Japan's excellent public transport system makes it easy to jump from city to city through stunning landscapes in very little time at all, and our Compact Japan holiday takes full advantage of this, letting you make the most of your time in this incredible country.
At a glance
- Taste the freshest sushi possible
- Walk Tokyo’s most historic streets
- Sample matcha in a graceful tea house
- Soak in Hakone’s hot springs
- Ride the ropeway up volcanic Mt Owakudani
- Marvel at the shrines of Kyoto
- Explore a shogun’s castle
- Stroll through an iconic Japanese garden
- Participate in a tea ceremony
Tokyo - 3 nights
Tokyo is one of the world's most captivating cities, and has seen revolutionary changes over the last few centuries. The shogun’s castle has transformed into the Emperor’s Palace, the samurai dwellings have exploded upwards into gleaming skyscrapers, and millions of people have poured in from all over the country, animating their capital into a vast energising urban sprawl. You’ll taste some of the freshest sushi it’s possible to eat, visit an elegant tea house, and take a riverboat to explore some of Tokyo’s oldest districts.
Day 1 - Arrive Tokyo
On arrival in Japan, you'll be met by our representative, who will accompany you to your hotel. Excellent public transport is part of the Japan travel experience, so we'll be making the most of this throughout your trip.
Day 2 - Fish market & historic city tour
Sample the freshest sushi you'll ever taste today at the Tsukiji Fish Market, one of the world's largest fish markets. Your guide will accompany you through the narrow streets of this traditional neighbourhood and help you order super-fresh sushi from one of the shops by the market. Finish your brunch in a graceful Edo-era garden, where you can taste frothy matcha in its elegant tea house. You'll then take to the Sumida River for a boat cruise to Asakusa, one of the city's oldest Geisha districts, and home to 1,400 year old Senso-ji (‘Asakusa Kannon’) Temple - Tokyo’s oldest Buddhist site. Visit Yanaka, another traditional area, where you'll see one of the oldest and largest cemeteries in Tokyo, with over 4,000 shrinelike graves including those of the Tokugawa clan, who ruled Japan as shoguns throughout the Edo era. The cemetery even has its own police station, and its avenues are lined with cherry trees. If time permits, your guide will introduce you to some interesting temples and shrines. The streets of Yanaka are lined with authentic craft shops, original restaurants and small coffee houses, and the remainder of your day will be at leisure to explore.
Day 3 - Explore independently
Your day will be at leisure to explore Tokyo at your own pace. Alternatively, you can venture beyond Tokyo to explore the popular seaside city of Kamakura or head into the mountains of Nikko National Park.
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Hakone National Park - 1 night
Hakone's volcanic hot springs and delightful scenery (not to mention its convenient location, within easy reach of both Tokyo and Mount Fuji) have led to the region's popularity as an onsen spa resort, and won it UNESCO Geopark status. Cable cars and ropeways sway across the green volcanic slopes, and Fuji steams away beyond the densely wooded shores of Lake Ashi, which boasts a fleet of painted wooden ships, each a detailed replica of a famous historic vessel. Your time here will be at leisure, using your included Hakone Transport Pass to explore, using various fun ways to get around. Ride the Hakone Tozan ‘switchback train’, which zigzags through the mountains, giving superb views of the surrounding valleys, take a voyage in one of the sweet little wooden ships on the lake, and sway all the way up Mount Owakudani on the Guinness World Record-setting ropeway to see the sulphur springs.You might like to taste the local delicacy - eggs hard-boiled in the sulfuric water, and reputed to add seven years to your life!
Day 4 - Train to Hakone National Park for a hot spring bath
Starting early, make your way (via Tokyo's easy-to-use public transit network) to Tokyo Station for the two hour train trip along the coast to Hakone. On arrival, check in to your ryokan before enjoying a day at leisure to explore the Geopark. Tonight you’ll stay in traditional Japanese-style ryokan accommodation, complete with tatami mats and onsen baths. Spend the evening relaxing in your yukata (lightweight kimono), and dine on a sumptuous kaiseki multi-course feast. An onsen after dinner is highly recommended before you bed down on your futon.
