Day 1 - Tokyo
Konnichiwa! Welcome to Tokyo, Japan's dynamic capital where the ultra-modern meets the ancient. Make your way to your first night's accommodation and check in. Your adventure begins with an important welcome meeting in the evening in the hotel lobby. You'll meet your leader and group at this meeting. Check the hotel reception or noticeboards for the location of the meeting. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.
Day 2 - Tokyo
Kick things off with a visit to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. The free observation decks of this 243-metre-tall building offer beautiful panoramas of the city and beyond. On a clear day, you can see Mount Fuji, the Tokyo Skytree, Tokyo Tower, Meiji Shrine and Tokyo Dome from up here. You will also visit Sensoji in Asakusa, one of the most popular Buddhist temples in Tokyo. Located on the banks of the Sumida River, it features a shopping street in its approach – a good place for a quirky Japanese souvenir. While you're in Tokyo, you'll be treated to a calligraphy lesson for a chance to try your hand at this age-old art form. There also might be the chance to visit a manga (Japanese comic and cartoon) market, located out in Akihabara.
Day 3 - Tokyo
Visit the Tsukiji Fish Market for an eye-opening experience. This is the biggest wholesale seafood market in the world, with more than 400 seafood varieties on offer. Wander through the narrow aisles, witness the heated negotiations between merchants and buyers, and watch out for speeding market trolleys piled high with crates of fresh stock. Your market visit concludes with a delicious sushi breakfast – this is as fresh as it gets!
Later, take a walk through a Tokyo depachika, a food-specific department store with a mind-boggling array of traditional and non-traditional Japanese foods. Take a look inside the impressive Sony showroom too. For lunch, head to Yoyogi park and join the locals. Dinner (on one of your nights here) will be a fun self-cooked 'okonomiyaki' (hotplate pancake) on a boat on Tokyo Bay, surrounded by the city lights.
Note: The Tsukiji Fish Markets are closed every national holiday and every Sunday and some Wednesdays. Tuna auctions may be closed to the public during busy times.
Day 4 - Tokyo
Enjoy free time to further explore Tokyo with your family. There are many optional activities available, and your leader can help you choose a suitable one if you like. You can visit Imperial parks and temples, unique museums and even watch a game of baseball, In the evening, you might like to delve into Japan's famous karaoke culture – lose your inhibitions and sing the night away in a karaoke box (a great excuse for a late-night supper).
Day 5 - Hakone
Bid farewell to Tokyo as you board your train to Hakone. You will see that it's astonishingly easy to travel by train in Japan. Trains operate with metronomic precision, and the sight of a white-gloved guard bowing to a carriage full of travellers is something you'll never forget! Part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, Hakone is a wonderland of natural beauty and offers a long list of holiday activities – hot springs, mountains, bush walks, lakes, breathtaking views of Mt Fuji and some interesting historic sites (including an open-air modern art museum).
Day 6 - Hakone
Renowned as an excellent resort area since the Meiji period, Hakone and its onsens (hot spring baths) make a great place to relax and unwind with the family. Make a visit to the Karakuri secret box museum where the craft is in how to open the boxes. Touch and try to open the boxes yourself and find in there a unique Japanese gift to take home. You will also enjoy a walk around the scenic lake area. Your accommodation here is in a cosy, family-run guesthouse. You will be in a traditional Japanese room, sleeping on a tatami mat. There are Japanese baths for you to enjoy while you're here.
Day 7 - Kyoto
Today you visit Hikone Castle as we travel to Kyoto, arguably the most stunning city in Japan. The charms of the former Imperial capital are subtle and profound. While you're here, you'll see some of the finest temples, shrines, palaces and gardens in the country, with a nice mix of included activities and free time. Visit a food market and learn all about the ingredients on sale and how to use them – maybe even buy some supplies for a picnic lunch by the riverside. . Wander the Gion disctrict in the evening with your leader in search of geikos (geishas) or maikos (apprentice geishas) with their elaborate dress and make up.
Day 8 - Kyoto
This amazing city was originally founded as Heian-kyo in 794 and had its golden age during the imperial court's heyday from 794 to 1185. The city still bears the name Kyoto ('Capital City'), even though the emperor and government are now located in Tokyo. Home to many cultural landmarks and historical sites, Kyoto is regarded as the cultural heart of Japan, with its abundance of traditional arts and literature. Today we'll visit the Fushimi Inari Shrine and the NIshiki food market.
Day 9 - Kyoto
Explore more of the delights that Kyoto has to offer. You will visit the Arashiyama area, a pleasant district on the outskirts of Kyoto. There is a great monkey park that we will visit this morning. This was a popular place for nobles to relax in a serene natural setting during the Heian period (785–1185). You'll also visit the Tenryu-ji Temple which is right near an incredible bamboo grove. This bamboo forest is one of the most photographed sights in the city, and you'll see why. It's like stepping into another dimension. Later on you will enjoy a boat cruise down the Hozu River – look along the banks for Japanese maples or perhaps cherry trees in bloom (depending on the season).
Day 10 - Kyoto
Head to Hikone Castle, one of the four Japanese castles listed as national treasures. Witness the 17th-century grandeur of this original castle which, for the most part, survived the feudal era without having to be rebuilt. The majority of its inner moats, walls, guard houses and gates remain intact. The castle has an interesting history – it was moved to Hikone by the Ii clan, one of the most famous Samurai families in Japan. You will visit the impressive Samurai quarter here also.
Day 11 - Kyoto
Your adventure comes to an end today. There are no further activities planned and you are free to depart your accommodation at any time. See the 'Finishing Point Hotel' section for checkout times and luggage storage options.
Accommodation, Food (as stated), Transport, Selected Activities
Flights, Travel Insurance, Visa, Vaccinations or Personal Spending Money