Journey Through Japan
13 Nights / 14 Days
SAPPORO – SHIRAOI – HAKODATE – HIROSAKI – KAKUNODATE – TSUNAGI – SENDAI – NIKKO – TOKYO – HAKONE – KYOTO –OSAKA
Along with the must-see sites on the island of Honshu and a day trip to Nikko, this is a tour of varying landscapes as it journeys south from Hokkaido uncovering the charming cities of Sapporo, Otaru and Hakodate.
● Discover the northern island of Hokkaido
● Spend the night in a ryokan and bathe in the warm waters of an onsen
● Explore the culture filled town of Nikko
● Admire breathtaking Mount Fuji
● Explore Japan's history in Kyoto
● Visit a sake brewery
Day 1-2 Fly overnight to Sapporo
Fly overnight to Sapporo, capital of the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido. On arrival, you will be met by an English-speaking representative and transfer approximately 1 hour to your hotel. 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.
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.
Day 3 Ascend Okurayama
In the morning, visit the Okurayama Viewing Point and take a 5-minute chair lift to the top of the Sapporo Winter Olympics Ski Jump to enjoy the breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains. Transfer around 1 hour to the pretty port town of Otaru, where you can enjoy strolling along the canal and enjoy lunch at a local restaurant. Return to the hotel and enjoy a couple of hours at leisure before visiting the Sapporo Beer Museum where you can take part in optional beer tasting (up to two beers per person included). Next door to the beer museum is Sapporo Beer Garden where the group will enjoy a Genghis Khan dinner, a Sapporo specialty of BBQ Lamb (other meats and vegetables will be available for those who do not like lamb, but you must advise in advance).
Okurayama Viewing Point – The Okurayama viewing point sits at the top of the 1972 Winter Olympic ski jump, which is still home to many international competitions. From the top you can enjoy stunning panoramic views of Sapporo and Ishikari Bay.
Otaru – Otaru is a small harbour city northwest of Sapporo. Its beautifully preserved canal area, interesting herring mansions and old warehouses give Otaru’s city centre a distinctive character reminiscent of past decades.
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.
Day 4 Travel to Hakodate
Depart Sapporo and travel around 1 and a half hour to a lovely lakeside spot to visit a museum of Ainu culture, an indigenous people of the area. Continue to Noboribetsu Jigokudani (Hell Valley) and walk through a volcanic caldera where you can see steam jets, vents and hot springs. After lunch, board a limited express train and travel 2 and a half hours to the harbour city of Hakodate. Check in to the hotel before heading out for dinner and then ascending the Hakodate ropeway for magnificent views over the illuminated city.
Please note: You will need to pack a small overnight bag for tonight as your main luggage will be transferred this morning directly to your hotel in Aomori, arriving the following day.
Shiraoi Ainu Museum – Ainu are an indigenous people of Japan. Scheduled to open in April 2020, the new museum about Ainu culture will also have a recreated Ainu village and space for cultural experiences.
Noboribetsu Jigokudani – Jigokudani or ‘Hell Valley’ is a spectacular, appropriately named valley which displays hot steam vents, sulfurous streams and other volcanic activity. The 24-acre geothermal crater formed from the eruption of Mt Kuttara around 20,000 years ago.
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.
Day 5 Explore Hakodate Asaichi
Start the day by strolling through Hakodate’s bustling asaichi (morning market), where hundreds of stores and stalls sell fresh local produce, seafood and the odd souvenir before ascending Goryokaku Tower for views over Goryokaku Fort and Mount Hakodate. After lunch, transfer to the train station and take a 1-hour bullet train to the city of Aomori in the north of Honshu, Japan’s largest island. On arrival in Aomori visit to the Nebuta Warasse Museum before transferring to your hotel in Hisosaki for your overnight stay.
Hakodate Asaichi – The Hakodate Morning Market is held daily. Products on sale include different types of fresh seafood such as crabs, salmon eggs and sea urchin, as well as other fresh produce.
Goryokaku Tower – The 98m-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.
Aomori – Aomori City is the northernmost prefectural capital city on Honshu, Japan's main island, best known for its spectacular Nebut a Matsuri summer festival.
Nebuta Warasse Museum – Nebuta Warasse is a museum dedicated to Aomari’s famous, 300-year-old Nebuta Matsuri, a lively annual summer festival. The museum tries to capture the spirit of the festival and give visitors a taste of its lively atmosphere, history and traditions.
