Japanese Zen & Wellness
- Duration : 15 days
- Locations : Tokyo, Kawaguchiko, Matsumoto, Kanazawa, Kyoto, Koyasan, Osaka
This 2 week individual tour of Japan takes you from Tokyo to Osaka via Mount Fuji, the Japanese Alps and Kyoto.
Finish off with an unforgettable night in a Buddhist temple on top of Mount Koyasan. And on the side of wellbeing, a visit to the spa town of Kaga, in the Japanese Alps, will leave you with unforgettable memories.
A trip full of nature and discovery!
2 week itinerary
From Tokyo to Osaka via the Japanese Alps, Kyoto and Koyasan :
- Tokyo (3 days)
- Kawaguchiko - Mount Fuji (2 days)
- Matsumoto (1 day)
- Kanazawa (2 days)
- Kyoto (3 days including 1 day in Nara)
- Koyasan - night in a Buddhist temple (1 day)
- Osaka (1 day)
The first and last day are reserved for your arrival and departure from Japan (and for the last bit of souvenir shopping!).
Please find below the itinerary details.
Interested in this tour but would like to stop your trip in Kyoto?
The "Path of the Samurai" tour will suit you
Why this trip to Japan ?
- Welcomed at the airport by our team, you will be taken to your hotel in Tokyo by shuttle bus
- Head for Kawaguchiko, in the Five Lakes region below Mount Fuji
- Enjoy Matsumoto's feudal castle in the middle of the Japanese mountains
- Continue to Kanazawa, between the Sea of Japan and the Japanese Alps
- An unforgettable dinner and night in a ryokan in the heart of a spa town
- In Kyoto : a guided tour of the traditional geisha quarter awaits you
- Finish off with a night in a Buddhist temple before heading to Osaka
- Take advantage of your transport passes : Japan Rail Pass, Mount Fuji Pass, Kansai Pass...
- Recommendations available in your travel diary
- Enjoy unlimited internet access thanks to your pocket Wi-Fi
- If necessary, contact our Japanese bilingual English-speaking assistance 24/7
- A number of guided days or other optional activities are available
- Benefit from the expertise of Japan Experience, European leading travel agency in Japan.
Your trip in detail
Day 1 : Wake up in Tokyo 東京
Arrival at Tokyo airport (Narita or Haneda).
Welcome to Japan! Yokoso 日本へようこそ！
Reception at the exit from Customs in English by our airport assistant, who will give you all your travel documents.
Unaccompanied transfer from the airport to Tokyo (see details).
Check-in at Hotel B Akasaka Mitsuke or equivalent 3* (rooms available from 3:00pm).
You can pick up your pocket Wi-Fi at the hotel reception desk.
Day 2 : First steps in the capital
What is there to do in Tokyo on the first day?
We advise you to slowly start visiting Tokyo from its western districts:
- Harajuku: the avant-garde district
- Meiji Jingû, the imperial shrine
- Takeshita-Dori: the most famous street in Japan
- Omotesando: Tokyo's Champs-Élysées
- Shibuya and its unmistakable "crossroads"
One of our many experienced English-speaking guides can also accompany you to visit the classic sights of Tokyo (optional, from 9:00 to 17:00).
Day 3 : The big loop
For this second day of visiting Tokyo, we recommend the following "loop".
Start from Tokyo Central Station, with its original architecture, then go to visit:
- Ginza, Tokyo's chic district
- Tsukiji, the small outdoor food market
- Hamarikyu, the Japanese garden between Tokyo's buildings
- Asakusa, a traditional district and place of pilgrimage, accessible by a cruise on the Sumida River
- Sensô-ji Buddhist temple, one of the oldest in the city
- Tokyo Sky Tree reaching a height of 643m, and its panoramic view of Tokyo at sunset
Enjoy a cruise on the Sumida River between Hamarikyu and Asakusa.
Day 4 : Follow the guide
There are still many places to discover according to your taste ! Ueno, Yanaka, Odaiba...
Don't hesitate to follow the many suggestions in your travel diary.
Or better still, book an English-speaking guide for the day (optional) to visit Tokyo off the beaten path!
Make the most of our many optional activities:
- Are you looking more for fun? Ghibli Museum, Disneyland or Hello Kitty Park are waiting for you!
