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Japan
Tokyo City Experience 04Nights/05Days

Day 01: Arrive in Japan / Narita International Airport - Tokyo
Upon arrival at Narita International Airport (NRT), you will need to clear the international arrivals process in the following order: quarantine & immigration, baggage claim, customs inspection and exit to the Arrival Lobby.
Use your Narita Airport Limousine Bus to travel from the airport to your accommodation, by presenting your transfer coupon at the Limousine Bus Counter in the Arrivals Hall. Here your coupon will be exchanged for a bus ticket and you will be directed to your designated bus stop. The journey to your hotel will take approximately 100 minutes.
Your accommodation at the Grand Prince New Takanawa Hotel is a five minute walk west of JR Shinagawa Station. The Shinagawa area thrived during the Edo Era (1600-1868) and was home to feudal lords; nowadays this modern landscape is home to many global businesses, including Sony headquarters.Check in to your accommodation. If you are able to check in early, you may want to rest.If you are unable to check in early you may enjoy exploring the area around the hotel and nearby Shinagawa Station area.Consider visiting the Imperial Palace & East Garden. The Imperial Palace now stands on the site once occupied by Edo Castle from which the Tokugawa Shogunate ruled Japan. Now, it is the residence of the Imperial Family.The main entrance is approached by the elegant Nijubashi Bridge (Double Bridge) which is open to the public on special occasions.The Higashi Goen (East Garden) is graced with flowers and blossoms each season; an ideal place for relaxation. (Open 9:00am-16:00pm / Closed Monday & Friday & New Year holidays / Admission free.)To access Imperial Palace & East Garden make your way to JR Shinagawa Station and board the JR Yamanote Line train to JR Tokyo Station (5 stops / 12 minutes / 160 yen). The grounds are a 15 minute walk from the west side of JR Tokyo Station.In the evening return to JR Shinagawa Station on the Yamanote Line local train.
Stay: Shinagawa Prince Hotel - 1/4

Day 02: Tokyo / Harajuku, Shinjuku & Shibuya
This morning take a trip to Meiji Shrine - Japan's most famous Shinto shrine dedicated to the Emperor Meiji and his consort. This area is covered by an evergreen forest of 120,000 trees, 365 different species, which were donated by people from all over Japan. On weekends, you may encounter a Japanese wedding ceremony.To access Meiji Shrine make your way to JR Shinagawa Station and board the JR Yamanote Line train to JR Harajuku Station (6 stops / 13 minutes / 160 yen). Meiji Shrine is a 2 minute walk from JR Harajuku Station.Yoyogi Park, located to the south of the Meiji grounds, is where Tokyo's talented sub-culture meets and performs (weekends). Regular acts include Elvis impersonators, magicians, dancers and rock bands.For lunch, explore the selection in the side alleys off Takeshita Dori - the lively street (weekends) that prides itself as the font of "new teenage Tokyo street fashion." Bargain hunters will enjoy a visit to 'Daiso' to delight in what you can buy for only 100 yen! From Harajuku Station it is only one stop south to Shibuya Station (exit via Hachiko-Guchi Exit). Shibuya is an area popular among young people and rich in cinemas, cafes, restaurants, department stores, fashion-store buildings and boutiques.Later in the day, make your way to JR Shinjuku Station - the largest and busiest train station in Japan. From the West Exit walk 10 minutes through the high-rise business district to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office Building to ponder the commanding views of the city from its 45th story observation deck. The night view is breathtaking! (9:30am-10:30pm / free entry)
In the evening return to JR Shinagawa Station on the Yamanote Line local train.
Stay: Shinagwa Prince Hotel - 2/4

