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15 Day Ancient Japan

A portion of this tour runs as a group tour where you will be escorted by an expert tour leader. Another portion is self-guided, whether conducted by rail, cruise or land, and you will travel between destinations on your own, with free time to explore at your own pace.

Escorted Type
Partially Escorted

This tour is conducted at a medium-fast pace. Some long travel days may be required to complete this itinerary and you will typically spend two nights at each destination, with some one night stays required. This trip includes a mix of sightseeing and free time to explore at your own pace. You will be required to move about unassisted, including getting on and off vehicles, walking up and down stairs and some activities will be conducted on uneven or steep terrain. You will be required to handle your own luggage.

Pace
Moderate Pace
Classic Tour
19,842 people have travelled to this destination

✓ Incredible sightseeing including breathtaking Mt Fuji, UNESCO World Heritage Sites Golden Pavilion and Atomic Bomb Dome, visit the sacred Kumano Sanzan shrines and explore Koyasan's ancient temple complex
✓ 11 nights in central 3-star accommodation
✓ Experience a sacred overnight stay in a 1000-year old buddhist monastery
✓ 2 nights in traditional Japanese onsen accommodation
✓ Breakfast daily, 1 lunch and 3 dinners
✓ Cruise on Lake Ashi with views of Mt Fuji
✓ Fully escorted by a professional English-speaking tour guide from Day 1 to 11
✓ Independent touring with local guides from Day 11 to 15
✓ Comfortable, dedicated transportation throughout
✓ In-depth sightseeing and entrance fees as per the itinerary

What we love about this tour

Travel with the experts for a carefully curated, value-packed discovery of the world's most iconic destinations. Our tours are bursting with must-see sights, rich experiences and quality inclusions, all at an unbeatable price. Bucket list dreams are ticked off on these all-encompassing journeys.

Itinerary

Hotel
Comfort Inn Tokyo Roppongi or Similar

Upon arrival into Tokyo, please make your own way to the starting point hotel. Take the evening to relax after your flight and prepare for your first full day of touring tomorrow.

Arrival & Check-in information

Haneda International Airport (HND). The easiest and most convenient way to travel from Haneda International Airport (HND) to Tokyo Central is by train or by Monorail. The airport is also serviced by many 'Limousine Bus' services which offer shared shuttle bus service from around 1300Yen per person.

Narita International Airport. The best way to travel from Narita International Airport to Tokyo Central is by the Narita Airport Express. The journey to most Tokyo stations take approximately 1hr and the ticket costs 4070 Yen. The airport is also serviced by many 'Limousine Bus' services which offer shared shuttle busses from around 1300Yen per person.

Airport transfers are not included. Our transfer portal offers the option to book your airport transfers for an easier arrival experience (additional charges apply). Access to this portal will be available through your Traveller Hub once your booking is confirmed.

Hotel Check-in.
Travellers will be arriving at various times throughout the day. If arriving prior to standard check-in time, which is generally 3pm local time, you are welcome to leave your luggage with hotel reception and explore your surroundings until check-in becomes available, as there are no scheduled activities on Day 1 of the itinerary. The hotel may grant early check-in, however this is strictly subject to availability and at the hotels discretion.

Hotel
Comfort Inn Tokyo Roppongi or Similar
Meals
Breakfast

After breakfast this morning your English-speaking guide will meet you to begin your full-day coach tour of Japan’s ultramodern capital – Tokyo. 

Our exploration of Tokyo begins with a visit to Asakusa Sensoji temple–the oldest temple in Tokyo–famous for its huge lantern hung at the Kaminarimon gate (Thunder Gate).

We’ll drive-by the Imperial Palace, the primary residence of the Emperor of Japan. Previously home to samurai warriors, it’s a sprawling complex with beautiful 17th-century parks in the heart of the city. 

Next, we'll venture into the vibrant neighbourhood of Shibuya, allowing you some time to explore at your leisure and discover a delightful local eatery for lunch (at your own expense). Nearby, we will visit the Meiji Jingu Shrine. Surrounded by green trees it’s a great place to escape the crowds and enjoy some peaceful time exploring before retiring to our hotel for an evening at leisure.

