Nature and Tradition of Japan
- Duration : 14 days
- Locations : Tokyo, Nikko, Kyoto, Nara, Ise, Osaka
This private tour takes you away from the crowds while passing through the must-see places of the Land of the Rising Sun.
After a short stay in Tokyo, get immersed in nature in Nikko, then in traditions in Kyoto and Nara, the two ancient capitals.
Round off the tour in the Ise region, the cradle of Japan's soul, and meet the fishermen of another era.
2 week itinerary
- Tokyo (2 days)
- Nikko (1 day)
- Kyoto (5 days)
- Nara (1 day)
- Ise and Toba (2 days)
- Osaka (1 day)
The first and last day are reserved for your arrival and departure from Japan (and for the last bit of souvenir shopping!).
Please find below the itinerary details.
WARNING : The tour departure and end dates presented on this page relate to your stay in Japan. On departure, you will have to leave Europe on the day before. The return flight is on the same day due to the time difference. For further details, refer to "More about your trip".
Why this trip to Japan ?
- Welcomed at the airport by our team, you will be taken to your hotel in Tokyo by shuttle bus
- Reach Nikko, in the heart of the forest for a stay in a ryokan
- In Kyoto, a travel angel will welcome you to a traditional Japan Experience house
- In Kyoto, a night-time guided tour of the Gion district awaits you
- Optional : an overnight stay at a farm in the countryside near Kyoto
- Enjoy an overnight stay in Nara, Japan's first capital
- Board an unconventional train to meet the fisherwomen of the Ise region
- Take advantage of your transport passes : Nikko Pass, Kansai Pass, Shinkansen...
- Recommendations available in your travel diary
- Enjoy unlimited internet access thanks to your pocket Wi-Fi
- If necessary, contact our Japanese bilingual English-speaking assistance 24/7
- A number of guided days or other optional activities are available
- Benefit from the expertise of Japan Experience, European leading travel agency in Japan.
Your trip in detail
Day 1 : Wake up in Tokyo 東京
Arrival at Tokyo airport (Narita or Haneda).
Welcome to Japan! Yokoso 日本へようこそ！
Reception at the exit from Customs in English by our airport assistant, who will give you all your travel documents.
Unaccompanied transfer from the airport to Tokyo (see details).
Check-in at Hotel B Akasaka Mitsuke or equivalent 3* (rooms available from 3:00pm);
You can pick up your pocket Wi-Fi at the hotel reception desk.
Day 2 : First steps in the capital
What is there to do in Tokyo on the first day?
We advise you to slowly start visiting Tokyo from its western districts:
- Harajuku: the avant-garde district
- Meiji Jingû, the imperial shrine
- Takeshita-Dori: the most famous street in Japan
- Omotesando: Tokyo's Champs-Élysées
- Shibuya and its unmistakable "crossroads"
One of our many experienced English-speaking guides can also accompany you to visit the classic sights of Tokyo (optional, from 9:00 to 17:00).
Day 3 : The big loop
For this second day of visiting Tokyo, we recommend the following "loop".
Start from Tokyo Central Station, with its original architecture, then go to visit:
- Ginza, Tokyo's chic district
- Tsukiji, the small outdoor food market
- Hamarikyu, the Japanese garden between Tokyo's buildings
- Asakusa, a traditional district and place of pilgrimage, accessible by a cruise on the Sumida River
- Sensô-ji Buddhist temple, one of the oldest in the city
- Tokyo Sky Tree reaching a height of 643m, and its panoramic view of Tokyo at sunset
Enjoy a cruise on the Sumida River between Hamarikyu and Asakusa.
Day 4 : The mountain at the gateway to Tokyo
In the morning, we advise that you have your luggage sent to the hotel in Kyoto (details in your travel diary, check with the hotel reception) and that you travel light for your night in Nikko.
Go to Tokyo station to take the Shinkansen to Nikko. After one change and a total of 1 hour 30 of travel time (all included with your Japan Rail Pass), you will arrive in a valley in the middle of a lush Japanese mountain.
Settle in your ryokan in the heart of the valley (ryokan Kozuchi no Yado Tsurukame Daikichi or equivalent 3*).
In the afternoon, visit Nikko, with its many UNESCO World Heritage sites: the Toshogu and Futarasan - Jinja shrines and the Buddhist temple (Rinno-ji) located in the heart of an outstanding natural setting.
In the evening, traditional Japanese dinner in your ryokan.
Day 5 : On the way to the former capital
Traditional Japanese breakfast at the ryokan.
