Discover both the traditional and modern sides of Japan as you visit various shrines and temples, witness technological innovation at an amazing digital art exhibition and crazy (in a very good way) robot show, and get involved in a few hands-on cooking and craft classes. For a trip which aims to give you the best overview of Japan as possible, you can't do any better.

Highlights

  • Make your own sushi under the guidance of a trained chef
  • Travel back in time to Edo-era Japan at Edo Wonderland
  • Enjoy a BBQ in the shadow of Mt Fuji
  • Explore the deer-filled island of Miyajima

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Welcome to Tokyo! Tokyo
Day 2 Make your own Sushi + a Trip to Tokyo's Fashion District Tokyo
Day 3 Experience the Future of Technology Tokyo
Day 4 Sumo, Some History and Sake! Tokyo
Day 5 Off to Nikko Tokyo
Day 6 In the Shadow of Mt Fuji Fujikawaguchiko
Day 7 Exploring Mt Fuji Fujikawaguchiko
Day 8 Memoirs of a Geisha Kyoto
Day 9 The Tranquil Arashiyama District Kyoto
Day 10 Day trip to Nara Kyoto
Day 11 The Reborn City of Hiroshima Hiroshima
Day 12 A Day on Miyajima island Hiroshima

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Welcome to Tokyo!

Welcome to Tokyo

Welcome to Tokyo, the biggest city in the world! We will arrange for someone to collect you from the airport and take you to your accommodations. You will also meet your Kichi Japan guide who will orientate you to your trip as well as organize any train passes and tickets you may need for the duration of your time in Japan.

Depending on what time you arrive, we can arrange for a couple of activities to start your trip with a bang; including, but not limited to: a fascinating shrine/temple visit; the opportunity to view Tokyo from the sky at the world-famous Skytree; dinner reservations at one of the city's highly-rated restaurants; or a riveting display of art and technology at a Robot Show!

Day 2: Make your own Sushi & Tokyo's Fashion District

Take a guided tour of Tsukiji fish market

This day will begin with a guided tour of both Tsukiji and Toyosu fish markets – the largest wholesale fish markets in Japan. After selecting your cuts of fish, you will use your hand-picked ‘sakana’ to make your own sushi.

In the afternoon you will head to the very trendy fashion mecca of Harajuku which is also a great place to get in some shopping. A visit to the world-famous Kawaii Monster Cafe whilst in the area is a brilliant way to experience Japan's 'kawaii' culture. Meiji Jingu shrine, one of Tokyo's most spiritually significant religious structures in the area, also makes for an enjoyable, relaxing stroll and is quite a contrast to the modern and loud atmosphere of Harajuku.

At night you'll take a short walk to Shibuya to take in one of the country's most famous city sights - Shibuya Crossing. There can be as many as 2500 people crossing at one time! The area is also packed with dozens of great restaurants where you can eat your fill of delicious food.

Day 3: Experience the Future of Technology

TeamLab interactive art exhibition

The man-made island of Odaiba has so many amazing and futuristic things to see and do there. TeamLab has a new permanent interactive art exhibition there that is mind-blowing. Be prepared to color in, follow art along the walls, gasp in awe and take loads of photos of course! All of Japan’s major corporations have their concept technology housed around the island, and even traveling to the island is fun, since we can arrange a river and bay cruise to get you there.

In the evening get ready to experience one of Tokyo's wackiest shows at the Robot Restaurant. This 90min show is jam-packed with neon lights, vibrant music and is a great way to catch a glimpse into the crazy techno culture in Japan!

Day 4: Sumo, Some History and Sake!

Edo-Tokyo Museum

Today will attempt to give you some insight into the traditional and spiritual aspects of Japanese culture. Did you know that sumo wrestling is less of a sport and more of a spiritual ceremony? You will learn all this and more as you observe a morning sumo training session and witness first-hand the pure skill and power that these athletes possess. 

A short walk will take you to the Edo-Tokyo Museum where you will discover what it was like to live in Edo-period Japan as you traverse the halls of a replicated Edo-era town. 

Later, a visit to one of Tokyo’s sake tasting centers may be a fun way to learn what sake goes best with which foods as you travel!

Day 5: Off to Nikko

Visit Toshogu Shrine in Nikko

Just north of Tokyo lies Nikko, home of the UNESCO World Heritage awarded Toshogu Shrine, which is also the mausoleum of Japan’s last shogun ruler. The shrine is by far one of the most beautiful in Japan, and breaks the mold of the typical and characteristically simple Shinto structures. In our opinion, it is one of the top three sites of the entire country.

