(Tokyo, Kanazawa, Hiroshima, Kyoto)
Japan is an enchanting destination, and this itinerary covers a diversity of sites, from volcanic lakes to mountain villages. Start in Tokyo, where period Japanese gardens are surrounded by futuristic skyscrapers. Throughout your city touring you will drink a cup of steaming macha in a tea house, visit Asakusa - Tokyo’s old town, and dig deeply into the cities incomparable food scene.
Leave Tokyo behind as you make the 90 minute journey to Hakone, the gateway to Mt Fuji and surrounding national park. While riding a cable car you will pass over sulfurous fumes, hot springs and hot rivers in this volcanic area. Take the Tozan ‘switchback train’ which zig zags though the mountains, giving amazing views of the surrounding valleys. Head inland to Takayama, home of many sake breweries, noodle houses, and famous morning markets. It’s old town has been beautifully preserved, with many buildings and whole streets of houses dating from the Edo Period (1600-1868).
En route to Kanazawa you will stop by Shirakawa-go, where farmhouses have traditional steep thatched roofs. Once in destination, you will see one of Japan’s top 3 ranked shrines, and spend time in the Nagamachi Samurai district.
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.
The Imperial Palace is located on the former site of Edo Castle, a large park area surrounded by moats and massive stone walls in the center of Tokyo, and the residence of Japan's Imperial Family. Although the Palace is not open to the public, from Kokyo Gaien, the large plaza in front of the Imperial Palace, you can view the Nijubashi, two bridges that form an entrance to the inner palace grounds. The stone bridge in front is called Meganebashi (Eyeglass Bridge) for its looks. Next, you will have the unforgettable opportunity to participate in an authentic tea ceremony. Sample freshly made green tea while listening to the trickle of a nearby fountain and gazing out upon a garden. The tea masters are always willing to instruct newcomers on the finer points of enjoying tea. Meiji Shrine is Tokyo’s most famous shrine, dedicated to the spirit of the late Emperor Meiji, and the park that surrounds the shrine is a forest of some 120,000 trees of 365 different species. The shrine is a popular site for Japanese Weddings: if you are lucky you may see a bride and groom dressed in traditional Shinto wedding attire. Take a walk through Omotesando, commonly referred to as Tokyo’s Champs-Elysees. This broad, tree lined avenue features a multitude of fashion flagship stores designed by internationally renowned architects within a short distance of each other. End the day at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in Shinjuku is one of Tokyo’s tallest and most distinctive skyscrapers. The 243 meter tall building has two towers, and each houses an observatory at a height of 202 meters, which provide good panoramic views of Tokyo and beyond. With favorable weather conditions, famous landmarks such as Mount Fuji, the Tokyo Sky Tree, Tokyo Tower, Meiji Shrine and the Tokyo Dome can be seen from here. 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. 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. 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. Besides the sculptures, the Hakone Open Air Museum features various indoor galleries, including a sizable Picasso Collection, consisting of paintings, prints, sculptures and ceramic creations. You can also relax your tired feet with soak in the hot spring foot bath! 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.
Enjoy time at leisure to explore at your own pace, or relax at your hotel.
Meet your driver for a train station transfer with a private vehicle and assistant.
Transfer by train from Tokyo to Kanazawa. Train ride is approximately 2.5 hours.
Meet your driver for a train station transfer with a private vehicle and English speaking guide.
Enjoy a full day to explore Kanazawa, by taxi with a local guide. During the Edo Period, Kanazawa served as the seat of the Maeda Clan, the second most powerful feudal clan after the Tokugawa in terms of rice production and fief size. Accordingly, Kanazawa grew to become a town of great cultural achievements, rivaling Kyoto and Edo (Tokyo). During World War Two, Kanazawa was Japan's second largest city (after Kyoto) to escape destruction by air raids. Parts of the old castle town, such as the Nagamachi samurai district and chaya entertainment districts, have survived. Today, the city boasts many historical attractions such as restored residences and districts, as well as modern museums. But Kanazawa's unchallenged main attraction is Kenrokuen, one of Japan's "three best landscape gardens" and by many considered the most beautiful of them all. The highlight of any visit to Kanazawa is Kenroku-en garden. Ranked one of the top three in Japan, its breathtaking beauty shines through in any season. You will also visiting imposing Kanazawa castle, located next to the garden. After lunch, head to visit the Nagamachi Samurai district, where you can enter the Nomura Samurai House, a traditional Japanese home with tea-ceremony room, an interior courtyard garden and artifacts from the Edo period. The Higashi Chaya District is the largest and by far the most interesting of Kanazawa’s Geisha Districts. Many of the buildings along the central street now house cafes and shops. One of the shops, Hakuza, sells gold leaf products, a specialty of Kanazawa, and displays a tea ceremony room which is completely covered in gold leaf; Kagayuzen Sangyo Kaikan Silk Center is also of interest, offering demonstrations of the centuries-old Yuzen silk painting technique. You will also have a chance to visit the Kaikaro Chaya, which is still an operating tea house, but opens its doors to the public. You can enjoy a cup of green tea here to finish the day.
