Small Group Discoveries

+ Come face-to-face with Japan’s enduring ways when you dine with an apprentice Geisha, sample fine sake, tour a Zen garden and visit the famous Tsukiji Fish Market.
+ Hear colorful stories of Kyoto’s Geisha traditions on a guided stroll through the historic Gion district.
+ Learn about the ancient tenets of Japanese landscape at Kenrokuen, revered as one of the country’s three loveliest gardens 
+ A skilled chef in Tokyo teaches you the finer points of preparing restaurant-quality sushi.
+ Journey to the rural mountain hamlet of Shirakawago, known for its unusual century-old farmhouses
+ Includes 5 UNESCO World Heritage sites c
  • Day 1 – Welcome to Kyoto

    Upon arrival at the Kansai International Airport, you’ll be met by our resident English-speaking staff and guided to the comfortable coach that will take you into the heart of Kyoto. Check in to the deluxe Granvia Hotel and take the rest of this day to relax and enjoy as you wish.
  • Day 2 - The Best of Kyoto

    From Kurosawa’s many translated and subtitled films to James Clavell’s epic Shogun, the mystique that surrounds Japan’s ancient warrior rulers captivates the imagination of many travelers. Setting out this morning, your guided full-day tour will reveal some of the fascinating true stories of Japan’s fabled Shogun. At Nijo Castle, you can try to walk in stealth across the Nightingale Floor, ingeniously designed centuries ago to chirp in warning if would-be assassins penetrated the Shogun’s inner sanctum!
     
    You’ll also visit Kinkaku-ji Temple, the oft-photographed Golden Pavilion, and the vermilion-hued Heian Shrine – constructed tin 1895 to commemorate the 1,100th anniversary of the establishment of Kyoto as the capital of Japan! Then take a break from sightseeing and history as you sit down to lunch with a Maiko. Here in Kyoto, the Maiko are young women in training to become Geisha, studying under a master to refine their skills in traditional Geisha arts like dance, music and song. This exclusive cultural encounter offers a rare glimpse inside one of Japan’s enduring traditions. Then take a guided stroll through the historic Gion district, where Kabuki traditions began long ago, and tour the tranquil Zen meditation gardens of Kodai-ji Temple.  Back at our deluxe hotel, you’ll have time to refresh before gathering for dinner.  Meals B+L+D
  • Day 3 - Excursion to the Inland Sea… Miyajima + Hiroshima

    Traveling by rail from Kyoto and then by ferry, you’ll journey this morning across the island-dotted Inland Sea. Revel in the natural beauty of one of Japan’s most picturesque regions as you make your way to Miyajima Island to visit the incomparable Itsukushima Shine, established in the 6th century. Much of its present-day architecture dates to the 12th century, and it remains a spectacular sight. Built on piers over the bay, the shrine and its magnificent red Torii gate appear to float over the tranquil waters during high tide.
     
    Ride the ferry back to the main island of Honshu and continue to Hiroshima. Founded in 1589, this historic town grew into a major city and port during the Meiji Period. In the 20th century, of course, it entered the annals of history as the first city to be hit with an atomic bomb, a cataclysmic event that shaped our generation. Nearly 70% of the city was completely destroyed, but one of the few surviving structures was a domed building close to the detonation site. Today, this architectural shell stands in Peace Memorial Park close to the Peace Memorial Museum and the Memorial Cenotaph for Atomic Bomb Victims. Visiting these sights with our compassionate Japanese guide is a sobering yet inspiring experience – a reminder of the devastation of war and the enduring spirit of humankind. After sightseeing, you’ll return to Kyoto by high-speed rail.  Meals B
  • Day 4 – Excursion to Nara, Japan’s First Capital

    This morning you’ll enjoy a guided excursion to the ancient capital of Nara where Buddhism was first introduced to Japan nearly 1,500 years ago. Begin with a stroll through the lovely expanse of Nara Park, home to hundreds of freely roaming deer; in the ancient faith of Shinto, these gentle creatures are believed to be messengers of the Gods and the animals here have been designated as a natural treasure.
     