- Do you prefer a themed activity? Book a visit on an architecture tour, gardens, home cooking or Noh's theatre.
- Chasing thrills? Let yourself be tempted by a helicopter ride or a sumo tournament (in season)!
Day 5 : A breathtaking view of Fuji
In the morning, we advise that you have your luggage sent to the hotel in Matsumoto (details in your travel diary, check with the hotel reception) and that you travel light for your night in Kawaguchiko.
Go to Tokyo station and board a train to Kawaguchiko (3 hour journey, 1 change, details in your travel guide, all inclusive). The train will gradually leave the Japanese megalopolis behind and head deeper into the valleys of the Mount Fuji region. You will arrive in Kawaguchiko in the late morning.
Go to your hotel near the station and Lake Kawaguchi to drop off your small bag and explore the Five Lakes region:
- Pass through the Chureito pagoda, one of the best photo viewpoints on Mount Fuji.
- See Mount Fuji from the lakes and the many viewpoints in the area.
- Take the Kachi Kachi Ropeway to see the beautiful panoramic view of the lake on one side and Mount Fuji on the other.
All transport is included in your Mount Fuji pass.
The pass also includes many discounts at local attractions, such as the famous Fuji-Q Highland theme park.
You can also rent a bicycle for half a day to visit Kawaguchiko and Mount Fuji.
Day 6 : Nature and mountain lakes
Breakfast at the hotel.
Enjoy Kawaguchiko and its region before leaving in the middle of the afternoon for your next destination in the heart of the Japanese Alps: Matsumoto (3 hours 30 by train, 2 changes, all inclusive).
Arrive and check into a city centre hotel, between the station and the castle.
Day 7 : The Samurai Castle
Breakfast at the hotel.
Matsumoto has preserved many traces of its prosperity from the feudal period. But the most striking feature of a visit to the town is its imposing castle, known to the Japanese as "the crow" because of its black colour. It is the oldest of its kind in Japan and its keep offers a stunning view in all seasons.
Matsumoto was also an industrial and commercial city, and has preserved its typical Meiji era workshops in the Nakamichi district.
Optional: half-day tour of Matsumoto, accompanied by our English-speaking guide.
In the middle of the afternoon, take the train then Shinkansen to Kanazawa (1 change, 2 hours 30, included with your Japan Rail Pass).
Settle in Kanazawa in your 3* hotel.
Day 8 : The pearl of Japan
Breakfast at the hotel.
Explore Kanazawa, between the North Sea and the Japanese Alps:
- Kenroku-en, the beautiful Japanese garden of Kanazawa
- The contemporary art museum and its outdoor gallery
- Omicho, the sea of Japan fish market
- The Nomura house, residence of the samurai and its picturesque old quarter
You can also reach the small village of Shirakawago, nestled in the Japanese mountains (bus 1 hour 15 one way, not included).
Overnight stay at your hotel in Kanazawa.
Day 9 : Japanese wellness
Breakfast at the hotel.
Take a leisurely trip to Kaga Onsen (25 minutes by train, included), a spa town in the middle of the Japanese countryside. Kaga Onsen awaits you with its high quality natural waters, discovered 1300 years ago, traditional Japanese craftsmanship and authentic nature walks. It is the ideal place to relax, just dive into one of the baths. In addition, you can enjoy local specialities during dinner at your Mori no Sumika Resort & Spa ryokan or equivalent 3*.
Day 10 : The former capital
Traditional Japanese breakfast at the ryokan.
In 2 hours, reach Kyoto and check into the Tsugu 京都三条 Hotel or equivalent 3*. Direct train journey (or with 1 change) included with your JR Pass.
You have 3 days to visit Kyoto.
Start in the afternoon in the historic Gion district near your accommodation :
- Kiyomizu-Dera, the great water temple
- The historical streets of Sannen-zaka & Ninnen-zaka
- Kodai-ji, the maple and bamboo temple of Kyoto
Finish off seeing the sunset in Gion. Meet your guide at 19:00 to start your late stroll around Gion, Kyoto's historic district.
More details on the exact time and location in your travel diary. At the end of this 1 hour 30 walk, your guide will be able to advise you on the best places to eat out! Please note that it is strictly forbidden to take photographs in the historic district of Gion.
