The Best of Japan - Japanspecialist
Experience all the highlights of Japan's amazing history up close!
This best of Japan tour is a 17-day program that takes you through all sides of the country, from the modern to the ancient. You travel individually to all the main historical hubs: modern cities like Tokyo, Kyoto and Hiroshima, as well as smaller, historically well-preserved cities and natural scenic pockets.
Ready to go! Departure from Europe to Tokyo on an overnight flight so get ready for the adventure waiting ahead of you.
You'll arrive in Tokyo this morning and transfer to your hotel. Start the day easy with a leisurely stroll in the area around your hotel. If you have the energy, you could go to Shibuya to check out the vibrant neighbourhood and try some of the local bars and restaurants.
Get up early and visit the outer fish market in Tsukiji. Try a delicious breakfast of sushi donburi (a rice bowl with fresh fish topping) at one of the small restaurants.
A nice afternoon sightseeing schedule would include a visit to Hamarikyu Landscape Garden (walking distance from Tsukiji), from which you can take the Sumida River boat north to the Asakusa area. It's a lovely opportunity to see Tokyo from a different angle. You will then set foot on land again in Asakusa, one of the oldest historical areas of Tokyo. Make sure to visit the impressive Senso-ji temple, the oldest in Tokyo.
Now that you got a feeling of what traditional Tokyo feels like, visit the fashion trendsetting Harajuku neighbourhood. If you're into art and design, make sure you visit the Mori Art Tower in Roppongi (complete with 360 degree Tokyo Panorama View) or the light exhibition teamLab Borderless in Odaiba. Once the night falls, try finger-food, beers and sake in the narrow alleyway bars.
Visit the Eastern Garden of the Imperial Palace, maybe even go around the outskirts of the park on a rental bike. After, you can shop until you drop in the Ginza district or buy electronics in Akihabara.
If you want even more out of your visit, we recommend that you order one or more of our experience packages. We offer full- and half-day sightseeing, as well as excursions to, for example, the lavish sanctuary Nikko or the Ghibli Museum, dedicated to Hayao Miyazaki and his films.
Time to say goodbye to Tokyo. You'll travel southwest to the Izu Peninsula, where the unspoiled Izu-Kogen National Park is located.
Take one of the many beautiful walks here and enjoy the tranquillity.
Return to your traditional Japanese inn (Ryokan) to enjoy a nice long bath in a traditional onsen (natural hot springs). Then put on a soft cotton kimono and let your sense of taste and sight be pampered by the best in traditional Japanese cooking, kaiseki, made with seasonal ingredients.
If you want, you can extend an extra night in Izu-Kogen. With an extra night. Relax far away from traffic and people, enjoy delicious food, bathe the body in the hot springs and go out for walks along the spectacular Pacific coast or to the top of the extinct volcano Mt. Omuro to get a view of the iconic Mount Fuji on the horizon.
From Izu-Kogen, the journey continues south, passing close by the iconic mount Fuji, via Nagoya city to the historic mountain town of Takayama.
Takayama is a remote and extraordinarily well-preserved mountain town, often referred to as "Little Kyoto." The traditional wooden buildings are incredibly charming, and here you can buy handicrafts, visit hundred-year-old sake distilleries or take a ride in an old-fashioned rickshaw.
On this full-day in Takayama (or Hida as the town and region are originally called), we suggest you take the bus from Takayama to Ogimachi village in the Shirakawago area.
This historical farm village was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1995, and it is famous for its traditional gassho-zukuri farmhouses, some of which are more than 250 years old. Although it 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, take the bus back to Takayama and treat yourselves to a delicious Hida Beef dinner.
From Takayama, you take the train northwest to Kanazawa. Even though it is a modern city, you can still feel the history. Here you will find one of Japan's most elegant landscape gardens, the nearly 400-year-old Kenroku-en, founded on ancient Chinese principles of perfection.
You can also stroll through the samurai district of Nagamachi, or observe the exclusive bowls of lacquer and pottery in Hirosaka Street or explore the Ninja Temple, which has both hidden corridors and secret rooms, as one would expect from a Ninja temple!
Start the morning at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary art (with one of the best modern art museum collections in Japan), then enjoy a light lunch at the vibrant Omicho Market.
In the afternoon, visit Seisonkaku Villa, one of the most elegant remaining samurai villas in Japan.
