- Join locals in their daily shopping at Tsukiji Outer Fish Market in Tokyo
- Take in Mount Fuji views as you cycle around Lake Kawaguchiko
- Walk through Fushimi Inari's 10,000 torii gates in Kyoto
- Hike a 1,200-year-old pilgrimage path and sleep in a temple in Mount Koya
|Day 1||Arrive in Tokyo||Tokyo|
|Day 2||Tokyo City Tour & Senso-ji Temple||Tokyo|
|Day 3||Day Trip to Kamakura & Jochi-ji Temple Hike||Tokyo|
|Day 4||Transfer to Fujikawaguchiko, Cycle at Lake Kawaguchiko||Fujikawaguchiko|
|Day 5||Train to Kyoto, Kinkaku-ji Temple & Gion||Kyoto|
|Day 6||Fushimi Inari Taisha & Hike to Kiyomizu-dera Temples||Kyoto|
|Day 7||Cycle Through Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, Explore Nishiki Market||Kyoto|
|Day 8||Train to Osaka, Free Afternoon||Osaka|
|Day 9||Train to Mount Koya, Choishi-Michi Trail & Temple Stay||Mount Koya|
|Day 10||Mount Koya Morning Meditation, Return to Osaka||Osaka|
|Day 11||Depart Osaka|
Day 1: Arrive in TokyoWelcome to Tokyo, Japan's sprawling capital that covers more than 5,194 square miles (13,452 sq km) and is home to over 13 million residents. Meet your driver at the airport for a private transfer to your hotel for an easy transition, then settle into your hotel or get out for your first look at the city.
Day 2: Tokyo City Tour & Senso-ji TempleIn the morning, meet your guide for an all-day city tour, getting around via the Tokyo metro and on foot for a local's-eye experience. Start at the Meiji Jingu shrine dedicated to Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken. Afterward, head to Tsukiji Outer Fish Market to join crowds shopping for produce and fish, sampling sushi, onigiri, or whatever else intrigues you for a light lunch or snack.
From the busy market, take a relaxing walk in the 1.3-square-mile (3.3 sq km) Imperial Palace East Gardens. There, see the moats, walls, gates, and guardhouses of the grounds of the former Edo Castle. From the gardens, your next stop is north in Asakusa District, a central entertainment area dating to the Edo period that is now known for its craft shops and food stalls on the main Nakamise Shopping Street. Follow the street to reach Tokyo's oldest temple, Senso-ji, which is dedicated to the goddess of mercy in Buddhism. After the tour, return to your hotel to rest or continue exploring Tokyo by night.
Day 3: Day Trip to Kamakura & Jochi-ji Temple Hike
Halfway through your hike, take a break at Genjiyama Park for a snack and to refill your water. Then, continue your hike to the shrine of Kuzuharaoka, known by locals as a spot for good luck, on your way to the 13th-century Jochi-ji. Explore Kamakura's eastern hills arriving at Hokoku-ji, where you'll find a bamboo forest behind the temple's walls and a small tea house. Stop for a cup of matcha tea among the peaceful forest, then return to Tokyo, where you can head out to dinner or rest up for tomorrow's adventure.
Day 4: Transfer to Fujikawaguchiko, Cycle at Lake KawaguchikoMeet your driver in the morning for a private 1.5-hour transfer west to Fujikawaguchiko and Lake Kawaguchiko, with Mount Fuji views along the way. Then you'll switch to a bike to follow a lakeside trail, making your way through the countryside via flower fields and paths dotted with shrines. Ride across Ohashi Bridge and through a tunnel of maple tree branches, and then stop for a stroll in Oishi and Yagizaki Parks with their serene floating shrines.
Continue on your bike tour for a stop at Fuji Omuro Sengen, the oldest among the 2,000 Japanese shrines dedicated to Mount Fuji. Walk through the towering gates set off by pink cherry blossoms in spring and fiery maple leaves in autumn. At the end of your bike tour, you'll continue to your Fujikawaguchiko hotel to settle in, then explore the town or go out for dinner.
Day 5: Train to Kyoto, Kinkaku-ji Temple & GionToday takes you to Kyoto, starting with a one-hour transfer to Mishima Station, then a two-hour train ride west to Japan's cultural capital. Hit the ground running upon arrival as you join your guide for a visit to the gold-leaf-covered temple of Kinkaku-ji, surrounded by a pond and verdant hills. Then, tour Nijo Castle, built as the Kyoto residence of the first Edo period shogun. You'll also discover Ninomaru Palace on the castle grounds, walking across bridges, over small ponds, and through cherry blossom groves.
After the tour, spend the rest of your afternoon exploring Gion, known as the "Geisha District". Follow stone paths on Hanami-koji Street with wooden houses that are now art galleries, antique shops, and boutiques selling kimonos. Spot geisha in their elaborate clothes as you meander around the area and reach the corner of Shijo and Hanamikoji Streets at Ichiriki Ochaya. Take a photo of the outside of this invitation-only tea house, which is famous for its role in Japanese literature, then eat dinner in this atmospheric neighborhood before heading back to your hotel.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 6: Fushimi Inari Taisha & Hike to Kiyomizu-dera Temples
Your next stop at Kiyomizu-dera is reached by walking through the narrow alleys of stone-paved pedestrian roads of Ninenzaka, Sannenzaka, or Gojozaka, depending on the path you choose to reach the hilltop. At the temple, explore its hondo (main hall), shrines, and smaller temples. Take a moment to step onto the impressive veranda outside the main hall, standing 42 feet (13 m) above ground and built without nails, to see views of the surrounding forest. Afterward, you'll make your way back down to Kyoto where the rest of the evening is at your leisure.
Day 7: Cycle Through the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, Explore Nishiki MarketLocated on the western outskirts of Kyoto, Arashiyama's dense bamboo groves, lively macaques, forested hills, and temple-lined roads make it an ideal area to discover by bike. Join your guide as you cycle through this rural part of Kyoto, starting in the morning and ending right before lunch.
Day 8: Train to Osaka, Free AfternoonAn hour's train ride takes you on to Osaka today, where you'll have the rest of the day free to get settled in and then explore the city at your own pace—picking major sites, street food, shopping, or all three. At Osaka Castle, see a reconstruction of a castle built in the 1500s and walk around the lush grounds. Learn more about the city's history at the Osaka Museum of Housing and Living, where exhibits explain the Edo period and other significant points in Osaka's history.
In the afternoon, take the elevator at the Umeda Sky Building to Kuchu Teien Observatory for sweeping city views. Back at ground level, explore Shinsaibashi—dating back to the Edo period, today its 1,698-foot (600 m) long arcade is filled with tailors, clothing and shoe stores, restaurants, and jewelry boutiques. Spend the rest of the evening tasting some of the city's renowned street food such as okonomiyaki (savory pancakes) and takoyaki (octopus fritters), before getting an early night in anticipation of tomorrow's hiking adventure.
Day 9: Train to Mount Koya, Choishi-Michi Trail & Temple Stay
Start today's adventure with an hour's train ride to Kami-Kosawa Station, where you'll set off on foot along the Choishi-Michi Pilgrimage Trail, a 14-mile long (24 km) path lined with 180 stone choishi (statues) leading the way to 100 temples and monasteries. The journey is all around the focal point of Koyasan or Mount Koya, a center of Shingon Buddhism in Japan for more than 1,200 years. This easy-to-moderate hike takes five hours to Daimon Gate or seven hours for the full trail.