Iconic Japan

  • Tokyo
  • Tsumago
  • Kanazawa
  • Hiroshima
  • Kyoto
  • Kyoto / Nara
  • 11 nights from
  • £7,305 per person
  • Trip Code: ES-1254

Holiday Overview

Iconic Japan


In Japan, tradition and modernity are celebrated side-by-side in ways that often appear contradictory. Immerse yourself in this intriguing culture, beginning in sprawling Tokyo, one of the world’s most innovative cities. Then head by rail into the countryside to visit traditional villages and tranquil shrines. Explore quaint geisha districts and inspiring gardens; savour the fresh flavours of Japanese cuisine; and get a glimpse of the ancient soul of this fascinating, futuristic country.

TRAVEL STYLE: NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC JOURNEYS Greater exploration, insider access, and the freedom to roam – all without sacrificing comfort.

SERVICE LEVEL: UPGRADED Quality accommodations and more inclusions than on other G Adventures tours, like meals, private transport, and activities.

PHYSICAL RATING: 3 - AVERAGE Some tours may include light hiking, biking, rafting, or kayaking in addition to walking.

TRIP TYPE: SMALL GROUP Small group experience; Max 15, avg 12

AGE REQUIREMENT: 12+ All travellers under age 18 must be accompanied by an adult.

Iconic Japan includes:

  • 3 nights accommodation Tokyo
  • 1 night accommodation Tsumago
  • 2 nights accommodation Kanazawa
  • 2 nights accommodation Hiroshima
  • 3 nights accommodation Kyoto
  • Transportation as listed

Day 1 - Tokyo

Arrive at any time.

On this tour in Japan we use public transport, making use of Japan's world famous transportation system. From the super fast Shinkansen Bullet Train to Kyoto's extensive local bus network, you ride with the locals.

As well, there is a lot of walking on this trip, every day - please ensure you have an average level of fitness and can walk unaided for long periods of time. A good pair of walking shoes are highly recommended.

Please note: We will use a baggage transfer service, which is included in the cost of your tour, so you will not have to worry about carrying your bags on and off trains as we travel. As such, you will not have access to your bags during the transfers from city to city, and will not be reunited with your luggage until the following day. On these days, we recommend using an overnight bag for anything you may need, including valuables.


Arrival Day and Welcome Meeting

The adventure begins tonight. Feel free to explore before your welcome meeting, but make sure you’re back in time to meet the group. Check for the meeting time on the welcome note at the hotel. After introductions, your CEO will review the details of your tour. Please note that normal check-in times apply at our start hotels, but you can usually store your luggage for the day if you arrive early.

Accommodation Hotel Gracery Shinjuku (or similar)


Day 2 - Tokyo

Spend the day exploring vibrant Tokyo—one of the world’s most populous cities—by public transit. Experience the traditional side of the Japanese capital on a visit to the Meiji Shrine, dedicated to Emperor Meiji and his wife; and take a stroll in Asakusa, the historic heart of Tokyo. We then get a glimpse of the city’s quirky, modern side on a walk through Harajuku, a centre of Japanese pop culture and a great place to sit back and people watch.

In Harajuka we catch a glimpse of the pop culture phenomenon of Kawaii. Directly translated as "cute," this Japanese cultural movement is reflected through various avenues of entertainment, toys, personal style, attitude, and cuisine.

On some departures of this tour the activities on Days 2 and 3 will be swapped.

Metro Tokyo

Get around underground via public transit.

Orientation Walk Tokyo

Let your CEO guide you around eclectic and modern Tokyo.

Harajuku Visit Tokyo

The Harajuku district is known as the centre of Japanese youth culture and fashion. Here, find dozens of shopping and dining options including independent boutiques and larger international luxury stores.

Meiji Shrine (Meiji Jingū) Visit Tokyo

Visit this shrine dedicated to the 123rd emperor of Japan, Emperor Meiji and his wife. The shrine is a great place to escape the bustle of the city and wander the grounds along the wide walking paths.

Asakusa Walk Tokyo

Discover this historic entertainment district on a guided orientation tour of the area with your CEO. Take in one of Tokyo's iconic sites with a stop at Sensoji temple.


Accommodation Hotel Gracery Shinjuku (or similar)


Day 3 - Tokyo

This morning, we set out on a behind-the-scenes tour of the Toyosu Fish Market (formerly known as the Tsukiji Fish Market), the largest fish and seafood market in the world. Delve into the bustling maze of vendors with our expert local guides, learning about Japan’s massive fishing industry, and round off the tour with a sushi-making class. Learn how to identify the freshest fish, prepare, fillet, and present; then enjoy a taste of your tasty creations. The afternoon is free to explore Tokyo on your own.

