This unique 14-day tour will take you to the major cities and destinations of Japan as well as tour you through Tokyo's top hidden destinations that few tourists or tour companies explore. You will discover Tokyo's futuristic neon lights, explore rice fields during a homestay in Izumo, observe traditional temples with the company of deer in Kyoto, wander along pristine beaches in the mysterious Goto islands, and much more. As you travel through various destinations by steam train, a traditional boat, and a ferry—you will get both an intimate look into Japanese life as well as an exciting tour of Japan's top destinations.

Upcoming Departures

Date Duration Availability Cost per person
Nov 30, 2020 14 days Available $3,950 USD Inquire
Jan 6, 2021 14 days Available $3,950 USD Inquire
Jan 7, 2021 14 days Available $3,950 USD Inquire
View all departure dates

Highlights

  • View Tokyo's skyscrapers from the top of a Ferris wheel
  • Experience Japanese culture during a home-stay in Izumo countryside
  • Make friends with Nara's free-roaming deer in Nara
  • Explore the abandoned islands of Goto
  • Take in one of the world's best night views in Nagasaki

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Create a Japanese Sake - Sensouji Sunset Tokyo
Day 2 Discover Views of Tokyo Tokyo
Day 3 Enchanting Edo-era Experience Tokyo
Day 4 Discover Future of Japanese Tech - Tokyo Bay Tokyo
Days 5-6 Countryside Homestay in Izumo Izumo
Day 7 Meet a Geisha - Yasaka Shrine Kyoto
Day 8 Explore Amanohashidate Temples and Shrines Kyoto
Day 9 Nara Deer-Filled Temple - Karaoke Evening Kyoto
Day 10 Steam Train to Arashiyama District - Traditional Boat Ride Fukuoka
Day 11 Discover the Mysterious Goto Islands Fukuejima
Day 12 Explore Oushima Island - Dinner at Fukue Island Fukuejima
Day 13 Huis Ten Bosch Theme Park - Mount Inasayama Nagasaki
Day 14 Nagasaki Historical Tour - Farewell Drinks Tokyo

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Create a Japanese Sake - Sensouji Sunset

Sensouji temple
Sensouji temple

Welcome to Tokyo!

Today, on the first day of the tour, you will have the chance to create your own authentic Japanese fruit liqueurs. First, you will visit a Japanese sake taste. This testing superstore boasts over 100 different varieties of sake which are sourced from different places across Japan. After you choose which flavors you want, you will head into the grocery store to get the fruit that you will incorporate into your unique blend. Plums are often a popular choice to make umeshu, but you will have the chance to get creative! After you have sourced all your ingredients, you will start preparing your wines using a traditional Japanese method. This session will also include introductions and orientations for the group tour. Once you have finished making the wine, you will bottle it up to marinate for two weeks. At the end of the group tour, you will get the chance to try out your very own fruit liqueur!

You will take a scenic sunset trip to Sensouji to end off your first day in Japan.

Day 2: Discover Views of Tokyo

Shibuya crossing from a birds-eye view
Shibuya crossing from a birds-eye view

You will have the chance to discover the magnificent views of Tokyo from three famous viewpoints which each offer a unique perspective and level of the bustling city.

To start the day, you will descend more than 66 feet (20 meters) below the surface of the city to the Underground Temple. After you’ve explored the expansive underground of the temple, you will depart for Shinjuku’s Metropolitan government building. You will descend 756 feet (230 meters) high for a panoramic view of Tokyo including the vibrant city-life and breathtaking architecture across the city. You will end the day trip by visiting the world-famous Shibuya intersection. This offers you an on the ground experience of the city and the opportunity to choose one of the many great restaurants for an evening meal.

Day 3: Enchanting Edo-era Experience

The Imperial Palace
The Imperial Palace

Today, we will learn a little bit about Tokyo’s past.

The day will start fairly early in the morning when we visit sumo wrestlers and watch them train for competition.* Afterward, we will head to the heart of the city which is home to the Imperial Palace gardens before making our way to Tsukiji. At Tsukiji, you will have an inside look into one of the world’s busiest fish markets.

After you have had the chance to indulge in uni and maguro, prepare to transport yourself back in time to the Edo era during an authentic kabuki theater show. After the show, your immersive Edo-era experience continues during a visit to the Edo-Tokyo museum. We will also visit a small sumo wrestling exhibit on our way to a sumo pot restaurant.

You can also prepare yourself for an exciting evening as we zig-zag our way through the 200 plus bars in the Showa-era Golden Gai district.

*This is an optional activity and may not take place should the wrestlers not be practicing that morning. This can only be confirmed the day before.

Day 4: Discover Future of Japanese Tech - Tokyo Bay

The man-made island of Odaiba
The man-made island of Odaiba

While yesterday's activities delved into Tokyo’s past, today's activities explore the modern and futuristic side of Tokyo. The day will start at the otaku culture mecca of Akihabara which is home to all things anime and manga. Not an anime fan? There is a multitude of arcades, book stores, cafés, and other exciting spots for those with different interests.

