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Cycle the backstreets of Tokyo, hike through the Hakone Mountains with traditional onsen bathing, and uncover the cultural sights of Kyoto
Sensory Japan: Tokyo, Kyoto and the Hakone Mountains
Enjoy lunch with local sumo wrestlers and learn about this unique sport
Meditate at Daisen-in Temple under the guidance of a Buddhist monk
Channel your inner ninja in a hands-on introduction to Japanese combat
Visit the world’s largest fish market and learn to master the Japanese delicacy
Uncover the city’s hidden secrets by bike with a local guide
From ultra-modern Tokyo to historic Kyoto, uncover Japan’s most iconic cities on this 13-day adventure.
Your adventure will begin in Tokyo, where you’ll cycle its vibrant backstreets and learn how to make sushi at the Tsukiji Fish Market. From there, you’ll head into the Hakone Mountains, home to pristine lakes and Mount Fuji. Then, journey down to Kyoto and Osaka to immerse yourself in mindful meditation and sea-kayaking.
Japan is where ancient tradition meets electrifying modernity, a contrast you might just fall in love with.
Remember, flights aren't included and prices are based on sharing a twin room. If you'd like to upgrade to a single room, you can add this during the booking process or by contacting our Customer Experience team.
Touch down in Tokyo, Japan’s future-forward capital and its most animated city. Your first stop will be the artsy district of Nakameguro, lined with boutique galleries, cafes and bars. Despite being one of Tokyo’s most stylish neighbourhoods, it remains a largely undiscovered area. Enjoy a welcome feast with your fellow travellers, before heading to the top of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building to admire the panoramic views.
You’re off to an early start this morning as you head out to Tsukiji Fish Market. Step into the largest fish market in the world, where you’ll learn the fine art of sushi-making under the guidance of a master. Take this afternoon to explore Tokyo at your own pace, or join your guide in the lively Akihabara District. With its manga and anime stores and countless electronics retailers, encounter the neon jungle known as Tokyo’s ‘Electric Town’. In the evening, you’ll sample some of Japan’s finest liquor in the Tokyo Whisky Library.
Head east to the Kiyosumi-Shirakawa District this morning, where you’ll encounter a charming but forgotten neighbourhood. Over coffee at a nearby cafe, meet Ito – a born and bred local – who will show you the sights of her hometown on a backstreet cycling tour. Weave your way through a warren of alleys, making your way to a hidden temple, where you can catch a glimpse of a traditional Buddhist ceremony. Then, as evening falls, replenish with our favourite combination: a bowl of ramen and a craft beer.
Resist the temptation to indulge at breakfast today, because lunch will be shared with a real, working sumo wrestler over a typical sumo meal of Chanko Nabe Hot Pot. Learn what life is like for a traditional Japanese wrestler, before spending the rest of the afternoon exploring Tokyo as you please. From cat cafes to Samurai museums, there are endless sights to uncover in this city of contrasts.
Today’s adventure is all about the Hakone Mountains, home to spectacular lakes, forests and sweeping views of snow-capped Mount Fuji – best appreciated on a leisurely hike. Follow the trail of Tokaido until you reach a 17th-century teahouse, where you’ll refuel with some traditional tea. This evening, bathe your tired muscles in a steamy onsen, with water streaming from a natural hot spring. It’s single sex, optional and sadly anyone with tattoos can’t take part due to their association with the Japanese mafia (we suggest covering small tattoos with a plaster). Dinner will be comprised of fresh Pacific fish and vegetables cultivated from the Hakone Mountains.
This morning, embark on a wander through the alpine landscape. Providing the weather is on your side, enjoy panoramic views of Mount Fuji as you follow dappled forest trails. Spend the rest of the day exploring the quaint town around Mount Hakone, complete with boutiques and museums. Our favourites? The Open Air Museum with its quirky assortment of sculptures; or the Museum of The Little Prince – the world’s only gallery dedicated to the novel by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.
Today you’re off to Kyoto, Japan’s celebrated cultural capital. Quaint streets, traditional huts and delicate paper lanterns create a distinctive atmosphere of Old Japan, with Buddhist temples and ninja heritage all part of the local culture. You’ll come face-to-face with Kyoto’s cultural heritage this afternoon, as you channel your inner ninja in a hands-on introduction to Japanese combat. Spend your evening in an izakaya – Japan’s equivalent of a gastro-pub – where you can enjoy a steady stream of sake and local dishes.
Start the day with a visit to the Fushimi Inari Shrine. You’ll pass through thousands of majestic red gates (known as torii), that open onto beautiful walking trails along Mount Inari. Spend the next few hours trekking through the gentle wooded hills, until you reach the peak of the mountain for uninterrupted views. At midday, head to Gekkeikan Okura Sake Museum to learn all about the craftsmanship that goes into each bottle of the beloved Japanese spirit. Later, we recommend exploring the old Gion District, with its historic charm and wandering geishas. As evening falls, indulge in one of Japan’s favourite past-times (and ours too) as you become acquainted with the karaoke bars of Kyoto – the drinks are on us.
This morning, head west to Arashiyama and the famous bamboo forest. Meander through these 14th-century gardens, which have remained pristine despite wars, fires and various historical dramas. Scattered with temples and shrines, weave your way through the enchanting landscape, before catching a train to Hozugawa River. Here, you’ll board a traditional riverboat for a scenic two-hour ride, rural life unfolding around you.
