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The Very Best of Japan Tour

Home Icon The Very Best of Japan Tour

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 19-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, along with an opportunity to stopover in Hong Kong on your way home, our Very Best of Japan tour really does offer exceptional value for money.

SPECIAL LAUNCH OFFERS: To celebrate the launch of our new 2020/ 2021 season, any guests booking the Very Best of Japan tour (departing from September 2020) by 30 November 2019, will be entitled to a two night homebound stopover, for an incredible price from only £29pp or a direct flight from London Heathrow with ANA for just £169pp. Please see the offers tab for more details.

Very Best of Japan itinerary

Our leisurely 19-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.

19-day Very Best of Japan, from £5,295

If you would like more information about a particular hotel or destination, please click on the orange text.

Day 1: Depart UK

Depart with Cathay Pacific from the UK airport most convenient for you. Choose from London Heathrow, London Gatwick or Manchester. No matter which airport you choose, there will be no additional cost.
In-flight meals and drinks included

Alternative airline – ANA

If you prefer, fly direct to Tokyo from London Heathrow with ANA. Supplement from £295 per person.
As part of our Special Launch Offer, if you book your Very Best of Japan tour by 30th November 2019, the flight supplement for flying with ANA will be reduced to £169.

Day 2: Tokyo, 3 nights

All flights with Cathay Pacific to Tokyo travel via Hong Kong. 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
In-flight meals and drinks included

Day 3: Tokyo

We start our Japanese adventure in the district of Asakusa, home to Tokyo’s oldest temple, Sensoji. Founded in AD645 the temple enshrines a golden image of Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of mercy. 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 Edo Tokyo Museum. This evening, enjoy a welcome drink with your Tour Manager and fellow travellers, and learn more about our adventure that lies ahead.
Breakfast and lunch included

Day 4: Tokyo

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. This evening there is the opportunity to see Tokyo from a different perspective with an optional dinner cruise along the Sumida River.
Breakfast included

Day 5: Fuji Five Lakes, 2 nights

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 View Hotel, situated in extensive grounds near the shores of Lake Kawaguchi, affording spectacular views of Mount Fuji. After settling into our accommodation, there is free time to relax prior to dinner in the hotel’s restaurant.
Breakfast and dinner included

Day 6: Mount Fuji and Lake Kawaguchi

Tour Highlight

Fuji-san, or Mr. Fuji 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. We continue to the Fujisan World Heritage Centre which showcases traditional artwork and videos of this sacred mountain. We learn how to make buckwheat noodles, continuing to the shores of Lake Kawaguchi where there is time for a stroll along this picturesque lake. This evening we dine together in our hotel.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

Day 7: Takayama, 2 nights

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 of 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.
Breakfast included

Day 8: Takayama

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 a government headquarters under the Tokugawa shogunate of 1692 to 1871. We finish 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 Hida beef, a variety of wagyu beef.
Breakfast included

Day 9: Shirakawa-go & Kanazawa, 2 nights

Tour Highlight

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. Afterwards, we shall visit Normura Samurai House, a restored samurai residence. Finally, we check in to the centrally located Kanazawa Tokyu Hotel.
Breakfast included

Day 10: Kanazawa

We begin our morning with a visit to a local restaurant for a typical Japanese breakfast. After enjoying the local hospitality, we visit the delightful Kenroku-en garden, considered by the Japanese as one of the top three gardens in the country. The name Kenroku-en 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.
Breakfast included

Day 11: Kyoto, 3 nights

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, and 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. Breakfast and dinner included

Day 12: Kyoto

Tour Highlight

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.
Breakfast included

Day 13: Fushimi Inari Shrine

This morning 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 visit a sake museum 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.
Breakfast included

Day 14: Bullet Train, Hiroshima, 2 nights

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 survivor 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.
Breakfast included

Day 15: Miyajima Island

A morning visit takes us to the peaceful and pretty island of Miyajima, famous for its giant torii gate, part of the UNESCO Word Heritage Itsukushima 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. Tonight we have the opportunity to learn how to make the delicious okonomiyaki pancake, a classic Hiroshima dish.
Breakfast included

Day 16: Kurashiki, overnight

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, just three minutes’ walk from the Bikan district.
Breakfast included

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 the next two nights is the delightful Nikko Osaka Hotel.
Breakfast and lunch included

Day 18: Nara

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.
Breakfast included

Day 19: Depart Osaka

This morning we say goodbye to Japan as we depart Osaka for our flight home to the UK. Regardless of the regional UK airport you are flying to, all flights will travel via Hong Kong. Alternatively if choosing ANA, you will fly to the UK via Tokyo. After 19 spectacular days, our Very Best of Japan tour comes to an end.
Breakfast and in-flight meals and drinks included

Please note, if you are flying with Cathay Pacific into London Gatwick or Manchester, or should you choose to fly with ANA, your flight will arrive into the UK on day 20.