Day 6 Tsunagi Onsen
Depart Hirosaki and travel around 3 hours by coach to Kakunodate, an old samurai stronghold still known for its samurai traditions. Visit the Aoyagi Samurai Manor Museum for a fascinating look at samurai culture and stroll around Ishiguro House, a traditional samurai residence. Continue a little over 1 hour to the hot spring resort of Tsunagi, where you can make use of the onsen facilities at the traditional Japanese ryokan where you’ll stay overnight. Overnight accommodation: stay overnight in a ryoken with onsen facilities. Here you will find a futon placed on top of a tatami mat.
Please note: You will need to pack a small overnight bag for the next two nights, as your main luggage will be transferred this morning directly to your hotel in Tokyo.
Aoyagi Samurai Manor Museum – The Aoyagi Samurai Manor Museum is an impressive restored family compound that depict the Samurai way of life from the 17th
● 20th centuries. Inside each structure is a fascinating exhibition of objects, including samurai swords and weapons, clothing, pictures and documents.
Ishiguro House – The Ishiguro Family Clan was the most prestigious Samurai clan in the Kakunodate region. The direct descendants have turned their home into a museum to showcase their samurai heritage, while still residing in the house.
Tsunagi – Tsunagi is a small town surrounded by beautiful mountains and has several onsens in the area.
Day 7 Cruise Matsushima Bay
Transfer 1 and a half hour to Hiraizumi, where you’ll explore Chusonji Temple, with its beautiful old gold leaf-covered hall. Continue another 1 and a half hour to Matsushima to enjoy a relaxed cruise on Matsushima Bay, passing amongst the small pine tree-covered islands of this picturesque seascape. Transfer to Sendai and check in to your hotel for the night.
Chusonji Temple – Chusonji was established in 850 as a temple of the Tendai sect of Buddhism and expanded in the 12th century. At its peak, the temple consisted of dozens of buildings but after a fire in 1337 destroyed nearly everything, only two original buildings remain, alongside more recent reconstructions. Chusonji Temple was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011.
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.
Day 8 Sendai to Nikko
Walk 10-15 minutes to Sendai station and take the bullet train for 1 and a half hour, then transfer 1 hour by coach to the small and charming city of Nikko. Drive by scenic Shinkyo Bridge before visiting the lavish Toshogu Shrine. At the shrine there will be some steps to climb. Continue to the magnificent Kegon Waterfall, taking a 100-metre tall elevator down to a viewpoint where you can look up at the stunning waterfall. You will be walking for approximately 2 hours in Nikko. Drive 2 and a half hours to Tokyo, Japan’s capital city, and check in to your hotel.
Nikko – Nikko is best known for its vast and rich nature as well as famous sightseeing spots, including historical shrines and temples. Many people visit Nikko for its distinctive mystical atmosphere as it used to be the centre of Shinto and Buddhist mountain worship for many centuries.
Toshogu Shrine – Toshogu Shrine is the final resting place of the founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate that ruled Japan for over 250 years until 1868. The extravagantly decorated shrine complex has more than a dozen buildings set in a beautiful forest. Numerous wood carvings and large amounts of gold leaf were used to decorate the buildings in a way not seen elsewhere in Japan, where simplicity was traditionally stressed in shrine architecture.
Kegon Waterfall – The 97-metre tall Kegon Waterfall is Nikko’s most famous waterfall and has been ranked as one of Japan’s three most beautiful waterfalls. Water from Lake Chuzenji falls straight down to the rocks below.
Tokyo – One of the world’s most cutting-edge capital cities, 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 moved it to Tokyo in 1867.
Day 9 Explore Tokyo
Tokyo is the ultimate 24-hour city, but look behind its frantic, high-tech frontage and you’ll find plenty of tranquil backstreets and old temples to explore; today take a tour by coach of this fascinating city. This morning, head to the vibrant Asakusa district and soak up the ambiance of Senso-ji, Tokyo’s oldest Buddhist temple before exploring the Tokyo National Museum. After lunch, visit Meiji Jingu Shrine, a tranquil Shinto shrine set amongst a stretch of woodland and then head up to the observatory deck of the Tokyo Government Office Building for panoramic views of Tokyo and beyond. You will be on your feet for 3-4 hours during your touring in Tokyo.
Asakusa – Asakusa is the centre of Tokyo’s Shitamachi (Old Town) District, where you can get a glimpse of historical 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.
Tokyo National Museum
● Located in Ueno Park, the Tokyo National Museum is Japan’s oldest museum. Here you'll find the world's largest collection of Japanese art, including ancient pottery, Buddhist sculptures, samurai swords, colourful woodblock print s, eloquent kimonos and much, much more.
