You will begin in Tokyo, the neon-lit beating heart of Japan, home of the 200mph 'Bullet Train' and a city racing headlong into the future. You'll then speed north on one of Japan's newest Shinkansen lines to the ancient temples in Hiraizumi, and the stunning Shirakami mountain range, perched on the top of Japan's main island and an easy day trip from the attractive town of Hirosaki.
Shirakami-Sanchi is one of Japan's four natural history UNESCO World Heritage sites. Situated in the mountains of northern Honshu and comprised of a maze of steep-sided hills and summits, this area includes one of the last natural beech forests left in East Asia. The 87 bird species currently identified from the area include black woodpecker, Japanese serow and golden eagles. Whether you take the easy hike around the Anmon falls or a more challenging climbing course to the mountain summit of Shirakami-dake this beautiful national park will take your breath away.
No World Heritage trip to Japan would be complete without a trip to Kyoto, Japan's cultural heart. This is a city where the legacy of the past is all around. Temples and shrines lie hidden down romantic backstreets and sliding wooden doors open to reveal exquisite gardens.
Whilst in Kyoto, we highly recommend taking a day trip to Hiroshima and Miyajima. Hiroshima is a city which has blossomed in the sixty years since the devastation caused by the atomic bomb. The skeleton of the A-bomb dome stands as a poignant reminder of the horrors of war. Just off the coast on Miyajima, the tranquil 'floating' torii gate of Itsukushima Shrine is a place of quiet reflection and timeless beauty.
In the mountains of Tochigi you will find the town of Nikko; set in stunning natural surroundings, the sacred shrines and temples of the World Heritage Tosho-gu complex are a world apart. The retreat of Mount Koya in the Kii Mountains of Wakayama Prefecture gives a chance to stay in atmospheric Buddhist temple lodgings. Here you'll participate in a timeless, religious way of life that has spanned the centuries.
Your odyssey also takes in Nara, a capital city even older than Kyoto and famed for the giant Todai-ji Temple and statue of Buddha as well as its deer park.
The World Heritage itinerary emphasises the modern and historic diversity of Japan. The trip will enable you to experience the places that have shaped the Japanese nation, exploring the history and culture of this ancient land alongside its spectacular natural beauty.
Twin: £2350 Single: £3120
Twin: £3160 Single: £4410
- 15 nights accommodation (3 nights Japanese-style)
- Breakfast each morning (Upgrade) or most mornings (Standard)*
- 3 evening meals
- Meet and Greet upon arrival at Tokyo Narita Airport
- Tokyo Pasmo card for use on subway
- All transport between destinations including airport transfers
- Excursion day from Kyoto (using included Japan Rail Pass)
- 1/2 day private tour in Nikko with lunch
- 8 hours private guide service in Tokyo & Kyoto
- Domestic Flights from Aomori to Osaka
- InsideJapan Tours Info-Pack
- International Flights
- Local transport (buses, subways, taxis) at any destination except for that covered by the Nikko Free Pass
- Any entrance fees including those for shrines, temples and museums (except for Nikko)
- Baggage handling - you will be expected to carry your own bags for the duration of the trip
No seasonal supplement
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 Hiraizumi (1) and Koya-san (2)
*Breakfast is included each morning if staying at Upgrade accommodation. If staying at Standard accommodation then breakfast is included 12 out of 15 mornings. This is because the Standard package uses an apartment/residential style hotel in Tokyo (B:conte Asakusa). If you would prefer a hotel that serves breakfast please ask your travel consultant for an alternative.
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Day by Day Itinerary
Day 1 Tokyo
On arrival in Narita Airport you will be met by your driver for a relaxing shuttle bus transfer in to Tokyo. Your home for the next three nights is Asakusa, Tokyo’s historic district; an area where the bustle of street market traders, food stalls and traditional ryokan all set around the magnificent Senso-ji Temple reflects a way of life that, unlike the rest of the capital, hasn’t changed for centuries.
