The Japan Alps

10 Nights

Tokyo

Japan is a country of mountains. With over seventy-percent of the country being mountainous terrain, it is no wonder that mountains have religious and culture importance to the Japanese. In particular, the Japan Alps region offers stunning views of scenic alpine landscapes. Using a variety of transportation including the famous shinkansen bullet train, you will travel through this region, then pay a visit to the ancient capital Kyoto, and finally relax in the hot springs town of Hakone with the awe-inspiring Mt. Fuji close by.

From £2050pp
download

Highlights

  • Tokyo - Matsumoto - Takayama - Kyoto - Hakone
  • Tokyo day tour including Sensoji, Nakamise, Hamarikyu garden and more
  • Visit the sights of Matsumoto and try your hand at making soba noodles
  • Experience a stay at a local Japanese style ryokan with a hot spring bath
  • Learn about the Japanese dining culture plus enjoy a cooking class
  • Take the famous bullet train to Hakone passing Lake Ashi with views of Mt Fuji
  • Day 1 - Arrival into Tokyo
  • Day 2 - Tokyo Day Tour
  • Day 3 - Tokyo to Matsumoto
  • Day 4 - Matsumoto
  • Day 5 - Takayama
  • Day 6 - Takayama - Self Guided Day
  • Day 7 - Takayama to Kyoto
  • Day 8 - Kyoto
  • Day 9 - Hakone
  • Day 10 - Hakone to Tokyo
  • Day 11 - Depart Tokyo
  • Additional Information

Tokyo is a city of contrasts. This front-line capital famous for its pioneering modernity, iconic landscapes of neon and soaring skyscrapers is dotted with peaceful parklands, shrines, temples and adored gardens. Despite its mania for anime pop culture, fashion, digital trends and discernable consumption, the city embraces an ancient heritage evident in the temples and shrines scattered amongst the vast skyrises. The Imperial Palace provides a palpable link to the city’s incredible heritage even with the explosion of commercial emporia. Free from the shopping and entertainment districts, historic wooden house, private bonsai gardens and the calming Zen atmosphere of the Hamarikyu Gardens thrive to allow visitors an escape from the hyperactivity of the lively streets. Even with the city’s costly reputation visitors can take advantage of the inexpensive izakaya bars and neighbourhood cafes serving delectable noodle and rice dishes. In fact, many of Tokyo’s charms can be enjoyed free of charge; stroll through Asakusa and the Buddhist temple Sensoji, the fashion Mecca of Harajuku, the world’s largest fish market at Tsukiji, or the neon-imbued atmosphere of Shinjuku and be enveloped by Japan’s largest city.

On your arrival at Narita Airport, you will be met by an assistant at the arrival lobby for your shared transfer to your hotel in Tokyo.

Meals Included: Room only

Shiba Park Hotel

A stay at Shiba Park Hotel places you in the heart of Tokyo, minutes from Zojoji Temple and close to Tokyo Tower. This hotel is close to Tokyo Imperial Palace and Tokyo Stock Exchange.

Take a day tour of this fascinating city with a local guide. First up is Asakusa, Tokyo’s old town where you can soak in the atmosphere of the Tokyo of old. Visit Sensoji, Tokyo’s oldest temple and wander down Nakamise, a shopping street that has been providing temple visitors with a variety of traditional, local snacks and tourist souvenirs for centuries. Next, travel down the Sumidagawa River on Tokyo's Water Bus, a unique means of transportation. You'll arrive directly at Hamarikyu garden, an Edo Period Japanese garden surrounded by the Shiodome district’s futuristic skyscrapers, a great example of how Japan is the land of contrasts, where you will stop for a cup of steaming matcha and Japanese sweets in a tea house on a small island in the park’s lake.

After lunch, enjoy a visit to Meiji Shrine, a shrine dedicated to the deified spirit of Emperor Meiji and a popular place for traditional Japanese weddings. Finally, as the sunlight dims, take a walk down the sparkly Omotesando shopping street, a broad tree lined avenue home to the flagship stores of the world’s top fashion brands and some fantastic modern architecture.

