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Discover the excellentness of Japan on this trip through Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka

Hellooo Japan. Get your fix of Japanese culture with temples, sushi and shopping in Tokyo. Soak up Kanazawa’s crazy samurai culture. Get down with your world history at Hiroshima. Spy geishas in Kyoto’s Gion district. And get your Tina Turner on at an Osaka karaoke bar. By the end of this trip you’ll be sipping sake like a pro.

Tokyo, Japan
Osaka, Japan
Physical rating
Traveller’s rating
30 reviews
Min 18 , Max 29
Group size
Min 1, Max 16

Why we love this trip

  • We love this trip as majority of it is free time! Have the freedom to see and do what you want but with the benefits of group travel!

  • Take a walk on the wild side through the Harajuku area of Tokyo

  • Visit Hiroshima - Peace Park & Museum

  • See the famous gold-plated Kinkaku-ji Temple, get lost in Kyoto's laneways and perhaps spot a Geisha or two.

  • Get your Onsen on, a traditional Japanese shared bath, (yep naked)

  • Visit the Kenroku-en Gardens and Castle in Kanazawa, the home of samurai!

  • Zip through Japan at bullet speed with an included rail pass 

Is this trip right for you?

  • A good degree of fitness is recommended for this trip as there is a lot of walking involved (up to 10 kilometres each day), particularly around Kyoto which is best seen on foot. Bring comfortable walking shoes and be prepared to spend most of the day on your feet.

  • We recommend packing light and smart for this trip as you'll be required to carry your own luggage between train stations and to hotels, which can include going up and down multiple flights of stairs in crowded areas.

  • As there are few activities included, you will have plenty of options offered by your leader for you to choose from. Public transport to get to various sites is easy and cheap, but do take the cost of transport into account when planning your budget for activities. This is a great trip for those who appreciate a bit of independence and want to customise their journey to their own interests. Your Leader is there to advise and help you plan your free time, so you get the most out of each day!

  • Much of the accommodation is in traditional Japanese ryokans. Sleep on the floor on a tatami mat, keep warm beside an irori hearth and bath in an onsen or shared bathroom facilities. Some of our accommodation includes shared bathing facilities with set times for men and women. Some properties may also have a curfew by which all guests must have returned for the night (usually around midnight).

  • We like to encourage travellers to indulge in traditional Japanese 'onsens' while in the country as it is a quintessential local experience. This means bathing naked in the presence of others of the same gender. While the experience can feel strange at first, most of our groups end up enjoying this activity. If you feel uncomfortable with bathing naked, please feel free to skip taking part.

  • Decorative tattoos are uncommon in Japanese culture and therefore you may receive curious and sometimes disapproving looks from locals. Generally, nobody will make a comment about your tattoos but please endeavour to wear modest clothing and be aware that you may not be able to enter public onsens.

  • Please note this trip includes a rail pass on Japan's famous bullet speed trains so there is no need to organise one on your own.

  • Due to the rapid increase in tourism in Japan and in the lead up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics it has been necessary to go outside our traditional tour leader sources. As a result our passionate, professional and trained tour leaders may be local Japanese or long term foreign residents in Japan.


This itinerary is valid for departures from 04 August 2017 to 31 December 2017. View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2018 - 31 December 2018

Konnichiwa! Welcome to Japan!

As travellers are arriving from all over the world, there are no activities planned for day 1. The group meeting will take place at 6pm this evening.

To introduce you to Tokyo at night your leader will take you for walk around the famous Shinjuku area and the group can choose the place for their first dinner together.

Tokyo is a dynamic, modern hub, the thriving capital of an ancient land. Contradictions are everywhere, as hi-tech gadgetry and neon lights play an integral part in the lives of a population steeped in tradition.  If 3 days in Tokyo isn’t enough for you, you can book additional accommodation with our team or your booking agent, so you can arrive early and tick all the sights off your bucket list.

Please remember that there are many options for travellers to choose from on this tour to make the most of all your free time. While we have quoted the approximate cost of some of the most popular activities throughout, these do not include costs of getting to or from sights. Public transport in Japan is economical, efficient and not only a great way to get around, it's the best way to go local!

This itinerary is far from a hand-holding, all inclusive trip, so enjoy the freedom and indulge in some raw fish!
  • Hotel/Ryokan (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today is free time for you to continue exploring this thriving metropolis independently.  

There are endless opportunities for sightseeing in and around Tokyo, head west of the city to the districts of Shibuya and Harajuku – a magnet for the city’s breathtakingly trendy youth or check out the impressive Meiji Jingu Shrine and Sensoji Temple, a serene way to pass an afternoon.  Tokyo is full of historic temples and shrines still to be found in some of the most unexpected places, as well as an abundance of parks and gardens which are particularly exquisite in spring when the cherry trees and azaleas are in bloom.

