Japan delights in contrasts, revering the past while embracing the future. Begin your 12-day adventure in glittering, massive Tokyo, then head by rail into the countryside to visit traditional villages and tranquil shrines. On strolls through geisha districts and restorative visits to ancient temples and gardens, feel the power of the here and now.
Browse bustling fish stalls the world-famous Tsukiji Market, and create artful dishes at a sushi-making class.
Take part in an authentic tea ceremony, and learn martial arts and calligraphy from local experts.
Practice Zen meditation with a Buddhist monk.
Enjoy a multi-course kaiseki feast while staying at a traditional ryokan in the countryside.
Itinerary - 12 Days
Day 1 — Tokyo
Arrive at any time.
Days 2 & 3 — Tokyo
Spend the day exploring Tokyo. Experience the city’s traditional side with visits to Meiji Shrine and the historic neighborhood of Asakusa. Then delve into Japanese pop culture on a walk through the quirky, modern Harajuka district. The next day, visit the sprawling Tsukiji Market to learn about the country's fishing industry and take part in a sushi-making class. The afternoon is free to explore Tokyo on your own. (2B, 1L)
Day 4 — Nagiso/Tsumago
Depart Tokyo by train for the quaint town of Nagiso. Walk through the countryside, passing picturesque farms and hamlets on our way to the rural village of Tsumago. Arrive at our traditional Japanese inn, or ryokan. Feast on a multi-course kaiseki meal. (1B, 1D)
Days 5 & 6 — Kanazawa
Travel by train to historic Kanazawa. Explore Japan’s ancient samurai culture in the well-preserved Nagamachi district. Opt to visit the area's stunning gardens or castles. Visit Myoryuji Temple the next morning, then stroll the cobblestone streets of the Higashi Chaya geisha neighborhood, lined with traditional wooden homes and tea houses. The city of Kanazawa is known as a center for traditional arts, and we'll delve into one of them with a chopstick-making experience. Opt to visit the stunning gardens or original castles. (2B)
Days 7 & 8 — Hiroshima/Miyajima
Speed by bullet train to Hiroshima, where we’ll visit the Peace Memorial Park and the Peace Memorial Museum to learn about a dark chapter in human history. The next day, set off by ferry to Itsukushima Island, popularly called Miyajima. Venture into the 12th-century Itsukushima Shinto Shrine, a UNESCO World Heritage site built over the water, where a beautiful torii gate appears to float at high tide. Take advantage of a free to explore on your own. (2B)
Day 9 — Kyoto
Begin the day at the hilltop Himeji Castle, one of the best-preserved castles in Japan. Catch a train to Kyoto, which served as the imperial capital for more than a thousand years. Stroll the charming streets of Gion, Kyoto’s most famous geisha district. At a local tea house, take part in an authentic tea ceremony and discover the intricacies of this important Japanese tradition. (1B)
Days 10 & 11 — Nara/Kyoto
Spend the day exploring ancient Nara, an imperial capital of Japan. Visit Todai-ji temple, the world’s largest wooden building, and Kasugataisha, Nara’s most celebrated shrine. Meet a Buddhist monk who will teach us the techniques of Zen meditation. The following day, discover Kyoto’s exquisite Kinkaku-ji Golden Pavilion. Then visit a local dojo, or martial arts school, where we’ll enjoy a presentation about samurai etiquette and try out some traditional moves. (2B)
Offered in partnership with G Adventures, our National Geographic Journeys line blends fun, hands-on exploration, meaningful encounters with people and cultures, and more free time and choices—with the structure and security of traveling in a small group.
Travelers should be in good health and comfortable walking or standing for extended periods of time. Daily activities may include city walking tours, visits to sites, game drives, or easy hikes, with options for more physical activities such as hiking, kayaking, snorkeling and biking.
Click here for a description of all activity levels.
Contact Us: 1-800-281-2354
Call to speak with a specialist about this trip.
All trip prices are per person based on double occupancy. If you're traveling on your own, we'll pair you up with a roommate of the same gender so that you can pay the same rate as other travelers. Prices are subject to change without notice and do not include airfare. All prices and fares are quoted in U.S. dollars.
My Own Room
During your trip, sometimes it's just more convenient and comfortable to have your own room. That's why we offer the "My Own Room" option - a single room all to yourself.
My Own Room Option: From $1,399
Internal flights, transport between destinations and to/
from included activities, and activities as listed in
the itinerary. Optional experiences are at an additional cost
Accommodations Comfortable, mid-range hotels (10 nights), traditional ryokan (1 night)
Meals Included 11 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 1 dinner. Allow an additional $475-620 for meals not included
Transportation Bullet train, express train, local train, ferry, public bus, walking
You can do whatever you wish during your free time on tour, but if you're in need of suggestions, we've got them. Details about any optional experiences for this trip will be available during the booking process. Please note, these are at an additional cost.