    On the grounds of Nara Park, Todai-ji Temple is one of the largest wooden structures in the world. Inside, you will see an immense bronze statue of Buddha, towering nearly 50 feet high and flanked by two Bodhisattvas. You’ll also enjoy a guided stroll along peaceful lantern-lined paths to visit Kasuga Taisha, one of Japan’s most celebrated shrines, first established at the same time that the city of Nara was founded. Back in Kyoto, the rest of your afternoon and evening are yours to enjoy as you wish. Our in-the-know guide will be happy to assist with personal recommendations for dining, shopping and exploring at your own pace.  Meals B
  • Day 5 – By Rail to Kanazawa

    Check out after breakfast and head to the rail station to board the express train to Kanazawa, where you’ll enjoy an extensive day of sightseeing. Tracing its roots to the 15th century, this historic city was the seat of the mighty Maeda Clan, the second most powerful family at the time. Not wishing to challenge the mightier Tokugawa Clan, the Maeda were careful not to show any signs of military ambition. Rather, they channeled their great wealth into the arts. You’ll discover the legacy of this cultural patronage when you see the skilled artisans at work in the Kutani Kosen Pottery Studio.
     
    At the splendidly restored Nomura Samurai Residence, now filled with valuable artifacts, you’ll learn about daily life in the ancient days when the samurai ruled! The day’s sightseeing ends at Kenrokuen Garden, regarded as one of the three most beautiful gardens in all of Japan. Exploring with our engaging guide, you’ll learn firsthand about the six elements of traditional landscape design which have been incorporated so perfectly here: Spaciousness, majesty, extensive views, artistry, abundant water and seclusion. Then check in to the deluxe Nikko Hotel for a restful overnight.  Meals B

  • Day 6 – Shirakawago + Takayama

    After breakfast, you’ll leave Kanazawa behind as you embark on a scenic journey into the Japan Alps. Your first stop will be the Shiroyama Viewpoint. Offering sweeping views of the mountain valley and the peaceful village of Ogimachi, this is the perfect place to begin your exploration of Shirakawago, one of Japan’s most scenic and historic alpine regions.
     
    Then descend into the valley to explore the village. Here you’ll find traditional centuries-old farmhouses with thick, steeply-pitched roofs, a building style developed over generations and designed to withstand the heavy snows that blanket the region. Known as Gassho-zukuri, the name translates to “Joined Hands” – as the thatched roofs resemble the hands of Buddhist monks pressed together in prayer. Though many of these old farmhouses are now restaurants and guesthouses, your tour of a Gassho-zukuri will offer insight into long-ago daily life here in Japan’s scenic alpine region. Continue your overland journey to Takayama and check in to the deluxe Associa Takayama Resort for a 2-night stay.  Meals B+L+D
  • Day 7 - Full day sightseeing in Takayama

    After breakfast, a guided stroll through one of Takayama’s two morning markets offers another chance to experience a slice of local life. Mingling with city residents, you’ll engage with friendly vendors selling a wide array of products including farm-fresh produce, homemade pickles, flowers, ready-to-eat snacks and even local crafts.
     
    Strolling through the city’s handsome Old Town, you’ll discover one of Japan’s most architecturally important towns. During the Tokugawa Era, Takayama was renowned for the high quality of its mountain-grown timber and the great skill of its carpenters. It was a prosperous town and many fine homes and shops were built during the Edo Period; they’ve been wonderfully preserved with many homes, buildings and even entire streets creating a virtual living museum of a Japanese town in the 18th and 19th centuries. A guided tour through the Kusakabe Folk Museum offers a fascinating look inside one of Takayama’s oldest merchant homes – the former residence of the successful Kusakabe family who lived here in the early 1800’s.
     
    Twice a year, Takayama is enlivened by Spring and Autumn Festivals with traditions that date back to the 17th century. The highlight of both events is the grand parade of enormous, colorful Yatai – or festival floats. Many of these floats are centuries old and some are decorated with sophisticated mechanical figures that move and dance. At the Festival Floats Exhibition Hall, you’ll have a chance to see some of these beautifully decorated floats and to learn about another example of Takayama’s legendary craftsmanship. The town is also heralded for its many fine sake breweries and you’ll end the day’s sightseeing with a sake tasting and a chance to learn about this ancient beverage.  Meals B
  • Day 8 - Onward to Tokyo

    Check out after breakfast and transfer to the station for your scenic rail journey to Tokyo, via Nagoya. Upon arrival in the capital, you’ll check in to the deluxe Keio Plaza Hotel, ideally located in the vibrant Shinjuku district. After time to refresh in your spacious Premier Grand room, you’ll join your guide for a walking tour in this modern city-center neighborhood where you’re staying. The area is popular with Tokyo residents for shopping, dining and entertainment.  Meals B
  • Day 9 - Tsukiji Fish Market and Tokyo sightseeing

    Fish is a dietary staple of this island nation and is enjoyed by locals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It can be served raw as sashimi, grilled, broiled and even made into fish cakes for soups and other dishes. Early this morning, you’ll enjoy a special visit to the world-famous fish market in Tsukiji where ordinary citizens and the city’s best chefs come daily to procure the freshest seafood. Then you’ll join one such chef to learn the fine art of preparing restaurant-quality sushi. Enjoy the fruits of your labor for lunch before embarking on an afternoon sightseeing tour.
     
