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Towns and Islands of Japan
- Duration : 13 days
- Locations : Tokyo, Hakone Mt Fuiji, Kyoto, Okayama, Miyajima, Fukuoka
Take a first trip to Japan to visit its cities - Tokyo and Kyoto - and discover the nature located on its islands : Naoshima the artistic one, Miyajima the sacred one or Kyushu the volcanic one.
This privately organised tour includes accommodation, of which 2 nights in a ryokan, local transport, a guided night tour and a Wi-Fi pass.
A great way to travel from city to island with a free mind!
- Tokyo (3 days)
- Hakone-Mount Fuji (1 day)
- Kyoto (3 days including 1 day in Nara)
- Okayama and Naoshima Island (2 days)
- Miyajima Island and Hiroshima (1 day)
- Fukuoka (Kyushu Island) (1 day)
The first and last day are reserved for your arrival and departure from Japan (and for the last bit of souvenir shopping!).
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".
Like this tour but you are also drawn to the Japanese Alps?
Instead, we recommend "Highlights of Japan".
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 to the edge of Mount Fuji for an unforgettable dinner and overnight stay in a ryokan
- Travel by Shinkansen to Kyoto : a guided tour of the traditional geisha quarter awaits you
- The ancient city of Okayama and the artists' island of Naoshima will take your breath away
- Reach Hiroshima and the island of Miyajima where you will spend a second night in a ryokan
- Finish with Fukuoka, the capital of Kyushu Island and continue with an optional tour extension
- Take advantage of your transport passes : Japan Rail Pass, Hakone Free 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 : At the heart of the Japanese soul
In the morning, we advise that you have your luggage sent to the hotel in Kyoto (details in your travel diary, check with the hotel reception) and that you travel light for your night in Hakone.
Go to Shinjuku station to activate your Hakone Free Pass and board a train to Hakone Yumoto (1.5 hour journey, 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 Hakone in the late morning. Reach your Ichinoyu Shinkan ryokan or equivalent to drop off your small bag and explore the area.
Be charmed by the beautiful scenery of this spa, Lake Ashi and its view of Mount Fuji (on a clear day!). Not forgetting the volcanic site of Owakudani, accessible by cable car. All transportation (train, bus, cable car, funicular) is included in your package.
If you wish to be accompanied during this day, one of our English-speaking guides can show you all the secrets of the Mount Fuji region (optional).
Come back to the ryokan in the late afternoon as your traditional Japanese dinner awaits you around 18:30, before enjoying a Japanese-style night!
Details below on the night in the ryokan.
Day 6 : The former capital
Traditional Japanese breakfast at the ryokan.
Head to Hakone-Yumoto then Odawara Station to board one of the fastest trains in the world: the Shinkansen!
In 2 hours 30, reach Kyoto and check into the Tsugu 京都三条 Hotel or equivalent 3*.
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 7 : 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 8 : Between temples and deer
For your last day in Kyoto and its surroundings, 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 shrine 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 9 : A crossroads between two islands
Travel by Shinkansen to Okayama (about 1 hour 30, free with your Japan Rail Pass). Check into your hotel between the station and the castle.
We advise you to head out early to explore the castle and its magnificent Koraku-en park, before leaving in the middle of the afternoon for the romantic town of Kurashiki, a 17-minute train ride from Okayama (included with JR Pass).
Kurashiki, an old commercial metropolis lined with canals, will seduce you:
- Bikan, a district with typical architecture
- The Ohara Museum, keeper of paintings by Monet, Matisse, Renoir...
- The Museum of Popular Arts dedicated to regional history
Day 10 : The Art Island
Breakfast at the hotel.
We advise you to spend the day visiting Naoshima Island, 1 hour from Okayama: 45 minutes by train (1 change - free with Japan Rail Pass) and 15 minutes by boat (Buy on-site, about €4.50/pers A/R). Details in your travel diary.
Naoshima Island is world-famous for its modern art museums, the architecture of some of its buildings, and the scattered outdoor sculptures throughout its territory. These numerous museums and buildings were designed by the architect Ando Tadao. You will be impressed, among other things, by Monet's water lilies, displayed in a simple room where you enter without shoes!
N.B.: access to one of the museums of Naoshima, the Chichu Art Museum, is subject to reservation.
Return to Okayama at the end of the day by the same route as in the morning, in the middle of the Japanese countryside.
