A sensory journey to Japan
Days
13
Next group trip
7 Mar
Deposit
£200
Prices between
£4099 - £4399
  • Prices between £4099 - £4399
  • 13 days
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Trip Highlights

meditate with monks meditation with monks
Meditate with monks 

Join a morning meditation session and tea ceremony with a Buddhist monk, to find your inner zen

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Ninja fighting Tokyo Ninja fighting Tokyo
Guerilla warfare

Try out the ancient art of ninja fighting at a traditional school in Kyoto

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Sumo Sport man sumo lessons
Sumo lunch

Tuck into a hearty lunch with a sumo wrestler, and see the warriors in action

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Tsukiji Tsukiji
Sushi skills

Visit the world’s largest fish market as you learn to master the Japanese delicacy

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Cycle east tokyo whisky Japan
Hidden Tokyo

Explore an off-radar Tokyo neighbourhood by bike and pop by boutique night spot, the Tokyo Whisky Library

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miyajima kayak miyajima kayak
Shrine kayaking

Paddle around the Great Torii on Miyajima Island, with oysters and Chablis on the harbour

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What's included

  • 12 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 6 dinners, including an Osaka food safari and sushi making

  • 12 nights’ accommodation in twin room hotels, including traditional ryokans

  • All activities, from ninja classes to kayaking, included. Local Flash Pack guide and driver

  • Max 14 Flashpackers

  • Country travel by bullet trains

About the trip

This dazzling 13-day adventure to Japan is packed with extraordinary events.

We’ll tap into our inner warriors at a ninja school in Kyoto, and have a hearty lunch with a sumo wrestler (before seeing him in action). We’ll escape the crowds of the capital by cycling through a forgotten yet vibrant neighbourhood in the east of the city, and knock back potent liquor at hipster haunt, the Tokyo Whisky Library. We’ll spend two days winding down in the Hakone mountains, hiking spectacular alpine trails and wallowing in the hot spring onsens of a traditional ryokan.

We’ll learn how to make sushi at the world’s largest fish market, and take a foodie foray through the market stalls of Osaka. We’ll boat down the Hozugawa river, take a meditation session with a Buddhist monk and sea-kayak around the sacred shrine that “floats” on Hiroshima Bay.  

Get set for a flavour of real Japan, in all its intoxicating contrasts.

Where you will stay

Hakone Pax-Yoshino

Smart hotel overlooking the Sukumo River

Just a 12 minute walk from Hakone Yumoto Station are these compact but well appointed guest rooms, with an excellent restaurant serving kaiseki, a traditional Japanese tasting menu.

Why we stay here

Make the most of the tranquil onsen spa, which is available for private hire – it will be the most relaxing 45 minutes of your trip.

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Boutique hotel room

Karaksa Hotel, Kyoto

Contemporary rooms in Nakagyo

Spacious rooms (by Japan’s standards – there are much, much smaller, we promise), a simple breakfast buffet that changes daily, wifi, flatscreen TVs and USB ports in every room make Karaksa an ideal base for exploring Kyoto’s fascinating sites.

Why we stay here

It’s right next to Omiya train station and only 10 minutes’ taxi ride from Kyoto train station.

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Sakuraya, Miyajima

Traditional Japanese guesthouse in Miyajim

Woven straw floors, futon beds and green tea in every room make Sakuraya an authentic Japanese experience. Rooms have mountain or sea views, and there’s free wifi.

Why we stay here

Make sure you block out some time for relaxing: down in the basement is an onsen, a traditional Japanese bath fed by geothermal spring water.

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The Flash Pack Promise

Here at Flash Pack, we’re committed to unique adventures that deliver great value for money. We pack our trips with epic experiences (unlike other companies, all activities are included), hand-pick stylish hotels and match you with like-minded people.

Itinerary

Day 1

The hip hangouts of Tokyo

Touch down in Japan’s most animated city: the future-forward metropolis of Tokyo. Prepare to be wowed by a capital city that’s bursting with unique quirks and innovations (even the toilets here are exciting!) Our first stop is to the arty district of Nakameguro. If you were thinking of moving to Tokyo, this charming neighbourhood ticks all the boxes. Away from the tourists and with the scenic Meguro River flowing through it, here you’ll find a laid-back scene of boutique galleries, trendy cafes and stylish bars. It’s one of the hippest areas of Tokyo but remains off the tourist radar. Enjoy a welcome dinner at a typical hipster hangout as you get to know your fellow Flashpackers over your first taste of proper Japanese cuisine and relish this glimpse of real-life Tokyo. Afterwards we’ll head to the top of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, to admire the city’s dazzling panorama of skyscrapers and neon lights.

