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Sample Itinerary: 14 Days Beyond Tokyo

Based on our may years of conducting tours in Japan we have put together a sample itinerary for an exciting tour that would give you fourteen days to explore the rich and beautiful textures of life beyond Tokyo.


Day 1
Bullet TrainArrive Narita Airport, usually late in the afternoon; met by Steve or one of our associates as you exit Customs. Train ride into Tokyo; check in to Hotel. Brief gathering to get acquainted.

Day 2
NikkoOur first full day starts with riding a Bullet Train (Shinkansen) north to beautiful and historic Nikko, nestled in the mountains. We will see the mausoleum where Ieyasu Tokugawa, the most famous Shogun, is interred. Also included are many other noteworthy sights – colorful temples and shrines untypical for Japan; the "sleeping cat;" and "hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil." Back in Tokyo we will head an old neighborhood rarely visited by outsiders. I will treat you to an Included Welcome Dinner (Yakitori) in a tiny, very delightful eating place. This evening I guarantee you will see and hear about aspects of Tokyo very few tourists have ever encountered. Overnight in Tokyo.

Day 3
Matsumoto CastleLeaving Tokyo we will ride trains to Matsumoto, a lovely city on the eastern edge of the Japan Alps. After dropping our luggage at the hotel and taking time for lunch, we will head over to the Ukiyo-e (wood block prints) Museum. In the evening we will walk over to Matsumoto Castle, beautifully illuminated, creating reflections in the moat which surrounds it.

Day 4
A bus will take us across the beautiful Japan Alps to Takayama. Our lodging (for two nights) will be a spectacular, family-run Ryokan (Japanese Inn). Before checking in we will take a walk around this quaint mountain town, and visit the Floats Museum. Our Included Dinner will be sumptuous.

Day 5
Japanese FoodBreakfast in our Ryokan will be a treat, preparing us for a morning of sightseeing in this beautiful mountain village. A short trip to Hida-no-Sato will enlighten us regarding the history and customs of this mountainous region. In the afternoon we ride by bus to Hirayu Onsen (hot spring) for a good soak. Included Dinner at our Inn will again be memorable.

Day 6
Descending from the mountains we will head to Hiroshima. After dropping our luggage at the hotel we will walk to Shukkeien Garden, followed by an informative self-guided tour of Hiroshima Castle. Overnight in Hiroshima.

Day 7
Floating Torii GateWe begin the day at the Peace Park and the Peace Museum. After a stop for lunch (Hiroshima-style Okonomiyaki) we will catch a ferry to Miyajima, passing the famous Floating Torii Gate on the way. There is much to see on the Island; the literal high point of our visit will be atop Mt. Misen, reached by cable car. Overnight again in Hiroshima.

Day 8
Traveling by trains we will cross the channel to Japan's remote fourth island, Shikoku, with its grand mountain peaks and plunging river gorges. Our two-night stay in another Ryokan will Include delicious Dinners and a chance to catch our breath.

Day 9
Shikoku Rope BidgeWe will spend the day exploring remote and peaceful Iya Valley. Weather permitting we plan to ascend Mt. Tsurugi. Or you may opt to visit the geological museum Lapis Oboke with its collection of minerals and gems, or just relax in the hotel spa. Dinner is again Included.


Day 10
Todai-ji TempleA train will carry us back to the main island, Honshu. We
will spend four days in Kansai; our hotel in Osaka will serve as our home base. After dropping our luggage and taking time for lunch, we will travel to Nara, the ancient home of the Imperial Family. Kasuga Shrine, a World Heritage site, will give us insight into the roots of Japanese culture, enhanced by the contributions of our knowledgable local guide. Todai-ji Temple is the world's largest wooden structure, housing the largest bronze Buddha in Japan. After time to get dinner we will head to Osaka for the first of four nights.

Day 11
It is a short ride by Shinkansen to Kyoto. Our day of sightseeing will start with Kyoto's unusual Train Station, and then include the famous rock garden at Ryoan-ji; lovely Kinkaku-ji (the Golden Pavilion), and Ginkaku-ji (the Silver Pavilion). Overnight in Osaka.

Day 12
It's not too far to scenic Kurashiki, giving us a chance to explore rice storage buildings from the feudal era, now housing museums. The Ohara Museum of Art is known for its impressive collection including works of numerous Impressionists. We can stop in Okayama for dinner on the way back to Osaka.

Day 13 The Bullet Train will bring us to Himeji to see the recently restored Castle, a World Heritage Site. Back in Kyoto we will start at Kiyomizu Temple on the mountainside, and then explore other significant sights before we pass through Gion (if we are lucky we will see Geiko - formerly known as Geisha) and the Pontocho restaurant district. I hope you will elect to join me for a sumptuous Kaiseki feast before we head back to our Osaka hotel.

Day 14
Great BuddhaLeaving Osaka, we will head to Yokohama by Bullet Train. After storing our luggage we will ride by train to the ancient coastal town of Kamakura where we will see the Great Buddha, plus Hase-dera, with its unique nooks and crannies. Then, after reclaiming our luggage, we will take a final ride on the Shinkansen, this time to Tokyo. After checking in to our Hotel I suggest we enjoy Shabu-Shabu for our Included Farewell Dinner on this, our last night together. Overnight in Tokyo.


Estimated pricing for this Land-only tour:

2 persons $8,495/person
4 persons $5,665/person
6 or more persons $4,735/person

Pricing includes:

  • An English-speaking guide to travel with you throughout your visit
  • Lodging for thirteen nights, including four nights at lovely Traditional Japanese Inns
  • Fees for included attractions
  • All transportation required within Japan*
  • Breakfast each morning, plus other meals**

*Pricing is for a Land-only tour; you are responsible for getting to and from Japan.

**Note regarding meals: This sample itinerary would include breakfast each morning, plus a few other meals as indicated in the itinerary (labeled "Included"). If you wish to enjoy a thorough and excellent exposure to Japanese cuisine we suggest you budget about $35 - $50 US per day for non-included meals.


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