Meiji Jingu Shrine – The Meiji shrine is dedicated to the spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife Empress Shoken. It is a popular place for traditional Japanese weddings.
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.
Day 10 Admire Mount Fuji
Journey around 2 hours to the base of the famous Mount Fuji. Head up Fuji’s 5th Station for spectacular mountain vistas, please note it is only possible to reach the 5th station if weather permits. If the 5th Station is closed, the Fuji San World Heritage Centre (formerly Fuji Visitor Centre) will be visited instead. Continue to the Hakone area and take a cruise on tranquil Lake Ashi before taking the Komagatake cable car for spectacular views of Mount Fuji and the lake below (weather permitting). Return to Tokyo.
Mount 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.
Komagatake Ropeway – Komagatake Ropeway goes from the shore of Lake Ashi to near the Komagatake peak of Mount Hakone. When the weather and visibility is good, panoramic views of Lake Ashi and Mount Fuji can be enjoyed.
Day 11 Travel to Kyoto
This morning, transfer to the train station to board your 2-hour bullet train to Kyoto. An enchanting city, Kyoto was capital for a thousand years; today, it is the legacy of ancient Japan, full of tranquil temples, silk-clad geisha and sublime gardens. This afternoon, visit Togetsukyo Bridge in the heart of the vibrant Arashiyama district and walk through the bamboo forest. Please note that your luggage will be transferred separately to your hotel in Kyoto and arrive later the same day.
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.
Togetsukyo Bridge – The wooden Togetsukyo Bridge has been a central landmark in Kyoto's Arashiyama District for over 400 years. The bridge spans the Katsura River in front of Arashiyama Mountain. Both cherry blossom season and autumn leaves season draw large crowds, as the scenery is beautiful.
● Famed for the Bamboo grove, Arashiyama is a sightseeing district of Kyoto filled with temples and shrines.
Day 12 Explore Kyoto
Start the day by visiting Kinkakuji Temple, also known as the Golden Pavilion due to its gold-plated exterior. Then, stroll through Nishiki Market, dubbed ‘Kyoto’s kitchen’, where there are many interesting food and sake stores to explore. Arrive back at your hotel and spend the afternoon at leisure until dinner tonight at a local restaurant.
Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavilion) – Kinkakuji Temple is a Buddhist temple and an excellent example of Japanese garden design. The structure is a brilliant golden hue colour and is very minimalistic.
Nishiki Market – A narrow, five block long shopping street lined by more than 100 shops and restaurants, this lively retail market specialises in all things food related, like fresh seafood, produce, knives and cookware. It is a great place to find seasonal foods and Kyoto specialties, such as Japanese sweets, pickles, dried seafood and sushi.
Day 13 Sake Tasting
Try your hand at handkerchief dyeing and then experience the rituals of a tea ceremony accompanied by a Tea Master. After lunch, visit the mesmerising Fushimi Inari Shrine, which stretches from the bottom to the top of Mount Inari (233 metres high). You will walk up part of the mountain; there are some steep steps and the incline allows a steady-paced walk. Tour a traditional sake brewery to learn about this traditional Japanese spirit before transferring 1 hour to the lively city of Osaka.
Fushimi Inari Shrine (Taisha) – An important Shinto shrine in southern Kyoto, Fushimi Inari is most famous for its thousands of vermillion torii gates which form a network of tunnels around the main shrine buildings. The shrine itself is dedi cated to Inari, the Shinto god of rice. There are many fox statues in the grounds of the shrine as foxes are thought to be Inari’s messengers.
Gekkeian Sake Brewery
● Sake is the national alcohol of Japan; a tour of the brewery offers the chance to learn about the manufacturing processes.
Osaka – Osaka is Japan’s third largest city. What Osaka lacks in sightseeing locations, it makes up for with its flamboyance, fun loving people and amazing food.
Day 14 Depart Osaka
This morning is free at leisure before you transfer to Osaka airport for your return flight home.
Please note: Only breakfast is included today. Late check-out is not included in our Journey through Japan tour. If you wish to book a late check-out for your final day in Osaka, 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
Journey through Japan Tour Inclusions:
- All accommodation
- 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
- Specialist advice from our experienced travel consultants
- Comprehensive travel guides
- Safe and secure with ABTA, ATOL and IATA
The only thing you may have to pay for are 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.
13/05/23 & 09/09/23 & 11/05/24 & 14/09/24 .