Highlights of Japan


See the iconic sites, cultural heritage and natural wonders that define Japan. Spend two weeks travelling from bustling Tokyo to historic Hiroshima to charming Kyoto and the hidden gems in between. With insightful guided tours, this tour goes beyond what the guidebooks say and steps into the heart of Japan.


14 Days

  Tour Includes

  • Flights & Accommodation
  • Meals as mentioned in the itinerary
  • English meet & greet at the airport and return transfers
  • 14-Day Japan Rail Pass & IC transport card
  • 2-day Hakone free pass
  • Return taxi transfer from Odawara to Hakone
  • Mobile wi-fi device
  • Airline departure taxes
  • English-speaking guides for tours as per itinerary 
  • Entrance to the Tokyo Skytree, night exploration in Gion & Afternoon tea with a Maiko


From $5,624.02 per person based on 2 people sharing*

Best time to go

Japan is a year round destination, however Spring and Autumn enjoy the most mild weather and allow you to view the trees blossom and leaves change colour respectively. 

Tour Highlights

  • Explore the skyscrapers and the temples in Tokyo
  • Sip sake in Takayama
  • Explore Hiroshima’s highlights
  • Experience traditional tea culture in Kyoto

Day 1: Arrival

Depart London Heathrow on an overnight flight to Tokyo, Haneda International Airport.

Day 2: Tokyo

You will be met at Haneda Airport, by a driver in the arrivals lounge, from where you will be transferred by private vehicle to your accommodation in Tokyo, making for a smooth and relaxing start to your trip. Travel to the airport depending on traffic will be about 30 minutes, and you can sit back and enjoy the views of Tokyo's skyscrapers as you approach the city. Once you have checked in the remainder of the day is free at leisure to explore Tokyo independently.

Accommodation: The Gate Hotel Kaminarimon [Breakfast]

Day 3: Tokyo

After breakfast today you will have the services of a local professional guide for a private tour of Tokyo. The guides speak excellent English and have a wealth of knowledge to share. With the guide’s expert help, you'll get to grips with Japanese culture and history while gaining a useful orientation of the city. Together you'll travel around the city by public transport as the Tokyoites do, using your included IC card. The street-level detail is what makes Tokyo such an incredibly interesting place to explore and at every turn you will be met with an array of sights, sounds and smells to enliven the senses. The city has many major sights to visit such as Senso-ji Temple in the old downtown area of Asakusa or the fashion hub of Shibuya from where all new trends are said to emanate. You can also let your guide know of any sites or places you would like to visit, and it will be incorporated in your day's itinerary. Your day of guiding will finish at 5:00 PM with the guide either dropping you back at your hotel or anywhere else in the city you wish to spend the evening.

You will also receive tickets for Tokyo's iconic landmark: Tokyo Skytree. The 634m high tower is the tallest tower in the world (and the second tallest structure in the world after the Burj Khalifa in Dubai) and the observation decks located at 350m and 450m offer unparalleled views over Tokyo. On clear days you can see Mount Fuji in the distance towering above the city and its low-lying foothills. Your ticket allows entry at a designated 30-minute time slot enabling you to skip the lengthy queues. The ticket gives you access to the first observation deck only. There is also a sizeable shopping complex at the base of the tower as well as the Sumida Aquarium should you wish to extend your visit.

Accommodation: The Gate Hotel Kaminarimon [Breakfast]

Day 4: Tokyo, Optional Day Trip to Kamakura or Nikko

Today is a self-guided day.

Suggested Self-Guided Itinerary:

Tokyo is a fascinating city and today you have another full day to enjoy the myriad of sights, sounds and tastes it has to offer. However, you may like to take the opportunity of this free day to take a day trip to one of the many places of interest easily accessible from the capital, using the included Japan Rail Pass. The two most popular options are the towns of Nikko (to the north of Tokyo) and Kamakura (to the south). Nikko is famous for its ornate religious architecture, some of the most important in all of Japan, in a beautiful woodland setting. Kamakura is a sleepy coastal town that served briefly as the capital of Japan in the 1100s, leaving a rich cultural legacy. The town and surrounding hillsides are dotted with attractive temples and shrines, along with one of Japan largest Great Buddha statues. If Tokyo's concrete and neon are getting to you then you might like to head west to sacred Mt Takao, with its range of hiking trails and mountain-top temple complex, virtually untouched by foreign visitors. There are plenty of more unusual day trip options as well, including the modern port city of Yokohama and the quirky 120m tall 'Bubble Buddha' (built 1985!) at Ushiku. 

