Japan by Rail
20 Nights / 21 Days
FUKUOKA – NAGASAKI – HIROSHIMA – MIYAJIMA – HIMEJI – OSAKA – NARA – KYOTO – KANAZAWA – TAKAYAMA – YUDANAKA – MATSUMOTO – SUWA – MOUNT FUJI – TOKYO – MATSUSHIMA – SENDAI – HAKODATE – SAPPORO
For those where time is no limit, this is the ultimate top-toe tour of Japan covering three islands in one trip – Kyushu, Honshu and Hokkaido whilst travelling on the bullet train! From rural villages to bustling cities, from coastlines to alpine and from ancient traditions to new-world charm.
● Reflect in Nagasaki & Hiroshima
● Admire Kyoto’s temples
● See the snow monkeys
● Explore bustling Tokyo
● Discover Sendai & Hakodate
● Spend time in Sapporo
Itinerary Japan by Rail
Fly Overnight to Fukuoka Fly overnight to the charming city of Fukuoka, the gateway to the island of Kyushu. Depending on your time of arrival, the rest of the day is yours to start soaking up the local culture. Please note: Early check in is not included. If your flight arrives in the morning and you wish to arrange this, please speak to your reservations consultant. You will be transferred by shared coach with other passengers who are not part of a Wendy Wu Tour. If you are on a shared bus transfer, you may have to walk for a few minutes to get to your hotel. Transfers will differ depending on group size.
Destination Information Fukuoka – Fukuoka sits on the northern shore of Japan’s Kyushu Island, and is the island’s largest city. It is known for ancient temples, beaches and modern shopping malls. Fukuoka is closer to Seoul in South Korea than it is to Tokyo, which means that Fukuoka has been an important harbour city for many centuries.
Explore Nagasaki Begin the day by travelling approximately 2 hours on the Limited Express train to Nagasaki. Upon arrival, enjoy a stroll through the Glover Garden, an open-air museum that exhibits mansions attributed to the Scottish merchant who contributed to the modernisation of Japan. Also visit the Oura Catholic Church and Atomic Bomb Museum before returning to Fukuoka.
Destination Information Nagasaki
● Nagasaki is Japan's closest port city to mainland Asia, it is widely known as the second Japanese city to be destroyed by an atomic bomb in World War II following Hiroshima. Naturally you would assume that following this the city would now be filled with new buildings, however several old buildings and temples remain.
● Located on the hill where Western merchants settled at the end of the era of seclusion in the second half of the 19th century, Glover Garden is home to the mansions of a number of the city;s former foreign residents.
Oura Catholic Church
● the first Western-style building in Japan to be assigned as a national treasure, it was built in 1864 by a French missionary for the growing foreign community in the city.
Atomic Bomb Museum
● commemorating the atomic bombing of Nagasaki in August 1945, the museum was built in remembrance of and with respect for the victims and survivors. The museum highlights firsthand accounts from survivors of the bomb and utilises provocative displays to support its aim of contributing to the abolition of nuclear weapons.
Miyajima Island Say goodbye to Kyushu and board the bullet train for a speedy 1 hour 40 minute journey to Hiroshima, located on Japan’s largest island, Honshu. Upon arrival in Hiroshima, take the ferry across the Seto Inland Sea to the holy island of Miyajima. Here, visit the Itsukushima Shrine and enjoy a momiji manju making experience. Later, return to Hiroshima. *Please note: Renovation works on Miyajima's famous floating torii gate started in 2020 and is expected to last 2 years. During the renovation works, the torii gate will be covered up by scaffolding. While the torii gate will be covered, you can still see the Itsukushima shrine itself as well as enjoying free time on Miyajima Island to explore the local streets or make the walk up to Daisho-in Temple. The covers are expected to be removed by January 2023.* Please note that your luggage will be transferred directly to Osaka so you will need an overnight bag for 2 nights in Hiroshima.
