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Book your place on this tour departing from September 2024 by 1st July 2024 and save up to £200 per person. Request a brochure

The Very Best of Japan Tour

Home Icon 20-day Very Best of Japan from £6,195 £6,045pp

From the kimono-clad geisha who grace Kyoto’s streets, to Tokyo’s modern neon-lit metropolis, what makes Japan so unique is its ability to hold on to age-old customs and timeless traditions, yet entwine them seamlessly into modern-day living. With stunning landscapes and delicious regional cuisines, a plethora of historic shrines and temples, it’s no wonder Japan is considered one of the world’s great touring destinations.

Our leisurely 20-day tour has been carefully crafted to blend this fascinating mix of ancient and modern along with all of the country’s major attractions. Add to this the magnificent beauty of the Japanese Alps, picturesque gardens, ancient castles and unique Japanese experiences, this brand new tour combines the very best this country has to offer.

With quality accommodation, all breakfasts and many other meals included, our Very Best of Japan tour really does offer exceptional value for money.

Save up to £200 per person on Japan tours departing from September 2024 when you book by 1st July 2024.

Day 1

Depart UK

Laughing Japanese Maiko (Apprentice Geisha), wearing traditional dress with whitened face and red lips, Japan

Depart with Emirates, from London Heathrow, London Gatwick, London Stanstead, Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle or Glasgow, via Dubai.

Alternative airline – Japan Airlines. Should you prefer, fly direct to Tokyo from London Heathrow with Japan Airlines for a supplement, from £250 per person return.

Included meals:

In-flight meals and drinks

 

Day 2

Tokyo, 3 nights

On arrival into Japan’s metropolitan capital, we transfer to the centrally-located Keio Plaza hotel. The remainder of the day is left free to relax.

Included meals:

In-flight meals and drinks

Alternative airline – Japan Airlines

Should you prefer, fly direct to Tokyo from London Heathrow with Japan Airlines for a supplement, from £250 per person return.

Day 3

Tokyo

We start our Japanese adventure in the district of Asakusa, home to Tokyo’s oldest temple, Sensoji, founded in AD645. The approach to the temple is through the Kaminarimon Gate, which leads to the Nakamise, a shopping street that has been providing temple visitors with a variety of traditional local snacks and tourist souvenirs for centuries. We make our way to a local restaurant where we will learn the art of Japanese sushi-making, before enjoying our own culinary creation for lunch. We finish our day with a visit to the Tokyo National Museum. This evening, enjoy a welcome drink with your Tour Manager and fellow travellers.

Included meals:

Breakfast and lunch

Day 4

Tokyo

Entrance to Meji Jingu Shrine, Tokyo, Japan

After breakfast, we make our way to Tokyo Tower. Standing at 333m, it’s 13m taller than the Eiffel Tower, which was the inspiration for its design. Although surpassed in height by Tokyo Skytree in 2012, Tokyo Tower remains a beloved symbol of the city. After a brief photo stop at the impressive Imperial Plaza, we make our way to Japan’s most famous Shinto Shrine, Meiji Jingu. Dedicated to Emperor Meiji, the shrine sits in a large forest area that contains more than 100,000 trees, gifted by the people to their beloved emperor. We return to our hotel, where the remainder of the day is at leisure.

Included meals:

Breakfast

Day 5

Lake Yamanaka, 2 nights

Tourist Pirate Boat cruising beautiful Lake Ashi with Mount Fuji in the background

This morning we head to Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, famous for its hot springs and views of what is easily Japan’s most iconic image, Mount Fuji. Our first stop is Lake Ashi, a crater lake formed over 200,000 years ago. We board our boat for a short cruise on this beautiful lake before taking a cable car into the Owakudani Valley. The result of a volcanic eruption over 3,000 years ago, the area is still active with many sulphur vents and bubbling hot springs. We continue our journey through picturesque landscapes to the area known as Fuji Five Lakes, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Our home for the next two nights is the Fuji Marriott Hotel Lake Yamanaka. After settling into our accommodation, there is free time to relax before we dine together in the hotel’s restaurant.