Opt to visit Ueno park and the museums, Akihabara for cutting edge electronics, Harajuku for funky fashions, Ginza for the highest of the high end, walk the grounds of the Imperial Palace East Garden, or just stroll the streets, looking for the traditional life that still lies just under the modern surface.

Metro Tokyo

Get around underground via public transit.

Toyosu Fish Market Tokyo

Visit the Toyosu Fish Market, the biggest fish and seafood market in the world. Walk through the maze of fresh catches, massive fish and exciting business exchanges to get an idea how important this industry is in Tokyo. The market is busiest early in the morning, this is the best time to take in all the action and opt for a fresh sushi breakfast.

If you're hoping to get one of the rare and coveted spots to view the famous tuna auction be sure to arrive by 3am – and remember there are no guarantees!

Your Journeys Highlight Moment: Tsukiji Sushi Experience

Walk through this sprawling facility of the Toyosu Fish Market with insiders that know its ins and outs. Later, take in a class with recognized sushi masters in the Tsukiji area, learning first how to recognize the freshest ingredients, before learning to prepare, fillet, and perform the delicate art of sushi-making and presentation. Then, try your own hand at making sushi and enjoy a taste of your own creation.

Free Time Tokyo Afternoon

Enjoy some time to explore the city on your own.


Accommodation Hotel Gracery Shinjuku (or similar)


Day 4 - Tokyo - Tsumago

Depart Tokyo by train. Disembark at Nagiso and continue to a local minshuku, a traditional Japanese bed-and-breakfast, where we’ll spend the night. Enjoy a walk through the countryside, passing lush farms and rice paddies into Tsumago, a protected cultural area dating to the Edo period. Explore the charming town, where motorized vehicles are prohibited on the main street during the day and phone lines and power cables hidden from view to preserve its traditional feel. Back at our minshuku, feast on a kaiseki meal—a ritualistic multi-course dinner emphasizing artful presentation and fresh ingredients.

Metro Tokyo

Get around underground via public transit.

Train Tokyo – Tsumago

Climb aboard, take a seat, and enjoy the ride.

Tsumago countryside and Village walkTsumago1h30m-2h

Take a walk through the countryside, passing farms and hamlets, rice patties and waterfalls continuing into Tsumago, a traditional Village. Considered one of the best preserved post towns in Japan, the residents go to great lengths to recreate the feel of the Edo Period. Motorized vehicles are prohibited from the main street during the day and phone lines and power cables are hidden to allow visitors to feel as if they have stepped back in time.


Accommodation Hanaya Tsumago Ryokan (or similar)


Day 5 - Tsumago - Kanazawa

Continue by train to the historic city of Kanazawa, the seat of the powerful Maeda clan during the Edo period. Venture to Nagamachi, the city’s well-preserved samurai district located at the foot of Kanazawa Castle, and learn about the lifestyle of Japan’s ancient, elite warrior class. We’ll also visit the Nomura residence, the beautifully restored home of a wealthy samurai family, boasting a collection of antique heirlooms and a stunning garden.

Train Tsumago – Kanazawa

Climb aboard, take a seat, and enjoy the ride.

Taxi Tsumago

Jump in the back and tell the driver to step on it, just like they do in the movies.

Local Bus Kanazawa

Climb aboard, grab a seat, and enjoy the ride.

Nagamachi Samurai District WalkKanazawa30m

Step back in time with a visit to the Nagamachi Samurai district of Kanazawa. Take a walk through the historic samurai district located just below the Kanazawa Castle, where traditionally samurai and their families lived in mud huts.

Visit Nomura Family Samurai Residence Kanazawa

Visit the Nomura Family Samurai Residence - who held executive posts from one generation to the next under rule of the Maeda family. A stunning landmark has a coffered ceiling constructed of Japanese cypress and stunning fusuma-e (paintings on sliding-door panels) which were created by the personal painter of the Maeda family. Also enjoy the garden which features a 400-year old Japanese bayberry and winding stream surrounded by ancient rocks.


Accommodation ANA Crowne Plaza Kanazawa (or similar)


Day 6 - Kanazawa

Spend the day exploring Kanazawa. Visit the Myoryuji Temple—commonly known as the Ninja Temple—which doubled as a military outpost, and discover its many hidden defenses and escape routes. Take a walk through the Higashi Chaya geisha district and gain insights into geisha culture, viewing one of the district’s traditional wooden houses. Then visit a local craft studio, where we’ll learn about the city’s time-honoured crafts and learn to paint chopsticks with gold leaf.

