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Our best selling Japan Tour!Japan Discovered

Japan Discovered

13 Nights/14 Days Small Group Tour
from €5,640 / £5,100 / US$6,520 / AU$9,930 per person sharing (See Dates/Prices below)

“A contrast of traditional and modern Japan, unforgettable experiences and visits to some of Japan’s must-see UNESCO World Heritage Sites”. 

If your dream is to see Japan’s highlights while experiencing some of its culture and popular destinations, then Japan Discovered two-week tour is the perfect choice for you. Glittering cities, rural towns & villages, history & heritage, gardens & wildlife, local festivals, cultural experiences, and a taste of real local foods; just some of the best bits on this trip!


Japan Discovered - Video Itinerary



Day 1: Welcome to Tokyo - 'Izakaya' Evening Welcome Dinner

Arrive in one of Tokyo’s International Airports (Haneda or Narita).
Our team will take care of you from the moment you exit the arrivals hall where you will be met by our transfer staff on arrival and be taken to your Tokyo hotel.
You will have free time in Tokyo until tour orientation in the evening where you will meet your guide. Meeting time is usually 6pm but will be announced in your travel pack.
Enjoy a welcome dinner at local izakaya (included)
Accommodation: Daiwa Roynet Nishi-Shinjuku Premier (or similar 4*) including casual style Izakaya Dining experience



Day 2: Tokyo City Sightseeing

Breakfast at your hotel
WITH LOCAL GUIDE 09.00 – 17:00
• Hamarikyu Garden
• Tsukiji Outer Wholesale Market
• Lunch at local restaurant (included)
• Asakusa Kannon Temple & Shopping Street
Evening free time / Your tour leader will give you guidance on where to go after dark!
Accommodation: Daiwa Roynet Nishi-Shinjuku Premier (or similar 4*)

Day 3: Jigokudani Snow Monkeys & Ryokan Retreat

Breakfast at your hotel
Check out and get ready to leave Tokyo!
After the hustle and bustle of Tokyo, you will move onto a rural village less than 2.5 hours by train and bus from Nagano city to a tiny place called Yudanaka Onsen in Nagano prefecture.
✪ Jigokudani Snow Monkeys ✪
We will visit Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park to watch wild monkey’s bath in the natural hot spring bath at the foot of the mountain. You will be required to walk 1.6km (1 mile) on a mountain pathway to reach the monkeys and the return the same route. So, be sure to wear comfortable footwear with decent grip to avoid slipping.
Note: Most of the time, the snow monkeys can reliably be found in the onsen baths, however the monkeys are wild and free to come and go as they please, thus their presence in the onsen baths cannot be guaranteed. September has the lowest chance of the monkeys being present due to it being mating season and them having an abundance of food much higher up the mountain.
Dinner & Hot Springs (onsen) at your ryokan
*Tonight, you will sleep on a futon mattress on tatami flooring. If you have any issues or prefer to request a bed, be sure to tell us as early as possible! Most ryokans have only a few rooms with western style beds in them (if any at all)
Accommodation: Senjukaku Ryokan (or similar) – Japanese Style including traditional Japanese kaiseki dinner

Day 4: Matsumoto Castle & Traditional Takayama

After breakfast, check out of your ryokan and continue your journey to Matsumoto.
Matsumoto Castle (stunning original samurai castle, one of only 12 authentic castles left in Japan)
After lunch, we will take a scenic bus ride (2.5 hours) through beautiful mountain and river valleys, to Takayama. 
Check into your hotel / Free time
Accommodation: Takayama Wood Hotel (or similar)

Day 5 : Takayama

Your local guide will meet you in the hotel lobby after breakfast. Together, you will explore Takayama on foot, visiting:

  • Takayama Morning Market
  • Takayama Yatai Kaikan (Festival Float Hall)
  • Takayama Jinya (preserved Government town hall)

You will have free time in the afternoon to walk through the streets by yourself, sampling the street food and visiting local artisans’ shops.


