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Tel: 1 303 952 0379

IJT Essential Japan Unmasked

13 Nights: from £1750 (excluding international flights)
Snow monkeys, a temple stay, bright lights and rural Japan. Japan Unmasked offers fantastic value and a fascinating insight into Japan old and new. This flexible tour, led by one of our experienced staff, allows you to spend as much, or as little, as you want. Visit Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima and more!

Whether it's slurping on a bowl of noodles with suited salarymen at a railway cafe, or splurging on a succulent Kobe beef steak at the finest restaurant in Kyoto, our itinerary is flexible enough to cater for any budget.

The tour begins in the high octane-city of Tokyo, the neon heart of this amazing country. The first of many rides on Japan's Shinkansen bullet train will then whisk us into the Japan Alps, where a magical temple stay in Nagano's most important temple awaits. A chance to see the mischievous snow monkeys as they soak in the natural hot spring pools of Yudanaka Onsen will be followed by a visit to one of Japan's original castles in Matsumoto.

We delve deeper into the mountains to the traditional market town of Takayama, home to folk villages and sake breweries.

In Kanazawa we will have the opportunity to follow the footsteps of geisha and samurai, and witness the pinnacle of Japanese gardens, Kenrokuen.

Back on the Shinkansen, we speed further west to the heartland of Japan where our destination is Hiroshima, a dynamic city offering great food and nightlife, world class art galleries, and the sobering Peace Memorial Park. An optional day trip to the nearby sacred Miyajima Island to see the iconic floating torii gate and meet the four legged locals!

The scenic city of Kurashiki brings us a dose of culture, with renowned art galleries and some quaint museums, or if you are feeling energetic you can set out on one of Japan's top bike rides.

We saved the best Shinkansen journey to last as we pass by the base of Mt Fuji and are deposited back in Tokyo, where we finish this amazing trip in style.


** 5 night Self-Guided add-on package **

Why not spend a few more days in Japan, with our 5-night self-guided extension?

You will have 2 nights in Nikko, to visit some of Japan's most ornate temples and shrines and enjoy the beautiful scenery around Lake Chuzenji. You then head further north to Sendai, a vibrant modern city with a variety of day trip options on offer, so you can tailor your time here to suit your preferences. Coastal scenery at Matsushima, the cliff-top temple complex of Yamadera and the rich history of Hiraizumi all compete for your attention! After 2 nights in Sendai you will travel back to Tokyo for a final night before heading home. All extra transport, breakfast each morning and 2 evening meals are included.

Twin/Double: £600 per person
Single: £750 per person

Please note that the add-on is treated as a separate booking to the tour and we will ask for a separate deposit at the time of booking.

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Price

Tour Price from £1750
Full Price Details
The price shown here is for the land arrangements only and does not include international flights. If you would like a quote for your flights, please ask.

 
What’s Included:
  • 13 Nights Accommodation including a temple lodging stay near Zenkoji-ji temple in Nagano and a small family run Japanese minshuku in Takayama
  • All transport between destinations in Japan
  • 14 day Japan Rail Pass - a flexible pass allowing you to make day trips using Japan Rail at no extra cost
  • Tokyo Transport Pass
  • A mix of Western and traditional Japanese style breakfasts everyday
  • 1 beautifully prepared home cooked everning meal in Takayama
  • Full time service of your expert Tour Leader
  • Luggage forwarding Tokyo to Matsumoto
  • Entrance to Nagano Zenkoji Temple
  • InsideJapan Tours' complimentary Info-Pack
What’s NOT Included:
  • International Flights
  • Local transport at destinations
  • Entrance fees to shrines, temples, museums etc
  • Meals other than noted above
  • Baggage handling (except for Tokyo to Matsumoto)

Important Practical Information

Maximum Group Size:
14

Single Supplement: There is no single supplement for this tour. Single travellers will have a single room free of charge at all of the western style hotels (at least 8 nights). They will be asked to share with another single traveller of the same sex at the Japanese style stays (maximum 5 nights).  

