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Japan Discovered


“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!

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Duration: 13 Nights/14 Days Fully Escorted Small Group Tour
Route: Tokyo (2) ➞ Nagano (Yudanaka Onsen via Matsumoto Castle) (1) ➞ Takayama (via Snow Monkey Park) (2) ➞ Kanazawa (via Gokayama) (1) ➞ Kyoto (3) ➞ Hiroshima/Miyajima Island (1) ➞ Mt. Fuji/Hakone (1) ➞ Tokyo (2)

Prices and Inclusions

Accommodation10 Nights Western (3-star & 4-star), 3 Nights in traditional style Ryokan with hot springs & Kaiseki dinner (total 13 nights)
English Speaking tour leaderWhen 6 or more are on the group you will be escorted by our English speaking tour leader. If your group is less than 6 people, you will be doing the tour on a semi-escorted basis (Met in each area by our local assistants and guides).
TransfersAll transfers required for your tour as well as arrival & departure airport transfers to & from Tokyo hotel
Private Tour GuidesLocal English speaking tour guides in Tokyo, Kyoto, Gokayama, Takayama, and Hiroshima & Miyajima Island
Entrance Fees
Included into all sights listed in itinerary
Cultural ExperiencesTokyo Fish Market, Karaoke Bar, Izakaya Dining Out, Tea Ceremony in traditional tea house featuring Kyoto geisha, World Heritage Temples and Shrines in Kyoto, bullet train journeys, visit to one of Japan’s top 3 Japanese Gardens, Washi Paper Making, Soba Noodle Making, Local Toyama Dance, Takayama Festival (April & October tours only), Snow Monkey Park, Samurai Castle in Matsumoto, Tokyo Sights by Day & Night!! Sumo Tournament Tickets (May & September tours only).
Meals Breakfast daily, 1 lunch, 3 evening meals
Other Inclusions:
  • Comprehensive Travel Pack
  • Local Emergency Contact
  • All Taxes & Accommodation Surcharges
  • Fixed Price Policy
  • Minimum 6 / maximum 16 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)]
  • 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! Your tour leader will help you arrange luggage forwarding on some journeys by the reliable ‘Takkyubin Service’)
  • Tour Leader, Guide or Driver Gratuity – can be arranged among your group (Optional)


Dates: 2019: Sept 01 - 14, Oct 06 - 19, Nov 24 - Dec 07
2020: March 25 - April 07, April 10 - 23, May 10 - 23, Sept 06 - 19, Oct 05 - 18, Nov 25 - 08
Duration: 13 Nights/14 Days Fully Escorted Small Group Tour
Starts: Tokyo
Ends: Tokyo
Route: Tokyo (2) ➞ Nagano (Yudanaka Onsen via Matsumoto Castle) (1) ➞ Takayama (via Snow Monkey Park) (2) ➞ Kanazawa (via Gokayama) (1) ➞ Kyoto (3) ➞ Hiroshima/Miyajima Island (1) ➞ Mt. Fuji/Hakone (1) ➞ Tokyo (2)
Tour Type:
Fully Escorted (6 or more people) or Semi-Escorted (less than 6 people)
Prices from:
€4,500 / £4,100 / US$5,250 / AU$7,400 (Per Person sharing twin, double or triple room)
€5,500 / £4,950 / US$6,400 / AU$9,000 (Single room throughout)
If you are willing to share a room with a fellow traveller of same gender, let us know. We will do our best to match you with a suitable room-mate.
Accommodation Category: A mixture of 3 & 4 star Western Hotels with some nights spent in superior Japanese style Ryokans

Tour Highlights

Japan Discovered - Video Highlights


One quarter of all Japanese live in Tokyo or the near vicinity and with a population of over 12 million inhabitants, Tokyo is one of the largest cities in the world. With its huge skyscrapers, underpasses, overpasses and crowds of pedestrians, Tokyo may not seem the most attractive city on the surface, but the city has a vibrant charm all of its own. The street level detail is what makes Tokyo such an incredibly interesting place to explore and at every turn you will be met with an array of sights, sounds and smells to enliven the senses. The city has many major sights to visit such as Senso-ji Temple in the old downtown area of Asakusa or the fashion hub of Shibuya from where all new trends are said to emanate. All in all a stay in Tokyo is to experience one of the world’s most vibrant and interesting cities; a capital hurtling headlong into the future whilst maintaining its links with the traditions of ancient Japan.