Meals Included: Breakfast

Shiba Park Hotel

A stay at Shiba Park Hotel places you in the heart of Tokyo, minutes from Zojoji Temple and close to Tokyo Tower. This hotel is close to Tokyo Imperial Palace and Tokyo Stock Exchange.

Located 3 hours from Tokyo, Matsumoto has flourished as a castle town since the 16th century. In addition to its historical and cultural heritage Matsumoto is surrounded by mountains and is acclaimed for its beautiful views. Hiking and climbing locations in the mountains are readily accessible by local bus transportation. To the west the Japan Alps rise to heights of 3,000 meters, and are known as "The Roof of Japan".

This morning, make your way to Shinjuku station for your train ride aboard the express train to Matsumoto (3hrs) using the included JR Pass.
You will have free time to visit Matsumoto castle and explore the surrounding town, including Nakamachi, a former merchant district full or preserved warehouses turned into restaurants, cafes and shops.
We also recommend the Japan Ukiyoe Museum is home to over 100,000 of these famous Japanese woodblock prints, making it one of the world’s largest private art collections.

Optional Station Transfer:
Please note that we can arrange a transfer for you to the station should you prefer. This is especially a great option for those who have heavy luggage. (additional charge will apply)

Meals Included: Breakfast

Matsumoto Hotel Kagetsu

Property Location A stay at Matsumoto Hotel Kagetsu places you in the heart of Matsumoto, walking distance from Matsumoto City Museum and Yohashira Shrine. This hotel is within close proximity of Matsumoto Scale Museum and Kurassic.

Matsumoto is located in the Shinshu region, famous nationwide for its delicious soba: buckweat noodles. Today you will visit the kitchen of a Matsumoto soba restaurant (make your own way) boasting a history of more than 130 years, to learn the secrets of soba noodles. You will join a shared cooking class to try your hand at kneading and cutting them, and then you will be able to taste your noodles cooked by the chef in the traditional Shinshu way.

Meals Included: Breakfast & lunch

Matsumoto Hotel Kagetsu

Property Location A stay at Matsumoto Hotel Kagetsu places you in the heart of Matsumoto, walking distance from Matsumoto City Museum and Yohashira Shrine. This hotel is within close proximity of Matsumoto Scale Museum and Kurassic.

With its plethora of temples, shrines, festivals, rivers and bridges the mountain town of Takayama has been called a “little Kyoto”. The region is an agricultural one, and every day the freshest of vegetables and fruit are brought by local farmers to Takayama’s lively morning market. Many unique traditions have evolved here, and due to the town’s previously inaccessible location high in the Hida alpine region, a remarkable number of them have been preserved. The district called San-machi Suji, the traditional home of Takayama merchants and sake brewers, has been preserved in almost exactly the same state as 200 or 300 years ago. Here, are inns, shops and taverns which trace their history back many generations.

Travel by coach to Takayama.
This afternoon we recommend visiting one of the town’s many sake breweries for a taste of the local drop, its high quality due to the area’s clean water sources.
Tonight, you will stay in Japanese style ryokan accommodation with hot spring onsen bath.

Meals Included: Breakfast

Best Western Hotel Takayama

Property Location With a stay at Best Western Hotel Takayama, you'll be centrally located in Takayama, walking distance from Takayama Tourist Information Center and close to Miyagawa Morning Market. This hotel is within close proximity of Takayama Jinya and Kusakabe Mingei-kan.

Your day is self-guided. This is the suggestion on how to spend it.

After breakfast you may head up to the Miyagawa morning market with stalls selling local crafts and produce. This is a great opportunity to try some of the region’s delicious fruit and vegetables.

A short bus ride will take you to Hida No Sato Folk Village, an open-air museum exhibiting over 30 typical farmhouses and other traditional buildings from the Hida region. There is also a workshop in the village illustrating how many of Japan's famous handicrafts are made, including wood carving, tie-dying, weaving, and lacquering.

In the afternoon you can visit the Takayama Festival Floats museum, displaying floats from the famous Takayama festival, or simply wander through the beautifully preserved old town.