Hotel
Comfort Inn Tokyo Roppongi or Similar
Meals
Breakfast

Today is a full free day in Tokyo. There is no end to the spectacular sightseeing and activities available to you, as Tokyo truly has something for everyone. Take as much time as you like to relax at your leisure, explore the city, shop for souvenirs and eat the delectable cuisine. Be sure to ask your guide for recommendations on more must-see spots around the city.

Optional Tour - Calligraphy Class

Today, learn the Shodo - the way of writing. Experience the traditional Japanese calligraphy - from the preparation of the ink, to the writing with a brush.

Start time approx: 10:30am
Finish time approx: 12:00pm

Optional Tour - Half Day Atami Tour by Shinkansen

Escorted by your tour leader, take a short Shinkansen ride to Atami (including transfers to and from the station). Atami is a famous resort town surrounded by mountains and the sea. You'll enjoy a walking tour around one of the main streets along with sweet and craft shops and you will enjoy a seafood lunch at a local restaurant (included in the cost).

Start time approx: 9:00am
Finish time approx: 4:00pm

Hotel
Hotel Route Inn New Gotemba Inter or Similar
Meals
Breakfast

After breakfast today we depart Tokyo and travel to Hakone. Away from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo, Hakone offers tranquillity among stunning natural scenery. 

Upon arrival at Hakone, enjoy a boat trip across the serene Ashinoko Lake, followed by taking a cable car up the mountains to the sulphur vents of Owakudani. You’ll have spectacular views, and on a clear day, you can catch a glimpse of Mt Fuji in the distance.

Hotel
Tabino Hotel Hida Takayama or Similar
Meals
Breakfast

Our journey continues to Takayama, a charming Edo period town located in the Japanese alps. Upon arrival in Takayama, take a walk with your leader who will point out examples of beautiful traditional architecture as you explore the old part of town. During the walk, you will visit a local sake brewery and try different kinds of sake. You also learn how the town’s isolated location caused it to develop a unique culinary scene. The area is particularly famous for Hida beef, which comes from a black-haired Japanese cattle breed that has been raised in the Gifu Prefecture for at least 14 months. Stop off on your tour to sample delicious Hida beef sushi or skewers (own expense).

Hotel
Comfort Hotel Kyoto Horikawa Gojo or Similar
Meals
Breakfast

Before leaving Takayama this morning we'll visit the Hida Folk Village, also known as Hida no Sato, which serves as an open-air museum that showcases over 30 traditional houses from the Hida region. Creating a charming village-like ambiance, the museum encompasses various structures including a former village leader's residence, logging huts, storage buildings, and numerous gassho-zukuri farmhouses. The term "gassho-zukuri" translates to "hands folded in prayer," aptly describing the steep thatched roofs resembling hands joined in prayer. These distinctive farmhouses were transported from nearby Shirakawago, a location renowned for its gassho-zukuri houses, which contributed to the region's recognition as a World Heritage site.

Then, we travel to Kyoto where the afternoon is at leisure.

Hotel
Comfort Hotel Kyoto Horikawa Gojo or Similar
Meals
Breakfast

We’ll see the sights of ancient Kyoto this morning, starting with Kyoto’s famed Fushimi Inari Shrine – known throughout the world as the ‘Path of the Red Gates.’ Take time to appreciate the quieter corners of the shrine, and if you’re feeling fit, a walk to the halfway point provides stunning city views. 

We’ll continue onto some of Kyoto’s most iconic sites, like Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion). This is a Zen temple and UNESCO World Heritage Site, with two floors covered entirely in thin layers of pure gold, set within a beautiful classical Zen garden.

This afternoon, you have free time to explore the city on your own.

Optional Tour - Green Tea Ceremony

Also called Chado, "the way of tea" is the traditional and ceremonial preparation and presentation of Matcha. You will be shown how to prepare the tea and be able to experience preparing it as well. Your guide will be able to provide you with directions to the venue.

