Grand Tour of Japan JTG21
|Resort:||Grand Tour of Japan JTG21|
|Operator:||Great Rail Journeys|
|Destination:||Asia, Far East Asia, Japan|
Travel through the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’ by futuristic bullet train. Sample Japanese whiskey, soak up the spectacular sight of Mount Fuji, experience an authentic tea ceremony and explore the bustling cities of Tokyo and Hiroshima on an all-encompassing route through Japan’s highlights.
Days 1-3 – London and Sapporo
We meet at London Heathrow and fly to Sapporo, travelling via Hong Kong and arriving on Day 2.
After settling into the JR Tower Nikko Sapporo, we enjoy dinner tonight. Sapporo is famed for its 19th-century architecture and pretty public spaces, which we explore on Day 3‘s guided tour. We discover Otaru, Sapporo’s romantic port, and the Otaru Music Box Museum before heading to the Nikka Whisky Distillery. Founded in 1934, Nikka’s malts blend high-quality Japanese whisky with traditional Scottish techniques, which we sample before returning to Sapporo.
Days 4-5 – Hakodate
We leave Sapporo behind this morning, travelling to Hakodate on the Super Hokuto limited express train. This afternoon, we take a sightseeing tour of the local sights by coach, including Goryokaku, a star-shaped fortress that dates back 150 years. This evening, we ascend Mount Hakodate via a ropeway cable car for fabulous views across the city.
On Day 5 we visit Hakodate’s fish market, where fresh produce is bought and sold in a lively atmosphere. We explore the vivid array of stalls which boast fresh seafood, local vegetables, fruit, and sweets. After our visit, we travel by bullet train to Tokyo, Japan’s futuristic capital.
Days 6-8 – Tokyo, Hakone, and Mount Fuji
Today we enjoy a full-day tour of Tokyo, one of the world’s most contemporary cities, which gives an insight into a high-tech, modern world yet boasts ancient attractions of equal allure. We visit the Asakusa Kannon Temple, the imposing Imperial Plaza, and Shibuya crossing. On Day 7, we walk to Shinjuku, where we board the train to Hakone. On arrival, we enjoy a sightseeing tour, that includes a cruise across serene Lake Ashi.
On Day 8 we visit iconic Mount Fuji, arguably Japan’s most distinctive landmark. Travelling by coach, we drive along the foot of the mountain before arriving at the Visitor Centre, where we learn more about this world-famous peak. Later we continue to Matsumoto Castle, an impressive fortress completed in 1593. Built on a plain, this 5-storey fortification is a celebrated National Treasure of Japan. We spend tonight in Matsumoto.
Days 9-11 – Hida Folk Village, Takayama, and Tokyo
Today we visit the Ishii Miso factory for an insight into the production of this traditional Japanese dish. Next, we visit Hida Folk Village, an open-air museum of rustic farm dwellings in the mountains. Set on a hillside overlooking the idyllic Takayama Valley, some of the homes here date back 500 years. We continue to Takayama, where we spend the night. Set deep in the mountains, Takayama is a town of narrow streets and wooden houses which has been almost untouched by time.
We get to know this destination better with a guided tour on Day 10 which includes Miyagawa Open Air Market. After time to enjoy the ancient architecture, we leave Takayama behind, travelling by train to Nagoya where we board our scheduled bullet train to Kyoto, Japan’s ancient capital.
We discover the delights of historic Kyoto on Day 11, taking in the attractions of this ageless city, from charming temples to the fascinating Kyoto Railway Museum. We also enjoy a traditional tea ceremony, experiencing a ritual of tea preparation that has been passed down through generations. This evening we enjoy a walk through the historic Gion area of the city.
Days 12-13 – Sightseeing in Nara and Hiroshima
Today we explore Nara, another former ancient capital and home to an impressive 8 UNESCO World Heritage sites. Our tour includes the Todaiji Temple, the largest wooden building in the world home to the imposing Great Buddha, a 13th-century bronze statue that boasts an impressive 37-foot frame. We continue to Nara Park, a delightful deer sanctuary spread over almost 1,300 acres, before transferring to Osaka, where we catch a bullet train to Hiroshima.
Our tour on Day 13 takes us around Hiroshima, a peaceful and thriving city. Attractions here include the Peace Memorial Park and the A-Bomb Dome, dedicated to the victims of the tragic devastation of WWII. We also hear from a Hiroshima survivor or descendant, whose moving account of the events of August 6th 1945 brings greater context and understanding to the powerful history that helped shape Japan today. Afterwards, we delve into the city’s more ancient past with a boat ride out to Miyajima Island. This tranquil wooded island is a UNESCO World Heritage site, famed for its bright red Shinto shrine.
Day 14 – Hakata
After breakfast, we travel on another bullet train, this time to Hakata. On arrival, we enjoy a sightseeing tour, taking in the Dazaifu Tenman-gu Shrine, dedicated to the Shinto god of literature, Komyozenji Temple, a Zen temple and rare ‘karesansui’, or Japanese rock garden that dates back to the 13th century, and the Kyushu National Museum. The first national museum opened in Japan for 100 years, its displays reveal the history of Japanese culture through an impressive collection of artefacts and modern exhibitions. This evening, we head to a local restaurant for a farewell dinner to celebrate the end of our fantastic holiday around the ‘Land of the Rising Sun.’
Days 15-16 – Return to London
After breakfast this morning, we transfer from our hotel to Fukuoka airport for our scheduled flight to London Heathrow, via Hong Kong. We touch down on Day 16, and our trip comes to an end.
Our 2019 departures feature several different hotels of a similar standard compared to those listed on this page currently, and 4 dinners. Please call for details.