Transfer by train from Kanazawa to Hiroshima via Kyoto. The train ride is approximately 4 hours.
Meet your driver for a train station transfer with a private vehicle.
Your guide will meet you at your hotel to take you on a tour of Hiroshima and Miyajima by street car, train and ferry. Start the day with a visit to the Peace Memorial Park. The area where the park now lies was ground zero for the Atomic Bomb on 6th August 1945. After the bombing the Memorial Park was created and dedicated to those who lost their lives in the attack. Stroll through the park and discover the many memorials, monuments and statues in the park before heading into the Museum itself. From Hiroshima, a short ferry ride will take you to Miyajima Island. A small sacred island located in the Inland Sea, it has been a holy place of Shintoism since the earliest times. Here you will find perhaps the most photographed site in Japan - The Floating Torii Gate. Designated as one of Japan's '3 Most Beautiful Views', the shrine it belongs to dates back to the 6th century with the present structure dating back to the 12th century. The harmoniously arranged buildings reveal great artistic and technical skill, and have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Mere 'commoners' were not allowed to set foot on this holy place, and even now it is forbidden to give birth or die on the island! You will have time to explore the island and its many shrines and temples, sample local goodies like maple leaf shaped cakes before heading back to your hotel.
Transfer by train from Hiroshima to Kyoto. The train ride is approximately 2 hours.
This afternoon you will visit the garden of Saiho-ji, acclaimed by many as Kyoto's most beautiful garden and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It's especially famous for its moss garden, for which reason it is also commonly known as Moss temple or Koke-dera. In 1339, the famous Zen monk Muso Soseki became the head priest of the temple and remodeled the garden. For him, creating gardens was part of his zen meditation routine. He founded a lot of temples and built or remodeled their gardens, but Saiho-ji is clearly his masterpiece. Today, there are roughly 120 types of moss in the garden. Please note that the garden is by application only, and entrance permission cannot be guaranteed. The entrance fee of 3,000 JPY per person is not included and has to be paid on the spot.
Visit some of Kyoto’s best gardens with a guide by private car. Ryōan-ji is maybe the most famous rock garden of Japan. Ryōan-ji was built on the grounds of a villa of the Fujiwara clan in the Heian period (794-1185). Kinkaku-ji (the more popular name for its actual name Rokuon-ji) is one of the most famous temples in Japan and a definite must-see on your Kyoto bucket list. The garden is an extraordinary example of a Japanese strolling garden of the Muromachi period. The Ninomaru gardens of the Nijō castle in Kyoto have been designed by garden master Kobori Enshu. There are numerous cherry and plum trees, which bloom between March and April. The garden has a large pond with three islands that symbolize Horai-San, and the crane and Turtle Mountains of the Taoist mythology. The style of the Imperial Palace gardens is loosely based on the Heian shinden-zukuri style, with large gravel courtyards and a small pond garden.
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. On the way back from Nara, visit Fushimi Inari Shrine, which was used in the movie “Memoirs of a Geisha”. It is home to over 10,000 red tori gates, which form a path up the mountain behind the temple. After visiting the shrine, quench your thirst at a sake brewery. During a tour of the brewery you will learn about the traditional brewing process, and then sample the different types of their sake.
Meet your guide at the train station platform for a transfer to your hotel by taxi.
Transfer by train from Kyoto to Tokyo's Narita Airport. A stopover is required in downtown 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.
The Hotel Nikko is luxurious hotel located conveniently near the JR Kanazawa Station, within walking distance of some of the most famous tourist spots in the city. At 130 meters, it is the tallest hotel in the Hokuriku area, yet its superb service allows it to maintain an intimate 'boutique' feeling.
Hotel Granvia Hiroshima is located in the center of the city with direct and easy access to and from JR Hiroshima station and Hiroshima airport, and to sightseeing spots such as Peace Memorial Park and Miyajima. Hotel Granvia has modern, fully-equipped guest rooms. There are comfortable beds in every room and 8 restaurant sand bars of all kind are available in the hotel and serve Japanese, Chinese, and European cuisine.
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.
Maynard Fossum ,
December 12, 2014
"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. "
December 12, 2014
"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
"Fabulous trip. Every aspect from the planning to execution was excellent. "
Ruth Reinhard ,
December 12, 2014
"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
"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!"
December 12, 2014
"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
"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."
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