Included meals:

Breakfast and dinner

Day 6

Mount Fuji and Fuji Five Lakes

View of Mount Fuji and Lake Kawaguchi, one of the Fuji Five Lakes, Japan

Tour Highlight

Mt. Fuji, or Fuji-san as it is more affectionately known, can be a little shy, but fingers crossed a clear sky will reward us with some impressive views. Our first stop is the small, but delightful, Kubota Icchiku Art Museum. Kubota revived the lost art of Tsujigahana silk dyeing and the museum exhibits several of the artist’s stunning kimono creations, which depict themes of nature, the cosmos and the seasons. Our next stop is a visit to the Oishi Tsumugi for a handkerchief dyeing experience. Following a lunch of Hoto noodles, we continue to the Fuji-san World Heritage Centre which showcases traditional artwork and videos of this sacred mountain. Our final stop is the shores of Lake Kawaguchi where there is time for a stroll along this picturesque lake. This evening we dine together in our hotel.

Included meals:

Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Day 7

Takayama, 2 nights

Beautifully preserved Matsumoto Castle in Nagano Prefecture with Japanese Alps in the background

This morning, we begin our journey towards the majestic Japanese Alps. We stop at Matsumoto castle, the oldest existing castle in Japan, for a fabulous photo opportunity and continue to a miso factory, to discover how this staple Japanese food is made. Afterwards, enjoy a spectacular journey through the mountains to Takayama. Our hotel for the next two nights is the centrally-located Takayama Green Hotel. Alternatively, you may wish to experience a stay in a traditional Japanese inn (a Ryokan) for the evening.

Included meals:

Breakfast and dinner

Stay in a traditional ryokan – Overnight from £115 per person

During our time in Takayama, for those who want to experience traditional hospitality, there is an opportunity to spend a night in a Ryokan, a traditional Japanese inn. Enjoy delicious local cuisine, relax in your yukata (casual kimono) and maybe even try the onsen, a hot spring bath. Please call for details.

Day 8

Takayama

Street in Takayamas' ancient old town in the Gifu Prefecture Japan

Tour Highlight

Takayama is best explored on foot and we begin our day with a visit to the morning market. Afterwards, we make our way to the Takayama-Jinya, which served as government headquarters under the Tokugawa shogunate of 1692 to 1871. We end our morning in the heart of Takayama’s picturesque old town, lined with traditional houses, shops, restaurants, sake breweries and cafes. Our afternoon is at leisure to enjoy this delightful area. Perhaps sample some of the many delicious delicacies, try some locally-brewed sake, or visit one of the many museums, such as the Festival Floats Exhibition Hall. Tonight, there is the opportunity to dine on Japan’s famous Hida beef, a variety of wagyu beef local to this area.

Included meals:

Breakfast

Day 9

Shirakawa-go & Kanazawa, 2 nights

Village of Shirakawa-go, Gifu Prefecture, Japan

Today we head to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Shirakawa-go. The villages, mostly cut off until as recently as the 1960s, are today famous for their traditional style of housing, the Gassho-Zukuri, which means ‘like praying hands’. We continue to Kanazawa and the Omicho Market, a lively food market famous for its abundance of fresh seafood, which has been in operation since 1721. Later, we visit Nomura Samurai House, a restored samurai residence. Finally, arrive at the Kanazawa Tokyu Hotel where we will stay for the next two nights. 

Included meals:

Breakfast

Day 10

Kanazawa

Garden in the Samurai House of the Nomura Clan, Kanazawa in the Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan

Following breakfast, we visit the delightful Kenroku-en garden, considered by the Japanese as one of the top three gardens in the country. The name Kenrokuen means the ‘garden combining six’, referring to the six attributes all gardens should include: seclusion, antiquity, spaciousness, human ingenuity, water and scenic views. The city is also famed for gold leaf and it is used in abundance. We visit a local establishment to learn about gold leaf production, and decorate our own chopsticks in gold leaf – we even have the opportunity to purchase a gold leaf ice-cream. We head to the Higashi Chaya area of the city with its lovely neighbourhood of beautifully-preserved geisha houses. Many have now been converted into restaurants or teahouses, although some are still open to the public. The afternoon is free to continue exploring Kanazawa at your own pace. There is a plethora of museums and local arts and crafts to explore. Alternatively, you have the option to join an afternoon tour which visits the Kutani Pottery and Kagayuzen Kimono Centre.