    Your exploration of the bustling capital begins atop the Tokyo City View Observation Deck. Soaring more than 800 feet above the very heart of the metropolis, you’ll have breathtaking 360° views over all of Tokyo. On a clear day, you can even see Mt. Fuji in the distance! Next you’ll visit Asakusa Kannon Temple. Founded in the 7th century to honor Kannon, the Goddess of Mercy, this is the oldest temple in the city. The outer entrance to this Buddhist Temple is through the impressive 1,000-year-old Kaminari-mon, or Thunder Gate. Inside the gate, you’ll continue along the busy Nakamise Arcade toward the temple itself, a fascinating stroll that takes you past a bewildering number of shops and merchant stalls selling traditional sweets, savory snacks, colorful handicrafts, and souvenirs. The return drive to your hotel takes you through some of the city’s most vibrant districts and past the Tokyo Skytree; at just over 2,000 feet in height, this landmark is the one of the tallest structures in the world.  Meals B+L
  • Day 10 - Full day excursion to Mt. Fuji and Hakone

    Leaving the hustle and bustle of the city behind, today’s excursion begins with a pleasant drive up to the 5th Station of Mt. Fuji. Situated at an altitude over 6,000 feet and nearly halfway to the summit, this is a popular starting place for those hardy adventurers looking to ascend Japan’s tallest mountain. It’s a also wonderful place to just take in the views of the surrounding countryside with its lakes and forested slopes.
     
    Continue along scenic roads into the heart of Hakone National Park, a wonderful region beloved for its pine forests and lovely views of Mt. Fuji. A cruise across the placid waters of Lake Ashi promises a chance to relax and take in some of these enchanting views! Then ascend Mt. Komagatake for an entirely different, aerial view over the region’s forested mountains and pristine lakes. Return to Tokyo and enjoy your final evening in Japan.  Meals B
  • Day 11 - Depart Tokyo

    After breakfast, you’ll step aboard the comfortable Narita Airport Limousine Coach for your trip to the airport.  Meals B

Similar Trips

Check In!

  • Hotel Granvia - Kyoto, Japan

    Hotel Granvia Kyoto is an integral part of the JR Kyoto Station Building, the visually striking architectural masterpiece which also includes a department store, museum, musical theater, and a vast underground shopping mall. From this convenient location, hotel guests have direct and easy access to and from Kansai International Airport and major metropolitan destinations across Japan including Osaka, Tokyo, Hiroshima, Nagoya, and Fukuoka.

  • Hotel Nikko Kanazawa, Japan

    The Hotel Nikko Kanazawa offers guests a combination of European and Japanese comfort. The hotel is within walking distance of some of the most famous tourist spots in Kanazawa. The hotel offers a choice of five restaurants, bar, lounge, and the fitness club. The fitness club includes the indoor pool, fitness room, Jacuzzi, and sauna.

  • Associa Hotel Takayama, Japan

    The Associa Hotel is located in the Takayama Highlands, surrounded by deep forests and mountains. All 290 guest rooms have a superb view of the Japan Alps, comfortable beds, and climate control. An entire wing of the hotel is dedicated to hot spring baths, and guests can enjoy this as well as many other spa activities.

  • Keio Plaza Hotel Tokyo, Japan

    The Keio Plaza Hotel is located in the Shinjuku district of bustling Tokyo, walking distance from shopping, cultural experiences, and other events. The hotel plays host to 29 separate restaurants, each with a different atmosphere and dining opportunity. All 1450 rooms are equipped with television, internet access, mini-bar, and a spectacular view of the city. Other hotel amenities include the swimming pool, gymnasium, drugstore, sauna, photo studio and beauty salon.

