Spend 13 days exploring historic shrines, hiking along ancient trails, and taking part in age-old ceremonies in the Land of the Rising Sun. Learn the art of sushi-making, tour the fish market, and join a sumo training session in Tokyo before marveling at Mount Fuji's reflection on a lake cruise. Trek the historic Nakasendo Trail, stopping at Japan-of-old post towns, then take a train to Kyoto, don a kimono for a tea ceremony, and make your own samurai sword, ending in Osaka for shrines, castles, and Kobe beef.


  • Take a pub tour, Tokyo-style, by visiting izakayas in the vibrant Monzen Nakacho
  • Soak in the hot springs of Fujikawaguchiko, savoring views of iconic Mount Fuji
  • Sample Japan's award-winning whiskies at the Fuji Gotemba Distillery
  • Savor a miso tasting and tour a centuries-old traditional miso factory in Okazaki
  • Explore one of Japan's most beautiful castles, Himeji, near Osaka

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Tokyo, Izakaya Food Tour  Tokyo
Day 2 Tour Tsukiji Fish Market, Senso-ji Temple, Nezu Shrine & Yanaka District Tokyo
Day 3 Sumo Experience with Chankonabe Hotpot, Nigiri Sushi Workshop Tokyo
Day 4 Day Trip to Historic Kawagoe Tokyo
Day 5 Transfer to Fujikawaguchiko via Mount Fuji, Lake Cruise & Whisky Tasting Fujikawaguchiko
Day 6 Train to Nagoya, Maruya Hatcho Miso Factory Tour Nagoya
Day 7 Transfer to Magome, Nakasendo Trail Trek (Day 1): Magome to Tsumago Tsumago
Day 8 Nakasendo Trail Trek (Day 2): Tsumago to Nojiri, Train to Kyoto Kyoto
Day 9 Temples Tour, Wagashi Class & Tea Ceremony Kyoto
Day 10 Temple Tour & Hike, Historic Higashiyama Walking Tour Kyoto
Day 11 Transfer to Osaka via Kameoka for Katana Workshop, Tour of Osaka  Osaka
Day 12 Day Tour of Kobe, Saké Brewery Museum & Himeji Castle Osaka
Day 13 Depart Osaka  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Tokyo, Izakaya Food Tour

A sushi meal
Head out on a food tour this evening in Japan's bustling capital, Tokyo

Welcome to Tokyo, Japan's glittering capital, where modernity competes with centuries-old culture, from skyscrapers to temples! After you arrive at the airport, a guide will be waiting to lead you to a shuttle bus, which will then whisk you to your hotel. Settle in, then head out to explore the city center on your own. Begin at Shibuya Station, the world's fourth-busiest transport hub, then tackle the famous Shibuya Scramble, the world's busiest pedestrian crossing, with around 250,000 people using it daily.

Immerse yourself in Tokyo's incredible food scene this evening with a night out in the lively Monzen Nakacho neighborhood. Join your guide for a three-hour food tour to sample street food like korokke (potato cakes), rice balls, and kakigori (shaved ice). Enjoy a drink in a Japanese izakaya (pub) and learn about Japanese culture from your guide as you stroll the streets and soak up the atmosphere.

Day 2: Tour Tsukiji Fish Market, Senso-ji Temple, Nezu Shrine & Yanaka District

Sensō-ji Temple in Tokyo
Explore Tokyo's best sites, including Senso-ji temple, on today's guided tour

Join your guide this morning for a full day exploring Tokyo's iconic landmarks, starting at the Tsukiji Outer Fish Market, a bustling hub with stalls offering seafood from sushi to grilled scallops. Fill up on fresh fish for breakfast or lunch, then head to the ancient Asakusa district to visit Senso-ji, one of Tokyo's most significant Buddhist temples, built in the seventh century.

Pass the giant lanterns on the Kaminarimon, the outer gate, then stroll along the buzzing, shop-lined Nakamise-dori. At the end of the road, you'll reach the second gate, Hozomon, which leads to the temple's main hall and a five-story pagoda, where you can pick up an omikuji (a Japanese fortune slip). You might also like to get a temple seal stamp near the main hall.

Next, head to one of the oldest places of worship in the city, the ancient Nezu Shrine, a Shinto shrine built in 1705 CE. Enter through the towering torii gates and follow the azalea-lined path to the main hall. Admire the intricate carvings of the shrine, then explore the koi-filled ponds, vermilion bridges, and stone lanterns. Continue a few blocks away to the Yanaka District, one of the most well-preserved historic neighborhoods in the city. Wander along the narrow lanes, lined with wooden houses-turned-cafés, galleries, and shops before returning to your hotel.

