Classical Japan Tour - 14 days

Must See Sights of Japan

You will start in Tokyo which was the seat of the military government during the Edo Period (1603 to 1868). You will take day trips to Kamakura to see an ancient bronze Buddha near the sea and to Nikko to see Toshogu Shrine where Ieyasu Tokugawa is enshrined. You will then head to Hakone where the citizens of Edo would go to refresh themselves and enjoy a meal in one the many hot spring ryokans. Your ryokan will serve you a traditional kaiseki dinner and you will relax in their hot spring baths. Now that you know how the ruling class lived you will head north to Takayama to see a well-preserved merchant street and morning market. Rural Japan will be your next visit as you take a day trip to Shirakawa-go filled with thatched-roof farmhouses. Many of Japan's artisans are from this area so you will travel to Kanazawa to see Kenrokuen Garden, one of Japan's best. The samurai capital was in Edo but the imperial capital remained in Kyoto, your next destination. Here you will explore the streets where the emperor and other aristocrats played and worshiped. Nara was the capital of Japan before Kyoto was founded so we also include a day trip. You will then head back to Tokyo to prepare for your flight home.

As with all of our Independent tours, changes can be made to this tour.

Independent tour
Open - Independent Tour
13 nights, 14 days
Minimum of 2 guests
Per Person Prices starting at US$4,400 ~ based on double occupancy for at least 2 travelers
Breakfasts: 13
Lunches: 0
Dinner: 1 at your ryokan in Hakone
Private Local Guide in Tokyo on Day 2
Private Local Guide in Kyoto on Day 11
For other days you will have detailed materials as well as support from our experts in Japan will be available for this independent tour. No tour leader is supplied.
Tokyo, Hakone ryokan stay, Takayama's Old Town, Gassho Zukuri farmhouses of Shirakawa-go and Classical Kyoto
Age restrictions: Everyone younger than 20 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
Day 1 - Tokyo - (Hotel)

Upon arrival you will be met at Narita Airport or Haneda Airport and escorted by one of Rediscover Tours team members to your hotel in Tokyo by public transportation. (we can also arrange a private or shared shuttle). While at the airport they will validate your JR Rail Passes, make seat reservations, and answer any of your questions.

Day 2 - Tokyo - (Private Guide in Tokyo)

Today your private guide will meet you in the lobby of your hotel and will show you Tokyo. You may wish to visit Harajuku for current kids, Ginza for upscale Tokyo, Akihabara for the latest electronics or Asakusa to see traditional Tokyo.

Day 3 - Kamakura - (Day Trip to Kamakura)

In the morning you will take a train to Kamakura to see the old capital near the sea. While in Kamakura you will visit the Great Buddha of Kamakura which was cast in 1252. Originally it was housed in a protective building though that structure was destroyed in the 15th century and the Great Buddha has been exposed to the elements since 1495. In the evening you will head back to Tokyo where you will sleep.

Day 4 - Nikko - (Day Trip to Nikko)

Today you will take a day trip to Nikko to see where the first of the Tokugawa Shoguns is enshrined at Toshogu Shrine. You will also visit Taiyuinbyo, Rinnoji temple and other places before heading back to Tokyo for the night.

Day 5 - Hakone - (Hot Spring Ryokan)

After breakfast, you will head to the hot spring area of Hakone. Here you can visit Lake Ashinoko, Owakudani, Hakone Shrine, Pola Museum and many other sights in the unique area. In the evening you will head to your ryokan for a traditional Japanese dinner and a refreshing hot spring bath. Life is Good!

Day 6 - Takayama - (Free Time)

In the morning you will have time to explore Hakone and then take a rather long train ride of 4.5 hours to Takayama. During the Edo Period, Takayama thrived thanks to timber resources which attracted artisans and craftsmen. Many of the merchants' homes survived and are now open to the public as museums and galleries.

Day 7 - Takayama - (Free Time or Rural Cycling Tour)

Today you will have a chance to really explore Takayama or you can take a day trip to Hida Furukawa and possibly take a cycling tour of rural Japan.

Day 8 - Shirakawago - (Stop Over in Shirakawago)

After breakfast in Takayama, you will take a bus through the Hida mountains to Shirakawa-go in northwest Gifu Prefecture. This quiet village, surrounded by mountains and rice-fields is best known for its gassho-zukuri farmhouses. Gassho-zukuri is a traditional building style featuring steep thatched roofs designed to withstand heavy snow. In order to preserve these houses, the whole village of Shirakawa-go was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995. The bus ride from Takayama Station to Shirakawa-go will take approximately 50 minutes.

Day 9 - Kanazawa - (Free Time)

Today you will explore the old town of Kanazawa. This city is most famous for Kenrokuen Garden, regarded as one of Japan's best. You will also have a chance to wander around the old samurai and geisha districts.

Day 10 - Kyoto - (Free Time)

Formerly the imperial capital of Japan, it is in this city that the traditional Japanese 'high arts' flourished. For those interested in tea ceremony, calligraphy, poetry, philosophy and religion, Kyoto is the number one place to visit. Numerous temples and shrines are located throughout the city and walking along canals, next to traditional wooden houses and through the small streets really gives you an idea of the ancient Japanese imperial culture. Kyoto is not just about the high arts, however, the city is also famous for its crafts: textile, kimono, and pottery.

Day 11 - Kyoto - (Private Guide in Kyoto)

Your private guide will meet you at your hotel. Your Japan travel expert will give you a few sightseeing itineraries to choose from which your private guide will use as a base. Of course, you can ask your guide to make changes on the fly or spend more time in one area and less in another.

Day 12 - Nara - (Day Trip to Nara)

Nara is located in the central west of Honshu. Formerly known as Heijo-kyo, this city occupies an important position in the history of Japan as the first capital from 710 until 784. During this period, a large number of shrines and temples were erected under the protection of the imperial family and aristocrats. However, when the monks in the surrounding hills started gaining too much influence and eventually tried to seize power, it was decided to move the capital to Heian-kyo, nowadays known as Kyoto. Many of the temples built at the height of Heijo-kyo, like the Todai-ji and Horyuji temples, are currently registered as World Heritage Sites. Both Japanese and foreign tourists visit the city to see these temples, to walk among the free-roaming deer of Nara park or to visit some of the beautiful scenic mountains surrounding the city. The train from Kyoto Station to Nara Station will take about 45 minutes.

Day 13 - Tokyo - (Free Time)

Today you will depart Kyoto and head back to Tokyo by Shinkansen Bullet train. The train from Kyoto Station to Tokyo Station will take approximately 2 hours and 40 minutes.

Day 14 - Tour Ends - (Free Time)

Today will be your last day in Japan and your last chance for sightseeing and shopping. Please make sure you arrive at Narita Airport or Haneda Airport at least 2 hours before your scheduled flight.