Venture deep into the heart of a land of legends where age old traditions exist side by side with modernity
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
An extraordinary 18 days exploring Japan and the embodiment of the ancient culture of the Samurai
Join us as we travel through mountainous landscapes to vibrant, neon cities, exploring villages of the old Samurai. Discover the World Heritage treasures at Kyoto, temples and shrines of Nara and relax in an onsen. Traverse Japan’s famous railway network on exhilarating bullet train rides. Experience the customs and culture of ancient Japan with an authentic sumo wrestling show, a traditional tea ceremony and Maiko dinner. Gain a true insight into the ancient world of the Samurai in one of the most fascinating and intriguing destinations on earth.
Venture deep into the land of legends where age-old traditions exist side by side with modernity. Samurai were the hereditary military nobility of medieval and early modern Japan, the highest-ranking social caste of the Edo Period. Bushido, ‘the way of the warrior‘ is the guiding philosophy of the Samurai. Explore the influence of these great warriors, an intrinsic part of Japanese culture, manifested through great castles, gardens, residences and the lasting heritage that are prevalent in Japan’s modern society, this unique and endlessly fascinating nation.
Chauffer Driven Transfers*
Samurai Sword Performance
Specially Selected Hotels
Expert National Guide
Traditional Painting Lesson
Sumo Wrestling Performance
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 Higashiyama Hotel by Kyoto Tokyu. (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, Japan’s most sacred shrine, 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 the 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 creates 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 with trails of incense takes you to a Tokyo of bygone days. The Tokyo National Museum collects, houses, and displays a comprehensive collection of art work and antiquities and has a large garden that adds seasonal colour, rich in flowers of each season. 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 attractions 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. The 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)
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.
Newly built 4-star hotel located in the historic Gion district, with Zen & Shinto holy sites, pottery stores & Maruyama Park cherry blossoms nearby. Fitness centre, garden, terrace, restaurant with a bar,concierge service and WiFi (free). 168 air-conditioned rooms with kettle, flat screen TV and hairdryer.
Conveniently located within walking distance of Nara Park and Todaiji Temple. Four restaurants, lounge bar, fitness centre, a spa and a Japanese-style bath house, WiFi (free). 330 air-conditioned rooms with fridge, kettle and flat screen TV.
Ideally located with sea views, the hotel offers three restaurants serving seasonal produce a coffee shop and a pearl spa, sauna and a hot tub. WiFi (free) in public areas. 80 air-conditioned rooms with fridge, mini-bar, safe and TV.
Connected to JR Nagoya Station, facilities include a restaurant, rooftop garden bar, golf course, 24-hour fitness centre, sauna and WiFi (free). 350 air-conditioned spacious rooms fridge, safe, tea/coffee making facilities and flat-screen TV.
Located near the Old Town and boasting seven restaurants using produce sourced locally, a lounge bar, souvenir shop and a variety of indoor and outdoor natural hot spring baths overlooking a Japanese garden, WiFi (free). 207 air-conditioned rooms with mini-bar, tea making facilities and TV.
Ideally located in the heart of Nagamachi Samurai District and close to Kenroku-en Garden. Facilities include two restaurants, lounge bar and WiFi (free). 236 spacious air-conditioned rooms with mini-bar, tea making facilities and TV.
A resort hotel in the Tokyo Bay area on Odaiba Island overlooking Tokyo Bay, a 2 minute walk from Daiba metro station and 1km from the landmark Rainbow bridge also in close proximity Oedo-Onsen Monogatari, the Museum of Maritime Science, Palette Town, and the Digital Art Museum. Three restaurants, including a sushi restaurant, a Japanese/Chinese restaurant, cafes, bars, fitness centre, spa, art gallery, convenience store and WiFi (free). 882 spacious air-conditioned rooms featuring elegant European-style decor with fridge, seating area and TV.
Suitably located close to the UNESCO World Heritage site shrines and temples, this is one of the few Western-style hotels in Nikko offering 24-hour operated indoor and outdoor hot-spring baths and a relaxing outdoor terrace at the restaurant. French cuisine is served at the Garden Court restaurant. WiFi (free) in public areas and complimentary coffee. 30 air-conditioned rooms with fridge, kettle, safe and flat-screen TV.
