Japan vacation package for active travellers enthusiastic about culture, history, good food and hiking!
Tokyo – Mt. Fuji – Hakone – Kanazawa – Takayama – Shirakawa-go – Kyoto – Nara – Koyasan – Osaka – Hiroshima – Nagasaki – Naha – Tokyo
Conducted by an experienced multilingual guide well versed in Japanese history and culture, this tour is your quintessential introduction to the ancient land of the Rising Sun. The unique itinerary focuses on culture, history, good food and hiking.
The participant is required to be physically fit and adhere to our one-bag-per-traveller policy which restricts the weight to 20 kilos (44 lbs). We are unable to accommodate travellers who have problems with chopsticks or sashimi (raw fish).
Seven-day post-tour extension to Taiwan is available on request.
- Small group size – 16 maximum
- Expert guides
- Premium/first-class accommodations
- Gourmet local and Western meals
- Tips for local guides and drivers included
- No forced shopping stops
- Temple stay in Koyasan
- Sushi making lesson
- Maiko show in Kyoto
- Daily breakfast, 13 lunches and 8 dinners
- Optional excursions at cost or no charge
Meal Code: B = breakfast / L = lunch / D = dinner
Scroll down for dates, prices, hotel list and documentation requirements.
Day 1/Mon: Departing for Tokyo
Your Japan vacation trip begins with the transpacific flight departing from a city of your choice. International air is not included. You’ll lose a day upon crossing the International Date Line.
Day 2/Tue: Arrival in Tokyo
Transfer to the hotel on your own upon arrival at Narita or Haneda airport.
From Narita Airport the Airport Limousine Bus costs 3,100 Japanese Yen (JPY) or roughly US$29 per adult. Taxi fare is fixed at US$250 and tipping is not expected. You may also consider taking JR N’EX Airport Express Train (JPY3,020 for Ordinary Class to Tokyo Station and transfer from there to the hotel by taxi (about JPY1,500 or US$14).
From Haneda Airport the airport limousine bus costs JPY1500 (US$14) per adult. Going by train is a bit tricky. Taxi from the airport to the hotel costs around US$75.
Train and bus tickets can be paid by credit card. The first thing you should do on arrival is to obtain some local cash through a local bank or ATMs available throughout the arrival hall. Please stay away from independent currency dealers or currency exchange machines.
You’ll check in at the hotel on arrival under your own name in reference to Laurus Travel.
Day 3/Wed: Tokyo (B/L/D)
We gather in the hotel lobby at 07:30 and depart at 08:00.
Tokyo, literally meaning Eastern Capital and officially known as Tokyo Metropolis, is one of the 47 prefectures of Japan and one of the most populous mega-cities in the world with 13.5 million living in the prefecture and close to 38 million in the Tokyo-Yokohama region. Formerly known as Edo, the city has been the de facto seat of government since 1603 when Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu made the city his headquarter – Shoguns, although appointed by the emperor, were the de facto rulers of Japan during the shogunate period from 1192 to 1867. The city was renamed Tokyo after Emperor Meiji moved his seat here from Kyoto in 1868. Covering an area of 2, 188 square kilometres, Tokyo Metropolis was formed in 1943 from the merger of the former Tokyo Prefecture and the city of Tokyo.
Our full-day sightseeing begins with a stroll through the plaza outside the Imperial Palace (the palace itself is not open to tourists). This is followed by a visit to tranquil Meiji Jingu – a Shinto shrine dedicated to Emperor Meiji and his wife.
We then drive through ritzy Ginza shopping district on our way to Nakamise-Dori in Asakusa. Nakamise-Dori is a vibrant promenade lined with food stands and souvenir shops. The street connects the famous Asakusa sightseeing spots of Kaminarimon (Thunder Gate) and Asakusa Kannon Temple (also known as Senso-ji Temple), the oldest temple in Tokyo dating back to 628 AD.