Ninja Temple Visit Kanazawa

Visit the famous Ninja Temple. While there's no evidence linking the temple to ninjas, the hidden doorways, passages and escape routes seem designed for stealthy attackers. Please leave all nunchucks with security.

Your Hands-On Moment: Chopstick and Gold Leaf Painting Experience

Partake in a hands-on experience in one of Kanazawa's many famous craft studios and enjoy chop stick and gold leaf painting.

Free Time Kanazawa

Enjoy some free time to explore on your own.

Higashi Geisha District Visit Kanazawa

Step back in time with a visit to the Higashi Chaya geisha district of Kanazawa. Learn about the geisha culture, prevalent in Kanazawa since the 17th century. Visit the traditional two-story wooden houses decorated with lattice and discover the traditions behind this iconic Japanese way of life.

Local Bus Kanazawa

Climb aboard, grab a seat, and enjoy the ride.


Accommodation ANA Crowne Plaza Kanazawa (or similar)


Day 7 - Hiroshima

Travel by bullet train to Hiroshima. Here, we’ll pay a visit to the Peace Memorial Park and Museum, located in the heart of the city, which commemorates the tragic atomic bombings of 1945. Take your time to wander through the park, pausing at memorials dedicated to the victims of the attack, and visit the moving statue of Sadako Sasaki at the Children’s Peace Monument, a reminder of the thousands of young lives lost as a result of the bombings.

The large Peace Park in the centre of the city is an extremely moving place dotted with memorials of those known to have been killed in the explosion and others who died as a result. A burning flame waits in the park to be extinguished when all nuclear weapons in the world have been destroyed.

Taxi Kanazawa

Jump in the back and tell the driver to step on it, just like they do in the movies.

Train Kanazawa – Hiroshima

Climb aboard, take a seat, and enjoy the ride.

Tram Hiroshima

Move through the busy streets with ease via urban light rail.

Hiroshima Park and Peace Memorial Hiroshima

Walk through the Peace Park in the centre of Hiroshima, a living memorial dedicated to the tens of thousands who died from the atomic bomb blast in 1945. Visit the statue of Sadako Sasaki, a young girl who died of leukemia as a result of the bomb blast, despite folding 1,000 origami paper cranes to appeal to the gods to make her well. See the frame of the Gembaku Dome, the sole building to withstand the explosion. Reflect, remember, and be reminded of the power we all hold to create peace.


Accommodation ANA Crowne Plaza Hiroshima (or similar)


Day 8 - Hiroshima

Catch a ferry to Itsukushima Island, popularly known as Miyajima. Here, you’ll find one of Japan’s most beautiful and sacred temples, the 12th-century Itsukushima Shinto shrine. This UNESCO World Heritage site is built over the water, with a red torii or wooden gateway that appears to float at high tide. Spend the afternoon at leisure and explore on your own.

Please note the floating Torii Gate will be under construction from December 2022 and views may be obstructed during this time.

Ferry Hiroshima – Miyajima

Get to the next spot on your route aboard a convenient and efficient ferry boat.


Miyajima Island Visi tMiyajima – Hiroshima

Take a trip to Miyajima Island, famed as one of Japan's most scenic spots, with a free afternoon to explore. See the famous floating Torii Gate, set out in the bay, which glows extraordinarily at sunset. The island is dotted with shrines and temples, populated by deer and monkeys, and traversed with hiking trails for those who want to get some exercise. There are also lanes full of souvenirs and tasty treats. Visit Miyajima at your own pace and have the option to hike up to the peak of the island, Mt Misen, to see spectacular views of the surrounding islands.

Free Time Miyajima

Enjoy some time to explore on your own.


Accommodation ANA Crowne Plaza Hiroshima (or similar)


Day 9 - Hiroshima - Kyoto

This morning, visit the World Heritage-listed Himeji Castle, widely considered Japan’s most spectacular and best-preserved castle. The castle was completed in the early 17th century and features an elegant white facade with multiple wooden roofs. Later, we hop on a train to Kyoto, which served as Japan’s imperial capital for more than a thousand years. Explore the city’s stunning temples, shrines, and gardens at leisure. This afternoon, take a guided stroll through the lantern-lined streets of Gion, Kyoto’s renowned geisha district.

As the Imperial capital, Kyoto is an essential part of any visit to Japan. Kyoto has some of the most magnificent temples in Japan which date back centuries. There are said to be 2,000 temples, shrines, palaces, museums and traditional gardens in Kyoto. Use your time to wander past huge wooden structures and multi-storied pagodas, all linked with famous walkways.

Train Hiroshima – Himeji

Climb aboard, take a seat, and enjoy the ride.

