Path of the Samurai
- Duration : 14 days
- Locations : Tokyo, Kawaguchiko, Matsumoto, Takayama, Kanazawa, Kyoto
This Japan tour will have you follow in the footsteps of the famous Japanese warriors.
Dive into the heart of historical Japan at Matsumoto Castle with our guide Sylvain or into the treasures of Kyoto, the former imperial capital. After Tokyo, a mixture of modernity and tradition, discover Japan's mountains: Mount Fuji and the Japanese Alps.
An original organised trip, for young and old!
From Tokyo to Kyoto via the Japanese Alps :
- Tokyo (3 days)
- Kawaguchiko - Mont Fuji (2 days)
- Matsumoto (1 day)
- Takayama (1 day)
- Kanazawa (2 days)
- Kyoto (3 days)
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.
WARNING : The tour departure and end dates presented on this page relate to your stay in Japan. On departure, you will have to leave Europe on the day before. The return flight is on the same day due to the time difference. For further details, refer to "More about your trip".
Interested in this tour but would like to spend a night in a Buddhist temple in KoyaSan?
The "Zen and Well-being" tour might be right for 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
- In Matsumoto, Sylvain is waiting to take you on a samurai experience at the foot of the castle
- An unforgettable dinner and night in a ryokan in the heart of the Japanese Alps
- Continue on towards Kanazawa, passing through a typical Japanese mountain village
- Finish in Kyoto, where a guided tour of the Gion district awaits you at nightfall
- Take advantage of your transport passes : Japan Rail Pass, Mount Fuji Pass, Shirakawago bus
- On the final day, a shuttle bus will take you from your accommodation to the airport
- 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.
Included: Enjoy a private guided tour of Matsumoto city for half a day. Discover the feudal castle, the historical districts... and step into the shoes of a samurai for a morning with Sylvain, Japan Experience guide.
In English or French.
Please note that for some trips in peak season, this half-day guided tour in Matsumoto may be replaced by a half-day guided tour in Tokyo or Kyoto.
2nd night in the hotel in Matsumoto.
Day 8 : The charm of the Japanese mountains
Breakfast at the hotel.
We advise that you have your luggage sent to the hotel in Kanazawa (details in your travel diary, check with the hotel reception) and that you travel light for your night in Takayama.
Departure by bus (tickets included in your package) to Takayama (2 hours 30 through the mountains, no change).
Arrive and check into your 3* Asunaro ryokan or equivalent, in the heart of the capital of the Japanese Alps.
We recommend that you visit:
- The traditional Kusakabe and Yoshijima houses
- The Yatai Kaikan, where old religious festival floats (matsuri) are on display
- The picturesque Shôwa-Kan, museum of the 1940s to 1970s
- The old Sannomachi shopping district
- The Fuji Folk Art Museum
Traditional Japanese dinner included in the ryokan.
Day 9 : Rural & Mountain
Traditional Japanese breakfast at the ryokan.
Leave for Shirakawago by bus (50 minutes, tickets included in your package).
Walk through this typical Japanese Alpine village, to visit a minka (traditional Japanese house) or the Myôzenji, the village's Zen temple. The whole village is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In the middle of the afternoon, go to Kanazawa by bus (1 hour 15, tickets also included). Check into your hotel in the heart of this dynamic city.
Day 10 : 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
Overnight stay at your hotel in Kanazawa.
Day 11 : The former capital
Breakfast at the hotel.
In 2 hours 30, reach Kyoto and check into the Tsugu 京都三条 Hotel or equivalent 3*. Direct train journey 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 12 : 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 13 : Now for some activity...
This is your last full day to visit Kyoto, so make the most of our many optional activities:
- Want to enjoy nature? Check out our cycling activities along the Kamogawa River or hiking in the Takao Gorge!
- Prefer Japanese arts? tea ceremonies, meditation activities or private visits to secret gardens will seduce you.
- Looking for Japanese countryside? Let yourself be tempted by a trip to Ohara, or try our flagship activity: on the Tea Road!
For lovers of the circuit theme, Toei Studio Park is the place to be. This mix of cinema decor and samurai-themed amusement park will delight young and old.
You can also reach Nara by train in 50 minutes (not included in your package, about €16 return, otherwise, take advantage of the optional Kansai Thru Pass).
For your last evening, don't forget to see the sunset at the Fushimi Inari, the huge shrine with 10,000 torii in Kyoto.
Day 14 : 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
- 2 nights in a 3* hotel in Matsumoto, between the train station and the castle
- 1 night in a ryokan in the historic centre of Takayama, traditional half-board
- 2 nights in a 3* hotel in Kanazawa
- 3 nights in a 3* hotel in the heart of Kyoto, close to public transport
The basic rate includes a twin room for two people.
- Airport transfers to Tokyo
- Return airport transfer Kyoto -> KIX
- Prepaid public transport card
- Mount Fuji Pass for 2 days
- Matsumoto -> Takayama Bus
- Takayama -> Shirakawago -> Kanazawa Bus
- Japan Rail Pass for 7 days
Experiences and meals
- Airport welcome
- Discounts at many Kawaguchiko tourist sites
- Traditional dinner and breakfast in the ryokan at Takayama
- Breakfast excluding Tokyo and Kyoto
- Half day tour of Matsumoto with samurai experience
- 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.
- N.B.: no ticket for airport transfers from Kansai airport. The reservation is registered in the name of the tour reservation.
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.
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 Europe the day before 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". On the way back, the shared shuttle bus leaves from your hotel or very close by to take you directly to the Kansai KIX airport in 1 hour 30.
- 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) 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 Matsumoto -> Takayama and Takayama -> Shirakawago -> Kanazawa bus trips are included in your offer. Takayama -> Shirakawago bus tickets are not reserved tickets. You must arrive at least 15 minutes before the bus leaves in order to reserve your seat. Tickets for other buses are reserved seats.
- 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/frequently-asked-questions).
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 Tokyo (this is possible, but optional).
- The half-day guided tour of Matsumoto takes place in the morning, in groups of 12 people maximum, in English. Lunch is not included. Any transport on this morning is at your own expense. Lunch is not included in the activity.
- The guided tour of Gion takes place in groups of 12 people maximum, from 6pm 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 Takayama tour. 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.
Your additional services:
- A pocket wifi is included in your tour. It allows unlimited high-speed internet access. Your pocket wifi will be delivered to you on arrival at the first hotel on your tour, in the name of your tour reservation.
- It comes with a small booklet to operate your device (don't panic: simple operation) and a prepaid envelope to return your device at the end of your stay. Your pocket wifi will work naturally until the last day of your trip to Japan.
- A maximum of 5 devices can be connected to a pocket wifi (phone, tablet, computer).
- A single pocket wifi is provided for a circuit order of 1 to 5 people. For an order of 6 people or more, a second pocket wifi will be added automatically and at no extra cost to your reservation.
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