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Tokyo crossing, Japan

Tokyo, Hakone and the Japanese Alps

17-day tailor-made journey from £5,395 pp incl. flights

Summary

Short description

Step out of the Japanese capital to explore an alpine world of shrines and samurai frozen in time

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Highlights

  • On scenic mountain railways, private cross-country drives and coastal bullet train sprints you’ll explore alpine Japan's ancient towns and rural beauty
  • Guided tours through capitals old and new reward with skyscraping neon and temples hidden among bamboo groves
  • Stay in timber ryokans as you enjoy onsen dips, learn to cook soba noodles and indulge in tea ceremonies along the way

In Brief

  • 3 Nights Tokyo
  • 2 Nights Hakone
  • 3 Nights Kyoto
  • 2 Nights Kanazawa
  • 2 Nights Takayama
  • 1 Night Matsumoto
  • 1 Night Tokyo

Itinerary

Recommended for:
City | History & culture | Natural world | Rail journey

On mountain train journeys, private cross-country drives past thatched villages and coastal bullet train sprints you’ll explore the great cities, ancient towns and rural beauty of central Japan. Along the way, you’ll stay in luxury hotels amongst city neon and timber ryokan inns, complete with hot spring onsen and multi-course traditional meals. In Tokyo and Kyoto – Japan’s capitals new and old – tailor-made guided tours will take you between lacquered shrines and hidden gastronomic delights. Public transport passes will also bring you on cable cars through picturesque Hakone’s forested national park villages. You’ll also head off the beaten track to study original, wooden castles in alpine towns and samurai quarters in historic cities, learning to cook soba noodles and how to conduct a tea ceremony as you go.

Day by day itinerary

Day 1
Depart UK

Your trip will start with an overnight flight from the UK, arriving on the second day.

Day 2
Tokyo

Upon arrival, a private driver will meet at the airport to transfer you to your central hotel in the Shiodome district, a high-tech jumble of multilevel walkways that lead to parks, noodle bars and teahouses. On your first day, perhaps rest up after your flight, explore the saltwater ponds and pretty walks of next-door Hamarikyu Gardens or make use of your transport card to explore the city sights.

Stay: Park Hotel (Superior) or Conrad (Deluxe)

Day 3
Tokyo

Today, on an eight-hour private guided tour, you’ll set out to explore the city proper making use of the famously efficient Tokyo public transport system. Your guide will consult you on what you’d like to see, tailor-making a trip that suits you. Perhaps you’d like to experience the bustle of Shibuya’s five-way crossing and Harajuku’s colourful shops or you’d rather take time out in a locals-only sushi bar after wandering through the Shinto shrines of Yoyogi Park. You’ll also be provided with tickets to the Tokyo Skytree. As the tallest tower in the world, it offers unparalleled views over the city’s skyscrapers out to – on a clear day – Mt. Fuji’s iconic peak.

Stay: Park Hotel (Superior) or Conrad (Deluxe)

Meals: B

Day 4
Tokyo

Your last day in the Japanese capital will be free to explore any sights you might have missed. Consider waking up early to witness the commotion of the Tsukiji fish market or cross the moat into the grounds of the city’s Imperial Palace. If you’d rather get out of the city there’s an excellent range of day trips you can take advantage of. There’s the 12th century former capital, Kamakura, a sleepy coastal town known for its beautiful Buddha statues and temples or the waterfalls and lakes of national park Nikko and its intricately decorated 17th-century Tosho-gu Shrine. Alternatively, sacred Mount Takao – Tokyo’s natural boundary – and its wooded ranges make for excellent hiking and cable car rides.

Stay: Park Hotel (Superior) or Conrad (Deluxe)

Meals: B

Days 5-6
Hakone

Catch the 40-minute train to Odawara – the gateway to Hakone – where a private transfer will bring you to your ryokan accommodation. Here, you’ll feast on multi-course kaiseki meals and enjoy onsen baths in authentic, timber inns set among riverside verdure. You’ll then have two days to explore the national park making use of your Hakone Freepass. Mountain railways, cable cars and funiculars knit together charming hamlets, forest-ringed lakes and waterside shrines, all watched over by Mt. Fuji’s imperious gaze. Don’t miss out on a pirate ship boat cruise on sparkling Lake Ashi, also included in your pass.

Stay: Yamanochaya, Hakone or Yumoto Kansuiro, Hakone (Deluxe)

Meals: B D

Day 7
Kyoto

A private driver will once again pick you up from your hotel to take you to Odawara where you’ll catch a train to Kyoto, Japan’s ancient capital. Your journey will be a two-hour race down the country’s eastern seaboard aboard a Shinkansen bullet train. On arrival, you’ll be treated to a private tea ceremony. An English-speaking teacher will guide you through the ikebana flower arrangements and Kanji calligraphy adornments of the beautiful En Tea House before guiding you through the history and philosophy of the ceremony. Of course, there’ll be plenty of opportunities to taste the tea and its traditional sweet accompaniments. 

Stay: Granvia Kyoto (Superior) or Hyatt Regency (Deluxe)

Meals: B

Day 8
Kyoto

Today, an eight-hour private guide will introduce you to Japan’s cultural capital. Again making use of the excellent public transport, you’ll explore some of Kyoto’s 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Walk through bright green bamboo groves and under the shocking vermillion of Fuhsimi Inari-Taisha’s gated walkways as you explore some of the city’s 1,600 Buddhist temples and 400 Shinto shrines. Your local guide will also be able to introduce you to geisha culture in Gion or point out the best spot to grab a steaming bowl of ramen noodles.