Our Small Group Sojourn Value

+ Escorted comprehensive sightseeing every day, including all entrance fees
+ 15 meals: 10 buffet breakfasts, 3 lunches and 2 dinners
+ 10 nights in our handpicked deluxe hotels
+ All on-tour transportation including airport transfers and the world-famous Bullet Train
+ Luggage handling and all hotel taxes and service charges

Trip Pricing

  • Traveling as a single?

Legend

  • EVT

    Tour includes a special event.

Arrive Kyoto - Per Person Double

Dates   Standard
Departure Return   Regular Deal
7/15/2017
Guaranteed
7/25/2017
EVT
$6899 $6399
Gion Festival
9/24/2017
Guaranteed
10/4/2017 $6899 $6399
 
3/25/2018 4/4/2018
EVT
$7299 $6799
Cherry Blossom Time in Japan
4/1/2018 4/11/2018
EVT
$7299 $6799
Cherry Blossom Time in Japan
4/4/2018 4/14/2018
EVT
$7299 $6799
Cherry Blossom Time in Japan
4/6/2018 4/16/2018
EVT
$7299 $6799
Cherry Blossom Time in Japan
4/8/2018
Guaranteed
4/18/2018
EVT
$7299 $6799
Cherry Blossom Time in Japan
4/9/2018
Sold Out
4/19/2018
EVT
$7299 $6799
Takayama Spring Festival
4/12/2018 4/22/2018
EVT
$7299 $6799
Cherry Blossom Time in Japan
5/13/2018 5/23/2018 $6599 $6099
 
6/10/2018 6/20/2018 $6599 $6099
 
6/17/2018 6/27/2018 $6599 $6099
 
7/15/2018 7/25/2018
EVT
$6999 $6499
Gion Festival
9/9/2018 9/19/2018 $6999 $6499
 
9/23/2018 10/3/2018 $6999 $6499
 
10/4/2018 10/14/2018 $7299 $6799
 
10/28/2018 11/7/2018 $7299 $6799
 
3/24/2019 4/3/2019
EVT
$7299 $6799
Cherry Blossom Time in Japan
3/31/2019 4/10/2019
EVT
$7299 $6799
Cherry Blossom Time in Japan
4/2/2019 4/12/2019
EVT
$7299 $6799
Cherry Blossom Time in Japan
4/4/2019 4/14/2019
EVT
$7299 $6799
Cherry Blossom Time in Japan
4/7/2019 4/17/2019
EVT
$7299 $6799
Cherry Blossom Time in Japan
4/9/2019 4/19/2019
EVT
$7299 $6799
Takayama Spring Festival
4/11/2019 4/21/2019 $7299 $6799
 

Select all Deals that apply for best available price.

  • Pay-in-Full Savings From late March into April, Japan’s countryside, gardens and city parks are awash in brilliant shades of pink! Book any of our six Cherry Blossom Time departures for Spring 2018 and Save $1,000 per couple + $500 solo.
    View Day by Day »
  • Travel is one life's most rewarding experiences, perhaps even more so when it's shared with those you love! Combine our limited-time pay-in-full discount with our Family & Friends offers and save even more:
    • Save $50 more per person when 3 guests go
    • Save $100 more per person with 4 people
    • Save $150 more per person with 5 people
    • Save $200 more per person with 6 or more people!
    For Groups of 8 or more please call 800.221.2216

Trip Pricing

  • Traveling as a single?

Private Tour Add-Ons

  • Be A Hong Kong Insider

    4 Day Privately Guided Journey

    Our resident guide will take you around town like a savvy insider to discover facets of Hong Kong which few visitors ever glimpse! We include transfers, a choice of fine city-center hotels, our exclusive Be a Hong Kong Insider full-day private tour, and more!

  • Be a Beijing Insider

    4 Day Privately Guided Tour

    This Private Tour just for your traveling party includes your choice of deluxe or luxury hotel, 5 meals and extensive sightseeing with your own personal car, driver and guide.

  • Shanghai

    3 Day Privately Guided Tour

    Our 3-day Private Tour package includes a choice of fine hotels, daily breakfast, full day sightseeing with your own personal car, driver and guide and private car airport transfers.

