|Wendy Wu Tours
|Asia, Far East Asia, Japan
Journey across the Japanese Alps to the cultural centres of Takayama, Shirakawago and Kanazawa on this extensive tour of Japan. You will of course see modern Tokyo and beautiful Mt Fuji as well as historical Kyoto and Nara.
13 Day Discover Japan Tour Itinerary
Days 1-2 Fly to Tokyo
Fly overnight to the dazzling metropolis of Tokyo, Japan’s capital city. Depending on your time of arrival, the rest of the day is yours to start soaking up the local culture.
Day 3 Tokyo City Tour
Tokyo is the ultimate 24-hour city, but look behind its busy, high-tech frontage and you’ll find plenty of tranquil backstreets and old temples to explore. Start today on the observation deck of the 634-metre Skytree, the world’s tallest tower, before wandering through the old district of Asakusa, stopping at the Buddhist Sensoji Temple, Tokyo’s oldest. Drive by the Imperial Palace Plaza and later stroll through the classical landscapes of Hamarikyu Garden. This evening, take a relaxed dinner cruise on Tokyo Bay for excellent city vistas.
Day 4 Mt Fuji
Take the super-fast bullet train to Odawara. Enjoy a boat trip on Lake Ashi for spectacular panoramas of this beautiful area before venturing up the Komagatake Ropeway for amazing views back over the lake and Mt Fuji. Next, head up to the 5th Station at Mt Fuji (weather permitting) to take in the breathtaking views over the Fuji Five Lakes below.
Day 5 Matsumoto Castle
This morning, drive 2 hours to Nagano to explore the formidable 16th century Matsumoto Castle. After lunch, stop at a Miso House to learn about the process of making this Japanese seasoning, before travelling further to Takayama, nestled high in the mountainous Hida region.
Day 6 Explore Takayama
Takayama has an air of old world Japan, particularly around its wonderfully preserved old town. Browse the local handicrafts and fresh produce at the Miyagawa morning market, wander past some of the lovely traditional houses and visit several of the excellent local museums Takayama Festival Floats Museum, Kusakabe Folk Museum and Takayama Jinya.
Day 7 Shirakawago & Kanazawa
Get a glimpse of rural Japan at the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Shirakawago which is famous for its farmhouses built in the unique gassho-zukuri architectural style. Continue to Gokayama to have a go at washi paper making, then travel to Kanazawa and meander through the beautiful Kenrokuen Garden, one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan.
Day 8 Gold Leaf Making
Begin the day learning the process of making gold leaf. Next, stroll through traditional Higashi Chaya (Eastern Teahouse District), visiting Ochaya Shima a historical geisha house. Later, journey to Kyoto. Capital for 1,000 years, until 1879, today Kyoto is the legacy of ancient Japan, full of tranquil temples, silk-clad geisha and sublime gardens.
Day 9 Explore Kyoto
Kyoto was capital for a thousand years; today it is the legacy of ancient Japan, full of tranquil temples, silk-clad geisha and sublime gardens. This morning, head to a restored Japanese wooden townhouse and try your hand at origami and enjoy the rituals of a tea ceremony. In the afternoon, visit Ryoanji Temple, which means ‘temple of the peaceful dragon’, and the famous Kinkakuji, a Zen temple known as the ‘Golden Pavilion’.
Day 10 Discover Nara
Visit Fushimi Inari Shrine, remarkable for its 10,000 torii (shrine gates). Later travel to Nara, a relaxed and charming town virtually untouched by the ravages of modernity. Home to many archetypal pieces of early art and architecture, you will stroll through Nara Park to Todaiji Temple, meeting the resident Sika deer en route, before exploring Isui-en Garden.
Day 11 Koya-San
This morning, drive 2.5 hours to Koya-San, the centre of Shingon Buddhism. See Okunoin, Japan’s largest cemetery and home to the mausoleum of Kobo Daishi, founder of Shingon Buddhism. Next, visit the Kongobuji Temple and Garan temple complex. This evening, transfer to Osaka for dinner and an overnight stay.
Day 12 Explore Osaka
In the morning, visit Osaka Castle before taking a stroll around the Dotonbori district, a restaurant mecca, where you can sample delicious local delicacies. Next, enjoy a 20-minute cruise along the Yodogawa River. Spend the rest of the afternoon at leisure before a farewell dinner this evening.
Day 13 Fly Osaka to UK
Fly to the UK, arriving home the same or following day