Tokyo's futuristic cityscape launches your journey through Japan's modern centres and ancient capitals. On arrival at Tokyo Narita or Haneda Airport, you'll be transferred by airport shuttle to your hotel. This evening, meet your Travel Director and fellow travellers for a Welcome Reception drink with appetisers.
Rub shoulders with the locals this morning as you 'Dive into Culture' and wander through Ameyoko Street Market, once a black market selling American goods after World War II. Continue to the old-time entertainment centre of Asakusa to visit the Sensoji Buddhist Temple, which has been rebuilt countless times since its founding in 628, making it Tokyo's oldest temple site. Take a stroll down Nakamise shopping street with some free time for lunch, then join a 'Local Specialist' and learn the mesmerising rhythmic art of Taiko drumming, one of Japan's most popular cultural icons. Board a cruise along the Sumida River to admire Tokyo's modern skyline, the traditional neighbourhoods of old Edo and beautiful Hamarikyu Garden. Later, return to your hotel for time at leisure and dinner at a Sumo-themed izakaya restaurant.
We journey to Kamakura today. A former political capital, its glory days under the Kamakura shogunate spanned from the 12th to 14th centuries, coinciding with the spread of Buddhism in Japan which is reflected in the city's numerous temples. The most important of these is the Tsurugaoka Hachimangu shrine, which we'll have an opportunity to visit this morning, passing multiple torii gates that line the wide approach from Kamakura's waterfront. We head to Komachi-dori street for some free time to admire the old western-style houses lining narrow alleys that branch off this popular market street. Later, we'll travel to Kotokuin Temple to see its Great Buddha which weighs 121 tons. Returning to Tokyo, enjoy an evening at leisure or an opportunity to join one of Trafalgar's Optional Experiences.
The towering slopes of snow-capped Mt. Fuji loom in the distance as we journey from Tokyo to this celebrated UNESCO-listed site. Admire spectacular views of the surrounding countryside from its 5th station, a magnificent vantage point at 2,300 metres. After lunch at a local restaurant, we'll continue to Owakudani to see the volcanic activity. Consider sampling the local black eggs boiled in geysers, then head back to the hotel for an evening at leisure.
We leave Tokyo, travelling by high-speed bullet train to Kyoto, another former capital of Japan and the centre of Japanese culture for centuries. On arrival, we'll embark on a walking tour of the Gion District, embracing the energy of Kawaramachi street. Enjoy some free time before we head to the UNESCO-listed Kinkakuji Temple, whose glittering golden pavilion is widely regarded as the symbol of Kyoto. Enjoy the rest of the evening at leisure and perhaps some karaoke or a visit to a local Geisha teahouse.
After a late start this morning, we'll visit one of Kyoto's highlights - the historic and scenic district of Arashiyama, renowned for its cherry blossom trees which bloom in the springtime and its beautiful landscapes that change dramatically from season to season. Enjoy a leisurely walk through the towering Bamboo groves and see its iconic Togetsukyo Bridge. Connect with nature in the Zen gardens of Tenryuji Temple, then return to Kyoto for some free time at Nishiki market, a traditional food market known by locals as "Kyoto's Pantry". Return to your hotel or consider joining an Optional Experience.
Delve into the ancient history of Nara, the first permanent capital city of Japan. Here you'll visit the landmark Todaiji Temple, one of the powerful Seven Great Temples and home to one of Japan's largest bronze statues of Buddha. Take a stroll around Nara Park, home to hundreds of freely roaming tame deer, then 'Connect with Locals' over a Be My Guest lunch with a local farmer at his tea plantation. Gain insights into the life of his family while sampling fresh tea and indulging in a delicious home-made meal. Return to Kyoto later, for an evening at leisure.
This morning, we board a high-speed bullet train to Hiroshima, a lively city that celebrates peace in the shadow of the previous century's devastation. Our first stop is to a local restaurant where we'll join our 'Local Specialist' for an Okonomiyaki Making experience. Mix your ingredients to make your own savoury pancake and cook it on a hot plate before enjoying your creation for lunch. This afternoon, we head to the Peace Memorial Park and Museum and see the UNESCO-listed Peace Memorial, the only structure left standing when the first atomic bomb exploded in 1945. Take a moment to contemplate its symbolic expression of hope for world peace, then spend the rest of the evening at leisure.
Take the ferry to Miyajima Island to visit the famous UNESCO-listed Itsukushima Shrine and elaborate torii gate rising majestically out of the sea. Learn how to make Momiji Manjyu, one of the local specialities, shaping your steamed bun in the shape of a maple leaf and filling it with sweet red bean paste. You'll have an opportunity to sample your work before some free time for lunch. Spend the rest of the afternoon at leisure or consider joining an Optional Experience. Later, join your fellow guests and Travel Director for a Farewell Dinner in a local restaurant.
Your journey revealing Japan's ancient past and modern cityscape is at its end, take a transfer by airport shuttle to Hiroshima Airport for your onward flight.
Cherry Blossom season varies between different regions of Japan and is dependant on weather conditions so can also vary slightly each year. Late March to mid April are the most likely times to experience it on this trip but this is not guaranteed.
Our guests visit Gokayama Heritage Iwase House, which is a World Heritage-listed, Gassho-style farmhouse with a thatched roof. Here, the owner introduces us to the village's lifestyle and shares the history that led them to have such a strong sense of community.Keiko, Japan Travel Director
Visas are generally not required for Japan for many nationalities. Please contact the consulate/embassy for further information.