Accommodation: All western style hotels have private ensuite. The ryokan accommodation in Takayama, as well as the shukubo temple lodging in Nagano have shared bathroom and toilet facilities. At the ryokan in Kyoto we can usually get rooms with ensuite facilities but this cannot be guaranteed.

International Flights: This tour starts and finishes in Tokyo for arrivals and departures at Tokyo Narita Airport.

Check-in: Please note that rooms at the Tokyo hotel are only available from 12noon. (You can however securely leave your luggage at the front desk at any time).

 

Day by Day Itinerary


Day 1 Tokyo

Meals: None

The tour begins in Tokyo. Your airport transfer is swift and easy and can be made with your included PASMO card. Don’t worry, before you leave we will provide you with our very own Info-Pack, which contains faultless instructions on how to arrive at the starting hotel safely (along with loads of other info)!

Our hotel is centrally located near Tokyo’s famous Tokyo Tower. Close by you will also find the atmospheric Zozo-ji Temple and street after street of restaurants, bars, cafes, and shops all within walking distance of the hotel! Plenty to keep you occupied if you arrive early.

We will have a group meeting in the evening, giving you the chance to meet your fellow group members and Tour Leader. After the meeting, your Tour Leader will head out for an amazing local meal at one of the many great restaurants nearby.

Day 2 Tokyo

Meals: Breakfast

Today your Leader will take you on a day tour which will include Meiji-Jingu Shrine, Hamarikyu Gardens, a ride on Tokyo's water bus and a visit to the traditional Asakusa area.

Of course, there are so many fantastic things to do and see in this amazing city; museums, gardens, and shrines, and you should feel free if you want to head out and do your own thing – your Leader will be happy to assist with any plans. You will also have a Japan Rail Pass, should you wish to make one of the many exciting day trips out of the city.

Day 3 Nagano

Meals: Breakfast

We leave this vibrant city behind in style as we set out by Japan’s famous Shinkansen bullet train to Nagano. Nestled in the Japanese Alps, Nagano Prefecture is home to nine of Japan’s twelve highest mountains, and was the site of the 1998 Winter Olympics.

The afternoon is yours to explore the city. If your feeling adventurous, maybe accompany your tour leader for some hand-made soba noodles and a trip to the local hotsprings!

Nagano City’s most famous attraction is Zenko-ji temple. Tonight will be a real highlight as we have the opportunity to stay overnight near this amazing 7th century temple in a shukubo – traditional Japanese temple lodgings.

Day 4 Matsumoto

Meals: Breakfast

An early morning today as we will wake up early to watch the monks chanting – a spine tingling experience.

Following this you will have the option to make an excursion to Yudanaka Onsen to visit Japan’s famous Snow Monkeys. These cheeky macaques come down from the surrounding hills to bathe in natural hot springs. We can guarantee plenty of amazing photo opportunities!

After lunch we will make the short journey by train to Matsumoto. Home to one of Japan’s most stunning original castles, it is often called ‘Black Crow’ castle owing to it’s unique black colour. Other attractions in Matsumoto include the Ukiyoe (woodblock print) Museum, and strolling through the old merchant’s district.

Day 5 Takayama

Meals: Breakfast/Dinner

We continue on our journey through the Japanese Alps to the market town of Takayama. Due to it’s remote position in the mountains, it was cut off from the rest of Japan for most of its history and thus has maintained a very unique and traditional atmosphere.

In Takayama we will be staying in a traditional Japanese minshuku, a basic but wonderful experience. We will sleep on futons laid out on traditional tatami flooring and be able to experience a steaming hot onsen bath to relax (or recharge – the choice is yours!)

There are so many great experiences to be had in Takayama, from strolling through the preserved streets to visiting the museum that houses Takayama’s famous Festival Floats. Tonight, join your Tour Leader for an included dinner to taste some of the region’s local specialities!

