An action-packed family adventure from the Tokyo streets to Kyoto’s eats

Gather up the brood and embark on an adventure through the Land of the Rising Sun on this 12-day family tour of Japan. From the houses of ancient emperors to technological gizmos, this tour packs in the best stuff to see and do as a family, plus plenty of time to kick back and soak it up in the onsen. Learn the art of calligraphy in Tokyo, feast on sushi at the famous Tsukiji Fish Market, ride the Hakone ropeway for views of Mt Fuji and immerse yourself in Japanese culture in Kyoto. With the local expertise of your leader to draw on at every step of the way, this is a family holiday that’s sure to yield lifelong memories.

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Terms & Conditions

Start
Tokyo, Japan
Finish
Kyoto, Japan
Destination
Japan
Style
Original
Theme
Family
Code
CJFP
Physical rating
Ages
Min 5
Group size
Min 2, Max 16

Why you'll love this trip

  • Japan is an exhilarating and unique destination that also happens to be incredible safe, which makes it a great fit for families travelling with kids of any age.

  • Let Tokyo dazzle the whole family. Feast on market-fresh sushi, try your hand at calligraphy and cook your own okonomiyaki on a cruise around Tokyo Bay.

  • Ride the Hakone ropeway then relax in the soothing waters of an onsen. These hot-spring baths are the perfect antidote to a couple of days of walking around Tokyo.

  • From the tiny stalls in the back streets of Tokyo to the Nishiki-Koji Market, your leader will help you and your family navigate Japan’s dizzying cuisine and find something for everyone.

  • Learn about an important chapter of Japan’s history at the Hiroshima Peace Park, followed by a visit to the relaxing island of Miyajima where deer roam the streets.

Is this trip right for you?

  • There is still quite a bit of walking involved, so you'll need a good level of fitness. Comfortable walking shoes are essential.

  • Sleeping on a futon on a tatami (mat floor) in a traditional ryokan is great fun, but keep in mind that in some places the facilities are shared. As part of this you'll get to experience a traditional Japanese onsen bath, such as the hot springs in Hakone!

  • Renovation works on Miyajima's famous floating torii gate started in June 2019. During the renovation works, the torii gate is covered up under a partially transparent scaffolding. Furthermore, a bridge is being built on the left side of the gate (when viewed from the shrine) to aid the renovation works. A date for the completion of the renovation works has not been set yet, but the works are expected to take at least one year.

