- Explore the buzziest shopping areas in Tokyo
- Step back in time with a traditional tea ceremony in Kyoto
- Walk around and admire the charming deer-filled Nara
- Discover the rebirth of vibrant Hiroshima
- Savor traditional street food in Osaka
|Day 1||Arrive in Tokyo, Explore||Tokyo|
|Day 2||Tokyo Customized Private Tour||Tokyo|
|Day 3||Modernity & Tradition Tour||Tokyo|
|Day 4||Afternoon Food Tour of Nakameguro||Tokyo|
|Day 5||Bullet Train to Kyoto, Traditional Tea Ceremony||Kyoto|
|Day 6||Explore Kyoto, Optional Geisha Dinner Show||Kyoto|
|Day 7||Day Trip to Nara||Kyoto|
|Day 8||Train to Hiroshima, Explore||Hiroshima|
|Day 9||Guided Hiroshima or Miyajima Excursion, Sake Tour||Hiroshima|
|Day 10||Hiroshima to Osaka, Tombori River Cruise||Osaka|
|Day 11||Evening Food Tour in Osaka||Osaka|
|Day 12||Depart from Osaka|
Day 1: Arrive in Tokyo, Explore
Welcome to Japan! Upon arrival, you'll be greeted by an airport pickup and transferred to your hotel via private transportation. Once you've settled in, the day is yours to explore Tokyo at your own pace.
Head to the Ginza District for luxury boutiques and the best washi (shops famous for their high-quality Japanese paper, notebooks, fans, and origami paper). Harajuku is worth visiting if you're after more modern Japanese clothing, while Shibuya is excellent for trendy clothing and cosmetics stores. Shinjuku Akihabara is for animé fans, Jimbocho is for book lovers, and Asakusa is the place to head if you're after souvenirs to take back home.
Day 2: Tokyo Customized Private Tour
Today, enjoy a tour of Tokyo with a knowledgeable guide who will prepare an itinerary tailored to your wishes. Begin the day with a visit to Tsukiji Market in Toyosu, where you can enjoy the local pace of life and discover high-quality products. Next, head to the famous Meiji shrine and then onto Harajuku, the bustling center of Japanese youth fashion.
Explore the center of the lively Shibuya and its iconic attractions before heading up to Shibuya Scramble Square—a tower from which you can enjoy the world's busiest and most famous pedestrian crossing from above. Keen on more views? Roppongi has an unbeatable view of Tokyo Tower. There's the option to top the day with a nighttime foodie tour, where classic Japanese food, the chance to grill your own wagyu, and artisanal desserts await.
Day 3: Modernity & Tradition Tour
Today, modernity meets tradition. Start with a visit to the Asakusa District—one of the most traditional neighborhoods in Tokyo—where you'll find the famous Buddhist temple, Sensoji. Then take a walk along Denbouin Street to feel the impact of Edo culture and look for souvenirs, like Japanese accessories or annatto beans. Next, take a wander down Kappabashi Dogugai Street, a shopping area with a proud history of over 100 years. Stroll through Nakamise Shopping Street, where some stores date back to the Edo era.
As the sun sets, climb the Tokyo Tower to the top deck, where you can enjoy panoramic views, including the Skytree and Mount Fuji, if weather permits. There's the option to end the day with a unique Shodo experience. Beyond calligraphy, you'll catch a glimpse into the Japanese lifestyle. The small group lessons are held at the instructor's house, showing authentic insight into how Japanese people live, and at the end, you'll return home with a one-of-a-kind fan or colored paper that you've made yourself.
Day 4: Afternoon Food Tour of Nakameguro
This afternoon, you're headed on a food tour around Tokyo's most-coveted neighborhood, Nakameguro, guided by a professional food writer. Sample local eats and other hidden gems in this beautiful area, known for its cherry blossom-lined river, hip cafés, and culinary prowess.
As the day unfolds, you'll learn about the area's history and get an insider's look into the best eating spots. Enjoy anything from taiyaki, fruit sandwiches, and black sesame ice cream to artisanal pudding, third-wave coffee, and craft beer. Lunch options may include: ramen, sushi, shabu-shabu, yakitori don, or gyoza.
Day 5: Bullet Train to Kyoto, Traditional Tea Ceremony
Take the bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto. A city on the island of Honshu, Kyoto is famous for its numerous classical Buddhist temples and gardens, imperial palaces, Shinto shrines, and traditional wooden houses. It's also known for formal traditions such as kaiseki dining, consisting of multiple courses of precise dishes, and geisha, traditional female entertainers skilled at various Japanese arts.