Day 6 Takayama

Meals: Breakfast

Today is free to further explore this charming town. Your first stop should be the lively morning market, offering lots of free tastes of the local fruit and vegetables. The Hida No Sato folk village, an open air museum of traditional Japanese farm houses is not to be missed. Your Tour leader will be on hand to ensure that you get the most out of your time here and will be more than happy to help you cap what is sure to be a fantastic day by taking you for some tastings at the local sake breweries.

Day 7 Kanazawa

Meals: Breakfast

There will be time for some last minute shopping at the morning market before we head off by train to our next destination, Kanazawa.

Located on the Japan Sea Coast, Kanazawa is a showcase of traditional Japan. Take a stroll through the beautifully preserved Nagamachi samurai district or the Chaya geisha district; get some sushi in the Omicho fish market or just sip a cup of green tea and contemplate life in the stunning Kenrokuen, one of Japan’s top 3 gardens,

Day 8 Hiroshima

Meals: Breakfast

Today we have a chance to truly enjoy the wonder that are Japanese trains, as we take a Limited Express from one coast of Japan to the other, and then hit top speed on the Shinkansen as we hurtle along the Sanyo Coast to Hiroshima.

Known for all the wrong reasons, these days Hiroshima is a vibrant city which has chosen not to dwell in the past but to strive ahead for a better future.

The Peace Memorial Museum and surrounding Peace Park manage to convey a sense of hope rather than despair, but are not all that Hiroshima has to offer.

With some truly world class art galleries, a manga library, a beautifully restored castle and Japan’s worst baseball team, your Tour Leader as always will be on hand to help you take in the sights you want to see.

Hiroshima is famous for its local dish Hiroshima-yaki, a kind of as-you-like-it pancake cooked on a grill in front of you, so make sure you join your Leader as s/he takes you to their favourite restaurant!

Day 9 Hiroshima

Meals: Breakfast

A free day to enjoy all that Hiroshima has to offer. You may choose to take a trip out to the sacred Miyajima Island, home to shrines, temples, and deer but best known for one of Japan’s top 3 views – the vermillion red floating torii gate. If cars are more your thing, your Tour Leader can arrange a visit to the Mazda Museum, where you can witness their fully automated production line.

Day 10 Kurashiki

Meals: Breakfast

A short trip on the Shinkansen and local train takes us to the charming canal town of Kurashiki. We will have the day free to explore some of the quaint local museums and renowned art galleries. Or maybe you can sit at one of the cafes lining the canals, sipping on a hot green tea as you ponder on the town’s fascinating history.

Today, weather permitting, there is an optional bike ride on the Kibi Plains, one of the most beautiful and historical paved bike rides in Japan. You will pass through ancient burial mounds, rice fields, local temples and Buddhist cemeteries.

Day 11 Kyoto

Meals: Breakfast

Our next destination is Japan’s cultural capital, Kyoto, a short train ride away.

A highlight of any journey to Japan, Kyoto has an endless offering of shrines, temples, gardens, geisha, cuisine and even shopping to boot. Your Tour Leader will be on hand to make sure that you find what you are looking for in this mecca of culture.

Day 12 Kyoto

Meals: Breakfast

A free day in Kyoto to explore this classic city. Bursting with temples, shrines, World Heritage sites, gardens, museums, geisha and everything that you ever associated with Japan, your Tour Leader will lead an optional tour of some of the famous sites and hidden gems. Of course, if you want to explore solo, than your Leader will be pleased to advise.

Day 13 Tokyo*

Meals: Breakfast

Today we take our final journey as we take the Shinkansen back to Tokyo. We will speed past the iconic Mt Fuji, and if she is feeling bold, we may catch a glimpse!

Your Tour Leader will take you out for one last amazing dinner, a chance to reminisce with your fellow group members over all the amazing experiences you have packed into the last 2 weeks.

Day 14 Depart

Meals: Breakfast

Sadly, it is time to bid sayonara – for now!

If your Japan Rail Pass is still within its validity on your departure day then you will be able to use it to cover this journey. If you have extra nights and the pass is no longer valid then you will need to pay on the day for this journey.