Itinerary

Konnichiwa! Welcome to Tokyo, Japan's dynamic capital. Make your way to your tonight's accommodation and check in. Your adventure begins with an important welcome meeting at 5 pm in the hotel lobby, where you'll meet your leader and be introduced to the other families. Afterwards, consider joining the group for an optional dinner at a local restaurant.
Accommodation
  • Asakusa Sunroute Hotel or similar (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
It’s very important that you attend the welcome meeting as we will be collecting insurance details and next of kin information for each member of your family. If you are going to be late please let your travel agent or hotel reception know. Ask reception or look for a note in the lobby for more information on where the meeting will take place.
Kick things off with a visit to Sensoji in Asakusa, Tokyo's oldest Buddhist temple (some 1300 years old!) set on the banks of the Sumida River. Nearby you will discover a great shopping street where you can find a quirky Japanese souvenir or sample some traditional snacks. Later, you and your family will be treated to a traditional calligraphy lesson. Learn to write your name in Japanese (and maybe learn to say a few words!) with the help of a local teacher. There might also be the chance to visit a manga (Japanese comic and cartoon) market, located in Akihabara. Enjoy free time in th afternoon. Perhaps head across town to Shinjuku, central Tokyo's most vibrant district and home to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building which offers panoramic city views from its 202-metre-high observation deck, as well as a giant Godzilla statue. 
Accommodation
  • Asakusa Sunroute Hotel or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Tokyo - Japanese & Calligraphy lesson
  • Tokyo - Sensoji Temple
Optional Activities
  • Tokyo - Karaoke - JPY2000
  • Tokyo Government Tower - Free
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
This morning your tour leader will take you for a walk around the famous Tsukiji Outer Market, where fresh seafood from Tokyo's largest wholesale fish market (recently moved from Tsukiji to a new site at Toyosu) is delivered daily. Wander the narrow aisles of this atmospheric marketplace to find all sorts of delicious and uniquely Japanese food – from fish and shellfish to barrels of green tea, dried seaweed and all manner of pickles and other tasty morsels. Afterwards, pop into one of the many sushi restaurants nearby for the freshest lunch you could hope for! Then head to expansive Yoyogi Park, and wander down Takeshita Dori and Omotesando to people watch your way through Harajuku, a neighbourhood simultaneously known for its eccentric tribes and teen pop culture. Sample one of Harajuku’s famous crepes or try some of its 3D latte art, said to be the best in Tokyo! Tonight head out for a fun meal of okonomiyaki (a non-sweet pancake with cabbage, seafood or meat) cooked on a sizzling hot plate while aboard a boat on Tokyo Bay, surrounded by the sparkling lights of the city.
Accommodation
  • Asakusa Sunroute Hotel or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Tokyo - Okonomiyaki dinner on boat
  • Tokyo - Yoyogi-kōen
  • Tokyo - Seafood market & sushi lunch
  • Tokyo – Harajuku walk
Optional Activities
  • Tokyo - Kawaii Monster Cafe - JPY500
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Bid farewell to Tokyo and catch the first Shinkansen bullet train of the tour to Hakone, travelling speeds up to 285 kilometres per hour, to Hakone. You will see that it's astonishingly easy to travel by train in Japan. Trains operate with amazing precision and the sight of a white-gloved guard bowing to a carriage full of travellers is something the kids are sure to remember! Part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, Hakone is a place of staggering natural beauty. It's also a veritable playground with a long list of holiday activities on offer – soaking in hot spring onsens, going on bush walks, chilling out by peaceful lakes, taking in beautiful views of Mt Fuji (if you’re blessed with good weather!), or even exploring an open-air modern art museum. Tonight you’ll experience Japanese ryokan (traditional inn) hospitality – sleeping on futon in a tatami mat room, wearing yukata (a light kimono-style robe) and enjoying Japan’s amazing onsen culture.
Accommodation
  • Mitake Ryokan or similar (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Hakone - Open-Air Museum - JPY1600
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Special Information
You will have the option to send your bags on to Hiroshima. This is an optional service for all families that your leader will discuss with you on the trip. The cost is around USD 13–20 per bag paid locally and in JPY. 
Renowned as an excellent resort area since the Meiji period, Hakone and its natural onsens make a great place to relax and unwind with the family. Today we take a ropeway  (cable car) up to the top of Owakudani (Geothermal Valley) and hopefully catch views of Mt Fuji, if the weather is right. Continue to Lake Ashinoko, a natural caldera formed after a major volcanic explosion some 3000 years ago, and take a cruise onboard a unique pirate boat. Back on land, pay a visit to the Karakuri Secret Box Museum. Try to open these beautifully hand-crafted boxes or purchase a unique Japanese gift to take home. We might stroll along Hakone’s ancient cedar avenue, which in samurai times was part of the old Tokyo-Kyoto highway. In your free time in the afternoon, you might like to hike through the rare grasslands area of Sengokura or thoroughly pamper yourself at Hakone’s large hot spring theme park which has an amazing variety of baths ranging from the traditional to cave baths and water slides!
Accommodation
  • Mitake Ryokan or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Hakone - Lake Ashinoko boat cruise
  • Hakone - Cable car/Ropeway
  • Hakone – Karakuri Secret Box Museum
Optional Activities
  • Hakone - Checkpoint Museum - JPY500
  • Hakone – Onsen theme park - JPY1900
  • Hakone – Sengokura Grasslands - Free
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Back on the bullet-train, we make the journey down the east coast of the Japanese archipelago to the city of Hiroshima. A visit to Hiroshima is sobering, but the tragedy that happened here is an important part of history to confront. In the afternoon, we visit the Genbaku (A-Bomb) Dome and the Peace Memorial Park and Museum, both of which stand as an emotional testament to the fateful day in August 1945 when Hiroshima became the first target for nuclear attack. The dome was just metres from where the bomb detonated and managed to retain its shape, eerily standing exactly how it was prior to the attack. These days it stands as both a symbolic reminder and a monument to peace. In the evening you might like to seek out the savoury pancake okonomiyaki – also a signature Hiroshima dish with its own particular twist. There are lots of casual places to try it in this very friendly and welcoming Japanese city.
Accommodation
  • Ikawa Ryokan or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Hiroshima – Peace Park and A-Bomb Dome
Optional Activities
  • Hiroshima – Peace Museum - JPY200
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
This morning we head for the beautiful island of Miyajima, just a short ferry ride across the Inland Sea. The island is home to the venerable Shinto shrine of Itsukushima, famous for its huge bright orange gate (torii) which is absolutely stunning when the tide is high. Maybe take a stroll through the lovely Momiji Park (known as Maple Valley), or consider a walk or the cable car up to the top of Mt Misen (keeping an eye out for the hungry deer that roam the island) for panoramic views of the expansive Inland Sea and its many islands.