Day 3: Sumo Experience with Chankonabe Hotpot, Nigiri Sushi Workshop

Sumo Wrestler
Discover the world of sumo today with a behind-the-scenes tour

Start today's full-day tour by heading to Ryogoku with a knowledgeable guide for a glimpse into Tokyo's captivating sumo wrestling culture. Get a behind-the-scenes look at the daily lives of these revered athletes and learn some of the history and etiquette when watching a train session. For lunch, savor some chankonabe (sumo wrestler's hot pot), a sumo specialty made of rich broth full of protein and vegetables, to complete your immersion in this fascinating subculture of Japan. 

Later in the day, you'll dive into another treasured Japanese tradition—sushi! Discover the secrets of this iconic dish in a nigiri sushi workshop, made by molding rice into a bite-size shape and topping it with thin slices of fish. The expert instructor will guide you through the process, providing pro tips and sushi history from an insider's perspective. During the class, you'll also create other types of sushi, such as inari, sushi rice stuffed into deep-fried tofu pockets, or maki, where the classic ingredients are rolled in seaweed.

Day 4: Day Trip to Historic Kawagoe

A Day Back to the Edo Period: Trip to Kawagoe
Take a day trip from Tokyo to the charming, historic town of Kawagoe

After breakfast, meet your guide for a 30-minute drive to the charming town of Kawagoe, also known as Koedo or "Little Edo" due to its many historic Edo-period buildings and traditional shops. Once you arrive, follow your guide to the beautiful Kitain Temple, the head temple of the Tendai Sect in the Kanto Region, to see the impressive 540 stone statues dedicated to Buddha's disciples. Then, continue to the Warehouse District to witness the traditional Edo architectural style.

Enjoy lunch in one of the restaurants before taking a stroll along Taisho-roman Street while your guide shares stories about the Taisho-era buildings. Then, end the day in Candy Alley where you can sample and purchase some traditional Japanese sweets before returning to Tokyo for your final night in the city.

Day 5: Transfer to Fujikawaguchiko via Mount Fuji, Lake Cruise & Whisky Tasting

best time to visit Japan - Chureito pagoda during Spring time, with Mount Fuji in background
See the views of iconic Mount Fuji from Chureito Pagoda
Plan your trip to Japan
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Check out of your hotel this morning and meet your driver for a transfer to the Fuji Five Lakes region to see the iconic Mount Fuji. After a two-hour trip, you'll arrive at the famous Arakurayama Sengen Park. Ascend to the beautiful Chureito Pagoda perched on the hillside and surrounded by seasonal foliage, including cherry blossoms in spring. Enjoy panoramic views of the snowcapped mountain, then take a stroll around the eight ponds of Oshino Hakkai, created by snowmelt from the slopes of Mount Fuji itself. 

In the afternoon, join your guide for a cruise on the picturesque lake Kawaguchi-ko. Pass charming lakeside villages with Mount Fuji as a backdrop reflected on the water. Or, savor the sights on the Mount Fuji Panoramic Ropeway. Hop off at the observation deck under Mount Tenjo, which provides incredible panoramas of Fuji and the surrounding area. As you continue your trip to Fujikawaguchiko, stop at the Fuji Gotemba Distillery, which distills both malt and grain whiskies, to learn about the multiple stages of distilling and taste a glass of whisky.

End the day in the onsen (hot springs) town of Fujikawaguchiko, where you can unwind after your action-packed day with a relaxing soak in one of the hot springs open to the public or at a ryokan (traditional inn). These family-run businesses feature locally made meals and Japanese-style design and furniture. After your soak, spend your evening lounging in yukata (kimono pajamas), enjoying the legendary omotenashi (Japanese hospitality), and savoring views of the volcano and lake.

Day 6: Train to Nagoya, Maruya Hatcho Miso Factory Tour

Visit a miso factory in Nagoya for a taste of Japan

Leave Fujikawaguchiko behind and catch a two-hour train to Nagoya today, famous as the home of Toyota and its state-of-the-art automobile, aircraft, and manufacturing industry. After settling into your hotel, explore the city's renowned tech heritage on your own with a visit to the Toyota Automobile Museum. Discover the history and cultural significance of one of the region's most influential companies, then delve into the world of cars with a fascinating exhibition of over 120 automobiles from all eras of the motoring age, including Porsche, Subaru, and Rolls-Royce.