Day 11 : The Sacred Island
Breakfast at the hotel.
Shinkansen train ride from Okayama to Miyajima (1 hour 15, 1 change) then boat (20 minutes). The train and boat included in the Japan Rail Pass.
Reach your ryokan near the island's ferry terminal. Explore the island: a short 30-minute train and boat ride to Miyajima Island, its Itsukushima-jinja shrine and its large gate (ootorii) standing in the sea.
(Please note: The ootorii is under construction until an unspecified date). Take the cable car up to Mount Misen and then descend on foot. A breathtaking view of Hiroshima Bay is waiting for you!
At night at the ryokan, you will be treated to a tasty traditional Japanese dinner before retiring to your tatami room.
Day 12 : Make way for history
Traditional Japanese breakfast at the ryokan.
In the morning, make a stop in Hiroshima (30 minutes by train from Miyajimaguchi Ferry Station, included in your JR Pass), to visit the Peace Park and its memorial.
Continue from Hiroshima to the island of Kyushu and its capital, Fukuoka, in 1 hour by Shinkansen (included in your JRPass).
Arrive in the centre of the vibrant city of Fukuoka and check into your hotel near the central station.
With its 2000 years of history, the capital of Kyushu has always been the gateway to Asia (Korea and China) and Western culture (Portugal and its Jesuits, Holland). Another Japan, more Asian and further away from Tokyo, awaits you. Capital of a booming region, Fukuoka is now one of the most dynamic cities in Japan with its many high-tech companies and the hosting of a global event: the Rugby World Cup in October 2019.
Visit the lively Nakasu and Tenjin districts and their yatai - hundreds of delicious and welcoming open-air restaurants at low prices. A great way to spend one final evening!
Day 13 : Sayonara, and see you next time!
Transfer to Fukuoka International Airport (Japan's 4th largest airport, located in the heart of the city) in 5 minutes by metro from Hakata Central Station, see details below.
Return flight to Europe with a change in Tokyo, Helsinki or one of the major Asian cities.
Don't hesitate to extend your trip by one or more days, to Fukuoka or Kyushu Island: Nagasaki, Beppu, Kagoshima, Aso volcano... 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* ryokan in Hakone Mount Fuji, traditional half-board
- 3 nights in a 3* hotel in the heart of Kyoto, close to public transport
- 2 nights in a 3* hotel in Okayama, near the train station
- 1 night in a 3* ryokan in Miyajima, traditional half-board
- 1 night in a 3* hotel in Fukuoka, near the train station
The basic rate includes a twin room for two people.
- Airport transfers
- Prepaid public transport card
- Hakone Free Pass for 2 days
- Japan Rail Pass for 7 days
Experiences and meals
- Airport welcome
- Discounts at many Hakone tourist sites
- Traditional dinner and breakfast in the ryokan at Hakone and Miyajima
- 2 breakfasts in Okayama
- 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.
OPTION only valid for Hakone ryokan : 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 will leave from Fukuoka airport (FUK). You will have to leave Europe the day before and land at 18pm at the latest to make the most of the airport services of your tour (welcome 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.
- Please note that for the return flight from Fukuoka International Airport, you will need to change at Tokyo, Helsinki or one of the major Asian cities. In Tokyo and Seoul, please check that the connecting airports are the same. Fukuoka -> Tokyo and Fukuoka -> Seoul flights sometimes land at different airports (Tokyo Haneda HND or Seoul Gimpo GMP) from those from which international flights to Europe depart (Tokyo Narita NRT or Seoul Incheon ICN).
- 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 return transfer from your hotel to Fukuoka International Airport is by public transport from the central station. 5 minutes by metro from Hakata Central Station, located near your hotel. It's a straightforward journey, with the train arriving directly at the airport. There are 2 terminals connected by a free shuttle bus.
Cost: 260¥ (about £1.71 / 2.42$, paid with your pre-paid transport card, already loaded with the amount for the transfer).
From 5:30am to 12:25am, with metros every 4 to 8 minutes.
If you want door-to-door transport, we recommend that you contact your hotel reception to order a taxi. It will cost you approximately £12.86 / 17.78$ for a 20 minute journey.
- 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 Tokyo Shinjuku -> Hakone route and all transport in the Hakone region (excluding taxis) and a 7-day Japan Rail Pass. These 3 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 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 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 Hakone 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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