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A 9-day tour of Japan, starting in Osaka & ending in Tokyo, hitting the highlights
Visit the spiritual heart of Japanese Buddhism
Spend the night at a temple atop the towering Mt Koya
Relish a hearty helping of Shojin Ryori, a typical Japanese Buddhist vegetarian meal
Attend the morning prayers of the monks
Get on a train and visit the historically significant Hiroshima
Visit the holy island of Miyajima & its iconic floating Torii Gate
Embark on a journey to Kyoto
Check out UNESCO World Heritage-Listed Nijo Castle and its surrounding grounds
Walk under the brilliant torii gates of the stunning Fushimi Inari Taisha temple
Row a boat across Lake Ashino-ko, and maybe you'll get a view of Mt. Fuji
Indulge in a traditional Japanese kaiseki lunch
Relax in the hot springs
All accommodation: Hotel (7 Nights), Mountain Monastery (1 Night, shared facilities)
Meals: 3 breakfasts, 2 dinners
Transport: Bullet train, tram, ferry, public bus, walking
What to Expect
From the Buddhist monks of Kōyasan to the high rollers of Tokyo, see the many faces of Japan on this condensed tour beginning in Osaka. Savour the region’s culinary delicacies and the beautiful views at Mt Fuji. You'll stay in a mountain temple and really soak up local culture in onsen hot springs. A great combination of the traditional and the contemporary, this adventure provides a taste of the rich culture of Japan.
Day 1: Osaka
Today is arrival day, so you're welcome to arrive any time. In the evening, you'll have the opportunity to meet your CEO and fellow travellers at the welcome meeting and learn more about your tour. Opt to join the group for a local meal afterwards. Don't forget to see the notice in the lobby (or ask reception) for the official time and place to meet up with the group.
Day 2: Osaka to Kōyasan
Journey to Mt Koya, a religious centre founded in 816 by the Buddhist monk Kobo Daishi. The train ride up the mountain is possibly one of the finest rail journeys in Japan. For the final steep ascent, switch to the funicular and then hop on a bus to reach the monastery, where you'll stay the night.
During the overnight stay in the mountain temple, witness the monks' routines and dine on typical fare.
Transport: Train with an approx travel time of 3 hrs
Day 3: Kōyasan to Hiroshima
Early morning at the temple offers the chance to observe the monks praying before a vegetarian breakfast. Breathe the fresh mountain air and soak in the beautiful surroundings before travelling to Hiroshima this afternoon.
Today also includes a visit to Oku-no-in Cemetery, the most sacred site in Koyasan and the location of the mausoleum for Kobo Daishi (also known as Kukai), the founder of Shingon Buddhism. The area is surrounded by a massive cemetery, the largest in Japan. With over 200,000 tombstones lining the almost 2 km path to Kobo Daishi's mausoleum, there is plenty of area to explore. Be sure to see Torodo Hall (Hall of Lamps), the main place of worship, where more than 10,000 lanterns are kept burning day and night.
Finally, board a train to Hiroshima, a historically significant city marked by the explosion of the first atomic bomb in 1945.
Transport: Bullet train, train, & a funicular with an approx travel time of 5 hrs
Day 4: Hiroshima
This morning, walk through the Peace Park in the centre of Hiroshima, a living memorial dedicated to the tens of thousands who died from the atomic bomb blast in 1945. Visit the statue of Sadako Sasaki, a young girl who died of leukemia as a result of the bomb blast, despite folding 1,000 origami paper cranes to appeal to the gods to make her well. See the frame of the Gembaku Dome, the sole building to withstand the explosion. Reflect, remember, and be reminded of the power we all hold to create peace.
Then in the afternoon, take a trip to Miyajima Island, famed as one of Japan's most scenic spots, with a free afternoon to explore. See the famous floating Torii Gate, set out in the bay, which glows extraordinarily at sunset. The island is dotted with shrines and temples, populated by deer, and traversed with hiking trails for those who want to get some exercise. There are also lanes full of souvenirs and tasty treats. Visit Miyajima at your own pace, and have the option to hike up to the peak of the island, Mt Misen, to see spectacular views of the surrounding islands.
