Japan Signature: Mountain Temples & Snow Monkeys

9 days from $4,185 per person*
  • Visit snow monkeys in the baths of Jigokudani Yaen Koen.
  • Zigzag through Hakone’s rolling mountains on a switchback train.
  • Explore ancient temples led by private guide and at your own pace.
  • Private transfers throughout.
  • Featuring expertly selected hotels.
Request a Quote

As thick steam rises from boiling hot springs in the frozen earth and wild snow monkeys congregate in the natural ponds, you’d be forgiven for thinking that you’ve somehow stumbled into a prehistoric scene.

But this is exactly what you’ll encounter at Jigokudani Yaen Koen near Nagano. Known as ‘Hell’s Valley’ for its mysterious bubbling natural baths and alien landscape, it’s also home to a plentiful population of wild snow monkeys who playfully interact in the hot springs in full view of enthusiastic sightseers. Elsewhere, you’ll experience the contrasts of Tokyo as you explore ancient temples and Edo period gardens in the shadows of the futuristic skyscrapers, high-fashion boutiques and vibrant nightlife of the Shiodome district.

This extensive tour reveals the many contrasts of today’s Japan. From the science-fiction skylines of Tokyo and riding the 300km/h Shinkansen bullet train, to the prehistoric hot springs of Hell’s Valley and the 15th-century mountain temples of Kyoto, your team of private tour guides will take you deeper into the mysterious culture of past and present Japan. And you’ll experience all this while enjoying a collection of luxury accommodation that include a serene oasis in bustling Tokyo, a warm and elegant hotel in frozen Nagano, and a modern masterpiece in Kyoto. ... Show More »

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. « Show Less

Day
Activities Hotel & Meals
Hotel & Meals
  • Day 1 Tokyo
    Tokyo
    • Japan - Welcome
    • Airport Meet & Assist - Meet & Greet-Narita 7AM-7.59PM(12)
    • Transfer - Private - Airport - Vehicle/Driver/Narita Airport(2)
  • Day 2 Tokyo
    Tokyo
    • Private - 1/2 Day City Highlights (4hrs) - Guide/Public Transport
  • Day 3 Tokyo
    Tokyo
    • Private - Hakone Mt. Fuji National Park Tour (9hrs) - Guide/Public Tranport
  • Day 4 Tokyo to Nagano to Yudanaka
    Tokyo to Nagano to Yudanaka
    • Train - Tokyo Station - Nagano
    • Self-Guided - Historic Temple of Zenkoji Tour
    • Train - Nagano - Yudanaka
    • Kaiseki Dinner
  • Day 5 Yudanaka
    Yudanaka
    • Self-Guided - Jigokudani Yaen Koen
    • Self-Guided - Obuse Hokusai Museum & Sake Brewery
  • Day 6 Yudanaka to Nagano to Kyoto
    Yudanaka to Nagano to Kyoto
    • Train - Yudanaka Depart
    • Nagano - Kyoto [Bullet Train, via Tokyo (3hrs)] - First Class
    • Self-Guided - Granvia Arrival from Train Station - Short Walk
  • Day 7 Kyoto
    Kyoto
    • Private - 1/2 Day Kyoto Highlights (4hrs) - Guide/Public Transport
  • Day 8 Kyoto
    Kyoto
    • Private - 1/2 Day Nara Tour (5hrs) - Guide/Public Transport
  • Day 9 Kyoto
    Kyoto
    • Self-Guided - Granvia Departure from Train Station - Short Walk
    • Kyoto - Osaka [Kansai Airport] - Vehicle/Driver(2)
We can customize this private tour just for you. Any element can be tailored – activities, length, hotels and destinations.
Call us at 1 888 903-2001 or request a quote.
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Day 1: Tokyo

Welcome to Japan!

An English speaking assistant will meet and assist you upon arrival at the airport and take you to meet your driver.

Meet your driver for an airport transfer with a private vehicle.

Accommodation: Park Hotel Tokyo (4*)

Park Hotel Tokyo is ideally situated in Shiodome, a flourishing center of business and culture. This luxury business hotel in Tokyo provides a superior level of service to satisfy the needs of all international clientele. A member of the design hotels TM group, Park Hotel Tokyo offers an extraordinary level of service and coordinated interior designs. Each room at Park Hotel Tokyo is decorated with Monique Le Houelleur's natural artwork and features color coordinated curtains and bedcovers. With its Atrium, Restaurants and Travel concept, art, the hotel is also unique in not only offering traditional Japanese hospitality throughout the year, but also stimulating the aesthetic senses of its guests.