Included meals:

Breakfast

Day 11

Kyoto, 3 nights

Traditional dance performance by a Maiko (apprentice Geisha) in Kyoto Japan

This morning, we make our way to Kanazawa Station for our train journey to Kyoto. The capital of Imperial Japan for over 1,000 years, Kyoto is Japan’s cultural capital. This afternoon, we head to Arashiyama and its famous Bamboo Grove, where there will be plenty of time to wander through the impressive towering alley of Bamboo. Our hotel for the next three nights is the Kyoto Tokyu Hotel.

Tour Highlight

The distinctive white face, red lips and elaborately decorated hairstyle of the geisha is an enduring image portrayed throughout the globe. Yet the world in which they live remains a mystery. Tonight, we have arranged a traditional Japanese meal, a kaisei, where we will be joined by a maiko, our apprentice geisha, who will perform traditional song and dance.

Included meals:

Breakfast and dinner

Day 12

Kyoto

Kiyomizudera Temple at sunset surrounded by autumn colours, Kyoto, Japan

We begin our day of sightseeing at the impressive UNESCO World Heritage Site of Kinkaku-Ji Temple. Fondly referred to as the Golden Pavilion, this richly decorated golden temple is a truly beautiful sight to behold. Our next stop is another UNESCO World Heritage Site, the rock garden of Ryoanji Temple. The garden’s fifteen stones are cleverly arranged so that there is always one rock that is hidden from view. Our final and third UNESCO World Heritage Site of the morning is Kiyomizu-Dera Temple. Founded in AD778, the most famous feature of the temple is its wooden veranda, standing some 13 metres above the ground. Later, we head to Gion, Kyoto’s famous geisha district, before taking part in a traditional tea ceremony. Tonight, there is an opportunity to experience a Japanese barbecue at a local restaurant.

Included meals:

Breakfast

Day 13

Fushimi Inari Shrine

Tourists entering under the many Tori Gates of the Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto, Japan

Today, we head out of the city to the Fushimi Inari Shrine, famous for its tunnels of more than 10,000 closely-spaced torii gates, each of which has been individually donated. We finish our morning with a visit to a sake brewery to learn about the brewing and production process of this famous Japanese rice wine. Later, we return to the city for an afternoon at leisure. If you prefer, you can join an optional tour of Sanju-Sangendo, with an opportunity to paint and take away your own paper fan. Tonight, there is the option to try Japanese shabushabu at a local restaurant.

Included meals:

Breakfast

Day 14

Bullet Train, Hiroshima, 2 nights

Surviving shell of building from the Atomic Bomb Hiroshima within the Peace Memorial Park in Japan

After a leisurely breakfast, we transfer to the station for our ride on Japan’s iconic Bullet Train. Running at speeds of up to 200 miles per hour, the train smoothly whisks us across the country to our next port of call, Hiroshima. Hiroshima is perhaps best known for being the place where an atomic bomb was dropped during the Second World War. This afternoon, we talk to a local about their recollection of the attack, visit the Memorial Peace Park and its moving museum, as well as the Atomic Bomb Dome. After a thought-provoking day, we transfer to the Rihga Royal Hotel, ideally located for exploring the city. We stay here for the next two nights. Tonight, we have the opportunity to visit a local Okonomiyaki pancake restaurant.

Included meals:

Breakfast

We Recommend  – Okonomiyaki Pancakes

With some 2,000 Okonomiyaki restaurants in Hiroshima alone, this dish is adored by locals.

Day 15

Miyajima Island

Itsukushima Shrine and Tori Gate, Miyajima Island, Hiroshima, Japan

A morning visit takes us to the peaceful and pretty island of Miyajima, famous for its giant torii gate, part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Itsukushima Shinto Shrine. After viewing the shrine, there is plenty of time to wander around the city’s pretty streets. Our afternoon has been left at leisure, but we highly recommend a stroll to Hiroshima Castle, Shukkeien garden and Orizuru Tower, which are all within easy walking distance of our hotel.

