2 WEEKS IN JAPAN: A CAPTIVATING JOURNEY

The glitz of Tokyo. The serenity of Koyasan. The beauty of Kyoto. The nightlife of Osaka. This 2 week Japan tour reveals it all

13 Days, 12 Nights     FROM JPY 353,625 / PERSON

This in-depth 2 week Japan tour takes you to such cultural capitals as Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, as well as to the majestic peaks and ancient castle towns of the Japanese Alps. You’ll follow the footsteps of ancient nobility as you trek through the famed Nakasendo, then journey to the sacred mountain of Koyasan via one of Japan’s most scenic train routes. Encounter history on every street corner in Kyoto and sample irresistible delicacies at tiny taverns in Osaka. These two weeks in Japan will open your eyes and thrill your senses.

Your fully customizable two-week Japan tour begins in Tokyo, where you’ll take a boat cruise down the Sumida River and get acquainted with Japanese tradition and culture at a short tea ceremony.

Then, head to the majestic peaks of the Kiso Valley, also called the “Japanese Alps”. You’ll wander through traditional neighborhoods, visit a castle, and stay in a Japanese ryokan while touring the mountain towns of Matsumoto, Kamikochi, Tsumago, Shirakawago and Takayama. After hiking through the countryside on the ancient Nakasendo trade route, you’ll head to Kyoto, the cultural capital of Japan.

In Kyoto, be immersed in the beauty and elegance of some of the city’s 17 World Heritage Sites. Then, it’s one more stop in lively Osaka to cap off your 2-week Japan tour with phenomenal street food and a bit of nightlife!

 

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“Japan has historically rich, beautifully preserved towns and sites that many tourists don’t even know about. We’ll show you these hidden spots as well as world-renowned attractions on this tour.”

Fabrice, Backyard Travel Japan Specialist

UNFORGETTABLE EXPERIENCES

Visit an Edo Period (1603–1867) mountain town in the stunning Kiso Valley
Trek the best-loved portion of the Nakasendo Route
Go street-food hopping in lively Osaka, followed by a bit of nightlife
Find entertainment and relaxation on a boat cruise on Tokyo’s Sumida River

Daily Itinerary

2 WEEKS IN JAPAN: A CAPTIVATING JOURNEY

  • Daily Itinerary
  • Day 1: Arrival in Tokyo

    Welcome to your cultural 2-week Japan tour! Upon arrival in Tokyo, you’ll be welcomed by our representative who will help transfer you either by train or limousine bus to your hotel. The rest of the day is free to spend at your leisure.

    Overnight in Tokyo

    No meals included in this day
    None

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  • Day 2: Tokyo

    Today after breakfast, your 2-week Japan tour takes you on a full-day tour of Tokyo’s many highlights. Your expert guide will meet you at your hotel and lead you on a journey of discovery using the city’s hyper-efficient train system.

    Start the day with a visit to Hamarikyu-teien, a delightful oasis surrounded by a sea of skyscrapers. This former private garden of an Edo-period lord houses a lake with a teahouse located on a tiny island. Here, you’ll witness a short tea ceremony and try a taste of matcha, Japanese green powder tea.

    Next, you’ll see Tokyo from a different perspective on a boat cruise on the Sumida River.

    Asakusa, the city’s oldest Geisha quarters, will be your next stop. This atmospheric neighborhood is a part of Tokyo’s shitamachi (or “old town”), and is also home to Senso-ji, the oldest Buddhist temple in Tokyo. The narrow streets and alleys around Senso-ji are full of little shops that sell traditional Japanese handicrafts and souvenirs.

    In the afternoon, to wrap up your city tour, go on an exploration of Meiji Jingu, Tokyo’s most famous shrine. Dedicated to the spirit of the late Emperor Meiji, the shrine is a popular site for Japanese weddings and, if you’re lucky, you may see a happy couple here dressed in traditional Shinto wedding garments.

    Then, take a walk down “Tokyo’s Champs-Elysees,” Omotesando. This broad, tree-lined avenue is filled with flagship designer shops and boutiques.

    Please note: The order of activities in this itinerary may change depending on the location of your hotel.

    Overnight in Tokyo

    Meals included on this day: Breakfast

    2Shibuya Crossing in Downtown Tokyo, Japan.
  • Day 3: Tokyo – Matsumoto

    Today is a self-guided day.

