Japan

Customized Tokyo Itinerary

Day 1

Tokyo Arrival

One of the World’s most cutting-edge capitals, Tokyo is a city of contrasts. Famous for its cutting edge modernity, neon-lit landscape and towering skyscrapers, it is also home to sprawling parkland, peaceful shrines and temples and lovingly tended gardens. Despite its love affair with manga pop culture, fashion, high-tech trends and conspicuous consumption, below the surface is a city that has its roots in an ancient heritage. Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples stand close to skyscrapers as a reminder of a more contemplative time and at the heart of the hyperactive centre lies the serene Imperial Palace, the home of the ruling emperor that provides a tangible link to the city’s historical past.

Behind the shopping, entertainment and commercial emporia can be found quaint wooden houses, private gardens with meticulously clipped bonsai trees and the Zen-like calm of the Hamarikyu Gardens. The city’s reputation as a mega-expensive metropolis is ill-conceived and visitors can take advantage of inexpensive izakaya bars and neighborhood cafes that serve delicious noodles and rice dishes.

This day will be at your leisure.

  • On arrival at Narita Airport, you will be transferred to your hotel
  • The remainder of your day is at leisure.
  • Accommodation: Mandarin Oriental Tokyo

Day 2

Tokyo: Half Day Tour

Morning is at your leisure.

In the afternoon, take a tour of this fascinating city with a local guide, and a private car. The day begins with a visit to Asakusa, Tokyo’s old town where you can soak in the atmosphere of the Tokyo of old. Visit Sensoji, Tokyo’s oldest temple and wander down Nakamise, a shopping street that has been providing temple visitors with a variety of traditional, local snacks and tourist souvenirs for centuries. Then you will head to Ueno area. Ueno Park (上野公園, Ueno Kōen) is a large public park next to Ueno Station in central Tokyo. The park grounds were originally part of Kaneiji Temple, which used to be one of the city’s largest and wealthiest temples and a family temple of the ruling Tokugawa clan during the Edo Period. Kaneiji stood in the northeast of the capital to protect the city from evil, much like Enryakuji Temple in Kyoto.

During the Boshin Civil War, which followed the Meiji Restoration in 1868, Kaneiji suffered nearly complete destruction in a battle between the victorious forces of the new Meiji government and loyalists of the overthrown shogunate. After the battle, the temple grounds were converted into one of Japan’s first Western style parks and opened to the public in 1873. A statue of Saigo Takamori, one of the generals in the Battle of Ueno, stands near the park’s southern entrance. Today Ueno Park is famous for the many museums found on its grounds, especially the Tokyo National Museum, the National Museum for Western Art, the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum and the National Science Museum. It is also home to Ueno Zoo, Japan’s first zoological garden.

Your tour will end with a visit to Yasukuni Shrine, a Shinto shrine in central Tokyo that commemorates Japan’s war dead. The shrine was founded in 1869 with the purpose of enshrining those who have died in war for their country and sacrificed their lives to help build the foundation for a peaceful Japan.
At the end of the day, you will enjoy a Kabuki Theater performance.

Accommodation: Mandarin Oriental Toyko

Day 3

Tokyo

This morning, take a day tour of this fascinating city with a local guide, and a private car. The day begins with a visit to Meiji Shrine, a shrine dedicated to the deified spirit of Emperor Meiji and a popular place for traditional Japanese weddings. Located just beside the JR Yamanote Line’s busy Harajuku Station, Meiji Shrine and the adjacent Yoyogi Park make up a large forested area within the densely built-up city. The spacious shrine grounds offer walking paths that are great for a relaxing stroll. The shrine was completed and dedicated to the Emperor Meiji and the Empress Shoken in 1920, eight years after the passing of the emperor and six years after the passing of the empress. The shrine was destroyed during the Second World War but was rebuilt shortly thereafter.

Next, you will enjoy a stroll to National Art Center, Japan’s largest art museum, and together with Roppongi Hills’ Mori Art Museum and Tokyo Midtown’s Suntory Museum of Art form the “Art Triangle Roppongi”.

For lunch enjoy an amazing lunch at Brasserie Paul Bocuse Le Musee.” “Rouge Menu”

The rest of the day is at your disposal.

Accommodation: Mandarin Oriental Tokyo

Day 4

Tokyo – Kyoto

Today take a bullet train (first class) from Tokyo to Kyoto. Make your way to your hotel.

The Tokaido Shinkansen (東海道新幹線, Tōkaidō Shinkansen) is a Shinkansen line that connects Japan’s three largest metropolitan areas (Tokyo/Yokohama, Nagoya and Osaka/Kyoto) with each other. It is Japan’s best used shinkansen line with departures every few minutes.