Day 11 : Gold and Silver Treasures
We recommend the following itinerary for this second day's visit to Kyoto:
- Ryoan-ji Zen Garden
- The Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion)
- Ginkaku-ji (Silver Pavilion)
- The bewitching path of philosophy
- The Nanzen-ji temple
One of our many experienced English-speaking guides can accompany you on a tour of these symbolic sites (optional, from 9:00 to 17:00).
Day 12 : Between temples and deer
We recommend taking the 50 minute journey to Nara, which is included in your package.
Visit to Nara, the first permanent capital of Japan in the 8th century.
- The Shinto temple Kasuga Taisha and its thousands of lanterns
- The Todaiji, its great bronze Buddha and the imposing Nan-Daimon gate
- Kofukuji temple and its beautiful pagoda
Return to Kyoto and stop for sunset at Fushimi Inari, the huge 10,000 torii sanctuary in Kyoto. If you wish to be accompanied on this day, one of our English-speaking guides will unveil all the secrets of Japan's first capital (optional, return trip from Kyoto).
Day 13 : Attack on the Sacred Mount
Depart on train and cable car to the sacred mountain of Koya-san (3h, 2 changes and cable car. All included with your Kansai thru pass. Details in your travel diary):
- Visit the sumptuous Kongobuji temple
- Visit Danjo-Garan, one of the main religious sites of the village
Enjoy a unique experience with a traditional vegan dinner and overnight in a temple with the monks.
Due to the altitude, the temperature in Koyasan is often lower than other cities visited previously.
Day 14 : A gastronomic end
Traditional vegan breakfast served in the temple.
Depending on availability of the monks, possibility to attend a Buddhist ceremony (availability not guaranteed currently).
In the morning, discover the fabulous mystical necropolis of Okunoin.
Then travel to Osaka by cable car and train (1 change, included in your Kansai Thru Pass, 1 hour 45). Enjoy the lively Namba district and Dôtonbori Street. The many restaurants there have earned Osaka the title "gastronomic capital of Japan".
Day 15 : Sayonara, and see you next time!
Direct transfer to Kansai International Airport (included but not accompanied).
Return flight to Europe, North America, Australia.
Do not hesitate to extend your trip by one or more days to Kansai or elsewhere... We will be able to advise you!
- 4 nights in a 3* hotel in the heart of Tokyo, close to public transport
- 1 night in a 3* hotel in Kawaguchiko
- 1 night in a 3* hotel in Matsumoto, between the train station and the castle
- 2 nights in a 3* hotel in Kanazawa
- 1 night in a 3* ryokan in Kaga Onsen
- 3 nights in a 3* hotel in the heart of Kyoto, close to public transport
- 1 night in a 2/3* temple hotel in KoyaSan
- 1 night in a 3* hotel in Osaka
The basic rate includes a twin room for two people.
- Airport transfers to Tokyo
- Return airport transfer to Osaka
- Prepaid public transport card
- Mount Fuji Pass for 2 days
- Kansai Thru Pass for 3 days
- Japan Rail Pass for 7 days
Experiences and meals
- Airport welcome
- Discounts at many Kawaguchiko tourist sites and Koyasan
- Traditional dinner and breakfast in the ryokan at Kaga Onsen and in Koyasan temple
- All breakfasts except in Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka
- Guided night tour of Gion (1h30)
Included in your self-guided tour
- Unlimited Wi-Fi access with pocket Wi-Fi
- Complete e-travel diary sent 20 days before your departure
- 24/7 telephone assistance in English and bilingual Japanese
Not included in the price of your trip
- Flights Europe <> Japan
- Optional insurance policies
- Personal expenses including meals (breakfast optional)
- Public transport when your transport cards have run out (see details)
- Anything not included in the "included in your tour" section
Your tour :
- The prices displayed on this page may vary according to the exchange rate of the Japanese ¥.
- Unfortunately, this tour is not accessible to people with reduced mobility.
- Pets are not allowed.
- Children over 3 years of age are allowed. Rates for children are available for people from 3 to 11 years old inclusive.
- This programme is subject to change due to circumstances such as weather conditions or any other case of force majeure. Please note that due to the current circumstances, any information mentioned is subject to change or modification.
- Your travel documents will be given to you as follows:
- Travel diary by email 3 weeks before departure, and other electronic documents
- Paper documents (airport transfer tickets, transport cards, Japan Rail Pass voucher) when you arrive at the airport by our airport assistant.
