Highlights of Japan - Self Guided

9 Days, from AU $1,667

Geisha in Kyoto

Bamboo Grove, Kyoto

Mount Fuji

Orii Gate in Hakone

Mount Fuji and Lake Ashi

Nikko Jizo Statues

Red Pagoda with Mt Fuji

To Ji Temple in Nara

Senso Ji Temple in Tokyo

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Explore the very best Japan has to offer from the majestic shrines and pioneering shopping malls of Tokyo to the stunning Mt Fuji and heritage rich Kyoto. Experience the quintessential hot onsen baths in Hakone, at the gateway to Mt Fuji. Stay in traditional Japanese-style ryokan accommodation complete with tatami mats and shoji rice paper sliding doors. Take a cooking class in Kyoto or even visit a sake brewery before watching a mesmerizing Geisha performance in this memorable tour of Japan.

Our Self-Guided itineraries are perfect for independent travellers who want to explore the destination by themselves but do not want to miss professional support. All itineraries include accommodations, transportation tickets and assistance on departure and arrivals as well as a detailed outlay of optional day activities. Discuss itinerary options and extensions with our Asia Travel Experts.

Suggested Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Tokyo

Upon your arrival at Tokyo Airport, one of our representatives will meet you and assist you with boarding the right train or shared shuttle bus to your hotel.

The rest of the day is at leisure.

Day 2: Tokyo

Today is a self-guided day.

Suggested Self-Guide Itinerary:

This morning, explore the city utilizing Tokyo’s efficient metro system.

We recommend starting the day with an early morning visit to Meiji Shrine to avoid the crowds. Tokyo’s most famous shrine is dedicated to the spirit of the late Emperor Meiji while the park that surrounds the shrine is a forest of some 120,000 trees of 365 different species, making you forget that you are in the world’s largest city.

Outside of Meiji Shrine you will find Harajuku, the shopping haven for all fashionistas and the popular meeting place for teenagers who are usually in eccentric clothing. The landmark of Harajuku is Takeshita Street, a 400-meter long alley filled with boutiques, shops, and cafes.

Neighbouring Harajuku is Omotesando, commonly referred to as Tokyo’s Champs-Elysee. This broad, tree-lined avenue features a number of fashion flagship stores designed by internationally renowned architects like TOD’s Omotesando, designed by Toyo Ito.

From Omotesando, you can take the metro to Ginza, one of Tokyo’s most famous upscale shopping, dining, and entertainment districts. It’s said that 1sqm of land in Ginza is worth over 10 million yen (€ 90,000)!

From Ginza, you can go to the Imperial Palace near Otemachi Station. Whilst the Palace itself is not open to the public, the Palace East Gardens are readily accessible to all visitors. Here you will find the ruins of the former Edo Castle and a lovely Japanese garden.

Your last stop can be in Asakusa, Tokyo’s oldest Geisha district and home to Senso-ji Temple, which is the city’s oldest Buddhist temple. The streets around Senso-ji feature many traditional shops that sell Japanese crafts and souvenirs and are a delight to wander through.

Day 3: Tokyo, Optional Day Trip to Kamakura or Nikko

Today is a self-guided day.

Suggested Self-Guide Itinerary:

You have the day to explore this amazing city. You can choose to make an early start to visit the world-famous Tsukji Fish Market, visit the electronics district of Akihabara or discover Tokyo’s world-class museums and art galleries.

Alternatively, you can make an excursion outside of Tokyo to one of the following places:

Kamakura:

One of Japan’s former capitals, Kamakura is a delightful seaside town home to many ancient shrines, temples, and other structures like the Daibutsu, a giant bronze Buddha that stands at 13-meter tall.

Distance and journey time:

JR Tokyo Station to JR Kamakura Station (61km): approx. 53mins

Nikko:

Located north of Tokyo, Nikko is a city that lies in the mountainous area of Tochigi Prefecture well-known for its national park. Some of the popular places in the park include the Toshogu Shrine complex and the Tamozawa Imperial Villa.

Distance and journey time:

JR Tokyo Station to JR Nikko Station (157km): approx. 2hrs

Note: Return train tickets to Kamakura or to Nikko need to be arranged in advance at an additional cost.