Kanbayashi, Nagano

After the hustle and bustle of Tokyo, you will move onto a rural village less than one hour by train and bus from Nagano city to a tiny place called Kanbayashi or Yudanaka Onsen in Nagano prefecture. This is home to the famous ‘Snow Monkeys’ – the wild monkeys that live up in the mountains but come down in the cold to get warm (and get fed!) at a natural open-air hot spring bath. Here you will stay in a beautiful local ryokan.


Matsumoto is an alpine city surrounded on all sides by the towering peaks of the Japan Alps and has an almost European feel to it. The city is most famous for its original castle which is only a short distance from the station. This is one of the only original castles in Japan and really gives you a sense of ancient Japan and how the samurai used to live and fight. The city also boasts a number of sake breweries, hidden in the backstreets amongst the traditional buildings, a good museum of Ukiyoe woodblock prints, and is the home of soba noodles, the local speciality which is particularly delicious. The city has a really relaxed atmosphere and a cosmopolitan feel befitting of a city renowned for its musicians and authors. The famous violin teacher, Suzuki (of the Suzuki method) originated from Matsumoto and you will find a commemorative statue on the street opposite the station.


Mountains in Japan were once believed to be the sacred dwelling places of divine spirits and the Hida, Kiso and Akaishi ranges of Mountains, known collectively as the Japan Alps, rise majestically in northern Honshu. Takayama, in the heart of the Hida Mountains, is a delightful town. Established in the 16th century as the castle town of the Kanamori family, Takayama is now famous throughout Japan for its old town area of narrow streets with well-preserved inns, tea houses, shops and merchants houses with the latticed windows and overhanging roofs characteristic of the Edo period. The town was also renowned throughout the Edo era (1603- 1868) for the very high quality of its craftsmen. Indeed, many of the temples in Kyoto were built by workers from Takayama. A walk through the morning market on the bank of the Miyagawa River is a nice introduction: meet locals and see stands selling local farm produce, flowers and crafts. There are also some great sake micro-breweries affording the chance to sample the wares of Takayama’s most famous product! A stay in Takayama is a chance to get a feel for a way of life that really has all but disappeared from modern Japan.


Gokayama is nestled along the deep gorge of Sho River. Thirty-three gassho-zukuri (thatched farm houses) have been preserved in the historic villages of Taira and Ainokura. Your day to Gokayama will enable you to experience a variety of deep rooted cultural activities such as washi paper making and soba noodle making.


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 houses and the city’s most famous sight, the beautiful Kenrokuen garden, rated as one of the three best strolling gardens in the whole of Japan.


Flowing with tradition, Kyoto is the ultimate destination for anybody who wants to soak up time-honoured Japanese culture. Home to a number of UNESCO World Heritage sites, over 1,600 Buddhist temples and 400 Shinto shrines, this ancient city showcases the heart and soul of traditional Japan. Kyoto boasts an array of world-class gardens, majestic festivals and delicate cuisine, all of which make much of the rhythms of nature and the changing of the seasons. On first glance however, visitors will see that like any large Japanese city, grid-like Kyoto has its fair share of neon and concrete. But the discerning eye will soon pick out Kyoto’s treasures: sacred shrines tucked in among shopping arcades, timeless teahouses nestling among modern businesses and mysterious geisha rustling down backstreets among the tourists and souvenirs. Kyoto’s charm lies in these details and whether you’re here for three days or three years, the closer you look, the more you’ll discover.