Accommodation: The Gate Hotel Kaminarimon [Breakfast]

Day 5: Tokyo – Kanazawa

The Hokuriku Shinkansen connects the garden city of Kanazawa to Tokyo. The Kagayaki is the fastest train on this line, you can use your Japan Rail Pass to cover this journey. Kanazawa is one of Japan's best-preserved historical cities, with a wonderful samurai quarter, fascinating geisha district, all kinds of traditional crafts and one of the top three (if not the very best) landscape gardens in Japan, Kenrokuen. As well as time-honoured crafts like gold leaf, weaving, lacquerware and indigo dyeing, modern arts are represented in Kanazawa’s fantastic 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art. 

Accommodation: Nikko Hotel Kanazawa [Breakfast]

Day 6: Kanazawa

The best way to explore Kanazawa is under the tutelage of a knowledgeable local guide. The guides can explain the horticulture techniques that make Kenrokuen one of Japan's most beautiful landscape gardens, walk you through the history of the well-preserved Nagamachi samurai district and show you the best of Kanazawa's rich artistic heritage. Your guide will meet you at your hotel and together you'll travel around the city on foot and by local bus. The guiding will finish at 1:00 PM with the guide either dropping you back at your hotel or anywhere else in the city you wish to continue exploring. 

Accommodation: Nikko Hotel Kanazawa [Breakfast]

Day 7: Kanazawa to Kyoto

After your breakfast, you will take the train to Kyoto using the rail pass. Once you arrive you can either choose to rest before you head out for the night exploration of Gion or explore the city of Kyoto. Kyoto is one of the most culturally rich cities in Asia. Home to 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites, over 1,600 Buddhist temples and 400 Shinto shrines, this ancient city showcases the heart and soul of traditional Japan. Kyoto boasts an array of world-class gardens, majestic festivals and delicate cuisine. On first glance, however, visitors will see that like any large Japanese city, grid-like Kyoto has its fair share of neon and concrete. Though the discerning eye will soon pick out Kyoto’s treasures: sacred shrines tucked in among shopping arcades, time-honoured teahouses nestling among modern businesses and mysterious geisha scuttling down backstreets among the tourists and souvenirs. Kyoto’s charm lies in these details and whether you’re here for three days or three years, the closer you look, the more you’ll discover.

Night-time Exploration in Gion

In the early evening you will head to Gion, Kyoto's famous Geisha district, to enjoy a private tour with a professional English-speaking guide who will be introducing you to the sights, sounds and culture of this most traditional and elegant of Kyoto's districts. As you slowly make your way through the narrow lanes and hidden alleys, your guide will provide you with insights into the history and traditions of Kyoto that will help bring alive the secret life of Geiko and Maiko. This tour is a fantastic way for you to get an inside look at one of Japan's best known, yet least understood, traditional professions. During the tour, you will usually come across some Geisha going between their appointments so be sure to take your camera! The walking tour takes about 90 minutes, and you'll be given instructions on how to get there and a map so you won't have any difficulties.

Accommodation: Hyatt Regency [Breakfast]

Day 8: Kyoto

Today you will be accompanied on a private tour around Kyoto by a local professional guide. This is the best way to explore Kyoto, a city so rich in UNESCO World Heritage sites that it can be hard to know where to start! Our carefully-selected guides will reveal Kyoto’s intricate culture, introducing you to famous must-see spots as well as secret corners of the city that only the locals know. Your guide will meet you at your hotel and together you'll travel around the city by public transport. Your day of guiding will finish at 5:00 PM with the guide either dropping you back at your hotel or anywhere else in the city you wish to spend the evening.

Afternoon Tea with a Maiko

For many people, the quintessential image of Japan is a graceful geisha in an exquisite kimono darting through a sliding screen door into a traditional tea house. It’s a scene that embodies both the geisha’s beauty and mystery, as the geisha and their maiko apprentices move almost in secret through a world largely hidden behind closed doors. Often misunderstood in the West, geisha are essentially artists, highly skilled in traditional arts such as fan dancing and shamisen playing and are masters of wordplay and social etiquette. In today’s Japan, they are also the caretakers of these traditions making sure time-honoured Japanese arts and crafts are not lost. The majority of geisha live and work in Kyoto and are known as geiko in the local dialect. Gion is Kyoto’s most famous geisha district with a large concentration of ochaya tea houses where the geiko entertains guests most evenings. Not just anyone can enter an ochaya however; in traditional Japanese society, hierarchy and social connections are everything and most Japanese will never have the honour of an official invitation. Fortunately, we have strong ties with the Gion Maruume teahouse and we will arrange for you to visit for 45 minutes for a fascinating glimpse into the geisha world. Over a cup of green tea and a Japanese cake, you'll be entertained by a geisha or maiko who will perform a traditional dance for you. During the experience, you'll be able to take photos and ask any questions you may have. Please note that the tea house staff and the geisha do not speak any English, but your Kyoto guide will be on hand to translate.

