Iconic Japan

National Geographic Journeys, Tokyo to Kyoto

Image by G Adventures

Tour description provided by G Adventures

Japan delights in contrasts, revering the past while embracing the future. Begin your 12-day adventure in glittering, massive Tokyo, then head by rail into the countryside to visit traditional villages and tranquil shrines. On strolls through geisha districts and restorative visits to ancient temples and gardens, feel the power of the here and now.

What’s included

  • Your Journeys Highlight Moment: Tsukiji Sushi Experience, Tokyo Your Journeys Highlight Moment: Zen Buddhist Meditation and Calligraphy, Kyoto Your Journeys Highlight Moment: Kembu Masters, Kyoto Your Hands-On Moment: Chopstick and Gold Leaf Painting Experience, Kanazawa
  • Tour of Tokyo including Meiji Jingu Shrine and Asakusa and Harajuka districts
  • Walking tour of Tsumago Village and countryside
  • Kaiseki dinner
  • Visit Kanazawa samurai and geisha districts
  • Visit Nomura Family Samurai Residence and Myoryuji Ninja Temple
  • Visit Himeji Castle
  • Visit Hiroshima Peace Memorial
  • Excursion to Miyajima Island
  • Zen tea experience
  • Tour Kyoto and Nara including Fushimi Inari, Kinkaku-ji Golden Pavilion, Todaiji Temple, Kasuga Taisha Shrine (Jan - Sep)
  • Visit Gion Geisha district
  • Japan Rail (JR) pass (7 days)
  • All transport between destinations and to/from included activities


  • Explore the modern and traditional sides of japan
  • Relax at a traditional inn
  • Ride a ferry to miyajima to see the famous floating torii
  • Learn the art of meditation from a local monk