Follow up with a guided two-hour tour to the Maruya Hatcho Miso Factory in Okazaki. Meet your driver and transfer an hour outside the city to one of the oldest manufacturers of this classic soybean seasoning. With a history of almost 700 years, the factory still employs traditional methods to make its hatcho miso (a popular red miso). Enjoy a private guided tour of the facilities and the vast rows of miso tubs before concluding your tour with a tasting of Japan's signature seasoning.

Day 7: Transfer to Magome, Nakasendo Trail Trek Day 1: Magome to Tsumago

The Nakasendo Trail near Tsumago.
Begin a two-day hike along the historic and beautiful Nakasendo Trail

After one night in Nagoya, meet your driver for a 1.5-hour transfer to the charming village of Magome, the starting point of today's self-guided three-hour hike. Magome, a post town (Edo-era rest stop), features streets lined with buildings in the historic Edo-period style. From Magome, you'll walk for 5 miles (8 km) on one of the prettiest and best-preserved portions of the Nakasendo Trail. One of the most popular hiking routes in the country, the trail was one of five major routes of the Edo period, connecting Edo and Kyoto across more than 300 miles (482 km).

Trek along the trail over the Magome Pass to the exquisitely preserved town of Tsumago, a living museum that's home to residents whose families have lived here for generations. Stroll through the village streets, taking a step back in time as you absorb the rugged beauty of the area. Cars aren't allowed on the main roads here, and electrical wires are carefully concealed, adding to the old-world charm.

Visit Kotoku-ji, a temple dating from the 1500s with a singing floorboard, or stop in at the Waki-honjin Inn, once used by feudal lords and now housing a museum. Tonight, you'll spend the night at a minshuku, or family-run inn, where you'll enjoy a delicious home-cooked meal and well-deserved rest.

Day 8: Nakasendo Trail Trek Day 2: Tsumago to Nojiri, Train to Kyoto

Traditional Wooden Building in Tsumago, Japan
Wake up in the post town of Tsumago today, along the Nakasendo Trail

The morning begins with what will be the longest hike of your trip, taking you along a beautiful section of trail from Tsumago to the post station of Nojiri. The 11.5-mile (17 km) path snakes through valleys and bamboo and cedar forests, offering some of the most unspoiled scenery of the trip. Since you'll pass through some steep sections during the moderate, six-hour trek, the shorter, one-hour hike to the village of Nagiso is also an option.

Whichever village you choose, Nojiri or Nagiso, your driver will be waiting to transfer you to the local train station. There, you'll board the two-hour train bound for the cultural capital of Japan, mesmerizing Kyoto, and on arrival check into your hotel.

Day 9: Temples Tour, Wagashi Class & Tea Ceremony

Kinkakuji Temple
Stroll the beautiful, historic streets of Japan's cultural capital, Kyoto

This morning, head out on a half-day tour to explore the amazing Kyoto, alive with history and home to numerous shrines, temples, palaces, and gardens. Start at the UNESCO-listed temple, Kinkaku-ji, known as the Golden Pavilion. Stroll through the gardens and marvel at the gold-leaf-covered structure. The 11th-century Ryoanji Temple is your next destination, famous worldwide for its rock garden. Ryoanji is one of the finest surviving examples of kare-sansui, a style of Japanese gardening inspired by Zen ideals. 

After a quick break at your hotel, head to Kyoto Maikoya for this afternoon's wagashi-making class and a tea ceremony. Change into a kimono, then learn how to make Japan's favorite snack from an expert. Wagashi are traditional Japanese sweets, often filled with sweet bean paste and molded into shapes. After the lesson, join a tea ceremony called sado or chanoyu. Sit down on a mat and participate in the ritual of matcha, led by a knowledgeable tea master, before taste-testing the sweets and the perfectly prepared green tea.

Spend the rest of the day in Gion, Kyoto's famous geisha district. Stroll down the stone street of Hanami-koji, bordered by traditional wooden townhouses and shops, and see if you can spot the beautiful geishas as you wander. At the corner of Shijo Street and Hanami-koji, you'll find the legendary Ichiriki Ochaya Teahouse, the 300-year-old establishment that is invite-only but still makes for an iconic photo.

Day 10: Temple Tour & Hike, Historic Higashiyama Walking Tour

The 10,000 Red Gates of Fushimi Inari
Walk through the 10,000 red torii gates of Fushimi Inari-taisha near Kyoto

This morning's guided tour starts at Sanjusangendo-do, a temple featuring a central hall, the longest wooden structure in Japan, lined with 1,001 gold-leaf-encrusted statues of Kannon (the goddess of mercy). You'll then continue to the famous Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine for an enchanting hike through the 10,000 red torii gates. Follow the torii-lined route up the mountain for panoramic views, then walk back through the forest, discovering smaller shrines, moss-covered animal statues, and ancient stone tablets.