In the morning, discover the heights of Nikko: the Tamozawa imperial villa, the Kegon waterfall, the Chuzen-ji lake and the old European embassies bordering it (40 minutes by local bus, payable on the spot).
In the early afternoon, leave for Kyoto (2 changes, 4 hours 30, all included with your Japan Rail Pass), the capital of Japan for over a thousand years, surrounded by forests and mountains. This city of more than one million inhabitants in the heart of nature awaits you!
Before 8:00 pm, you can settle into your traditional Japan Experience house! A Travel Angel will welcome you, show you some unique details and help you to have an unforgettable stay in Kyoto. You will be able to "live the Japanese way" for a few days, with a space much bigger than a hotel room and a kitchen to prepare good Japanese food!
Day 6 : First steps in the old capital
You have 3 days to visit Kyoto.
Start in the afternoon in the historic Gion district near your accommodation :
- Kiyomizu-Dera, the great water temple
- The historical streets of Sannen-zaka & Ninnen-zaka
- Kodai-ji, the maple and bamboo temple of Kyoto
Finish off seeing the sunset in Gion. Meet your guide at 7:00pm to start your late stroll around Gion, Kyoto's historic district.
More details on the exact time and location in your travel diary. At the end of this 1 hour 30 walk, your guide will be able to advise you on the best places to eat out! Please note that it is strictly forbidden to take photographs in the historic district of Gion.
Day 7 : Gold and Silver Treasures
We recommend the following itinerary for this second day's visit to Kyoto:
- Ryoan-ji Zen Garden
- The Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion)
- Ginkaku-ji (Silver Pavilion)
- The bewitching path of philosophy
- The Nanzen-ji temple
One of our many experienced English-speaking guides can accompany you on a tour of these symbolic sites (optional, from 9:00am to 5:00pm).
Day 8 : A complete change of scenery in the Japanese countryside
For this third day in Kyoto, we suggest an optional excursion into the Japanese countryside, 1 hour from Kyoto by train (included with your Japan rail Pass), to spend 1 night in a farm in the heart of a typical village. Your hosts speak English, and in some cases even French. Discover their way of life for 2 days! Luggage: no problem, you can leave it in your house in Kyoto and pick it up the next day.
If this excursion does not appeal to you, you can continue to visit Kyoto heading west :
- Nishiki, Kyoto's culinary market
- Nijo castle, former residence of the shogun
- Arashiyama, to visit the bamboo grove and its monkey mountain
Day 9 : Now for some activity...
For this day, if you stay in Kyoto, make the most of our many optional activities:
- Want to enjoy nature? Check out our cycling activities along the Kamogawa River or hiking in the Takao Gorge!
- Prefer Japanese arts? Tea ceremonies, meditation activities or private visits to secret gardens will seduce you.
- Looking for Japanese countryside? Let yourself be tempted by a trip to Ohara, or try our flagship activity: on the Tea Road!
Last night in your Kyoto house.
Day 10 : Between temples and deer
For your last day in Kyoto and its surroundings, we recommend taking the 50 minute journey to Nara, which is included in your package.
Visit to Nara, the first permanent capital of Japan in the 8th century.
- The Shinto shrine Kasuga Taisha and its thousands of lanterns
- The Todaiji, its great bronze Buddha and the imposing Nan-Daimon gate
- Kofukuji temple and its beautiful pagoda
Enjoy a night in the heart of this small town, very calm when all the tourists have left for Kyoto in the late afternoon!
Day 11 : At the heart of tradition
Breakfast at the hotel.
Early in the morning, stroll through Nara Park, still emptied of tourists sleeping in Kyoto...
Around 10am, reach Ise by a special train. This comfortable train, with massage seats, is specially designed for observing the journey. Large windows, bay windows, a bar-restaurant on 2 floors open to the exterior: everything is done in order to contemplate the surrounding Japanese countryside.
After a 1.5 hour train ride, welcome to Ise, ideal destination for all lovers of wide open sea.
Reach your ryokan, between the towns of Ise and Toba, right by the sea. All local buses are included in your package.
In the afternoon, we recommend a visit to the great shrine of Ise, Ise-jingū, one of the most important of the Shintō religion, dedicated to the deity of the sun. People come here from all over Asia to worship and be purified. Set in a dense forest where streams abound, this shrine makes for an exciting and spiritually rewarding visit.
Day 12 : Meet the fishermen
Traditional Japanese breakfast at the ryokan.
In the morning, go to the Mikimoto pearl museum, where you can watch a (somewhat touristy) demonstration of the ama, the fisherwomen who perpetuate a thousand-year-old tradition. Then Japan Experience offers you a few hours off the beaten path, to get acquainted with the world of fishing.