You can also make a half day trip to the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Shirakawago village, famous for its traditional gassho-zukuri farmhouses, some of which are more than 250 years old.

Gassho-zukuri translates as ‘Praying Hands’, as the farmhouses' steep thatched roofs resemble the hands of Buddhist monks pressed together in prayer, and are designed to withstand the heavy snows which fall in the region.

Buses depart frequently from Takayama Bus Terminal (ticket to be paid on the spot – not covered by JR Pass)

Meals Included: Breakfast

Best Western Hotel Takayama

Property Location With a stay at Best Western Hotel Takayama, you'll be centrally located in Takayama, walking distance from Takayama Tourist Information Center and close to Miyagawa Morning Market. This hotel is within close proximity of Takayama Jinya and Kusakabe Mingei-kan.

This is a must-see destination in Japan. Kyoto is the nation’s former capital and was the residence of the emperor from 794 until 1868. It is Japan’s seventh largest metropolis with a population of around 1.4 million and a city of culture that offers a plethora of temples, shrines and other historically priceless structures that still survive today. With 2,000 religious buildings, including 1,600 Buddhist temples and 400 Shinto shrines, as well as palaces, gardens and associated architecture, it is one of the best-preserved cities in Japan and has 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites. Kyoto represents the “Japan of old” and beyond the high-rise skyscrapers built as a monument to progress, the real monument to Japan’s historical and cultural past can be found in the city’s narrow alleyways where tea houses abound and kimono-clad geisha hurry from elegant function to function. This is a place to go back in time to Japan’s mysterious past where echoes of the court nobility resonate at the Imperial Palace and the search for contemplation can be found in Ryoanji’s Zen rock gardens.

Optional station transfer is available should you prefer this at an additional supplement.

Travel by train to Kyoto (3hrs) using your JR Pass.

Japanese cuisine has such high reputation that it was declared UNESCO Intangible World Heritage. This afternoon you will try your hand at making some of the dishes that made this cuisine so popular in the world.

This class is a great way to immerse yourself in Japanese dining culture as well as learn authentic and popular Japanese foods that are eaten at home and in local restaurants. The course consists of two parts. First, you will cook 2~3 dishes and enjoy them. Then you will return to the kitchen and learn 2~3 more dishes before eating once more. Enjoy cooking and eating a variety of dishes in cozy atmosphere just like in Izakaya restaurants (Japanese style pubs)!

You will be making your own way to and from the cooking class.

Meals Included: Breakfast & dinner

Hotel Vista Premio Kyoto

This property is an excellent mid-range hotel located in the heart of Kyoto’s downtown shopping district. Still new enough to be crisp and clean, the hotel is one of the few hotels that have managed to squeeze themselves into the busy downtown shopping district of Kyoto. 

 Today you explore the former imperial capital with a knowledgeable local guide, utilizing Kyoto’s comprehensive bus system to visit some of Kyoto’s World Heritage Sites. You will start your day with a visit to Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavilion), which was originally built as a retirement villa for the Shogun. After his death, it became a Buddhist Temple at his request, and is now one of Kyoto’s most famous temples. Nijo Castle is an ornamental castle built by the founder of the Edo Shogunate as his Kyoto residence and is surrounded by stunning surrounding gardens. The main building was completed in 1603, and is famous for its architecture, decorated sliding doors and ‘chirping’ nightingale floors.

Take a walk down Nishiki Market, a narrow, five block long shopping street lined by more than one hundred shops and restaurants. Known as “Kyoto’s Kitchen”, this lively retail market specializes in all things food related, like fresh seafood, produce, knives and cookware, and is a great place to find seasonal foods and Kyoto specialties, such as Japanese sweets, pickles, dried seafood and sushi.

To end the day, you can decide what to visit. You may want to go to Kiyomizu (Pure Water) Temple. From the 13m high veranda jutting out from the Main Hall you can enjoy amazing views of the whole of Kyoto, whilst pondering the fact that both the Main Hall and Veranda were built without the use of nails or any kind of joiners; however, it is a steep walk uphill, and the temple is now under repair work, although it is still enjoyable and a Kyoto landmark.

