Day 1 - Tokyo - (Airport Guide & Escort to your hotel in Tokyo)
Airport Guide & Escort to your hotel in Tokyo
Your airport guide will meet you at Narita International Airport (assuming your flight arrives after 8:00 am and before 21:30) on Day 1 and will take you to your hotel in Tokyo by public transportation. They will validate your 14 day JR Rail Passes ordinary class, make seat reservations, go through your itinerary, and answer any of your questions. They will also hand you your pocket internet device to use during your trip and your rechargeable transportation card to use on non-JR trains with an initial credit of 2,000 yen. Tokyo can be a bit overwhelming so your airport guide will also introduce a few restaurants and show you how to use the train system before parting ways. The train from Narita Airport to Tokyo Station will take approximately 1 hour.
Day 2 - Tokyo - (Private Local Guide in Tokyo)
Private Local Guide in Tokyo
Your private local guide will meet you at your hotel and will show you Tokyo for about 8 hours. Your guide will not work from a predetermined itinerary will show you sights that are interesting to you. They are also very flexible and can make on the fly changes to fit your style, mood, weather, and crowds. Possible sights in Tokyo include Asakusa, Shibuya, Harajuku, Meiji Shrine, Omotesando, Roppongi, Akihabara, Tsukiji Outer Fish Market, and many others. Only the best local guides can offer this kind of flexibility. Due to the flexible nature of your sightseeing, we do not include transportation, entry fees or meals while you are with your guide. If you have specific sights you want to visit with your guide please let me know. Tokyo is filled with some amazing restaurants including a number of Michelin starred ones. We will make reservations for you at one of these restaurants.
Day 3 - Tokyo - (Evening Robot Show)
Free Time in Tokyo & Robot Show
Today you will have time to explore Tokyo on your own with recommendations from your guide on Day 2. In the evening you will see a very Tokyo show, the Shibuya Robot Restaurant Show. This show takes modern Tokyo to a whole new level and something you have to see to believe. This is a full sensory night and not for the faint at heart. Dinner is not included as it is just average.
Day 4 - Tokyo - (Day Trip to Kamakura)
Day Trip to Kamakura
Kamakura is a short train ride from Tokyo and well worth visiting. There are 65 Buddhist temples and 19 Shinto shrines in the area, and most were built hundreds of years ago. Kamakura was established as the location of a shogunate government in 1192, and the area was selected because it was surrounded by wooded hills and the sea and easy to defend against attack. Kamakura is a busy seaside resort today, and its old wooden homes, temples, and shrines make it a wonderful place to visit. Near Kamakura lies the sacred island of Enoshima. Here visitors can take in the various sights of the island and escape from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo. The train from Tokyo Station to Kamakura Station takes approximately 55 minutes.
Day 5 - Matsumoto - (Castle Town of Matsumoto)
In the morning you will head to Matsumoto, a former castle town and now a bustling modern city located in Nagano Prefecture. The most famous sight is its stunning feudal era castle, which is a national treasure and one of the few original castles. It is a stunning sight with its black walls located atop a hill. Matsumoto is also well known for its delicious cuisine, which includes tasty soba noodles and locally grown wasabi. The train from Tokyo Station to Matsumoto Station will take approximately 3 hours and 10 minutes.
Day 6 - Kamikochi - (Explore the Alpine Route)
Today you will head to the Japanese Alps and the mountain pass town of Kamikochi which is part of Chubu Sangaku National Park. This area is only open to the public from April 15 to November 30 due to the heavy snowfall in the winter months. It has only been moderately developed and private cars are not allowed. The idea is to keep the natural beauty and to allow travelers to enjoy it. There are many hiking trails for you to explore. The bus from Matsumoto Station to Kamikochi will take approximately 1 hour 30 minutes.
Day 7 - Takayama - (Visit the Old Merchant Quarters)
You will take a bus through the Hida Mountains to Takayama, which is often referred to as Little Kyoto as many of its temples and shrines were built by Takayama carpenters who apprenticed in Kyoto. Here you will explore the old Sannomachi Street and the neighborhood that surrounds it. Many of the old houses are museums so you can see how merchants lived in remote Japan. The bus from Kamikochi to Takayama Station will take approximately 60 minutes.