Tokyo
Tokyo
Park Hotel Tokyo
Park Hotel Tokyo

Day 2: Tokyo

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 outside 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 brandsThe tour will finish in Harajuku/Omotesando. 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.

Accommodation: Park Hotel Tokyo (4*)
Sensoji Temple
Sensoji Temple

Day 3: Tokyo

Today leave Tokyo behind as you make the 90 minute journey to Hakone, the gateway to Mt Fuji and surrounding national park. Your local guide for the day will accompany you on the “Romance Car” express train from Tokyo’s Shinjuku station.
To explore the National Park, you can take advantage of the numerous forms of transport on offer. 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. If you do, it will add seven years to your life! 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. Throughout the day you will have the chance to get a glimpse of Mt Fuji, however please keep in mind that she is a notoriously shy mountain and it needs to be a clear day. 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.

Accommodation: Park Hotel Tokyo (4*)
Mt. Fuji
Mt. Fuji

Day 4: Tokyo - Nagano - Yudanaka

Today you will depart on your self-guided adventure to Nagano. From your hotel make your way independently to Tokyo station board Japan’s world famous Shinkansen bullet train. Local taxis are affordable and plentiful. Train tickets will be included in your welcome package. With a top speed of 300km/h (186 mph), the Shinkansen takes 1 hour and 40 minutes to reach Nagano.

On arrival in the afternoon, you will have some free time to explore Nagano. Drop your bags in one of the stations lockers, and head out to sample some of the regions famous soba noodles. Kouzantei and Furusato restaurants are both close to the station, and are a few of our favorites.

It is worth your while to take a stroll downtown to visit Zenkoji temple. This is an easy walk from the rail station. One of the most visited temples in Japan, it was founded 1400 years ago and stores, what many believe to be the first Buddhist statue ever brought to Japan. A copy of the statue is shown to the public every six years for a few weeks, the next opportunity being in 2015. Most recently rebuilt in 1707, Zenkoji's main hall has a tunnel in its basement in which visitors are trying to find and touch the "key to paradise" in complete darkness. The key is attached to the wall and grants enlightenment to anybody who touches it.

Return to the station on foot to catch your onward train.

From Nagano, you will then take a local train to Yudanaka (45 minutes) – these tickets are also included in your package, and from there it is a short ride by hotel shuttle bus to the Kokuya.

Dinner tonight will be a Japanese traditional kaiseki meal, comprised of nine or more dishes. The meal is made up of seasonal dishes using only the freshest of local Nagano ingredients. The kaiseki is a unique cultural experience, and one not to be missed in Japan.

Accommodation: Kokuya Hotel

Kokuya is a traditional Japanese style hotel (ryokan) with a 400 year history; the present owner is the 16th generation owner. The ryokan has six different 100% natural hot springs rich in health-giving minerals, which benefit your muscles, joints, and skin. It is located on Shibu Onsen ‘spa street’, which has 9 public onsens you can try as well, and you will see local people in kimono strolling down the street in yukata (light robes) as they head for a soak.

Soba Noodles
Soba Noodles
Kokuya Hotel
Kokuya Hotel

Day 5: Yudanaka

This morning you can head to the Jigokudani Yaen Koen to see the famous Snow Monkeys. Jigokudani literally means ‘hell’s valley’ due to the steam and boiling water that bubbles out of small crevices in the frozen ground, and it is in the baths of this boiling water that the resident Japanese Macaques like to soak in on. The monkeys live in large social groups, and it can be quite entertaining to watch their interactions. Accustomed to humans, they can be observed from very close and almost completely ignore their human guests.

In the afternoon we recommend a visit to the nearby charming town of Obuse (you can reach it using your included train pass), with traditional houses, stores and streets. Obuse is known for its delicious chestnuts and as the home of Hokusai, the famous painter and printmaker from Japan’s Edo period, and a visit to his museum here is a must. Over 100 houses in the town participate in an ‘Open Garden’ scheme. If you see this sign in front of the house, it means you can enter the property and enjoy the gardens, giving you a unique insight into Japanese houses. No visit to Obuse is complete without stopping in at the Masuichi sake brewery for a taste of their delicious sake made from the high quality local rice.

Accommodation: Kokuya Hotel
Snow Monkeys
Snow Monkeys

Day 6: Yudanaka - Nagano - Kyoto

This morning you will return to the train station by shuttle, and board your onward Shinkansen bullet train to Tokyo.