Close to Toshogu is Rinnoji, Nikko's most important temple. On the grounds you will find  a treasure house, small garden and a shrine which is said to house Nikko's three mountain gods. Additionally, while in Nikko a visit to its recreated Edo-era ‘town’, Edo Wonderland, is a must-stop place for some light-hearted fun. Enjoy various creative activities, fantastic shows, and even dress up in traditional Japanese attire if you wish!

Day 6: In the Shadow of Mt Fuji

Mt. Fuji

Mt. Fuji can be quite shy at times. On a clear day, you can see it from Tokyo. On a cloudy day it’s hard to see it from just a short distance away. The best place to see it from is on Lake Kawaguchi, and one of the nation’s best ryokans is situated here, complete with outdoor hot springs baths that give you the perfect view of Mt. Fuji.

Today you will take a trip to the picturesque crafts village of Iyashi no Sato. This is an open-air museum on the edge of Lake Saiko. It used to be a small farming village, but now all of the thatched-roof houses have been converted into workshops, restaurants and small shops. You can choose from some of the following activities: ceramic pottery painting, glass kaleidoscope and metal work, soba noodle making, fabric ornament crafting, and incense making.

Day 7: Exploring Mt Fuji

Views of Mt. Fuji

There are so many things to do in the Lake Kawaguchi area. The Narusawa ice caves are fascinating and make for some great exploration. Chureito pagoda offers one of the most iconic views of Mt. Fuji and what better way to take in the stunning scenery than with a boat ride on Lake Kawaguchi while you enjoy the flavors of a Japanese BBQ!

Day 8: Memoirs of a Geisha

Geisha in Kyoto

The former capital of Kyoto is positively bursting with history and a lot more traditional than Tokyo. Things here move at a much slower pace and the people tend to be a lot more laid-back. While here a visit to what is arguably the most famous shrine in Japan, Fushimi Inari (which boasts over 10 000 red torii gates), is a must.

This shrine was also featured in the movie 'Memoirs of a Geisha', which leads perfectly into your next activity - a traditional show which includes a performance by a 'maiko' or geisha in training. We can also arrange a private dinner/tea ceremony with a geisha for a more catered experience.

Day 9: The Tranquil Arashiyama District

Forest of Arashiyama

Today you will travel to the nearby area of Arashiyama via open-air train. This will give you amazing views of both the river and the surrounding forest. You will then travel down the Hozugawa river on a traditional 3-manned Japanese boat. Upon arriving in this beautiful district, you will embark on a tour of Tenryuji temple and the famous bamboo grove behind it, Nonomiya shrine, and the Iwatayama monkey park where the macaques roam freely.

There also just so happens to be a place in Arashiyama where you can not only witness a swordsmith forging Japanese steel, but actually forge your own kogatana, which is essentially like a mini samurai sword! This activity can easily replace the open-air train for those who definitely want this hands-on experience. 

Day 10: Day trip to Nara

Deer in Todaiji

Nara is famous for having the largest buddha statue in Japan which is an impressive sight to behold. Additionally, the deer that roam the temple grounds of Todaiji freely is something that is amazing to see if you want to include some ‘wildlife’ in your trip!

This will be a freely-structured day for you to explore the area at your leisure, and take it somewhat easy after the past few days of busyness and travel. 

Day 11: The Reborn City of Hiroshima

Hiroshima memorial

Hiroshima is a special place in Japan for many reasons. Did you know that every child on Japan’s Honshu Island is required to make a visit to Hiroshima to learn about what took place there? It is a very important learning opportunity for younger generations.

You will learn about what occurred here during WW2 at the Atomic Dome Museum, but also how the city built itself back up again. Hiroshima Castle used to be a really important seat of power in that region of Japan, but like much of the city, was destroyed during the events of WW2. After a meal of ‘okonomiyaki’ which is a distinctive dish in the area, you will have the evening to relax.

Day 12: A Day on Miyajima island

Miyajima Island

Your entire day will be spent on the island of Miyajima which is one of those rare locations in Japan which has never experienced an earthquake. This means that many of the temples and shrines are original and centuries old!

You will travel there via a short ferry, and be sure to stand on the deck at some point to get a good view of the giant red 'torii' gate rising out of the sea. During your time on the island you will visit Daisho temple, Itsukushima shrine, and Mt Misen via a scenic ropeway. The view at the top, of a sea dotted with islands, is superb. The island is also populated with very friendly deer which kids, and even adults, really enjoy!

Map

Map of Magic of Japan: Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima - 12 days
Map of Magic of Japan: Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima - 12 days