Included meals:

Breakfast

Day 16

Kurashiki, overnight

Tourists on boat in the Bikan Historical Quater, Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture, Japan

Travel to the old merchant settlement of Kurashiki, whose main draw is its beautiful willow-lined canal. Many former storehouses have been converted into museums, boutiques and cafes, providing the perfect backdrop for a leisurely stroll. This afternoon we visit Korakuen Garden, another of Japan’s top three gardens. It is most aptly described as a “strolling garden”, due to its variety of views from the pathways which wind through the pond, stream, lawns and teahouse. We return to Kurashiki for an overnight stay at the Kurashiki Royal Art Hotel. Tonight, there is an opportunity to dine at a local restaurant.

Included meals:

Breakfast

Day 17

Himeji Castle, Osaka, 2 nights

Tour Highlight

Today we journey to our final destination, Osaka, via the city of Himeji, famous for Japan’s finest surviving feudal castle, Himeji Castle. The first fortifications of this UNESCO World Heritage Site were completed in the 1400s. Gradually enlarged over the centuries, the castle complex, as it survives today, is over 400 years old and is an imposing and majestic site. After exploring the castle and grounds, we make our way to Osaka. Our home for our final two nights is the delightful Nikko Osaka Hotel.

Included meals:

Breakfast and lunch

Day 18

Nara

Friendly deer outside the Todaiji Temple in Nara, Japan

Our sightseeing today takes us to Nara, Japan’s first permanent capital. One of the first sights we will experience is the thousands of sacred deer that roam freely through the city, and have learned to bow for treats! We visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Todaiji Temple. Founded in AD745, the vast temple took over 15 years to complete. The main hall houses a colossal bronze Buddha statue and remains the world’s largest wooden building. After a morning of sightseeing, we return to Osaka, where our afternoon has been left free to relax or possibly purchase some last-minute souvenirs.

Included meals:

Breakfast

Day 19

Depart Osaka

Osaka Castle and City Skyline, Japan at dusk

Our day is at leisure until we travel to Osaka Airport for our evening flight to the UK. All flights with Emirates will travel via Dubai. Alternatively, if choosing Japan Airlines, you will fly to the UK via Tokyo.

Included meals:

Breakfast, in-flight meals and drinks

Day 20

Arrive UK

Smiling Japanese lady in traditional kimono

After 20 spectacular days, we arrive into the UK, bringing our incredible Very Best of Japan tour to an end.

Included meals:

In-flight meals and drinks

Departure dates & prices

Very Best of Japan departures

SAVE up to £200 per person! Book this tour departing from September 2024 and save up to £200 per person. Offer ends 1st July 2024.

Departure datePrice (pp)AvailabilityOffer
2024
04, 07, 11, 12, 19 May+SOLD OUTSOLD OUTSOLD OUT
21, 28 SeptemberSOLD OUTSOLD OUTPlease call to be added to our waitlist
12, 19, 26 OctoberSOLD OUTSOLD OUTPlease call to be added to our waitlist
02 NovemberSOLD OUTSOLD OUTPlease call to be added to our waitlist
2025
22 March^ £6,595 £6,445AVAILABLESAVE £150 per person
24, 25, MarchSOLD OUTSOLD OUTSOLD OUT
27 MarchSOLD OUTSOLD OUTSOLD OUT
28 March £6,595 £6,4451 SINGLE OCCUPANCY ROOMSAVE £150 per person
29 March^ £6,595 £6,445AVAILABLESAVE £150 per person
30 MarchSOLD OUTSOLD OUTSOLD OUT
01 AprilSOLD OUTSOLD OUTSOLD OUT
09, 10, 11 MaySOLD OUTSOLD OUTSOLD OUT
17 May£6,195 £6,0455 ROOMSSAVE £150 per person
20 September£6,395 £6,1955 ROOMSSAVE £200 per person
11 OctoberSOLD OUTSOLD OUTSOLD OUT
18 October£6,395 £6,195AVAILABLESAVE £200 per person
01 November£6,395 £6,195AVAILABLESAVE £200 per person

Additional Information

+These dates operate using an alternative route. Please click here for details.

^This date uses some alternative hotels. Please call for further details.