We spend the rest of the day exploring the history of Tokyo at Edo-Tokyo Museum. The main features of the permanent exhibitions are the life-size replica of the Nihonbashi bridge, the Nakamuraza theatre and scale models of towns and buildings from the Edo, Meiji and Showa periods.
If time allows, we will also go up to Tokyo Tower for a bird’s eye view of the city.
Day 4/Thu: Tokyo – Mt. Fuji – Hakone – Tokyo (B/L)
We depart at 7:30 AM to embark on a full-day excursion to Mt Fuji and Hakone.
Mt. Fuji, the highest mountain (3,776 m) in Japan, is a two-hour drive from Tokyo. We stop by the Fujisan World Heritage Center to view the summit as well as learn the history, formation and ecology of Mt. Fuji through exhibits and films. It is a matter of luck whether the summit is visible as Mt. Fuji is often shrouded in clouds. In case you wonder, our schedule does not include hiking the mountain not only because it opens to hikers only from July to early September but also because it takes at least six hours to complete the hike even if you start from the highest station – the Fifth Station located at 2,305 metres above sea level.
We then proceed to Lake Ashi in Hakone for a short cruise across the lake. This is followed by a breathtaking ride of the Hakone Ropeway, which, on a clear day, offers stunning views of Mt. Fuji and surrounding mountain slopes dotted with lakes. At the end of the ride is the Owakudani Geothermal Valley where we spend about half an hour before returning to Tokyo.
Day 5/Fri: Tokyo – Kanazawa (B/D)
Free morning to explore on your own. We would recommend Ueno Park and Tokyo National Museum adjacent to the park. Feel free to ask your guide for more options in advance.
This afternoon we ride the bullet train to Kanazawa. The 2.5-hour journey is a perfect way to enjoy the beautiful scenery of Japan. On arrival, we walk across the station to our centrally located hotel. In Japan, a train station is generally located in the heart of a city.
Kanazawa is a jewel of Japanese tourism often bypassed by foreign tourists due to its relatively remote location. However, Japanese themselves come here in droves. Travellers visiting here are richly rewarded with a best preserved Edo-period city where the Samurai, merchants, Geisha and the Daimyo (lords) all left their marks. Kanazawa is part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network as a City of Crafts and Folk Art. Its cuisine is famous throughout Japan.
Day 6/Sat: Kanazawa (B/L)
Morning sightseeing begins at Kenroku-en Garden. One of the Three Great Gardens of Japan (Koraku-en in Okayama and Kairaku-en in Mito being the other two), Kenroku-en was developed from the 1620s to the 1840s by the Maeda clan, the daimyo who ruled the former Kaga Domain. Kenroku-en means “garden which combines six characteristics” – the six aspects considered important in the notion of an ideal garden: spaciousness, serenity, venerability, scenic views, subtle design, and coolness.
From the garden we walk across the road to Kanazawa Castle, to which Kenroku-en Garden used to be part of. The restored castle was first built in 1580 for Maeda Toshiie, the fourth son of a minor samurai family who entered the service of a powerful daimyo at the age of 15 and quickly rose through the ranks. The castle was reconstructed multiple times mostly due to fire damages. The last time the castle was destroyed by fire was in 1881. The Hishi Yagura turret, Gojikken Nagaya warehouse, and Hashizume-mon Tsuzuki Yagura turret were faithfully restored in 2001 to their 1809 form, using traditional construction methods. Today’s pillars are Japanese Hinoki Cypress with massive American cypress as ceiling beams. The castle’s distinctive, whitish roof tiles are made of lead.
Our first stop after lunch is Nomura Samurai Residence located in a historical preservation area where people actually live and go about their daily lives. A highlight of the restored house is the small but supremely exquisite traditional garden.
Afterwards, we visit a preserved district called Higashi Chaya Street. Higashi and chaya respectively mean eastern and tea house. During the Edo Period, chaya was found in designated entertainment districts where geisha entertained male patrons with dance and music. Today, like Kyoto’s Gion district, Higashi Chaya Street is a popular attraction with almost all of the businesses here serving the needs of tourists (souvenirs, refreshments etc).
