(Tokyo, Hakone, Kyoto)
As two mighty giants of sumo come together in a room-shaking thud before your eyes, you and your family will be hit with a wave of instant new respect for this ancient Japanese art.
You’ll get a rare insight into this largely misunderstood sport as you and your kids attend a real training session at a traditional heya where brave young apprentices show no fear as they step up to challenge seasoned veterans of sumo. But this is just one of the many fun-filled experiences this family-friendly tour will deliver as you dive head first into all the color and eccentricity of modern-day Japan. You’ll visit one of Japan’s most famous animation studios; browse the weird and wonderful anime costume shops of Akihabara; ride the world’s second longest cable car over the steaming volcanic rivers of Mt Owakudani; try to catch a glimpse of the notoriously elusive Mt. Fuji; sail a replica pirate ship across Lake Ashinoko; cycle through the geisha districts of Kyoto; and ride the zig-zag train through the mountains of Hakone.
A team of experienced English-speaking guides will be at your side to help unravel the mysteries of this culturally complex country and to answer the many questions that will no doubt arise in curious young minds. There’s also an educational element to match the fun with a range of calligraphy, origami, flower arrangement and cooking lessons on offer for plenty of parent-child bonding opportunities. And your family-friendly accommodation offers a mixture of contemporary apartment living, cozy family-style inns and elegant modern hotels.
Enjoy a personalized vacation that best suits your needs, developed by one of our experienced destination experts. Relax during your trip with our 24/7 support and expert local guidance.
An English speaking assistant will meet and assist you on arrival at the airport and take you to meet your driver and waiting car.
Meet your driver for an airport transfer with a private vehicle.
The Ghibli Museum is the animation and art museum of Miyazaki Hayao's Studio Ghibli, one of Japan's most famous animation studios. They have produced many feature films with worldwide distribution such as My Neighbour Totoro, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, and Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea. Located in Mitaka, just outside of central Tokyo, the museum is a must-see for fans of the films. The first floor of the museum exhibits the history and techniques of animation and has as a small theater which shows short movies by Studio Ghibli that are exclusive to the museum and are rotated monthly. The second floor houses special temporary exhibitions. In the afternoon visit nearby Kichijoji. Constantly ranking at the top of areas where Tokyoites would like to live, Kichijoji once enjoyed a reputation as an artists' colony, and today it is filled with little boutiques, covered shopping arcades selling anything, vintage shops, and cafés. Kichijoji seems to attract everyone, from upscale shoppers, hip-hop dancers practicing in the train station to musicians playing live in Inokashira Park. After a stroll in the park and in the small alleys of this well-loved area, sit down at a café for a cup of tea or coffee and a slice of cake. Please note that with this tour you will have a private guide, but rather than travelling by private vehicle, you will make use of Kyoto’s efficient local transit system.
Your guide for the morning will meet you at your hotel and take you to the Ryogoku, the centre of Japan’s sumo world. As well as the Kokugikan Sumo Stadium, Ryogoku is home to most of Tokyo’s sumo heyas. All rikishi (wrestlers) belong to heyas, or sumo stables, where they live, train, and eat. You will be able to visit one of these heya to get up close and personal with these giant men and watch their asa geiko (morning training). The day begins in the early morning, when the lowest ranked men wake up and put in some practice before going about their assigned duties, which include cleaning the building and preparing the food for the main meal of the day. Higher ranked sekitori appear at a more reasonable hour, and they begin a practice session that runs from about 7am until about 10am. After several hours of warm up and technique practice, the wrestlers play an exciting "King of the Castle" game where one wrestler stays in the ring fighting bouts without any rest until he is defeated. After training, it is time to eat like sumo at a local restaurant specializing in chanko nabe. Chanko nabe is a Japanese stew with chicken, fish, tofu, and vegetables. While a very healthy dish, when eaten in sumo sized amounts it helps the wrestlers to gain weight. Many of the restaurants in the area that serve chanko nabe are run by ex-sumos. The tour will finish in the Ryogoku area. Please note that with this tour you will have a private guide, but rather than travelling by private vehicle, you will make use of Tokyo’s efficient local transit system.
Take a half day tour of this fascinating city with a local guide, making use of Tokyo’s comprehensive and user friendly public transport system. The day begins with a visit to the Imperial Palace, home of Japan’s Imperial Family. Next 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. Take the subway across town to Meiji Shrine, a shrine dedicated to the deified spirit of Emperor Meiji and a popular place for traditional Japanese weddings. If time permits, you can take a walk down Omotesando shopping street, a broad tree lined avenue home to the flagship stores of the world’s top fashion brands. Please note that with this tour you will have a private guide, but rather than travelling by private vehicle, you will make use of Tokyo’s efficient local transit system.