Prices: Prices are per person based on two people sharing a twin or double room.

Single occupancy supplement: £1,595

Deposit: £1,000 per person if travelling in economy class, £1,950 per person if travelling in premium economy, and £3,750 per person for business class.

Flight upgrades
Emirates upgrade to Premium Economy*
from £1,195 per person or Business Class
from £4,145 per person return.
*Only available on certain flights.

Japan Airlines upgrade to Premium Economy
from £1,295 per person return, or Business
Class from £3,495 per person return.

Important Information: Our holiday prices are subject to fuel surcharges and the availability of flights in the lowest fare booking class. The correct price will always be confirmed to you before you book, and once you have booked, our Price Promise will guarantee there will be no further increases. For full terms and conditions see our terms and conditions page.

There is so much included

At Distant Journeys, we offer a great range of tours of amazing places, all of which include so much in the price. And our Very Best of Japan holiday is no exception. Your scheduled international flights, overseas transfers, expertly chosen hotels, daily breakfast plus several other meals are all included. You’ll enjoy many amazing excursions in the company of experienced tour managers and knowledgeable local guides, all taken care of in the price of your holiday.

Flights with leading scheduled airlines

  • Return economy class flights
  • Fly with Emirates via Dubai from London Heathrow, London Gatwick, London Stanstead, Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle or Glasgow
  • Alternatively, fly direct to Tokyo with Japan Airlines from London Heathrow – a supplement, from £250 per person, will apply
  • All airport charges, security charges and any applicable fuel surcharges
  • UK Air Passenger Duty

Carefully selected hotels

  • Superior hotels in great locations
  • All hotel porterage
  • Applicable hotel taxes

Many meals worth £584 per person

  • Daily breakfast
  • 3 lunches
  • 4 dinners

Unforgettable experiences

  • Sightseeing tours in Tokyo, Takayama, Kanazawa, Kyoto, Hiroshima, Miyajima Island and Nara
  • Learn to make sushi
  • Spend two nights near Lake Yamanaka
  • View Matsumoto Castle and visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Himeji Castle
  • Visits to a miso and a sake factory
  • Explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Shirakawa-go
  • Discover the Japanese gardens of Kenroku-en and Koraku-en
  • Watch a Maiko performance
  • Ride the Bullet Train
  • Visit historical Bikan Chiku, Kurashiki

On the ground

  • Services of an experienced Tour Manager and local guides
  • All overseas transfers
  • Modern, air-conditioned coaches throughout

100% confidence

  • Your holiday is covered by our Price Promise
  • Your holiday is fully ATOL protected

Keio Plaza Hotel, Tokyo

Set in the skyscraper district of Shinjuku, one of the liveliest wards in Tokyo, staying at the Keio Plaza Hotel Shinjuku places you in a prime position for exploring Japan’s capital and one of the world’s most exciting cities.  Shinjuku is… Find out more >
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Fuji Marriott Hotel, Lake Yamanaka

Situated just a short drive from beautiful Lake Yamanaka, the largest of the five Fuji lakes, the Fuji Marriott Hotel is set in extensive grounds and has lovely views of Mount Fuji, cloud cover permitting.  The hotel is modern and… Find out more >
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Takayama Green Hotel, Takayama

The Takayama Green Hotel is set in the heart of the Japanese city of Takayama.  Nicknamed ‘Little Kyoto’, Takayama is a charming and historic town, and at the Takayama Green Hotel, you’re in a prime position to explore not only… Find out more >
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Kanazawa Tokyu Hotel, Kanazawa

Set at the heart of the ancient castle city of Kanazawa, the Kanazawa Tokyu Hotel is ideally located for exploring the area’s top attractions. Just a short walk away is Kenrokuen Garden, named one of the three Great Gardens of… Find out more >
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Kyoto Tokyu Hotel, Kyoto

A contemporary hotel with subtle nods to traditional Japanese design, the Kyoto Tokyu Hotel is a peaceful haven, yet it enjoys a great location. Once Japan’s imperial capital, this heritage still lives on in Kyoto today, with millions flocking to… Find out more >
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Rihga Royal Hotel, Hiroshima