April & October Festival Tours will experience one of Japan’s most impressive Street Festivals. Takayama’s Spring & Autumn Festival ranks as one of Japan’s three most beautiful festivals. It is centered around the Hie Shrine and is held to pray for a good harvest. Festival highlights include a parade of magnificently carved yatai or giant wooden floats, and mechanical puppets in colourful costumes who play out an ancient drama from within the yatai in a spectacle not to be missed. Early booking is highly recommended on these tours as this is the towns busiest time of year.

During festival tours (April & October) this itinerary will be subject to our guide’s recommendations. The night-lights and entertainment during festival season brings great excitement to the tour. Highly recommended.


Accommodation: Takayama Wood Hotel (or similar)

Day 6: Gokayama : Cultural Experience in Countryside

After breakfast, we will head north into Toyama prefecture stopping in Gokayama which was awarded UNESCO World Heritage status. Nestled along the deep gorge of Sho River, 33 Gassho-zukkuri houses (traditional wooden farmhouses with thatched roofs) have been preserved in the historic villages of Gokayama including Ainokura and Suganuma. Your day to Gokayama will enable you to experience a variety of rich cultural activities such as washi paper making and soba noodle making.
What to Expect:
  • Washi paper making workshop (approx. 1-hour)
  • Soba noodle making followed by lunch where you will be sampling your own creation (subject to tour numbers) – if we have less than 6 people on the tour, you will not be able to make Soba. Instead we will introduce you to a really great Soba place for lunch!
  • Wander through the 400 year-old gassho-zukkuri farmhouse villages of Suganuma
Tonight’s rest will be in Kanazawa, also known as ‘Little Kyoto’.
Kanazawa is a lovely small city close to the Japan sea coast. Until the turn of the century it was the 4th biggest city in Japan. However its wealth was built on rice production and traditional crafts such as weaving and gold leaf and with the full scale industrialisation of the country Kanazawa was somewhat left behind. Today the city is flourishing again and still maintains a lot of its old charms. There are several small geisha districts and one where you can go inside an old tea house and see where the clients were entertained and even take tea yourself (sadly no longer served by geisha!). There are also samurai house and the city’s most famous sight, the beautiful Kenrokuen garden rated as one of the three best stroll gardens in the whole of Japan.
Accommodation: Kanazawa Square Hotel (or similar)

Day 7: Kanazawa Morning Tour / Kyoto evening free time

Breakfast at your hotel
Check out and leave bags in storage
✪ KANAZAWA Morning Tour ✪
WITH LOCAL GUIDE 09.00 – 13:00
– Kenrokuen Garden (considered one of the top 3 gardens in Japan)
– Higashi Chaya District (Old Samurai/Geisha District)
– ♥Authentic Tea Ceremony♥
Transfer to Kyoto by express train in the afternoon.
Arrive to Kyoto early evening. Free time Kyoto
Accommodation: Okura Kyoto (or similar)

Day 8: Seasonal Sights of Kyoto

Breakfast at your hotel
✪ KYOTO City Sightseeing ✪
WITH LOCAL GUIDE 09.00 – 17:00
• Arashiyama Bamboo Forest
• Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavilion)
• Lunch at local restaurant
• Sanjusangendo temple (or similar)
Accommodation: Okura Kyoto (or similar)


Kyoto Highlight: Afternoon Tea with Maiko (Geisha in training))

You will have the rare chance to sit and have tea with one of Kyoto’s beautiful young Maiko in their mama-san’s teahouse. ‘Maiko’ are better known as a young ‘Geisha’. Training to become Geisha usually starts at a young age (some start at 13/14). Trained in various Japanese traditional arts such as Kimono wearing, flower arranging, traditional dance, shamisen (string instrument), and so on, they spend many years perfecting how to walk, talk, and breath like a Geisha. If successful in their progression, they then move to be a Geisha, usually by the age of twenty or so. Such an interesting experience that you will only find in Kyoto. This experience is not sold on the high street. This really is a special occasion on our tour that we have been proud to offer for many years. So be sure to bring your camera and be prepared to ask questions. Our Maiko are very open and love sharing and listening to your stories too.