If there’s time on your return to Hiroshima in the afternoon, you might like to visit five-storied Hiroshima Castle, which originally dates from the 1590s, though it was destroyed by the bomb and reconstructed in all its glory after the war. Or, in the season, you might like to watch an evening baseball match – one of Japan’s most popular sports and a fun experience shared with enthusiastic Japanese baseball fans and local families.
Accommodation
  • Ikawa Ryokan or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Hiroshima - Miyajima Island
Optional Activities
  • Miyajima – Dishoin Temple - Free
  • Miyajima - Itsukushima Shrine - JPY300
  • Hiroshima – Hiroshima Castle - JPY370
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Renovation works on Miyajima's famous floating torii gate started in June 2019. During the renovation works, the torii gate is covered up under a partially transparent scaffolding. Furthermore, a bridge is being built on the left side of the gate (when viewed from the shrine) to aid the renovation works. A date for the completion of the renovation works has not been set yet, but the works are expected to take at least one year.
We jump onboard the bullet train to Kyoto, arguably the most stunning city in Japan. On the way there, make a stop at Himeji Castle, Japan's most impressive samurai castle. The building, which has survived earthquakes and war since the mid-16th century, was restored to its full glory in 2015 and is now UNESCO listed. The moats, towers and walled alleyways were ingeniously designed to trick attackers. We explore the castle that was once home to over 10,000 samurai families and look out over the city far below. Continue to Kyoto on the bullet train (1 hour). The charms of Kyoto, the former imperial capital, are subtle and profound. While you're here, you'll see some of the finest temples, shrines, palaces and gardens in the country, with a nice mix of included activities and free time. In the afternoon visit Nishiki-Koji Market in the heart of Kyoto’s downtown area to see what goes into Kyoto’s famed Kyo-ryori (Kyoto cuisine). Then spend early evening wandering the Gion district with your leader, seeing if you can spot geiko (geisha) or maiko (apprentice geisha) dressed in elaborate kimonos and make-up on their way to events and functions.
Accommodation
  • Karasuma Kyoto Hotel or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Himeji - Himeji Castle
  • Kyoto - Nishiki-Koji Market
  • Kyoto - Gion District walk
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Kyoto was originally founded as Heian-kyo in 794 and enjoyed a golden age during the imperial court’s heyday up until 1185. The city’s current name literally means ‘Capital City’, even though the Emperor and the government now reside in Tokyo. Today we’ll head to Kyoto’s famed Fushimi Inari Shrine – known throughout the world as the ‘Path of the Red Gates.’ If we are feeling fit we’ll walk further than most visitors, allowing us to experience both the well-known part of the shrine as well as the quieter corners and stunning city views from the shrine’s ‘half-way point.’ After that, your leader will take you to another one of Kyoto’s UNESCO-listed temples or shrines (there’s 17 and counting!) which will give you an insight into Kyoto’s history as the seat of imperial power for over 1000 years and its equally long Buddhist heritage. In the afternoon you have time to do your own exploring – you might like to catch a maiko cultural performance, participate in a tea ceremony demonstration or do an obanzai (Kyoto-style) cooking class.
Accommodation
  • Karasuma Kyoto Hotel or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Kyoto - Fushimi Inari Shrine
Optional Activities
  • Kyoto - Gion Corner cultural centre - JPY3150
  • Kyoto - Cooking class - JPY6500
  • Kyoto – Tea ceremony with maiko - JPY5000
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Explore more of this delightful city. This morning you'll enjoy a boat cruise down the scenic Hozu River in the Arashiyama area in the hills west of Kyoto. Look along the banks for Japanese maples in autumn or plum or cherry blossoms at springtime. At the end of the ride you will visit Tenryu-ji Temple which is right near an incredible bamboo grove. This bamboo forest is one of the most photographed sights in the city, and you'll see why. It's like stepping into another dimension.