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Kyoto - 3 nights
Kyoto has long played a graceful historic counterpoint to Tokyo’s unrelenting urban buzz. This is a city of ancient Shinto shrines and immaculate Zen temples, professional geisha and Noh theatre, and the evocative wooden architecture of ‘old’ Japan. It's home to an astonishing 2,000 shrines and temples, including seventeen UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The oldest was established in the 6th century AD, and for miles around you can find soaring pagodas, along with the superbly decorated shogunate Nijo Castle, and markets selling well-made traditional crafts and decent antiques. Aside from its historic architecture and deep cultural connections, Kyoto is renowned for its cuisine, and the city boasts some of the best restaurants in Japan, several of which enjoy Michelin-star ratings. You’ll try your own hand at a tea ceremony in a traditional Kyoto townhouse, and explore some of the city’s heritage sites with a knowledgeable local guide.
Day 5 - Bullet train to Kyoto, kimono wearing & tea ceremony
Ride the bullet train along the coast to Kyoto, where you’ll meet your knowledgeable local guide for a string of hands-on cultural experiences, each carefully designed to introduce all your senses to some of Japan’s most refined and rarified traditions. You’ll get a tour of a beautifully restored wooden townhouse, spend time learning how to put on and wear a kimono, before - suitably dressed - joining a tea master for a deeper insight into the tea ceremony and the meaning behind its ritual gestures. Afterwards you can either stroll to a nearby sake brewery for a tasting session, or enjoy a short introduction to origami
Day 6 - Nijo Castle, Zen Garden & Arashiyama Shrines
Meet your guide for a tour of some Kyoto’s World Heritage Sites. Start with Nijo Castle, an ornamental structure surrounded by stunning gardens, built by the founder of the Edo Shogunate. The main building was completed in 1603 and is known for its distinctive architecture and chirping ‘nightingale’ floors. Continue to Ryoan-ji, the site of Japan's most famous Zen garden, and home to the Myoshinji School of the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism. Visit the picturesque district of Arashiyama, a popular destination since the 8th century (!) thanks to its striking bamboo forest and elegant shrines, taking in Togetsukyo (‘Moon Crossing’) Bridge over Katsura River, and making your way to the bamboo forest path on the west side of the river, where you may well hear the bamboo creaking as it sways in the breeze.
Day 7 - Explore independently
Your day will be at leisure to explore Kyoto.
Day 8 - Depart Kyoto
Transfer to the airport for your onward flight.
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We only provide privately guided holidays - meaning that you will not be expected to share guides or transport for the duration of your visit. You can also start on any day you choose.
Please click on the hotel category buttons below to view hotel details. These are recommended properties only - we have many alternative options for you to choose from if you would prefer. You can mix hotel categories throughout your holiday.
|Hotel class||Price per person (based on total # travelling)|
Hotel Gracery ShinjukuA brand new hotel addition in the heart of the up-and-coming, lively Kabukicho area of Shinjuku, the Hotel Gracery has the advantage of a wide and varied range of shops, bars and restaurants on its doorstep.… See more
Hakone Pax YoshinoAgainst a backdrop of densely forested hills, the Hakone Pax Yoshino combines the best of Japanese and Western hotel traditions to create a modern ryokan-style experience… See more
Contemporary Japanese style, friendly service and its good location near many key sights make Noku Kyoto a great choice for anyone seeking a modern bolt hole in this ancient city...See more
Park HotelAs much of an art gallery as a hotel, the Park Hotel is a ‘Design Hotel’. Thought-provoking design and architecture are an essential element of the property.… See more
Aura TachibanaNestled in the hills above Hakone (15 minutes uphill walk from the station), this contemporary ryokan boasts amazing views over the surrounding forest clad mountains: views that can be enjoyed from the rooms and the open-air onsen... See more
The CelestineLocated in the Gion district of Kyoto, the Celestine is a modern boutique hotel which combines chic interiors, well-designed facilities and high traditional service standards… See more
Palace HotelOriginally built in the early 1960’s and an iconic property of the time, the Palace Hotel was razed to the ground in 2009 and completely rebuilt, re-opening in 2012 with a more up-to-date look... See more
Gora KadanEnjoying an idyllic setting in harmony with the natural surroundings of Hakone National Park, Gora Kadan was formerly the summer residence of the Kaninnomiya Imperial family and it’s easy to see why they chose this picturesque spot... See more
Hyatt Regency KyotoSituated in a secluded old district in central Kyoto, the stylish Hyatt Regency is conveniently close to several important temples and the National Museum, as well as key transport hubs for exploring the city and beyond... See more
Solo travellers are always welcome - please contact us for a tailored quote.