Accommodation: Hyatt Regency [Breakfast]

Day 9: Kyoto - Nara

Today you might like to take advantage of your Japan Rail Pass by making a day trip to Nara. Nara lies just 40 minutes by local train from Kyoto and is renowned for the wealth of its Buddhist and Shinto heritage. Nara was formerly the end of the Silk Road and was, for this reason, the area which first saw Buddhist teaching making the transition across the ocean from China and over into Japan. In 710 Nara became the first permanent capital of Japan and with this, the large monasteries rapidly gained in political power and influence resulting in frequent bloodshed as the different sects fought for supremacy and power. Such was the rise of the monasteries that in 784 the capital was moved away from Nara in order to protect the position of the Emperor and the central government, eventually settling in Heian (Kyoto) in 794 where it remained for the next 1,000 years. Today Nara retains many dramatic sights as reminders of its former power and influence. The daibutsu or big Buddha is hugely impressive as is the huge wooden structure which houses it, to this day, the world's largest wooden building despite the current structure being a third smaller than the original. The myriad of shrines and temples are all set against the backdrop of the low lying mountains and in the midst of Nara park which is famously home to a vast population of pesky deer who given half a chance, will munch on your guidebooks, umbrellas, scarves, and about anything else they can get their noses into! You can also buy official deer cookies to feed them with but do so at your own peril! Trains run regularly between Kyoto and Nara starting shortly after 5 AM and continuing until late in the evening. 

Accommodation: Hyatt Regency [Breakfast]

Day 10: Kyoto - Hiroshima

From Kyoto, you will head on down the eastern seaboard west to Hiroshima by Shinkansen using your Japan Rail Pass. This journey of nearly 400km takes around 2 hours, during which time the train passes through several major cities along the coast, including Kobe, famous for its top-grade beef. 

To help you get the most out of your time in Hiroshima, a private professional guide will be at your disposal today. As a local to Hiroshima, the guide can walk you through the city’s tragic past and explain how the city has emerged as a cultural hotspot with a lively food scene, as well as an industry hub, home to Mazda. You could also opt to take a half day trip across to the sacred shrine island of Miyajima. The guide will meet you on arrival at Hiroshima Station. You can leave any luggage in a station locker, or drop it off at your hotel. Your day of guiding will finish at 5:00 PM with the guide either dropping you at your hotel or anywhere else in the city you wish to continue exploring.

Accommodation: Sheraton Grand Hotel [Breakfast]

Day 11: Miyajima Island

From Hiroshima, you can easily make a half day excursion to the scenic island of Miyajima, set in the Inland Sea National Park. Miyajima is famous for its 'floating' torii gate at Itsukushima which is ranked as one of Japan's 'top three sights' and is a World Heritage site. You'll get your first glimpse of this as you take the ferry to the island. Other highlights include taking the scenic cable car to the top of Mount Misen for sweeping views of the whole area as well as the chance to encounter some of the native monkeys! There are a number of nice shops near the port.

Accommodation: Sheraton Grand Hotel [Breakfast]

Day 12: Hiroshima to Hakone

The Shinkansen will speed you east from Hiroshima, passing through Osaka, Kyoto and Nagoya along the way. You will be picked up from Odawara station and transfer to your accommodation in Hakone by private taxi. Upon arrival at the hotel, you can start using your 2 Day Hakone Freepass. The pass is valid for two days and entitles you to unlimited use of 6 different forms of transport in the Hakone region. These include the mountain buses and railway, one of the longest cable cars in Japan and a funicular railway as well as a pirate ship which cruises across Lake Ashi! These all criss-cross the region making it easy to explore and enjoy the surroundings as well as some of the many top quality art museums. The pass also gives you discounts at many attractions in the area so show your pass when purchasing tickets. Of course, if you are lucky with the weather, you will be rewarded with stunning views of Mount Fuji.

Accommodation: Yama-No-Chaya [Half Board]

Day 13: Hakone to Tokyo

You can spend the morning exploring Hakone, and post-lunch or even later in the evening get picked up at your accommodation to travel to Odawara station by private taxi. From Odawara you will head to Tokyo be via Shinkansen and it will take roughly 40 mins. 

Accommodation: Conrad Hotel [Breakfast]

Day 14: Departure

A private taxi will transfer you to Tokyo Haneda Airpor. Depart on a daylight flight to London Heathrow for same day arrival.


Tour Excludes

Visas, Other meals where not mentioned in the programme, Drinks, Overweight luggage, Personal expenses, Travel insurance, Tips & gratuities


These itineraries are samples of itineraries we have created for our guests. Speak to one of our travel experts at 020 7843 3531 or email at info@clevelandcollection.co.uk to create your perfect holiday based on your travel requirements.

* This is a guide price, based on travel in low season

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