Day 2 Tokyo
To help you get the most out of your time in Japan’s capital, you will have a guide at your disposal today. The guide will take you to some of Tokyo’s most famous sights as well as some lesser known places of interest. Travelling around Tokyo by the efficient public transport network, this is your chance to get beneath the Japan’s surface with a knowledgeable local to answer all your questions.
Please note breakfast is not included at the standard accommodation in Tokyo (days 2-4) as it is a residential/apartment style hotel. If this is a problem then please ask your travel consultant for an alternative hotel.Breakfast is included each morning at the Upgrade accommodation
Day 3 Tokyo
There are so many sights, sounds and flavours to experience on your free day in Tokyo. From tasting the freshest sushi at Tsukiji Fish Market to testing the latest technology at the Sony Building, you won’t run out of things to do! See the skyscrapers from the water as you cruise down the Sumida River from Asakusa, take in some high culture at the elegant Kabuki-za Theatre or lose yourself in translation among the glittering neon of Shinjuku.
Day 4 Nikko
Speeding through the Tokyo suburbs by the Shinkansen ‘bullet’ train, you’ll travel north into the Japanese countryside and the small city of Nikko. Here you will be met by one of our tour guiding duo, Mr and Mrs Ota, who will take you on a tour of Nikko’s treasures. You’ll stop at Toshogu, Japan’s most lavishly decorated shrine complex and mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Tokugawa shogunate. Look out for the original wood carving of three familiar monkeys, inspired by the Buddhist teaching that if we do not hear, see or speak evil, we ourselves shall be spared from evil. Lunch in a local restaurant is included on your tour.
Day 5 Nikko
Nikko, meaning ‘sun light’, is home to a national park situated in a volcanic plateau and dotted with lakes, waterfalls and hot springs surrounded by stunning mountain scenery. Today may be the day to pull on your hiking boots and explore the many trails which criss-cross the national park. Lake Chuzenji is particularly beautiful for its autumn foliage. At the east end of the lake, Kegon Falls, cascading 96 metres into the Daiya River, is a wonderful sight.
Day 6 Hiraizumi
Continuing north on the Tohoku Shinkansen you will travel to Hiraizumi today. For the whole of the 12th century Hiraizumi prospered as a peaceful, idyllic place for Buddhism and under the patronage of the powerful Fujiwara dynasty many impressive religious structures were built. During this period, Hiraizumi was second only to Kyoto in size. Although many of the temple complexes were destroyed by the wars that brought about the collapse of Fujiwara power, some fine examples remain including the gardens of Motsu-ji temple and the golden hall of Konjiki-do. A designated National Treasure, Konjiki-do is truly spectacular. Packed with gold ornamentation, black lacquer work and inlaid mother of pearl, this small hall acts as a fine mausoleum to the mummified remains of the Fujiwara clan which lie within. The “paradise” garden at Motsu-ji meanwhile gives a good impression of the luxurious lifestyle of the ruling classes all those years ago.
Day 7 Hirosaki
You will very nearly reach the most northernly tip of Honshu island today as you take the Shinkansen to Aomori and then a local train to Hirosaki. Hirosaki castle is the town's main attraction and the surrounding streets have been well preserved evoking a samurai atmosphere. Don't forget to try a famous Hirosaki apple as a treat!
Day 8 Hirosaki
Today is your chance to head into the Shirakami Sanchi national park. This is one of Japan's four natural history UNESCO World Heritage sites. Comprised of a maze of steep-sided hills and summits, this area includes one of the last natural beech forests left in East Asia. The 87 bird species currently identified from the area include black woodpecker, Japanese serow and golden eagles. Whether you take the easy hike around the Anmon falls or a more challenging climbing course to the mountain summit of Shirakami-dake this beautiful national park will take your breath away. The national park is accessable by local train from Hirosaki. Full details will be in your info-pack.
