Route: Tokyo Kamakura Hakone Kyoto Arashiyama Kyoto Hiroshima Osaka
Group size: 4 – 18
Age range: 18 – 60
Transport: Public transport, including overnight trains
Dates: Range of departures throughout the year
Summary: Our 13-day group tour will give you an insight into the many faces of Japan. With an action-packed itinerary, you’ll see a different side to this fascinating country each day. The contrasts make travelling here completely unique, but our style of travel means you can still see all this on a budget. Explore some of Japan’s major regions, top destinations, epic sites and off the beat adventures.
Not only will you see the main sights in Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, but you’ll also be able to immerse yourself in Japanese culture. Try out a karate lesson, a calligraphy class, a visit to the sumo district, an anime masterclass, trips to local bathhouses and – of course – karaoke. The 13 days also give you the opportunity to escape the city, with opportunities to explore Japan’s shrines, temples and endless hiking trails.
You’ll travel around Japan using its excellent public transport system, with some local transfers thrown in too – giving you a real flavour of authentic Japanese life. Stay in the best backpacking hostels and travel with an awesome group of likeminded people – you’ll also be guided by local people who will help you make the most of your time in this incredible country.
Day 1 -4
Arrive in Tokyo and meet your Adventure Leader in the lobby of the hostel – then you can get to exploring! Start by taking in the views of the capital from the top of a skyscraper before exploring Shinjuku, Akihabara and Harajuku on the ground. You can time some time out in a traditional bathhouse, visit Tsukiji market, the Imperial Palace Gardens and even visit the ancient Sumo district and learn the art of the samurai.
After brunch in Tokyo, it’s time to say goodbye to the modern capital and hop on a train to Kamakura – Japan’s medieval capital and home to the first shoguns. Check out some of the town’s many ancient shrines, and then hike over to Kotoku-in temple to marvel at the Great Buddha statue, which stands at nearly 45ft tall and is made of solid bronze. The hostel is moments from the beach and you can relax on the sand or try your hand at surfing. There are lots of beachside bars where you can watch the sun go down.
Start your time off right in Hakone, by hopping aboard a pirate ship as you cross Lake Ashi -on a clear day, you can gaze at Mount Fuji in all its glory. There, you can also sample Fuji-style black eggs – a local delicacy coloured by the sulphuric water they’re boiled in!
Next stop is the station to board your first bullet train – to Kyoto. You’ll zoom across the country, covering around 440km in little more than two hours, leaving plenty of time to experience Kyoto later in the day and at night. In the afternoon, wander the hillside streets to the stunning Kiyomizu temple. The city is famous for its history, temples, shrines and – of course – stunning geishas. It also has a large student population and thriving music scene… Kawaramuchi is a good place to start. There are bars, jazz clubs and plenty of Izakaya pubs. Attend a live geisha performance, which also features a tea ceremony, puppet show, traditional music, flower arranging and more. You’ll also take a day trip to Arashiyama, where you’ll hike through the bamboo forest, visit a monkey park and take a trip to the delightful Nara.
At the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, you will find out how this city came to suffer the consequences of the world’s first atomic bomb, but you will also learn that Hiroshima is now the standard bearer for a peaceful and nuclear-free world. After a short ferry trip to Miyajima Island, you’ll reach the Itsukushima shrine. To avoid angering the gods on the island, the main temple buildings were built on stilts on the shores of the island. Pass through the corridors and look down at the ocean beneath your feet. Just offshore, you will see an enormous torii gate standing in the sea. At low tide, you can walk across the sand to take a closer look.
Get incredible views of the water and city in the background. It is also a lovely walk amidst the forested route atop this visually stunning island.
Day 12 – 13
Another bullet train will take you to Osaka, your final destination before heading back to Tokyo. You’ll arrive in time for lunch in the Nanba or Shinsaibashi area. This is the food capital of Japan, so make sure you fill your boots with of yakitori, ramen, sushi or whatever takes your fancy. The eating, drinking, gaming and clubbing options around Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi are endless – fill your boots! Why not kick-start your night with a beer at the city’s famous Kamikaze bar?
Delhi Varanasi Agra Jaipur Jaisalmer Jodhpur Mumbai