Himeji Castle Himeji

Visit the stunning Himeji Castle, which unlike many other Japanese castles was never destroyed in wars, earthquakes, or fires and continues to stand in its original form. Now a UNESCO World Heritage site, the initial site was built in the 14th century and grew over time as the various clans who ruled over the region continued to expand. The complex, as it stands today, was completed in 1609.

Train Himeji – Kyoto

Climb aboard, take a seat, and enjoy the ride.

Gion Walk Kyoto

Walk through Gion, Kyoto's most famous geisha district. Visit shops, restaurants and ochaya (teahouses), where geiko (Kyoto dialect for geisha) and maiko (geiko apprentices) entertain.


Accommodation THE GENERAL KYOTO Takatsuji Tominokoji (or similar)


Day 10 - Kyoto / Nara

Venture to the breathtaking Fushimi Inari shrine just outside of Kyoto, dedicated to the Shinto god of rice. Walk under the temple’s iconic red gates, where a scene from Memoirs of a Geisha was filmed. Spend the rest of the day discovering ancient Nara, the site of Japan’s earliest capital. Visit the impressive Todaiji temple—home to the largest bronze Buddha statue in the world—and wander the walkways of Kasuga Taisha, one of Japan’s most sacred Shinto shrines.

Please note, the visit to the Kasuga Grand Shrine is not possible from October - December due to the shorter operating hours of this site.

Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine Visit Kyoto

Visit the Fushimi Inari shrine, located just outside of Kyoto. Walk under the thousands of iconic torii gates (as seen in the film Memoirs of a Geisha) and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere. The shrine itself is at the base of the Inari mountain but includes many trails up to smaller shrines in the area.

Day Trip to Nara Kyoto – Nara

Take a train excursion to the peaceful gardens and ancient temples of Nara, home of Japan's largest Buddha, and a number of cute and docile deer that are the sacred symbol of the Kasuga Taisha shrine.

Tōdai-ji Buddhist Temple Complex Nara

Explore the famed Tōdaiji Temple which features the largest bronze Buddha in the world.

Kasuga Grand Shrine Nara

Visit this Shinto shrine originally built in 768 AD by the Fujiwara family. This stunning shrine is famed for its hundreds of bronze and stone lanterns.


Accommodation THE GENERAL KYOTO Takatsuji Tominokoji (or similar)


Day 11 - Kyoto

This morning, we visit a local temple to learn about the history and practice of Zen Buddhism in Japan. Meet with a local monk for a lesson in Zen meditation and calligraphy; then head to the shimmering Kinkakuji, or “temple of the golden pavilion,” one of Kyoto’s most magnificent sites. Later, we’ll learn the basics of samurai etiquette and the practice of kembu, or traditional Japanese swordplay. Try your hand at this delicate art form, and witness a memorable performance by kembu masters.

Your Journeys Highlight Moment: Zen Buddhist Meditation and Calligraphy

Visit a local temple to learn about the history and practice of Zen Buddhism in Japan. One of the monks will instruct us in Zen meditation and Zen calligraphy. This insider access will allow us deeper insight into Japanese culture and beliefs, as well as how to use these techniques to reduce stress in our daily lives.

Zen Tea Experience Kyoto

Relax with a traditional bowl of matcha tea at this historic temple where tea ceremony was developed into its current form by famous tea master, Rikyu.

Kinkaku-ji Golden Pavilion Visit Kyoto

Explore Kinkaku-ji or the Golden Pavilion, named for the temple’s top two floors that are covered in gold leaf. The temple is surrounded by trees and sits on a reflective pond, making this must-see in Kyoto a perfect place for photos. While the temple can be busy, there are gardens around the area to explore once you’ve had enough of the view.

Your Journeys Highlight Moment: Kembu Masters

Gain an understanding of kembu, an ancient art form that honours the culture of the Japanese warrior class, the samurai. Watch kembu masters practice this delicate artform and learn for yourself the basic moves of properly using a Japanese sword. It’s said that in feudal times, samurai would perform these traditional routines to build courage and improve concentration, thereby expressing the spirit of the warrior.


Accommodation THE GENERAL KYOTO Takatsuji Tominokoji (or similar)


Day 12 - Kyoto

Depart at any time.

For travellers flying out of Kansai International Airport (KIX), please find the public transit options below (please note that taxis can become quite expensive in the late hours)

1) By train - departing from Kyoto station, the limited express "Haruka" Train goes directly to the airport. The last train to the airport leaves Kyoto station at 20:30.

2) By bus - departing from Kyoto station, with several stops along the way. The last bus to the airport leaves Kyoto station at 22:10.

Timetable Reference: http://www.hyperdia.com

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