Day 1: Australia – – Tokyo
Make your way to the airport and catch your flight to Japan. Please note that some flights may depart one day later.
Day 2: Tokyo (B)
Welcome to Tokyo! The always-on Japanese capital is an electric metropolis of neon-lit pedestrian crossings, quirky cafes and restaurants, sacred temples and immaculately-manicured gardens. You are met upon arrival by your transfer and taken to the hotel for check in.
Day 3: Tokyo – Yokohama – Mt Fuji (B, D)
Wake up hungry to get started on your first full day of touring! The itinerary begins with a post-breakfast city tour of Tokyo. Start at the Tokyo Tower to take in the sweeping cityscape panoramas and then make a stop at the renowned Tsukiji Outer Market. This marketplace was the home of the world-famous tuna auction and an incredible wholesale market, and although both have now moved to another location, the Outer Market still promises a bounty of local seafood shops and restaurants. The city tour of Tokyo finished with a tour of a Kirin Beer Factory. Look in at the ingredients exhibition, learn about the production process and then savour the taste of a fresh brew at the end. Tonight, a transfer takes you to the Mt. Fuji area where you’ll feast on a kaiseki ryori (traditional multi-course meal) to welcome you and your fellow travellers to the ryokan.
Day 4: Mt Fuji – – Kyoto (B, D)
Today starts with an outing to Oishi Park, located on the banks of Lake Kawaguchi. The park is known for its pretty flower-lined paths and its perspective of Mt. Fuji. Next, it is onto the eight spring-fed ponds at Oshino Hakkai, a small village within the Fuji Five Lakes region. Snow from the neighbouring mountains melts and trickles down into the ponds during season. While here, you will also visit farmhouses with thatched roofs, and get to sample some local delicacies. Afterwards, you and your group will board the Shinkansen bullet train (your JR Rail Pass is activated today) for the journey to Kyoto. This evening the group attends a maiko performance with dinner. A maiko is an apprentice geisha, and these performances usually involve ancient Japanese dances and music.
Day 5: Kyoto – Osaka (B, L)
Take in the gilded design of Kyoto’s Golden Pavilion (also known as Kinkakuji) and be in awe of its gold leaf-covered façade. Visit the former residence of the Tokugawa shogunate at Nijo Castle, and have some time in Arashiyama to see Togetsukyo Bridge and then wander through the other-worldly Bamboo Grove. Sip and swill at an exclusive whiskey-tasting experience at the award-winning Suntory Yamazaki Distillery, and continue to Osaka afterwards for an evening tour around the Dotonbori district, the city’s nightlife, entertainment and culinary hub.
Day 6: Osaka – – Hiroshima – – Osaka (B, L)
Set off on the journey to Hiroshima aboard the Shinkansen. Enroute you will visit Himeji Castle, one of the last remaining medieval castles to exist in its original form throughout Japan. Take note of its size and architecture while here, and then enjoy a group lunch of okonomiyaki (a Japanese-style savoury pancake typically made from cabbage, eggs and meat, and then topped with a range of condiments). Continue travelling to Hiroshima. Upon arrival you make for the Peace Memorial Park and the Atomic Bomb Dome. These two sites commemorate the victims of the Hiroshima bombing. Afterwards, the tour sets its sights on the Itsukushima Shrine in Miyajima. Cross your fingers to arrive at high tide to see the phenomenon the shrine is best-known for; its tori gate appears to float on the water. Return to Osaka for the night.
Day 7: Osaka – Nara – Nagoya (B, D)
Today’s itinerary has you travelling to Nara. The first stop is Todaiji, one of the most famous temples in Japan and known for the behemoth bronze statues of Buddha located here. It is then onto Nara Park where you will get to encounter the park’s famous four-legged residents: a herd of free-roaming deer. Watch your pockets as these inquisitive creatures approach you on the hunt for any of the deer biscuits available to purchase for feeding. Lunch is taken in the area and the group carries on to Nagoya. To break up the journey there is a stop at the Ninja Museum of Igaryu where you will see a ninja trick house and attend a ninja show (time permitting). The last outing of the day is to the Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology, located in the red brick buildings once used as a textile factory and research centre by the present-day Toyota Corp. Tonight, a delicious Japanese barbecue dinner is enjoyed by you and the group.
Day 8: Nagoya – Takayama – Kanazawa (B)
Move from Nagoya into the beautiful landscape of the Gifu Prefecture. A sake-tasting experience awaits at a distillery in Takayama and is a fantastic opportunity to learn about the history, tradition and production process of this iconic Japanese spirit. Have some free time to walk through the streets of Takayama. Head into the narrow alleyways and lanes of the historic Sanmachi Suji district and see the wooden houses the date back to the Edo Period. There are some small museums in the area too, should you like to dive deeper into the region’s fascinating history. You might also check out the festival floats on display in the local exhibition hall. Next, visit Shirakawa-go and the gassho-style farmhouses found within its small village. Don’t forget to stop at the observation point to get a 360-degree panorama over the entire village. Travel to Kanazawa and check into the hotel upon arrival.
Day 9: Kanazawa (B, D)
This morning starts with an excursion around Kanazawa, one of Japan’s prettiest castle towns. Wander around Omicho Market and savour samples of local cuisine, including fresh seafood and gold leaf ice cream! Admire the beauty of Kenroku en Garden, often regarded as the most magnificent of Japan’s landscaped gardens, and end the day with a leisurely stroll around the streets of Higashi Chaya, the local geisha district that is also known for its old-world architecture and teahouses. Tonight, a farewell dinner with your travelling companions is the perfect opportunity to reflect on your time in Japan, recount any highlights and share favourite stories.
Day 10: Kanazawa – – Tokyo (B)
Make your way back to Tokyo on your own terms and then have the rest of the day upon arrival as free time.
Optional: Japanese Cooking Class
Learn about the intricacies of Japanese cuisine with a cooking class, and make note of the ingredients and techniques you use so you can replicate any favourite dishes back at home! Additional cost applies.
Day 11: Tokyo (B)
There is no set itinerary for today, your final full day in Tokyo. Make the most of this free time by continuing your gourmet exploration of this incredible city. Track down some of Tokyo’s unique restaurants – everything from monster-, vampire-, manga- and plush toy-themed diners – or set out on the search for crisp tempura, oversized bowls of ramen, and deliciously grilled yakitori. Other things to do in Tokyo not of the gastronomic variety include Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, Senso-ji, Shibuya Crossing, Tokyo National Museum and Odaiba.
Day 12: Tokyo – – Australia (B)
A transfer collects you at the appropriate time and takes you to the airport, so you can board your return flight back to Australia.
Day 13: Australia
Arrive back in Australia today.