Next, we’re off to Odaiba. You can’t experience the future of Tokyo, or even Japan, without having visited at least one of the many exhibits on the man-made island of Odaiba. Here we talk to androids, learn about the current global shifts in technology, and discover all about the future of tech. Afterward, you will have the chance to take in the sites of the city at night with a boat ride on Tokyo Bay. We also ride a roller coaster among the skyscrapers at Tokyo Dome City. Or, if you aren't a fan of rollercoasters, there is a Ferris wheel with a built-in karaoke booth and fantastic views.

We end our time in Tokyo by boarding the last existing overnight sleeper train in Japan to Izumo, the town where the Shinto Gods are believed to congregate.

Days 5-6: Countryside Homestay in Izumo

Izumo Taisha shrine
Izumo Taisha shrine

You will wake up, after the train ride, in Izumo city!

After arriving, we will meet our Japanese host families where we will be staying for the next two days. The homestay offers an authentic experience of small-town life in Japan. Izumo is a small town, and vastly different from the fast-paced lifestyle of Tokyo. Izumo is also a very important and culturally significant location. Some of the last surviving katana makers call Izumo home. It is also home to Izumo Taisha, which boasts one of Japan’s most important shrines, beautiful beaches, and relaxing natural hot spring bathhouses. 

While spending time with a Japanese family, you will have an incredible opportunity to discover and experience Japanese culture. This experience gives you the chance to build new relationships with the people here, personally learn more about the culture, learn to cook real Japanese homestyle food and gain a better understanding of the Japanese lifestyle and etiquette.

The itinerary for this portion of the trip is not pre-determined and depends on what your host family would like to show you during this time, which will be informed by your interests. Some travelers choose to bring gifts for their host families, perhaps something special from your country, which is a nice gesture and a way of saying thank you to them for opening up their homes.

Day 7: Meet a Geisha - Yasaka Shrine

A geisha walking the streets
A geisha walking the streets

Today will start with an early rise as you say goodbye to your host families. After the farewells, we head to Kyoto.

We start our time in Kyoto in the Higashiyama district of the old capital with a meet and greet with a geisha in training (a Maiko, or as they are known in Kyoto, a Geiko) before enjoying matcha tea together. You will also get the opportunity to ask questions later on in the afternoon. Afterward, we will head to Yasaka Shrine to view one of the only shrines that remain open at night.

To end off the day, we will make our way to the Pontocho area, which is packed with world-class restaurants for dinner, and walk along the Kamogawa River while enjoying the mellow evening ambiance of Kyoto.

Day 8: Explore Amanohashidate Temples and Shrines

Amanohashidate in winter
Amanohashidate in winter

The day will start with an early rise as we make our way to Amanohashidate, a hidden gem in the Kyoto region and one of Japan’s top three sites. This sandbar, which literally translates to the bridge to heaven, is an amazing sight and known for making wishes come true.

While here, we will also visit Chionji Temple, Motoise Shrine, and Amanohashidate View Land. A ropeway ride to the top of the hill reveals a spectacular view of these sights. This sandbar is home to beautiful beaches, making it a fantastic destination in summer, yet equally stunning in the colder months when a light covering of snow gives the area a winter wonderland feel.

To end the day off, we head to Fushimi Inari shrine (the shrine with a thousand red gates), at sunset when the crowds have died down to enjoy it at a more relaxed pace with stunning views.

Day 9: Nara Deer-Filled Temple - Karaoke Evening

An inquisitive deer
An inquisitive deer

Today, you will travel to Nara. This was Japan's first-ever permanent capital. The grounds not only house several historical and important temples, but they are also teeming with friendly deer. You will get the chance to take in the fascinating history of Todaiji temple while admiring its statue of Buddha, one of the largest in the country.

The rest of the day is free for you to explore Kyoto which is filled with exciting things to do and discover. A few places of interest include the Pokemon Center, the Imperial Palace, Nishiki Market as well as thousands of temples shrines and countless world heritage sites. The tour guide will help give you guidance to make the most of your afternoon in Nara.

Those who are interested in trying out another Japanese pastime can head to a karaoke bar to enjoy an entertaining evening of belting out tunes with new friends.

Day 10: Steam Train to Arashiyama District - Traditional Boat Ride

The Arashiyama bamboo forest
The Arashiyama bamboo forest

The day will start with a trip to Kameoka via an *open-air steam train that will weave its way in and out of the Hozugawa River while you take in the spectacular and colorful mountainous landscape. Afterward, we will take a traditional boat ride down the river, making our way to the Arashiyama district where we will visit Nonomiya Shrine, Tenryuji, and the famous bamboo grove behind it. Here, you can also enjoy a beautiful view of Kyoto from the Arashiyama monkey park where macaques roam freely around the mountain.