When opened in 1964, the Tokaido Shinkansen was the world’s first high speed railway line. Then trains already ran at 210 km/h. Nowadays they reach speeds of 285 km/h. The line is operated by the Central Japan Railway Company, also known as JR Central or JR Tokai. Tokaido is the name of the main road, which connected the former capital of Kyoto with today’s capital of Tokyo during the Edo Period..

In the afternoon, you will also have the chance to enjoy an amazing Tea Ceremony held at Kori’in Temple, usually closed to public.

Accommodation: Hyatt Kyoto

Day 5

Kyoto

Enjoy your day at leisure. Visit the Kinkakuji Temple, Fushimi Inari Shrine and enjoy sake tasting at Gekkeikan Okura Sake Museum.

Accommodation: Hyatt Kyoto

Day 6

Kyoto

We will start our day at The Golden Pavilion, or Kinkaku-ji.  It is one of the most famous temples in Kyoto, and a major highlight of any visit to the city. The three-story pagoda gleams with gold leaf, though it is a 1955 replica of the original 1397 temple, which was destroyed by fire in 1950. The beautiful temple hovers over a lake, surrounded by twisted pines and forests. The image of its reflection captured in the mirror-like water is a Kyoto symbol, and a must-have photo opportunity. The classic stone and water gardens are another highlight for a stroll.

Next, we will venture to Nijo Castle. A truly impressive fortified complex, Nijō Castle was built in 1603 as the official residence of the first Tokugawa shogun. With its moats, walls, secret passageways and hidden chambers, the heavily fortified castle stands as a defiant symbol of the shogun’s power. Entering through an elaborate main gate, the castle complex includes two palaces, Ninomaru and Honmaru.

Our next stop is the Fushimi Inari Shrine.  Dedicated to the gods of sake and rice, the Fushimi Inari Shrine is one of the oldest Shinto shrines in Japan. Five shrines dot the forested temple grounds, and the arched red lines of torii gates straddling the pathway leading up to Inari Mountain are a truly iconic sight. You’ll also see plenty of stone foxes at this temple, another symbol of Shinto.

A lovely place for a stroll in rural surrounds, there are fine views of Kyoto from the top of the torii gate pathway up the mountain. Stop off for a sustaining bowl of tofu soup at the small restaurants along the way.

The Kiyomizu Temple is an ancient institution, dating back to 798 AD and the days of Nara. Its classic design influenced temple architecture for centuries. The hill-top temple is a Kyoto landmark, and provides fabulous views over the city. The main hall juts out over the hillside and its tumbling waterfall, and is surrounded by gardens and shrines. You’ll find pavilion teahouses and restaurants in the grounds, and the steeply inclining steps leading up to the temple are lined with souvenir and snack stalls.

Accommodation: Hyatt Kyoto

Day 7

Kyoto – Hakone

Take your rail journey (first class) in the early morning from Kyoto to Hakone.

On arrival in Hakone, you will be met by a private tour guide.

Explore the Fuji/Hakone National Park, located only 90 minutes from Tokyo, by private car with guide.

You will drive along the spectacular Hakone Skyline road, providing scenic views of Mt. Fuji on clear days. A majestic replica pirate ship will sweep you across the Lake Ashinoko, a lake formed by a volcanic eruption 3000 years ago.

Hakone used to be an important checkpoint to control traffic along the Tokaido highway which linked Tokyo with Kyoto during the feudal Edo Period. Today you will enjoy The Okada Museum of Art (岡田美術館, Okada Bijutsukan) is a privately-owned museum showcasing a wide collection of art pieces dating from antiquity to the modern era. Opened in 2013 by casino mogul Okada Kazuo, the museum features a large array of East Asian ceramics, sculptures and paintings, all housed in a very spacious, modern facility surrounded by expansive grounds that feature a Japanese garden, a teahouse and a cafe with hot spring foot bath. The heart of the museum’s collection lies in its huge collection of Chinese and Japanese ceramics and sculptures, which dominate the first two floors, including ancient Chinese bronzes, Tang and Ming porcelain, early Japanese pottery and more. The upper floors focus on Japanese art, with a variety of art forms and time periods represented. Most items on display are labeled with basic information in English, Chinese, Korean and Japanese. Last stop of the day is the Hakone Open Air Museum, which successfully attempts to create a harmonic balance of nature and art by exhibiting various sculptures on its spacious grounds in combination with beautiful views of the surrounding valley and mountains. Besides the sculptures, the Hakone Open Air Museum features various indoor galleries, including a sizable Picasso Collection, consisting of paintings, prints, sculptures and ceramic creations. You can also relax your tired feet with soak in the hot spring foot bath!

Throughout the day you will have the chance to get a glimpse of Mt Fuji, however please keep in mind that she is a notoriously shy mountain and it needs to be a clear day.

Day 8

Hakone – Tokyo

In the late morning, take the train from Hakone (Odawara station) to Tokyo with transfer by Narita Express for extended stay or return to the airport for departure flight.