Destination Information Hiroshima – An atomic bomb was dropped over Hiroshima on 6th August 1945, and the city's name became famous worldwide for this unenviable distinction. The destructive power obliterated nearly everything within a 2km radius. The city has been rebuilt and has risen phoenix-like from the ashes with destroyed sites of historical heritage reconstructed. Miyajima – Miyajima is a small island outside of Hiroshima. While officially named Itsukushima, the island is more commonly referred to as Miyajima, meaning 'Shrine Island'. This is because the island is well-known for its main attraction, Itsukushima Shrine, a giant torii gate, which at high tide seems to float on the water. Momiji Manju
● a local speciality on the island of Miyajima, momiji manju is a small, maple leaf shaped cake.
Hiroshima Highlights Spend the day in Hiroshima starting with a visit to the Peace Memorial Park and Museum where you will have the opportunity to pay homage to the victims of the 1945 atomic bomb. Enjoy okonomiyaki for lunch before ascending Orizuru Tower to view the city from above, followed by a stroll through the historical Shukkeien Garden.
Peace Memorial Park and Museum The Peace Memorial Park and Museum
● is one of the most prominent features of the city. The trees, lawns and walking paths are in stark contrast to the surrounding downtown area. Before the bomb, this area was the political and commercial heart of the city and is why it was chosen as the target. The museum focuses on the events of August 6th and the ensuing outcome for the residents.
● Okonomiyaki is a traditional Japanese savoury pancake, the name is derived from the word "okonomi" meaning "how you like" and "yaki" meaning "cooked".
● The 50-metre-tall Orizuru Tower is located beside the A-Bomb Dome and is one of the few tall buildings around the Peace Memorial Park. It offers a great view of the surroundings, including the less commonly seen view of the A-Bomb Dome from above.
● Shukkeien Garden was creating following the completion of Hiroshima Castle in 1620. It's name can be translated to mean "shrunken scenery garden", perfect for a garden that represents beautiful valleys, mountains and forests in miniature form.
Admire Himeji Castle Depart Hiroshima by bullet train, in just 1 hour you will arrive in Himeji to visit the magnificent Himeji Castle, one of Japan’s most impressive feudal era forts followed by a walk through Kokoen, an Edo-style garden just across the castle moat. Continue a further hour by Limited Express to Osaka.
Himeji Castle – Widely considered as Japan’s most magnificent castle for its imposing size and beauty, the well-preserved Himeji castle is both a national and world heritage listed treasure. Himeji Castle has never been destroyed by war, earthquake or fire and sur vives to this day as one of the country's twelve original castles.
● One of Japan's more recently built gardens, Kokoen was built to commemorate the centenary of Himeji City. The gardens are built on the former site of the feudal lord's west residents and consist of 9 separate, walled gardens designed in the style of the Edo period matching it's backdrop of Himeji Castle.
Osaka – Osaka is Japan’s third largest city and is often referred to as the culinary capital. The phrase kuidaore (eat until you drop) could be considered the city's slogan, What Osaka lacks in sightseeing locations, it makes up for with its flamboyance, fun loving people and amazing food.
Osaka & Nara Day Trip Begin the day in Osaka starting with a visit to the Umeda Sky Building followed by a lunch at the famous Dontonburi district. Later, travel 1 hour by road to Nara and explore Todaiji Temple which houses the impressive Daibutsu, a 15-metre tall bronze stature of Buddha. Enjoy an ink making and calligraphy class before returning to Osaka.
Umeda Sky Building The Umeda Sky Building is one of the tallest buildings in Osaka Prefecture and is one of the most recognisable landmarks in Osaka. The 173 metre tall building consists of two towers connect by the stunning "Floating Garden Observatory" which offers panoramic views of the city.
Nara Home to 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Nara is a rewarding destination and a great spot for Japanese culture.
Todaiji Temple A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Todaiji Temple is one of the Seven Great Temples of Japan and is home to the world’s largest bronze statue, Daibutsu.
Kyoto's Temples and Arashiyama Journey by road for approximately 1 and a half hours to Kyoto. Capital for 1,000 years, this enchanting city is the epitome of traditional Japan. Upon arrival, stroll through the Arashiyama bamboo forest and admire the towering thickets. Also visit Ryoanji Temple, home to Japan's most famous zen garden and the famous 'Golden Pavilion' Kinkakuji Temple.