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Japan foodie

Day 2

Sushi-making and Japanese whisky

Rise early to visit Tsukiji Fish Market – the largest fish market in the world and the setting for making your very own sushi lunch with an expert master. Spend the afternoon at your own pace, or join your guide in the lively district of Akihabara. Throughout this adventure, we’ll be using public transport to travel around. It’s faster than a minibus and it also provides a captivating insight into Japan’s renowned innovation and efficiency. Experience this as we travel to Akihabara, Tokyo’s ‘Electric Town’, a neon jungle of manga stores, electronics and Anime. Come evening, we’ll be sampling the best of Japanese liquor in the suave confines of the Tokyo Whisky Library. Here, a local master-blender will talk you through several whiskies and give you the low-down on the infamous rivalry between the country’s two main whisky companies. (Want a flavour for Japanese whisky in London? Join us at our Japanese whisky tasting in Shoreditch).

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Sushi, Tokyo

Day 3

Cycle Tokyo’s hidden district

Today we’re going off the beaten path and heading east to the district of Kiyosumi-Shirakawa. Away from the crowds of the centre, we’ll immerse ourselves in local life and explore this charming but forgotten neighbourhood. Over coffee at a local cafe, we’ll meet Ito – a born and bred local – who will show us the sights of her hometown via a fleet of Tokyo bikes. You may also get the chance to meet one of the original designers of the Tokyo Bike, who has since gone on to invent his own version. We’ll weave our way to a hidden temple, where you can catch a glimpse of a traditional Buddhist ceremony. Then, it’s time to reward yourself with a bowl of ramen and a craft beer, overlooking a lovely local waterway. This evening, we’ll let loose and experience the electrifying nightlife of Tokyo – your guide can show you some favourite Flash Pack spots.

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cycle Tokyo

Day 4

Have lunch with a sumo wrestler

Tokyo’s bar scene left you with a fuzzy head? No problem – we’re allowing you a leisurely lie-in this morning. Go easy on the carbs at breakfast though because your lunch today is fit for a sumo wrestler – literally. That’s right, today you’ll be lunching with a real, working sumo. Tuck into a typical sumo meal, most likely a hearty Chanko Nabe Hot Pot (a mix of seafood, tofu, mushrooms and noodles), and get to know what life is like for a traditional Japanese wrestler. The rest of the afternoon is yours to do as you please in Tokyo. From cat cafes to Samurai museums, there are plenty of things to see and do in this magnetic city of contrasts. Or, for anyone feeling fragile after last night, there are plenty of peaceful parks to relax in. The spacious lawns and tranquil scenery of Shinjuku Gyoen are just the cure for hangovers.

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japan sumo school

Day 5

Walk the Old Hakone Trail

Today we’re hiking the mountains in Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, home to spectacular lakes, forestland and sweeping views of the snow-capped peak of Mount Fuji. We’ll visit the historic Hakone Checkpoint that leads to the trail of Tokaido, an old highway that connected Tokyo to Kyoto during the Edo period. It will be a full-on day, powering up to panoramic viewpoints, so we’ll pause for a pit stop at a charming 350-year-old teahouse along the way. This evening, soothe tired muscles in our traditional Japanese ryokan (inn), with a steamy onsen. Bathe and unwind in water from a hot spring, fully naked. It’s single sex, optional and sadly anyone with tattoos can’t take part due to their association with the Japanese mafia (or cover small tats with a plaster). Afterwards, dig into a seasonal meal of fresh fish from the Pacific and vegetables from the Hakone mountains.

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Mount Fuji, Japan

Day 6

Hiking and hot springs

This morning, we’ll don our hiking shoes for a wander through this glorious alpine landscape. Providing the weather is on our side, we’ll marvel at panoramic views of Mount Fuji while meandering around forest trails. We’ll leave mainstream routes behind to trek through dappled woodland, across rolling plains and up to vantage points that open out onto the spectacular natural terrain. The rest of the day is yours to do as you fancy. We recommend exploring the quaint towns and shops around Mount Hakone, and moseying around some of the local museums. Our favourites include the Open Air Museum with its quirky assortment of sculptures dotted along the side of the mountain, or the Museum of The Little Prince, the world’s only gallery dedicated to the novel by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Come evening, head back to your inn for dinner and another blissful dip in the hot springs.

