This weeklong journey focuses on Japan's busy cities, including ultra-modern Tokyo and historic Hiroshima. You'll explore the contemporary art scene, dine in a character café, walk around streets lit up with neon at night, and tour temples and historic sites. But the itinerary also features quieter experiences, featuring day trips to the shrines of Nara, a traditional village where you'll learn about the art of kimono design, and a lookout point where you'll get the best photo ops of snow-capped Mount Fuji.

Highlights

  • Explore Tokyo and ride to the top of the world's tallest tower
  • Day-trip to a traditional village to shop for kimonos and handicrafts
  • Learn about tea ceremonies and flower arranging in Kyoto
  • Tour the historic sites and lively downtown of Hiroshima
  • Detour to the best photo ops of iconic Mount Fuji

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Welcome to Japan! Tokyo
Day 2 Sightsee in Tokyo Tokyo
Day 3 Side-trip to Mount Fuji  Tokyo
Day 4 Explore the Shrines & Temples of Kyoto Kyoto
Day 5 See Native Deer at Nara Hiroshima
Day 6 Get to Know Hiroshima's History Hiroshima
Day 7 Depart Japan - End of Trip  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Welcome to Japan!

Looking out over the glittering skyline of Tokyo

Welcome to Japan! Get oriented in Tokyo with a visit to the world’s tallest tower. At 2,080 feet (634 meters), the Tokyo Skytree offers spectacular views as far as Mount Fuji from its 360-degree observation deck. Afterward, 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, make your way to Shibuya, home to the vibrant Shibuya Crossing. The area is packed with restaurants, bars, and nightclubs, perfect for a night out on the town.

Day 2: Sightsee in Tokyo

Tourists outside a temple in Tokyo

There's so much to see and do in Tokyo — you have many options today! Explore the artificial island of Odaiba, a hot spot for futuristic fun. The trip to this shopping and entertainment district is enjoyable, whether you arrive by taking a cruise through Tokyo Bay or by crossing the colorful Rainbow Bridge. Start at TeamLab, a permanent interactive art exhibition on the island that gives new meaning to the term "modern art" — be prepared to follow art as it moves along the walls. Then head to the trendy fashion mecca of Harajuku. As you walk through the famous Takeshita Street, be sure to stop by the rainbow candyfloss and crepe stands, as well as the fascinating costume galleries and animal and character cafés. A visit to the world-famous Kawaii Monster Café is a great way 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 unique and memorable experience.

For a brief respite from the lights and action, stop into Meiji Jingu shrine, one of Tokyo's most spiritually significant religious structures. Take a leisurely stroll through its forested grounds and witness the contrast of these two areas —modern and traditional —located so close together. It's a perfect representation of the diversity of Tokyo. You'll then walk to Shibuya to enjoy another one of the country's most famous sights, Shibuya Crossing. Featured in several films, like The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift and Lost in Translation, there can be as many as 2,500 people crossing at one time! Shibuya is also packed with some of the best nightclubs in the country. After dinner, dance and socialize in this suburb that never sleeps!

Day 3: Side-trip to Mount Fuji 

Cherry blossom trees with Mount Fuji in the background

Today you'll go on an easy day trip from Tokyo to get a closer view of Mount Fuji. You will start at Kawaguchi Station and stop at a traditional village to explore quaint shops offering traditional handicrafts. Try on a silk kimono or samurai armor for a photo, then enjoy a Japanese lunch with soba noodles. Afterward, you'll stop at a lakeside lookout point for a photo op of the iconic Mount Fuji. Then visit the Kubota Kimono Museum to learn more about the history of the garment. You'll return to Tokyo at the end of the day, where you're free to relax or go out on the town.

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Day 4: Explore the Shrines & Temples of Kyoto

A temple overlooking the lake in Kyoto

Transfer today to Kyoto, the former capital of Japan. Overflowing with history and a lot more traditional than its Tokyo counterpart, things here move at a slower pace and the people tend to be more laid-back. While here, a visit to what is arguably the most famous shrine in Japan – Fushimi Inari – is an absolute must. Featured in the movie Memoirs of a Geisha, this shrine has more than 10,000 picturesque red torii gates. They were all donated by Japanese individuals and businesses as a sign of appreciation to the god Inari for blessings received. 

Your visit to Inari perfectly sets the tone for your next stop: a traditional Japanese arts show. As well as offering a chance to see a performance by a maiko (geisha in training), this hourlong theatrical experience also introduces you to various skilled artists, including ikebana (flower arrangers), puppeteers, koto (Japanese harp players), and court musicians. In the evening, talk a walk through the bustling streets of Pontocho. Right next to the Kamogawa River, this area is home to a wide range of restaurants and bars. If you prefer, you can also request a private dinner or tea ceremony with a geisha.

Day 5: See Native Deer at Nara

Deer among ancient stone lanterns at Nara.
Deer among ancient stone lanterns at Nara

Today you'll side-trip to the city of Nara, famous for its traditional sites and resident herds of peaceful deer. With scenic gardens, parks, temples, and shrines, it's a quiet place that you'll enjoy exploring at your own pace. Nara also has some stunning walking trails, one of which will take you through the Mount Kasuga Primeval Forest. The Todaiji Temple, home to the giant Daibutsu Buddha statue, is a must-see before you continue on to Hiroshima, where you'll spend the night. 

Day 6: Get to Know Hiroshima's History

Hiroshima skyline and the monument of the Atomic Dome Museum.
The skyline of Hiroshima

The itinerary takes you to Hiroshima on day nine, a modern city of wide boulevards, flowing rivers, and a lively downtown. Of course, it's a tragic legacy that sets this city apart: Hiroshima was the world’s first city destroyed by an atomic bomb during World War II. (The second was Nagasaki.) You'll learn about this 1945 event at the Peace Memorial Park, which features the ruins of Genbaku Dome, one of the only buildings that was left standing after the blast. Stroll through Shukkei-en, a Japanese garden, and stop by the beautifully landscaped fortress of Hiroshima Castle.  

In the afternoon, you'll visit the island of Miyajima. On the short ferry ride there, be sure to stand on the deck to get a good view of the giant red torii gate rising out of the sea. Miyajima holds the rare distinction in Japan of having never experienced an earthquake. Because of this, many of its temples are entirely original and centuries old. Be sure to visit Daisho Temple, Itsukushima Shrine, and Mount Misen. The view from the top of the mountain is superb, looking out across the inland sea. The island is also populated with friendly deer, which only adds to the fairytale-like setting.

Day 7: Depart Japan - End of Trip

Tokyo's Shinjuku Park
Tokyo's Shinjuku Park

You'll have some free time in the morning before transferring to Tokyo via bullet train. It's time to say goodbye to Japan. Safe travels!

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