You'll continue southeast to Hiroshima. Visit the atomic bomb dome, the only surviving ruin, and the Peace Museum. After, wander through the beautiful Peace Park or stroll down the lively pedestrian street Hondori.
Be sure to taste real Japanese soul food in the form of Okonomiyaki: a kind of an omelette with noodles, cabbage and pork drizzled with a special sauce.
Take a full day to visit the lovely island of Miyajima with the iconic big red Torii gate standing in the water. It can be reached easily in 45 minutes, by train and ferry.
This island was considered sacred in ancient times. There are many sacred places on the island, including The Daisho-in Temple, which the Dalai Lama has visited several times. While you're here, make sure to sample fresh-fried oysters and grilled eel, a local delicacy and one of the best local snacks that you will find on your Japan journey.
Next up, it's off to Kyoto on the shinkansen. Kyoto, the country's ancient capital. With four nights, you'll have ample opportunity to explore. More than 1600 Buddhist temples and 270 Shinto shrines are preserved here.
Then, spend an afternoon exploring the best sights in central Kyoto, including the majestic Nijo Castle, which was built in 1603 as the Kyoto residence of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first shogun of the Edo Period (1603-1867). Spend your first night in Kyoto by seeing traditional theatre in the geisha neighbourhood, Gion.
Today is your first full day of leisure in Japan's ancient imperial capital. Get a lookout over the entire city from Kiyomizu-dera, which boasts amazing views of central Kyoto.
Continuing further north, you will reach the famous Ginkaku-ji (Silver Pavillion), home to one of Japan's most fascinating landscape gardens. This is also the starting point of the Philosopher's Path, a trail along a small stream leading you to the beautiful Nanzen-ji shrine.
Today, take a day trip to Japan's first-ever capital, Nara. Start off by visiting Todai-ji temple to see the world's largest bronze Buddha, and after that you can meet the friendly local deers in Nara Park.
In combination with Nara, you could visit the central part of Osaka city in the afternoon. The vibrant trendsetting area Amerikan-mura, the nearby shopping arcade Shinsaibashi-suji and the lively neon illuminated Dotonbori boulevard in the Namba area, are highlights.
This is your last full day in Japan! Spend the morning shopping at the local Nishiki market or the department stores in central Kawaramachi street.
If you want to see more, take a local 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. Later continue on foot to the atmospheric Sagano Bamboo Forest.
On your final night in Kyoto, have a traditional dinner at one of the classical restaurants in Pontocho Dori street, a famous street filled with many restaurants with awesome riverside dining terraces that open in the summer months.
It's time to say "sayonara" (goodbye) or maybe "matanee" (see you again) to Japan. You will be picked up at the hotel in Kyoto and driven to Osaka Airport where you will have your return flight to Europe.
Length: 17 or 18 Days
Visiting places: Tokyo, Izu-Kogen, Takayama, Hiroshima, Miyajima, Kanazawa, Kyoto, Nara
Departing from: All major European airports
Price: From EUR 2.499,- (learn more about prices)
- High seasons: 10-25 April, 25 June – 31 July and 01 September – 15 November
- Super high seasons: 15 March – 10 April, 25 April – 10 May and 01 – 31 August
- Airport tax, fees and 20-23 kgs checked luggage
- 4 nights in western style hotel in Tokyo
- 1 night in traditional Japanese Ryokan in Izu-Kogen (no private bath)
- 2 nights in Japanese style Minshuku in Takayama (no private bath)*
- 2 nights in western style hotel in Kanazawa
- 2 nights in western style hotel in Hiroshima
- 4 nights in western style hotel in Kyoto
- Airport transport (bus or shared taxi) upon arrival and departure
- Bus/Train tickets/Rail Pass between the destinations in Japan (2nd class)
- Dinner and breakfast in Izu-Kogen
- Breakfast in Takayama
- Valuable and detailed information about your trip
*Accommodation in Takayama:
- For Basic category you will stay in an authentic Minshuku. Rooms have private toilet but share bath.
- For Superior category you will stay in a lovely ryokan. Rooms have private bath and toilet.
Included in the optional package in Izu-Kogen:
- 1 extra night in traditional Japanese Ryokan in Izu-Kogen (no private bath)
- Transport not mentioned above (e.g. local metro/bus/taxi etc.)
- Beverages during meals included (except tap-water and green tea)
- Meals not mentioned above
- Local city tax which needs to be paid on the spot
- Excursions and optional sightseeing tours
- Travel and cancellation insurance