Hiroshima is a city that needs little introduction. It is of course famous for being the site of one of two atomic bombs dropped on Japan at the end of the Second World War. Despite its tragic past, Hiroshima is now a bustling and vibrant city which has risen phoenix-like from the ashes. The Peace Memorial Park and Museum are a poignant reminder of the reason for Hiroshima’s fame and everyone should some time in this part of town. Other attractions in Hiroshima include Hiroshima Castle, the baseball stadium, the Shukkei-en garden is well worth an afternoon stroll with a number of tea houses dotted about the grounds and the Hiroshima Prefectural Museum of Art contains some wonderful paintings by both Japanese and Western artists. There is also the Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art which has many pieces inspired by the 1945 bombing. The local food is okonomiyaki, a kind of Japanese savoury pancake. You choose the ingredients and then cook the pancake yourself at your table.

Miyajima Island

Miyajima Island, located just off the coast of Hiroshima, is one of Japan’s most loved places with a charming rural atmosphere to match the beautiful surroundings. The island is perhaps best known for the red torii gate of Itsukushima Shrine which appears to be floating in the sea. In the evening this gate and the shrine behind it (as well as other traditional buildings in the area) are floodlit and the atmosphere is magical. A cable car takes you to fantastic views across the Inland Sea from Mount Misen, the highest point of the island. There are many pleasant walks on Miyajima among the temples and along the bustling shopping street in the island’s small village. You may also see some of the island’s native fauna; the sacred deer are easy to spot as they roam freely, but you’ll have to work a little harder to spot any of the resident monkey population; keep your eyes peeled! Miyajima is a wonderful place to slow down, unwind and relax, so take your time and let the magic of this island enchant you!


The resort town of Hakone is a popular place to seek refuge from the hustle and bustle of life in the world’s most populous city. Renounced for its luxurious accommodation, stunning scenery, and well-renowned thermals waters, you will be rubbing shoulders with Tokyo’s elite as they enjoy their retreat from the capital city!


Japan Discovered - Video Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive to Tokyo

Arrive in one of Tokyo’s International Airports (Haneda or Narita) where you will be transferred to your Tokyo hotel. You will have free time in Tokyo until tour orientation in the evening where you will meet your tour leader and the rest of the group. Meeting time is usually 6pm. Enjoy a welcome dinner at local izakaya (Japanese style casual restaurant).

Accommodation: Shibuya Excel Hotel (or similar)

Day 2: Tokyo Sightseeing

After breakfast, your group will meet in the hotel lobby for a full day of sightseeing in Tokyo with one of our local guides, including:
  • Tsukuji Fish Market & Outer Shopping Streets
  • Hamarikyu Garden
  • Asakusa Sensouji Temple & Shopping Street
  • Lunch in local restaurant (pay locally)
  • Meiji-Jingu Shrine
  • Shibuya’s Scramble Junction

Evening at leisure in Tokyo


Accommodation: Shibuya Excel Hotel (or similar)

Day 3: Nagano: Hot springs, castles & countryside

After breakfast, you will transfer to Matsumoto for a visit to one of Japan’s finest Samurai castles. Then we’ll stop for lunch before making our way to a small onsen village near Yudanaka Onsen. Tonight will be your first introduction to a traditional and typical Japanese style hotel known as a ryokan. Kaiseki Dinner & Onsen (hot springs) are a real treat tonight!

Accommodation: Senjukaku Ryokan (or similar)

Day 4: Snow Monkey Park & Takayama

After a Japanese style breakfast at your ryokan, we take a short ride to the start of where the snow monkeys live at Jigokudani. Here you can enjoy the wild monkeys’ antics in the natural hot spring bath out in the open. A one kilometre mountain walk is essential here so if you have problems walking, inform us in advance.

After lunch, we will continue our journey on to Takayama. The route we take is sure to take your breath away. River valleys and majestic mountains are at either side, giving you the chance to see the real rural Japan, often difficult to find when traveling along any shinkansen tracks!