In your free time, you might like to consider taking the family on a fun rickshaw ride (two-wheeled wagons pulled by fit young men in traditional garb) around the Arashiyama area. Or you may like to pay a visit to the nearby Toei Kyoto Studio Park – a theme park used for the shooting of period dramas (jidaigeki films) set in the Edo period. You can soak up the atmosphere of feudal Japan and perhaps enjoy a ninja show or visit one of the studios used for filming. Back in central Kyoto, you could also experience a performance of traditional swordplay.
Accommodation
  • Karasuma Kyoto Hotel or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Kyoto - Arashiyama sightseeing
  • Kyoto - Tenryuji Temple
  • Kyoto - Hozu River ride
Optional Activities
  • Kyoto – Samurai Kembu Theatre - JPY3000
  • Kyoto – Toei Kyoto Studio Park - JPY2200
  • Kyoto – Arashiyama rickshaw ride - JPY3000
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today is yours to enjoy Kyoto however you please. There are plenty of optional activities to choose from. Perhaps head out with the family and explore on a bike. This is definitely one of the best ways to navigate the city, and one of the most popular routes is following the delightful Kamo River from the northern outskirts of Kyoto down through the city’s heart, stopping for a bento box lunch along the way. Kyoto is regularly voted one of the best bicycle cities in Asia, and for good reason. The city is largely flat and the roads are well maintained. Or if cycling is not your thing, you could check out Kyoto’s Manga Museum or visit the Kyoto Railway Museum, which even houses one of Japan’s first bullet trains, or try your hand at making your own bowl of ramen. Alternatively, consider a complete kimono makeover and transform yourself into a maiko, samurai lord or ninja for the day!
Accommodation
  • Karasuma Kyoto Hotel or similar (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Kyoto - Kyoto Cycling Tour Urban Adventure - JPY7813
  • Nara - Day trip from Kyoto - JPY3000
  • Osaka - Universal Studios (one day pass) - JPY7400
  • Kyoto - Maiko/Samurai makeover - JPY12000
  • Kyoto – Kyoto Railway Museum - JPY1200
  • Kyoto – Bike hire - JPY1000
  • Kyoto – Ramen Factory Kyoto - JPY2500
  • Kyoto – Kyoto Manga Museum - JPY800
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Your family adventure comes to an end today. There are no further activities planned and check out is around 10 am.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

11 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 3 dinners

Transport

Bullet Train, Train, Cable Car, Taxi, Tram

Accommodation

Hotels (7 nights), Ryokan (4 nights)

