Visiting Japan offers an unrivalled cultural experience, with the various islands that make up the country providing a mixture of intriguing traditions and modern innovation. Travelling around Japan can be delight as the country boasts one of the world’s most advanced public transport networks, but it can also be confusing for visitors, particularly away from the metropolitan centres. With that in mind joining an escorted tour with a knowledgeable local guide can enable you to experience the best of Japan during your visit.
Begin your tour of Japan in the bustling city of Osaka, where you can admire the views across the city from the castle that guards the city from its hill-top perch. Travel by coach from Osaka to the historic city of Nara, home to one of the seven great temples of Japan. Stroll through the calm of Nara Park to the Todaji Temple, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
On the way to Hiroshima, it will be possible to explore the 17th century castle and traditional Japanese garden at Himeji, before having a whole day to explore the city. The Peace Memorial park and museum reflect on the city’s tragic past, whilst a ferry will take you to the Itskushima Shrine on the Holy island of Miyajima.
An experience not to be missed is the journey by Bullet train to the traditional Japanese city of Kyoto. You will be able to visit the zen garden at the Ryoanji temple and the golden pavilion with its perfect reflections. One of the highlights of any stay in Kyoto is the age-old rituals of a traditional tea ceremony with a qualified tea master.
At Kanazawa you will be able to wander through the exceptional gardens of Kenrokuen and the Nomura Samurai House; the former home of a high-ranked samurai of the Meiji Period. Then travel by coach to Takayama via Gokayama and Shirakawago, where you can explore the 300-year-old Gassho-style Wada House.
After exploring the local markets and traditional houses and local museums at Takayama, we travel on to visit the 16th century castle at Matsumoto and perhaps explore a wasabi farm before heading on to Nagano.
From here you will journey further in to the snow-capped Japanese Alps where you can see the macaques (snow monkeys) bathe and play in the hot springs. Then continue to Mount Fuji, where your coach can take you roughly half-way up the volcano to provide you with spectacular views over the surrounding area.
This exploration of Japan comes to an end in the bright-lights of the capital city; Tokyo. Behind the modern bluster it is possible to explore the city’s traditional foundations at the Imperial Palace and the Sensoji; Tokyo’s oldest Buddhist temple. Alternatively, you enjoy the neon-lights and welcoming restaurants of downtown Tokyo where you ponder the famous Shibuya pedestrian road crossing. We end the tour with a dinner on board a traditional yakata boat in the harbour.