Day 9 Kyoto
Fly from Hirosaki's nearest airport at Aomori today on to Osaka and then take an express train to Kyoto. The futuristic station building heralds what is at first glance a modern city with its fair share of concrete and neon. But scratch the surface and you’ll soon sense the real heartbeat of this historic city, a place where tradition and culture pulsate through every aspect of Kyoto life. Thanks to the mysterious geisha, ritualised tea ceremonies, time-honoured festivals and 17 UNSECO World Heritage sites, you’re never far from the unique and the spectacular as you explore this wonderful city.
Day 10 Kyoto
Kyotoites take great pride in their sensitivity to the seasons and accordingly different temples come into their own at certain times of year. Spring brings plum and cherry blossoms to Maruyama Park and the spectacular Kiyomizu-Dera. Wild irises and chrysanthemums bloom at Kamigamo Shrine in summer and full moon parties dedicated to the Buddhist protector deity, Bishamonten, are held at Kurama Temple. In autumn catch the red and gold foliage at Eikan-do. And with a bit of luck in winter, you’ll witness the iconic image of snow on the rooftop of the Golden Pavilion. A full day with a guide will help you to get the most out of your visit to Kyoto at any time of year.
Day 11 Kyoto
We would recommend making a day trip to Hiroshima today. Hiroshima hardly needs an introduction; the city is of course infamous for the tragic events of August 6th 1945. Yet the city has risen phoenix-like from the ashes and is now a bustling metropolis looking firmly to the future whilst still honouring the past. The skeleton dome of the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall remains in the centre of the city’s Peace Park as a moving reminder of that day. The Peace Museum in the centre of the park explains the lead up to the atomic bomb and provides a heartbreaking tribute to the victims and survivors of the attack. The citizens of Hiroshima work tirelessly to contribute to the abolition of nuclear weapons throughout the world in order to achieve world peace.
Day 12 Mt Koya
Your Japan adventure delves further into the Buddhist religion as you travel to the sacred community atop Mount Koya where you will spend two nights in temple lodgings. Saint Kukai established a monastic retreat here in 816 which quickly became Japan’s most revered site in Shingon Buddhism. At 900m above sea level, the cedar lined peak has a magical tranquillity and as you wander among the 123 temples that make up the mountain village you’re sure to see monks going about their daily rituals just as they have for thousands of years.
Day 13 Mt Koya
Enjoy the time to relax and reflect on Mount Koya. Stroll to Daimon, the great gate on the Western edge of Koya which on a clear day boasts unmatched views across to the distant Shikoku and Awaji islands. Visit the Reihokan or treasure house which holds over 5,000 paintings, statues and other Buddhist relics. For the more adventurous, follow any of the trails which lead out of the village up into the peaks of the Kii Mountains. As dusk falls take the eerie walk though the lantern lit cemetery of Okunoin before returning to your accommodation for Shoji-ryori, vegetarian Buddhist cuisine, and a relaxing soak in the temple bath.
Day 14 Nara
You will be heading to Nara today, an ex-capital city of Japan with a history even longer than that of Kyoto. The small city is dominated by Nara Park which makes for a wonderful stroll although watch out for the cute deer stealing your info-pack! You will also want to visit Todaiji temple, the World's largest wooden structure and home to the Daibutsu giant Buddha statue.
Day 15 Tokyo
Leaving behind ancient Nara, you’ll return to Tokyo for a day that truly highlights the contrasts that make Japan the country it is today. Your final night in Japan will be among the bright neon lights of Shinjuku, the perfect place for some last minute shopping, a great meal out and a taste of karaoke if you fancy!
Day 16 Depart
Sadly your Japan adventure must come to an end. You will be taking the Airport Limousine Bus out to Narita Airport. We wish you a pleasant flight home.
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|Standard Price:||£2350 (Single Price: £3120)|
|Upgrade Price:||£3160 (Single Price: £4410)|
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