Flight - 1 night
Kyoto - 3 nights
Nara - 1 night
Toba - 1 night
Nagoya - 1 night
Takayama - 2 nights
Kanazawa - 2 nights
Tokyo - 2 nights
Nikko - 1 night
Aizu - 1 night
Tokyo - 2 nights

Spendology - Widgets

Ancient Japan Land of the Samurai

Venture deep into the heart of a land of legends where age old traditions exist side by side with modernity

An extraordinary 18 days exploring Japan and the embodiment of the ancient culture of the Samurai

Join us on our journey of Japan as we travel through vibrant dazzling neon lights to mountainous landscapes and explore isolated villages of the old Samurai neighbourhoods. Discover the world heritage treasures of Kyoto and the old temples and shrines of Nara, and relax in one of Japan’s onsens ‘hot springs’. Traverse Japan’s world famous railway network with exhilarating bullet train rides. Experience an authentic sumo wrestling show and absorb the customs and culture of ancient Japan with a traditional tea ceremony and Maiko dinner. Gain an unsurpassed insight into the ancient world of the Samurai in one of the most fascinating destinations on earth, making this a unique great journey. 

Key Features

Chauffer driven transfers*
Samurai Sword performance
Specially Selected Hotels
Expert National Guide
Traditional painting lesson
Sumo wrestling performance
Ryokan Stay
Price Guarantee
Group Size: 6 – 20

Day 1 Fly from London Heathrow to Osaka.

Day 2 Arrive in Osaka, Japan’s second largest city. Stroll down Dotonbori Street, lunch and welcome briefing at a local restaurant. Visit Osaka Castle, once the largest castle in Japan; the main central tower houses a museum and an observation platform with panoramic views of the city. Three nights at the Tokyu Hotel. (L, D)

Day 3 Sightseeing commences in Arashiyama with a leisurely walk through its towering bamboo groves. Visit Kinkakuji Temple originally built as a residence for shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, followed by the famous Golden Pavilion that dazzles and shimmers in the sunlight over its mirroring pond. Then to Ryoanji Temple famous for its Zen rock garden, and Kyoto Imperial Palace, rich in tradition it preserves the look and ambience of Japan’s ancient imperial dynasties. (B) 

Day 4 Visit Nijo Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of Kyoto’s most impressive, highlighting the power the shoguns wielded over the emperors during the Edo Period. With a garden designed by Japan’s famous garden designer (Kobori Enshu) and a tea house designed by the founder of the tea ceremony (Sen no Rikyu), Kodai-ji Temple represents the union of Japan’s greatest artistic and cultural traditions. Enjoy a tea ceremony followed by free time in Gion, Kyoto’s famous geisha district. Visit Fushimi Inari Shrine famous for its thousands of bright red Torii gates that line the way to the top of Mount Inari. (B)

Day 5 Travel to Nara, visit Uji Byodoin Temple and garden, a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site and the best surviving example of a Pure Land Garden. Todaiji Temple in Nara Park houses the world’s largest Buddhist bronze statue. Continue to Iga-ryu Ninja Museum with displays of ninja tools, costumes and weapons. Ninja warriors during Japan’s feudal ages specialised in gathering information about the enemy and conducting acts of espionage and sabotage. Overnight at the Nikko Hotel. (B)

Day 6 Our day begins with a visit to Kongobuji Temple headquarters of Mount Koya Shingon Buddhism. Enjoy a shojin ryori (vegetarian) lunch at the monastery. Continue to Okunoin Temple surrounded by a mystic grove of Japanese cedar trees, it is a power spot that cleanses your soul and the resting place of Samurai warriors. Overnight and dinner at Toba International Hotel. (B, L, D)

Day 7 Visit Pearl Island museum, learn how pearls are cultured and see exhibits of beautiful items incorporating them. Continue to Ise Jingu Shrine, Japan’s most sacred, often referred to as ‘the heart of Japan.’ Split into two sections, inner and outer, each hosts an array of smaller shrines that are used for prayer. In Nagoya, visit the castle built at the start of the Edo Period. Destroyed in 1945 it was rebuilt using traditional materials and techniques. Explore Tokugawaen Garden with walkways winding around a central pond symbolising the ocean and once a retirement residence of the Samurai. Overnight at the JR Gate Tower. (B)

Day 8 Visit Seki Samurai Sword Museum; embark on a journey of more than 700 years from warlords to the present day. Enjoy a Samurai sword performance. In the Edo period, Tsumago and Magome were prosperous stops on the Nakasendo Highway which linked Kyoto with Edo (Tokyo). Today they are open-air museums of painstakingly restored homes and shops, and offer a glimpse into life during the Edo period. Two nights at the Takayama Green Hotel. Dinner at hotel. (B, D) 

Day 9 Exploration of Takayama; visit Matsuri Yatai Kaikan, a museum and exhibition hall devoted to the unique and spectacular floats of the Takayama Festival. Visit a local market, continue to the old preserved Sanmachi Suji area a group of three main streets at the heart of the city, lined with iconic architecture that create a nostalgic atmosphere. The district is recognised as a historical preservation area with old private houses and shop buildings in impeccable condition, it is widely regarded as one of the most well preserved areas in Japan. (B)

