This action-packed 10-day adventure around Japan is perfect for families! The itinerary leads you from the neon lights, futuristic interactive art, and whimsical character cafés of Tokyo to peaceful Lake Kawaguchi, where you'll have the option to visit a nearby ninja theme park or ride one of the steepest roller coasters in the world. Then it's onward to Kyoto, where you'll learn how to make creative Japanese-style sweets and attend a tea ceremony. Travelers of all ages will enjoy visiting temples, bamboo groves, and shrines on the last few days of the trip in Arashiyama, Nara, and Osaka.

Highlights

  • Learn to cook Japanese food and craft traditional Japanese sweets
  • Explore colorful Manga, Anime & Kawaii Character Cafés
  • Visit a ninja park at the base of Mount Fuji
  • Travel back in time to Edo-era Japan at Edo Wonderland
  • Spot resident deer around the temples of Nara

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Welcome to Tokyo! Tokyo
Day 2 Explore Futuristic Odaiba & Learn to Cook Japanese Food Tokyo
Day 3 Have Fun at a Cultural Theme Park in Nikko Tokyo
Day 4 Check Out Manga, Anime & Kawaii Character Cafés Tokyo
Day 5 Get Up Close to Mount Fuji Fujikawaguchiko
Day 6 Sample Tea & Sweets in Kyoto Kyoto
Day 7 Discover Bamboo Groves & Temples in Arashiyama Kyoto
Day 8 Day-trip to Nara Kyoto
Day 9 Sightsee in Osaka Osaka
Day 10 Farewell Japan - End of Trip  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Welcome to Tokyo!

View Across the Sensoji Temple, Tokyo
View of the Sensoji Temple, 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: Explore Futuristic Odaiba & Learn to Cook Japanese Food

Lanterns at the Mori Building Digital Art Museum, Odaiba
Lanterns at the Mori Building Digital Art Museum, Odaiba

Today you'll 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. Car enthusiasts can also visit the nearby Toyota City Showcase. Check out the latest innovations in the technology zone, reminisce about the old days in the vintage car collection rooms, or test-drive a favorite car on their private track (an international driving license is required). 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.

You'll finish your day with 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 noodles, 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: Have Fun at a Cultural Theme Park in Nikko

Ryuzu Falls, Nikko
Ryuzu Falls in Nikko

Today you’ll head north to Nikko, home of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Toshogu Shrine. The ornate shrine, which contains the mausoleum to Japan’s last shogun, is one of the most beautiful in Japan. A short walk south will take you to Rinnoji, Nikko's most famous temple. Explore the grounds at your leisure, visiting a charming Japanese garden and a shrine that’s said to house Nikko's three mountain gods.

Continue 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 try your hand at Hariko doll painting or makeup artistry. You'll also have the chance to take a samurai sword-fighting class. When you’re ready to return to the 21st century, you’ll head back to your accommodation in Tokyo for the evening.

Day 4: Check Out Manga, Anime & Kawaii Character Cafés

The Neon Streets of Akihabara
The neon-lit treets of Akihabara

Today, get ready to delve into the anime, manga, virtual reality, and electronic mecca that is Akihabara with a guided tour of this part of Tokyo. Packed with gaming arcades, comic book shops, and anime stores, plus dozens of otaku (die-hard anime fans) roaming the streets, Akihabara offers a look into this 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. Have lunch at a "maid-café" (think singing waitresses with cat ears) — it's an experience you won't 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, famous for its brightly colored food, vibrant decor, and live performances from waitresses dressed like cartoon characters.

Day 5: Get Up Close to Mount Fuji

The View from Chureito Pagoda
The view from Chureito Pagoda
Get away from the busy downtown today and take a break to explore the Lake Kawaguchi area. Visit the
Narusawa Ice Caves, a lava tunnel formed when Mount Fuji erupted centuries ago. The caves are filled with ice pillars all year long. Then head to Chureito Pagoda, from where you can enjoy one of the most iconic views of Mt. Fuji. The pagoda is especially stunning during the spring and autumn months when the trees turn pink and gold, respectively. 

Other options today include a trip to Fujikyu Highland, one of Japan's most popular theme parks. It features roller coasters (one of which is the steepest in the world) as well as several anime-themed attractions based on popular films and TV series. Alternatively, at Shinobi no Sato Ninja Village, you'll get the chance to learn about ninjas. The park is like a ninja-themed town designed for children, offering ninja shows and the opportunity to perform stunts, throw ninja weapons, and take a training course to turn into a stealthy ninja warrior.

Day 6: Sample Tea & Sweets in Kyoto

A Maiko Walking the Streets of Kyoto.
In the streets of Kyoto

Japan's former capital, Kyoto, is bursting with history. 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 next activity is 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 own seasonal sweets. You might find your creations 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: Discover Bamboo Groves & Temples in Arashiyama

Arashiyama's Dense Bamboo Groves.
Arashiyama's dense bamboo groves

Just outside Kyoto is the tranquil area of Arashiyama. You will start your day with a ride on an open-air train that offers amazing views of the river and the surrounding forest. (Note: This train does not operate in the winter months.) You’ll then travel down the Hozugawa River on a traditional Japanese boat. This activity is often the highlight of the trip, and depending on the season, you’ll be floating past 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).

Then you will embark on a tour of some of the area's well-known sites. Tenryuji Temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and houses one of the most picturesque and ancient landscape gardens in the entire country. Behind it, you will find its world-famous bamboo grove, which transports visitors into another realm — or at least appears to. Also in the area, you will find the Nonomiya shrine and the Iwatayama Monkey Park where macaques roam freely. If you're up for a walk, there's a lovely temple that houses hundreds of statues. If you look closely, you'll find some of these Buddhist statues sporting glasses and carrying cellphones, a reflection of how modern life has also affected spiritual practices.

Day 8: Day-trip to Nara

Deer Among Ancient Stone Lanterns at Nara
Deer among ancient stone lanterns in 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 head back to Kyoto for the evening. 

Day 9: Sightsee in Osaka

The facade of Osaka Castle

Today you will make your way to the nearby city of Osaka, which could be described as Tokyo's younger and cooler brother. You'll have the day to explore the city at your own pace. The superb Osaka Castle is a must-see, along with Shitennoji Temple, a center of spiritual life for the people of Osaka. But the city's modern attractions are just as worthwhile, including bustling markets, the colorful district of Dotombori, the landmark Tsutenkaku Tower, the futuristic aquarium, and Abeno Harukas, currently the tallest building in Japan. Foodies won't want to miss a visit to the Cup Noodles Museum Osaka Ikeda, dedicated to the art of instant ramen. The trendy Dotonbori area is full of fantastic street foods stalls where you can get a taste of the region's specialty dishes. It's also a great place to try karaoke on your last night of the trip! 

Day 10: Farewell Japan - End of Trip

Looking out over the glittering skyline of Tokyo

Today you'll bid farewell to Japan. After breakfast, you'll transfer to the airport to catch a flight out. Safe travels!

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