Set in the heart of this fascinating Japanese city, the Rihga Royal Hotel Hiroshima is based in the perfect location for exploring Hiroshima’s attractions and remnants of its unfortunate past.  The Rihga Royal Hotel is within a short walking distance… Find out more >
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Royal Art Hotel, Kurashiki

The Kurashiki Royal Art Hotel is located just a short walk from many of the attractions of the historic and cultural city of Kurashiki. Kurashiki is most famous for its Bikan historical quarter, a preserved town on the canal from… Find out more >
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Hotel Nikko Osaka, Osaka

Situated in the heart of the sprawling city of Osaka, Japan’s second-largest city, the Hotel Nikko Osaka is a 4-star high-rise hotel offering contemporary rooms, a choice of restaurants and numerous on-site facilities and services. If you’re looking to do… Find out more >
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Pre-booking required
Japanese plates with Hida beef

Takayama: Hida Beef Dinner

Hida-Gyu is beef from black-haired Japanese cattle bred in Gifu prefecture, where Takayama is located. Hida-Gyu is renowned as one of the finest quality meats in Japan, and a speciality of the area. The family-run restaurant is housed in a renovated Kominka; a traditional Japanese house built of wood and with a thatched roof.

From GBP £50 Read More >
Pre-booking required
craft class making floral design on napkin

Kanazawa: Afternoon Crafts Tour

You will learn about two of Kanazawa’s traditional crafts on this fascinating afternoon tour. Kutani pottery is a style of Japanese porcelain made locally, using a technique which dates from 1655. You will visit a craftsman and their workshop, and see the production process from forming, biscuit firing, glazing, glost firing to overglaze painting.

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Pre-booking required
Japanese Shabu Shabu dinner with many plates and people using chopsticks

Kyoto: Shabu Shabu Dinner

For a truly authentic Japanese dinner experience, don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy a Shabu Shabu dinner. This is a popular hot pot dish consisting of thinly sliced meat and bite-sized vegetables cooked in a steaming hot broth. The name Shabu Shabu comes from the onomatopoeic Japanese for ‘Swish swish’, describing the sound made by stirring the vegetables and meat in the pot with your chopsticks.

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Pre-booking required
Japanese BBQ with plates set out and beef ready to cook

Kyoto: Japanese BBQ Dinner

Yakiniku, a Japanese style BBQ, is one of the popular dishes in Japan; there are over 18,000 Yakiniku restaurants all over the country, so it’s almost the national dish!  Simple yet delicious, this communal meal offers fine selections of meat, vegetables, and various dipping sauces. You will gather around a table with a small barbecue grill in the centre, and tuck into as much as you like. 

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Pre-booking required
couple in japanese fan making class

Kyoto: Sanju Sangendo Hall and Paper Fan Painting Experience

Our afternoon tour begins with a visit to Sanju Sangendo, a temple in eastern Kyoto founded in 1164 and famed for its 1001 statues of Kannon, the goddess of mercy. After visiting the hall, we move on to a craft shop and learn about the ancient Japanese art of paper fan painting. Sensu, or folding fans, are a beautiful, instantly recognisable symbol of traditional Japan.

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Pre-booking required
Food_Okonomiyaki_Japan

Hiroshima: Okonomiyaki Dinner

Okonomiyaki is a type of Japanese pancake and is a classic dish of the Hiroshima region. Tonight, we have the chance to taste these delicious pancakes! Okonomiyaki are made with egg, cabbage, soba noodles, meat, seafood or cheese, all grilled on a Teppan, a giant iron plate.

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Pre-booking required
tables and chairs in courtyard at night

Kurashiki: Ivy Square & Dinner

Ivy Square is a complex of ivy-clad brick buildings that include museums, restaurants and an hotel. The area was the site of the first modern cotton mill in Japan, and the buildings were originally constructed as part of the mill in 1889. You will also enjoy a top quality Japanese-French dinner in a nearby restaurant. The menu includes seasonal delicacies, soup, fish or meat dishes using only the freshest local ingredients, and vegetarian options are available.

From GBP £50 Read More >

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The following customer reviews for the Very Best of Japan tour have been independently verified by Feefo, who are a leading independent reviews company.

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