    Today you’ll travel to Matsumoto, a small but historical castle town surrounded by vineyards, rice fields, wasabi horseradish farms and the majestic Japanese Alps. Upon arrival in Matsumoto, the day is free to spend at your leisure.

    Suggested Self-Guided Itinerary: Take an afternoon stroll to see the city’s many historical sites. First, head to Matsumoto Castle, one of Japan’s twelve remaining original castles. The castle’s black exterior, red arched bridge and views of the Japanese Alps make it quite distinct.

    Just outside the castle is Nakamachi-dori, a merchant district rich with history. The streets are lined with preserved historical buildings, such as traditional storehouses boasting their characteristic thick, white-painted walls.

    Overnight in Matsumoto

    Meals included: Breakfast

    japan art tour: discover the japanese architecture in Osaka's Matsumoto castle - Backyard Travel
  • Day 4: Matsumoto, Day Trip to Kamikochi

    Today is a self-guided day.

    Suggested self-guided itinerary: Head out early today on an excursion to the valley of Kamikochi. This exquisite, scenic region is home to a popular nature trail that winds through the Matsumoto valleys, with views of the Azusa-gawa River and the surrounding Japan Alps.

    Begin from the mirror-like Taisho-ike Pond that reflects vistas of the Hotaka Mountain Range and the volcanic Mount Yakedake that rises 2,455 meters above sea level. Continue past Tashiro Marsh and grab a seat on the departing bus at the bus terminal. Restrooms and food vendors will be available here if you need a quick break.

    Upon arrival in Kamikochi, you’ll disembark near Kappabashi Bridge, one of the best places in the region to enjoy expansive views.

    From here, an hour trek leads to Myojin-bashi Bridge, which marks the entry to Hotaka-jinja Shrine and Myojin-ike Pond. A small teahouse here called Kamonjigoya serves grilled freshwater fish and soba, if you’d like to take a lunch break.

    From the Myojin area, trek another hour through the tranquil forests to arrive back at the opposite side of Kappabashi Bridge.

    (Please note: This trail offers an easy-to-moderate walk that can be completed in roughly 4 hours, including restroom and meal breaks. Kamikochi is open from mid-April to mid-November. During all other months, the roads are closed due to heavy snow.)

    Overnight in Matsumoto

    Meals included: Breakfast

    4japan culinary tour - vendor preparing products for selling in the traditional market ,teramachi street of kyoto - Backyard Travel
  • Day 5: Matsumoto – Kiso Valley

    Today is a self-guided day.

    Today your 2-week Japan tour brings you via the renowned Nakasendo Route to Kiso Valley. The Nakasendo is one of the historical “Five Routes” that connected Kyoto to Edo in ancient Japan and offers an especially cultural experience while traveling through Japan.

    From Matsumoto Station, take a 75-minute train ride to Nakatsugawa Station. Exit the station and catch the local bus to Magome (roughly a 30-minute ride), a post town that thrived during the Edo Period. Upon arriving in Magome, we recommend stopping by the tourist information center (open 08:30–11:30 from 21 March to 30 November) to send your bags by courier to your accommodation in Tsumago. That way, you can travel the Nakasendo trail luggage-free.

    The trail from Magome to Tsumago is perhaps the best-loved leg of the Nakasendo. The trail from the Magome Bus Stop to Tsumago can be walked in roughly 3 hours, including a few quick restroom breaks and stopping for refreshments.

    Arrive in the post town of Tsumago, which has preserved its old-world charm. Similar to Magome, Tsumago enjoyed its heyday during the Edo Period when merchants, nobility and influential people passed through on journeys to the capital.

    Tsumago became a National Designated Architectural Preservation Site in the late 1970s, due to the remarkable efforts of local residents to preserve the town’s historical structures.

    (Please note: For guests who prefer to stay at a regular hotel, we recommend Hotel Kisoji in Tsumago. Supplementary charges apply).

    Hiking Distances and Elevations:
    Magome-juku to Magome-toge Pass: 2.2 kilometers (60 mins), 620-meter elevation at trailhead
    Magome-toge Pass to Otaki and Metaki Falls: 2.5 kilometers (50 mins), 801 meter elevation at Magome-toge Pass
    Metaki Falls to Tsumago-juku: 3.3 kilometers (60 mins), 430-meter elevation at the latter part of the trail

    Overnight in Tsumago

    Meals included: Breakfast and dinner

    5
  • Day 6: Kiso Valley – Takayama

    Today is a self-guided day.