Day 1 Tokyo Arrive in Tokyo at any time today. There are no planned activities so check into our hotel and enjoy the city. Additional Notes: On our tours in Japan we use public transport, making use of Japan's world famous transportation system. From the super fast Shinkansen Bullet Train to Kyoto's extensive local bus network, we ride with the locals. As well, there is a lot of walking on this trip, every day - please ensure you have an average level of fitness and can walk unaided for long periods of time. A good pair of walking shoes are highly recommended. We will use a baggage transfer service, so you will not have to worry about carrying your bags on and off trains as we travel. As such, you will not have access to your bags during transfer from each city - we recommend using a day pack for anything you may need during the transfer day, as well as to carry any valuables. Included Activities: Arrival Day and Welcome Meeting
Day 2 Tokyo (1B) In Harajuka we catch a glimpse of the pop culture phenomenon of Kawaii. Directly translated as "cute", this Japanese popular culture movement is reflected, through various avenues of entertainment, toys, personal style, attitude and cuisine. Wear your comfortable shoes - today we will get around by metro and on foot. Additional Notes: On some departures of this tour the activities on Days 2 and 3 will be swapped. Included Activities: Orientation Walk Harajuku Visit Meiji Shrine (Meiji Jingū) Visit Asakusa Walk Transport: Metro
Day 3 Tokyo (1B, 1L) This afternoon, enjoy some free time exploring Tokyo. Opt to visit Ueno park and the museums, Akihabara for cutting edge electronics, Harajuku for funky fashions, Ginza for the highest of the high end, walk the grounds of the Imperial Palace East Garden, or just stroll the streets, looking for the traditional life that still lies just under the modern surface. Wear your comfortable shoes - today we will get around by metro and on foot. Additional Notes: Please note the visit to the tuna auction is unavailable until mid-January 2019. Please be advised the April 29, 2019 departure of this trip will not visit the inner Toyosu Fish Market as it is closed during this period. Alternatively, the group will visit the outer market of the Tsukiji fish market. Included Activities: Toyosu Fish Market Tsukiji Sushi Experience Transport: Metro
Day 4 Tokyo/Tsumago (1B, 1D) Ryokan are traditional Inns found across Japan. Featuring tatami floors (soft mats of woven straw), futon beds, Japanese-style baths, cotton kimono (casual robe worn to lounge around), and kaiseki meals (often served in the comfort of your own room); a ryokan is the perfect place to experience traditional customs and local immersion. The Ryokan is a simple, traditional Inn with few amenities and shared facilities, have fun and enjoy this relaxing opportunity to learn more about Japan’s unique customs. Additional Notes: Wear your comfortable shoes - today we will get around by train, bus and on foot. Included Activities: Tsumago countryside and Village walk Transport: Metro Train
Day 5 Tsumago/Kanazawa (1B) Continue by train to the historic city of Kanazawa. Explore the ancient Samurai culture with a walk through the well-preserved Nagamachi Samurai district and visit to the Nomura Samurai family residence. Additional Notes: Wear your comfortable shoes - today we will get around by public transportation and on foot. Included Activities: Nagamachi Samurai District Walk Visit Nomura Family Samurai Residence Transport: Train Taxicab Local bus
Day 6 Kanazawa (1B) Continue exploring Kanazawa, visiting the Myoryuji Ninja Temple and walking through the Higashi Geisha district. The city is also renowned as a centre of traditional arts and crafts. We delve into these traditions with a chopstick and gold leaf painting experience. Additional Notes: Wear your comfortable shoes - today we will get around by public bus and on foot. Included Activities: Ninja Temple Visit Chopstick and Gold Leaf Painting Experience Higashi Geisha District Visit Transport: Local bus
Day 7 Kanazawa/Hiroshima (1B) The large Peace Park in the centre of the city is an extremely moving place dotted with memorials of those known to have been killed in the explosion and those that died as a result. A burning flame waits in the park to be extinguished when all nuclear weapons in the world have been destroyed. A tram ride through the city takes you to the Peace Park. Additional Notes: Wear your comfortable shoes - today we will get around by train, public transportation and on foot. Included Activities: Hiroshima Park and Peace Memorial Transport: Taxicab Train Tram
Day 8 Hiroshima (1B) Enjoy Miyajima Island, a famous wooded island located in the Inland Sea, not far from the coast near Hiroshima. Here you will find perhaps the most photographed site in Japan - The Floating Torii Gate. Designated as one of Japan's '3 Most Beautiful Views', the shrine itself dates back to the 6th century and is designed in a pier like structure. Mere 'commoners' were not allowed to set foot on this holy place. Additional Notes: Wear your comfortable shoes - today we will get around by public transportation, ferry and on foot. Please note the floating Torii Gate will be under construction from June 2019 to August 2020. Included Activities: Miyajima Island Visit Transport: Ferry
Day 9 Hiroshima/Kyoto (1B) As the Imperial capital, Kyoto is an essential part of any visit to Japan. Kyoto has some of the most magnificent temples in Japan which date back centuries. There are said to be 2,000 temples, shrines, palaces, museums and traditional gardens in Kyoto. Use your time to wander past huge wooden structures and multi-storied pagodas, all linked with famous walkways. Additional Notes: Wear your comfortable shoes - today we will get around by train, public bus and on foot. Included Activities: Himeji Castle Gion Walk Transport: Train Train
Day 10 Kyoto (1B) Visit the stunning Fushimi Inari, an ancient shrine at the base of the mountain of the same name. After, spend the day exploring sites around Nara, visiting the impressive Todaiji Buddhist Temple and Kasuga Taisha Shrine. Additional Notes: Wear your comfortable shoes - today we will get around by public bus, metro and on foot. Please note, the visit to the Kasuga Grand Shrine is not possible from October - December due to the shorter operating hours of this site. Included Activities: Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine Visit Day Trip to Nara Tōdai-ji Buddhist Temple Complex Visit Kasuga Grand Shrine
Day 11 Kyoto (1B) This morning, visit a local temple to learn about the history and practice of Zen Buddhism in Japan. Here we meet with a local monk who will talk about Buddhism and instruct us in Zen meditation and calligraphy. Enjoy a cup of tea before visiting the famous Kinkaku-ji Golden Pavilion. After, we learn about the etiquette of the samurai as well as the practice of basic kembu, and take a lesson on how to use the Japanese sword. Then, enjoy a performance by kembu masters which includes short poems, which were traditionally written by samurai about major events in their life. Later, take some time to explore on your own. Opt to visit museums, temples, or zen gardens. Additional Notes: Wear your comfortable shoes - today we will get around by public bus, metro and on foot. Included Activities: Zen Buddhist Meditation and Calligraphy Zen Tea Experience Kinkaku-ji Golden Pavilion Visit Kembu Masters
Day 12 Kyoto (1B) There are no planned activities today and you are free to depart at any time.