You may decide, instead, to visit Sanjusangendo, a temple which is Japan’s longest wooden structure (120m). It is famous for its 1001 statues of Kannon, the goddess of mercy. In the center of the main hall sits a large, wooden statue of a 1000-armed Kannon that is flanked on each side by 500 statues of human sized 1000-armed Kannon standing in ten rows. Together they make for an awesome sight.

You may also wish to upgrade your tour by private car at an additional supplement.

Meals Included: Breakfast

Hotel Vista Premio Kyoto

This property is an excellent mid-range hotel located in the heart of Kyoto’s downtown shopping district. Still new enough to be crisp and clean, the hotel is one of the few hotels that have managed to squeeze themselves into the busy downtown shopping district of Kyoto. 

Hakone is a natural nature wonderland and is famous for its hot springs, outdoor pursuits and the view of the nearby Mount Fuji. It is part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park and is less than 100-km from Tokyo, thereby providing a popular weekend destination for city residents keen to escape the frenzy of the capital. Beautiful Hakone has about everything a vacationer could wish for. Besides the towering mountains, lakes and views of Mount Fuji, it is also blessed with interesting historical sites. You can tour Hakone as a day trip if you leave early enough in the morning and limit your sightseeing to a few key attractions, but adding an overnight stay, including a soak in a hot-spring tub, is definitely recommended.

Take Japan’s world-famous Shinkansen bullet train to Hakone (2hr) using your JR Pass.

Armed with your Hakone Free Pass, take advantage of the extensive local transport network to explore this stunning region. From switchback trains to cable cars, ropeways to buses and even a pirate ship that will sweep you across the volcanic Lake Ashi with views of Mt Fuji.
Tonight, you will stay in a Japanese traditional ryokan, sleeping on futons laid out on tatami mats with delicious included meals and piping hot onsen (hot spring) baths.

Meals Included: Breakfast & dinner

Tonosawa Ichinoyu Honkan

'Ichinoyu' was founded in 1630 as a pioneer of the hot spring hotel industry in the Hakone area and even painted by the famous UKIYOE painter - Utagawa Hiroshige.

Take the aptly named Romance Car train back to Tokyo (1.5hrs). You will then enjoy free time at leisure.

(Optional tour: 1 drink and 1 snack)

Meals Included: Breakfast

Shiba Park Hotel

A stay at Shiba Park Hotel places you in the heart of Tokyo, minutes from Zojoji Temple and close to Tokyo Tower. This hotel is close to Tokyo Imperial Palace and Tokyo Stock Exchange.

Your day is free until your scheduled shared transfer to Narita Airport in time for your return flight.

Meals Included: Breakfast

Please note:
- Accommodation is subject to availability at time of booking
- Black-out dates: 01JAN-03JAN20, 20APR-06MAY20, 23JUL-10AUG20, 29DEC-31DEC20
- 23JUL-10AUG20: Due to the Olympics and tight availability around games time, any trips with dates crossing into this period will have a black-out applied

Tour price includes:
- All prevailing government taxes
- All service charges
- Accommodation as per above itinerary in twin share rooms with daily breakfast included
- Tours and transfers as specified including entry fees
- 7-day Japan Rail Pass, ordinary class
- Service of English-speaking guides as specified
- Meals as specified in the itinerary (drinks are not included)

Tour price excludes:
- International and domestic airfares
- Meals other than specified as included
- Travel insurance or expenses of a personal nature (minibar, phone call, laundry, etc.)
- Luggage handling
- Assistance with any travel documentaries (eg. visas)
- Train station to hotel transfers (and vice versa)
- Drinks or personal expenses or entrance fees for any extra sightseeing or optional activities
- Any guiding, transfer or service not expressly mentioned in the text are not included in the tour

Optional extras:
- Mobile Internet SIM card (Stay connected while in Japan with a SIM card to us on your unlocked smartphone of tablet. The SIM will allow you to connect your device to mobile internet with up to 2GB data traffic. To add this to your package at an additional charge, just let us know your device brand and model at time of booking
- Optional tour upgrades by private car at an additional cost
- Optional station transfers at an additional supplement