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Hakone onsen Japan

Day 7

Learn the art of ninja warfare

This morning we’ll make a beeline for the cultural capital of Kyoto. A true bucket-list city, no trip to Japan is complete without a visit to this ancient and beguiling hub. We’ll hop aboard a mountain train out of the national park, before jumping on a Japanese bullet train. Zoom along at 320 kilometres per hour to reach Kyoto, where we’ll wander along its quaint streets to the 1200-year-old Buddhist temple, Kiyomizu Dera. In the afternoon, it’s time to don your robes and headbands, and embrace your inner ninja. Have your swords and blow-darts at the ready, as an expert instructor teaches you the time-honoured art of Japanese combat. Afterwards, stroll along the lantern-lined Pontocho Alley, in a quintessential Kyoto experience. Then spend your evening in an izakaya – Japan’s equivalent of a gastro-pub – where you can enjoy a steady stream of sake and flavour-packed local dishes.

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japan ninja school

Day 8

A shrine climb and sake-fuelled karaoke

Wake up this morning ready to get back to nature, with a visit to the legendary Fushimi Inari Shrine. We’ll pass through thousands of majestic red gates, known as torii, that lead to beautiful walking trails along Mount Inari. After 30 minutes’ hiking, we’ll leave the tourists behind for a vast expanse of epic scenery. Then, after four hours’ trekking through the gentle-wooded hills, we’ll reach the mountain peak for uninterrupted views and incredible photo opportunities beneath the bold red arches of the shrine. In the afternoon we suggest you explore the old district of Gion, which is full of charm and the odd geisha, before this evening’s entertainment. Get set to sing your heart out: we’re indulging in one of Japan’s favourite past-times, in the karaoke bars of Kyoto. With all your drinks included, this promises to be one hilarious night. Grab the mic and show ‘em what you’re made of.

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Fushimi shrine

Day 9

Bamboo forest and a boat ride

After a wild night of singing, we think you’ll need something calmer to temper your throbbing head and vocal cords. So, this morning we’re heading west to Arashiyama, where you can channel your inner zen in the resplendent bamboo forest and Tenryu-Ji temple. Here, you’ll find 14th century showstopper gardens that have remained pristine come wars, fires and other historical dramas. Temple-hop through the picturesque countryside, wandering past Buddhist shrines and enchanting dragon murals. From here, we’ll catch a train through the alluring forest to the Hozugawa river, where your boat awaits. We’ll step aboard a traditional riverboat for a leisurely two-hour ride through this rural wonderland, with birds flying overhead and boatmen steering the way with bamboo poles. Revel in this tantalising glimpse of rural life, as you float past scenic woodland, with an eye out for Mount Atago in the distance. Anyone for some river-side sake?

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boat ride Japan

Day 10

Cycle Kyoto and meditate with monks

Saddle up for a cycling adventure through Kyoto. First stop: the Daisen-In Temple for a meditation class with a Buddhist monk, followed by a traditional tea ceremony. Next, we’ll head to the Golden Pavilion at the Kinkaku-ji Zen Buddhist Temple – a mesmerising show of intricate Japanese architecture. We’ll wander around the lake before cycling to the Grounds of the Imperial Palace to explore the gardens, pedal over quaint bridges and around picturesque ponds. This afternoon, swap your bikes for the bullet train, as we zip to Hiroshima. Having been destroyed by the infamous atomic bomb of 1945, this resilient city has rebuilt over time, and now it’s home to an influx of trendy bars. At one such bar we’ll feast on all-you-can-eat savoury pancakes. Known as “okonomiyaki” (meaning “grilled as you like it”), these moreish delicacies come with a variety of fillings and there’s no better welcome to your new city base.

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meditate with monks

Day 11

Sea kayaking, oysters and Chablis

You can’t visit the revived city of Hiroshima without confronting its tragic past, so this morning we’re heading to the Peace Memorial Park and Museum. After this sombre yet expertly crafted reflection, we’ll move on to the scenic island of Miyajima. Home to picturesque shrines, beaches and waterfalls, there’s also friendly local deer here, and the striking Great Torii site is seen to be “floating” in Hiroshima Bay. You’ll soon be floating yourself, as we take to the Miyajima waters on kayaks to paddle around this scenic island. Come evening, we suggest you make the most of Miyajima’s serene waterfront, known for its winning combination of oysters and Chablis. Indulge in this delightful local delicacy and enjoy the picturesque view of the seafront, before we make our way to a traditional ryokan for the night. Tuck into a local Japanese meal before snuggling up in your traditional futon bed.

