ARRIVE IN TOKYO!
Touch down Japan! Welcome to the land of culture, a country with majestic mountains, crazy neon lights, world class food & ancient and fascinating history. A land where the sake is hot or cold, where the sun glistens off the snow covered peaks, where incense floats around temples and shrines & where the technological advances take the world by storm. Japan is a dream, a desired destination where all those leave with a new found sense of wonder. Arrive into your traditionally designed Tokyo hostel in the beautiful Asakusa area to be greeted by your tour guide.
Once we've settled in, we'll take you out to feast on Japanese cuisine and meet the rest of your group. After dinner, we'll head to Asakusa to visit Senso-ji when the crowds have gone. This is one of the most important temples in Tokyo, this illustrious red temple is a feast for the senses!
TOKYO DAY TOUR
We'll start the morning off with a language and culture class with a Tokyo local. You'll learn simple Japanese customs and phrases to help you dictate your way across the country. Once we have learned all we need, we'll head out to the birth place of Japanese teen pop culture Harajuku. We'll then grab traditional bento boxes and head into Yoyogi park, host of the beautiful Meiji Shrine. After that we'll make our way to Akihabara – Tokyo's electric town -and be blinded by the all the neon lights and crazy shops in store. We'll challenge you all in the Sega Centre and provide you with a map and "Best things to do" so you can explore around the area.
SUSHI MAKING CLASS & ROBOT RESTAURANT
Today we'll head to the world famous Tsukiji Fish Market. Tokyo is famed for its seafood delights and this market is the birthplace of Japan's most famous food; sushi! Once we have toured the area, we will head over to our sushi making class where sushi masters will teach you how to roll the perfect sushi and fry teriyaki! After your sushi lunch we'll head back to the hostel for a quick freshen up before heading to the incredible Shinjuku area for an unparalleled skyline of Tokyo before a meal of Yakitori and beer down the famous Omoide Yokocho alley. After dinner we will treat you to an incredible show like no other, where robots dance to the theme of thriller whilst lasers and lights bounce off the walls at the world famous Robot Restaurant. Wrapping up the day viewing the world-famous Shibuya Pedestrian Crossing.
TRAVEL TO HAKONE & MT FUJI VIEWING
Today we leave Tokyo by the aptly named "Romance Car" to the stunning mountainous town of Hakone. After checking into our guesthouse accommodation situated in the mountains, we will spend the day exploring the surrounding areas on a variety of different transport including Cable Cars, Rope Ways and even a Pirate Ship. Why is Hakone so special? Well, not only is the food incredible but the views you can get of Mt Fuji on a clear day are pretty spectacular also. After a day of exploring and taking photos of Japan's most famous mountain we'll enjoy a typical Japanese Nabe dinner and then head to the roof deck to watch the sunset over the spectacular little town.
Today we board the bullet train, a soaring feat of engineering that throws you across the countryside. We'll take a bullet train to Nagoya, and then a scenic train journey will take us past the stunning mountains all the way to the UNESCO World Heritage town of Takayama. Our accommodation tonight is in a stunning Japanese temple. Never before would you have stayed in more beautiful surroundings, your bed will be on simple tatami mats. In the afternoon we'll head out for some traditional Sake tasting and you can even treat yourself to some infamously tasty Hida beef. After all of that you get a real chance for you to focus on your mindful experience as you sleep soundly in the temple with most rooms offering views of a traditional Japanese garden.
ARRIVE IN KYOTO & GION WALKING TOUR
In the morning your guide will walk you around the beautiful old town and village of Takayama and show you to the morning market on the banks of the Miyagawa River. After stopping for lunch we'll board the train back to Nagoya and take our final bullet train to Kyoto. Famous for its shrines, temples and Geisha's, Kyoto is a sure fire way to find your inner peace and get lost exploring its small alleyways. In the evening, we'll walk around Kyoto's Gion district, known for Geisha's (Japan's traditional art form of entertainment), if you are lucky enough, you might even spot one.
KYOTO TEMPLE & SHRINE TOUR
We'll rise early in the morning and take the subway to the Fushimi-Inari Shrine. We arrive early to escape the bustling throng of tourists and work our way through the mountain exploring the corridors of never-ending red gates. Afterwards, we head to Kiyomizu-dera, one of Japan's most famous temples. A stunning bamboo and wooden complex that sits high in the mountain side. The rest of the afternoon is yours to explore, check out Nishiki Market or head back to the Gion District to wind your way through the quaint streets before we leave Kyoto for Osaka!