Day 9: Kyoto Free Day

Today will be a well deserved day off to spend as you choose in Kyoto. Suggested itinerary and access maps will be provided for you in your travel pack. If you are very tired you can take it easy today! Many of our clients have specific places in mind that they would like to see in Kyoto. So, why not let us know in advance, and we can be prepared to give you the correct information on how to get to the places you would like.
1. Ancient Nara & Modern Osaka (Self-Guided / No booking needed)
2. Explore Kyoto more (eg Fushimi Inari Shrine, Nijo Castle, etc.)
3. Self-guided day trip to Himeji’s Samurai Castle
Accommodation: Okura Kyoto (or similar)


Day 10: Hiroshima & Miyajima Island

This morning we start a little earlier, at 7.30am, in order to catch the most suitable shinkansen train to our next stop, Hiroshima! Just a swift two-hour journey on the speedy shinkansen: once you find your seat, we promise you can sleep again. These trains offer first class comforts unlike any train you may have been on in the western world.
In Hiroshima, follow your guide and listen to the story of how this humble city has rebuilt itself after the devastating A-Bomb blast of WWII. Emotions and perspectives may well move here, but we guarantee you will listen with pure interest and curiosity. Or you’re free to take the morning to yourself in this friendly and lively city.
We will continue on to Miyajima Island after lunch, another UNESCO World Heritage spot! Here, we will visit the impressive Itsukushima Shrine that seems to float so peacefully on the water along with the giant Torii Gates. Free time for shopping is included here.
Accommodation: Hiroshima Sheraton Hotel (or similar 4*)

Day 11: Fuji National Park at Hakone

You will make your way back towards Tokyo. But before hitting the high streets of the capital, you will spend one more night in another rural retreat in the heart of the Fuji National Park. After a long but comfortable journey along the Tokaido shinkansen (bullet train) line, you will arrive to Hakone before dinner time. Enjoy your final traditional Japanese dinner at your ryokan and full use of the hot spring baths.
Accommodation: Setsugetsuka Ryokan (or similar) including Japanese Course Dinner

Day 12: Lakeside Cruise, Hakone Open Air Museum, and back to Tokyo

After breakfast, explore Hakone with your local guide. You will take a cruise on Lake Ashi followed by a ride across the mountains on a scenic cable car which will, weather permitting, afford us a perfect view of the majestic giant, Mt Fuji. Enjoy The Hakone Open-Air Museum, Japan’s first outdoor, open-air museum of art. Located in a lushly green 70,000 square meters garden with a view of the Hakone mountains, the museum has on permanent display some 120 masterpieces by famous modern and contemporary sculptors. Visit the museum’s five indoor exhibitions, including the Picasso Pavilion with its rotational displays from more than 300 Picasso pieces in this world-class collection, as well as the natural hot spring bath and the art in the outdoor plazas.
After this you will head back to the capital Tokyo where you will have a free evening, with plenty of options on your doorstep.
Accommodation: Park Hotel (or similar 4*)

Day 13: Tokyo Free Day

Your final full day in Tokyo can be spent in many ways; revisiting some of the sights, exploring new places taking, some last minute shopping or a day trip to Kamakura or Yokohama etc. Your travel consultant or tour leader will be more than happy to oblige in helping you make your plan. 
No matter what you do for the day, we will meet in the evening for a final farewell dinner.
If traveling on our May or September tours, you will also have the added excitement of watching the Grand Sumo Tournament LIVE in Tokyo’s Ryugoku area, home to the Sumo world of Japan (tickets included).
Accommodation: Park Hotel (or similar 4*)



Day 14: Tour Ends

Japan Discovered comes to an end after breakfast today and you will be provided with an airport transfer service from your hotel. If you would like to stay longer in Tokyo, discuss some post-tour options with your travel consultant. Don’t forget to send us your flight details as soon as you know them. Transfers need to be booked early!