Start time approx: 3:00pm
Finish time approx: 4:00pm

Optional Tour - Flower Arranging in Kyoto

Today, experience Ikebana - the Japanese art of flower arrangement that dates back to the 7th century. The tradition believes that by arranging the flowers you give a new life to the flowers - Ike (live) Hana (flower). Head to a master's classroom where you will be able to try hands-on the art of flower arrangement in Japan

Start time approx: 4:00pm
Finish time approx: 5:00pm

Optional Tour - Izakaya Night tour in Kyoto

Tonight, enjoy your experience of an Izakaya - a typical Japanese casual pub where Japanese go for a drink after work. You will be picked up from your guide at your hotel and will head to a local Izakaya to try the life style of a local while enjoying different type of alcoholic beverages and tradtional Japanese pub food.

Start time approx: 6:00pm
Finish time approx: 8:00pm

Hotel
Daiwa Roynet Hotel Hiroshima or Similar
Meals
Breakfast

After breakfast this morning, we spend the day travelling to Hiroshima.

Upon arrival in Hiroshima, visit Miyajima, an island known for its forests and ancient temples. Just offshore, there's a 'floating' torii, which becomes partially submerged at high tide. It marks the entrance to the Itsukushima Shrine, which was first built in the 12th century. 

Later, check in your hotel and relax in the evening. You might want to try a local famous dish okonomiyaki, a savoury pancake of egg, cabbage, soba noodles, and meat or seafood.

Hotel
Washington Hotel Plaza Shin Osaka or Similar
Meals
Breakfast

This morning we'll visit the Atomic Bomb Dome, otherwise known as the Genbaku Dome, or the Hiroshima Peace Memorial and Museum. A shell of a building that was one of very few left standing after the United States bombed Hiroshima in 1945. In Hiroshima today, locals have mixed feelings about the UNESCO World Heritage-listed structure: some see it as a reminder of war, while others consider it a tribute to the lost that ensures we'll never forget the tragic events that took place here.

Afterwards, we continue our Japan adventure to Osaka. Upon arrival, you have free time to explore Osaka.

Hotel
Washington Hotel Plaza Shin Osaka or Similar
Meals
Breakfast

Today we enjoy a coach tour with our guide, beginning by driving by the spectacular Osaka Castle, before making our way to Nara. Our first stop will be to the impressive Todaji Temple, which holds a world record as the largest wooden building in the world, and houses one of Japan’s largest buddha statues. You’ll then have some time to stroll Nara Park amongst the wild roaming holy deers, where you’ll then have some time to enjoy lunch (at your own expense).

We’ll also enjoy a walking tour of the Dōtonbori area. One of Osaka's most popular tourist destinations, this street runs parallel to the Dōtonbori canal and is a hugely popular destination for shopping, street food, bars and entertainment. At night the streets here are illuminated by hundreds of colourful neon lights and mechanised signs, including the famous running Glico Man sign and the Kani Doraku crab sign.

Optional Tour - Takoyaki Making

Takoyaki, octopus balls, is one of Osaka's most popular street food. You'll have an oppurtunity to make your own takoyaki. Even if you have no experience, staff will help you grill it to perfection. Enjoy them while they are hot and delicious. 

Start time approx: 1:00pm
Finish time approx: 1.45pm

Optional Tour - Izakaya and Karaoke Experience

Celebrate the end of your Japan adventure with a casual meal at Izakaya, followed by a visit to a karaoke bar for that quintessential Japanese experience!

Start time approx: 6:00pm
Finish time approx: 9:00pm

Hotel
Ekoin Temple or Similar
Meals
Breakfast, Dinner

Please note - the rest of the itinerary is unescorted, with local guides joining you along the way. You will make your way between destinations via public trains and buses (tickets included) and will need to carry your own luggage. You will need to walk up to 10 minutes to your accommodation from the train/bus stations. A detailed step-by-step guide will be included with your documentation. 

This morning, make your way to Koyasan. An experienced guide will take you on a 4-hour tour of Koyasan’s must-visit destinations: the Garan temple complex, with its monolithic pagoda; Kongobuji Temple, the head temple of Shingon Buddhism in Japan; and Okunoin, Japan’s largest Buddhist cemetery. Please note that admission fees are not included in your tour price.

Tonight, enjoy a unique experience in one of Japan’s most sacred spots – an overnight stay in a traditional temple. Your temple accommodation is over 1000 years old and is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. You will have the opportunity to participate in morning religious services and Goma prayers, meditation and traditional writing techniques. Accommodation includes traditional Japanese style bedding and a delicious dinner.