SPECIAL LAUNCH OFFERS: If you would like to break the journey home to the UK after your Very Best of Japan tour, then why not add on a stopover in Hong Kong? To celebrate the launch of our new 2020/ 2021 season, we are offering any guests travelling in our new season (departing from September 2020) a two night homebound stopover for only £29pp (£58 for single occupancy). The homebound stopover includes return airport transfers, two nights accommodation in a four star hotel and a full daily breakfast.

 

 

Departure dates & prices

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.

SPECIAL LAUNCH OFFERS: If you would like to break the journey home to the UK after your Very Best of Japan tour, then why not add on a stopover in Hong Kong? To celebrate the launch of our new 2020/ 2021 season, we are offering any guests travelling in our new season (departing from September 2020) a two night homebound stopover for only £29pp (£58 for single occupancy). The homebound stopover includes return airport transfers, two nights accommodation in the four star Regal Kowloon Hotel and a full daily breakfast.

Alternatively, if travelling to and from Japan as speedily as possible is more important to you, our other launch offer is for direct flights from London Heathrow with ANA, again for a very special price of just £169pp (normal supplement is £295pp).  To enjoy either of these special launch offers, simply book by 30 November 2019.

 

2020 / 2021 Very Best of Japan departures

Departure datePrice (pp)AvailabilityOffer
2020
 28 September £5,595 NEW DATE£29 stopover or £169 direct flight
2021
 27 March£5,595 NEW DATE£29 stopover or £169 direct flight
 08 May£5,295 NEW DATE£29 stopover or £169 direct flight

 

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.

Stopovers
Extend your holiday with a stopover in Hong Kong from £345 per person.

Flight upgrades

Cathay Pacific upgrade to Premium Economy from £1,195 per person, or Business Class from £3,295 per person.

ANA upgrade to Premium Economy from £1,195 per person, or Business Class from £2,995 per person.

Important information

Prices are subject to the availability of flights in the lowest available booking class and may change, however the correct price will always be confirmed before you book.

For full terms and conditions see our terms and conditions page.

Your holiday includes

Flights with leading scheduled airlines

  • Return economy class flights
  • Fly with Cathay Pacific via Hong Kong from London Heathrow, London Gatwick or Manchester
  • Alternatively, fly with ANA from London Heathrow. A supplement of £295 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

  • Daily breakfast, worth £380 per person
  • Four lunches
  • Three dinners

 

Unforgettable experiences

  • Sightseeing tours in Tokyo, Lake Kawaguchi, Takayama, Kanazawa, Kyoto, Hiroshima, Miyajima Island and Nara
  • Learn to make sushi and buckwheat noodles
  • See Mount Fuji
  • Visit a miso factory
  • The UNESCO World Heritage site of Shirakawa-go
  • Japanese gardens of Kenroku-en and Korakuen
  • Dinner with a Maiko
  • Visit a sake museum
  • Ride on the Bullet Train
  • Visit the Bikan Chiku historical area of Kurishiki
  • Discover the UNESCO World Heritage Himeji Castle

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
  • For more information on our Price Promise, please see our booking conditions

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 View Hotel, Kawaguchiko

Boasting an extensive 100,000 square metre garden; a lakeside position beside Lake Kawaguchi (Kawaguchiko), the prettiest of the five Fuji lakes; and great views of Japan’s most famous and highest mountain, Mount Fuji, the Fuji View Hotel at Lake Kawaguchi… 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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Kurashiki 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

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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Special Launch Offer

Book your place on our brand new Very Best of Japan tour before 30th November 2019 and you can take advantage of one of two special launch offers.

Option 1

Enjoy a two night stopover in Hong Kong on the homeward journey for the very special price of just £29 per person.  Your offer includes two nights bed and breakfast accommodation in the 4 star Regal Hotel Kowloon, and return airport – hotel transfers.  Single travellers will pay £58 for this offer.

Option 2

Get your holiday off to a flying start with a direct flight to Tokyo from London Heathrow with ANA, for just £169 per person. The usual supplement is £295 per person.


Hong Kong Temple

Hong Kong Offer, Regal Kowloon

Hong Kong oozes energy. Even if you’re feeling a little tired after your travels, it’s guaranteed to perk you up again. While its skyline of sky scrapers is impressive, you simply need to look across the harbour to see the…

Find out more >

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Customer reviews

The Very Best of Japan tour is a new itinerary with departures in late 2020 and early 2021. This page will be updated with reviews as soon as our returning customers are contacted by the independent reviews company Feefo. In the meantime, please feel free to look at the reviews for our other tours – we’re sure you will be impressed with the service our guests receive and the great reviews they kindly give us!

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