Summer in Japan With the Family - Tour of Japan - Japanspecialist
Take your family on an unforgettable Japan journey with city excitement, nature exploration, art and culture, history, and beach fun.
Japan is perfect for a family holiday; it's clean, safe and abundant with cultures that fascinate young and old alike. This trip is ideal for the spring or summer holidays, full of fantastic experiences for young children and teenagers and adults.
You'll depart from Europe to Tokyo on an overnight flight, so rest up and be ready to waste no time immersing yourself in this Japan adventure.
You'll arrive in Tokyo and transfer by bus or shared taxi to your central city hotel. If you have some energy in the tank, an ideal afternoon activity would be to explore the Tokyo subway and make a visit to Tokyo Imperial Palace.
Alternatively, you could visit the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building's top floor observatory, where you can enjoy the wonderful city views for free. In the evening, try a take-out meal from one of the many convenience stores, or visit a local ramen shop for a cheap, fast and satisfying feast.
Get on the JR Yamanote line, Tokyo's city loop line, and visit Harajuku, where the candy-coloured streets sit harmoniously next to the tranquil Shinto shrine Meiji-Jingu.
About a 10-15 minute walk away is the non-stop area of Shibuya. Visit Shibuya Scramble in front of Shibuya Station and have dinner (or lunch) at a kaiten (revolving) sushi restaurant, where your kids can pick and sample whatever sushi they like!
Get up early and visit the outer fish market in Tsukiji, where you can enjoy breakfast with delicious sushi donburi (a rice bowl with fresh fish topping).
After, continue to the anime and geek paradise that is Akihabara, where you can buy cheap electronics, visit a maid-café and experience manga culture in all its glory.
Next, it's time to continue to one of Tokyo's older classical neighbourhoods, Asakusa, where a visit to the impressive Sensoji temple should be a top priority. On Nakamise Street, leading up to the temple, you'll find many lovely small shops to buy souvenirs.
Finally, continue on foot or by subway to Tokyo Skytree, a 634-metre-high television tower and the city's tallest building. The tower even houses an impressive aquarium, perfect for kids.
On this final day in Japan's capital, you can visit the fantastic Ghibli Museum - 30 minutes by train or bus from Shinjuku station in Tokyo - which is dedicated to the animation movies of Ghibli Studios. Museum visits should be reserved well in advance!
If you want to visit an amusement park, consider Tokyo Disney Resort or Sanrio Puroland (Hello Kitty Land. Alternatively, explore Odaiba and visit immersive teamLab Borderless, the hot spring theme park Oedo Onsen Monogatari, or Miraikan (Tokyo National Museum of Emerging Science), all of which offer unique insight into the city's culture.
Today you and your family will say goodbye to Tokyo and head by train from Tokyo to Mt. Fuji and Hakone National Park. Mt. Fuji sits just one hour outside Tokyo, at the foot of which lies Hakone National Park, an exquisite hot spring (onsen) getaway.
You'll use a Hakone Free Pass, which covers both the transport from Tokyo and provides unlimited access to most buses, trains, cable cars and sailboats throughout the park. Relax and take the mountain railway through the beautiful valleys, enjoy a boat ride on Lake Ashi and a cable car ride up the still-active volcano Owakudani - all the while with the 3,776-metre-high Mt. Fuji proudly towering on the horizon.
You stay two nights at a ryokan - a traditional Japanese inn - in the heart of the national park. Here you can bathe in the hotel's bathhouse with real hot springs, and in the evenings, enjoy a delicious traditional dinner included in the stay.
Today is a full day of leisure in Hakone. Some family-friendly and fun activities include a visit to Yunessun hot spring theme park, where you can explore many different types of public baths, including ones filled with red wine and green tea. Another excellent option is Hakone's Open Air Museum (Chokoku no Mori open-air museum), where you can enjoy incredible sculptures surrounded by nature.
After breakfast, it is time to take the bus or taxi to Odawara station (30-50 minutes) and board the Shinkansen (bullet train) to Nagoya. You'll transfer to the Wide View Nanki mountain express train that will take you to the historic town of Takayama in the Japanese Alps (Gifu prefecture).
In the afternoon, take a few hours to explore the wonderful old town of Takayama on foot, with many buildings and whole streets of houses dating from the Edo Period (1600-1868), when the city thrived as a wealthy town of merchants.
During this full day in Takayama, we'd suggest you take the bus from Takayama to Ogimachi village in the Shirakawago area. This historical farm village is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is famous for its traditional gassho-zukuri farmhouses, some of which are more than 250 years old.
Although Ogimachi feels like an open-air museum, it's still a village community that is very much alive, with many houses still inhabited by the original families. After a few hours in Ogimachi, take the bus back to Takayama and treat yourselves to a delicious Hida Beef dinner.
Today, you'll travel by shinkansen to Kyoto, Japan's well-known ancient capital. For those interested in Japan's ancient culture, traditions, and history, it is a treasure trove of excitement.
After arriving in the early afternoon, have a quick lunch at one of the many restaurants all around the city. After lunch, an excellent introduction to Kyoto would be with a visit to Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion) and Nijo-jo, an ancient samurai castle.
After breakfast, head to Higashiyama (eastern hills) district and spend a full day exploring this wonderfully fascinating area. Start by visiting Kiyomizu-dera, one of Kyoto's most famous Buddhist temples (dating back to the 17th century), for impressive views of Kyoto city.