Transport: Ferry & walking
Day 5: Hiroshima to Kyoto
Travel to Kyoto and start exploring. First, visit the Nijo Castle, the residence of the first shogun of the Edo Period, built in 1603. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the property is divided into three areas: the Honmaru (main circular fortification), Ninomaru (secondary circle of defence), and the gorgeous gardens surrounding both.
In the evening, explore the geisha district of Gion on a CEO-led walking tour. Visit shops, restaurants and ochaya (teahouses), where geiko (Kyoto dialect for geisha) and maiko (geiko apprentices) entertain.
Transport: Bullet train with an approx travel time of 2 hrs
Day 6: Kyoto
Visit the Fushimi Inari shrine, located just outside of Kyoto. Walk under the thousands of iconic torii gates (as seen in the film Memoirs of a Geisha) and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere. The shrine itself is at the base of the Inari mountain but includes many trails up to smaller shrines in the area.
In the afternoon, continue exploring Japan's historic capital with some free time.
Day 7: Kyoto to Hakone
Travel to Hakone, a town in the hills famous for its onsens or natural hot springs.
Hop aboard a passenger boat to cruise the waters of Lake Ashinoko. If you are lucky, you can capture a view of Mt Fuji on a clear day. The lake was formed from the caldera of Mt Hakone following its eruption 3000 years ago. So sit back, relax and enjoy.
Enjoy savouring a complex meal of traditional Japanese foods in the evening, followed by a recommended soak in the onsen.
Transport: Bullet train with an approx travel time of 2 hrs, a local bus with an approx travel time of 30 min, lake cruise with a travel time of 30 min
Day 8: Hakone to Tokyo
Head to Tokyo with time to do some last-minute shopping. Arrive before noon, with time to explore this energetic metropolis.
Opt to visit Ueno park and the museums, Akihabara for cutting-edge electronics, Harajuku for funky fashions, Ginza for the highest of the high end, walk the grounds of the Imperial Palace East Garden, or just stroll the streets, looking for the traditional life that still lies just under the modern surface.
Transport: Bullet train with an approx travel time of 2 hrs
Day 9: Tokyo
No activities are planned for this final day, so you can leave anytime. However, booking some post-tour accommodation is recommended to experience this vibrant city entirely.
Tour departs from the meeting point at Hearton Hotel Nishi Umeda, 3 Chome-3-55 Umeda, Kita Ward, Osaka, Japan (meeting location may change, please check your final documents for the confirmed location).
Frequently Asked Questions
The minimum age is 12 years, and anyone under the age of 18 on the date of first travel is considered to be a minor & must be accompanied by an adult.
This tour requires that you have medical travel insurance. On Day 1, your tour leader will ask you for proof of coverage. Cancellation insurance is recommended but not mandatory.
The security that comes from knowing your trip is locked in is a feeling that can't be topped. Every one of the supplier's departures is guaranteed to run. Yup, all of them. Once you've booked and paid, that's it; you're going. Guaranteed. Your trip won't be cancelled by The Operator for any reason (beyond harsh weather or safety issues). Promise.
It's essential to pack as lightly as possible for rail travel in Japan. The tour uses the world-famous Shinkansen bullet trains, which have a restriction on maximum luggage size.
Any luggage brought on board must be less than 160cm in total (calculated as the sum of the height + width + depth of your luggage). This is roughly the size that most airline companies consider as "carry-on baggage" and allow in overhead storage compartments. In addition, we strongly recommend bringing a day pack or backpack to use during the day (for daily essentials like water, cameras, passport, etc.).
Please note that travellers who bring luggage that exceeds this restriction will be directly penalised by the Central Japan Railway Company. Any luggage between 160–250cm will require a fee of 1,000 JPY per luggage for each leg of your train journey and is strictly subject to availability. Any luggage over 251cm in total is prohibited on the Shinkansen trains.
If you absolutely must bring more than what fits into a single carry-on bag plus a day pack, you may bring a second carry-on bag which also must be less than 160cm in total. Please note, however, that you must be able to carry your luggage unassisted.
