Essential Japan

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Essential Japan

Tour Description:

Itinerary also travels in reverse.

Map for Essential Japan
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Dates & Pricing

Sunday 22 Sep 24 — Wednesday 09 Oct 24Starting at $15,535Check Mark Icon SPECIALGet a Quote
Sunday 06 Oct 24 — Wednesday 23 Oct 24Starting at $15,535Check Mark Icon SPECIALGet a Quote
Check Mark Icon Disclaimer: Prices listed are per person, based on double occupancy, and in USD. All promotions are valid for new bookings only, capacity controlled and valid on select dates and departures. Individual Terms and Conditions will apply to all promotions. Any promotion can be withdrawn at any time without notice. Please speak with your Pavlus Travel Planner for complete vendor terms and conditions, including eligible tour and cruise dates.


Welcome to Tokyo, Japans capital and the worlds most populous metropolis. Check-into your Special Stay hotel for the next three nights. With direct access to four subway lines, the hotel was recently rated in the Forbes Travel Guide as Tokyo’s exclusive Japanese decor 5-star luxury hotel. Rooms overlook the most picturesque sites in Tokyo, such as the Imperial Palace, the 500-year-old Hie Jinja Shrine and beautiful landscaped Japanese gardens. This evening meet for your welcome reception and dinner.

Gather your bearings of Tokyo from above as you take in the view from Tokyo Sky Tree. Enrich Given by Taiko Masters, partake in an interactive, private group demonstration and lesson in playing the Taiko drums. Afterwards visit the epicentre of Tokyo’s teenage youth as you wander along Takeshita Street Harajuku, known for its colourful street art, youth fashion, quirky vintage clothing and cosplay stores and dessert shops and carts that specialise in sweet crêpes, donuts, and bubble tea. Freechoice Dining: Choose from dining at a ninja themed restaurant or culturally immerse yourself in the traditional Japanese evening Izakaya bar scene serving Yaki-tori and Kushiyaki with your Tour Director as they show you their favourite places to go. Alternatively dine in at Nobu restaurant.

Visit the Asakusa district, known as the centre of Tokyo’s shitamachi or ‘low city’ capsulizing the atmosphere of Tokyo’s past, paying your respects at Sensoji temple, the city’s oldest Buddhist temple. Freechoice: Visit the Imperial Shinto Meiji Shrine, before walking across the often referred to as ‘the world’s busiest pedestrian crossing’ and seeing the famous Hachiko dog statue in Shibuya. Alternatively, wander through picturesque Shinjuku-Gyoen Gardens before witnessing the Shinjuku entertainment district come alive at dusk where you can choose to stay into the night.

Tokyo > Five Lakes
Begin the day in the beautiful Imperial Palace’s East Gardens, part of the inner palace area and the former site of Edo Castle’s innermost circles of defence when the Tokugawa shogun ruled Japan from 1603 to 1867. Then dress up in your chefs’ clothes to make your own sushi lunch with the help of a local chef. Venture into the countryside on your drive to the Fuji Five Lakes district, known locally as Fujigoko. Later, discover the craftsmanship involved in creating kimonos during the Muromachi Period (1333-1573) at the Itchiku Kubota Art Museum. Soak in the views of Mt Fuji from your hotel.

Five Lakes > Hakone
Drive to Hakone and study the art works and sculptures at the Hakone Open Air Museum, Japan’s first open air museum. Cruise on Lake Ashinoko on the First-class deck of your pirate ship with Mt Fuji as a backdrop before admiring the stunning scenery during your cable car ride up to the hot springs of the Owakudani geothermal area. Enjoy a Special Stay overlooking Lake Ashinoko.

Hakone > Inuyama
Via Shinkansen, in your Green (Business) Class seats, travel to Nagoya, then drive to the historic castle town of Inuyama. Learn about the ancient history of the area with a visit to the Shiro-to-Machi Museum before walking through the old town’s streets to Inuyama Castle, the oldest of just five castles nationwide designated as national treasures. Afterwards check into your hotel for the night.

Inuyama > Tsumago Juku > Takayama
Head north to Takayama via Tsumago Juku, a fully restored and preserved Edo Period (1600-1868) post town in the Kiso Valley. Upon arrival in Takayama, enjoy a sake tasting and museum experience at Watanabe Sake House. Enjoy a two night stay at your hotel overlooking Takayama. Freechoice Dining: Choose between Le Midi, a restaurant located in town known for its Hida Beef, or Sakanaya, a fine Japanese restaurant set in a renovated sake brewery.

Takayama – Gokayama
Drive to the historical farmhouses of the less visited mountain villages in Gokayama, a World Heritagelisted site, including Ainokura and Shirakawago villages. Whilst here, try your hand at a Washi paper making workshop. Back in Takayama view the impressive Yatai festival floats before exploring the shops and backstreets of Takayama’s old quarter, leaving the evening free to enjoy this old quarter at your leisure.

Takayama > Takaoka > Kanazawa
Head further north to Takaoka via a cruise through Shogawa Gorge and its stunning scenery. Takaoka is known for its copper and tinware so you will have the opportunity to create your own souvenir at one of the local workshops. Later visit Zuiryuji Temple, a Soto Zen Buddhist temple and a national treasure completed circa 1659. Continue to Kanazawa and relax at your hotel for the next two nights, located just seconds from the Kanazawa train station.  Ryokan Upgrade - For a unique insight into Japanese culture, choose to stay tonight in a Ryokan (at additional cost, must be pre-booked before departure). This traditional Japanese Inn has tatami mat flooring with futon beds, sliding shoji paper doors, onsen hot spring baths and private facilities, and includes dinner and breakfast.