Together with your English-speaking guide, in 25 minutes you will reach a small offshore island where very few tourists venture! On this island, you can see a fish market, an auction, lunch with an ama, and a walk around the island to meet its inhabitants. Return to the coast at the end of the afternoon, with a head full of memories.
2nd night at the ryokan.
Day 13 : Back to modern Japan
Traditional Japanese breakfast at the ryokan.
In the morning, continue exploring Ise with the seaside walk of the Married Rocks (Meoto Iwa: 30min bus ride from Ise, included in your package). After lunch in the old streets of Ise, take the train back to Osaka (2 hours 30, no change before arrival in Osaka), where you will spend your last night in your 3* hotel.
Enjoy the lively Namba district and Dôtonbori Street. The many restaurants there have earned Osaka the title "gastronomic capital of Japan".
Day 14 : Sayonara, and see you next time!
Direct transfer to Kansai International Airport (included but not accompanied).
Return flight to Europe, North America, Australia.
Do not hesitate to extend your trip by one or more days to Kansai or elsewhere... We will be able to advise you!
- 3 nights in a 3* hotel in the heart of Tokyo, close to public transport
- 1 night in a 3* ryokan in Nikko, traditional half-board
- 5 nights in a traditional Kyoto house (cleaning, bed linen/towels and tourist tax included)
- 1 night in a 3* hotel at the edge of Nara Park
- 2 nights in a ryokan in Ise, near the sea
- 1 night in a 3* hotel in Osaka
The basic rate includes a twin room for two people.
- Airport transfers to Tokyo
- Return airport transfer to Osaka
- Prepaid public transport card
- Japan Rail Pass for 7 days
- Kansai Kintetsu Rail Pass 5 days +
- Supplement for trip to Ise by Shimakaze comfort train
Experiences and meals
- Airport welcome
- Welcome to Kyoto by a travel angel
- Guided night tour of Gion (1h30)
- A meeting with fishermen in Ise
- Traditional dinner in Nikko
- All breakfasts except in Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka
Included in your self-guided tour
- Unlimited Wi-Fi access with pocket Wi-Fi
- Complete e-travel diary sent 20 days before your departure
- 24/7 telephone assistance in English and bilingual Japanese
Not included in the price of your trip
- Flights Europe <> Japan
- Optional insurance policies
- Personal expenses including meals (breakfast optional)
- Public transport when your transport cards have run out (see details)
- Anything not included in the "included in your tour" section
Your tour :
- The prices displayed on this page may vary according to the exchange rate of the Japanese ¥.
- Unfortunately, this tour is not accessible to people with reduced mobility.
- Pets are not allowed.
- Children and babies accepted. From 3 to 11 years old a child rate is offered. In each accommodation, a standard adult bed will be offered to them, and a standard seat will be allocated to them in transport. From 0 to 2 years old inclusive, a "baby" rate is offered. This price corresponds to the allocation of a cot in the majority of the accommodation of the chosen circuit. However, we cannot guarantee a baby cot in each accommodation.
- This programme is subject to change due to circumstances such as weather conditions or any other case of force majeure. Please note that due to the current circumstances, any information mentioned is subject to change or modification.
- Your travel documents will be given to you as follows:
- Travel diary by email 3 weeks before departure, and other electronic documents.
- Paper documents (airport transfer tickets, transport cards, Japan Rail Pass voucher) when you arrive at the airport by our airport assistant.
- Your pocket Wi-Fi at the hotel reception upon arrival.
- N.B.: no ticket for airport transfers to and from Kansai airport. The reservation is registered in the name of the tour reservation.
Your accommodation :
- Some hotels may ask you to pay a tourist tax on arrival. This depends on the city and even the hotel, as some do not include it in the booking price. Normally, it is 200¥/night/person (about £1.37/1.93$) but can be slightly higher in 4* hotels. It must be paid in cash at the hotel reception. For traditional Japan Experience accommodations, it is included in the initial tour price.
- Room size: in Japan, a densely populated country where everything is compact, 3-star luxury hotels are of very good quality but the rooms are often quite narrow (12 to 20m2/129 sq ft to 215 sq ft) depending on the hotel. Please note the size of the single room, between 10 and 16m2 (107sq ft and 172 fq ft). For more comfort, you can choose our luxury 4* accommodation upgrade option.
- Double room: Rooms for two people in western hotels have 2 single beds (twin rooms) by default, which can usually be joined together. As an option, you can select a double room instead of a twin if you prefer a double bed.