In the afternoon, there's the option to participate in a private tea ceremony, one of the most famous Japanese traditions. Upon entering a traditional machiya in the historic Ninezaka neighborhood, you'll discover the intricacies and delicate process of the matcha tea ceremony and tea making alongside seasonal sweets. You'll be guided by an expert in this precious art form, who'll also provide historical details and context for a fully immersive experience.
Day 6: Explore Kyoto, Optional Geisha Dinner Show
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Another day of adventure awaits. Take in the highlights of Kyoto with a guide offering unparalleled insights into the city's history and culture. Stroll through the picturesque Arashiyama Bamboo Grove. Visit three important temples and shrines: Kinkaku-ji temple ("Golden Pavilion"), Ryoan-ji temple—known for its Zen garden, and Fushimi Inari shrine—known for rows of bright orange torii gates. Walk into the Gion district, where you might see a geisha.
Once night falls, the combination of traditional buildings and the ambiance of the evening creates an enchanting atmosphere. Tonight, you can opt to attend a geisha dinner show, where you'll learn more about classic Japanese culture. You'll be hosted by a maiko, a trainee geisha, during your visit to the studio. She'll serve you traditional tea, talk about the practices, and even pose with you in pictures if you wish.
Day 7: Day Trip to Nara
Today, you're off on a day trip to Nara. Explore the cultural gem on foot with an experienced multilingual guide who will introduce the modern and traditional sides of this dynamic and ancient Japanese city. Start your time in Nara with a visit to the Buddhist Tōdai-ji temple, one of the Seven Great Temples of Nara, and a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Next, visit Nara Park, where you'll come up close to the city's famous deer. Hundreds of deer can be found roaming freely in the park. Afterward, head toward Nandaimon Gat, where you'll find many little omiyage shops (little souvenirs) along the way.
Day 8: Train to Hiroshima, Explore
Head to Hiroshima today via train. After an atomic bomb was dropped on the city in 1945, Hiroshima became a worldwide symbol of human suffering. Today, it represents peace and a unique combination of remembrance and hope. Start your time with a visit to Peace Park, which houses monuments and memorials that call for a more peaceful world. Visit other meaningful sites like the Atomic Bomb Dome, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial, and the Peace Museum.
For history buffs, Hiroshima Castle will give a good overview of the military defense structures of the pre-Edo era. The pagoda at Toyokuni Shrine is also a must. Built in the 15th century and inspired by traditional Chinese architecture, the pagoda's inner column has numerous drawings painted in gold. There's the option to have a private guide show you around. At night, enjoy some of Hiroshima's famous regional food, particularly the hiroshimayaki, or Japanese pancake.
Day 9: Guided Hiroshima or Miyajima Excursion, Sake Tour
Today, you'll visit your must-see spots in the Hiroshima city area or Miyajima island with a private customized four-hour tour. Choose from a selection of sites, including Hiroshima Castle, Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, Shukkeien Garden, Itsukushima Shrine, Mount Misen, and Miyajima Ropeway.
In the afternoon, you can quench your thirst with a guided tour around Saijo Sake Brewery. Discover the Japanese craft of sake making in one of the most prominent sake-producing places in the country. Stroll along Sake Brewery Street in Saijo with your guide, visiting breweries along the way for a glimpse into how Japanese alcohol is made.
Day 10: Train to Osaka, Tombori River Cruise
Today, you'll take the train to Osaka, where a river cruise through the popular Dontonburi awaits. The 20-minute cruise is a great way to experience the neon city lights from a different perspective, particularly during the Christmas season. The tour is in Japanese by a Rakugo comedian—don't worry, though, the theatrics alone means it's likely that you'll still be able to laugh along.
One of the cruise highlights is pausing underneath the Ebisubashi Bridge, where the Glico man billboard shines bright above. Glico is one of Japan's largest food distributors and is popularly known for its "Pocky" (crunchy petite biscuit sticks covered in frostings such as chocolate or strawberry).
Day 11: Evening Food Tour in Osaka
Now that you've seen the city by boat, it's time to explore its most famous sights, like the Osaka Castle, Umeda Sky Building, and Shin-Sekai. At night, head back to the bustling area of Dotonbori, where the bright lights and food signs make for a whimsical sight. Be sure to sample some of the must-try foods in Osaka, among them: takoyaki (a ball-shaped octopus snack), kushikatsu (Japanese deep-fried skewered meat and vegetables), and okonomiyaki (a Japanese pancake).
At night, there's the option to partake in a food tour through the streets of Osaka. Your guide will show you the best local restaurants and the city's traditional food. Eat, drink, and be merry as you explore two neighborhoods, Tenma and Kyobashi, and three local-style restaurants far from the tourist crowds. Highlights include small Japanese plates, local beer, sake, and shochu.
Day 12: Depart from OsakaThis marks your last day in Japan! A private car will transport you from your hotel to Kansai International Airport. Have a safe flight home, and see you again soon.
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