- Interact with art in a way you've never done before
- Visit a ninja park at the base of Mount Fuji
- Travel back in time to Edo-era Japan at Edo Wonderland
- Explore the deer-filled temples of Nara
|Day 1||Welcome to Tokyo!||Tokyo|
|Day 2||Futuristic Odaiba and a Cooking Lesson||Tokyo|
|Day 3||Travel to Nikko||Tokyo|
|Day 4||Manga, Anime and Kawaii Character Cafes||Tokyo|
|Day 5||Exploring Mount Fuji||Fujikawaguchiko|
|Day 6||Tea and sweets in Kyoto||Kyoto|
|Day 7||Bamboo Groves and Temples at Arashiyama||Kyoto|
|Day 8||Day Trip to Nara||Kyoto|
|Day 9||A trip to Universal Studios||Kyoto|
Day 1: Welcome to Tokyo!
After settling into your accommodation, get oriented in the city with a visit to the world’s tallest tower. At 2,080 feet (634 m), the Tokyo Skytree offers spectacular views as far as Mount Fuji from its 360-degree observation deck. If heights aren’t your thing, take a walk through the grounds of Sensoji, the city's oldest and most historically significant temple. Legends say it was founded when two brothers fished a statue of the goddess Kannon out of the Sumida River. The neighboring Asakusa Shrine also highlights the stark differences between Shinto and Buddhist belief systems.
As night falls, head to the Shibuya district for your pick of restaurants as the sun goes down on your first night in Japan.
Day 2: Futuristic Odaiba and a Cooking Lesson
Explore the artificial island of Odaiba— a center of Tokyo’s futuristic fun. Even traveling to this shopping and entertainment district is enjoyable, whether by cruise through Tokyo Bay or crossing the colorful Rainbow Bridge.
Start your day at teamLab, a permanent digital art exhibition on the island that gives new meaning to the term "modern art." Be prepared to color in, follow art along the walls, gasp in awe, and take loads of photos. The nearby Miraikan museum (officially the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation) is a fantastic place to learn about everything future-tech in a fun and interactive way.
After you've had your fill of the future, make your way to a cooking lesson. Roll up your sleeves as you learn how to make some of the country's most famous dishes from scratch. Choose from dishes like soba noddles, ramen, gyoza and sushi, to name but a few! Your skilled teacher will take you through all the steps to creating your own delicious meal.
Day 3: Travel to Nikko
Today you’ll head north to Nikko, home of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Toshogu Shrine. Mausoleum of Japan’s last shogun, the ornate shrine is one of the most beautiful in Japan, and it offers a marked contrast to traditional Shinto structures.
A short walk south will take you to Rinnoji, Nikko's most famous temple. Explore the grounds at your leisure, visiting a treasure house displaying fascinating exhibits, a small yet delightful Japanese garden, and a shrine that is said to house Nikko's three mountain gods.
Finish your day with some lighthearted fun at Edo Wonderland, a cultural theme park, where you’ll step back in time to the 15th century. Sit back and experience a traditional magic show or get hands-on with Hariko doll painting, makeup artistry, and samurai sword fighting classes. When you’re ready to return to the 21st century, you’ll head back to your accommodation in Tokyo for the evening.
Day 4: Manga, Anime and Kawaii Character Cafes
Today, get ready to delve into the anime, manga and electronics mecca that is Akihabara with a guided tour of this part of Tokyo. Packed with gaming arcades, comic book and anime stores, virtual reality experiences, and dozens of otaku (die-hard anime fans) roaming the streets, Akihabara offers a definite eye-opening experience into a rather quirky side of Japanese culture. Akihabara is also a great place to stock up on any electronics you may need, as every corner boasts some kind of new or used electronics store. Lunch at a maid-café (think kawaii - cute - waitresses with cat ears singing songs and serving very kawaii food) is an experience you will not forget any time soon!
In the afternoon, you’ll head to the trendy fashion hub of Harajuku. As you walk down Takeshita Street, be sure to stop by the rainbow cotton candy and crepe stands as well as the fascinating costume galleries and character cafés. Visit the famous Kawaii Monster Café to get a glimpse of Japan's kawaii culture. The brightly colored food, live performances from waitresses dressed like cartoon characters, and vibrant decor make it a memorable experience.
