TOKYO, KYOTO, MT. FUJI, HAKONE, TAKAYAMA, KANAZAWA, AND OSAKA
Experience true beauty in the “Land of the Rising Sun” on this guided Japan tour with airfare included. All around Tokyo you’ll explore ancient architecture and amazing cultural sights. Discover Japan’s scenic countryside as you travel through Hakone and stop to admire the splendors of Mt. Fuji. In Takayama, enjoy this small town’s quaint history, colorful markets, and stunning views of the Japanese Alps. Take a picturesque drive to visit the historic villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama, then head to Kanazawa where you’ll delight in even more traditional charms. Take a beautiful and exciting journey through Kyoto—admire serene temples, wander through Japanese gardens, and take in all this extraordinary culture has to offer. Spend the tour’s last days in Osaka, often called Japan’s “kitchen” for all its delicious foods. Here, you’ll visit famous sites like Osaka Castle and Dotonbori District as well as enjoy a full-day excursion to Himeji and Kobe, two nearby cities rich with historical and cultural relevance. 4/5 stars on Tripadvisor!
Shorten Your Trip! Enjoy our 12-day Discover Japan tour visiting Japan’s highlights from Tokyo to Kyoto.
Did you know that you can make this tour private? Find out about pricing and options for groups of 10 or more travelers.
- 4 nights in Tokyo
- 2 nights in Takayama
- 1 night in Kanazawa
- 3 nights in Kyoto
- 2 nights in Osaka
- Sushi-making class (Tokyo)
- Mt. Fuji
- Ancient town in Takayama
- Sake Tasting at a Sake Brewery
- Shirakawago (UNESCO World Heritage Site)
- Sightseeing in Kyoto
- Tea Making & Tea Tasting Experience
- Cherry blossoms (seasonal)
- Osaka Castle
- Dotonbori District
- Kuromon Market Food Tasting
- Umeda Sky Garden Observatory
- Himeji Castle
- Kokoen Garden
Your Tour Includes
- Round-trip airfare from Los Angeles (passengers may also book this tour without flights)
- Airfare taxes, fees & fuel surcharges
- Intra-Japan ground transportation and transfers
- Super-Express “bullet” train between Tokyo and Nagoya
- Accommodations at Superior First Class hotels
- 16 meals: Breakfast daily, 1 lunch, 3 dinners
- Comprehensive sightseeing tours as indicated in itinerary
- English-speaking Tour Director and local guides
Day 1: Depart USA
Your fascinating sojourn to mysterious Japan begins as you depart today on your overnight flight.
*Passengers who did not purchase flights will join the tour in Tokyo on Day 2.
Day 2: Arrive Tokyo (Japan)
Welcome to Japan, the “Land of the Rising Sun." Evening arrival in Tokyo, Japan’s vibrant capital. Tokyo is a great mix of ancient Japanese culture and modern, dazzling architectural landmarks which you'll be able to explore over the next few days. Your tour host warmly welcomes you upon arrival and escorts you to your conveniently located hotel. Your host will share with you some vital information about Japan, Tokyo and your upcoming tour program. This evening enjoy a welcome dinner at a local restaurant.Accommodations: Keio Plaza or similar
Day 3: Tokyo
Today, enjoy a full-day guided tour of Tokyo, exploring some of the amazing highlights. Start with a visit to the 1093 ft tall Tokyo Tower. From here you may enjoy bird's eye views of the sprawling metropolis. Then, stop at the Imperial Palace Plaza for a photo opportunity before we enjoy a sushi-making class with a sushi chef. Afterwards, we'll have the opportunity to enjoy our sushi for lunch. Your tour continues with a visit to Asakusa Kannon, Tokyo's most spectacular and sacred Buddhist temple. Narrow alleys filled with small shops, restaurants and tranquil gardens surround the temple. Stroll along Nakamise Street nearby, filled with stores stocking treasure troves of traditional Japanese wares and crafts. You'll also visit the nearby exciting Ginza district renowned for its superior shopping, dining and entertainment. The balance of the day is free for independent pursuitsMeals: Breakfast, Lunch
Day 4: Mt. Fuji & Hakone Excursion
Japan's pastoral countryside unfolds as you depart Tokyo today for Mt. Fuji and Hakone. The main attraction here is majestic Mt. Fuji, a dormant volcano that last erupted almost 300 years ago. The mountain's perfectly shaped cone has inspired artists and poets for centuries. Weather permitting, drive up to the fifth station of the snow capped peak for panoramic vistas. Embark on a scenic boat ride on tranquil Lake Ashi. Later, enjoy a gondola ride on the Komagatake Ropeway for a sweeping view of Hakone and Mt. Fuji before returning to Tokyo late this afternoon.Meals: Breakfast
Day 5: Tokyo
Spend a day at leisure to explore Tokyo from your conveniently located hotel. For a real taste of Japan, get up early and head for the colorful wholesale fish market!Meals: Breakfast
Day 6: Tokyo/Takayama