Day 7/Sun: Kanazawa – Takayama – Shirakawa-go – Kanazawa (B/L)
Today we embark on a full-day excursion by coach to Takayama and Shirakawa-go.
Famous for its inns, sake breweries, food festivals and local folk art, Takayama, 118 km southeast of Kanazawa, is a delightful town nestled among the Japanese Alps. Our sightseeing takes in an open-air market, Sanno-machi Historic District and a sake brewery.
We return to Kanazawa in the afternoon and visit Shirakawa-go en route. Sitting at 400 meters above sea level, Shirakawa-go is part of the Historic Villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama – a World Heritage Site inscribed by UNESCO in 1995. Located in a mountainous region that was cut off from the rest of the world for a long period of time, these villages with their Gassho-style houses subsisted on the cultivation of mulberry trees and the rearing of silkworms. The Gassho-style large houses with their steeply pitched thatched roofs here are the only examples of their kind in Japan.
Day 8/Mon: Kanazawa – Kyoto (B/L)
After breakfast, we walk across the street to the train station and board the high-speed train (Thunderbird 12, 07:47/11:01) to Kyoto. We tour Kyoto Imperial Palace before lunch.
We begin our afternoon sightseeing at Kiyomizu Temple, whose massive veranda provides stunning views of the city. We spend the rest of the day exploring a traditional entertainment district known as Gion.
Day 9/Tue: Kyoto (B/L/D)
Nicknamed City of Ten Thousand Shrines, Kyoto (literally: capital city) served as Japan’s capital for more than one thousand years before the imperial court moved to Tokyo in 1868 AD, at the beginning of Meiji Restoration (1868 to 1912 – a historical period responsible for the emergence of Japan as a modernized nation in the early 20th century). Kyoto is a scaled replica of China’s Chang’an (present-day Xi’an), Chinese capital during the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907 AD). With a population of 1.5 million, Kyoto forms a major part of the Kyoto-Osaka-Kobe metropolitan area.
We begin the day with a tour of historical Nijo Castle, the site that saw the beginning and ending of the Tokugawa shogunate (1600-1868).
We then embark on an excursion to Arashiyama (Storm Mountain), a nationally-designated Historic Site and Place of Scenic Beauty. Sites to visit here include the Togetsukyo Bridge, Tenryu-ji Temple and the Bamboo Forest.
Afternoon schedule takes in Kinkakuji Temple. Kinkaku-ji, meaning Temple of Golden Pavilion, is a Zen Buddhist temple and one of the 17 locations comprising the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto World Heritage Site. The official name of the temple is actually Rokuon-ji (Deer Garden Temple) but is widely known as Golden Pavilion Temple because of the three-story building on the grounds of the temple. The top two stories of the pavilion are covered with pure gold leaf.
Day 10/Wed: Kyoto (B)
This morning we go for a 2-hour hike at Fushimi Inari Shrine, one of the most popular uphill hiking spots in Kyoto.
We then spend the rest of day exploring on our own. It is not difficult to move around Kyoto by public transportation. We recommend Kyoto National Museum and a leisurely stroll along the photogenic Kano River. Please feel free to ask your guide if you need additional recommendations.
Day 11/Thu: Kyoto – Nara – Koyasan (B/L/D)
After breakfast we drive to Nara where we visit Nara Park (where 1,200 wild sika deer roam free) and Todai-ji Temple (Great Eastern Temple). Nara is the capital city of Nara Prefecture and a former capital of Japan (710-794). With a population of roughly 370,000 and an area of 280 square kilometers, the city occupies the northern part of Nara Prefecture. Eight temples, shrines and ruins together with Kasugayama Primeval Forest collectively form “the Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara” – a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
After lunch we continue on to Koyasan (Mount Koyan), where we stay for two nights at a Buddhist temple. During our stay here, all meals are included as part of our temple stay package and the food is strictly vegetarian.
