Iconic Japan
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Japan delights in contrasts, revering the past while embracing the future. Begin your 12-day adventure in glittering, massive Tokyo, then head by rail into the countryside to visit traditional villages and tranquil shrines. On strolls through geisha districts and restorative visits to ancient temples and gardens, feel the power of the here and now.

  • Duration: 12 Days
  • Guaranteed Departure: Yes
  • For lovers of:
  • Physical rating: Average
  • Accommodation standard:   Moderate%
  • Traveller Tour Rating: 0%  
  • Your Guide: English speaking
  • Supplier Tour ID: AJENG/166237
  • Starts: Tokyo, Japan
  • Finishes: Kyoto, Japan
You will Visit
  • Tokyo
  • Kyoto



Day 1: Tokyo

Arrive at any time.
Arrive in Tokyo at any time today. There are no planned activities so check into our hotel and enjoy the city.


Day 2: Tokyo

Spend the day exploring vibrant Tokyo by public transportation. As a city of extreme contrasts, we experience the ancient and traditional with visits to Meiji Jingu Shrine and the old town of Asakusa. We then experience the quirky and modern with a walk through the pop culture obsessed Harajuka district a great place to sit back and people watch.
In Harajuka we catch a glimpse of the pop culture phenomenon of Kawaii. Directly translated as "cute", this Japanese popular culture movement is reflected, through various avenues of entertainment, toys, personal style, attitude and cuisine.


Day 3: Tokyo

This morning visit the famed market with insiders of Tsukiji Fish Market, learn about the fishing industry in Japan and enjoy a class with Sushi Masters. Learn how to identify the freshest fish, to prepare and fillet and the fine art of sushi making and presentation. After, try your hand at making your own sushi and enjoy a taste of your creation. This afternoon is free to explore Tokyo on your own.
This afternoon, enjoy some free time exploring Tokyo. Opt to visit Ueno park and the museums, Akihabara for cutting edge electronics, Harajuku for funky fashions, Ginza for the highest of the high end, walk the grounds of the Imperial Palace East Garden, or just stroll the streets, looking for the traditional life that still lies just under the modern surface.


Day 4: Tokyo/Tsumago

Depart Tokyo by train. Disembark at Nagiso and enjoy a walk through the countryside, passing farms and hamlets and into Tsumago, a traditional Village. After, continue to our local ryokan accommodation, feast on a Japanese kaiseki meal, learn about Japanese customs, and sleep on a futon.
Ryokan are traditional Inns found across Japan. Featuring tatami floors (soft mats of woven straw), futon beds, Japanese-style baths, cotton kimono (casual robe worn to lounge around), and kaiseki meals (often served in the comfort of your own room); a ryokan is the perfect place to experience traditional customs and local immersion. The Ryokan is a simple, traditional Inn with few amenities and shared facilities, have fun and enjoy this relaxing opportunity to learn more about Japan's unique customs.


Day 5: Tsumago/Kanazawa-shi

Continue by train to the historic city of Kanazawa. Explore the ancient Samurai culture with a walk through the well-preserved Nagamachi Samurai district and visit to the Nomura Samurai family residence.


Day 6: Kanazawa-shi

Continue exploring Kanazawa, visiting the Myoryuji Ninja Temple and walking through the Higashi Geisha district. The city is also renowned as a centre of traditional arts and crafts and we delve into these traditions with a chopstick and Gold Leaf Painting Experience. Opt to visit the stunning gardens or original castles.


Day 7: Kanazawa-shi/Hiroshima

Continue by bullet train train to Hiroshima and visit the park and Memorial Museum to learn more about the tragic history of this city.
The large Peace Park in the centre of the city is an extremely moving place dotted with memorials of those known to have been killed in the explosion and those that died as a result. A burning flame waits in the park to be extinguished when all nuclear weapons in the world have been destroyed. A tram ride through the city takes you to the Peace Park.