Kyoto – Kyoto was the ancient capital of Japan for approximately 1,000 years until 1867 when it was moved to Tokyo. Many national treasures can be found in Kyoto and in nearby Nara, including old shrines and temples, screen paintings, beautiful gardens, and statues of Buddha.
Ryoanji Temple – Ryoanji Temple is a Zen temple renowned for its garden, which features a dry, sand landscape with large rocks and smooth pebbles.
Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavilion) – Kinkakuji Temple is a Buddhist temple and is an excellent example of Japanese garden design. The structure is a brilliant golden hue colour and is very minimalistic.
Tea Ceremony & Fan Painting The day begins with a visit to Kiyomizu-dera, one the most visited temples in Kyoto. Next, head to a restored Japanese wooden townhouse and immerse yourself in the culture and enjoy the age-old rituals of a tea ceremony and try your hand at fan painting. Also explore Gion, Kyoto’s famous geisha district and centre of the city’s traditional arts.
● One of the most celebrated temples in Japan, Kiyomizu-dera literally translates to "Pure Water Temple" after being founded on the site of Otowa Waterfall in 780. The temple is famous for it's wooden stage that juts out 13 metres above the hillside and offers it's visitors views of the beautiful sea of colours in spring and autumn caused by numerous cherry and maple trees.
Explore Kanazawa This morning travel approximately 2 hours by Limited Express train to Kanazawa and upon arrival, meander your way through Kenrokuen, one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan. Also visit the Nomura Samurai House and Kunani Pottery Factory. Please note your luggage will be transferred directly to Takayama so you will need to pack an overnight bag for one night in Kanazawa.
Kanazawa – Kanazawa is the capital of the Ishikawa Prefecture and is known for its beautiful samurai and geisha districts, as well as its stunning Kenrokuen Garden. Kenrokuen – One of Japan’s ‘Three Great Gardens’, Kenrokuen dates back to the early 17th century and is noticeable for its stunning beauty in all seasons. The spacious grounds were previously the outer garden of Kanazawa Castle, constructed by the Maeda family over a period of almost two centuries.
Nomura Samurai House
● Nomura Samurai House is the only samurai residence that is open to the public in this area and retains the atmosphere of the old glory days of the Samurai.
Shirakawago Village Travel by road to Takayama stopping enroute at Inami for a sake wooden cup making experience and sake tasting. Next, continue to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Shirakawago Village which is famous for its farmhouses built in gassho-zukuri architectural style and take time to explore the village to get a glimpse of rural Japan. Continue to Takayama.
Takayama – Boasting one of Japan’s most atmospheric townscapes, the layout of Takayama dates back to the 17th century and is home to much Meiji architecture.
Shirakawago Village – Alongside Gokayama, Shirakawago is a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its unusual architectural style known as Gassho-Zukuri. The roofs of these houses are tilted at an almost vertical angle.
Discover Takayama Spend the morning browsing the local handicrafts and fresh produce at Miyagawa market, the Takayama Floats Museum and Takayama Jinya. Enjoy the afternoon at leisure or perhaps take a stroll through Kami Sanomachi, Takayama’s old town.
Miyagawa Morning Market – Occurring each morning, there are a number of stalls selling fresh vegetables, local craft works and local food products at the Miyagawa Morning Market.
Takayama Festival Floats Exhibition Hall – Housing the floats from the Takayama Festival, which dates back to the 16th century, the Takayama Festival Floats Exhibition Hall is a great introduction to the cultural celebrations of Takayama.
Takayama Jinya – A former government office dating back to the Edo Period, Takayama Jinya is the only one of its type still remaining. The main work of the office was to handle legal cases and tax collection.
Snow Monkeys Travel to Matsumoto and spend time at the Daio Wasabi Farm to see the plantations and learn about its cultivation. Next, travel to Yudanaka and head to Jigokudani Yaen-Koen. Walk through a picturesque forested valley to the hot pools where you will see the famous Japanese macaques (snow monkeys) bathe and play before returning to Matsumoto.