Day 4: Tokyo – Hakone

Today is a self-guided day.

Suggested Self-Guide Itinerary:

This morning you will take the train to go to Hakone, the gateway to Mt. Fuji and its surrounding national park. This small town is famous for its Onsen, or natural hot springs, and has natural beauty in abundance.

In Hakone you will stay in a Ryokan, a traditional Japanese-style accommodation complete with tatami mats, shoji rice paper sliding doors, and Onsen baths.

In the evening, you can relax in your yukata or lightweight kimono while having your dinner of kaiseki ryori, a Japanese multi-course meal. After your meal, you can dip in the Onsen before you bed down on your futon.

Overnight in Hakone.

Distance and journey time:

Shinjuku Station to Hakone-Yumoto Station (89km): approx. 83mins *via Limited Express train

Day 5: Hakone / Mt. Fuji

Today is a self-guided day.

Suggested Self-Guide Itinerary:

Spend the whole day exploring Hakone with your included transport pass, which serves as your ticket to the numerous forms of transportation in the area.

You can take the Hakone Tozan switchback train that zigzags through the mountains and offers views of the surrounding valleys. Afterwards, you can ride the Guinness World Record-holder ropeway all the way up to Mt. Owakudani, passing over sulphurous fumes, hot springs, and hot rivers.

While on Mt. Owakudani, you can sample one of Hakone’s specialties, the kuro-tamago, which is an egg hard boiled in the sulphuric hot springs. They say that if you do, it will add seven years to your life!

From the mountain you can take the ropeway bound for Togendai, where you can ride a replica of a pirate ship that cruises along Ashinoko, a body of water that was formed after a volcanic eruption that occurred more than 3,000 years ago.

Aside from the diverse transportation system and a number of natural tourist spots, Hakone is also home to many museums and parks. One of these is the Hakone Open Air Museum that features a harmonic balance between nature and art by exhibiting various sculptures on its spacious grounds in combination with beautiful views of the surrounding valleys and mountains. It also features various indoor galleries such as the sizable Picasso Collection that displays some of his paintings, prints, sculptures, and ceramic creations.

Throughout the day, you might have a chance to get a glimpse of Mt. Fuji. However, please keep in mind that it needs to be a clear day for you to see her splendour.

Day 6: Hakone – Kyoto

Today is a self-guided day.

Take one last soak in the onsen before traveling via the world-famous shinkansen (bullet train) to Japan’s cultural capital, Kyoto. Kyoto is home to around 2,000 shrines and temples, including 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The rest of the day is at leisure.

Suggested Self-Guide Itinerary:

You can start exploring this magnificent city by yourself or take part in one of the many cultural experiences we offer in Kyoto such as cooking classes, tea ceremonies, and even visits to a sake brewery.

To finish the night in style, we can also arrange a performance by a Maiko or a Geiko in a traditional theatre. Here you can witness the arts and music that the Geisha have been passing on through generations.

Note: The cultural experiences and the Maiko performance need to be arranged in advance at an additional cost.

Overnight in Kyoto.

Distance and journey time:

Hakone-Yumoto Station to JR Kyoto Station (436km): approx. 2hrs 30mins

Day 7: Kyoto

Today is a self-guided day.

Suggested Self-Guide Itinerary:

Explore the former imperial capital and visit some of Kyoto’s World Heritage Sites utilizing Kyoto’s comprehensive bus and subway systems.

You can start your day with a visit to Nijo Castle. This ornamental castle was built by the founder of the Edo Shogunate as his Kyoto residence and is surrounded by stunning gardens. The main building was completed in 1603 and is famous for its Momoyama architecture, decorated sliding doors, and ‘chirping nightingale floors’.

You can head up north and visit Kinkaku-ji Temple, the Golden Pavilion. 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.

The final stop of the morning can be in Ryoan-ji Temple, the site of Japan's most famous rock garden. Originally served as an aristocrat's villa during the Heian Period, the site was later on converted into a Zen Buddhist temple in 1450. Now it belongs to the Myoshinji School of the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism.

In the afternoon, you can visit Kiyomizu-dera or ‘pure water temple’. From the 13-meter high veranda jutting out from the main hall, you can enjoy amazing views of the whole of Kyoto whilst pondering the fact that both the main hall and the veranda were built without the use of nails.