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Photos


Onsen Monkeys in Yudanaka

Traditional farmhouses in Takayama

Lunch time in Hiroshima!

Kinkakuji - The Golden Pavillion, Kyoto

Tha canals and white wall storehouses in Kurashiki

The stunning nightview of Yokohama

Pricing Information

2014
Tour Price: £1750
Extra Nights  
Pre-Tour: Twin Share pp £40     Single pp £60 
Post-Tour: Twin Share pp £40    Single pp £60
2015
Tour Price: £1750
Extra Nights  
Pre-Tour: Twin Share pp £40     Single pp £60 
Post-Tour: Twin Share pp £40    Single pp £60
 

Accommodation


Shiba Park Hotel

Tokyo

Moderate Hotel

The Shiba Park hotel is located in the centre of Tokyo, with Tokyo Tower and Zozo-ji Temple a short walk west and Hama Rikyu Gardens a pleasant stroll away to the east. The hotel has friendly English speaking staff and is well used to looking after foreign guests. The lobby has plenty of space and seating and the rooms are of a reasonable size for Tokyo. There are numerous subway and overland stations nearby and the hotel also has its own restaurants, including a French restaurant operated by a Michelin starred chef!

Zenkoji Tokugyobou

Nagano

Shukubo (JP)

The Tokugyobou is a temple lodgings connected to Nagano's famous Zenkoji temple. This is a great place to stay with traditional Shojin Ryori vegetarian Buddhist meals available and the chance to join in the morning ceremony as well. Rooms are traditional Japanese style with bathing at the shared bath house (single sex). The monks are very friendly and delighted to have foreign guests staying at their beautiful temple.

Matsumoto Hotel Kagetsu

Matsumoto

Pension

The Hotel Kagetsu has been a part of the fabric of Matsumoto for over a hundred years. It is located just a short walk from Matsumoto castle and has a lovely Meiji-era atmosphere with lots of folk-craft furniture and turn of the century style decor. The restaurant and cafe are very good and the hotel has its own bath house as well as fully en-suite rooms.

Iwata-kan

Takayama

Minshuku (JP)

The Iwata-kan is a friendly, family-run inn. Located a 10 minute walk from the Yatai Kaikan exhibition hall and the morning market along the Miyagawa river, this minshuku makes for a great base in Takayama. Free of charge rental bikes are also available to help you get around. The minshuku also features a natural hot spring bath house and fine home cooked food.

Garden Hotel Kanazawa

Kanazawa

Moderate Hotel

The Garden Hotel offers a very warm welcome just a short walk from Kanazawa station. Downtown for Kenrokuen Gardens and the Samurai district is easily accessed by a 10 minute bus or taxi ride. Rooms are well sized and modern and the front desk staff are able to offer all sorts of tourist info and advice.

Toyoko Inn Hiroshima Heiwa Odori

Hiroshima

Business Hotel

This Toyoko Inn is located on Heiwa Dori - Peace Street - which is Hiroshima's main thoroughfare. Just a short distance from the Peace Park and Museum and in amongst countless shops and restaurants, this is a fun place to stay in this vibrant city. Rooms are compact but clean and modern and the hotel offers a free shuttle bus ride to Hiroshima station.

Hotel Resol Kurashiki

Kurashiki

Moderate Hotel

The Hotel Resol Kurashiki is a western style hotel located an eight minute walk from Kurashiki station and just a ten minute walk from the Ohara Museum and the scenic old canal area of Kurashiki.

Heianbo Ryokan

Kyoto

Ryokan (JP)

The Heianbo is a traditional ryokan located near to Higashi Honganji temple for which it used to act as a temple lodging. The ryokan is just a short walk from Kyoto station and is near to subway and bus stops as well making it an ideal base for exploring Kyoto. The rooms are traditional Japanese style with futons and low "Kotatsu" tables. Although it is a traditional wooden building, the Heianbo does have free internet access available in the lobby.