- Long-sleeved shirts or sweater
- Warm gloves
- Warm hat
- Warm layers
- Modest clothing that covers knees and shoulders (Long pants, long skirts, shirts that cover shoulders)
- Shawl or scarf (for temple visits)
- Flight info (required) (Printouts of e-tickets may be required at the border)
- Insurance info (required) (With photocopies)
- Passport (required) (With photocopies)
- Required visas or vaccination certificates (required) (With photocopies)
- Vouchers and pre-departure information (required)
- Binoculars (optional)
- Camera (With extra memory cards and batteries)
- Cash, credit and debit cards
- Day pack (Used for daily excursions or short overnights)
- Ear plugs
- First-aid kit (should contain lip balm with sunscreen, sunscreen, whistle, Aspirin, Ibuprofen, bandaids/plasters, tape, anti-histamines, antibacterial gel/wipes, antiseptic cream, Imodium or similar tablets for mild cases of diarrhea, rehydration powder, water purification tablets or drops, insect repellent, sewing kit, extra prescription drugs you may be taking)
- Flashlight/torch (Headlamps are ideal)
- Fleece top/sweater
- Locks for bags
- Long pants/jeans
- Outlet adapter
- Personal entertainment (Reading and writing materials, cards, music player, etc.)
- Reusable water bottle
- Small travel towel
- Toiletries (Preferably biodegradable)
- Watch and alarm clock
- Waterproof backpack cover
- Windproof rain jacket
Health & Safety:
- Face masks (required)
- Hand sanitiser (required)
- Pen (Please bring your own pen for filling out documents.)
- Quick Covid Test/Antigen Test
- Shorts/skirts (Longer shorts/skirts are recommended)
- Sun hat/bandana
Note: During the colder months (Nov-Apr), the mountains can be very cold, so please make sure you pack warm clothes. During summer (Jun-Sep), temperatures are very hot and humid. Lightweight, breathable clothing is recommended.
Please make sure to pack a day backpack or a small/lightweight bag for the group overnight in Koyasan.
Note: Hand sanitiser is a rare commodity in Japan, so it is best to bring this with you.
Allow USD390-510 for meals not included.
Tipping is not practised in Japan. Leaving money at restaurants, in taxis, etc., will simply cause confusion!
Also, at the end of each trip, tipping is highly appreciated if you feel your tour guide did an outstanding job. The amount is entirely a personal preference. However, USD 5 per person per day can be used as a guideline.
Please note that this tour combines with other tours by The Operator. As such, the staff and some travel companions on your tour may have previously been travelling together prior to Day 1 of your tour. Likewise, some staff and travel companions may continue on another tour after your trip concludes.
Japan Rail Pass
Please note that only foreigners travelling as a tourist are able to use a Japan Rail Pass. Therefore, if you are a Japanese citizen/resident or travelling on a student/business/military/diplomatic visa, please advise the Operator at the time of booking, as you will not be able to take advantage of the rail pass.
Tattoos are not common or widely accepted in Japan. There is no cause for concern, but do your best to cover your tattoos when possible and note that you may not be permitted to enter public spas or onsens (hot springs).
The minimum age is 12 years, and anyone under the age of 18 on the date of first travel is considered to be a minor & must be accompanied by an adult
Medical Forms are mandatory for certain Tours. If you have any pre-existing medical conditions which may impact your ability to travel, participate in a Tour, travel to remote areas without access to medical facilities or may adversely affect the experience of others on your Tour, you must return a Medical Form, signed by a licensed and practising physician to the Tour Operator prior to or at the time of final payment for the applicable booking
Participants should have access to at least an additional USD200 (or equivalent) as an 'emergency' fund
Travel insurance is compulsory in order to participate in any of these trips
Your luggage must be less than 160cm in total. This is roughly the size that most airline companies consider as "carry-on baggage" and allow in overhead storage compartments
Cancelation received 60 days or more before departure of first product or service in relevant booking: Lifetime Deposit will be held by the Tour Operator in accordance with these Terms, and the remainder of the payments made to the Tour Operator in respect of the canceled product will be refunded.
Cancelation received 30-59 days before departure of first product or service in relevant booking: Lifetime Deposit will be held by the Tour Operator in accordance with these Terms, an amount equal to 50% of the remainder of the payments made to the Tour Operator in respect of the canceled Tour will be refunded.
Cancelation less than 30 days before departure of first product or service in relevant booking: Lifetime Deposit will be held by the Tour Operator in accordance with these Terms, and no further refund will be payable.
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