Dates and Prices

Triple Room€5,350 £4,800US$6,100 AU$8,750
Single Room€7,320£6,630US$7,990AU$12,400


Tour Starts:

July 09, 2024

Tour Ends:

July 23, 2024
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Tour Starts:

September 06, 2024

Tour Ends:

September 19, 2024


Full (Semi-Escorted Available)
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Tour Starts:

October 05, 2024

Tour Ends:

October 18, 2024 [Takayama Autumn Festival]


(Seasonal Supplement + €160 p/person)
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Tour Starts:

November 07, 2024

Tour Ends:

November 20, 2024
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Tour Starts:

December 27, 2024

Tour Ends:

January 10, 2025
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Tour Starts:

February 11, 2025

Tour Ends:

February 25, 2025
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Tour Starts:

March 21, 2025

Tour Ends:

April 04, 2025


(Seasonal Supplement + €160 p/person)
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Tour Starts:

April 10, 2025

Tour Ends:

April 24, 2025


(Seasonal Supplement + €160 p/person)
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Tour Starts:

May 10, 2025

Tour Ends:

May 23, 2025
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Tour Starts:

June 01, 2025

Tour Ends:

June 15, 2025
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Tour Starts:

July 08, 2025

Tour Ends:

July 22, 2025
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Tour Starts:

September 15, 2025

Tour Ends:

September 29, 2025
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Tour Starts:

October 05, 2025

Tour Ends:

October 19, 2025


(Seasonal Supplement + €160 p/person)
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Tour Starts:

November 12, 2025

Tour Ends:

November 26, 2025
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Tour Starts:

December 18, 2025

Tour Ends:

January 01, 2026
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Tour Starts:

February 10, 2026

Tour Ends:

February 24, 2026
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Tour Starts:

March 29, 2026

Tour Ends:

April 12, 2026
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Tour Starts:

April 10, 2026

Tour Ends:

April 24, 2026
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Tour Starts:

May 10, 2026

Tour Ends:

May 24, 2026
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Daiwa Roynet Nishi-Shinjuku Premier (or similar)

Daiwa Roynet Nishi-Shinjuku Premier (or similar)

Set in a convenient location with a chic and modern atmosphere, get comfortable. Spacious guest rooms feature French-brand beds, and some have massage chairs. Stay connected with free WiFi, and connections for mobile phones are also available.

At Light Metropolis restaurant sample Japanese Modern with a variety of rich Japanese and Western breakfasts. Menus regularly change according to the season. Offerings include homemade smoothies, colourful cold DERI, and the long-established Yamayasu dried vegetable toppings for a Chinese-style porridge. Take a five-minute walk to Nishi-Shinjuku Station and a minute walk to Shinjuku Station. Attractions nearby feature the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, and the Samurai Museum.


Yudanaka Onsen (1 night)

Kanbayashi Senjukaku (or similar / Japanese Style)

Founded in 1928, Senjukaku was a famous rural retreat of the Meiji Era and one of the earliest hotels to introduce a mix of Japanese and Western aesthetics. It has been the favorite of many cultural figures historically. During the post-War Occupation, it was also used as a resort by the American army. Rebuilt in 1989, with its wooden beams and family treasures on display, this expansive ryokan resort very much retains the same “modern” mood as the original. Senjukaku’s offerings include garden walks on site, indoor and outdoor hot spring baths and a massage service, as well as superb service from the staff and delicious and generous multi-course meals. In short, Senjukaku continues to uphold its proud tradition as a perfect country getaway.


