Soul of Japan

15 days

Indicative cost incl. flights:



3 star & low season


4/5 star & high season


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Day 1
Fly from the UK to Tokyo, the Japanese capital, on an overnight flight. Direct options are available from London, but there are lots of great indirect choices from regional airports too.
Day 2
Arrive in Tokyo and meet our team after passing through immigration. They will help get you to your hotel, as well as providing you with all the info and documents you need for your journey ahead. The rest of the day is yours to relax, or explore the city at your own pace.
Day 3
Set off from your hotel this morning with your own private guide, and tick off some of Tokyo's greatest sights. We can customise the day's activities and attractions to suit you and your interests, so just let us know what you are keen to see and do in this busy mega city! We would personally recommend the Asakusa neighbourhood - home to Sensoji, one of Japan's most popular Buddhist temples.
Day 4
Marvel at the punctuality and comfort of Japanese trains with your first journey by rail today, departing Tokyo this morning to the city of Matsumoto. After a few hours of scenic travel, take in the sights of this relaxed destination. The key sight to see is the towering castle in the centre of town, but the surrounding streets have plenty of cool shops and quirky museums to explore too.
Day 5
By local train, depart Matsumoto for the nearby Kiso Valley - home to the famous Nakasendo Way. This ancient path linking Tokyo and Kyoto can still be hiked today, and the well-preserved post towns along the route have some of the best examples of Edo-period architecture in modern Japan. Spend tonight in a traditional family-run inn, complete with a filling dinner and futon beds.
Day 6
Put your walking shoes on and take a stroll between some of the photogenic towns nearby. We can recommend the 3-hour walk between Tsumago and Magome, in either direction, but there are lots of other parts to explore too. If you're not much of a hiker there are still some great places to see - using trains and/or buses - before returning to your ryokan for another wholesome dinner and a night in the countryside.
Day 7
Continue by train to Japan's most visited city - Kyoto! With a wealth of attractions to visit, the hardest thing to do is picking where you want to go. After checking into your hotel we highly recommend a walk around the streets of the Gion neighbourhood, one of the districts where geikos (geisha) still work and live. This is also a great place to try some tasty local food, in one of the most atmospheric parts of the city.
Day 8
Get up early and meet your private guide for the morning. Visit the enigmatic rock gardens in Zen temple Ryoanji, the shimmering gold Kinkakuji, and the architectural wonders of Nijo Castle. This afternoon is free to explore further on your own – we would recommend Arashiyama with its bamboo groves and beautiful riverside location, or the vermilion torii gates heading up the mountain of Fushimi Inari shrine.
Day 9
Leaving Kyoto for the day, journey to Uji, a town famed for its matcha green tea and stunning Phoenix Hall of Byodoin temple. Together with a knowledgeable local guide, get to know this lesser-known city and try some ocha (green tea) for yourself. Your afternoon is free to spend as you wish – continue south to magical Nara, or return to Kyoto to see some more of the city’s treasures.
Day 10
Board a train back into the glorious mountainous interior – this time to the pretty town of Takayama. Famed for its clear waters, hot springs and delicious sake rice wine, this is one of Japan’s most beautiful destinations. Meander through the well-preserved historical streets, and enjoy a delicious evening meal tonight in your ryokan.
Day 11
Spend a morning in the bucolic countryside outside Takayama, exploring the fields and villages by bike. Observe everyday life occurring at a pleasantly slow pace, and return to the town this afternoon for some relaxation. Make sure to utilise the onsen (hot spring) baths in your accommodation for a genuine Japanese experience.
Day 12
Continue your exploration of the Hida countryside as you embark on a journey to Kanazawa via the impossibly picturesque villages of Shirakawago. Take a few hours to idle in this region, before continuing to the city of Kanazawa – a ‘little Kyoto’ where few tourists venture. We would recommend an evening stroll in the Higashi Chaya district – a quieter version of Kyoto’s Gion, but no less wonderful to explore when the sun goes down.
Day 13
This morning we would suggest a visit to the city’s most famous sight – Kenrokuen. A few hours here will be the perfect antidote to the bustle of modern Japan, a landscaped garden full of ponds, lanterns, bridges and trees. This afternoon, meet your tour guide to learn about some of Kanazawa’s most celebrated crafts – lacquerware, gold-leaf work and kimono-dying. Familiarise yourself with the techniques, and test your own skills too.
Day 14
A bullet train ride will take you back to the capital, for one last night in the city before you fly home from Japan. We can suggest some places to break up the journey, or extra things to see and do in Tokyo itself, to ensure your final day is a memorable one.
Day 15
Say Sayonara to Japan, flying back home after a fortnight spent in beautiful countryside and photogenic cities – who could ask for more?

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.

For all its high-tech glitz, Japan is very much a traditional nation – steeped in history and overflowing with quaint communities and ancient monuments.  This trip will take you on a journey through the forests and mountains of the Japanese Alps, a scenic circle through some of our all-time favourite places.  Check out magnificent castles, hike through glorious landscapes, sip delicious green tea and enjoy the prettiest towns and villages that Japan has to offer.

You will spend a number of nights in ryokan (traditional inns) in both the countryside and within delightful towns.  Dinner is included for you on these evenings, allowing you to try seasonal treats and local delicacies from the homely comfort of your Japanese-style room.  A truly magical experience that you are sure to remember fondly for years to come.

1 night flying – 2 nights Tokyo – 1 night Matsumoto – 2 nights Kiso Valley – 3 nights Kyoto – 2 nights Takayama – 2 nights Kanazawa – 1 night Tokyo

Where you'll go

What you'll do

Where you'll stay

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