To end the afternoon, we will leave Japan's old capital behind and head to our tour's first island destination, Fukuoka. After arriving in Fukuoka, you can hop into a natural hot springs onsen before catching an overnight ferry to the Goto Archipelago.

*Not available in winter

Day 11: Discover the Mysterious Goto Islands

Goto Islands
Goto Islands

Today you can expect to wake up in the middle of an island-speckled sea before we dock on Fukue Island. If you wake up in time for the sunrise, you can expect a spectacular view from the front deck of the boat.

The Goto Islands are steeped in mystery with a rich history. Kichi Japan offers the only tours that take you there. There are many places to explore and discover in the archipelago. One island you can visit, Kuroshima, is an abandoned island on which a 96-year-old woman and her daughter decided to resettle together. There are also a multitude of other islands that early Christian worshipers fled to in order to worship without being persecuted.

Our journey starts on the main island of Fukuejima which was settled by fleeing Christians. We learn about their story and also enjoy a bike ride around the island to visit Dozaki church where you will see a number of relics that held a lot of significance to the Christian settlers. We will also stop at one of the island's pristine beaches to take in the scenery and, if it's warm enough, a swim.

To end off the day, we will visit a one-of-a-kind ramen karaoke bar that serves quality food and drinks from the comfort of your own private karaoke booth.

Day 12: Explore Oushima Island - Dinner at Fukue Island

Hidden islands in Goto
Hidden islands in Goto

On our second day exploring the Goto islands, we will make our way to Oushima (Yellow Island). This fascinating island was once heavily populated during the whaling boom in this region. However, the population has shot down from 1500 to approximately just 40 people that call the island home (there are more cats than humans on the island). While abandoned schools, homes, and boats are a common sight here, this small fisherman’s island is still alive in its own way. We will explore the island before making our way to a cave on the opposite end to discover a secret hidden within. Since Oushima is mainly flat, which differs from the surrounding islands, it is easy and enjoyable to navigate around. 

After the island and cave exploration is over, we will make our way back to Fukue Island where you will have some free time to explore the main island. For our final night in Goto, we will have dinner at the island’s best homemade style restaurant, where everything is freshly prepared on a daily basis and the menu is dependent upon the daily catch.

During our January tour, this day will be replaced by the Hetomato where visitors will get the unforgettable opportunity of experiencing a traditional Japanese festival.

Day 13: Huis Ten Bosch Theme Park - Mount Inasayama

The view from Mt Inasa
The view from Mt Inasa

To start off the day, we will take a trip to Sasebo and spend the day at the theme park Huis Ten Bosch.  Designed to look like a Dutch village, Huis Ten Bosch has a plethora of attractions. This exciting theme park, which offers activities for a wide range of interests, is twice the size of Disneyland.

In the evening, we make our way to Nagasaki where you will catch on of the best night views on earth from the top of Mount Inasayama. The five-minute ropeway will show us the amazing lights of Nagasaki as well as the harbor below.

Day 14: Nagasaki Historical Tour - Farewell Drinks

A local in Dejima
A local in Dejima

For the final day of the tour, we will visit some of the historical sites around Nagasaki.

We will start at the reclaimed island of Dejima to learn about the influence that the Dutch had on Japan as well as the relationship between the two nations. After that, we will make our way to the Peace Park to hear about the unfortunate events that took place in the city during the Second World War.

We then head back to Tokyo (arriving around 9 pm). At Tokyo, we will enjoy the drinks we made on day one as we say our farewells. For Toki tours that are part of our full one-month tours, we have a short break before embarking on another two-week journey around the lesser-known, yet astoundingly beautiful areas that Japan has to offer.

Note: Your JR pass, which covers all travel on JR train and bus routes, will be valid for the next two days should you want to engage in some solo exploration. Your guide can provide you with recommendations and assistance with creating a personal itinerary.

Map

Map of Highlights of Japan: Cities, Countryside, & Islands - 14 days
Map of Highlights of Japan: Cities, Countryside, & Islands - 14 days

Upcoming Departures

Date Duration Availability Cost per person
Nov 30, 2020 14 days Available $3,950 USD Inquire
Jan 6, 2021 14 days Available $3,950 USD Inquire
Jan 7, 2021 14 days Available $3,950 USD Inquire
Jan 31, 2021 14 days Available $3,950 USD Inquire
Mar 5, 2021 14 days Available $4,622 USD Inquire
Apr 2, 2021 14 days Available $4,886 USD Inquire
Jun 27, 2021 14 days Available $3,950 USD Inquire
Jul 10, 2021 14 days Available $3,950 USD Inquire
Sep 5, 2021 14 days Available $3,950 USD Inquire
Sep 27, 2021 14 days Available $4,345 USD Inquire
Oct 25, 2021 14 days Available $4,622 USD Inquire