Finish off the day with a stroll through the atmospheric Higashiyama district, where busy lanes lead up to Kiyomizu and are filled with quaint shops selling souvenirs such as Kiyomizu-yaki pottery, sweets, and pickles.

Day 8: Kyoto, Day Trip to Nara

Today is a self-guided day.

Suggested Self-Guide Itinerary:

This morning you will have the chance to go out of town and travel to Nara with your included train tickets. 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.

Nara is just a small town, with most of its main tourist spots located around Nara Park, where you can encounter quite a great number of tamed deer. You can visit Todaiji Temple, the world’s largest wooden building and home to Japan’s largest Buddha, and Kasuga Taisha, Nara’s most celebrated shrine.

Overnight in Kyoto

Distance and journey time:

Kyoto Station to Kintetsu Nara Station (39km): approx. 35mins *via Limited Express train

Day 9: Departure from Kyoto

The rest of the day is at leisure until your scheduled transfer via shared shuttle van to Kansai International Airport.

Distance and journey time:

Kyoto to Kansai International Airport (KIX) (94km): approx. 2hrs

Travel Styles

All Get About Asia trips have been designed to make sure you have an unforgettable travel experience. We have developed several trip styles to cater for our diverse range of travellers. Read what your ideal Get About Asia experience might look like here.

Standard:from AU $1,667
Superior:from AU $2,340

All GetAboutAsia prices are based on twin share and depend on availability and season. All our itineraries can be customised including international flights and extra nights. For questions or further information, Enquire Now!

Important Information

Accommodation:

Accommodation each night of the itinerary (excluding your departure day). 

Inclusions:
  • Hotel accommodation in twin room with daily breakfast (for ryokan, minshuku, and other traditional accommodation, rooms are Japanese-style with futon and meals are half board).
  • Meet and greet at the airport and return transfers to the airport.
  • PASMO Tokyo transport pass for Day 2 
  • 3-Day Hakone Free Pass from Day 4.
  • One-way limited express train ticket from Shinjuku Station to Hakone-Yumoto Station on Day 4.
  • One-way bullet train ticket from Odawara Station to Kyoto Station in Ordinary Class on Day 6.
  • 1-Day Kyoto Bus and Subway Pass for Day 7.
  • Round-trip limited express train tickets from Kyoto Station to Nara Station on Day 8.
  • Information Pack.
Notes:
  • The Imperial Palace East Gardens is closed on Mondays, Fridays, New Years, and some other special occasions (if Monday or Friday is a National holiday, closed the following day).
  • Tsukiji Market is closed on Sundays, National holidays, and occasionally on Wednesdays.
  • Nijo Castle is closed on Tuesdays (or if Tuesday is a National holiday, closed the following day).
  • For safety reasons, Hakone Ropeway, and some other public transport, may stop operating in case of unfavorable weather conditions.
  • Please inform your travel agent of any special dietary requirements that you may have.
Price Dependent:

Availability and season.

Japan experiences dramatic pricing fluctuations based on Festivals, Domestic holidays and in some instances on weekends. Please consult with your Travel Consultant for exact pricing over a specific date. Reservations during weekends, peak season, and Japanese public holidays will be subject to supplementary charges.

Trip Information

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"Japan was fantastic – loved every minute. I will definitely go back again, I want to do a visit in each of the seasons and do some hiking.Snow festival was fantastic, Hokkaido is a huge foodie destination. I wish I had planned an extra day. Takayama – loved loved loved the ryokan. Shirakawa-go – we did a half day trip there on a blue sky day and it was stunning. Hakuba –Great for people who are really into skiing but not really looking for an authentic Japanese experience. The snow monkey tour was very well run, we were quite impressed. The local team looked after us very well. " — Mrs Mercer and Friends, Sunshine Coast, February 2018

"We had a great time! Every day was a new adventure and we saw and did far more than we thought possible. Thank you so much for all your help in arranging! All the best for a wonderful Christmas and we'll certainly recommend GetAboutAsia to anyone we know who is looking for a trip/holiday in that region." — Mr and Mrs Keeble, Sydney, NSW, November 2015

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