Alternative Japan

14 days

Indicative cost incl. flights:



4 star & low season



4 star & high season


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Day 1
Board your flight from the UK to Tokyo, travelling overnight. The best options here may go indirect, but we will discuss the most suitable plan for you.
Day 2
Upon arrival to Tokyo's airport, our representative will be waiting to help you to your hotel. If you arrive in the morning, and would like to have something planned for the day ahead, we would suggest our photography tour - explore the city with a different perspective, capturing the images that no one else will.
Day 3
Your morning will be spent exploring some of Tokyo's less-touristy neighbourhoods by bike - little-known parks, quirky shops, local cafes... a nice escape from the busy parts of the city. Your afternoon is free - we have a lot of hidden gems to suggest for you, though getting lost in Tokyo will always be a fun adventure too.
Day 4
Depart Tokyo and enjoy a day in scenic Fujinomiya - a town to the southwest of Mount Fuji, often enjoying spectacular views of the holy mountain itself. Your day will be spent tasting the regional cuisine, learning more about Japanese culture, and ultimately spending an evening in traditional lodging for a home-cooked meal and hot-spring bath.
Day 5
After a hearty breakfast, take to the rails as you travel north to Kanazawa by bullet train. The postcard-perfect machiya (wooden townhouses) of its geisha neighbourhood have earned it the epithet 'Little Tokyo'. For now, you can enjoy the historical neighbourhoods, vast landscaped parks and top-notch museums without the crowds that Kyoto currently attracts. Enjoy your time upon arrival wandering the idyllic streets.
Day 6
Nothing is planned for you today, so take your time to check out the city's collection of attractions - especially Kenrokuen, a tranquil garden that is beautiful in all seasons. If you would like to explore the wondrous countryside we can organise a trip to Shirakawago, or its quieter counterpart, Gokayama, to savour the quiet pace of rural life.
Day 7
Kick back and relax today as you journey by train to the city of Kobe. This is great place to experience modern Japanese life - visit the bars, the restaurants in Chinatown, take a stroll along the waterfront, hit up the shops. It's a great opportunity for a 'day off', but we have plenty of suggestions for you if you would like more structure to your afternoon too!
Day 8
Together with a local guide, take a train to Himeji to see the impressive white castle and beautiful adjacent gardens. This afternoon, return to Kobe to visit the Ikuta Shrine, the unique neighbourhood of Kitano - full of Western mansions and houses - and onto the world's longest suspension bridge for spectacular views of the Akashi Strait. Why not dine out this evening on Kobe's world-famous beef - marbled and melt-in-the-mouth, found throughout the city.
Day 9
Catch the train to Okayama and onto Kurashiki, a former merchant city with a time-capsule old town of shops, galleries and simple eateries. The town is at its best when the daytrippers have left, so you will stay in one of the converted storehouses near the central canal, getting to enjoy the peaceful streets when the sun goes down.
Day 10
Kurashiki has some amazing museums to check out, but there's a lot to see in the surrounding Setouchi region too. The art island of Naoshima across the turquoise waters of the Inland Sea; nearby Okayama Castle and Korakuen Garden; the quaint seaside town of Onomichi. We can help you plan the perfect day - returning to relax in your comfortable inn for a wholesome meal this evening.
Day 11
Continue your journey by train as you cross from Honshu island to Kyushu, in Japan's far south. You will spend the next two nights in the colourful port of Nagasaki. This afternoon we would suggest a visit to the sobering but informative Peace Memorial Park and Museum to gain an appreciation of the tragic history of this city.
Day 12
Meet with your private guide this morning for a half-day tour of this incredible destination. Pay a visit to Oura Church and Glover Garden to find out more about the way European merchants and missionaries shaped this part of Japan. There's plenty to do with your free afternoon, but if the weather allows, a cruise around Gunkanjima Island is unmissable.
Day 13
On the final stretch of your holiday, head to the gigantic city of Fukuoka - known for its great shopping, vibrant nightlife and 'yatai' street-food stalls. A worthwhile side-trip from Fukuoka is the city of Dazaifu, home to the popular Tenmangu Shrine and the striking new Kyushu National Museum.
Day 14
Depart from Fukuoka Airport back to the UK - either flying via Tokyo, or through another hub city in Asia.

Everything we do is tailor-made; our itineraries are just suggestions to give you an idea of what is possible. Please contact us so we can tailor the perfect holiday exclusively for you.

Perhaps you’ve been to Japan before, but you’re keen to witness more than just the well-trodden route again?  Or maybe you prefer to steer away from the crowds in general, discover the places that other travellers might not have time to visit?  Our ‘alternative’ route though Japan will give you all the things you dream of – big neon-lit cities, well-preserved old towns, comfortable ryokan inns, delicious local cuisine – but we are skipping out the ‘essential’ stops on this occasion.

None of these places are secrets, or completely hidden gems – they’re the destinations that don’t usually make the cut in a typical fortnight’s holiday to Japan.  We always think that’s a shame, so here’s our perfect remedy.  Wander the quiet geisha neighbourhoods of Kanazawa as opposed to tackling crowds in Kyoto.  Learn about the tragedy of the atom bomb in Nagasaki instead of Hiroshima – and discover a city that has an unbreakable spirit.  Soak in the hot onsen waters of Fujinomiya, rather than Hakone, and try to spot Mount Fuji through the clouds.  Some of our favourite destinations in Japan are included on this itinerary – visit them for yourself to find out why.

1 night flying – 2 nights Tokyo – 1 night Fujinomiya – 2 nights Kanazawa – 2 nights Kobe – 2 nights Kurashiki – 2 nights Nagasaki – 1 night Fukuoka

Where you'll go

What you'll do

Where you'll stay

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