This morning, embark on a thrilling train ride via the super-express Bullet “Shinkansen” train headed for Nagoya. Here, transfer to a limited-express train for a scenic ride to Takayama, a delightful small town nestled in the majestic Japanese Alps. Over the next few days you’ll travel back in time as you explore rural Japan where traditional-style architecture, ancient culture and fascinating customs have been proudly preserved. After settling into your hotel in the heart of Takayama, embark on a guided walk through the enchanting narrow streets of the Kami-sannomachi district graced with beautiful old wooden homes, delightful small shops, coffee houses and sake breweries, many of which have been in business for centuries. You’ll also view the Festival Floats Exhibition Hall featuring huge floats, decorated with intricate carvings, gilded wood and detailed metalwork, that are paraded through the streets of Takayama during festival times. Visit the Folkcraft Museum, formerly a private residence that is a prime example of Meiji Era architecture.Accommodations: Hida Plaza Hotel or similar
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Day 7: Takayama
After breakfast, join your guide for a stroll through the fascinating Miyagawa Morning Market along the Miyagawa River in the old town. This 200-year old colorful market bustles with farmers selling fresh fruits, vegetables, flowers and traditional local crafts. We'll enjoy a sake tasting at the oldest Sake Brewery in Japan while we learn more about how sake is made. Proceed to the Takayama Jinya, a complex of 17th century buildings that once housed officials of the Tokugawa Shogunate. Today, it is a museum with historical displays from the time of direct rule to the Meiji Era. The balance of the day is at leisure to explore the quaint old town on your own, delight in the unique atmosphere Takayama is renowned for and possibly relax in a soothing traditional hot spring bath!Meals: Breakfast
Day 8: Takayama/Shirakawago/Kanazawa
Today enjoy a scenic drive through the picturesque countryside to the rural region of Shirakawago, a UNESCO World Heritage Site where you’ll discover fascinating examples of old steep thatched roof houses. This unique architectural style, harmonized into the magnificent mountain landscape, was developed over 100 years ago to survive the harsh winters. You’ll visit one of these houses and learn more about daily life in this remote area. Proceed to the village of Gokayama where you’ll enjoy a demonstration of traditional Japanese papermaking techniques. Later this afternoon arrive in the Kanazawa, blending modern living with traditional heritage.Accommodations: Ana Crowne Plaza Hotel or similar
Day 9: Kanazawa/Kyoto
Today enjoy a visit to the historic Oumicho Market, a busy and colorful market and explore along with local residents some of the 200 shops selling seafood, vegetables, fruits, flowers, regional specialties and more. Later you’ll be whisked back in time to the exciting Edo period when you visit the Nagamachi district, a small neighborhood of narrow, cobblestone streets where brave samurai warriors once lived. Many homes are still occupied by the samurai descendants but you’ll visit the Nomura Family house that is open to the public where you can admire the stone lanterns and bridges in the garden as well as the cypress-wood ceiling in the residence. Proceed to the beautiful Kenrokuen Garden, one of the finest gardens in Japan and marvel at the waterfalls, ponds and charming tea-houses. Later, stroll through the charming Higashi Geisha district before a gold leaf experience. Afterwards, transfer to the station for your train ride to splendid Kyoto. Embodying Japan's rich culture and complex history, Kyoto has over 2000 temples and shrines, delightful gardens and exceptionally preserved wooden buildings. The sights, wonderful local cuisine and exceptional arts and crafts are certain to enchant you! Upon arrival in Kyoto, transfer to your hotel.Accommodations: Righa Royal Hotel Kyoto or similar
Day 10: Kyoto
The capital of Japan from 794 to 1868, Kyoto is a world-class gem, a true oasis. Today, depart on a guided tour exploring some of the city's highlights. We'll begin at the renowned Kiyomizu Temple, founded in the 8th century. Situated halfway up the Otowayama Hill it encompasses a vast area and affords stunning views of Kyoto. Wander along the narrow winding alleys leading up to the temple, lined with magnificently preserved old houses, craftsmen’s workshops and tea houses. Soak up the flavor of traditional Japanese atmosphere, and perhaps purchase some exquisite locally crafted souvenirs. Afterwards we'll enjoy a tea making and tea tasting experience where we'll learn more about the traditions surrounding tea in Japan. Next, visit Nijo Castle, renowned for its ornate interiors. Built by Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu in the early 17th century, the castle symbolizes the power and riches of the newly established Edo-based Shogun. Your next stop is one of Kyoto's most inspiring sights, the Temple of the Golden Pavilion, also known as Kinkaku-ji. As you approach the temple via a tree-shaded path, emerge into an exquisite Japanese-style garden on the other side of which stands the fabled pavilion. It is built on pillars magnificently suspended over a lake. Proceed to the colorful Handicraft Center where you can see demonstrations of traditional Japanese arts and crafts. Later, return to your hotel and enjoy dinner with the group this evening.Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Day 11: Kyoto