Hotel
Watarase Onsen Hotel Yamayuri or Similar
Meals
Breakfast, Dinner

Today, we depart Koyasan for Hongu, an area known for its hot springs, lush scenery and its deep spiritual energy. The day is at your leisure to explore the beautiful riverside town.

Tonight, stay in a traditional onsen ryokan. Why not take a soak in the onsen to relax after your journey? Your onsen accommdoation is located on the banks of the Yomura River and offers you traditional Japanese accommodation with it's own onsen baths. Enjoy a delicious dinner tonight.

Hotel
Hotel Urashima or Similar
Meals
Breakfast, Dinner

The Kumano Sanzan shrines have been a spiritual destination for pilgrims for over 1000 years. Today, join a day tour that makes a circuit of all three, beginning with Kumano Hongu Taisha, then Kumano Hayatama Taisha, and lastly Kumano Nachi Taisha, which is also the site of Japan’s highest waterfall.

Afterwards, make your way to your waterfront onsen accommodation in Katsuura. A sumptuous Kaiseki dinner filled with local produce and seafood is included. 

Please note that there is no guide on the bus, explanations are in both Japanese and English in Nakahechi Route area.

Hotel
Hotel Gracery Osaka Namba or Similar
Meals
Breakfast

After breakfast, travel back to Osaka by train at your own pace. On arrival in Osaka, check in to your hotel and enjoy a day at leisure to do some last minute shopping and exploring. 

Meals
Breakfast

Today marks the end of your incredible tour through Japan. 

Departure and check out: There are several ways to travel from your hotel to either Osaka International Airport (ITM) or Kansai International Airport (KIX), from shuttle buses to trains and taxis. Transport to the airports can cost between 250 Yen to 21,000 Yen depending on the form of transport you choose. Your Tour Leader will be able to assist you arrange the most convenient way to the airport on the last day of the trip.

Travellers will be departing at various times throughout the day. Standard hotel check-out is from 10am-12pm. You are welcome to leave your luggage at hotel reception and spend your final moments of free time exploring the area or alternatively please speak with hotel staff if you would like to extend your check-out time. Please note this service is subject to availability and will likely come at an additional cost. 

Airport transfers are not included. Our transfer portal offers the option to book your airport transfers for an easier arrival experience (additional charges apply). Access to this portal will be available through your Traveller Hub once your booking is confirmed.

 

Inclusions

  • Incredible sightseeing including breathtaking Mt Fuji, UNESCO World Heritage Sites Golden Pavilion and Atomic Bomb Dome, visit the sacred Kumano Sanzan shrines and explore Koyasan's ancient temple complex
  • 11 nights in central 3-star accommodation
  • Experience a sacred overnight stay in a 1000-year old buddhist monastery
  • 2 nights in traditional Japanese onsen accommodation
  • Breakfast daily, 1 lunch and 3 dinners
  • Cruise on Lake Ashi with views of Mt Fuji
  • Fully escorted by a professional English-speaking tour guide from Day 1 to 11
  • Independent touring with local guides from Day 11 to 15
  • Comfortable, dedicated transportation throughout
  • In-depth sightseeing and entrance fees as per the itinerary

  • Tokyo - Enjoy the buzz and energy of one of the world’s great cities
  • Tokyo – Visit the outer grounds of the Imperial Palace, the primary residence of the Emperor of Japan
  • Tokyo – Visit Tsukiji Outer Market, a haven for foodies
  • Tokyo – Visit Asakusa Sensoji temple–the oldest temple in Tokyo–famous for its huge lantern hung at the Kaminarimon gate (Thunder Gate)
  • Hakone – Cruise on Lake Ashi with views of Mt Fuji
  • Hakone – Ride a cable car up the mountains to the sulphur vents of Owakudani
  • Kyoto – See this ancient capital’s most famous temples and shrines including the Golden Pavilion and Fushimi Inari
  • Hiroshima – Visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and Genbaku Dome to understand the tragedies of Japan’s past
  • Miyajima – See the famous floating torii gate
  • Takayama – Experience the rustic charm of this quaint city with a walk through its beautifully-preserved old town and a visit to the morning market
  • Takayama - Visit a local sake brewery and try different kinds of sake
  • Osaka – Visit the expansive grounds of Osaka Castle, a grand monument of feudal Japan
  • Osaka – Stroll through lively, colourful Dōtonbori and Shinsaibashi
  • Koyasan – Enjoy a guided tour of Koyasan's ethereal Garan temple complex
  • Hongu – Relax in the therapeutic waters of your riverside onsen
  • Kumano – Marvel at the spectacular Kumano Nachi Taisha in the shadow of Japan's tallest waterfall
  • Kumano – Explore the Kumano Sanzan shrines, important spiritual destinations for pilgrims for over 1000 years

