Japan is a country of hyper-modern cities and timeless countryside, all of which is touched by a unique, largely unadulterated culture. There are many major sights of interest throughout the country, from the neon streets of Tokyo to the peaceful forested mountains inland. For most travellers, getting around Japan can initially be as perplexing as it is captivating, and fully escorted tours offer a great solution.
Rather than trying to figure out all of the administrative and organizational aspects of a trip to Japan on your own, let a tour operator take care of those details so you can focus on the experiencing of it all. Taking into account a number of factors such as the itinerary, value for money, and past traveller reviews, here are five of the best escorted tours of Japan.
From: $3,772/per person
Striking a great balance between significant cultural, natural, spiritual and historical experiences, the 13-day Land of the Rising Sun tour starts off in Tokyo before taking the train out to Nikko with its shrines and temples, like Toshugu. Further along the itinerary are hot-springs in the foothills of Mt. Fuji, Edo-era folk villages around Takayama, an atom bomb memorial and museum in Hiroshima, a samurai castle at Himeji, and the exceedingly photogenic temples of Kyoto, such as Fushimi Inari. There is also a chance to ride a bullet train in amongst all this culture and history.
From $1,403/ per person
Starting and ending in Tokyo is this more compact, yet no less enlightening, eight-day tour that takes in many of the more urban highlights of the country’s main cities. One exception to this is a visit to Mt. Fuji to explore its national park and experience some of the geothermal processes in action, from fumaroles to the numerous hot springs. Religion and history are plentiful in the sights taken in by the tour in both Kyoto and Hiroshima, with a final night spent in Osaka, with time allowed for travellers to explore the city on their own, before returning to Tokyo on a bullet train.
From $3,153/ per person
Allowing plenty of time to delve into the Japan that lies on both the eastern and western sides of Osaka, the Wonders of Japan tour favours the spiritual, traditional and historical sides of the country. Visit the major Zen temples of Kyoto, and pet live, tame deer around the eighth-century Todaiji Buddhist temple at Nara. Towards the end of the 11-day tour, a trip is made to Shikoku Island, where visits to Matsuyama’s castle and to an onsen bath house are included. Guides, meals, transportation and hotel accommodation are all included in the price.
From $2,350/ per person
For a more rapid introduction to the highlights of Japan as they exist to the west of Tokyo, the six-night Tokyo to Kyoto tour provides a good range of visits and experiences. Some of the tour’s highlights include the Hakone ropeway trip and a Lake Ashi boat cruise, all in the region of Mt. Fuji, a tour of Sensoji Temple and the Imperial Palace, both in Tokyo, and a walk through the peaceful bamboo forest at Arashiyama, near Kyoto. Transportation is by bullet train wherever possible to help save time in transit. Accommodation is in 3-star+ hotels with breakfast included.
From $7,810/ per person
When time and money are no object and you wish to have everything taken care of whilst seeing as much of Japan as possible, the 24-day Ultimate Japan tour is a great option. While taking in many of the highlights experienced on the other tours from Tokyo, Ultimate Japan heads all the way west to Nagaksaki to visit the important historical sites from the atom bomb to the remnants of the Edo-period trading town, which was once the only port open to westerners in all of Japan. Of the tour’s many other highlights is a stay in the forests of Takayama, and a trip the remote Yakushima Island.