Takayama (2 nights)

Takayama Wood Hotel (or similar)

Experience mindfulness through entering a wooden structure with traditional latticework. This concept hotel combines local townscapes and Zen culture with relaxation. Savour serenity in a superb space where cultural exploration is encouraged.

Service is provided with great attention to detail and all amenities are of a high quality and made in Japan.  The lounge is designed to evoke a communal space common in Japan where locals and travellers gather around a sunken hearth, Irori.

Soak in a large public bath to wash away travel weariness, relax mind and body to rinse away the fatigue of travel. Guest rooms are simple clean spaces, some feature specialty furniture established by the artisans of Hida.

Kanazawa (1 night)

The Square Hotel Kanazawa (or similar)

The 3-star Square Hotel Kanazawa provides quick access to Omicho Market, with plenty of restaurants and shops on your doorstep. Kanazawa Castle Park is 700 metres walk, while Kenrokuen Garden is 1.1 km away.


Kyoto (3 nights)

Kyoto Okura Hotel (or similar)

Okura Hotels are Japan’s finest traditional hotels providing 5* service throughout. Kyoto Okura is centrally located, just a short walk from downtown.


Hiroshima (1 Night)

Hiroshima Sheraton Hotel  (or similar)

Located next to Hiroshima station you will be conveniently located for our movements on this day and the next day. Walk from station to your hotel is just 3 minutes. Rooms are generous in size, nicely decorated, with great views towering the city. Bars, restaurants, shops, and trains are on your doorstep.


Hakone (1 night)

Setsugetsuka (or similar / Japanese style)

Setsugetsuka boasts a public hot spring bath with free flowing natural spring water, drawn from 2 different hot springs. The property operates 2 restaurants and a souvenir shop on site. Guests can try yukata robes offered for rental at the souvenir shop on site, or grab a drink anytime from the drink vending machines in the building. Hakone Open-Air Museum is 600 m from the property, while Pola Museum is 2.5 km away.


Tokyo (2 nights)

Park Hotel Tokyo (or similar)

Stylish and funky, as friendly staff await in an atrium rising ten floors above the main lobby. Request one of the rooms designed by artists, inspiration Bamboo, Sumo and Geisha Goldfish (images of colourful fish swim across walls). The Shiodome business district has skyscrapers and salarymen a plenty in this central location with views of top attractions. A short walk to Shimbashi Station an energetic area of Izakayas. Enjoy an impressive buffet breakfast, restore at THANN spa, then dine on lacquer-box lunches or chic French. Finish off with sparkling views and a nightcap from a marble bar at The Society.


Tour Testimonial

Unique Japan Tours
Average rating:  
 3 reviews
 by Cheryl & Dennis
Our May Japan Discovered holiday was absolutely fantastic

Our May Japan discovered holiday was absolutely fantastic. The accommodation, the variety of transport and activities and our amazing guide Sakura were outstandingly.  Sakura was always there for us in a very friendly way and she helped us all to understand the customs and the people of Japan. Whats not to like about an onsen - getting naked and soaking in a beautiful hot spring with strangers. All good fun.

I would (and am) recommending Unique Japan tours to everyone who is thinking of a trip to Japan. The itinerary was excellent with the right amount of free time and interesting tours especially the soba noodle making and washi paper making. Lots of laughs.

We thank you for making our holiday so memorable.

Cheryl & Dennis

June 2019

 by Sandra

I cannot praise the Unique Japan Tours organisation skills enough! The itinerary is very detailed and your time in Japan is maximised to its full potential. They organise our transport, hotels, tickets etc. they even include Japanese messages for hotel staff when forwarding your luggage to different hotels (all hotel staff speak English, but it’s nice to have it confirmed in Japanese).
* The hotels are all 4 or 5 star with good breakfast arrangements and friendly staff. The ryokans are a unique experience and expect a 10 course dinner and breakfast (try the Japanese style breakfast), while wearing a yukata.
* The guides know their areas well and show you hidden gems such as restaurants and shops that are unique to the area you are in. I cannot praise the guides enough for their help and kindness. Especially Megumi who made a few phone calls or reservations for us.
It was an amazing holiday and experience and we are looking forward to our next trip with Unique Japan Tours! Thanks again!