    After an early breakfast, head to Takayama, a unique village nestled in the Hida Mountains. The first leg of your journey will be a 10-minute bus ride from the Tsumago Bus Stop to the Nagiso Bus Stop. Then, you’re in for a spectacular treat: the next leg of your journey will be via the “Wide View” limited express train, which is considered one of Japan’s most scenic train journeys. (Approximately a 4.25-hour train journey.)

    Suggested self-guided itinerary: Upon arriving in Takayama, we recommend taking a stroll through the shitamachi. Here, century-old merchants’ homes and sake breweries line the atmospheric streets. Duck into one of the breweries to taste the local products or head to a food stall for a bite of the famous Hida beef sushi.

    Your accommodations in Takayama will also offer a unique experience: you’ll stay in a ryokan, a traditional Japanese-style inn. The ryokan’s low tables and chairs, sliding shoji doors, and tatami flooring offer a quintessential taste of old Japan.

    Overnight in Takayama

    Meals included on this day: Breakfast and dinner

    SONY DSC
  • Day 7: Takayama, Day Trip to Shirakawago

    This morning, your 2-week Japan tour gives you a morning of leisure to explore Takayama, relax at your ryokan, or anything else you may desire. If you’re feeling active, you can also opt to take one of our short morning tours:

    Optional Activity 1: Food and Culture Walk
    A knowledgeable guide will take you on an exploration of some of Takayama’s most interesting food shops and stalls. As you sample the local delicacies, you’ll learn about Takayama’s colorful history. On the tour, you’ll visit a tofu maker, a rakugan shop (traditional Japanese sweets), and a sake brewery. All tastings are included. (Please note: Some stores may be closed on certain days).

    Start Time: 09:30
    Duration: 2.5 hours

    Optional Activity 2: Walking Tour in Hida Furukawa
    Hida-Furukawa, a charming historical village considered the “twin town” of Takayama, offers some fascinating cultural and historical insights. Take a 15-minute train ride from Takayama Station to Hida-Furukawa Station. A local expert guide will meet you and lead you through the town’s notable sites, explaining the history of the town and the customs of the locals as you go. You’ll learn how Hida-Furukawa and its people have maintained a culture that originates in the Muromachi era (1337–1573).

    Start Time: 10:00
    Duration: 2.5 hours

    In the afternoon, you’ll travel by bus (50 minutes) to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Shirakawago.

    This well-preserved mountain village is famed for its farmhouses, which are built in the unique gassho-zukuri style. Gassho-zukuri translates to “constructed like hands in prayer.” You’ll see why when you see the steep, thatched roofs of these farmhouses. Remarkably, these roofs were built without any nails and are designed to withstand the weight of heavy snow.

    These farmhouses are private homes, but several are open to the public. One of particular note is Wada House—the estate of the powerful Wada Family, who were the richest family in the region and served as village leader in Ogimachi.

    Overnight in Takayama

    Meals included: Breakfast and dinner

    visit Higashi chaya district on a kanazawa tour, Japan - Backyard TravelJapanese Red Umbrella/Janome
  • Day 8: Takayama – Kyoto

    Today is a self-guided day.

    We encourage you to take one last, relaxing soak in the onsen at your ryokan before embarking on your journey to Kyoto, the cultural capital of Japan. Kyoto is home to 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, roughly 2,000 temples and shrines, and a rich historical tapestry that makes itself evident on almost every street corner.

    Depart Takayama Station and arrive at Kyoto Station 3 hours later. The rest of the day is at your leisure.

    Overnight in Kyoto

    Meals included: Breakfast

    810
  • Day 9: Kyoto

    Today, enjoy a full-day tour of Kyoto’s brightest highlights. You’ll visit Nijo Castle, famous for its Momoyama architecture, decorated sliding doors and “chirping” nightingale floors. Located amid stunning gardens, this castle was built in 1603 by the shogun as his Kyoto residence.

    Continue to serene Ryoan-ji Temple, the home of the Myoshinji School of the Rinzai Buddhist sect. The temple is famous worldwide for its iconic rock garden.

    Then, head to the nearby Golden Pavilion, or Kinkakuji, which was originally constructed as a retirement villa for the shogun. At his request, it was converted into a Buddhist temple after his death. Today, the remarkable gold-gilded temple is one of Kyoto’s most famous structures.