Wander around Kenroku–en Garden, one of Japan’s three great gardens located across from Kanazawa Castle Park. Move to the Higashi-Chaya District tea house district and try your hand at the Kanazawa Gold Leaf craft shop. Later, catch a glimpse of life in Feudal Japan with a visit to former Kaga Clan Samurai houses in the Nagamachi district.

Kanazawa > Kyoto
Relax on the ‘Thunderbird’ train to the culturally rich city of Kyoto, home to many World Heritage-listed sites. Upon arrival, glide through the surreal Arashiyama Bamboo Grove by traditional rickshaw before exploring and enjoying a vegetarian meal at the World Heritage listed Tenryu-ji Temple. Afterwards visit the famous Kinkaku-ji or Golden Pavilion, because it is completely covered in gold leaf before settling into your hotel. Tonight, gather for a Teppanyaki feast.

Freechoice: Revel in the atmosphere of the ancient preservation districts or visit the Silver Pavilion before strolling along part of the famous Philosopher’s Walk, an approximately two kilometre long, beautiful stone path walk along a canal through the northern part of Kyotos Higashiyama district. Enrich Partake in a Japanese tea ceremony while dressed in a traditional Japanese kimono, a great photo opportunity. This afternoon, enjoy some free time in Nishiki Market, a market renown as Kyoto’s kitchen with over 100 stalls and shops. Later this evening stroll through the Gion area, Kyoto’s famous Geisha District before dinner. Enrich Tonight’s dinner will allow you to interact with a Geiko and Maiko who’ll host your meal presentation. It’s an excellent opportunity to learn about what is involved in becoming a Geisha and the art of Japanese hospitality.

Kyoto > Nara
Begin your day with an early visit to Nijo castle, built in 1603 as the Kyoto residence of Tokugawa leyasu, the first shogun of the Edo Period.  Move to the Fushimi Inari Shrine, famous for its thousands of vermilion torii gates and its appearance in the film ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’. Continue to Nara, Japans first permanent capital established in the year 710 as Heijo, the city now known as Nara. Here you’ll visit Todaiji Temple, constructed in 752 as the head temple of all provincial Buddhist temples of Japan.  The Temple grew so powerful that the capital was moved from Nara to Nagaoka in 784 in order to lower the temples influence on government affairs. Also see deer in Nara Park before spending a night at leisure at your hotel in Nara.

Nara > Himeji Castle > Hiroshima
Travel west via Shinkansen train to marvel at Himeji Castle, an original and Japan’s most spectacular castle and one of the few remaining original feudal castles, before continuing to Hiroshima. Check into your hotel for two nights. Tonight, sample Okonomiyaki, a delicious savoury Japanese-style pancake and specialty of the region.

Hiroshima > Miyajima Island:
Sail by ferry to Miyajima Island to visit Daisho-in Temple and its famous floating Torii Gate at the Itsukushima Shrine, also built over the water. Enrich Experience an emotional visit to the Peace Park and Museum, dedicated to the legacy of Hiroshima as the first city in the world to suffer a nuclear attack. Move to Orizuru Tower to learn how to create your own special origami crane offering for the Orizuru Wall. This evening is yours at leisure in Hiroshima.

Hiroshima > Osaka
This morning travel to Kobe by Shinkansen. Kirin is one of Japans top four beer producers and has been producing beer in Kobe since 1997. Travel to the brewery for lunch and a factory tour to see the technology and automation at play before trying some samples of the produce. Drive to Osaka to enjoy a two night Special Stay. This evening ride the Osaka Metro to wander around the lively entertainment area of Dotonbori and Hozenji Yokocho food alley.

Osaka > Asuka
Drive to the birthplace of the Japanese state and cradle of Japanese culture in Asuka, in Nara Prefecture. Wander through the Inabuchi terraced rice paddy fields, the ancient Tobiishi stone bridge, famous in Japanese folklore and visit Ishibutai tumulus, the largest known megalithic structure in Japan. Enrich Learn about the history, life and training routine of a sumo wrestler during a private visit to a Sumo Museum in Kehayaza, where Sumo originated. After the welcome ceremony, see a demonstration of Jinku and the wrestlers in action in the dohyo. Enjoy your Club Floor benefits before transferring to the Umeda Sky Building for night-time views of the skyline of Osaka, before settling into your farewell dinner.

Bid a fond farewell to the ‘land of the rising sun’. The itinerary is a guide only and may be amended for operational reasons. As such Scenic cannot guarantee the journey will operate unaltered from the itinerary stated above. Please refer to our terms and conditions for further information.

Check Mark Disclaimer: Prices listed are per person, based on double occupancy, and in USD. All promotions are valid for new bookings only, capacity controlled and valid on select dates and departures. Individual Terms and Conditions will apply to all promotions. Any promotion can be withdrawn at any time without notice. Please speak with your Pavlus Travel Planner for complete vendor terms and conditions, including eligible tour and cruise dates.