In the afternoon, begin a four-hour walking tour of the historic Higashiyama district, one of the city's best-preserved traditional neighborhoods. Visit Kiyomizu-dera ("Pure Water Temple"), one of Japan's most celebrated temples, founded in 780 CE. The temple sits on the Otowa Waterfall among wooded hills, with splendid views of the numerous cherry and maple trees, plus Kyoto below. You can also walk to the Jishu Shrine, which honors love and matchmaking. 

Then, wander the narrow alleys of Ninenzaka and Sannenzaka, lined with shops selling souvenirs or snacks. On your way, stop at Kodai-ji Zen Temple, built in the 17th century and known for its richly decorated architecture and beautiful gardens. End your tour at Chion-in, the head temple of the Jodo sect of Japanese Buddhism, to see the famous Sanmon, the largest wooden temple gate in the country, dating back 400 years. 

Day 11: Transfer to Osaka via Kameoka for Katana Workshop, Tour of Osaka 

Japanese Katana Crafting Experience in Kameoka
Learn to make a traditional Japanese sword from an expert in Kameoka

Pack your bags this morning and head 25 minutes out of Kyoto with your driver to the city of Kameoka for a katana crafting workshop led by a skilled Japanese swordsmith. Learn about the ancient artistry and craftsmanship behind Japan's legendary samurai swords and witness the intricate process of selecting raw materials, heating, hammering, and shaping your own hilt-less blade. Take part in each step to gain a deep appreciation for the craftsmanship involved in creating each blade.

From here, you'll transfer 40 minutes to the lively and beautiful city of Osaka, often described as Tokyo's younger sibling. After hotel check-in, meet your guide for a half-day tour of some of Osaka's sites, starting at the incredible Sumiyoshi Taisha. Initially founded in the third century, this history-rich shrine features classic sumiyoshi-zukuri architecture, with straight roofs and forked finials perfectly depicting that era. Get an insight into Sumiyoshi Taisha's history and capture beautiful shots of the Sorihashi Bridge as your guide explains more about the shrine's significance.

End your tour in Hozenji Yokocho, a stone-paved alley tucked away in a quiet corner of the buzzing Dotonburi and Namba area. As the go-to place for Edo-period atmosphere and local food, you'll stroll by traditional shops, restaurants, and bars here. Stop at its namesake temple of Hozen-ji to wish for luck, and duck into a restaurant for a delectable meal of deep-fried skewers of meat and veggies, okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake), or meoto zenzai (red bean soup with rice cakes).

Day 12: Day Tour of Kobe, Saké Brewery Museum & Himeji Castle

Himeji Castle
Explore the spectacular Himeji Castle near Osaka

Take a day trip 20 minutes away from Osaka to the ancient town of Kobe, known for its saké and Wagyu beef. Your guide will take you through the Nada district, where you'll visit the Hakutsuru Saké Brewery Museum, an old saké-brewhouse turned into a museum. Afterward, stroll around the waterfront area of Kobe Harborland, featuring shopping malls, restaurants, cafés, and more. 

While you're there, treat yourself to some of the best Japanese Wagyu beef in the country. This exceptional and rare meat comes from the strictly raised, locally bred Tajima-gyu breed of Japanese black cattle. Ask your guide to recommend one of the best steakhouses in town, where you can enjoy a classically prepared steak grilled on a teppanyaki (iron plate). 

See more of Osaka's countryside as your tour continues to the UNESCO-listed Himeji Castle, a spectacular example of Japanese castle architecture with a network of 83 buildings and advanced defensive systems. You'll have time to explore this beautiful white castle (nicknamed the White Heron Castle) and its grounds before a 1.5-hour drive back to Osaka for your final night in Japan.

Day 13: Depart Osaka

Transfer From Osaka to Kansai Int. Airport
Have a last-minute browse of the shops of the Dotonbori district before catching your flight
It's time to say goodbye to beautiful Japan. Depending on your departure time, you could take another quick stroll around the Dotonbori district before you meet your driver for a 45-minute transfer to the airport. Safe travels, wherever the road takes you next!

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Map of Discover Japan's Traditions, Culture & Nature - 13 Days
Map of Discover Japan's Traditions, Culture & Nature - 13 Days