Route: Tokyo Kamakura Hakone Kyoto Arashiyama Hiroshima Osaka
Duration: 13 nights
Transport: This route is a 14 day trip covering 7 of Japan’s most popular cities. You’ll spend 13 nights in your accommodation and travel by train during the day
Summary: 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 14 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.
Tokyo is not only the Japanese capital but is also the most populated city in the world. This is a city where traditions and modernity mix perfectly, so don’t be surprised to find small shrines surrounded by a jungle of skycrapers in the middle of a busy street. However, if you want to immerse yourself in traditional Japan, Asakusa is the place to visit with its narrow alleys, shops, street food stalls and, most importantly, its famous shrine and huge red tori gate marking the entrance of the site. It is a drastic change to the buzzing Shibuya or Akihabara districts, with their buildings covered in neon lights and billboards. Yoyogi Park is the perfect escape from the crowded Shibuya and Harajuku districts also known as the fashion districts. Tokyo is also a food hub, you’ll find any type of food you desire. Tsukuji fish market (now Toyosu Market) is the perfect spot to experience fresh out of the water sushi made by experienced sushi chefs. Tempura and soba are better eaten in small shops away from the main tourist roads but if you’re looking for a unique restaurant experience, Tokyo has a large range of themed restaurants such as vampire restaurant, ninja restaurant, robot restaurant and of course the famous maid cafe. One of best known landmarks is the Tokyo Sky Tree which offers a beautiful panoramic view of the city, best enjoyed at night. One thing for sure is that the Japanese know how to party and hence the nightlife in Tokyo is amazing. The best spot to go out would be Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ginza or Roppongi.
Tokyo Sky Tree
Tsukiji Fish Market
Train to Kamakura – 1 hour
Japan’s medieval capital and home to the first shoguns. Visit some of the town’s many ancient shrines such as Hachimangu, the most popular in the city. 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, or wander in the bamboo grove of Hokokuji Temple. Kamakura is also a coastal town and features a beach on which you can relax on the sand or try your hand at surfing. Why not take a day trip to Enoshima, a nearby island to relax? There are lots of beachside bars in Kamakura where you can watch the sun go down. If you want to enjoy a beautiful view of the city, go to Hasedera Temple, or marvel at the hydrangea Temple, beautiful in spring and summer. Don’t miss out on the food during your stay – from the vegetarian monk dish to rice crackers!
Train to Hakone – 2 hours
This mountain city less than 100km away from Tokyo is a true breath of fresh air. Hop onto Hakone Ropeway – an epic cable car journey that drops you at Oowakudani. You’ll find a crater with sulfurous vapors, hot spings and hot rivers from which the city’s famous black shell egg are cooked and available to sample. On a clear day, you can gaze at Mount Fuji in all its glory. Next up is beautiful Lake Ashi, where you’ll board a pirate ship to cross the lake’s clear-blue waters! Spend the evening soaking in the sulphuric water of a traditional Japanese outdoor bath, called an onsen. The open air museum is a perfect balance of nature and art for you to enjoy! If you visit in spring, visit Odawa castle, a famous cherry blossom spot. Another unique area to see here would be the pampa grass field, especially in autumn with its silvery gold colours. Hakone Shrine is hidden in a dense forest, on the shore of Ashinoko Lake, and features a big red tori gate in the Lake water. Don’t miss out on the many dishes cooked in the hot spring waters – those waters are what makes Hakone an onsen town as well.
Pampa Grass Field
Train to Kyoto – 3 hours
Kyoto is the former Japanese capital and is considered a historical treasure with numerous shrines, temples and monuments – including the famous 1000 torii gate temple in the mountain, Fushimi Inari Taisha. Take part in a traditional tea ceremony and wander around the old streets of Kyoto, imagining what the city used to look like. Be mesmerised by a temple covered in gold overlooking a large pond.Try some matcha dessert or drinks while strolling down the Philosopher’s Path, the perfect spot to see the cherry blossom. Visit some impressive shrines and temples such as Kiyomizu dera and its wooden stage built 13m above the hillside. Try to spot the Geisha going to work in the Gion district before heading to Nishiki market and filling your belly with delicious local food such as Takoyaki and Okonomiyaki. Anywhere in the city is good for a night out, especially along Kiyamachi road.
Fushimi Inari Taisha
Train to Osaka – 1 hour
As the second largest city after Tokyo, you’ll find plenty to explore in Osaka. Head to one of Japan’s largest aquariums before visiting the castle, another impressive monument in the city. If you’re a food lover, don’t miss out on the local cuisine! As the food capital of Japan, Osaka has some of the best in the country. You could try dishes such as Takoyaki, Okonomiyaki,Kitsune Udon and so on. Walk alongside the canal in Dotonbori street at night to be dazzled by the neon lights before beginning your night out in Namba or the Umeda district. From towering skyscrapers to ancient shrines, this city is more than impressive.
Train to Hiroshima – 2 hours
Hiroshima is a charming town worth visiting for its historic past and relaxed atmosphere. The Peace Memorial Park which features the WWII bombing museum and its peace park are enlightening and tranquil despite its tragic past.Take the time to visit the impressive Hiroshima Castle which will give you a panoramic view of the city, before trying some local delicacies such as an oyster hot por or even fried oysters and the famous maple leaf cake. There is a laid back feel here, wander around Hondori or Nagerakawa to try the restaurants and sample the nightlife. The perfect day trip from Hiroshima would be Miyajima Island; which offers a peaceful green forest and well preserved temples. It also features the famous big red tori gate in the water which is stunning at sunset.
Peace Memorial Park