    Next, you’ll visit Kiyomizu-dera Temple, also known as “Pure Water Temple.” This beautiful, sacred site is located on the steep face of Mount Otowa. Its veranda offers famously magnificent views of Kyoto. The temple is also noted for the fact that the veranda, along with the main hall, was constructed entirely without the use of nails or joiners. (Please note: Some parts of Kiyomizu-dera may be undergoing renovations.)

    Your full day of sightseeing ends with a stroll through the little lanes of Higashiyama, where warrens of traditional shops sell such souvenirs as Kiyomizu-yaki pottery, pickles and sweets.

    Overnight in Kyoto

    Meals included: Breakfast

    Japan Hiroshima Shukkeien Gardens
  • Day 10: Kyoto, Day Trip to Nara

    Today is a self-guided day.

    Enjoy a morning at your leisure in Kyoto. Then, in the afternoon, journey the 45 minutes by train to Nara with your included Japan Rail Pass. Nara, a historic town that served as the capital of Japan for just 74 years in the 8th century. Today, this ancient city still retains many of its temples and shrines, many of which are clustered around the beautiful grounds of Nara Park. We recommend visiting Todaiji Temple, the world’s largest wooden building and home of the largest Buddha statue in Japan. You might also opt to see Kasuga Taisha, Nara’s most celebrated shrine.

    Nara Park, commonly called “Deer Park,” is filled with tame deer. You’ll certainly spy many of these graceful animals as you stroll through the park. Your private driver will transfer you back to Kyoto in the afternoon.

    Overnight in Kyoto

    Meals included on this day: Breakfast

  • Day 11: Kyoto – Koyasan

    Wave goodbye to Kyoto today as you make your way to Koyasan, the sacred mountain and center of Shingon Buddhism for over 1,200 years. Home to more than 100 temples, Koyasan and its surroundings has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.

    You’ll travel from Kyoto to Koyasan by train (approximately 3 hours), meeting your local guide at Koyasan Station. The final leg of the journey is sure to be a highlight of the visit: you’ll make your final ascent via a cable car that winds its way up the mountain slopes, providing one of Japan’s most scenic journeys. Led by your guide, spend the afternoon exploring some of Koyasan’s most culturally significant sites and gaining deep insights into Japanese Buddhism.

    Visit Kongobuji, the Shingon sect’s head temple. Kongobuji is also home to Japan’s largest rock garden. Continue on to Japan’s largest cemetery, known as Okuno-in. Here, you’ll find the mausoleum of Kobo Daishi, the founder of Shingon Buddhism. The approach to Okuno-in begins from Ichino Hashi Bridge and stretches for 2 kilometers. The area provides a tranquil setting for more than 200,000 tombstones, many of which belong to feudal lords, prominent monks, and even acclaimed Japanese companies. At the end of the trail, you’ll find Gokusho Offering Hall, Torodo Hall of Lanterns, and Kobo Daishi’s Mausoleum.

    After the walking tour, your guide will transfer you to the shukubo (temple accommodations), where you’ll dine on famed Buddhist cuisine.

    Overnight in Koyasan

    Meals included on this day: Breakfast and dinner

    11
  • Day 12: Koyasan – Osaka

    Today is a self-guided day.

    To complete your spiritual experience at Koyasan, we highly recommend joining the Morning Prayer, which starts at around 06:00. In the tranquil prayer hall, you’ll be immersed in the chanting of the monks—a truly otherworldly experience. (All prayers are in Japanese but some priests may provide a simple English explanation at the end of the prayer.)

    After the prayer concludes, head to the temple’s dining room for a shojin ryori breakfast. Spend the rest of the morning at your leisure until it’s time to depart by train for Osaka.

    It’s roughly a 2-hour ride from Koyasan Station to Nankai Namba Station. Upon arrival in Osaka, the rest of the day is free to explore at your leisure.

    Suggested self-guided itinerary: In Osaka, we recommend visiting Dotonbori and Umeda. Dotonbori is the city’s most renowned gastronomic district, and was once the setting of Osaka’s entertainment and pleasure quarters. Today, it is home to bright lights, charismatic shop owners, and places to sample countless regional specialties, such as takoyaki (octopus balls), okonomiyaki (savory cabbage-and-pork pancake) and fugu (blowfish).

    Umeda, on the other hand, is arguably Osaka’s most modern district. The attractions here include HEP (Hankyu Entertainment Park), which houses a giant Ferris wheel; Kitashinchi District; and the unique, twin skyscrapers known as the Umeda Sky Building. The area is also perfect for souvenir shopping. At some point during your exploration, don’t forget to take in the 360-degree panoramic views at the “Floating Garden Observatory”.