After your visit, continue on foot via Ninenzaka and Sannenzaka hills – where you can find many small traditional shops selling local handicraft products and others selling delicious snacks.
If you have time, head over to Maruyama Park, an atmospheric park in central Kyoto, home to the famous Yasaka Shrine. From Maruyama Park, take the bus towards Ginkaku-ji in northern Kyoto. Also known as the Silver Pavilion, it's home to a stunning landscape garden. It's also the starting point of the Philosopher's Path, a trail along a small stream that leads to the stylish Nanzen-ji temple.
We suggest you put aside the entire day today to explore the beautiful mountainous northwestern part of Kyoto, notably the regions Arashiyama and Sagano.
Take a train from Kyoto station and travel to Arashiyama Station. From Arashiyama Station, walk to Togetsukyo bridge (over Katsura river) for an impressive view of the hills of Arashiyama. Continue on to the atmospheric Sagano Bamboo Forest.
If you have time, explore scenic northwest Kyoto by hopping on the Sagano Scenic Railway. This steam train will take you from Saga Station to Kameoka Station in 25 minutes, and here you can take a riverboat cruise along the Hozugawa River back to Arashiyama.
On this final full day in Kyoto, take the train from Kyoto Station to the ancient capital of Nara, a region overflowing with a stunning countryside atmosphere.
Take your time to visit the breathtaking Todai-ji temple and visit the central hall Daibutsuden containing the famous bronze Great Buddha statue. Next, take a walk through the extensive and hilly Nara Park and feed the sacred and friendly deer that roam the area.
Later, visit Mt. Shigi and Chogosonshi-ji temple, from where you can witness lovely views of Nara and its surrounding hillsides. Alternatively, visit Horyuji temple (12 kilometres east of Nara city), which has a 1500-year history and contains the world's oldest surviving wooden structures.
If you feel you would like to focus on modern city delights instead, take a direct train to Osaka. Visit Osaka Castle and the surrounding park, then continue by subway south to Shinsaibashi or Namba area, the perfect place to try takoyaki, a local speciality at one of the many small restaurants lining Dotonbori Avenue and river. In the afternoon, visit Tempozan Harbour's Osaka Kaiyukan (Aquarium), one of the best and largest aquariums in the world.
You will leave Kyoto and continue southwest to Hiroshima. For lunch, try okonomiyaki, real Japanese soul food.
A short train and ferry ride (50 minutes) will take you to the small island of Miyajima. Miyajima has been considered a sacred place within the Japanese Shinto religion throughout history, and for centuries only priests and wild animals could enter the island.
The highlight is the UNESCO-protected 'floating' Itsukushima Shrine, built on pillars above the water. Equally impressive is the shrine's 16-meter-high red torii (shrine gate), one of Japan's three officially most beautiful sights.
After enjoying a local delicacy kakizosui (rice porridge with fresh oysters), spend the afternoon exploring Momijidani Valley Park on foot and take the trail, or ropeway, up to Mt. Misen. After reaching the top, you will be rewarded with sweeping views of the Inland Sea!
Today you'll learn about the history of Hiroshima. The atomic bomb dome, the only standing ruin, and Peace Museum detailing the devastating impacts of war are must-visit destinations. Some parts of the exhibition are confronting and not suitable for smaller children.
Next, visit the nearby Peace Park, and find the children's monument, where children from all over the world donate cranes folded in origami paper with the desire for peace. You can also donate your paper cranes here.
Last stop on the journey is three days at the beautiful Seto Inland Sea located in Okayama Prefecture between Hiroshima and Osaka. From Hiroshima, you have a four-day car rental with English GPS. With the car rental there are lots of activities in the local area that toy can visit enroute to Okayama. For example, visit the charming seaside towns Onomichi (90 km east of Hiroshima) or nearby Tomonoura. Or visit the traditional canal city of Kurashiki (Okayama prefecture) which is an ideal place for an afternoon stroll!
The drive to Okayama takes about 170 km / 2.5 hours total (without stops).
Today there's just one main activity, having fun at the beach! Enjoy the hotel's private beach and swim in the clear water of the Seto Inland Sea. Daily breakfast at the hotel is included, and there are lunch/dinner options available.
Today you'll choose between either one more day of sun, beach and sea, or make an excursion by car to Himeji Castle, the biggest and most well-preserved samurai castle in Japan.
Alternatively, you could visit the 'art island' Naoshima, which you can reach easily by (car) ferry from the nearby Uno. The ferry trip only takes 20 minutes one-way.
Naoshima is known for its modern art museums, architecture and sculptures, and must-sees are Benesse House Museum and Chichu Art Museum, which both have excellent contemporary art collections from local and international artists.
Today is your last full day in Japan! Enjoy a relaxing morning before late morning check-out. You can choose - depending on the weather - to stay at the beach a bit longer, or drive to Okayama city (30 –40 minutes). After, you'll return your car by late afternoon near Okayama central station. Make sure you have time in Okayama City for some final shopping along the pedestrian streets.
It's time to say "sayonara" (goodbye) to Japan. You'll be transferred to Okayama airport (approximately 45 minutes), where you will depart to Europe with a transfer to your international flight in Tokyo.
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