A day to explore ancient Kyoto's grace and beauty on your own or join an optional tour. You may visit some of the smaller and serene temples, marvel at splendid classical Japanese gardens, see the exquisitely dressed geishas at the colorful Gion corner, or join a traditional tea ceremony. Perhaps visit the acclaimed Miho Museum, built on a wooded mountain-top outside Kyoto. Also available is an optional excursion to Nara, Japan's first capital and symbol of tranquility, where you may see the world's largest indoor Buddha; or an optional excursion to Hiroshima.Meals: Breakfast
Day 12: Kyoto/Osaka
After breakfast, enjoy a full day of sightseeing in Osaka. We'll visit magnificent Osaka Castle, one of Japan's most famous landmarks, and the lively Dotonbori District with its colorful neon signs. At Kuromon Market, we'll taste some local snacks from the market's food stalls before continuing to the Umeda Sky Building, one of Osaka's most recognizable buildings, where we'll visit the Garden Observatory. After the day's sightseeing, we'll check into our hotel and enjoy the rest of the day at leisure.Accommodations: Hotel Hankyu Respire Osaka or similar
Day 13: Himeji & Kobe Excursion
Today we'll enjoy another full day of sightseeing with a visit to Himeji and Kobe. Our first stop is Himeji Castle, one of Japan's most magnificent castles with its well-preserved castle grounds. Next, we'll explore Kokoen Garden which is located next to Himeji Castle. This Japanese-style garden was opened in 1992 and is made up of nine walled gardens designed in different styles of the Edo period. Before returning to Osaka, we'll stop at a sake brewery where we'll learn about how sake is made with fermented rice and enjoy a sake tasting. Afterward, we'll return to Osaka where the rest of the day is at leisure.Meals: Breakfast
Day 14: Osaka/USA
After breakfast this morning, we'll depart for our return flight to the U.S.
*The tour will end for passengers who did not purchase flights on Day 14 in Osaka.Meals: Breakfast
Prices listed as “with flights” below include round-trip airfare from one or more airports in the USA. Travelers may choose to purchase the tour only, and arrange their own arrival in destination. Please note this may change your tour start date.
|2023 Tours||Tour Only||With Flights|
* Departures designated as "Guaranteed" may be canceled or rescheduled only under Extraordinary Circumstances, for example in situations deemed to be unsafe or nonviable due to local conditions. See Terms & Conditions for full details.
Rates are per person based on double occupancy.
Single supplement applies when not sharing a room. Select a date above to see the rates for that specific departure.
Reservations and Payments
Reservations can be made online or by phone (1.800.337.7773 ) and will be confirmed upon receipt of your non-refundable, non-transferable deposit, which must be received at the time of reservation. Deposits are $300 per person. Full payment is due 90 days prior to departure. Space and prices subject to availability. Please see the smarTours Terms and Conditions for complete booking information.
Optional Tours Customize your trip with these optional tours.
Enhance your trip with our recommended optional tours. Indicated optional tours are available to pre-book when you reserve your trip and can be added to your reservation up to final payment. This is the best option to guarantee your spot on your preferred optional tour! Optional tours require a minimum number of participants. Optional tours are non-refundable unless they do not operate.
Some optional tours can be purchased in-destination and may cost extra. The payment methods and currency information to purchase tours in-destination will be provided on final documentation.
Nara Afternoon Tour
- $80 per person
Available on 2022 departures onward
On this optional half-day excursion, travel outside Kyoto to Nara, Japan’s first capital and symbol of tranquility. Here, see the Todai-ji Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the world’s largest wooden structures with the bronze Great Buddha, also the Kasuga Taisha Shrine surrounded by 3000 stone and bronze lanterns, and the nearby Deer Park where deer are thought to be the shrine messengers. Later, return to Kyoto.
Tour starts and ends at the Avanti Sunrise Tour Desk on Kroto St.
Note: This optional activity is available as an afternoon tour on Day 11 and conflicts with the Hiroshima optional tour. Travelers may select either this tour or the Hiroshima tour, but cannot book both.
AVAILABLE TO PRE-BOOK!