Trip Reviews

Average Traveler Rating:  Review This Trip »

(83 Traveler Reviews)

  • Silvia from CA gives this tour 

    My husband and I traveled for the first time to Japan, and we both found their structured culture amazing. The polite, friendly, orderly manner of their people was a refreshing change for us both. Read More »

  • Ellis from CA gives this tour 

    Delighted by the cleanliness of Japan! Great tour guide and sites. Read More »

  • Barbara from NV gives this tour 

    We had probably the best guide in Japan, Yuka. She was wonderful in every way. Read More »

  • Hajime from CA gives this tour 

    My first time back in 50 years. On April 17, 1966 I celebrated my 21st birthday in the Ginza. 50 years later on April 17, 2016 I was celebrating my 71st in the Ginza which brought back many good memories. A delightful tour with just the right amount of travelers. Accommodations were all first class and the food outstanding. Our destinations were perfect for the first time traveler, (wife) and she enjoyed this trip immensely. We will definitely return to Japan in the near future. Read More »

  • Lisa from WI gives this tour 

    Delighted by: Nara park deer, big buddha, notched village, miyalima Read More »

  • Santosh from OH gives this tour 

    The cherry blossoms & Mt. Fuji were delightful Read More »

  • Doug and Andree from NJ gives this tour 

    Delighted by the small group, the sites, the cleanliness, the transportation, the hotels, and the helpful polite people and of course the TOTO toilets Read More »

  • Dan from CA gives this tour 

    Delighted by the hot springs, Tokyo. Great guide, Yuka, good English, speaks softly and knows her subject. Read More »

  • Silvia from CA gives this tour 

    Loved Tokyo; Yuka has good sense of humor! Read More »

  • Ellis from CA gives this tour 

    Delightful seeing new areas of Japan. Yuka very good guide! Read More »

Cherry Blossom Time
Save $1,000 per couple

From late March into April, Japan’s countryside, gardens and city parks are awash in brilliant shades of pink! Book any of our six Cherry Blossom Time departures for Spring 2018 and Save $1,000 per couple | $500 solo!

Stay in a Japanese inn...  

Enjoy dinner and a night at the Yoshi-ima Ryokan here in Kyoto’s Gion district on Day 4. Just $195 per person double, $200 single.

Kyoto’s Gion Festival  

Experience one of Japan’s liveliest festivals with 1,200 year-old traditions! At festival-time, the streets of Gion, Kyoto’s historic Geisha district, are filled with color, music and light. Join local residents for this mid-summer revelry, see the festive decorations and thrill to Yamaboko-Junko, a spectacular parade of gigantic floats pulled by teams of men in traditional garb. Experience all this and more on our July departure.

Takayama Spring Festival  

Discover Japan’s enchanting springtime beauty on our special April departures. Delight in the profusion of pink cherry blooms that adorn cities, towns and countryside. Then experience the Takayama Spring Festival, featuring colorful traditions that date back centuries... Mingle with local residents in a colorful night market and thrill to an unforgettable parade of giant floats, many ingeniously animated and dating back to the 17th century!

Get Your Kimono
on in Tokyo

When you think Japan and Japanese aesthetic, the kimono immediately comes to mind.   This deceptively simple but eternally elegant garment has been the national dress of the Japanese for centuries... Read More >>

5 Ways to Go Native in Kyoto

For all her cutting age technology, Japan guards her cultural traditions jealously.  Nowhere is this more palpable than in the ancient city of Kyoto.   The exquisite palaces and temples make Kyoto a highlight of any trip to Japan, but it is the ancient traditions... Read More >>

Nara: The Cradle of
Japanese Buddhism
 

Japan's imperial capital of Nara (710-794) is the home to some of the country's most iconic architectural monuments, including the Nanto Shichi Daiji, the seven Buddhist shrines that date back to the introduction of that faith to Japan... Read More >>

Nothing Stands in the Way
of Tokyo's Modern Vibe
 

Tokyo's unique architectural skyline is a coming-of-age story that dates back to the nineteenth-century when the growing imperial power sought to reinvent itself as a modern, Western nation with grandiose architecture to match its... Read More >>

The Sanno Matsuri Festival: Takayama’s Glorious Rite
of Spring
 

In the Japanese Alps, where the winters are long and the snows deep, is it any wonder that spring is welcomed wholeheartedly when it finally arrives? In one alpine town - Takayama - welcoming spring is taken very seriously indeed... Read More >>

Welcome to the Inscrutable World of Japan’s Geisha  

If Japan had anything as pedestrian as a mascot, it might very well be an elegant Geisha, resplendent in her traditional silk robes, elaborate coiffure, and stylized make-up.  This 400-year tradition of professional entertainment is often...
Read More >>