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Kyoto, Japan

Japan - Guided Trips

Tom's Guide to the the best escorted tours to Japan

The most popular way to travel around Japan is on an escorted tour because it takes away much of the complexity of getting around on your own, especially with the language barrier. But there are so many to choose from, which is best for you?

Here's a quick guide that I've put together with various suggestions, but please feel free to contact me for more details and alternatives. Prices are correct at the time of writing but can change very quickly as availability changes, and special offers come to an end. Therefore please use them as a rough starting point. We will of course give you fully up to date accurate prices in any proper quotes.

For full details of all these and other guided tours, please call 01462 677 111 or email holidays@onyourtravels.co.uk


Best overall tour - 'Japan Uncovered' by Wendy Wu

from £6,990 per person INCLUDING flights


FREE Business Class upgrades, OR FREE economy class flights, OR Half Price single supplements on selected 2024 tours

This is a hugely popular tour and for good reason. It covers all the major tourist sites of Japan. You'll visit castles, temples, shrines, and gardens, travel on the bullet train, enjoy a cruise near Mount Fuji, and spend some time in the Japanese Alps. It's here that you'll hopefully get to see the snow monkeys, although they are more prevalent during the colder months.

As it's a Wendy Wu tour, the cost includes ALL meals throughout your tour.

See further down the page for more details of this tour.

Best value tour - 'Japan Unveiled' by Newmarket Holidays

from £4,590 per person INCLUDING flights

This is a similar itinerary to the one above (no visit to the snow monkeys) but a key difference is that although breakfast is included daily, only 3 other meals are, so you have a bit more freedom about where and when to dine out, and it wouldn't necessarily be with others in the group. However there is a wonderful optional excursion in Tokyo which is a dinner cruise on the Yakatabune River, and this is highly recommended!

Best small group tour - 'Secrets of Japan' by Insider Journeys

from £4,001 per person PLUS flights

Inside Journeys specialise in small group tours with a maximum of 16 travellers, which means less time waiting for everyone else. This tour follows a classic itinerary, starting in Tokyo and ending in Kyoto, and at the time of writing still has spaces available on one of the 2024 Autumn tours with fantastic fall colours.

Best small group adventure style tours - 'Simply Japan' by Explore and 'Discover Japan' by G Adventures

from £3,799 / £3,999 per person, both PLUS FLIGHTS

Both of these trips are great for being in a smaller group - the maximum is around 16 people although often it's less than this. Accommodation can be more simple and transport can include buses and ferries, but that's all part of really getting to know a destination. Both tours include a stay in a ryokan which is a traditional Japanese Inn, and the Explore tour also includes a night in a simple monastery.

Best cruise and land tour - 'Japan by Land & Sea' by Wendy Wu

from £10,140 per person INCLUDING flights

This trip combines a 13 night cruise with Azamara Cruises with a few nights on land in the key places - Tokyo, the Japanese Alps, Kyoto, and a stop in Mount Fuji, and is the longest trip on this list at 23 days. The cruise circles Japan with a stop in South Korea, and these tend to be smaller ships than average with a maximum number of guests at around 800.

Best for Gardens - 'Japan Garden Discovery' with Riviera Travel

from £4,799 per person INCLUDING flights

Although this trip takes you to the key places, it's heavily focused on Japanese gardens, with a visits to 10 traditional and historic gardens in Tokyo, Hakone, Hiroshima, Okayama and Kyoto. There's only one departure currently on sale, and that's in October 2024.

Best for Christmas and Winter - 'Christmas in Japan' by Wendy Wu and 'Japanese Winter Wonderland' by Titan

from £7,390 per person / £5,245 per person both INCLUDING flights

For something very special this Christmas, the 'Christmas in Japan' tour might be perfect. On Christmas Eve, you'll be visiting a temple, a shrine and enjoy a tea ceremony, and in the evening you'll enjoy a special Christmas feast in a local restaurant, while enjoying the street decorations, Christmas markets and many amazing illuminations. And on Christmas Day you'll see a famous zen garden, take the bullet train and finish with a Christmas dinner cruise on Hiroshima Bay.

The Titan tour departs in late January but this one includes a visit to the Sapporo Snow Festival with around 250 snow and ice sculptures illuminated by candles and coloured bulbs. You can enjoy a local tipple at the ice bar and perhaps even glide down the giant snow slide! Either way, it's an unforgettable part of your trip.

Best if you like to be a bit more independent - 'Japan Unmasked' by Inside Japan

from £3310 per person PLUS FLIGHTS

If you prefer to do sightseeing on your own and have the freedom to choose where you dine for lunch and dinner, then this tour might be perfect. There are only minimal inclusions and modest accommodation. The transport between all the major places is included, and your guide will be on hand to help you plan your day, and there's still a few entrance fees included.


Tokyo, Japan

As an example, here's the itinerary for the 'Japan Uncovered' tour by Wendy Wu.

Prices start from £6,990 per person but this includes a special offer on the flights.

2 nights

Days 1-2: Fly to Osaka
Fly overnight to the lively, fast-paced city of Osaka. Depending on your time of arrival, the rest of the day is at leisure to start soaking up the local culture.

Day 3: Discover Nara
Spend the morning in Nara, the small, history-filled city that was Japan's first capital. Stroll through Nara Park to Todaiji Temple and admire the traditional Isuien Garden. Return to Osaka and visit the impressive Osaka Castle before cruising along the Yodogawa River.

