Back Roads of Japan

Classic, Tokyo to Kyoto

Image by G Adventures

Tour description provided by G Adventures

Wander off the beaten path away from Japan's big cities and popular sites with this 11-day tour that takes you to destinations that are often overlooked. Visit the treasured castle of Matsumoto and learn about samurai culture, relax in a traditional hot spring-fed onsen, and explore the quaint city of Hagi by bicycle, and settle in at a community homestay to truly immerse yourself in the local culture. Of course, there's time before and after to explore Tokyo and Kyoto, making this trip a well-rounded glimpse into Japan's past and present.

What’s included

  • Your G for Good Moment: Hagi Community Homestay, Hagi Your Hands-On Moment: Traditional Paper-making Lesson, Mihomisumi-eki
  • Modern Tokyo walking tour
  • Zenkoji Temple visit (Nagano)
  • Jigokudani Monkey Park visit (Matsumoto)
  • Matsumoto Castle visit
  • Hagi orientation walk
  • Hagi cycling tour
  • Tottori sand dunes visit
  • Tottori fish market visit
  • Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine visit
  • Japan Rail (JR) pass (7 days)
  • All transport between destinations and to/from included activities


  • Spot snow monkeys in nagano
  • Relax in the healing waters of an onsen
  • Explore a 16th-century samurai castle
  • Cycle through the rural town of hagi
  • Experience a homestay in a traditional japanese community.


Day 1 Tokyo There are no activities planned until an evening welcome meeting. Included Activities: Meet Your CEO and Group
Day 2 Tokyo Take a CEO-led walking tour of eclectic modern Tokyo from the hub of Shinjuku to Shibuya through to Harajuku. The rest of the day is free for exploring more of the city. Included Activities: Orientation Walk
Day 3 Tokyo/Nagano Journey to Nagano, located in the Japanese Alps and host city of the 1998 Winter Olympics. Discover the world-famous Jigokudani Monkey Park and watch Japanese snow monkeys bathing in the natural hot springs. Included Activities: Jigokudani Monkey Park Visit Transport: Bullet train (3.00 hour(s))
Day 4 Nagano Enjoy a day-trip to quaint Matsumoto and visit one of Japan's most treasured castles. Return to Nagano and explore historic Zenkoji Temple. Included Activities: Matsumoto Castle Visit Zenkō-ji Temple Transport: Local train (1.50-2.00 hours) Local train (1.50-2.00 hours)
Day 5 Nagano/Otsu (1D) Travel to Otsu in Shiga prefecture. Located on the banks of Lake Biwa, Japan's largest freshwater lake, the area is known for the Ogoto Onsens. Settle in and relax with a dip in the healing waters of these Japanese style hot springs, and dine on traditional fare. Transport: Train (4.50 hour(s))
Day 6 Otsu/Hagi (1B, 1D) Enjoy a delicious breakfast at the Ryokan this morning before a long travel day. In the early evening, arrive in the quaint city of Hagi, a former castle town that boasts feudal architecture. Take part in a welcome ceremony with the local residents, and meet your host family at a community homestay, a G Adventures for Good project. Get to know each other as you enjoy dinner together. Additional Notes: Please note that before leaving Ōtsu, you'll need to prepare your day pack/overnight bag for a two-night stay in Hagi, as your main luggage will be sent on to Tottori. Remember to include comfortable clothing for a cycling excursion and two nights at the homestay. If you're travelling during the cold weather season, please refer to your Packing List. Included Activities: Hagi Community Homestay Transport: Train (6.50 hour(s))
Day 7 Hagi (1B, 1D) Explore rural Hagi on a guided morning cycle and spot samurai architecture along the way. Enjoy free time to wander the narrow streets or opt to visit some of the beautiful old samurai and merchant residences which are open to the public. In the late afternoon, return to your homestay and enjoy dinner with your host family. Included Activities: Hagi Cycling Excursion Hagi Community Homestay
Day 8 Hagi/Tottori (1B) Bid farewell to your host family after enjoying breakfast together. Later, travel to Miho-misumi by train, taking in scenic views along the way. Learn the art of making "washi," a UNESCO-recognized traditional Japanese paper before continuing to the seaside town of Tottori. Included Activities: Traditional Paper-making Lesson Transport: Train (2.00 hour(s)) Train (4.00 hour(s))
Day 9 Tottori/Kyoto Spend the morning exploring Tottori's scenic sand dunes, some reaching 50m (164 ft) in height. After, visit the local fish market and opt for a fresh seafood lunch. In the late afternoon, travel to Kyoto for two nights in the traditional heart of Japan. Included Activities: Tottori Sand Dunes Visit Tottori Fish Market Visit Transport: Train (3.00 hour(s))
Day 10 Kyoto Kyoto is home to over 2,000 temples, including some of the most magnificent in the country, dating back centuries. Use free time to continue exploring, the options are endless – the city also boasts museums, castles, and traditional gardens – or opt to visit neighbouring Nara or Osaka. Want to feel like a real Samurai? Pre-book the Samurai Spirit Full Kembu Lesson on the checkout page to include this optional activity on your tour or ask your GCO or travel agent for assistance. Included Activities: Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine Visit
Day 11 Kyoto We highly recommend booking post-nights to explore more of this beautiful city. Included Activities: Departure Day