A classic Japanese-style Ryokan and one of the few hot spring inns in Higashiyama Onsen with a private spring source. Relax in one of the open-air hot spring baths with beautiful landscapes of the nearby gorge and the sound of the clear stream flowing past. Seasonal Japanese dishes are served using a variety of fresh, seasonal ingredients and seafood along with various local ingredients. WiFi (free) in public areas. 62 rooms with fridge, seating area with a low table and flat-screen TV.
South Korea - Post-tour Extension
Known as the ‘Land of the Morning Calm,’ South Korea offers beautiful landscapes from craggy mountains to densely forested national parks, a land filled with extraordinary experiences and 5000 years of culture and history. Explore Korea’s natural wonders; travel to Busan, home to majestic mountains, glistening beaches, steaming hot springs and fantastic seafood. Continue to tropical Jeju Island and explore the island’s natural highlights, from the Cheonjiyeon waterfall to Sunrise Peak, here learn why Jeju is known as the Isle of the Gods. Witness traditional Korean culture first-hand at a folk village and tour the island’s parks, gardens and UNESCO World Heritage sites. Travel to South Korea’s capital Seoul, a vibrant and sprawling mass of futuristic design and neon-lit shopping malls, set amid traditional markets, expansive parks and ancient temple complexes. A visit would not be complete without a tour to the “Demilitarized Zone,” the 4 km wide buffer zone dividing North and South Korea, where North and South Korean soldiers stand face to face in the “Joint Security Area”.
Day 1 Fly to Busan. Sightseeing tour. Ovenight at the Ramada Encore. (B)
Day 2 Fly to Jeju Island. BBQ lunch then travel to Sungsan Sunrise Peak, one of Jeju Island’s most famous geographical features. Transfer to Seopjicoji a scenic plateau located on the eastern tip of the Island and to Sungeup Folk Village the fantastically feudal Folklore Heritage site, preserving the village of the people of old Jeju. Two nights at the Best Western Hotel. (B, L)
Day 3 Sightseeing of O’sulloc Tea Museum; learn about Korea’s traditional tea culture. Visit Camellia Hill for its vibrant display of Camellias in the spring. Lunch is a Korean style seafood stew. Continue to Jusangjeoli Cliff, impressive rock formation stacks that look like giant stairs, and has been compared to the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland. Then to Dragon Head Shore; created by strong winds and waves, and Cheonjeyeon Waterfall. (B, L)
Day 4 Fly to Seoul, on arrival exploration begins, pass by Blue House the official residence of the South Korean head of state. Visit the National Folk Museum which uses replicas of historical objects to illustrate the history of the traditional life of the Korean people. Enjoy a traditional lunch and continue to Gyeongbokgung Palace, built in 1395 it was the main royal palace of the Joseon dynasty. End in vibrant and cultural Insadong Street. Two nights at the Best Western Kukdo. (B, L)
Day 5 Experience the extraordinary Korean Demilitarised Zone on the South Korean side. After a Tofu lunch, return to the city and explore Itaewon Street. (B, L)
Day 6 Return flight to London. (B)
Centrally located near the popular Haeundae Beach, the hotel has a fitness centre, seasonal rooftop garden and launderette. The in-house restaurant offers all-day dining. WiFi throughout. All 402 air-conditioned, smoke-free rooms have a seating area, safe, fridge, tea and coffee making facilities and TV.
Located in New Jeju the hotel has a buffet restaurant, bar, coffee shop and business centre. WiFi throughout. The smoke free hotel has 363 air-conditioned rooms, equipped with fridge, tea and coffee making facilities and TV.
Centrally located in Seoul’s Jung-Gu area, the hotel has a fitness centre and a ladies-only floor. There is a buffet and Patio restaurant serving local specialties and Western dishes. WiFi throughout. The 295 air-conditioned rooms have mini-bar, tea and coffee making facilities and TV.
per person in a twin room
British Airways from London Heathrow
Supplements per person
Single supplement £1295
British Airways World Traveller Plus from £945
British Airways Business Class from £2895
Extension - South Korea
5 nights - £1550
Single supplement £285
Air travel and taxes, VIP return transfers*, 16 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.
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.
Please complete this form and a member of our sales department will contact you as soon as possible to confirm your booking and take payment. Our opening hours are Monday to Friday 9am to 5.30pm and Saturdays 10am to 2pm