- Your pocket Wi-Fi at the hotel reception upon arrival.
Your accommodation :
- Some hotels may ask you to pay a tourist tax on arrival. This depends on the city and even the hotel, as some do not include it in the booking price. Normally, it is 200¥/night/person (about £1.37/1.93$) but can be slightly higher in 4* hotels. It must be paid in cash at the hotel reception. For traditional Japan Experience accommodations, it is included in the initial tour price.
- Room size: in Japan, a densely populated country where everything is compact, 3-star luxury hotels are of very good quality but the rooms are often quite narrow (12 to 20m2/129 sq ft to 215 sq ft) depending on the hotel. Please note the size of the single room, between 10 and 16m2 (107sq ft and 172 fq ft). For more comfort, you can choose our luxury 4* accommodation upgrade option.
- Double room: Rooms for two people in western hotels have 2 single beds (twin rooms) by default, which can usually be joined together. As an option, you can select a double room instead of a twin if you prefer a double bed.
- Single room: People travelling alone and wishing to book a single room must pay a supplement at the time of booking. The single room supplement is compulsory for orders with an odd number of participants. Please note that if you request more than two people in a single room, the single room supplement will be applied to all accommodation except for the ryokans (3 and 4*). In fact, as this is traditional accommodation, people with the same reservation are grouped together in spacious rooms for up to 5 people.
- 3-person room: If there are 3, 5 or more of you and you do not select the single supplement, a triple room will be allocated to you.
- In the case of a group order (> 5 people), it is possible, depending on hotel availability, that not all members of the group will be accommodated in the same hotel. Nevertheless, we aim to keep you close.
- Names of the hotels : The names given on the site are for information only. In the event of unavailability, an establishment of equivalent standing will be scheduled. Hotels, corresponding to local standards, are given as an indication and may be changed on site for hotels of a similar category.
- In the ryokan, guests sleep on comfortable futons placed on the tatami mat. The room has a private sink and toilet. As is customary in Japanese ryokan, the onsen bathroom is shared (not mixed) unless you take the "private bathroom in the room" option.
OPTIONAL: Enjoy a private Japanese bathroom (traditional or modern onsen) in your room. This option is recommended for mixed couples, families, people who are modest or have visible tattoos.
The 4* ryokan (see 4* option) have comfortable futons raised on either western beds in a traditional tatami room. The bathrooms and toilets of the 4* ryokans are private.
- At the Buddhist temple in KoyaSan, you will sleep on comfortable futons on a tatami mat. The rooms do not have private bathrooms or toilets. The non-mixed collective Japanese baths ("onsen") then serve as a shared bathroom, with showers and thermal baths. They are freely accessible, subject to the schedules in force on site. These baths are often not accessible to people with visible tattoos. With the 4* options, the rooms have a private washbasin and toilet, but the bathroom remains shared.
Your transport :
- Flights are not included in this tour. Do not hesitate to contact us if you would like to include flights in your order: Flights in economy class with stopovers or direct flights, eco-premium or business air upgrades, provincial departures or abroad: we will be able to advise you.
- The tour departure and end dates presented on this page relate to your stay in Japan. You will arrive in Japan via Tokyo (Narita or Haneda airports) and depart from Kansai airport (KIX, not Itami ITM). On departure, you will have to leave the day before Europe and land at 6:30 p.m. at the most to make the most of the airport services of your circuit (reception and transfer to Tokyo).
The return flight is on the same day due to the time difference, with a departure time of 9am at the earliest. Please do not hesitate to consult us for any uncertainty or need for precision in the choice of international flights..
- Airport transfers: The shared shuttle bus leaves from the airport and stops either in front of your hotel or at a stop located between 1 and 15 min walk from your hotel. Our airport assistant in Tokyo will drive you to the platform to take the airport transfer. Afterwards, this hotel transfer is unassisted. If you would like to be accompanied from the airport to your hotel reception please choose the option "Accompanied Airport Transfer". The same applies to the return trip from Osaka to KIX airport.