If you are a lover of cats visit the Gotokuji Cat Temple!  Maneki Neko (the beckoning cat) are known for good luck and prosperity not only in Japan but all across Asia.  Perhaps re-visit your childhood with a magical day spent at Tokyo Disney or Disney Sea theme parks (tickets can be bought at JR ticket counters, convenience stores, online).  Or perhaps get the group together for the final night in Tokyo and experience the Robot Cafe in Shinjuku!  You can catch a 3 hour show full of neon lights, lasers, robotics, video screens and dancers.
  • Hotel/Ryokan (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Tokyo - Imperial Palace - Free
  • Tokyo - Sensoji Temple - Free
  • Tokyo - Meiji Shrine - Free
  • Tokyo - Robot Cafe - JPY7000
  • Tokyo - Disneyland or Disney Sea - JPY6400
  • Tokyo - Gotokuji Cat Temple - Free
  • Tokyo - Tokyo Tower Observatory - JPY900
  • Tokyo - Yoyogi Park - Free
  • Tokyo - Ghibli Animation Studio (advance bookings required) - JPY1000
  • Tokyo - Shinjuku Garden - JPY200
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
This morning we travel by train to the city of Kanazawa. This city is best known for Kenroku-en, a 17th century castle and gardens.  Kanazawa is also known for being the home of samurai, it boasts beautifully preserved samurai and geisha districts, historic temples and awesome markets you can shop and eat your way around.  After checking into our hotel perhaps go and explore Kenroku-en Gardens and Castle.  The castle is free to enter however the gardens have an entry fee of 310JPY.  A buss pass for the day in Kanazawa will cost you approximately 500JPY.
Tonight is a free evening for you to explore the streets and indulge in Kanazawa's izakaya and sushi!
Optional Activities
  • Kanazawa - Kenroku-en Gardens & Castle - JPY310
  • Kanazawa - Oyama Shrine - Free
  • Kanazawa - Omicho Market - Free
  • Kanazawa - 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art - JPY1000
  • Kanazawa - Nagamachi Samurai District (Museums in district will charge entry) - Free
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today we will explore by foot, and enjoy a walking tour of Kanazawa's Higashi Chaya district.  Get lost in the alleyways of this historic district, follow Geisha around the winding alleyways and admire the traditional Chaya houses. Chaya is known locally as a place of tradition, feasts and entertainment.

Enjoy a traditional tea ceremony if that's your thing, at one of the local tea houses. 

The afternoon is free for you explore further.  You will do lots of walking in Japan as everything is so accessible, so make sure you pack a comfortable pair of shoes that won't hurt your groove.
Included Activities
  • Kanazawa - Higashi Chaya District walking tour
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Kyoto was once the imperial capital of Japan and as such, is one of the most beautiful cities in the country. With over 2,000 temples, shrines and gardens, Kyoto is a great place to get 'lost' in - so get out, walk the streets and soak up the wonderful atmosphere in your free time. In Kyoto a bus pass for the day will cost approximately 500JPY.

Perhaps visit the magnificent gold-plated Kinkaku-ji Temple, Nijo Castle and if you like, join our leader to take a walk through the famous Gion Giesha district.  With its many old teahouses, some of them mentioned in the widely acclaimed novel and now movie “Memoirs of a Geisha”. We can observe the age-old tradition of immaculate geisha girls visiting members of the wealthy elite in small teahouses tucked away down tiny back streets. If you are keen to visit Himeji Castle, today would be a great day to go. Himeji castle is both a national treasure and a world heritage site. Your leader can assist you with directions and tips to go there!
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Kyoto - Gion District walk
Optional Activities
  • Kyoto - Kinkakuji Temple - JPY500
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today is free time to explore beautiful Kyoto! Your leader can give you recommendations and tell you how to get from A to B, but the day is yours to spend how you like!

A recommendation is to take a walk in the wooded hills of Inari Mountain, famous for its Shinto ‘fox temple’ and atmospheric tunnels of red torii gates.  A great sight for the keen photographers.  There is lots to do and see in this amazing city so set your alarm for early AM!

This is our last night in Kyoto, so make sure you do last-minute shopping or, in true Japanese tradition... go out for karaoke!
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Kyoto - Sento Imperial Palace - Free
  • Kyoto - Fushimi Inari Shrine - Free
  • Kyoto - Kiyomizu Temple - JPY500
  • Kyoto - Kimono/Maiko/Samurai Dress Up - JPY10000
  • Kyoto - Arashiyama Monkey Park - JPY550
  • Kyoto - Arashiyama (Bamboo Forest) - Free
  • Kyoto - Kaiten Sushi Train at Kura Sushi - JPY2000
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Hiroshima is a bustling metropolis with a tragic history (approx 2 hours on the train from Kyoto).