For those wanting the ultimate anime adventure, the Studio Ghibli Museum offers an amazing insight into the world of the masterminds behind films like "Spirited Away" and "Princess Mononoke."
Imagine zooming through the streets turning corners on a go-kart, dressed as your favorite Mario character. This is just another spectacularly exciting activity you can look forward to on this day! (International Drivers License needed).
Day 5: Exploring Mount Fuji
There are so many things to do in the Lake Kawaguchi area. Today, the choice of what to do is up to you. Here are some of your options:
Narusawa Ice Caves. These 501-foot (153 m) caves are fascinating to explore. They are a lava tunnel formed when Mount Fuji erupted centuries ago. The caves are filled with ice pillars all year long.
Chureito Pagoda. One of the most iconic views of Mount Fuji can be seen from here. The pagoda is especially stunning during the spring and autumn months, when the trees turn pink and gold, respectively. However, it's worth visiting in any season.
Fujikyu Highland. This is one of Japan's most popular theme parks. It offers rollercoasters (one of which is the steepest in the world) as well as several anime-themed attractions based on popular films and TV series.
Shinobi no Sato Ninja Village. Here, you get the chance to try being a ninja. Shinobi no Sato Ninja Village is a ninja-themed town designed for children, with ninja shows and the opportunity to perform stunts, throw ninja weapons, and take a training course to turn into a stealthy ninja warrior.
Boat rides. There are several companies offering different kinds of boat rides on the lake, from swan pedal boats to private party crafts with onboard barbecues for large groups.
Whatever you want to do today, your travel specialist will help you arrange the experience.
Day 6: Tea and Sweets in Kyoto
Japan's former capital, Kyoto, is bursting with history and, compared to Tokyo, offers a more traditional, laid-back pace. Your first stop will be the famous Fushimi Inari Shrine. Featured in the movie "Memoirs of a Geisha," this shrine has over 10,000 picturesque red torii gates donated by people and various businesses from all over Japan.
This perfectly prepares the way for your next activity, a traditional Japanese tea ceremony paired with a wagashi sweets-making lesson. Learn the art of preparing and serving matcha tea, as well as the meaning behind certain words and actions used in the tea ceremony. Not only an art but also a spiritual discipline, this time-honored tradition provides great insight into some important aspects of Japanese culture. You'll also witness and emulate your teacher's meticulous attention to detail as you create your very own seasonal sweets. We give you fair warning, though, you may find them too pretty to eat!
In the evening, take a walk through the bustling streets of Pontocho, an area along the Kamogawa River that’s packed with restaurants and bars.
Day 7: Bamboo Groves and Temples at Arashiyama
Just outside Kyoto is the tranquil area of Arashiyama, where you'll start your day with a ride on an open-air train, surrounded by incredible views of the river and surrounding forest. Then, travel down the Hozugawa River on a traditional Japanese boat. Depending on the season, you could be floating past banks lined with white and pink cherry blossoms in March, the deep green leaves of a warm summer in July, or the brilliant and fiery colors of autumn trees in November.
The district’s centerpiece is the sprawling Tenryuji Temple, a World Heritage Site that includes picturesque and ancient landscape gardens. Its gorgeous and otherworldly bamboo grove is the star attraction of Arashiyama, and it's easy to devote hours to exploring the meandering trails. Nearby, you'll find Nonomiya Shrine and the Iwatayama Monkey Park, where macaques roam freely.
If you're up for a walk, head to Otagi Nenbutsuji, a unique temple that houses hundreds of statues, all carved by different people. Look closely, and you'll find some of these Buddhist statues sporting glasses and carrying cellphones.
Day 8: Day Trip to Nara
Today you'll journey to the compact city of Nara, famous for its traditional sites and resident herds of tame deer. Nara was Japan's first permanent capital, and it features scenic gardens, parks, temples, and shrines. You’ll spend the day exploring at your own pace. The Todaiji Temple, home to the giant Daibutsu Buddha statue, is a must-see before you head back to Kyoto for the evening.
Day 9: A Trip to Universal Studios
Submerge yourselves into the world of Universal Studios at one of the country's most popular theme parks. Spend the entire day enjoying thrilling park rides, spectacular shows, and fantastic restaurants, all based on your favorite films.
Day 10: Farewell!
Today you'll bid farewell to Japan and reflect on all the fantastic memories you've made during your trip.