Essence of Japan
Day 1 UK - In flight
Titan’s VIP door-to-door travel service collects you from home for your overnight flight to Tokyo.
Day 2 Tokyo
We stay in Shinjuku, the futuristic, neon-lit neighbourhood in the heart of Tokyo. On arrival the rest of the day is free.
Day 3 Tokyo
A tour guide helps us to embrace this dazzling city. As we walk out amidst skyscrapers and the world’s tallest self-supporting tower (the Tokyo Skytree), we find Tokyo’s traditional side. Learn the stories behind legendary landmarks like the moated Imperial Palace, Tokyo’s oldest temple - Sensō-ji, and Meiji Shrine, a serene Shinto shrine set on a tree-lined avenue.
Day 4 Mount Fuji - Matsumoto
Standing out from its surroundings at 3,776m high, Japan’s tallest mountain has inspired countless artists and photographers. Clouds often linger around this active volcano, but we’ll keep our fingers crossed for you to catch a sight of the iconic snow-capped peak as you travel from Tokyo to Matsumoto. If the weather is clear, you’ll see the volcano’s image reflected on the placid waters of Lake Jawaguchi.
Day 5 Matsumoto - Takayama
Known as one of the most beautiful castles in Japan, Matsumoto is a striking timber and stone structure with a unique moon-viewing turret. In the spring, take your time to stroll among the cherry blossoms in the spacious castle gardens. Stop to sample sake (Japanese rice wine) in a traditional brewery, before we take the breathtaking journey through thick pine forests and snow-tipped peaks of the Japanese Alps to the hill town of Takayama. We’ll call in at the Hida Folk Village, an open-air museum with a collection of antique houses from the region and displays highlighting crafts and ancient traditions.
Day 6 Takayama
Meiji-era inns, hillside shrines and a pretty riverside setting - the hamlet of Takayama is traditional Japan at its finest. Soak in the local character on our walking tour, when we’ll see highlights such as the open-air flower and fruit market and government house.
Day 7 Kanazawa
We transfer by coach to Kanazawa, visiting the World Heritage Shirakawago Village en route. Kanazawa is a historic castle town, boasting beautifully preserved samurai and geisha districts. Our sightseeing tour includes Omicho market and Higashi Chayagai (the ‘teahouse district’).
Day 8 Kanazawa - Hiroshima
We pack overnight bags whilst our main luggage is transferred to Kyoto for our arrival on day 10. We’ll have another sweep of the city before we leave this morning, stopping at the gorgeous Kenroku-en Garden and BukeYashiki (Samurai’s house). Located outside the gates of Kanazawa Castle and covering an area of 11.4 hectares, the Kenroku-en Garden was created by the Maeda family in the 1620s and opened to the public in 1874. The name is derived from a book by a Chinese poet and symbolises spaciousness, seclusion, artifice, antiquity, waterways and panoramas. It’s the epitome of a traditional Japanese garden with plum and cherry blossoms, artificial ponds, hills and buildings. Other plants include azaleas, traditional Japanese trees and irises - making it a garden not to be missed. From the quaint, quiet streets of Kanazawa, we’ll go full throttle (quite literally) into one of Japan’s other passions. The Shinkansen (bullet train) will hurtle us from Kanazawa to Hiroshima in perfect comfort - you’ll hardly notice you’re travelling at 198mph.
Day 9 Hiroshima
Leafy Hiroshima, with its wide boulevards and friendly locals, might not be what you expected. It’s a vibrant and cosmopolitan city of peace with a devastating history. Today we’ll catch a ferry over to Miyajima Island to admire the ancient Itsukushima Shrine, rising out of the sea (may be under restoration), and spend some time strolling through the park. In autumn, the maples here are ablaze with rich reds and oranges. Back in Hiroshima, we’ll take a walking tour around the Peace Memorial Park and take some time for reflection at the Atomic Bomb Museum.
Day 10 Nara - Kyoto
Another bullet train takes us to Osaka, where we’ll board our coach for the onward journey to Nara, a former capital of Japan. The 8th-century Todaiji temple - supposedly the oldest wooden structure in the world - is wondrous, but the real highlight here are the adorable deer roaming through Nara Park. You can buy a packet of crackers to feed them - they’ll even bow to you before you feed them. We arrive in Kyoto this afternoon, with its wealth of shrines and temples, colourful gardens and variety of arts and crafts shops. We’ll uncover geisha culture with some time in the Gion area - Japan’s most famous geisha district.
Day 11 Kyoto
Highlights of this morning’s tour include the wonderful Ryoanji Temple (a Zen temple with a famous rock garden), and the beautiful Kinkakuji Temple, or ‘Golden Pavilion’, whose top two floors are completely bedecked in gold leaf. We also visit Nijo, a fortified castle with unique ‘nightingale’ floors designed to replicate the sound of the nightingale song when stepped on.
Day 12 Kyoto - Hakone
We’ll sit down for a cuppa before leaving Kyoto this morning - it is the birthplace of the traditional tea ceremony, after all. Learn the intricacies of this graceful discipline, considering simple details like holding the bowl so your friends can enjoy the beauty of its decoration.You’ll never drink tea at home the same again! Our third and final bullet train whisks us from Kyoto to Mishima, from where we’ll continue to Hakone.
Day 13 Hakone - Tokyo
This morning we head out on a cruise on Lake Ashi for stunning views of the snow-capped mountains. We’ll jump in a cable car all the way up to the Owakudani Valley and Hot Springs, in the crater of Mount Hakone. Arriving in Tokyo this afternoon, we’ll take in the views over Tokyo Bay.
Day 14 Tokyo - UK
Transfer to the airport for your return flight to the UK. Upon arrival your Titan vehicle will be waiting for the journey home.