Fine Print

Secure your trip with a $99.00 deposit per person.

Once we receive your deposit, we will send you an invoice with your remaining balance and payment options.

Instalment Schedule:

  1. At the time of booking pay a $99.00 deposit per person.
  2. Pay a 1st installment of $528.00 per person within 28 days.
  3. Pay a 2nd installment of $1,055.00 per person within 90 days.
  4. You will then be invoiced for final payment 120 days prior to departure.

This package is sold as land only, however you do have the option of adding domestic & international airfares to your booking. Simply click on’ book now’, and under upgrades ,  you will be asked “Would you like us to contact you around our flight service?”. By selecting this option Inspiring Vacations will contact you to discuss adding flights to your chosen destination. We can then assist with turning your booking into a flight inclusive package.

Upon completing the purchase of your package and fulfilling the following booking requirements, you will be granted access to our flight portal via your Traveller Hub.

  • 1st installment or full payment has been made
  • Your booking is within 11 months of departure
  • Your booking is labeled as ‘confirmed’ in Traveller Hub

Once these criteria have been met, access will be made available to you via Traveller Hub to book your flights via our flight portal.

The following requests are able to be processed through the online flight portal:

  • Airline Preferences - You may wish to fly with a particular airline
  • Cabin Preferences - These include upgrading to premium economy or business class
  • Extensions (start and end cities must remain the same) - You may request to extend your stay pre or post tour.

The online flight portal is unable to process the following requests and you must book these yourself independently:

  • Stopovers - Is where you might want to stop in transit for a certain amount of days prior to your tour or after your tour.
  • One way flights
  • Different start or end city to the tour - you may not amend the arrival or departure city of your itinerary. 
  • Around the world tickets  - Is when a ticket includes multiple stops in different continents.
  • Return home to a different city from the one you departed.
  • Frequent Flyer point redemption - Is when an airline allows you to redeem points to pay for your flights or upgrade your ticket.  

Online check-in 

Some airlines may not permit online check-in where flights have been booked by a travel company. Where unavailable to do so online, you will be required to check-in at the airport. Inspiring Vacations cannot check-in online on behalf of our customers.

Fitness Requirements
While the tour itinerary should give you some guidance and overview to the expected requirements, to determine if this tour is right for you we categorise each of our tours in terms of their intensity. These guidelines are to ensure that each tour group is conducted as expected and to ensure the overall satisfaction of all Inspiring Vacations customers.

As a general rule, porterage is not included, therefore at all times you are expected to handle your own luggage where help may not be available.

This particular tour is categorised as a “3”:

3 - Moderate;  A good level of fitness and mobility is required, as this tour includes a moderate level of physical activity and is considered a medium-fast paced tour. You should be able to walk up and down stairs, get on and off the coach and able to walk reasonable distances of approximately 2 kilometres per day or more with ease. Any physical ailments you may have must be disclosed at the time of booking to determine your suitability. If you have any form of walking aids, other than a walking stick or hiking poles, then this tour is not suitable.

Tipping
A friendly reminder that tipping is not included in your package. While tipping is not customary, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many destinations. You may also consider tipping your tour leader and driver for outstanding service throughout your trip. Suggested amount for your guide, 500Y per person per day. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.

Accommodation
The accommodation listed is subject to change. Any changes will be of an equal or higher standard. Bedding configurations (double or twin) are requests only. All efforts will be made to meet your preferences however any changes are beyond our control.