Transfer from Nagano to Kyoto via Tokyo by high-speed Bullet Train. The train ride is approximately 3 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.

Accommodation: Hotel Granvia Kyoto (4.5*)

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 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.

Kyoto
Kyoto
Hotel Granvia Kyoto
Hotel Granvia Kyoto

Day 7: Kyoto

Visit 2 of Kyoto’s 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites on this half day tour. Start the 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. Next is Nijo Castle, 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. Finish the day with a visit to Nishiki Market. Known as Known as “Kyoto’s Kitchen”, Nishiki is a narrow shopping street lined more than 100 shops, selling fresh seafood and vegetables, pickles, Japanese sweets and sushi. End the tour at the Nishiki 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 Kyoto’s efficient local transit system.

Accommodation: Hotel Granvia Kyoto (4.5*)
Kinkakuji Temple
Kinkakuji Temple

Day 8: Kyoto

Transfer from your hotel to Nara by train (45 minutes) with a local guide. For 74 years during the 8th century Nara was Japan’s capital and many of the temples and shrines built at that time still remain. Visit Todaiji Temple, the world’s largest wooden building and home to Japan’s largest Buddha. Next stop is Nara’s most celebrated shrine, Kasuga Taisha, established in 768 AD and famous for its hundreds of bronze and stone lanterns which have been donated by worshipers. Take a wander through Nara Park, called Deer Park by locals due to the large population of more than 1,000 tame deer living there.

Accommodation: Hotel Granvia Kyoto (4.5*)
Nara Park
Nara Park

Day 9: Kyoto

The Granvia Kyoto is located directly above the Japan Rail train station, and so departing by train is easily done independently. Simply make your way by foot to the appropriate platform as listed on your train tickets. No assistance is required, or included.

Meet your driver for an airport transfer with a private vehicle.

Accommodation:
We can customize this private tour just for you. Any element can be tailored – activities, length, hotels and destinations.
Call us at 1 888 903-2001 or request a quote.

Trip Terms & Conditions

  • Your deposit is due immediately on booking (30% of program price, minimum $350). The balance is due 90 days prior to departure.
  • Cancellations of confirmed bookings 90 days or more prior to departure will receive full refund minus a $350 (per person) administrative fee and any non-refundable paid fees (e.g. non-refundable airfare, cruise or hotel deposits). 60-89 days will be subject to loss of 30% of program price. 30-59 days will be subject to loss of 50% of program price. 29 days or less will be subject to loss of 100% of program price.
  • Tour quotes do not include airfare to/from the trip start point unless noted on the itinerary
  • Cost increases in currency exchange, government fees, taxes, surcharges or hotel/lodge tariff increases between quote date and start date are payable by the client.
  • Availability cannot be guaranteed until booked. We will exercise best efforts to book hotels per the itinerary, however, in busy seasons and with client bookings made within 90 days of tour date we may be forced to offer substitutes.
  • Payment of the program price constitutes your acceptance of the terms and conditions set out at www.kensingtontours.com/terms-and-conditions
  • Living Standards and practices at destination may differ from those in North America with respect to provisions of utilities, services and accommodation.

Park Hotel Tokyo (4*): Tokyo

Park Hotel Tokyo is ideally situated in Shiodome, a flourishing center of business and culture. This luxury business hotel in Tokyo provides a superior level of service to satisfy the needs of all international clientele. A member of the design hotels TM group, Park Hotel Tokyo offers an extraordinary level of service and coordinated interior designs. Each room at Park Hotel Tokyo is decorated with Monique Le Houelleur's natural artwork and features color coordinated curtains and bedcovers. With its Atrium, Restaurants and Travel concept, art, the hotel is also unique in not only offering traditional Japanese hospitality throughout the year, but also stimulating the aesthetic senses of its guests.

Park Hotel Tokyo
Park Hotel Tokyo

Kokuya Hotel: Yudanaka

Kokuya is a traditional Japanese style hotel (ryokan) with a 400 year history; the present owner is the 16th generation owner. The ryokan has six different 100% natural hot springs rich in health-giving minerals, which benefit your muscles, joints, and skin. It is located on Shibu Onsen ‘spa street’, which has 9 public onsens you can try as well, and you will see local people in kimono strolling down the street in yukata (light robes) as they head for a soak.

Kokuya Hotel
Kokuya Hotel

Hotel Granvia Kyoto (4.5*): Kyoto

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 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.