 by Roger and Swee Lewis
We had a great time and saw and did the things we wanted

I would just like to thank you for your efforts in organising our recent tour of Japan. We had a great time and saw and did the things we wanted. I would also like to pass on our satisfaction with all the local guides and especially Emiko. She did a little bit extra when she could and the entire trip was better because of her efforts. Our thanks to everyone involved.

Yours Sincerely

Roger and Swee Lewis

Whats Included

AccommodationA combination of 3, 4 & 5* Western (11 nights) / Superior Ryokans (2 nights) with hot springs & kaiseki dinner (total 13 nights)
English Speaking tour leader
  • Daily local English-speaking Tour Leader* (Group Size: 6–12 persons)
*If your tour has less than 6 people on it, we will arrange the tour on a semi-escorted basis. You will met in each area by our local assistants and guides on days you don’t have private guides).
Private Tour GuidesLocal English speaking tour guides in Tokyo, Kyoto, Gokayama, Kanazawa, Takayama, and Hiroshima & Miyajima Island
TransfersAll transfers included from arrival to departure airports
Entrance Fees
Included into all sights listed in itinerary
Cultural Experiences
  • Tokyo Sights by Day & Night including izakaya night out, urban Japanese garden, Sumo Tournament (May & September dates), etc.
  • World famous Yudanaka Snow MonkeyPark in Nagano Prefecture (snow monkey’s may or may not be present on Sep tour) & authentic Samurai castle of Matsumoto.
  • Overnight in rural ryokans experiencing unique Japanese hospitality and onsen (hot spring baths) & incredible R&R time!
  • Kanazawa Tea house visit for authentic tea ceremony in geisha district, visit to one of the top 3 gardens of Japan, local food market
  • UNESCO World Heritage Kyoto: glorious sites, traditional back-streets, stunning shrines, manicured gardens, and gorgeous geisha just some of the highlights!
  • High speed bullet train journeys throughout
  • Scenic mountain drives taking in the magical landscape that makes up c.75% of Japan’s terrain
  • Cultural Activities in Gokayama including: Washi Paper Making, Soba noodle making, 400-year-old farmhouse visit, tea with locals, farmers dance
  • Takayama morning market and old worldly village feel
  • April/October: Takayama Festival (very popular)
  • Historical ruins in Hiroshima with tales told by local Hiroshima guides
  • Magical images of Miyajima Island Itsukushima Shrine (Floating shrine) and giant Torii Gate
  • Fuji National Park catching a glimpse of the monster mountain for that must-have photo!
Meals Breakfast daily, 3 lunches, 4 evening meals
Other Inclusions:
  • Comprehensive Travel Pack
  • Luggage Forwarding on 3 occasions (one large suitcase per person is included, extra luggage must be paid for locally (approximately 2,000yen per 20kg item).
  • Local Emergency Contact
  • All Taxes & Accommodation Surcharges
  • Fixed Price Policy
  • Minimum 1 / maximum 12 people
  • No hidden Costs!!
This package does not include:
  • International Flights [Arrange own flights into and out of Tokyo’s Haneda or Narita Airports – Always check the arrival date on your flight e.g. if flying from Europe/US, you will arrive into Tokyo the following day (depending on airline you use)]. The tour starts at 6pm on Day 1.
  • Meals other than those specified in the itinerary. Generally, you can expect to pay 1,000yen for lunches and anything from 2,500yen for your evening meals.
  • Beverages consumed at any meal (Water served freely)
  • Baggage Handling (You are requested to carry your own bags so be careful when packing)!
  • Tour Leader, Guide or Driver Gratuity – can be arranged among your group (Optional)




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