Day 10 The historic villages of Shirakawago and Gokayama are two of Japan’s UNESCO World Heritage sites. Located in a mountainous region cut off from the rest of the world for a long period of time, these villages with their Gassho-style houses subsisted on the cultivation of mulberry trees and the rearing of silkworms. The houses with their steeply pitched thatched roofs are the only example of their kind in Japan. See Kanazawa’s Omicho fish market, one of the oldest in Japan, and then Kenrokuen Garden, regarded as one of the most beautiful feudal lords’ gardens. Two nights at the Kanazawa Tokyu Hotel. (B)

Day 11 Visit Nagamachi, formerly the area where the samurai of Kanazawa lived with their families. Today it looks pretty much the same as it did in the Edo era, with canals and cobbled streets that run between earthen tile-topped walls. See Nomura Samurai house, a traditional Japanese home complete with tea-ceremony room, a small enchanting garden, artefacts from the Edo period and personal belongings of the Nomura family who lived here for 10 generations. Kanazawa is probably best known for its gold leaf production and produces 99% of Japan’s gold leaf. Experience this unique craft and immerse yourself in this important part of Kanazawa’s culture and history by attending a gold leaf workshop. Stroll through Higashi Chaya, a historic entertainment district with teahouses where geisha perform. Enjoy a traditional style dinner with a Maiko experience at a local restaurant. (B, D)

Day 12 Bullet train to Tokyo. Visit Sensoji, the most famous and photographed of Tokyo’s temples. The oldest Buddhist temple in the capital, the five-story pagoda trails of incense take you to a Tokyo of bygone days. The Edo museum displays artefacts that tell a story of Tokyo’s past. Visit the Imperial Palace Plaza the primary residence of the Emperor located on the former site of the old Edo Castle. Two nights at the Grand Nikko Daiba Hotel. (B)

Day 13 Sightseeing of Kamakura, visit Shokozan Tokeiji a former nunnery and a place of refuge for abused wives. In 1902, Tokeiji became a Temple of the Rinzai Zen sect. Take part in a meditation class held at the temple. Founded in 1063 and lasting 150 years, the Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine was the centre of this great Samurai city, climb the steep steps up to the shrine to get a sense of serene spirituality. One of Kamakura’s most famous attraction is Kotokuin Temple, home to the 121-ton stone Buddha. (B) 

Day 14 By road to Nikko, visit Toshogu Shrine, the final resting place of Tokugawa Leyasu, the founder and first shogun of the Tokugawa Shogunate. Its buildings are decorative masterpieces splashed with vibrant colours, embellished with intricate carvings and glittering gold leaf. After lunch visit Kegon Waterfall one of the ‘Three Great Waterfalls’ of Japan, offering magnificent views. Overnight and dinner at the Natural Garden Hotel. (B, L, D)

Day 15 Feudal lords made regular trips to Edo and would pass through Ouchi-juku as part of the Shimotsuke Kaido route, one of the most popular routes until the Meiji period (1868-1912). Here you will see 300 year old buildings with traditional thatched roofs. At the end of the main road is a steep set of stairs that lead to a temple from where you get beautiful panoramic views of Ouchi-juku in its exquisite mountain setting. Tsuruga-jo Castle is the symbol of the ancient Samurai City Aizu, the castle is renowned as an impregnable fortress; in 1874 at the end of the Samurai era it was torn down leaving only the stone walls. In 2011 it underwent extensive renovation and is now restored to its former glory. Visit a sake brewery for sake tasting. Overnight at the Harataki Higashiyama Onsen. Dinner is taken at the hotel. (B, D)

Day 16 Attend a painting class and paint your own ‘akabeko’ lucky red cow, widely respected in this area. Free time before travelling to Kitakata for lunch. Take the bullet train back to Tokyo and transfer to the Grand Nikko Daiba Hotel for two nights. (B, L)

Day 17 Visit the Japanese Sword Museum showcasing the history and technology of sword making in Japan, a country whose katana swords wielded by its Samurai warriors have a fearsome reputation for sharpness and strength. Use of combat techniques and wearing swords were reserved to the Samurai, although this warrior class vanished, the practices spread to the people. After lunch at a sumo themed restaurant, visit the Sumo Museum and watch a sumo wrestling show. Farewell dinner. (B, L, D)

Day 18 Return flight to London. Alternatively you may choose a different way home and extend to South Korea for a further 5 nights. (B)

  • Key
  • B - Breakfast
  • L - Lunch
  • D - Dinner


Please pack an overnight bag for your journey to Tokyo on Day 12 as your main luggage will be transported by luggage van. Overnight bag also required for Days 14-15 Nikko & Aizu as your main luggage will remain at the hotel in Tokyo. 


per person in a twin room
British Airways from London Heathrow

Date Price
May 4 £7795
September 7 £7895


per person in a twin room
British Airways from London Heathrow

Date Price
May 10 £7795
September 6 £7895
Great Journeys

A Jules Verne Limited Edition

Supplements per person

Single Supplement

Single supplement £1390

Flight Options

World Traveller Plus from £945
Club World from £3895

Extension Options

Extension - South Korea
5 nights - £1550
Single supplement £285

Price Includes
Air travel and taxes, VIP return transfers*, 17 nights' in specially selected hotels, meals as indicated, itinerary as described, services of expert local guides and representative. If our specially negotiated airfares are unavailable at the time of booking, a supplement may apply.

Not Included
Travel insurance, optional excursions, tipping, any government taxes or compulsory charges introduced after publication.

*On all of our Great Journeys, we provide a VIP chauffeur driven transfer for passengers living within a 70-mile radius of the point of departure. For those passengers that live outside of this 70-mile radius, we will provide the most competitive quotation for the additional mileage.

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Ancient Japan Land of the Samurai

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