Day 8 - Kyoto - (Travel to Kyoto & Kaiseki Dinner)
Travel to Kyoto & Kaiseki Dinner
On Day 8 you will leave Takayama and head to Kyoto, the former imperial capital of Japan. Today, it is in this city that the traditional Japanese ‘high arts’ flourished. Tea ceremony, calligraphy, poetry, philosophy or 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 also famous for its crafts: textile, kimono, and pottery. Although there is very much to see and do in Kyoto, even a short-time visitor can soon get an appreciation of what this ancient capital has to offer. The trains from Takayama Station to Kyoto Station will take approximately 3 hours and 25 minutes. In the evening you will dine at a Kyo Kaiseki restaurant which many travelers state is the best meal of their trip.
Day 9 - Kyoto - (Private Local Guide in Kyoto)
Private Local Guide in Kyoto
Your private local guide will meet you on the platform of Kyoto Station and will show you the ancient imperial capital of Kyoto. Your guide will not work from a predetermined itinerary will show you sights that are interesting to you. They are also very flexible and can make on the fly changes to fit your style, mood, weather, and crowds. Possible sights in Kyoto include Higashiyama, Kiyomizudera, Gion, Nishiki Market, Kimono Museum, National Museum, Manga Museum, and many other possible temples, gardens, museums and so on. Only the best local guides can offer this kind of flexibility. Due to the flexible nature of your sightseeing, we do not include transportation, entry fees or meals while you are with your guide. If you have specific sights you want to visit with your guide please let me know.
Day 10 - Kyoto - (Formal Tea Ceremony)
Formal Tea Ceremony and Free Time in Kyoto
Today you will join a small group tea ceremony led by an English speaking kimono-clad tea master. The purpose of the tea ceremony is to focus completely on the present and to make every movement on purpose without wasted effort. It is beautiful to watch a skilled tea master perform their art. Your ceremony will last about 60 minutes. You will have the rest of the day to explore Kyoto with recommendations from your private guide on day 9. Your trip can also include other activities like a samurai kembu class, calligraphy class, cooking class or even a taiko drum class. Just let your Japan travel expert know what interests you and they will make it happen.
Day 11 - Kyoto - (Day trip to Arashiyama & Hozugawa River Ride)
Day trip to Arashiyama, Sagano Scenic Train & Hozugawa River Ride
Today you will travel to Arashiyama which is on the northwest side of Kyoto. You will take a 20-minute train to Sagaarashiyama Station where you will board the Sagano Scenic Railway to Kameoka. You will take a short bus ride to the Hozugawa River Boat Ride starting point and float down the beautiful river valley to Arashiyama. This area is best known for its bamboo forest, monkey park and Okochi Sanso Villa which you will be able to visit after you arrive in Arashiyama.
Day 12 - Kyoto - (Artisan Rural Cycling Tour)
Artisan Rural Cycling Tour
This leisurely and refreshing ride offers a welcome change of pace and scenery, just 20 minutes from Kyoto by bullet train! Experience small-town life in Maibara, follow historic trade routes, get a first-hand look at rice fields, ride along the Lake Biwa shoreline, and visit a number of artisans who make home Buddhist altars known as Butsudan. You will then head to a local restaurant for a traditional lunch with your small tour group before heading back to the starting point of your adventure.
Day 13 - Osaka - (Private Guide in Osaka)
Osaka with a Private Guided focused on Food
Your private guide will meet you at your hotel in Kyoto and will take you to Osaka and then introduce you to the wonderful world of food in Osaka. The people of Osaka are widely known for their outgoing spirit and friendliness. The local dialect, known as Osakaben, has been adopted as the standard for stand-up comedians. Osaka’s regional cuisine is thought to be the best in Japan. Dishes include okonomiyaki (a pancake-based dish containing vegetables, meat, and/or seafood), takoyaki (octopus dumplings), kushikatsu (deep-fried skewered meats and vegetables) and udon noodles. Your guide will introduce a number of these foods to you while also showing you areas like Dotonbori Street, Doguyasuji Street for restaurant goods and other sights. You will notice that the culture in Osaka is very different from Tokyo and Kyoto. You will use your JR Rail Pass to travel to Osaka but other transportation, meals and entry fees while with your guide are not included, are with your guide.
Day 14 - - (Depart Japan)
Today you will take a train to Kansai Airport to fly home with memories that you will keep for the rest of your life.