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Golden Route

9 Nights: £1210 (excluding international flights)
Following the path of the old Tokaido road, the Golden Route will take you from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo to Kyoto, ancient capital and true heart of Japanese history and culture. With the hot springs of Hakone also included, this Self-Guided Adventure is a perfect introductory taste of Japan.

Tokyo is a phenomenon; a city that rose like a phoenix from the ashes of World War Two to become an economic powerhouse; a city of 30 million people carried along on a sweeping tide of energy from the suburbs to the offices and department stores and back again. Yet amidst all this activity are to be found tranquil gardens; havens of quiet away from the unceasing activity of the city. The sights, sounds, tastes and smells of the capital are yours to discover as you begin your adventure in Japan.

A world away from the modern metropolis, Hakone National Park in the foothills of Mt. Fuji is a glimpse of the natural beauty of Japan. Famed for its bubbling volcanic hot springs, you will be following in the footsteps of the first Shogun who rested his troops in Hakone in preparation for battle!

Having been swept down the coast on the world-famous 'Bullet Train', you will glide into Kyoto, a modern city of over one million people yet one which offers a window on the past; a glimpse of the majesty of old Imperial Japan; a city where exquisite gardens lie awaiting discovery behind sliding doors and around every corner lie unknown treasures.

The included Japan Rail Pass means that from Kyoto it is possible to take day trips for no extra cost. The stunning castle in Himeji, the historic temples and deer park in Nara and the World Heritage temple of Byodoin in Uji are just some of the possibilities.

As well as breakfast each morning, two evening meals, transport between destinations and quality, tried and tested accommodation, your holiday package includes the services of a professional guide for a day in both Tokyo and Kyoto - a fantastic way to get a true insight into these cities.

Whether you travel for the sweet smelling cherry blossoms of spring, the buzzing festivals of the hot summer, the blazing reds, oranges and golds of autumn, or the crisp clear skies of winter, the Golden Route is a trip to savour, and is sure to excite the senses during every season.

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Destinations:
Tokyo | Hakone | Kyoto | Tokyo

Prices:
2014
Standard:
Twin: £1210  Single: £1450

Upgrade:
Twin: £2000  Single: £2670


What's Included:
  • 9 nights accommodation in Japan
  • Breakfast every day
  • 2 evening meals
  • All transport between destinations incl. airport transfers
  • 7 day Japan Rail Pass and Hakone Free-Passes for local transport in the Hakone region
  • Tokyo transport card with 2500 yen of credit
  • Meet and Greet upon arrival at Tokyo Narita Airport
  • 8 hours private guide service in Tokyo and Kyoto
  • InsideJapan Tours' complimentary Info-Pack
What's NOT Included:
  • International Flights
  • Local transport (buses, subways, taxis) at any destination unless otherwise specified
  • Any entrance fees including those for shrines, temples and museums
  • Baggage handling - you will be expected to carry your own bags for the duration of the trip

Supplements
No seasonal supplement

Miyajima & Hiroshima Two Night add-on
Our Golden Route itinerary can easily be extended to include two nights staying on Miyajima Island. Reached by bullet train from Kyoto, this scenic island is famous for its floating Torii gate and is a great base for a day trip to Hiroshima as well. The add-on includes all extra transport needed, breakfast and 2 extra evening meals.

Standard (Twin share): £230 per person
Standard (Single room): £230 per person
Upgrade (Twin share): £400 per person
Upgrade (Single room): £640 per person

Black Out Dates
There are no black out dates for this trip. However, please be aware that at the busiest times of the year the named accommodation may not be available and in this case the price can not be guaranteed. However, we will always do our best to match the prices you see here as closely as possible.

Included evening meals are in Hakone (2).