Twin Share Bedding Configuration
At any time, bedding configuration is subject to confirmation by the hotel and based on availability. While you have the option to select either twin or double bedding at time of booking, our recommendation when travelling to Japan is to choose twin bedding, as the rooms are often bigger than those that have a double bed. If insisting on double bedding, please note that the rooms will be smaller and more narrow. As a general expectation, we cannot always guarantee bedding at all hotel stays.

Koyasan and Hongu traditional Japanese accommodation
Please note, the accommodation at the monastery in Koyasan and the ryokan in Hongu includes traditional Japanese tatami style beds. If you have mobility issues, please contact us to request Western-style bedding (subject to availability and additional cost).

Single Supplement
Single supplement is $2,586.00 per person, in addition to the twin-share price.

Please note when choosing Single Supplement for this deal that you will receive a single room, which is smaller in size than a twin/double room. Unfortunately this is typical for Japan, as the cost to solely occupy a double/twin size room is incredibly high. We appreciate your understanding.

Triple Share
Not available

Travel Insurance
Travel insurance is recommended to protect yourself against the unexpected. In addition to the support that a policy may provide, you may be asked to present a copy of your travel insurance documentation while travelling.

We have partnered with nib to offer our customers competitive rates for their travel insurance. You can book Comprehensive or Essentials cover for your domestic, international or multi-trip journeys simply by clicking HERE.

Note that Inspiring Vacations cannot provide advice with regards to any insurance product.

Visa & Passport information
It is the traveller's responsibility to ensure they have a valid passport. The passport must be valid for a minimum of six months from the intended date of return.

Visas may be required.

Please note that these details are subject to change without notice. We recommend visiting https://smartraveller.gov.au for up to date information in terms of entry requirements.

Group Size
Day 1 to 11: Minimum of 20, Maximum of 40 people
Day 11 to 15: You will travel independently

Trip Style
Day 1 to 11 - Group Tour

Our Group Tours offer unparalleled value for money and are the perfect style of travel for those on a budget, though still eager to pack as much in to their itinerary as possible. These tours tick all the boxes with an abundance of inclusions such as sightseeing highlights, expert tour guides, quality accommodation, transfers, coach transportation, some meals and more. Please note that the maximum group size will vary between deals and will be mentioned within the Fine Print of each deal page.

Day 11 to 15 - Independent Travel
On these packages you will travel from city to city on your own, exploring at your own pace. We have arranged transportation in most cases and day tours for you to see the destination. Enjoy the time and flexibility to linger longer or pick up the pace and see as much as possible.

Children
Children must be 5 years old or over and share a room with parents at all times. Children are the same price as adults.

Cherry Blossoms
Please note: cherry blossoms are weather dependent and it is not guaranteed that they will be in bloom at the time of your arrival.

To enhance your journey, we're offering the following optional tours that you can participate in on your free days:

  • Calligraphy Class (Day 3) - $138 per person
  • Half Day Atami Tour by Shinkansen (Day 3) - $228 per person
  • Green Tea Ceremony (Day 7) - $122 per person
  • Flower Arranging in Kyoto (Day 7) - $127 per person
  • Izakaya Night tour in Kyoto (Day 7) - $236 per person
  • Takoyaki Making (Day 10) - $57 per person
  • Izakaya and Karaoke Experience (Day 10) - $254 per person

Optional tours can be selected once you have finalised your tour purchase and paid your deposit. When completing your Passenger Booking Form, you will be asked if you would like to add Optional Tours, where any applicable cost will be added to your final balance. If you choose not to select them at this time, you can choose to add them later by logging in to your Account online.

Please note that you must select your Optional Tours no later than 70 days before departure, Optional tours are unable to be purchased whilst on tour, therefore we suggest you book before you go to avoid disappointment. We appreciate your understanding.

Please note that transportation to and from each optional tour is not included in the price. You will be required to make your own way to the starting point of the optional tour, as well as back to your hotel. Your tour guide can provide you with the direction and guidance needed to make your own way.

  • International airfares
  • Airport transfers
  • Visas (if applicable)
  • Travel insurance (compulsory)
  • Tipping
  • Anything not mentioned in the itinerary
  • Optional activities
  • Personal expenses

Click HERE for more information on weather in Japan

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