Meal plan:  
Full Board
2 nights

Day 4: Himeji Castle
Depart Osaka for Hiroshima, stopping en route to explore the magnificent 17th Century Himeji Castle and the neighbouring Koko-en, a traditional-style garden.

Day 5: Explore Hiroshima
Hiroshima is a vibrant, forward-thinking city that is a pleasure to explore. Reflect on the city's tragic past at the Peace Memorial Park and Museum paying homage to the victims of the 1945 atomic bomb. Next, hop on the ferry across to the holy island of Miyajima to visit the Itsukushima Shrine and enjoy time at leisure.

Japan - Hiroshima
Meal plan:  
Full Board
2 nights

Day 6: Bullet Train to Kyoto
Start the day with a journey by bullet train to Kyoto. Capital for 1,000 years, this enchanting city is the epitome of traditional Japan. Visit Ryoanji Temple, home to Japan's most famous zen garden and Kinkakuji Temple, also known as 'Golden Pavilion'.

Day 7: Japanese Tea Ceremony
Enjoy one of Kyoto's most delightful spots, Kiyomizu, a 17th-century Buddhist temple, before experiencing the age-old rituals of a traditional tea ceremony with a tea master. After lunch, visit Fushimi Inari Shrine, renowned for its 10,000 vermilion torii gates.

Kyoto, Japan
Meal plan:  
Full Board
1 night

Day 8: Travel to Kanazawa
Travel by road to Kanazawa. Meander through Kenrokuen, one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan, before viewing the excellent art collection of the Kanazawa 21st-century Museum of Contemporary Art.

Meal plan:  
Full Board
2 nights

Day 9: Washi Paper Making
Visit the Nomura Samurai House and Garden before departing Kanazawa. Stop in Gokayama for lunch and a hands-on washi paper making workshop. Continue to Shirakawago, where you will explore the 300-year-old Gassho-style Wada House, before reaching Takayama.

Day 10: Explore Takayama
Browse the local handicrafts and fresh produce at the Miyagawa morning market, wander past some of the lovely traditional houses. Also visit several of the excellent local museums, including the Festival Floats Museum, Kusakabe Folk Crafts Museum and Takayama Jinya, followed by a stroll down Kamisannomachi Street.

Meal plan:  
Full Board
2 nights

Day 11: Travel to Nagano
Travel to Matsumoto and explore the formidable 16th-century Matsumoto Castle. Visit a miso house and learn about this famous Japanese seasoning. Also spend some time at a wasabi farm to learn about its cultivation before continuing to Nagano.

Day 12: Search for Snow Monkeys
Travel deeper into the Japanese Alps to search for the Japanese macaques (snow monkeys) at the Jigokudani Monkey Park - sighting not guaranteed. Continue to Zenkoji, one of Japan's most prolific Buddhist temples.

Snow monkeys, Japan
Meal plan:  
Full Board
1 night

Day 13: Mount Fuji
Travel to the Fuji Five Lakes area. Ascend by road to the 5th station (weather permitting),. Also visit the Itchiku Kubota Art Museum to view the elaborate dyed silk creations of artist Kubota Itchiku. Overnight accommodation will be in Mishima or the wider Fuji area.

Mount Fuji, Japan
Meal plan:  
Full Board
3 nights

Day 14: Explore Hakone
Begin the day with a cruise on the peaceful waters of Lake Ashi. Next, soar high on the Hakone Ropeway over the hilltops to the volcanic Owakudani Valley and discover the dramatic natural hot springs of Mount Hakone. Later, proceed to Tokyo.

Day 15: Discover Tokyo
A dazzling, high-tech metropolis, Japan's capital has wonderfully traditional roots. Start your explorations at the Imperial Palace East Garden, visit Meiji Shrine and stop by the famous Shibuya Crossing.

Day 16: Tokyo
Stroll the vibrant Asakusa district and soak up the ambiance of Sensoji, Tokyo's oldest Buddhist temple. Ascend to the observation deck of the 634-metre Skytree and enjoy lunch in a local restaurant. The afternoon is free until the evening, when you will board a traditional yakata boat for a dinner cruise.

Day 17: Fly Tokyo to UK
Fly to the UK, arriving home the same or following day.

Meal plan:  
Full Board

More details & alternatives

Of course we have many more escorted tours available and I would be delighted to talk through various options with you that might suit. Please call 01462 677111 or email holidays@onyourtravels.co.uk

On many tours we can add extensions to the start or end to make your trip unique and extra special, and where flights are flexible we'll work out the best options based on price and quality.

Finally, we are official retail partners for the following touring companies...

  • Wendy Wu
  • Newmarket Holidays
  • Riviera Travel
  • Great Rail Journeys
  • Titan
  • Scenic Tours
  • Luxury Gold
  • Cox and Kings
  • G Adventures
  • Exodus
  • Explore
  • Intrepid
  • Travelsphere
  • Globus
  • Cosmos Tours
  • Insider Journeys

More information

Call  01462 677111

Local to Letchworth, Baldock, Hitchin or Stevenage?

On selected holidays, we now offer face to face appointments so that we can have an initial discussion about your requirements. These can be in your own home, a local cafe, or another place that's convenient to you, and would typically last around 30 minutes.
Available in Letchworth Garden City, Baldock, Hitchin, Stevenage and surrounding towns and villages - just click on the link below or give us a call on 01462 677 111 to arrange a suitable time.