Accommodation: Takayama Ouan (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
  • Kusakabe Folk Park
  • 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. 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 Ouan (or similar)

Day 6: Gokayama & Kanazawa

After breakfast, we will head north into Toyama prefecture stopping in Gokayama, recently awarded UNESCO world heritage status. Today will be filled with cultural experiences, unique to both Japan and this area:

  • Washi paper making (take home your work of art)
  • Soba noodle making followed by lunch (you better concentrate and do your best as you will be sampling your own creations)!!
  • Wander through the 400 year-old gassho-zukuri farmhouse villages of Suganuma

After lunch, we will drive further north, up to Kanazawa.

Accommodation: Kanazawa Crowne Plaza Hotel (or similar)

Day 7: Kyoto

In the morning, after breakfast, you will have time to visit Kenrokuen Garden before boarding the express train down to Kyoto in the afternoon. A special audience with a Kyoto Geisha is arranged in the evening.

Accommodation: Noku Hotel (or similar)

Day 8: Kyoto

Our local Kyoto guide will meet you all after breakfast and show you Kyoto’s top places to see. Where we visit will depend on the season. Typically, our discovery day in Kyoto includes:
  • Nijo Castle
  • Kinkakuji Golden Pavillion
  • Arashiyama Bamboo Forest Grove
  • Fushimi-Inari Shrine

Evening at leisure in Kyoto

Accommodation: Noku Hotel (or similar)

Day 9: Kyoto Free Day

Today will be a well deserved day off in Kyoto. Your guide will be able to assist you if you would like to go anywhere in particular. We will also provide itinerary and access maps for suggested day trips. If you are very tired you can take it easy today!

Accommodation: Noku Hotel (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, with overnight stay in a traditional ryokan with kaiseki dinner & onsen (hot springs) another treat for the day!

Accommodation: Kurayado Iroha Japanese Style (or similar)

Day 11: Hakone

Our final rural retreat will be in Hakone, found right in the heart of the Fuji National Park. After a relaxed and comfortable journey along the Tokaido Shinkansen line, we should arrive to Hakone before dinnertime. Enjoy your final traditional ryokan dinner and full use of the hot spring baths.

Accommodation: Hotel Okuyumoto (or similar)

Day 12: Tokyo

After breakfast, you will explore Hakone with your tour leader. A refreshing cruise on Lake Ashi followed by a ride across the mountains on a scenic cable car will with any luck afford us that perfect view of that majestic giant, Mt Fuji. We then head back to the capital Tokyo where you will have a free evening with plenty of options on your doorstep.

Accommodation: Tokyo Okura Hotel (or similar)

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, a farewell dinner will be arranged by your tour leader with the option to continue the night out at a local karaoke bar & Japan-style pub!
May & September tours will include tickets to see a live Sumo Tournament!!

Accommodation: Tokyo Okura Hotel (or similar)

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.

How to Book

Step 1: Pay booking deposit 250 Euro (or equivalent)

By paying your deposit today, we secure your place on this chosen small group tour. You will be sent a receipt of payment on the following business day (Mon-Fri). All online deposits are refundable up to 7 days after payment has been made through this website.

[Booking Terms and Conditions]


Step 2: Book Your Flight

Once you have secured your place on our tour, you should book your flight to Japan from your home country. To find the best available routes and flights, check out skyscanner.com.



Step 3: Manage your Booking

Once deposit is paid, log into your secure Unique Japan Tours Travel Portal. Check your documents and fill out as much information as possible, to ensure we give you the best service possible (dietary requirements, passport info, flight details, and so on). This travel portal can also be used to make payments towards your tour (installments are permitted).


Step 4: Receive your Essential Travel Pack

All of our clients receive an Essential Travel Pack which is sent to your home address (worldwide) 2-3 weeks before your departure date. If your starting date is less than 2 weeks, you will receive it on arrival in Japan. All documents will be sent via email in advance also.


Step 4: See you on Day 1 in Japan!

Got a Question?

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Total price of this tour

$5,250 per person

10 in stock

Pay a deposit of $250 per item
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