GOLDEN PAVILION, ZEN GARDENS & KENDO CLASS
This morning we'll head to the astonishing Golden Pavilion, a beautiful gold laden building, surrounded by lakes which showcase a stunning reflection of the building. After we'll head to Daitoku-Ji, a quiet, leafy complex of old temples, away from the main tourist districts. In the afternoon we head to a traditional Kendo (Samurai sword fighting) class housed in the dojo where it all began. Your authentic Bushido instructor, a descendent of a Japanese Samurai, will teach you the way of this respectful martial art, before finishing with a 10 minute guided meditation to finish off this incredible day.
ARRIVE IN OSAKA, BAMBOO FOREST, FOOD TOUR & KARAOKE
This morning we take the train to Arashiyama. This stunning town is flanked by mountainous valleys with a river working its way through the middle. We'll start off by wandering through the Instagram worthy bamboo forest, before climbing the steps up to Monkey Mountain. Once we make our way down, we'll board a private row boat and explore the valleys the traditional Japanese way. We'll then jump on the train and head to Osaka. After checking in we will head out into the Dotonbori area, a wild ride of an inner city complex, the ??kitchen of Japan' will take you in with its lights, colours, food and people and after our food tour you won't want to leave. There is no better way to view this incredible, living, breathing city than tasting your way through it. In the evening we'll wrap up our tour with one final Japanese tradition – Karaoke!
OSAKA CASTLE & SHINSEKA
After nursing your head from last night's antics, if you're leaving us, it's time to say goodbye to your group and the new friends you have made from your tour. Those of you continuing the tour we thought it is best to give you the morning off to explore Osaka by yourself. Visit the incredibly trendy AmericaTown, wander down the Shinsaibashi Shopping district, give your body a well-deserved rest in Spa World or browse the wonderful world of electronics in Den-Den Town. We'll meet in the evening and head over to Osaka Castle, a beautiful structure in the centre of the city surrounded by lush gardens. We'll watch the sunset from here, before heading over to Dotonbori's little brother, Shinsekai for dinner in the evening.
NARA PARK & KOYASAN TEMPLE STAY
An early start today as we head out of the city, 30 minutes on the train to beautiful Nara. As we leave the train station and begin our walk towards the main park, keep your eyes out for the friendly locals on the way. Nara is famous for a city that lives symbiotically with deer and a historically important former capital of ancient Japan. We'll make our way around the serene park & stunning temples before heading back to Osaka to collect our bags and make our way to Koyasan. After a 90 minute ride, we'll take the a mix of cable cars and finally a bus to our accommodation deep in the heart of the mountain. Koyasan is a beautiful little temple town, summed up by the tourism boards slogan "If nature does indeed bring mankind closer to the cosmos, then Koyasan is its embodiment". This your chance to truly live the temple way of life in a real, working temple. Learn more about the monks that dedicate their lives to this area and wander the countless temples and shrines that are dotted all around. Dinner is a very special vegetarian meal made from ingredients sourced by the monks in the local area.
MORNING IN KOYASAN & TRAVEL TO HIROSHIMA
Wake in the morning to the sound of nature and take part in the morning chanting prayers with the monks. Breakfast is a traditional "temple style" meal made by the monks. Make sure to make the most of your final morning in this truly unforgettable destination. Just before lunch we'll make our way back to Osaka and head to Hiroshima on the bullet train. After a 90-minute ride, we'll take the streetcar to our accommodation in the centre of the city. After some down time, we'll walk to the humbling Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and be taken around this area by our local guide to truly educate you on the area's astonishing past. View the Atomic Dome, ring the peace bell and say a prayer at the eternal flame. This incredibly important city will live long in the memory. We'll then finish with a walk around the museum to learn about Hiroshima's devastating past before grabbing some food and calling it a night.
A later start to the day today as we take the metro to the beautiful Miyajima Island, location 1hr away from Hiroshima. On arrival to this quiet town, we'll take a short ferry ride to the island. Miyajima is known for its forests and ancient temples. Just offshore, the giant, orange Great Torii Gate is partially submerged at high tide. After disembarking from the ferry, we'll take an easy stroll around this island, visiting the Miyajima shrine, for incredible views of it's famous Torii Gate. What a way to finish your tour in Japan. After returning, we'll give some free time to wander around the island, grab some lunch and visit some temples before making our way back to Hiroshima. In the evening, we'll head out one last time as a group for our final day in Japan.
And that's a wrap! Today we finish in the beautiful city of Hiroshima, take one final walk around the memorial park or a go for a sunrise run along the river. Your guide will assist you in your onward travel whether you continue to travel around Japan, head back home or join us on another One Life tour in a different, but equally incredible place.