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Along with the must-see sites on the island of Honshu and a day trip to Nikko, this is a tour of varying landscapes as it journeys south from Hokkaido uncovering the charming cities of Sapporo, Otaru and Hakodate.
Our Journey through Japan tour will see you exploring the most iconic sites, delving into deep-rooted culture and dining on delicious cuisine.
Discover the less-visited island of Hokkaido
Unearth the fascinating samurai culture
Explore the beautiful surroundings of Nikko
Walk the tori gate lined pathways of Fushimi Inari Shrine
Try your hand at the traditional art of handkerchief dyeing in a workshop of a handicraft village – you'll get to create beautiful colours and patterns working with the dyes.
Spend the night in a ryokan, a centuries-old style of guesthouse that offers the ultimate Japanese experience! Sleep on futons and tatami mats, dine on traditional food and bathe in the relaxing warm waters of an onsen.
Embark on a tour of a sake brewery, where you’ll see first hand the traditional process used to brew the rice wine that is Japan’s national beverage and have a few cheeky tasters
Along with the must-see sights on the island of Honshu and a day trip to Nikko, this is a tour of varying landscapes as it journeys south from Hokkaido uncovering the charming cities of Sapporo, Otaru and Hakodate.
Fly overnight to the vibrant city of Sapporo, capital of the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido. Depending on your time of arrival, the rest of the day is yours to start soaking up the local culture.
This morning, ascend to the Okurayama viewing point, soaring up to the summit of the Sapporo Winter Olympics ski jump by chair lift. Continue to the pretty port town of Otaru and take some time to walk along the streets of the village and stroll along the picturesque canal. This evening visit the Sapporo Beer Museum and sample some of the beer on offer before heading to a local restaurant to dine on a Genghis Khan dinner – barbeque lamb, a Sapporo special!
Depart Sapporo and travel to a lovely lakeside spot to visit a museum of Ainu culture, an indigenous people of the area. Continue to Noboribetsu Jigokudani (Hell Valley) and walk through a volcanic caldera where you can see steam jets, vents and hot springs. After lunch, hop on a train to the harbour city of Hakodate, set on Hokkaido's southern tip, where you'll embark on a night tour with time to ascend the ropeway up Mount Hakodate, for magnificent views over the illuminated city.
Start the day wandering Hakodate's bustling asaichi (morning market), where hundreds of stores and stalls sell fresh local produce, seafood and the odd souvenir. Ascend Goryokaku Tower for views over Goryokaku Fort and Mount Hakodate before boarding the bullet train to the lovely city of Aomori in the north of Honshu, Japan's largest island. Visit the Nebuta Warasse, a museum dedicated to Aomari's famous, 300-year-old Nebuta Matsuri, a lively summer festival.
Depart Hirosaki for Kakunodate, an old samurai stronghold still known for its samurai traditions. Visit the Aoyagi Samurai Manor Museum for a fascinating look at samurai culture and stroll around Ishiguro House, a traditional samurai residence. Continue to the hot spring resort of Tsunagi, where you can make use of the onsen facilities at the traditional Japanese ryokan where you'll stay overnight.
Travel to Hiraizumi, where you'll explore the peaceful Chusonji Temple with its beautiful old gold leaf-covered hall. Continue to Matsushima to enjoy a relaxed cruise on Matsushima Bay, passing amongst the small pine tree-covered islands of this picturesque seascape.
Walk to Sendai station and take the bullet train to the culture-filled town of Nikko. Start your explorations in the beautiful surroundings of Nikko National Park, where you'll visit Toshogu shrine. Built in the 1600s, this is Japan's most lavish shrine, built as the final resting place of shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu. Continue to the magnificent Kegon Waterfall, taking a 100-metre tall elevator up to the perfect viewing spot. Transfer to Tokyo.
Tokyo, Japan's capital, is the ultimate 24-hour city, but look behind its frantic, high-tech frontage and you'll find plenty of tranquil backstreets and old temples to explore. Start the day in the vibrant district of Asakusa, where you will visit Sensoji, Tokyo's oldest temple, and wander down Nakamise shopping street before a visit to Edo Tokyo Museum. After lunch, stroll through the peaceful Meiji Jingu Shrine complex, before ascending to the observatory deck of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building for exceptional views over the city.