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kayaking on miyajima island

Day 12

A foodie foray around Osaka

Wake up fresh for a morning mosey through Miyajima’s scenic streets and waterfront. Then, catch a bullet train ride to the dazzling city of Osaka. Known as a city of “kuidaore” (meaning “eat till you drop”), this afternoon, we’re taking a food foray around a string of insider hot spots. Your guide will lead you down secret back streets to discover bars and restaurants that may look like apartments or office blocks from the outside, but are actually home to the tastiest food in town. Savour all sorts of delicious local delicacies, from okonomiyaki (pancakes filled with grilled squid or pork) to takoyaki (fired octopus dumplings) and the best kitsune udon in the whole of Japan. Then as the city kicks into gear at night, the adventure continues with an evening bar crawl after one final dinner. It’s your last night with your fellow Flashpackers, so embrace this buzzing city and toast your adventure in high-flying style.

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japan foodie street

Day 13

Back to reality

Today marks the end of our riotous Japanese adventure. Armed with your trusty Japan Rail Pass, you can either catch the three-hour bullet train back to Tokyo, or fly out from Osaka. Either way, jet home on a high from your exhilarating getaway. You’ve left the tourists far behind by cycling through the back streets of eastern Tokyo, and kayaking out on Hiroshima Bay. You’ve lunched with a sumo wrestler and learnt the art of ninja warfare in Kyoto. You’ve trekked to ancient temples and mountain shrines, and wallowed in hot springs. You’ve taken a food safari around Osaka, and revelled in sake and whisky-tasting sessions. You’ve been dazzled by the neon landscapes of Japan’s leading cities, and recharged in the peace of a countryside boat trip. From sushi-making and serene bamboo forests to meditation classes with a monk, it’s been 13 days of extreme contrasts. Who fancies rewinding and starting from the top?

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Shinsekai District Osaka Japan neon lights shopping city

On the map

Important notes
  • Fly into Tokyo Haneda Airport or Narita International Airport and fly out of Osaka International Airport. Or, get the bullet train to Tokyo and fly from Haneda or Narita Airports.
  • Do remember that Tokyo is over three hours away from Osaka, where your adventure ends, so avoid booking a morning flight home.
  • This adventure uses public transport, as it is super-reliable and the fastest way to see Japan. So it’s a bit different from all our other adventures, where we travel by private minibus.
  • Upon arrival on day one, please arrive at Haneda airport by 3pm and make your own way to the hotel.
  • We spend three nights in a ryokan, which is a traditional Japanese inn. Flashpackers looking for a truly Japanese experience will love it, however it is lacking the mod cons and facilities of a typical Flash Pack hotel. Do ask our Flash Pack team if you have any ryokan related questions!
  • Please be aware that hotel rooms in Japan are small and the hotels in this particular adventure are not luxury. 
  • Please be aware that the itinerary, activities and hotels are subject to change. These changes can happen with little notice due to availability, poor weather, seasonal changes, or other circumstances beyond our control. From time to time we may also make changes to your itinerary to try out new ideas and keep things fresh. 
  • We take safety very seriously on Flash Pack adventures, click here to learn more.

Trip dates

12 Nights
Deposit
£200
Total
£4399
Guaranteed
12 Nights
Deposit
£200
Total
£4399
Sold Out
Select
12 Nights
Deposit
£200
Total
£4399
Sold Out
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12 Nights
Limited
Deposit
£200
Total
£4399
Guaranteed
12 Nights
Deposit
£200
Total £4499
£4399
On Sale
12 Nights
Deposit
£200
Total £4399
£4299
Guaranteed
12 Nights
Deposit
£200
Total £4299
£4199
On Sale
12 Nights
Deposit
£200
Total
£4299
Guaranteed
12 Nights
Deposit
£200
Total £4299
£4199
On Sale
12 Nights
Deposit
£200
Total £4299
£4199
On Sale
12 Nights
Deposit
£200
Total £4199
£4099
On Sale
12 Nights
Deposit
£200
Total £4399
£4299
On Sale
12 Nights
Deposit
£200
Total £4399
£4299
On Sale
12 Nights
Deposit
£200
Total £4499
£4399
On Sale
12 Nights
Deposit
£200
Total £4499
£4399
On Sale