Day 8: Hiroshima

Catch a ferry over to the sacred island of Miyajima to see the famous floating Torii Gate, considered one of Japans most beautiful and sacred shrines. This afternoon is free, opt to catch the ferry to other Islands to explore on your own.
Enjoy Miyajima Island, a famous wooded island located in the Inland Sea, not far from the coast near Hiroshima. Here you will find perhaps the most photographed site in Japan - The Floating Torii Gate. Designated as one of Japan's '3 Most Beautiful Views', the shrine itself dates back to the 6th century and is designed in a pier like structure. Mere 'commoners' were not allowed to set foot on this holy place.


Day 9: Hiroshima/Kyoto

This morning we visit Himeji Castle, considered the best preserved and most stunning castle in all of Japan. After, continue by train to Kyoto, the former Imperial Capital and home of the country's most treasured remnants of Japanese imperial life. This afternoon, take a stroll around the Gion Geisha district.
As the Imperial capital, Kyoto is an essential part of any visit to Japan. Kyoto has some of the most magnificent temples in Japan which date back centuries. There are said to be 2,000 temples, shrines, palaces, museums and traditional gardens in Kyoto. Use your time to wander past huge wooden structures and multi-storied pagodas, all linked with famous walkways.


Day 10: Kyoto

This morning, visit a local temple to learn about the history and practice of Zen Buddhism in Japan. Here we meet with a local Monk who will talk about Buddhism and instruct us in Zen meditation and calligraphy. Also enjoy and participate in a traditional tea ceremony.After, spend the day exploring sites around Nara, visiting the stunning Todaiji Buddhist Temple and Kasuga Taisha Shrine.


Day 11: Kyoto

Continue to explore Kyoto including a visit to the famous Kinkaku-ji Golden Pavilion and the stunning Fushimi Inari ancient shrine at the base of the mountain of the same name. After, we learn about the etiquette of the samurai as well as the practice of basic kembu, and take a lesson on how to use the Japanese sword. Then, enjoy a performance by Kembu masters which includes short poems, which were traditionally written by Samurai about major events in their life. Later, take some time to explore on your own, opt to visit museums, temples and zen gardens, or stroll to the Inari Gates.


Day 12: Kyoto

Depart at any time.
There are no planned activities today and you are free to depart at any time.

    • National Geographic Journeys Exclusives: Tsukiji Sushi Experience, Tokyo National Geographic Journeys Exclusives: Zen Buddhist Meditation, Kyoto National Geographic Journeys Exclusives: Kembu Masters, Kyoto Hands-On: Chopstick and Gold Leaf Painting Experience, Kanazawa-shi Hands-On: Zen Tea Ceremony, Kyoto
    • Tour of Tokyo including Meiji Jingu Shrine and Asakusa and Harajuka districts
    • Walking tour of Tsumago Village and countryside
    • Kaiseki dinner
    • Visit Kanazawa samurai and geisha districts
    • Visit Nomura Family Samurai Residence and Myoryuji Ninja Temple
    • Visit Himeji Castle
    • Visit Hiroshima Peace Memorial
    • Excursion to Miyajima Island
    • Tour Kyoto and Nara including Fushimi Inari, Kinkaku-ji Golden Pavilion, Todaiji Temple and Kasuga Taisha Shrine
    • Visit Gion Geisha district
    • Japan Rail (JR) pass (7 days)
    • All transport between destinations and to/from included activities
    • Hotels (10 nts), traditional Inn (1 nt)
    • 11 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 1 dinner
    • Bullet train, express train, local train, ferry, metro, taxi, public bus, walking
    Group Leader
    • Chief Experience Officer (CEO) throughout, local guides
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Tour Highlights:
  • Explore the modern and traditional sides of Japan
  • Relax at a traditional Inn
  • Ride a ferry to Miyajima to see the famous floating torii
  • Learn the art of meditation from a local monk