Included activities

  • Tokyo - Japanese & Calligraphy lesson
  • Tokyo - Sensoji Temple
  • Tokyo - Okonomiyaki dinner on boat
  • Tokyo - Yoyogi-kōen
  • Tokyo - Seafood market & sushi lunch
  • Tokyo – Harajuku walk
  • Hakone - Lake Ashinoko boat cruise
  • Hakone - Cable car/Ropeway
  • Hakone – Karakuri Secret Box Museum
  • Hiroshima – Peace Park and A-Bomb Dome
  • Hiroshima - Miyajima Island
  • Himeji - Himeji Castle
  • Kyoto - Nishiki-Koji Market
  • Kyoto - Gion District walk
  • Kyoto - Fushimi Inari Shrine
  • Kyoto - Arashiyama sightseeing
  • Kyoto - Tenryuji Temple
  • Kyoto - Hozu River ride

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Important notes

CONDITIONS: Please note that these trips are for adults and children travelling together and there must be at least one child under 18 travelling with you. The minimum age for children on this trip is five years old.

DISCOUNT: A discount of 10 per cent applies on this trip to children 17 years and under at time of travel.

SINGLE SUPPLEMENT: A single supplement is available on this trip with exception of Days 4–5 (Hakone) and Days 6–7 (Hiroshima). 

LEADERS: Due to the rapid increase in tourism in Japan and the approaching 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, it has been necessary to go outside our traditional tour leader sources. Our passionate, professional and trained tour leaders may be local Japanese or long-term foreign residents in Japan.

JAPAN RAIL PASS: A seven-day Japan Rail Pass is included in the price of this trip. This pass is validated on Day 4 when the group travels from Tokyo to Hakone and can be used until Day 10 of this tour. Please see the ‘Transport’ section of the Essential Trip Information for more details.

LUGGAGE ON TRAINS: It is essential you pack light and compact for rail travel in Japan. From May 2020 there will be size restrictions for luggage on Shinkansen (bullet) trains. Luggage over 160–250 cm may require an additional USD 10 fee per train journey. Luggage over 251 cm will not be permitted on the Shinkansen trains at all. Please notify your tour leader at your welcome meeting if your luggage is over 160–250 cm so they can make the necessary arrangements! Failure to notify your tour leader of luggage over 160–250 cm will require the passenger to pay the oversize luggage fee.

ACCOMMODATION: Accommodation in Japan can be difficult to secure at short notice. If you are travelling in Japan before or after your trip, we recommend booking accommodation at least one month in advance of travel. For families wanting to book a triple room we can request these for all destinations except Tokyo and Kyoto, where triple rooms are not available. In Tokyo and Kyoto, we can request a twin share room plus a single room.

HIGH SEASON: March to May and September to November are both high seasons for tourism in Japan. While the weather is good during this period (and March to May is great for viewing cherry blossoms), you will find major sites are very crowded with both Japanese and international tourists during these months.

FOOD: We know the idea of travelling overseas with picky eaters, particularly kids, can be daunting. However, most of our families find the diversity of Japanese food surprising. Trying different foods is great fun and an opportunity to understand a little about Japanese culture. Some of the different meals you can enjoy include sushi, soba noodles, ramen noodles, monjaki and okonomiyaki (savoury pancakes), takoyaki (ball-shaped fried snack – a bit like the Japanese equivalent of fish fingers) and yakitori (skewered chicken). There are also great treats to try including green Kea kit Kats and ice-creams, pounded-rice desserts such as mochi and dango and sweet red bean in a variety of forms. Yum! For anyone in search of food for a picnic the majority of department stores have food halls (depachika) with an eyepopping selection of different types of food. Also, convenience stores (combini) are around nearly every corner and have snacks to tempt the fussiest eater. If in doubt and needing a little taste from home, the Japanese chain Moss Burgers have great hamburgers and you can find western options like pasta, pizza and great bakeries in the major cities. If you have any concerns, chat to your leader at the start of the tour.

BREAKFAST IN JAPAN: Some of our families are surprised by the traditional Japanese breakfast foods and the western variations that our accommodation provides. Rice or noodles with fish or meat are common breakfast foods in Japan. Typical western foods available generally include toast, eggs, tea and coffee and sometimes cereals.

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

View Essential Trip Information

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