Day 12/Fri: Koyasan (B/L/D)
Our schedule today includes a meditation session with resident monks, hiking to another temple or two nearby. Half of the day is designated as downtime but you may ask the guide for a list of recommended activities if you prefer to be active.
Day 13/Sat: Koyasan – Osaka – Hiroshima (B/L)
We depart for Osaka (2 hours drive) after breakfast.
Situated at the mouth of the Yodo River on Osaka Bay, Osaka is Japan’s third largest city by population after Tokyo and Yokohama, and serves as a major economic hub. Osaka was once known as the “nation’s kitchen” because of its role as Japan’s rice trading centre during the Edo period. Our schedule in Osaka includes Osaka Castle and a short river cruise through the busy Dotonbori District.
Later in the day we ride the high-speed train (2 hours) to Hiroshima. Literally meaning “broad island”, Hiroshima is the capital of Hiroshima Prefecture and the largest city in the Chugoku region with a population of 1.2 million (2019). Hiroshima is best known as the first city in history to be targeted by a nuclear weapon when the United States Army Air Forces dropped an atomic bomb on the city (and later on Nagasaki) at 8:15 a.m. on August 6, 1945, near the end of World War II.
Day 14/Sun: Hiroshima & Miyajima (B)
The focus of our schedule today in Hiroshima is the Peace Memorial Park which includes the Peace Memorial Museum, and the Atomic Bomb Dome that once served as the industrial promotion hall for the local prefect. The visit to the Peace Memorial Park complex would take up the whole morning.
In the afternoon, we enjoy an excursion to famous Miyajima by a combination of Shinkansen bullet train (Sakura), local commuter train, ferry, public bus and taxi. The departure time from the hotel is 13:00 and we should be back at the hotel around 18:00.
Miyajima, whose official name is Itsukushima, is a small island (30 sq km, pop. 1,760) in Hiroshima Bay famous for its forests and ancient temples. Its Number One attraction is the giant orange-colored floating torii gate which marks the entrance to the Itsukushima Shrine. And this is the main reason for our visit to the island.
Today lunch and dinner are on your own.
Day 15/Mon: Hiroshima – Nagasaki (B/L/D)
This morning we ride high-speed train to Nagasaki. The journey including transfer time at Shin-Tosu Station takes three hours.
Located on the northwest coast of the island of Kyushu, Nagasaki is the capital of and the largest city in Nagasaki Prefecture with a population of 424,066 as of 2017. During the Tokugawa bakufu era (1603-1868) Nagasaki was the largest of the four Japanese ports allowed for international trade. The exposure to European influence, primarily Portuguese and Dutch, in those days certainly has left its mark on the city as evidenced by Nagasaki’s large number of Japanese Catholics and numerous European-style buildings throughout the city. Nagasaki also had the misfortune of being hit by an atomic bomb near the end of World War II, making it the second and last target of nuclear bombing in history.
Afternoon sightseeing begins at Dejima, the site of the Dutch trading post known as factory. Built on reclaimed land originally intended for the Portuguese, the 2-acre island was later offered to the Dutch, who used it from 1641 to 1854.
We then proceed to the Basilica of the Twenty-Six Holy Martyrs of Japan (also known as Oura Church), and adjacent Glover Garden built for Thomas Blake Glover, a Scottish merchant, in 1863.
Day 16/Tue: Nagasaki (B)
Free morning to relax or explore on your own.
Afternoon visit to Nagasaki Peace Park. Established in 1955 near the hypocenter of the atomic bombing on August 9, 1945, the park sits next to the Atomic Bombing Museum and the Peace Memorial Hall. Due to time constraint we won’t have time for the museum and memorial hall.
After dinner, we drive to the top of Inasa-yama (Mount Inasa, 333 metres above sea level) to enjoy the spectacular night view of Nagasaki.