- Included in your tour is a pre-charged transport prepayment card of ¥ 1,500 (around £10.30 / 14.54$) (suica or Pasmo brand); a transport pass for the Otsuki <-> Kawaguchiko journey and all transport in the Kawaguchiko region (excluding taxi), a 3-day Kansai Thru Pass (unlimited Kansai transport excluding JR lines), and a 7-day Japan Rail Pass. These cards should cover a large part of your trips during the stay. Upon expiry of the 1,500¥ Transport Prepayment Card, or if the line you are travelling on is not covered by your Japan Rail Pass, any travel will be at your own expense by recharging your pre-paid transport card (at vending machines in all stations and metro stations).
- The Mount Fuji Pass should be activated from the voucher you receive electronically at the Otsuki Station ticket office. Details in your travel diary.
- The Japan Rail Pass is a personal train pass for foreign travellers who wish to visit Japan. This pass allows unlimited travel for 7 consecutive days on all Japan Railways (JR) trains throughout Japan. You will receive a voucher to be exchanged at a JR office when you are welcomed at the airport by our assistant (list of addresses provided in your travel guide). You will be asked to show your passport and fill in a form. During this exchange, you will select the start date of your pass. Once your Pass has been activated, it will be valid for 7 consecutive days from the date chosen. To prevent wasting time when you arrive at the airport, you are requested to exchange your voucher upon arrival in Tokyo City. This is because exchanging it at the airport could delay your airport shuttle. With your Japan Rail Pass in hand, just go to the station, show your pass to the ticket inspector at the entrance gates and board any JR train. Trains in Japan are almost all open seating. If you are worried about not having a seat (on a shinkansen for example), simply go to a ticket office and reserve your seat at no extra charge. The Japan Rail Pass covers all JR and Shinkansen lines in Japan. The following journeys are not covered:
- Travel by metro and bus in the cities (payable by pre-paid transport card, included in your package)
- Transfers from the train station to the hotels (by foot, bus, metro or taxi)
- Travel on private train lines (other than JR)
- Travel on Nozomi and Mizuho high-speed trains (shinkansen)
- Trips made outside the validity period of the Japan Rail Pass
- Japan Rail Pass: It is not necessary to possess a Japan Rail Pass which covers your entire stay. This is only cost-effective if it is used for long journeys between the different stages of your stay (especially in shinkansen) which are very expensive. In large cities like Tokyo, only about ⅓ of public transport is covered by the Japan Rail Pass and getting around is relatively cheap (Tokyo metro tickets: £1.71 / 2.42$; Kyoto daily bus card: £4.28 / 5.97$). Thus, providing you with a Japan Rail Pass for more than 7 days (14 or 21) would not be cost-effective and, on the contrary, would significantly increase the cost of your trip.
- If a person taking part in the tour is a Japanese national and a resident of Japan, or a foreigner with tax residence in Japan (including a student), then that person is not eligible for the Japan Rail Pass. Please contact us to get the price of the tour without a Japan Rail Pass. They will have to buy the train tickets for the tour directly in Japan. The Kansai Thru Pass is also subject to the same nationality/residency requirements. This is not the case for the Hakone Free pass. If this person is a Japanese citizen but not a resident of Japan, then he/she can benefit from the Japan Rail Pass under certain conditions (see https://www.japan-experience.com/japan-rail-pass/faq).
Your activities :
- Airport reception is in English. Your airport assistant will be waiting for you at the customs exit holding a sign with the name of the reservation. They will give you your travel documents and take you to your airport transfer. They will not accompany you to Kyoto (this is possible, but optional).
- The guided tour of Gion takes place in groups of 12 people maximum, from 6:00pm to 7:30/8:00pm. In English. More details on the meeting place in your travel journal. Dinner is not planned but your guide will be able to give you their best spots.
Your meals :
- Traditional Japanese dinner and Japanese breakfast (mostly savoury) are included in your Kaga Onsen tour (ryokan) and Koyasan (buddhist temple). Do not hesitate to indicate any dietary requirements you may have, we will pass them on to the ryokan so that they can take them into account when planning the meals. If the ryokan does not take any of these dietary requirements into account, we cannot be held responsible and no compensation will be issued.
- Breakfasts which are not included in your package can be added at the reception when you arrive at the hotel. However, you will find many cafés near your hotel serving copious breakfasts, often tastier than those in the hotels, which sometimes have tight schedules and are predominantly savoury. However, if you would like to add breakfast to your offer when you make your reservation, you can select it as an option.
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