniently close to the station, you have plenty of entertainment and transport options nearby. Access all the sights in downtown Matsue by bus or taxi, or use the train to visit regional attractions such as Izumo Grand Shrine or the fabulous Adachi Museum and Gardens.

All rooms feature a TV, telephone, refrigerator, hair dryer and other amenities. The rooms are equipped with Internet-access LAN ports and LAN cables.

A buffet breakfast is served at the hotel’s restaurant (Japanese & Western).

A selection of accommodation in Osaka

Imperial Hotel Osaka


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


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.

The Shukubo at Mount Koya



Stay and experience a traditional temple lodging, known as shukubo. In a shukubo, you will be staying in the temple precincts, and will witness the its workings first hand. In this way you will experience something truly Japanese in essence – the beauty of things done in a simple way, executed with the goal of absolute perfection.

All guest rooms are traditional Japanese tatami rooms. When it is time to sleep, your room will be prepared with futons and sheets. You’ll be invited to go down in the early morning and witness the monks offering their first prayers of the day.

All of the rooms are equipped with gas stoves during winter, a safe box and free Wi-Fi.

Bathrooms are shared and there is a nice hot traditional Japanese bath. The bathrooms and baths are separated for women and men.

As is typical in a shukubo, you will be served shojinryori, traditional Japanese vegetarian food served in Buddhist temples. For breakfast, you will be served vegetarian food with Miso soup, rice and tea, and for dinner a vegetarian meal with Miso soup, rice, tofu and tea.

A selection of accommodation in Nagoya

the B Nagoya


A convenient and comfortable 3* property located in the heart of Nagoya, this modern property offers good access to the city’s best sights.

Rooms are compact and come equipped with refrigerator, TV and free wifi. Although the rooms have no bath they have rain shower heads and body jets and are stocked with Shiseido products.

A buffet breakfast featuring a generous range of Western style options and some Asian delicacies is served in the third floor restaurant, Iris.

Toyoko Inn Nagoya


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.

Only a few minutes’ walk from Nagoya’s central station, which is packed with shops and restaurants and forms an excellent transport hub to explore the region, this hotel is also within easy reach of the city’s most famous sights. There are countless bars and restaurants in the local area, so you will not be short of entertainment come the evening.

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

Price Includes

  • 11 nights hotel accommodation at centrally located comfortable business hotels on a bed & breakfast basis
  • 1 night accommodation in temple lodgings including a delicious dinner and breakfast
  • 14 Day Ordinary Class Japan Rail Pass
  • Fully guided tour of Ise Jingu Shrine and Mikimoto Pearl Island with lunch
  • Meet & Greet service on arrival at Kansai International Airport (Osaka)
  • Airport transfers to and from Kansai International Airport and Kyoto Station


Not included in Price

  • International airfare.
  • Meals not mentioned in the itinerary.
  • Entrance fees
  • Taxi, subway and private railway fares.
  • Insurance
  • Optional excursions (see below)


The price for this Traditional Japan independent itinerary as detailed above is as follows:
3* Hotels/ryokan: from £1,595 per person based on twin/double room occupancy.
4* Hotels/ryokan: from £2,195 per person based on twin/double room occupancy.
5* Hotels/ryokan: from £2,745 per person based on twin/double room occupancy.

3* single room supplement: from £200
4* single room supplement: from £500
5* single room supplement: from £1000

Optional Guided Tours:

Kyoto 1 day tour: £109 per person
Nara Afternoon Tour: £72 per person

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

Download our Traditional Japan Brochure here Traditional Japan Brochure and a Reservation Form here Traditional Japan 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.


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