Travel by road from Tokyo to Mount Fuji, where you'll ascend 2,400 metres up Japan's most iconic sight to the 5th Station (weather permitting). Transfer to the Hakone area and enjoy a cruise on the spectacular Lake Ashi before flying high above the lake on the Komagatake Ropeway before returning to Tokyo.
Take a bullet train to Kyoto. Capital for 1,000 years, the city today is full of the legacy of ancient Japan and home to tranquil temples, silk-clad geisha and sublime gardens. This afternoon, visit Togetsukyo Bridge in the heart of the vibrant Arashiyama district and walk through the bamboo forest, with its towering bamboo thickets.
This morning, visit one of Japan's most famous temples, Kinkakuji, the 'Golden Pavilion'. Set amongst classical Japanese Zen gardens and on the edge of a reflecting pool, the temple's main hall is covered in gold leaf. Also, stroll through Nishiki Market, dubbed 'Kyoto's kitchen', where there are many interesting food and sake stores to explore before a free afternoon to spend as you wish.
Begin the day immersed in the local culture by trying your hand at handkerchief dyeing followed by the rituals of an authentic tea ceremony. After lunch, walk the vermilion, torii gate-lined pathways of the Fushimi Inari Shrine and tour a traditional sake brewery, where you can have a few cheeky tasters. Continue to the booming city of Osaka.
Fly to the UK, arriving home the same or following day.
We draw from a wide range of hotels on our holidays, each one is chosen to suit the tour you are travelling on meaning your accommodation can range from a smart business hotel in one city to a family run guesthouse in a smaller town. Here are some examples of the type of hotel you can expect to find on this tour.
In the heart of Sapporo, the Sapporo View Hotel is just a short walk from Odori Park and offers guests a relaxing stay with large windows offers views across this beautiful city. Rooms are equipped with free Wi-Fi, a private bathroom and electric kettle.
The lovely Hakodate Kokusai Hotel provides guests with beautiful coastal views from the West Wing, while the East Wing offers views of the city of Hakodate. Unwind in the hotel's hot spring bath facilities and enjoy free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel.
In the heart of Hirosaki City, the Art Hotel features a variety of dining options including a tea lounge and teppanyaki restaurant. Guest rooms are air conditioned and come equipped with an air purifier, electric kettle and fridge.
Perfectly located a short distance from Gosho Lake, the Hotel Shi-on offers guests spectacular views over the lake. Relax in the hotel's natural hot spring bath or savour a delicious Japanese Kaiseki, multiple course, meal.
In the city of Sendai, the Hotel Vista Sendai boasts beautiful rooms with modern interiors and an on-site restaurant. All rooms are equipped with air conditioning, an air purifier and flat screen TV.
The Sunshine Prince is located in Sunshine City, a shopping and entertainment hub of Tokyo and close to Ikebukuro Station, providing convenient transport links to the rest of the city. The hotel's en-suite rooms are simple, comfortable and traditionally furnished with a television, electric kettle, a mini fridge and a safety deposit box. Facilities in the hotel include onsite restaurants serving Japanese, Cantonese and Western cuisines, a café and bar and a 24 hour convenience store.
Located near the hub of transportation Kyoto station and many of Kyoto's top attractions, the Rihga Royal Hotel Kyoto is in a great location for exploring this beautiful city. It's contemporary guest rooms are complete with Japanese touches and ensuite bathrooms. The hotel features many facilities, including six restaurants, a luxurious bar, a heated indoor pool, and a fitness gym.
Situated in central Osaka, the Hotel Monterey Osaka is directly connected to Namba train station and just a 10-minute walk from Dotonbori Shopping Street. The hotel features 4 dining options with panoramic city views. Guest rooms feature British-Style interiors and modern practical amenities.
The best time to visit Japan is during spring (March to May) when the cherry blossoms are bursting into life and autumn (September to November) when the scenery is ablaze with colour.
Places Visited: UK - Sapporo (2N) - Shiraoi - Noboribetsu - Hakodate (1N) - Hirosaki (1N) - Kakunodate - Tsunagi (1N) - Hiraizumi - Sendai (1N) - Nikko - Tokyo (3N) - Mt Fuji - Kyoto (2N) - Osaka (1N) - UK
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