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Day by Day Itinerary


Day 1 Tokyo

Meals: None

Welcome to Japan! On arrival at Narita Airport you will be met by your driver who will be taking you by shuttle bus to your hotel in the historic Asakusa district of Tokyo. Journey time around 90 minutes. Situated on the banks of the Sumida River, Asakusa is Tokyo’s most historic area and home to the magnificent Senso-ji Temple. With the colourful carnival of market stalls, food vendors and traditional ryokan, Asakusa’s relaxed down-to-earth atmosphere offers a glimpse of Tokyo life before the neon-spangled skyscrapers arrived.

Day 2 Tokyo

Meals: Breakfast

Today you will have a knowledgeable local guide at your disposal for eight hours. Tokyo is packed with sightseeing opportunities so let the guide do the hard work and lead you to the highlights. Itineraries are not fixed in advance, so if you have any special requests the guide would be happy to incorporate these into the day. You will move around the capital by public transport as the Tokyoites do, to experience Japan’s capital up close with the guide on hand to answer all your Japan questions.

Day 3 Tokyo

Meals: Breakfast

There are almost endless possibilities for your free day today. Get up early and sample Japan’s freshest sushi at Tsukiji Fish Market or take a gentle cruise along the Sumida River. Marvel at the crazy fashions on display in Harajuku or take in the elaborate costumes and high drama of a kabuki performance at the elegant Kabuki-za Theatre. Your complimentary Info-Pack and a good Tokyo map will fully equip you to get the most out of the sights, sounds and tastes that make Tokyo such a vibrant metropolis.

Day 4 Hakone

Meals: Breakfast/Dinner

Following in the footsteps of the samurai, your journey follows the old Tokaido post road as you travel to Hakone National Park. You will take the subway to Tokyo Station where you will transfer to the world famous Shinkansen ‘Bullet’ train for the 40 minute hop to Odawara, the gateway city to the national park. Set in mountainous countryside, the region boasts great natural beauty and on a clear day the near-perfect symmetry of Mount Fuji provides the perfect backdrop; keep your cameras at the ready for this glimpse of Japan’s most iconic image! Your accommodation is Japanese-style in a traditional inn where a quality traditional dinner is included.

Day 5 Hakone

Meals: Breakfast/Dinner

The Hakone Freepass is included in your package which covers all the public transport in the region including buses, mountain railways, cable cars and even a pirate ship across Lake Ashi! Of course you may wish to explore the national park on foot, so pull on your walking boots and head for one of the many hiking trails which criss-cross the area. Although the last eruption of Mount Hakone was 3,000 years ago, sulphurous fumes and bubbling hot rivers can be seen in the volcanic crater at Owakudani. No trip here would be complete without a magic black egg – boiled in the valley water and said to add seven years to your life for each one consumed. Perhaps this explains why the Japanese have the longest lifespan in the world! Hakone is also home to a number of excellent museums including the open-air sculpture park which boasts a sizeable Picasso collection among other treasures. At the end of a busy day’s sightseeing, take the time to relax in one of the many hot spring onsen baths for which Hakone is renowned.

Day 6 Kyoto

Meals: Breakfast

Leaving Hakone behind, the ‘bullet’ train will whisk you down the eastern seaboard to Kyoto – 267 miles in just two hours and ten minutes. On first glimpse, Kyoto is a very modern city. Your arrival is heralded by Kyoto Station, one of the largest buildings in Japan, a triumph of futuristic architecture and worth a few hours exploration. Yet at it’s heart, Kyoto reveals the true history, culture and tradition of Japan. Today you will have a free afternoon to begin exploring some of Japan’s finest temples and shrines. Drink a cup of green tea at the picturesque Golden Pavilion, contemplate Zen at Ryoan-ji Temple’s rock garden or wander through the thousands of vermillion shrine gates that line the paths of Fushimi Inari Taisha.