Begin your day in Kyoto with a meditation class at Daisen-in Temple under the guidance of a Buddhist monk, followed by a traditional tea ceremony. Then, it’s on to Kinkaku-ji Temple – a pavilion completely coated in gold leaf, overlooking a serene lake. From here, you’ll cycle to the Imperial Palace – a lovely way to say goodbye to Kyoto before catching a bullet train to Hiroshima. Dive straight into the city’s cuisine with a feast of ‘okonomiyaki’ (meaning ‘grilled as you like it’). Think of them as savoury pancakes with all the great flavours of Japanese cuisine.
You can’t visit the revived city of Hiroshima without confronting its tragic past, so this morning you’ll visit the Peace Memorial Park and Museum. From there, make your way to the scenic island of Miyajima – home to the iconic Great Torii floating shrine. Kayak through the serene island waters, then enjoy a leisurely evening overlooking the waterfront. We recommend sampling the excellent oysters that this region is famed for, paired with a glass of Chablis.
Take a morning stroll through Miyajima’s scenic streets, before catching the bullet train to Osaka. Known as the city of ‘kuidaore’ (meaning ‘eat till you drop’), there are countless foodie delights to be experienced here. Your expert guide will show you the finest local eateries, hidden away down backstreets; places that look like apartments or office blocks from their exteriors, but where you’ll actually find the tastiest food in town. Savour a variety of local delicacies, from octopus dumplings to the best kitsune udon in Japan.
Enjoy a final breakfast at the hotel, before making your own way to the airport. Not quite done with East Asia? We recommend combining this trip with our adventure in China to fully explore this enchanting region.
Browse a selection of our favourite hotels, for a flavour of where you may stay on this trip.
Located next to Omiya train station and only 10 minutes’ taxi ride from Kyoto train station.
Spacious rooms (by Japan’s standards – there are much, much smaller, we promise), a simple breakfast buffet, wifi, flatscreen TVs and USB ports in every room make Karaksa an ideal base for exploring Kyoto.
This water-front hotel looks out at the iconic shrine across the sea, as well as boasting communal and open-air baths.
Unwind in hot springs looking out at the sea and let off some steam in the sauna, before heading out across the water to Miyajima Island.
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.
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.
"I have just completed the 13 day trip to Japan. It was absolutely fantastic! A week back home and I am still pinching myself over the things we saw and did. You really do get to experience every aspect of Japanese life and travel a lot of the country. Our tour guide was amazing! "
"It was a near perfect trip. 4 1/2 stars is more appropriate. Our tour guide, Nao, was hands down the best guide I have ever had (and probably will ever have). She was an angel and made the trip magical and a blast! I fell in love with Japan and am grateful to have happened upon this trip."
"Some of the activities were really memorable and the group got along well. The sumo lunch was my personal highlight and we had some great nights at karaoke. It is a busy schedule but you can always sit something out if you want a little break. Our guide was excellent and she was always eager to help plan transport during free time, recommend food and even acted as our personal translator. She helped make it much easier for us to get around the country and helped everyone figure out how they were all getting to their flights home. "
"The trip was great, really loved all of the curated experiences, but the thing that made the trip special was our guide Nao. She went ABOVE and BEYOND for every single step of our journey, from helping us to understand the culture in unique ways, to providing recommendations that made for an unforgettable experience. I can honestly say that Nao was unmatched in her dedication to our group's experience. "
"I can't imagine packing more stuff into a trip. It was fast paced and exactly what I wanted. I got to see as much of Japan as I could in the time there. The itinerary was a fantastic cross section of Japanese culture. It has a little of everything. Our guide Nao was amazing and just an awesome person."
Fly into Tokyo Haneda Airport (HND) or Narita International Airport (NRT) and fly out of Osaka International Airport (ITM).
Alternatively, you could catch the bullet train to Tokyo and fly out from Haneda or Narita Airports. Tokyo is over three hours away from Osaka, where your adventure ends, so we suggest avoiding a morning flight home.
Upon arrival on day one, please arrive at the airport at 3pm and make your own way to the hotel. You will meet your dedicated guide and fellow travellers at 4.30pm in the hotel lobby.
This itinerary makes extensive use of public transport, as it is the fastest and most reliable way to see Japan.
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 facilities of a typical Flash Pack hotel. Please get in touch with our Sales Team if you would like further information on this.
Please be aware that hotel rooms in Japan are small and the hotels on this particular adventure are not luxurious.
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 – but we’ll always do our best to ensure it has little impact on your experience. From time to time, we may also make changes to your itinerary to try out new ideas and keep things fresh and exciting.
We take safety very seriously on Flash Pack adventures, read more here.
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We bring together like-minded people in their 30s and 40s on incredible adventures and 98% travel solo. Want to know more about your group? Get in touch.
We know the world’s best bits. Think sleeping on a secret island in the Philippines and lunch with a sumo in Japan. You’ll always enjoy a comfortable stay in handpicked hotels, too.
We pride ourselves on the fact our guides know their destinations better than anyone. From Lee in Vietnam to Nayla in Argentina, with Flash Pack you really are guided by the best.
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