Ibis Tokyo Shinjuku

Tokyo

Moderate Hotel

The Ibis Tokyo Shinjuku is in an unbeatable location in the heart of Shinjuku, just minutes on foot from the station and with numerous restaurants and shops on its doorstep. The hotel has its own bar, cafe and restaurant and offers compact but clean and comfortable rooms. A handy coin laundry is available and there is an internet computer in the lobby. A great base from which to do some last minute sightseeing, shopping and eating before heading home.

Tour Dates
Tour Starts Tour Disbands Price Status
2014
Currently there are no departures available for this year. Please contact us using the enquiry form or call us - UK (0)117 370 9740 / USA 303 952 0379 / AUS 028 011 3229
2015
16 Feb 2015 01 Mar 2015 £1750 NOW BOOKING
23 Feb 2015 08 Mar 2015 £1750 NOW BOOKING
09 Mar 2015 22 Mar 2015 £1750 SOLD OUT
04 May 2015 17 May 2015 £1750 SOLD OUT
18 May 2015 31 May 2015 £1750 ASK US
01 Jun 2015 14 Jun 2015 £1750 NOW BOOKING
08 Jun 2015 21 Jun 2015 £1750 NOW BOOKING
15 Jun 2015 28 Jun 2015 £1750 NOW BOOKING
06 Jul 2015 19 Jul 2015 £1750 NOW BOOKING
17 Aug 2015 30 Aug 2015 £1750 SOLD OUT
31 Aug 2015 13 Sep 2015 £1750 NOW BOOKING
14 Sep 2015 27 Sep 2015 £1750 NOW BOOKING
28 Sep 2015 11 Oct 2015 £1750 NOW BOOKING
12 Oct 2015 25 Oct 2015 £1750 NOW BOOKING
09 Nov 2015 22 Nov 2015 £1750 NOW BOOKING
30 Nov 2015 13 Dec 2015 £1750 NOW BOOKING
2016
Currently there are no departures available for this year. Please contact us using the enquiry form or call us - UK (0)117 370 9740 / USA 303 952 0379 / AUS 028 011 3229

What’s Included:
  • 13 Nights Accommodation including a temple lodging stay near Zenkoji-ji temple in Nagano and a small family run Japanese minshuku in Takayama
  • All transport between destinations in Japan
  • 14 day Japan Rail Pass - a flexible pass allowing you to make day trips using Japan Rail at no extra cost
  • Tokyo Transport Pass
  • A mix of Western and traditional Japanese style breakfasts everyday
  • 1 beautifully prepared home cooked everning meal in Takayama
  • Full time service of your expert Tour Leader
  • Luggage forwarding Tokyo to Matsumoto
  • Entrance to Nagano Zenkoji Temple
  • InsideJapan Tours' complimentary Info-Pack
What’s NOT Included:
  • International Flights
  • Local transport at destinations
  • Entrance fees to shrines, temples, museums etc
  • Meals other than noted above
  • Baggage handling (except for Tokyo to Matsumoto)

Important Practical Information

Maximum Group Size:
14

Single Supplement: There is no single supplement for this tour. Single travellers will have a single room free of charge at all of the western style hotels (at least 8 nights). They will be asked to share with another single traveller of the same sex at the Japanese style stays (maximum 5 nights).  

Accommodation: All western style hotels have private ensuite. The ryokan accommodation in Takayama, as well as the shukubo temple lodging in Nagano have shared bathroom and toilet facilities. At the ryokan in Kyoto we can usually get rooms with ensuite facilities but this cannot be guaranteed.

International Flights: This tour starts and finishes in Tokyo for arrivals and departures at Tokyo Narita Airport.

Check-in: Please note that rooms at the Tokyo hotel are only available from 12noon. (You can however securely leave your luggage at the front desk at any time).

 
Inside Japan Tours - Independent British Travel Awards 2011 - Best Tour Operator To East and Central Asia
The Guardian, The Observer - Travel Awards 2010 Winner - Best tour operator (small)
Inside Japan Tours - Silver at the British Travel Awards 2009