Day 7 Kyoto

Meals: Breakfast

This morning you will be met at your hotel by a local guide who will guide you through the mazy Kyoto backstreets to the most famous sights as well as some more hidden gems. Kyoto was Japan’s capital for over 1,000 years and with such a rich history the guide will have plenty of stories to tell! Kiyomizu-dera is one of Japan’s best loved temples with a high wooden terrace crafted without nails that overlooks the city. Meaning ‘pure water temple’, a taste of the spring water at Kiyomizu-dera is said to have healing power. For those looking to be lucky in love, successfully walking blindfolded between the two love stones placed near the main hall is said to improve your romantic chances! The narrow lanes around Kiyomizu-dera are a warren of little craft shops and tea houses. As dusk falls, head to Gion to catch a glimpse of Kyoto’s secretive geisha as they scurry to their evening appointments adorned in luxurious kimono.

Day 8 Kyoto

Meals: Breakfast

You may wish to spend another day exploring Kyoto or alternatively take advantage of your included Japan Rail Pass for an excursion outside the city. Just 40 minutes away by train is Nara, famous for the huge bronze statue of Buddha at Todai-ji. The temple is in a beautiful location in the centre of a rambling park – just watch out for the inquisitive sacred deer! The electric metropolis of Osaka is a 30 minute journey and Hiroshima, infamous for the atomic bomb attack at the end of World War Two, is two hours by Shinkansen and makes a very worthwhile day trip.

Day 9 Tokyo

Meals: Breakfast

From Kyoto you will travel back to Tokyo today by Shinkansen. Your included Japan Rail Passes offer you some flexibility here: You could choose to spend the best part of the day sightseeing in Kyoto and take a late train to Tokyo, or head to the capital in the morning for some last minute shopping perhaps. For your final night in Japan you will be based in the futuristic Shinjuku of the city. This is a very different Tokyo to Asakusa; bright lights, busy department stores, lively restaurants and karaoke bars offer a dramatic scene to remember Japan by.

Day 10 Depart

Meals: Breakfast

Sadly all good things must come to an end. You will make the transfer to Narita Airport by the fast and comfortable airport limousine bus service.
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Pricing Information

2014
Standard Price: £1210     (Single Price: £1450)
Upgrade Price: £2000     (Single Price: £2670)
 
 

Accommodation


Asakusa Blue Wave Inn

Tokyo

Moderate Hotel

The Blue Wave Inn is located just a stone's throw from Sensoji Temple, the oldest and most venerated in Tokyo. Rooms are modern and bright and fully en-suite. The Ginza and Asakusa subway lines are just a short walk away meaning access to the rest of Tokyo is easy and the nearby Tobu line provides direct trains to Nikko.

Ichinoyu Honkan

Hakone

Ryokan (JP)

This is an inn with a rich history dating back to 1630 when the inn opened as a pioneer in the hot spring industry of Hakone. The Honkan (literally 'main building') featured in the famous series of Ukiyoe prints of the region produced by Ando Hiroshige and has been welcoming guests for the best part of the past 400 years. The Ichinoyu holds true to the traditional values of service for which Japan is famed. Being a famous onsen area the Ichinoyu has large communal baths for you to enjoy, some of which can be used privately.

Daiwa Roynet Hotel Kyoto Shijo Karasuma

Kyoto

Moderate Hotel

Opened in spring 2012, the brand new Daiwa Roynet Shijo Karasuma is a modern superior business hotel located in the centre of Kyoto. Just a few steps walk from Shijo subway station and within walking distance of numerous shops and restaurants, this is a great base for your stay in Japan's cultural capital.

Shinjuku Sunroute Plaza

Tokyo

Moderate Hotel

The Shinjuku Sunroute Plaza is conveniently located on the south side of Shinjuku station and opened in late 2007. The building has a sleek and modern design throughout, from the spacious lobby area to the well-appointed guestrooms, which offer flatscreen TV with video-on-demand and spacious bathrooms. The hotel has its own restaurant and bar and also a guest lounge providing internet access and complimentary hot drinks. The hotel is in a fantastic location in the lively Shinjuku district of Tokyo, with an endless choice of shopping, dining and entertainment options within a few minutes' walk. The hotel is also just two minutes on foot from Shinjuku station, offering easy access to other areas of the city.

 
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