Beautiful Japan (self-guided)

19 days

Indicative cost incl. flights:



3 star & low season


4/5 star & high season


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Day 1
Set off on your journey with an overnight flight to Japan from the UK.
Day 2
Arrive in Tokyo where you will be met by our team. After handing you all the passes, vouchers, and tickets you need for the next few weeks, they will help you get to your starting hotel by shared transfer. Let the adventure begin!
Day 3
Enjoy a day exploring Tokyo – from the early morning fish markets to the late-night bars and neon lights, it’s difficult to go wrong. Make use of our phone app to navigate the city's many different neighbourhoods.
Day 4
We would recommend a jaunt today to Kamakura, with its iconic bronze Buddha statue and refreshing sea views. We can organise many activities for you in Kamakura, including temple exploration, Zen meditation experiences, and guided tours to learn more about the unique gardens found here.
Day 5
Journey into the hinterlands for a few days in the charming town of Takayama. Try the delicious local food, wander the picture-perfect streets and breathe in the fresh mountain air.
Day 6
Make sure you are up bright and early to enjoy the morning markets, and put on your comfortable shoes for a day of exploring the town and its surroundings by foot.
Day 7
Take a bus to Shirakawago, an impossibly beautiful village in the Hida countryside, before continuing on to Kanazawa, one of Japan’s best kept secrets.
Day 8
With arguably the best landscape garden in Japan, teahouse districts that rival Kyoto’s Gion, and more than its fair share of world-class museums, it would be impossible to find yourself bored in Kanazawa.
Day 9
Hit the rails today and head, partially by bullet-train, to Hiroshima. Break up the journey by stopping in Himeji, a walkable town that boasts the most photogenic castle in the country.
Day 10
There are so many things to see and do in Hiroshima, but the sobering yet essential museum in the Peace Memorial Park should not be missed today.
Day 11
Take a boat across the shining Seto Inland Sea to Miyajima, a traditional and holy island famed for its ‘floating torii gate’, maple-leaf cakes and friendly sika deer.
Day 12
Continue back along the seemingly Mediterranean Setoichi coast and cross the waters to Naoshima. This idyllic island is dotted with modern art galleries, colourful sculptures and unforgettable vistas – you would almost forget that this is Japan.
Day 13
Unwind today as you saunter around the island. If you are feeling a little energetic, Naoshima lends itself well to being explored atop two-wheels… so hop on a bike and see where the day takes you.
Day 14
Return to the mainland and spend the next few nights in Kyoto. With over 2000 shrines and temples to choose from, it would be impossible to see everything… and don’t forget the Imperial Palace, Nijo Castle, bamboo groves, landscape gardens… like we said, there’s a lot to pick from.
Day 15
Spend another full day getting to know Kyoto. Head to the geisha neighbourhood of Gion, or the iconic vermillion gates of the Fushimi Inari Shrine, for the opportunity to see why this city is world-famous.
Day 16
Even if you decide to visit places outside of Kyoto, you are spoiled for choice. The food-capital of Osaka, the cosmopolitan port of Kobe, the green-tea mecca of Uji - all are an easy day trip. We would suggest you explore Nara if you have time though - the ancient capital is overflowing with history and is stunning at any time of the year.
Day 17
Zoom by bullet-train to Hakone, a town near to Mt. Fuji that has remained a popular place for travellers for hundreds of years. Spoil yourself with some Japanese hospitality and stay in a traditional ryokan inn, complete with a delicious evening meal and hot-spring baths.
Day 18
Spend a little more time today exploring the volcanic landscape of Hakone and all of its many treasures, then travel once more by the ever-reliable trains as you return to Tokyo.
Day 19
Souvenirs packed and passport in hand - it's time to head back to the airport for your flight home to the UK. Sayonara!

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.

When visiting somewhere as gigantic as Tokyo, or as daunting as Kyoto, having a local, English-speaking guide to show you around and teach you the history can be absolutely invaluable.  We also appreciate that this isn’t for everyone though, and those travellers who are more independent will want to brave the country on their own instead.  Getting a little lost in a side-street in Shinjuku, or having to flick through your guide-book to learn all about this particular shrine… well, that’s all part of the adventure.

This self-guided itinerary is for all those wandering souls, the fiercely self-reliant, the people who don’t need everything planned to the letter.  Let us take care of the framework of your trip – a curated route of Japan’s highlights, well-located hotels in each stop, the train passes and tickets you’ll need along the way – and the rest is up to you.  You’ll not be completely alone though – our local office will be a phone call away if you happen to hop on the wrong train, or get yourself too lost, and our Self-Guide mobile phone app will suggest all the best things to see, do, and places to dine.

This particular itinerary is our own choice to visit Japan’s most beautiful towns and villages, its most picturesque islands and mountains.  Similar self-guided adventures can be planned for anywhere in the country, and for any length of time.  Tell us what you want from your holiday and we will help you to create it.

1 night flying – 3 nights Tokyo – 2 nights Takayama – 2 nights Kanazawa – 3 nights Hiroshima – 2 nights Naoshima – 3 nights Kyoto – 1 night Hakone – 1 night Tokyo

Where you'll go

What you'll do

Where you'll stay

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