Explore the Fuji/Hakone National Park, located only 90 minutes from Tokyo, by private car with guide. Ride the world’s second longest cable car up Mt Owakudani, passing over sulfurous fumes, hot springs and hot rivers in this volcanic area, where you can eat an egg hard boiled in the sulfuric hot springs which make Hakone famous. A majestic replica pirate ship will sweep you across the Lake Ashinoko, a lake formed by a volcanic eruption 3000 years ago, and the Hakone Tozan ‘switchback train’ zig zags though the mountains, giving amazing views of the surrounding valleys. Hakone used to be an important checkpoint to control traffic along the Tokaido highway which linked Tokyo with Kyoto during the feudal Edo Period. You can visit the Hakone Checkpoint to see the gates, fence, housing for officers and foot soldiers, a prison chamber and a lookout tower. Last stop of the day is the Hakone Open Air Museum, which successfully attempts to create a harmonic balance of nature and art by exhibiting various sculptures on its spacious grounds in combination with beautiful views of the surrounding valley and mountains. Throughout the day you will have the chance to get a glimpse of Mt Fuji.
Meet your driver for a train station transfer with a private vehicle.
Transfer by train from Odawara to Kyoto. The train ride is approximately 2 hours.
The Granvia Kyoto is located directly above the Japan Rail train station. After exiting your train, please follow the below instructions to reach your hotel. This is a very short walk, and done easily on your own, so no guide service has been included.
When using the Shinkansen bullet train: Exit via the Shinkansen Main Exit, turn right and walk straight through Nanboku-Jiyu-Tsuro (North-to-South main corridor) until you reach the escalator to the hotel entrance on your right.
When using the Haruka Express from Kansai International Airport: Exit via the JR Chuo Main Exit and take the escalator on your right to the Lobby on the 2nd floor of the hotel.
This afternoon you will have the opportunity to visit the home of an instructor of one of Japan’s Traditional Arts: Tea Ceremony. An assistant will meet at your hotel and escort you to the instructor’s house. You will learn all about the various types of tea and the instruments used to prepare it with the support/advice from the professional instructor and interpretation from your assistant. You will see how every movement has a meaning and what serving tea to guest’s means in Japan. Enhance the above experience by getting dressed in a Japanese festive kimono (not included). You will learn about the different kinds of kimono, and which kimono should be worn on each different occasion. Please tell your Sales Advisor your height and size at the time of booking so the instructor can prepare the right kimono for you.
Visit a local Kyoto house to learn how to make some of Japan’s most well-known dishes. Your instructor will give you an overview of Japanese food, its history, and the different regional cuisines found throughout Japan. Today you can choose either tempura or sushi for your main dish, which you will prepare along with guidance from your instructor, as well as with side dishes including miso soup. You will then get to enjoy conversation with your instructor over lunch, and will get a special gift and recipe before you leave. The tour ends at the instructors house.
With your local guide, cycle through the Miyagawacho and Gion geisha districts, hoping to see a geisha or maiko (apprentice geisha) as they dash between appointments. Continue along the Shirakawa canal lined with weeping willow trees, past traditional Kyoto style tea houses. Next, will be the Imperial Palace Park with its beautiful gardens. Cycle back to Kyoto station along the Kamogawa River, whose riverbanks are popular with the locals. Cherry blossoms bloom along the banks of the river in spring, and in summer the restaurants open their balconies looking out to the river. End the tour near Kyoto Station. If you wish to continue sightseeing in Kyoto on your bike after the tour has finished, it can be arranged for you to keep the bike until 19:00 at no charge.
Park Hotel Tokyo is ideally situated in Shiodome, a flourishing new center of business and culture. The hotel offers an extraordinary level of service and coordinated interior designs. The Park Hotel Tokyo also shows respect for local traditions of nature, translated in the hotel's glass-roofed atrium. A soothing haven of trees and greenery, it stretches between the building's 25th and 34th floors, creating a well of warming sunlight that augments the sensation of balance and vitality fostered by the architecture.