Hotel Granvia Kyoto
Hotel Granvia Kyoto
We can customize this private tour just for you. Any element can be tailored – activities, length, hotels and destinations.
Call us at 1 888 903-2001 or request a quote.
We can customize this private tour just for you. Any element can be tailored – activities, length, hotels and destinations.
Call us at 1 888 903-2001 or request a quote.
  • Elizabeth W — June 24, 2015 — Asia

    Excellent trip. All of the guides were professional and top quality. We were able to see many sights due to their knowledge of the train system and they also taught us how to get around on our own. The guides also recommended places to see on our own time and all worth while. In addition they taught us local customs and foods that we needed to try in that region. Very helpful. Special day was with our guide on the Fish Market and sushi making tour, made sushi personally with her. She made it a very special day. Great tour for those who want guides but also some free time on our own. The guides were always on time, the transportation on time and everyone was so nice and helpful. We also appreciated not having to be in a large group of strangers and the one on one quality of the tour. Was not sure what to expect but the trip met all expectations and then some. Will use Kensington again and will refer friends.

  • Lynn m — June 18, 2015 — Asia

    We booked all accommodation ourselves so not rated on survey. Kensington did a perfect job for us customizing all our transportation needs at the airport, ferry, hotel or boat transfer. There was always someone waiting with a sing on the correct day, time and place. As well the guides we used were friendly, knowledgeable, enthusiastic and spoke English well. Our travel consultant Marc Sison was excellent always prompt returning my call or email as well as making fabulous suggestions like going to Oslob to snorkel with the Whale Sharks, an absolute highlight of our trip. Our trip to the Philippines was primarily to snorkel and we were not disappointed, the water was warm and clear with lots of fish, coral, sea snakes, sting rays and even a couple of black tipped reef sharks. Of course there were turtles but we have seem many in our past snorkeling. This has created another way of traveling. Thanks! All the categories on the survey I rate as 10.

  • Maynard Fossum — December 12, 2014 — Asia

    My trip to China proved to be an outstanding experience. Each location provided excellent learning and entertainment opportunities. The country was very impressive both in its deep history and in the huge modernization that has taken place in recent decades. The tour guides at each location were well informed and able to answer questions while also offering detailed information at all sites. It was a pleasure to be so well taken care of. The guides and drivers were always helpful. The meals on the tour were delicious and varied. I was pleased with the choice of restaurants. The hotels were comfortable and well located. I will recommend Kensington Tours.

  • FayeLaing — December 12, 2014 — Asia

    I was a bit nervous about visiting Myanmar. Thanks to the outstanding help and planning via Kensington Tours, everything went off without a hitch!! It was a fantastic experience, that I would recommend to anyone with a spirit of adventure.

  • Craig Gelman — December 12, 2014 — Asia

    Fabulous trip. Every aspect from the planning to execution was excellent.

  • Ruth Reinhard — December 12, 2014 — Asia

    The trip was fantastic!!!Each guide and driver gave us so much information and were so helpful. They made sure that they took good care of our well being and requests. My husband, who we all call "the reluctant traveler" said, halfway through the trip, where are we going next? He said if he can go with Kensington then he will go anyplace. Thanks for making our trip to China a memorable experience.

  • SixtoCastenada Jr. — December 12, 2014 — Asia

    100% satisfied! We had a wonderful trip. Our travel adviser, Tony Newman put together a tour that included everywhere we wanted to visit and within our very limited time frame. Conrad, who booked our transportation was very professional. The tour guides, hotel accommodations and transportation arrangements were all excellent. We will be using Kensington Tours again!

  • TerryCreighton — December 12, 2014 — Asia

    We were so impressed with all aspects of the trip that Kensington arranged for us - even at short notice. The itinerary was perfectly planned, full of extra activities like riding an elephant and a water buffalo cart ride. The guides were wonderful in all the places we went and the travel was easy between locations. Vietnam is a wonderful destination and Angkor Wat is amazing too. We loved the overnight on the boat in Halong Bay and the train ride to Sapa. The day we spent trekking between indigenous villages in the mountains of Sapa was one of the most interesting days of my life! We have travelled a lot and this was one of the best trips we have ever taken.

  • Olive Ramchand — June 03, 2014 — Asia

    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 — Asia

    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!

We can customize this private tour just for you. Any element can be tailored – activities, length, hotels and destinations.
Call us at 1 888 903-2001 or request a quote.

* USD per person, double occupancy. Custom designed personal tour. Prices subject to change.

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