- Single room: People travelling alone and wishing to book a single room must pay a supplement at the time of booking. The single room supplement is compulsory for orders with an odd number of participants.
- 3-person room: If there are 3, 5 or more of you and you do not select the single supplement, a triple room will be allocated to you.
- In the case of a group order (> 5 people), it is possible, depending on hotel availability, that not all members of the group will be accommodated in the same hotel. Nevertheless, we aim to keep you close. The same goes for the traditional house in Kyoto.
- Names of the hotels : The names given on the site are for information only. In the event of unavailability, an establishment of equivalent standing will be scheduled. Hotels, corresponding to local standards, are given as an indication and may be changed on site for hotels of a similar category.
- Traditional house in Kyoto: each house has been chosen for its location (transport, shops, temples...) and thus to facilitate your stay. Most of them are either located in the historical district of Gion or on the edge of the Path of Philosophy and the Silver Temple. All lodgings have at least one Japanese tatami room and are equipped with a minimum of 3 beds, either in a single western bed (not double) or on a futon. Do not hesitate to specify in your comments that you want to sleep in a western bed.
- In the ryokan, guests sleep on comfortable futons placed on the tatami mat. The room has a private sink and toilet. As is customary in Japanese ryokan, the onsen bathroom is shared (not mixed) unless you take the "private bathroom in the room" option.
OPTIONAL: Enjoy a private Japanese bathroom (traditional or modern onsen) in your room. This option is recommended for mixed couples, families, people who are modest or have visible tattoos.Option only valid for Nikko ryokan, not Ise
The 4* ryokan (see 4* option) have comfortable futons raised on either western beds in a traditional tatami room. The bathrooms and toilets of the 4* ryokans are private.
Your transport :
- Flights are not included in this tour. Do not hesitate to contact us if you would like to include flights in your order: Flights in economy class with stopovers or direct flights, eco-premium or business air upgrades, provincial departures or abroad: we will be able to advise you.
- The tour departure and end dates presented on this page relate to your stay in Japan. You will arrive in Japan via Tokyo (Narita or Haneda airports) and depart from Kansai airport (KIX, not Itami ITM). On departure, you will have to leave Europe the day before and land at 6:30 p.m. at the most to make the most of the airport services of your circuit (reception and transfer to Tokyo).
The return flight is on the same day due to the time difference, with a departure time of 9am at the earliest. Please do not hesitate to consult us for any uncertainty or need for precision in the choice of international flights.
- If the flights have been purchased by your care without the intervention of Japan Experience, it is necessary to send us by mail 1 month before your departure your flight information (flight number, airport, date and time of arrival) to allow us 'Organize your welcome and airport transfer.
- Airport transfers: The shared shuttle bus leaves from the airport and stops either in front of your hotel or at a stop located between 1 and 15 min walk from your hotel. Our airport assistant in Tokyo will drive you to the platform to take the airport transfer. Afterwards, this hotel transfer is unassisted. If you would like to be accompanied from the airport to your hotel reception please choose the option "Accompanied Airport Transfer". The same applies to the return trip from Osaka to KIX airport.
- Included in your tour is a pre-charged transport prepayment card of ¥ 1,500 (around £10.30 / 14.54$) (suica or Pasmo brand); a 7-day Japan Rail Pass and a 5-day Kintetsu Rail Pass. These 3 cards should cover a large part of your trips during the stay. Upon expiry of the 1,500¥ Transport Prepayment Card, or if the line you are travelling on is not covered by your Japan Rail Pass, any travel will be at your own expense by recharging your pre-paid transport card (at vending machines in all stations and metro stations).
- The 5-day Kintetsu Rail Pass gives you access to all private "Kintetsu" lines in Kyoto, Nara, Ise, Toba and Osaka. In addition, it gives you free access to buses in Nara and Toba/Ise. Thus, they will allow you, among other things, to travel from Nara to Ise and from Ise to Osaka. One of these two journeys (mainly the outward journey) will be by the Shimakaze train, the cost of which, subject to a supplement, is included in your offer. The other trip will be by conventional train.