Jigokudani Yaen-Koen – Home to Japanese Macaques, also known as Snow Monkeys, Jigokudani literally means ‘hell’s valley’. It is named this because of the steam and boiling water that bubbles out of small crevices in the ground. It is in the baths of this hot water that the resident Japanese Macaques like to soak. The monkeys live in large social groups and it can be quite entertaining to watch their interactions.
Matsumoto Castle Begin the day with a visit to the magnificent 16th-century Matsumoto Castle, also known as ‘Crow Castle’, due to its intense black exterior. Next, head to a miso house and learn about the process of making this famous Japanese seasoning. After lunch, travel approximately 1 hour by road to Narai-juku, one of the bestpreserved post towns for a zen mediation experience before continuing a further 1 hour by road to Suwa.
Matsumoto Castle – Matsumoto Castle dates back to the 16th century and is the oldest wooden castle in Japan, it is a "hirajiro" meaning that the castle is built on plains rather than a hill or mountain. The wooden interior of the castle provides an authentic experience that cannot be found in many other castles that have since been rebuilt of ferro-concrete, explore the wooden staircase and observation deck offering views over the surrounding city.
● Miso is a traditional Japanese seasoning, a fermented paste created from a mixture of soybeans, sea salt and rice koji. It is often used in soups, marinades and condiments.
Mount Fuji Travel approximately 1 and a half hours by road to Hakone. Weather permitting, ascend the road to the 5th Station to view Mt Fuji. Also, enjoy a peaceful cruise on Lake Ashi before taking to the skies on the Komagatake Ropeway to enjoy the breathtaking scenery of the below. Later, continue your journey by road for around 2 hours to Tokyo, Japan’s capital city.
Mt Fuji – At 3,776m, Mount Fuji is the highest of Japan's mountains and an iconic symbol of the country. Mount Fuji is notoriously shy and is often enveloped by clouds.
Lake Ashi – Formed after Mount Hakone’s last eruption 3000 years ago, Lake Ashi is the symbol of Hakone and on a clear day offers spectacular views of Mount Fuji in the distance.
Tokyo – Tokyo is a city of contrasts, famous for its neon-lit landscape, towering skyscrapers, peaceful shrines and lovingly tended gardens. Although long the political and cultural centre of Japan, Tokyo became the official capital when the Meiji Emperor m oved it to Tokyo in 1867.
Tour Tokyo A dazzling, high-tech metropolis, Japan’s capital has wonderfully traditional roots. Begin the day with a leisurely stroll through Hamarikyu Gardens. Next, take part in a sushi making class and enjoy your own creations for lunch! Later, soak up the atmosphere at Sensoji Temple, browse the stalls on Nakamise shopping street and drive by the Imperial Palace Plaza.
Hamarikyu Gardens – Hamarikyu Gardens is a beautiful example of Japanese garden style which sits at the mouth of the Sumida River. The traditional garden stands in bold contrast to the adjacent skyscrapers.
Asakusa – Asakusa is the centre of Tokyo’s Shitamachi (Old Town) District, with its traditional craft shops and street food stalls here Asakusa retains the atmosphere of an older Tokyo.
Sensoji Temple – Sensoji Temple is an ancient Buddhist Temple and the oldest in Tokyo. The temple was originally founded in the 7th century. The temple adorns an image of the Buddhist Goddess Kannon, who was said to have been rescued by two fishermen from the Sumida River in Tokyo.
Imperial Palace Plaza – Imperial Palace Plaza is the main residence of the Emperor of Japan. Built on the original site of Edo Castle, the Plaza is made up of a palace, museum and large park.
Even More Tokyo Begin the day at the Tokyo Metropolitan Building and ascend to the observation deck for breathtaking views over the sprawling city. Next, soak up the atmosphere at the peaceful Meiji Jingu Shrine and drive-by the world-famous Shibuya crossing. End the day with a relaxing dinner cruise on Tokyo Bay.
Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building – The 243-metre-tall Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building has two towers, each housing an observatory at a height of 202 metres.
Meiji Jingu Shrine
● built in 1920, Meiji Jingu Shrine is a Shinto shrine dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife,
Empress Shoken, it was completed eight years after the emperor's passing and six years after the passing of the empress. The Meiji period in Japan brought modernisation and westernisation, bring the country to join the world's major powers.