Stay: Granvia Kyoto (Superior) or Hyatt Regency (Deluxe)

Meals: B

Day 9
Kyoto

Although you might want to explore the sights you missed yesterday – perhaps taking a walk in the vast gardens of the city’s Imperial Palace – we recommend a day trip to Nara, just 40 minutes by local train out of Kyoto. As the end of the Silk Road, this is where Buddhism first arrived in Japan and you can still visit its grand monasteries today. Don’t miss out on the giant daibutsu Buddha housed in the sweeping wooden curves of Todai-ji temple. Alternatively, take a walk in Nara Park where overly friendly deer roam free.

Stay: Granvia Kyoto (Superior) or Hyatt Regency (Deluxe)

Meals: B

Days 10-11
Kanazawa

Travelling north by train out of Kyoto you’ll skirt the shores of Japan’s largest lake – Lake Biwa – before plunging through pretty rural scenery to Kanazawa, one of Japan’s best-preserved historical cities. You’ll have the two days to explore its sights that recall the romance of feudal Japan. Highlights include the charming teahouses of the geisha district and the samurai quarter’s walled bukeyashiki houses. There are also the beautiful landscape gardens of Kenrokuen and markets that sell traditional crafts such as weaving, lacquerware and indigo dyes. More modern arts are equally well represented in the excellent 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art.

Stay: Tokyu Hotel Kanazawa (Superior)/Nikko Kanazawa (Deluxe)

Meals: B

Days 12-13
Shirakawago/Takayama

A private driver will next bring you Takayama, calling into World Heritage listed Shirakawago on your way. A traditional village, Shirakawago is famous for its distinctive gassho ‘praying hands’ architecture; moss-splattered thatched roofs rise steeply to the backdrop of verdant rice paddies, winding rivers and towering mountains. You’ll then arrive in your timber ryokan in Takayama. Nestled among the Hida Mountains – one of the three sacred ranges of the Japanese Alps – it was first established as a 16th century castle town. It’s now famous for its immaculately preserved old town where latticed windows and overhanging roofs of its merchant houses are typical of the Edo period and its shrines and temples have given rise to the nickname, ‘Little Kyoto’. On your two days here, don’t forget to call into the folk village after sampling the region’s world-famous beef and miso soups.

Stay: Tanabe, Hida Takayama (Superior) or Hanaougi Bettei Iiyama, Hida Takayama (Deluxe)

Meals: B D

Day 14
Matsumoto

Today, a private transfer will bring you through snow-cloaked mountain passes that – come warmer weather – reveal lush vegetation clinging to jagged summits. After navigating tunnels and dams, you’ll arrive in Matsumoto. An alpine city, surrounded by towering peaks, it’s famous for its wooden castle, one of the only originals left in the country. Relaxed and cosmopolitan, it’s also well known for its sake breweries, tucked away among the traditional buildings of its backstreets.

Stay: Buena Vista Hotel Superior Room (Superior)/Buena Vista Hotel Executive Room (Deluxe)

Meals: B

Day 15
Matsumoto/Tokyo

On your penultimate day in Japan, you’ll learn the art behind Matsumoto’s famed gastronomy – its soba buckwheat noodles. At Tagaki – a shop opposite the castle founded some 130 years ago – you’ll learn how to make soba noodles from scratch, how best to serve them and, perhaps most importantly, how to eat them. You’ll then take the Azusa Express train, watching as paddy fields, vineyards, orchards and lakes morph into Tokyo’s urban sprawl. If the weather’s clear, you might even catch a glimpse of Mt. Fuji to Tokyo’s west.

Stay: Hilton Tokyo (Superior) or Park Hyatt (Deluxe)

Meals: B

Day 16
Depart for UK

A private taxi will bring you to Narita airport in time for you to catch your flight back to the UK.

Meals: B

Day 17
Arrive UK

Following your overnight flight back to the UK, continue your onward journey home.

Map

Pricing

Any element of this itinerary can be adjusted to suit your needs. Just contact us to find out more.

Prices

Accommodation rating: Superior Deluxe

17-day tailor-made journey from £5,395 incl. flights

Prices from: Superior from £5,395 (low season) and from £5,695 (high season) per person and Deluxe from £7,325 (low season) and from £7,625 (high season) per person. 

Valid for travel. Year round

Package includes: International flights, 14 nights superior or deluxe accommodation, private transfers, guided touring, rail travel and meals as per itinerary.

Terms & Conditions: Prices are per person based on two people sharing a twin/double room; prices are subject to availability and possible change; normal booking conditions apply.

Meet our experts

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Adjust your itinerary with our recommended extensions

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On this three-day extension out of Matsumoto, you’ll be able to watch as whole families – unperturbed by humans – wash, splash and even throw snowballs deep in the northern mountains of the Japanese Alps.

Sumo Stable

On-the-day excursion from £125 pp

Unpick the intrigue behind Japan's national sport as you visit one of Tokyo's sumo stables. Learn about the wrestlers' strict and traditional lifestyle, etiquette and watch them train for grand tournaments, all with the assistance of an English speaking private guide.

Hida Satoyama Cycling

On-the-day excursion from £88 pp

Making your way just outside Takayama, this is an opportunity to head deeper into rural Japan while engaging with a key part of modern Japanese culture – cycling.

Why book with Wexas Travel?

At Wexas, we specialise in bespoke travel experiences. Our itineraries are just samples of what we can arrange, and can be changed depending on your precise needs, finances and ideas by our experienced destination specialists.

Contact one of our consultants on 020 7590 0689 to discuss how we can tailor your holiday.

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