- The Japan Rail Pass is a personal train pass for foreign travellers who wish to visit Japan. This pass allows unlimited travel for 7 consecutive days on all Japan Railways (JR) trains throughout Japan. You will receive a voucher to be exchanged at a JR office when you are welcomed at the airport by our assistant (list of addresses provided in your travel guide). You will be asked to show your passport and fill in a form. During this exchange, you will select the start date of your pass. Once your Pass has been activated, it will be valid for 7 consecutive days from the date chosen. To prevent wasting time when you arrive at the airport, you are requested to exchange your voucher upon arrival in Tokyo City. This is because exchanging it at the airport could delay your airport shuttle. With your Japan Rail Pass in hand, just go to the station, show your pass to the ticket inspector at the entrance gates and board any JR train. Trains in Japan are almost all open seating. If you are worried about not having a seat (on a shinkansen for example), simply go to a ticket office and reserve your seat at no extra charge. The Japan Rail Pass covers all JR and Shinkansen lines in Japan. The following journeys are not covered:
- Travel by metro and bus in the cities (payable by pre-paid transport card, included in your package)
- Transfers from the train station to the hotels (by foot, bus, metro or taxi)
- Travel on private train lines (other than JR)
- Travel on Nozomi and Mizuho high-speed trains (shinkansen)
- Trips made outside the validity period of the Japan Rail Pass
- Japan Rail Pass: It is not necessary to possess a Japan Rail Pass which covers your entire stay. This is only cost-effective if it is used for long journeys between the different stages of your stay (especially in shinkansen) which are very expensive. In large cities like Tokyo, only about ⅓ of public transport is covered by the Japan Rail Pass and getting around is relatively cheap (Tokyo metro tickets: £1.71 / 2.42$; Kyoto daily bus card: £4.28 / 5.97$). Thus, providing you with a Japan Rail Pass for more than 7 days (14 or 21) would not be cost-effective and, on the contrary, would significantly increase the cost of your trip.
- If a person taking part in the tour is a Japanese national and a resident of Japan, or a foreigner with tax residence in Japan (including a student), then that person is not eligible for the Japan Rail Pass. Please contact us to get the price of the tour without a Japan Rail Pass. They will have to buy the train tickets for the tour directly in Japan. The Kansai Thru Pass is also subject to the same nationality/residency requirements. This is not the case for the Hakone Free pass. If this person is a Japanese citizen but not a resident of Japan, then he/she can benefit from the Japan Rail Pass under certain conditions (see https://www.japan-experience.com/frequently-asked-questions).
Your activities :
- Airport reception is in English. Your airport assistant will be waiting for you at the customs exit holding a sign with the name of the reservation. They will give you your travel documents and take you to your airport transfer. They will not accompany you to Kyoto (this is possible, but optional).
- The guided tour of Gion takes place in groups of 12 people maximum, from 6:00 to 7:30/8:00pm. In English. More details on the meeting place in your travel journal. Dinner is not planned but your guide will be able to give you their best spots.
- An English speaking Travel Angel who is a specialist in Japan will be there to welcome you to your traditional house in Kyoto. They will give you the keys, explain how the house and its facilities work, give you a tour of the area (tourist sites, supermarkets, bike rental...) and answer all your questions. They will be available throughout your stay in case of any problems or questions.
- The meeting with the fishermen of the Ise region will take place with our English-speaking partner, from 11:00am to 5:00pm. Details in your travel diary. Your offer includes boat trips, English-speaking guide, and premium lunch. If you are prone to seasickness during the boat trips (for this activity: 2X25 min), or if you have any food intolerances for the lunch, please let us know. We will provide you with the necessary advice and notify our partner if necessary.
Your meals :
- Traditional Japanese dinner and Japanese breakfast (mostly savoury) are included in your Nikko tour. Do not hesitate to indicate any dietary requirements you may have, we will pass them on to the ryokan so that they can take them into account when planning the meals. If the ryokan does not take any of these dietary requirements into account, we cannot be held responsible and no compensation will be issued.
- Breakfasts which are not included in your package can be added at the reception when you arrive at the hotel. However, you will find many cafés near your hotel serving copious breakfasts, often tastier than those in the hotels, which sometimes have tight schedules and are predominantly savoury. However, if you would like to add breakfast to your offer when you make your reservation, you can select it as an option.
- The traditional Japan Experience houses are equipped for cooking and are located close to supermarkets and markets.
Your additional services:
- A pocket wifi is included in your tour. It allows unlimited high-speed internet access. Your pocket wifi will be delivered to you on arrival at the first hotel on your tour, in the name of your tour reservation.
- It comes with a small booklet to operate your device (don't panic: simple operation) and a prepaid envelope to return your device at the end of your stay. Your pocket wifi will work naturally until the last day of your trip to Japan.
- A maximum of 5 devices can be connected to a pocket wifi (phone, tablet, computer).
- A single pocket wifi is provided for a circuit order of 1 to 5 people. For an order of 6 people or more, a second pocket wifi will be added automatically and at no extra cost to your reservation.
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