These prices are shown in GBPUSD.
Selective Asia is a UK-registered company, but our client-base spans the globe, so we bank in both GBP and USD and can therefore provide a fixed price in either currency.
We also have payment facilities in Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the EU, and can typically offer better-than-bank exchange rates on the date of payment in these currencies (against a booking priced in GBP).
- Extend your holiday with a few days on the coast, climbing Mount Fuji, or a hike along the Edo-era track that once connected Tokyo and Kyoto.
- From Kyoto, you can take very special trip up the mountain for an overnight stay in the seat of Shingon Buddhism.
At Selective Asia we specialise in creating unique, tailor-made experiences. The holiday itineraries provided on this website are intended to help you visualise what is achievable in your destinations of choice, over a given period of time and at an intended budget.
While many clients are happy with of our recommended itineraries in the current form (and at the price quoted), there are those that wish to personalise their holiday in some way, whether it be a change of hotel, an additional destination or even start from scratch. This is when our tailor-made specialists come into their own; with many years of experience both living and working in the region they are ideally equipped to advise on alternatives and to facilitate any necessary changes.
The important stuff
Please note: Japanese hotel contracts are extremely seasonal in comparison to most of their Asian counterparts and therefore you should expect surcharges at various times of the year, including weekends, not just during peak seasons such as Christmas, New Year and Cherry Blossom. Your consultant will be happy to advise you of these.
- English speaking, local guide
- All accommodation listed
- All train tickets and rail passes as listed
- Luggage forwarding service as listed
- 4G Wi-Fi To Go Package
- Any domestic flights listed (unless marked otherwise)
- All admission fees at attractions, temples and activities as mentioned in the itinerary
- All meals listed
- International flight reconfirmation.
- Flights to/from Asia. We are an ATOL bonded operator and can arrange flights for all our clients, regardless of whether you are departing from the UK or from almost any other worldwide destination.
- Entry visas
- International airport departure taxes
- Any meals not listed in the itinerary
- Drinks, other than water on activity days
- Personal expenses (laundry, telephone, drinks, tip...)
- Travel insurance
- All other services not listed in 'inclusive'
All prices are correct at the time of publishing. They are liable to change and can only be confirmed upon submitting an enquiry.
FlightsWe will arrange all internal flights used within our holiday itineraries. We can also arrange discounted flights from all UK airports to Asia and we are a fully bonded ATOL operator. If you would like a quote for your international flights then please complete the required section on the enquiry form.
VisaYou will not require a visa to enter Japan. Your consultant will be happy to advise you on visa requirements.
PassportPlease ensure that you have a valid passport with at least 6 months validity remaining after your return date. You will also need at least one blank page for each of the countries you are visiting.
InsuranceYou will require a comprehensive travel insurance that covers you for medical costs associated with hospitalisation, emergency travel and repatriation back to your home country. We offer our customers a specially discounted insurance policy, ideally suited to the needs that a trip such as this creates. Tick the insurance box in the enquiry form and we will send you a quote to suit your needs.
Vaccinations and Malaria PreventionYou will undoubtedly require vaccinations for your visit to Asia. Please consult your doctor or a vaccination clinic for the most up-to-date advice. They will also be able to advise you of the most suitable anti-malarial medication if required. It is important that you do this well in advance of your departure date.
Booking ProcedureOnly once you are completely happy with any holiday itinerary we create for you will we ask for a payment. In order that we can secure availability for your booking we would typically require a deposit of 20%.
Travelling ResponsiblyWe care about the places and the communities that you will travel through. It is important to us that we travel as responsibly as possible throughout Asia and that we are giving something back to the regions and the people that make these journeys so special. Full details on our approach to responsible travel can be found on a dedicated section of this website.
Our tailor-made service costs you no extra
This itinerary is designed to work straight off the peg, but we'll happily tailor it until it's a perfect fit for you, to ensure we’re making the absolute best of your time and funds. All you need to do is ask...
What to expect from us in Japan
Japan's excellent public transport & exceptional safety allow us to offer a more self-guided experience than we do elsewhere. It's a famously expensive country, so we often suggest more independent exploration, with our exclusive self-guide app on hand to help you unearth our hidden gems. This helps to keep your costs down, and the data is on us.