● considered the busiest intersection in the world but certainly the busiest in Japan, Shibuya crossing at times has 30,000 people crossing at one time.
Sip Whisky in Sendai As the tour journeys to northern Honshu, board the bullet train for a short 1 and a half hour journey to Sendai, the largest city in Tohoku. Upon arrival, transfer by road to Matsushima and enjoy a cruise on Matsushima Bay. Also visit Zuigani Temple and the famous Nikka Whisky factory in Sendai. Please note that your luggage will be transferred directly from Tokyo to Sapporo so you will need to pack an overnight bag for two nights in Sendai and Hakodate.
● Sendai is the largest city in the Tohoku region, the modern city was founded by Date Masamune, one of Japan's most powerful lords in the feudal era, in the early 17th century.
Matsushima Bay – Matsushima Bay is considered one of Japan’s Three Great Sights, along with Miyajima and Amanohashidate. The bay is dotted by over 200 small islands covered by pine trees.
● Zuigani Temple is one of the most famous and prominent Zen temples in the Tohoku region, the temple was originally founded in 828 as a temple of the Tendai sect and converted to a Zen temple during the Kamakura period before being restored in 1609 by Date Masamune as his family temple. It is famous for its beautifully gilded and painted sliding doors.
Explore Hakodate Say goodbye to Honshu Island as you board the bullet train to Hakodate located on Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island, this journey will take approximately 3 and a half hours. On arrival, visit the Goryokaku Tower, a star shaped fortress followed by some time at leisure. This evening, journey on the Mt Hakodate Ropeway and enjoy the fabulous views of the city below.
Hakodate – Hakodate is located on Hokkaido’s southern tip. It is known for its delicious, fresh seafood. Hakodate was one of the first Japanese harbour cities to be opened to international trade after the country's era of isolation, and as such has experienced notable foreign influence.
Goryokaku Tower – The 107 metre-tall Goryokaku Tower gives a bird’s eye view of the star-shaped Fort Goryokaku
● a Western style citadel, which was built in the last years of the Edo Period. With over one thousand cherry trees planted along it's moats it is one of Hokkaido's best cherry blossom spots.
Sapporo Sightseeing Board the bullet train for the very last time to Sapporo, this journey will take 3 hours and 45 minutes. On arrival in Sapporo, head to the Clock Tower and Odori Park. This evening, stop by the Sapporo Beer Museum and enjoy a tasting or two, followed by a farewell dinner.
Sapporo – The capital of Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island, Sapporo is known as a winter wonderland after it was introduced to the world during the Winter Olympics which were held in the city in 1972. Sapporo is also one of the nation's youngest major cities and is famous for the Snow Festival held annually in February.
Sapporo Clock Tower
● the clock that features on the Sapporo Clock Tower was purchased in 1881 for Boston while the building was constructed as a drill hall for the Sapporo Agricultural College. Today it is a museum with displays showing the building's history.
Sapporo Beer Museum – Sapporo Beer, one of the oldest and most popular beer brands in the country, has been brewed in Sapporo since 1877. A former brewery from that time now hosts the Sapporo Beer Museum.
Depart Sapporo This morning is free at leisure before transferring to the airport for your return flight home.
*Please note: Only breakfast is included today. Late check-out is not included in our Japan by Rail tour. If you wish to book a late check-out for your final day in Sapporo, please contact our reservations department who can confirm the additional price and make this arrangement for you, subject to availability at the hotel.*
Transfers: In the event that your flight departs outside of the majority group departure time, you will be transferred to the airport by a shared coach (not with other Wendy Wu Tours passengers). If you are on a shared coach transfer, you may have to walk for a few minutes to get to the coach.
- All meals (From dinner on day 1 to breakfast on the last day)
- All sightseeing and entrance fees
- All transportation and transfers
- English speaking National Escort
- Comprehensive travel guides
- Safe and secure with ABTA, ATOL and IATA
The only thing you may have to pay for are International Flights, personal expenditure e.g. drinks, optional excursions or shows, insurance of any kind, early check in or late checkout and other items not specified on the itinerary.
Extras: Please ask our sales team to price the International Flights