We have free time here to visit Peace Park and the ruins of the A-Bomb Dome building in the evening, one of 11 structures left partially standing after the nuclear bomb blast on 6 August 1945, left as a horrifying reminder of the destruction of nuclear war. Around its perimeter is the peace park with monuments and a museum dedicated to Hiroshima and international peace.  Both of which stand testimony to the fateful day in August 1945 when Hiroshima was chosen as the target for the first ever wartime use of the atomic bomb.
Please note the Peace Park is free entry, however the Museum entrance fee is 50JPY.
  • Hotel/Ryokan (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Hiroshima - Peace Park & Museum - JPY50
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Spend an afternoon at the nearby island of Miyajima with its famous 'floating' Torii Gate and the grand Itsukushima-jinja Shrine - be sure to watch out for inquisitive and eternally hungry deer that roam the streets of the island. From Hiroshima to Miyajima, part of the journey requires the use of a tram that would cost 320JPY.
  • Hotel/Ryokan (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Miyajima - Itsukushima Shrine - JPY300
  • Hiroshima - Miyajima Island - JPY320
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Travel by train to Osaka, what better way to finish our trip than in a city with the motto 'Kuidaore' (translation: 'eat until you drop'!).  We recommend you try Osaka’s okonomiyake (a delicious savoury pancake) which Osaka is renowned for!

Osaka is Japan's unofficial culinary capital, with sprawling shopping hubs and tiny backstreets overflowing with restaurants and bars serving up local delicacies as well as Japan's answer to fast food. Notably, Osaka is credited with the first kaiten-zushi (conveyor belt sushi) restaurants, after its inventor - the owner of a sushi restaurant with staffing issues - watched beer bottles on a conveyor belt at the nearby Asahi brewery and thought it might be a good way to solve this problem!

Visit Osaka Castle, and enjoy a walking tour around the popular Dotombori district which is a popular shopping, food and entertainment district of the city.  At night it is lit by hundreds of neon lights and mechanized signs, including the famous Glico Running Man sign and Kani Doraku crab sign.

Thrill seekers are sure to find adventure at Universal Studios theme park, for those of you wanting to try your hand at a local skill, try a Taiko Drum Lesson or if you’re feeling like a little relaxation, indulge yourself at Spa World, and try a traditional Japanese Onsen. (Note: In Japanese onsens, being naked is a requirement!).

If shopping is your cup of tea, take in some of the city's landmarks, including the wonderful Kuromon covered market and pick up some final kitchen gadgets (or plastic food!) at the quirky Dogusuji Arcade.
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Osaka - Dotombori District walking tour
Optional Activities
  • Osaka - Osaka Castle - JPY600
  • Osaka - Universal Studios (Day Pass) - JPY7200
  • Osaka - Dogusuji Arcade - Free
  • Osaka - Spa World - JPY2700
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
There are no activities planned for day 10 and you are able to depart the hotel at any time. Check out time is 10.00am. If you are departing later, you can arrange luggage storage at the hotel.  We recommend extending your stay in Osaka as there is much to do and see!
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.


No meals are included on this tour


Train, Public Bus, Subway, Walking


Hotel/Ryokan (9 nights)

Included Activities

  • Kanazawa - Higashi Chaya District walking tour
  • Kyoto - Gion District walk
  • Osaka - Dotombori District walking tour


Our Discover Japan trips score an average of 4.77 out of 5 based on 30 reviews in the last year.

Discover Japan, April 2017

Isabelle Ng

Discover Japan, August 2017

Susanna Thomas

Dates & availability

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Important notes

1. A Single Supplement is currently not available for this trip due to limited rooms at many of our properties.
2. This itinerary is far from a hand-holding, all inclusive trip, so enjoy the freedom of discovering Japan, with the guidance of expert advice on how to spend your time from your leader.
3. A 7 day Japan Rail Pass is included on this trip. This pass will be validated on Day 3 of the trip with the assistance of the tour leader, but you won't be able to use the pass prior to that. An extension to 14 day or 21 day pass is available to purchase, but you can only use the extended pass for travels after the trip.
4. Transport from one destination to the next is included, however transport to get around the destinations in your free time is not included.
5. Due to the rapid increase in tourism in Japan and in the lead up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics it has been necessary to go outside our traditional tour leader sources. As a result our passionate, professional and trained tour leaders may be local Japanese or long term foreign residents in Japan.

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.