- $380 per person
Available on 2022 departures onward
On this full-day optional tour, travel to Hiroshima by bullet train. You'll begin at the world-famous Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. Visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, which was established in 1955 and dedicated to documenting the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in World War II. Next, stop at the Atomic Bomb Dome, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Next, walk by Shima Hospital, Hiroshima's "ground zero." Enjoy an Okonomi-yaki making experience for lunch and afterward, you'll visit Hiroshima Castle before returning to Kyoto by bullet train.
Note: This optional activity is available as an afternoon tour on Day 11 and conflicts with the Nara optional tour. Travelers may select either this tour or the Nara tour, but cannot book both.
AVAILABLE TO PRE-BOOK!
Keio Plaza Hotel
Hida Plaza Hotel
60 Hanoaka-cho 2-chome
Takayama, Gifu, 506-0009, Japan
Ana Crowne Plaza Kanazawa Hotel
16-3 Showa-machi, Kanazawa
Ishikawa Prefecture 920-8518, Japan
RIHGA Royal Hotel Kyoto
1 Taimatsu-cho, Shiokoji-sagaru, HigashiHorikawa-dori, Shimogyo-ku
Kyoto 600-8237, Japan
Hotel Hankyu RESPIRE
1-1 Ofukacho, Kita Ward, Osaka, 530-0011, Japan
Departing the U.S.: For the safety of everyone in the group, smarTours has implemented COVID-19 travel requirements which apply to all tours regardless of destination. To learn more, click here.
Please note destination entry requirements are changing rapidly. smarTours will communicate entry requirements in your Tour Documents 10–14 days prior to departure. For up-to-date information, please click the links below.
- Entry requirements
- State Department Travel Advisory Updates (Japan)
- Center for Disease Control Updates & Information (Japan)
Your departure flight from the U.S. to Japan and back are the following airlines. You are expected to check-in for your flight at least 3½ hours before the scheduled departure. Please make sure to allow sufficient time for clearing immigration and customs if you are planning a connecting flight. We recommend at least 3 ½ hours. Also keep in mind that flight schedules are always subject to change. Schedules are as follows:
|Departure Date||Airline||Los Angeles (LAX)|
|2023: Mar. 5||Japan Airlines||12:45 PM||3:38 PM|
|2023: Mar. 19||United Airlines||1:45 PM||3:38 PM|
|2023: Apr. – Sep.||United Airlines||11:40 AM||3:38 PM|
|2023: Oct. 8||United Airlines||TBA||TBA|
ADVANCE SEAT ASSIGNMENT
The above airlines do not assign seats in advance. Seat assignment can only be arranged upon check-in at the airport. Please note that smarTours is not involved with your seat assignment. It is between you and the airline!
International flights to/from the U.S. are not included. Land-only travelers are responsible for arranging the entry and exit flights, as well as their arrival and departure transfers. smarTours cannot be held responsible for any damage caused by air schedule changes and delays. Unused land services are non-refundable.
Main Tour + Extension: Land services start upon independent check in at Tokyo hotel on Day 2 of the itinerary listed on the tour page. Land-Only services end after breakfast at Osaka hotel on Day 14 of the itinerary listed on the tour page.
PASSPORT AND VISA INFORMATION
You must possess a passport valid for at least 6 months after the date of travel. U.S. passport holders do not require a visa to travel to Japan. Non-U.S. citizens should check with the respective consulates as to the most current visa requirements to all their travel destinations. Please remember that it is your responsibility to obtain the necessary travel documents before the trip.
TICKETS AND FINAL DOCUMENTS
Final instructions, documents, and travel tips will be emailed to you 10–14 days before the scheduled start of your tour. If you have not received your final documents, please check your spam folder or contact smarTours.
Immunizations are NOT currently required; however, you should consult your personal physician, local public health authorities or the Center of Disease Control (CDC) as to their suggestions.
You may expect daytime high temperatures averaging in the 60’s in April and November; 70’s in May, June and October; 80’s in July through September. Overnight temperatures are cooler.
The hotels used on this tour have several dining choices from coffee shop to specialty restaurants. You may also dine in local restaurants near your hotels that may furnish less expensive menus. Average cost for dinner (excluding drinks) in the coffee shop is about $25-35 per meal per person. In some local restaurants such as Noodle Shops, you may pay less. Your hotel will accept credit cards for your non-included meals.
CREDIT CARDS AND LOCAL CURRENCY
Hotels and some stores accept major credit cards. However, for “street shopping” you will need local currency. Your hotel will be able to exchange for you cash to local currency or you may be able to use ATM machines. It is recommended that you bring along cash in small denominations.
Each passenger may bring one piece of checked-in luggage (suitcase), max. 44 pounds and one carry-on piece. Carry on must not exceed 18”x10”x8”. As your trip to Japan is informal, we recommend that you do not over-pack and that you take a variety of casual separates with climate and comfort in mind.