Gora Hanaougi is located at the most popular area in Hakone and surrounded by beautiful natural landscape. Guests can relax in comfort at open-air hot spring bath in their room looking at the magnificent mountains and beautiful sky. Easily accessible, 1-2 hours in distance from Tokyo, guests can experience traditional Japanese beauty and hospitality that will make your stay truly unforgettable. All rooms decorated in modern Japanese style are equipped with private open-air hot spring bath featuring a great view.
Hotel Granvia Kyoto is an integral part of the JR Kyoto Station Building, the visually striking architectural masterpiece which also includes a department store, museum, musical theater, and a vast underground shopping mall. From this convenient location, hotel guests have direct and easy access to and from Kansai International Airport and major metropolitan destinations across Japan. With its elegant accommodations, including 535 beautifully appointed guestrooms, there is simply no better place to stay in Kyoto. The inclusion of 12 restaurants and bars and fitness facilities makes Hotel Granvia Kyoto the premier destination for international travelers.
Olive Ramchand ,
June 03, 2014
"I have to admit, this was the BEST vacation I ever had. The tour was nothing less than Fantastic! The hotels were great, the guides were great, the transportation was great, the places were great, the people were great, the food was great and last but not least China, itself was out of this world. I'm so glad I booked this tour and would recommend this to anyone. Thanks so much for all your help, your interest and your recommendations. Steve in China was so attentive, he called constantly to make sure everything was fine. We really had a fabulous time and even my jaded husband who normally only seems to care about where the nearest golf course is, was impressed and had a wonderful time.
Thanks again, and unto the next vacation (although I don't know how we would top this one!!)
Jeanne Tarvin ,
April 21, 2014
"The tour was absolutely fabulous. It all started with the planning. Kathryn graciously accommodated our tight schedule and multiple needs, including a mid-trip change in plans. The tour guides and drivers were all great and extremely knowledgeable. The accommodations and meals were fantastic. I was apprehensive about going to China not knowing the language but it worked out great!"
January 15, 2014
"We just returned on Monday from our wonderful trip to South Korea, Bangkok and Phuket. I wanted to thank you for all of your hard work in planning our tours and adventures. Everything was spot on, from our arrivals at the airports, to the guides and the tours. I would not hesitate to recommend you and your company. It was truly a wonderful vacation. Thank you again.
Bob Feldman ,
November 19, 2013
"I wanted to let you know that our trip to China was great! Everybody enjoyed themselves. When planning a trip I am always concerned about the itinerary, the vehicles and the guides. All 3 of these were great. The guides were particularly good and in this case really made the trip a pleasure. Overall a great trip. Thanks for all you did."
Gloria DeWeese ,
October 10, 2013
"A wonderful trip and everything went like clockwork. Thank you so very much for all your assistance. I hope I will have a chance to work with you again."
Wayne Gavioli ,
September 04, 2013
"We just returned from our thailand/cambodia trip. It was fantastic. You did a great job. The guides were excellent as was the drivers. We loved the Victoria Hotel you selected in Siem. Wish we had more time. Thailand met our expectations but our expectations for Cambodia were low and they exceeded them. Loved the places selected for the included lunches. Certainly would use Kensington again"
Santo Filice ,
August 30, 2013
"Thank you for arranging our guided trip to Thailand - Vietnam. It was a memorable, and pleasant trip - a 1st for us with Kensington tours and a most enjoyable one. We found that we were able to maximize our visit of the the area without the concern of booking hotels, airline, finding parking and understanding the local language. "
Tim Mesarch ,
August 02, 2013
"Alexis helped us fit in all of the sites we wanted to see on our trip to Thailand and Cambodia, and suggested some more. It was valuable talking with someone who had been there and done that. The planning went pretty smoothly, and so did the trip. The local guides were all top-notch! "
July 25, 2013
"I highly recommend Kesington Tours. The planning of our trip to Cambodia was outstanding. Our advisor Alexis Mayer was unbelievably patient, knowledgeable and responsive. We planned the trip in every possible detail and Alexis was extraordinary during the whole process. Once we were in Cambodia, we had a tiny issue with the car. I was able to get in contact with Alexis right away and the problem was instantly solved. The trip itself was fantastic. Everything was very well planned and perfectly organized. The local guides and drivers were great. The hotels were very well chosen.
Great trip. I would definitely travel again with Kensington Tours."
Pennie Quintana ,
August 07, 2013
"Thank you so much for the amazing trip we enjoyed!! All our guides were fantasy. Joseph in Jakarta, July in Jojakarta and Deon in Borneo!! Wow!! Bless you for all your attention to detail and the outstanding communication to all my questions. You made me feel so taken care of and tended too!! "
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