Day 17/Wed: Nagasaki – Fukuoka – Naha (B/L/D)
This morning we travel to Fukuoka by train (2 hours 11 minutes) for mid-day flight (1 hour 45 minutes) to Naha, capital city of Okinawa Prefecture. Sightseeing may be arranged in Fukuoka or Naha depending on flight schedule.
Day 18/Thu: Naha (B/L)
In 1609, at the beginning of the Tokugawa shogunate, the independent Ryukyu Kingdom was invaded by the Japanese domain of Satsuma and was forced to cede the Amami Islands and become a vassal of Satsuma. In 1879, the Empire of Japan annexed the entire Ryukyu archipelago and turned it into Okinawa Prefecture. The monarchy in the capital of Shuri, now part of Naha, was abolished and the deposed king Shō Tai (1843–1901) was made to relocate to Tokyo.
During the Battle of Okinawa near the end of the Pacific War, civilians on the island of Okinawa suffered tremendous casualties due to participation in war efforts forced onto them by the Japanese military. Okinawa was the bloodiest battle of the Pacific War. It was reported that the US government was so shocked by the high number of casualties sustained by the US troops (12,520 killed in action, up to 55,162 wounded) during the campaign that it decided to utilize the newly developed nuclear bombs to hasten Japan’s surrender.
Sightseeing today includes Shurijo Castle, Tamaudun Mausoleum, Shikina Garden and Okinawa Prefectural Museum & Art Museum.
Day 19/Fri: Naha (B/L)
After breakfast we drive 20 kilometres through picturesque countryside to Okinawa Peace Memorial Park.
Located in the city of Itoman and direct to the south of Naha, the park was established in 1975 next to the “Suicide Cliffs” where the Battle of Okinawa ended on June 21, 1945. A key highlight of the park is the Peace Memorial Museum.
We return to Naha after lunch and spend the rest of the day exploring the city on our own.
Day 20/Sat: Naha – Tokyo (B/D)
We travel back to Tokyo by air (2 hours 45 minutes) in the morning and transfer to the hotel on arrival. The balance of the day is at leisure. Feel free to ask your guide for recommendations if necessary. Enjoy a sumptuous farewell dinner tonight.
Day 21/Sun: Return Home (B)
Your memorable Japan vacation concludes this morning. Transfer to Narita or Haneda airport on your own by express train or airport limousine shuttle bus. The shuttle bus costs 3,100 yen (US$28) for Narita airport and 1,500 yen (US$14) for Haneda airport.
Seven-day Taiwan extension is available on request. Please contact us for itinerary and price quote.
|Tokyo – first stay||3||Tokyo Dome Hotel||first class|
|Kanazawa||3||ANA Crowne Plaza Kanazawa||first class|
|Kyoto||3||ANA Crowne Plaza Kyoto||first class|
|Koya-san||2||Temple Stay||best available|
|Hiroshima||2||ANA Crowne Plaza Hiroshima||first class|
|Nagasaki||2||ANA Crowne Plaza Nagasaki||first class|
|Naha||3||JR Kyushu Hotel Blossom||first class|
|Tokyo – second stay||1||Tokyo Dome Hotel or similar||first class|
Dates and Prices
* Land Only price does not include international air. Contact us for a competitive fare quote.
** The single supplement can be dramatically reduced if you accept a single room truly intended for singles (18 square meters or smaller with a single or double bed).
|Tour price includes:
||Tour price does NOT include:
Visa is not required of visitors from Western countries.
Budget a few hundred dollars for tips, incidentals and meals not included in the tour price.
See Terms & Conditions for more information.
Japan Vacation – Passport & Visa
A passport with at least one (1) blank visa page and six (6) months validity at the end of the tour is required.
Japan Tourist Visa is not required of nationals from Canada, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and a host of Western countries if the stay is within 90 days.
You are not required of any inoculation certificate to enter Japan. However, we do suggest you visit your family physician or a travel medicine clinic to determine what precautions you should take. We recommend inoculation shots for hepatitis A and suggest that you check out advice provided by the US CDC and Health Canada.