    Optional Activity: Osaka Soul Food Tour
    It’s official: Osaka is the best place in the country to experience the flamboyant and winsome world of Japanese street food culture. It’s no wonder the city’s motto is Kuidaore!—or, “Eat ’til you drop!” On this tour, you can do just that by sampling Osaka’s famed soul food and local delicacies. Osaka is also a great place for some seriously entertaining nightlife, due to the big personalities of the locals.

    Your food expert will meet you at 17:30 in Dotonbori and lead you on a tour of about 4 different venues. You’ll begin by sampling some of Osaka’s best-loved dishes in Dotonbori, whose warren of narrow lanes is replete with tiny but vibrant shops, restaurants and taverns. You’ll taste fresh okonomiyaki made to order, as well as Michelin-rated takoyaki.

    Continue on and indulge in some fresh sushi paired with a local brew. You’ll get the chance to interact with your sushi chef as you eat. Finally, wrap up your street food tour with a stroll through a district of tiny bars, each boasting its distinctive style. (The duration of the tour is roughly 3 hours.)

    Overnight in Osaka

    Meals included: Breakfast

    http://www.dreamstime.com/-image17942987
  • Day 13: Departure from Osaka

    We hope you enjoyed your 2-week Japan tour! Your last day is free until it’s time for your transfer to Kansai International Airport. (Roughly a 50-minute journey from JR Namba Station or JR Shin-Osaka Station to Kansai Airport.)

    Meals included: Breakfast

    13

All of our Tours can be Tailored, Just Ask!

Local vietnamese woman

Tour Details

These 2 weeks in Japan can be tailored to your requirements, allowing us to create the perfect holiday just for you. Contact us with your holiday ideas, no matter how big or small, and we’ll start planning your unique personalized trip!

Tour prices are a guideline only, and are based on two persons travelling together, sharing a double or twin room. Each tour price and can be adjusted depending on budget, activities included and standard of accommodation desired.

Tour and airfare prices include all applicable taxes and are subject to change without prior notice until services are booked.

You, your holiday and booking direct: Backyard Travel are on the ground year-round in Asia, which means you are booking direct with a local travel company, allowing you to save on the cost of your holiday. Our tailor-made tours are designed by local Travel Specialists who investigate every aspect of the trip themselves, giving you a unique view of each destination.

icon Included in this Backyard Travel tour:

Accommodation with daily breakfast at selected hotels
Private tours, transfers and all services as mentioned in the itinerary
Services of a private driver and air-conditioned vehicles, where mentioned
Service of English speaking guides in every location, where mentioned
Entrance fees for all mentioned sights visited
Meals as mentioned in the itinerary

icon Not included in this Backyard Travel tour:

Domestic and international flights
Departure taxes if applicable
Meals other than those mentioned in the itinerary
Early check-in and late check-out at hotels
Personal expenses (such as laundry, telephone, drinks, etc.)
Tips for guides and drivers
Personal travel insurance
Visa fees (contact us for further information)



Talk to us about Your Holiday

Our advantage lies in having local expertise to create unique, bespoke tours. Whether you’re looking to cruise down Asia’s tranquil rivers, bike the peaceful rural roads, or eat at bustling night markets, Backyard Travel’s in-country Travel Specialists can plan your ideal trip. Send us a message about your ideas, and we'll send you our best suggestions.


 

 

 

Why Backyard Travel?


Our experienced travel specialists possess years of local insider knowledge, because they live here.

We have offices in all of our destinations in asia, fully staffed and open all year-round.

With backyard travel you are booking direct, allowing you to save and benefit local residents.

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What's your ideal vacation? Let us know and a Travel Specialist will be in touch within 12 working hours to start planning a tailor-made trip just for you.
Start Planning your Trip!

 

 

Start Planning your Trip!
What's your ideal vacation? Let us know and a Travel Specialist will be in touch within 12 working hours to start planning a tailor-made trip just for you.
Start Planning your Trip!
What's your ideal vacation? Let us know and a Travel Specialist will be in touch within 12 working hours to start planning a tailor-made trip just for you.
Start Planning your Trip!
What's your ideal vacation? Let us know and a Travel Specialist will be in touch within 12 working hours to start planning a tailor-made trip just for you.
Start Planning your Trip!
What's your ideal vacation? Let us know and a Travel Specialist will be in touch within 12 working hours to start planning a tailor-made trip just for you.