Day 03: Tokyo / Ueno, Sensoji & Akihabara
Continue your exploration of Tokyo by boarding a JR Yamanote Line train to the Ameyoko Ueno Markets. The long market lanes run from JR Okachimachi Station to JR Ueno Station. This area used to be a thriving flea market immediately after the end of the WWII. There are over 500 shops that sell everything from basic foods to high-class imported goods at reasonable prices, and thus it is always crowded with shoppers.To access Ameyoko Ueno Markets make your way to JR Shinagawa Station and board the JR Yamanote Line train to JR Okachimachi Station (8 stops / 16 minutes / 160 yen).In the nearby Ueno Park, there is a concentration of cultural institutions such as the first zoo in Japan, Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, Tokyo Cultural Hall, National Western Art Museum, National Science Museum and Tokyo National Museum, all offering recreation and relaxation for the citizens. With its 1000+ cherry trees, Ueno Park is the most popular cherry blossom viewing point in Tokyo.
Next, board the Ginza Line subway train from Ueno Station to Asakusa (Subway) Station to the nearby Sensoji Temple (popularly known as Asakusa Kannon Temple), Tokyo's oldest and most impressive temple is said to have been founded in the 7th century. Nakamise Dori, the colourful shopping promenade, extends from Kaminarimon Gate to Hozomon Gate and is an excellent place to buy everything from kimono to traditional sweets. Positioned across the road from Kaminarimon Gate the Asakusa Rickshaw tour guides await to guide you around the area by rickshaw (10min. 3000 / two people).
Later in the day board the Tsukuba Express train from Asakusa (Tsukuba) Station to Akihabara. Akihabara boasts the largest area of electronic appliances and devices in the world. Here, the very latest in technology and system compatibility is available to both the Japanese and foreign market.
In the evening return to JR Shinagawa Station on the Yamanote Line local train.
Stay: Shinagawa Prince Hotel - 3/4

Day 04: Tokyo / Odaiba
After breakfast, take a trip to Odaiba - a huge amusement zone where you can enjoy shopping, delicious food, entertainment, and a view of Tokyo Bay all at once.
From JR Shinagawa Station board a JR Yamanote Line local train three stations north to JR Shimbashi Station. At Shimbashi Station, take Yurikamome Line unmanned monorail across the 918 metre span Rainbow (suspension) Bridge to Daiba Station (14 min).Odaiba was born on the reclaimed land in the Tokyo Bay in the southeast of Tokyo. This ultra-modern island is home to the Fuji TV Studio, Toyota Motor Company show room, Palette Town giant Ferris wheel, Venus Fort shopping 'theme park' for ladies modelled on an 18th Century European city, the Museum of Maritime Science, Odaiba Marine Park, and MegaWeb Sega Game Centre. A visit to the Oedo Onsen Monogatari 'volcanic hot spring' is an excellent way to soak away the stresses of a week of exhilarating travel. Luxuriate in open air, foot, sand and steam baths, tatami rooms and aesthetic/massage salons. The hot water spouts up naturally from 1400 meters below (2700 adult / no tattoos.)
Stay: Shinagawa Prince Hotel - 4/4

Day 05: Depart Japan / Tokyo - Narita International Airport
Spend your last day in Tokyo / Japan completing any final sightseeing or shopping.
Check out of your hotel and leave your luggage in storage at the porter's desk for your later return.From the Shinagawa Prince Hotel, board the Narita Airport Limousine Bus to Narita International Airport using your limousine bus coupon (approx. 100 minutes).


Tokyo, Takayama, Kyoto & Hiroshima 08Nights/09Days

Day 01: Arrive in Japan / Narita International Airport - Tokyo
Upon arrival at Narita International Airport (NRT), you will clear the international arrivals process in the following order: quarantine & immigration, baggage claim, customs inspection and exit to the Arrivals Lobby.
If you are using the Narita Airport Limousine Bus to travel from the airport to your accommodation, present your transfer coupon at the Limousine Bus Counter in the Arrivals Hall. Here your coupon will be exchanged for a bus ticket and you will be directed to your designated bus stop. The journey to your hotel will take approximately 100 minutes.
Your accommodation at the Shinagawa Prince Hotel is a one minute walk west of JR Shinagawa Station. The Shinagawa area thrived during the Edo Era (1600-1868) and was home to feudal lords; nowadays this modern landscape is home to many global businesses, including Sony headquarters.
Stay: Shinagawa Prince Hotel - 1/2

Day 02: Tokyo
This morning you will be collected from the Shinagawa Prince Hotel at 7:50am for your Tokyo Highlights of the Capital Morning Tour. Your tour will disband in the Ginza shopping district at approximately 1:00pm. You will be guided by an English-speaking Japanese local and transported by coach to the following sites:
Tokyo Tower - Enjoy a panoramic view of Tokyo from the main observation platform.
Meiji Shrine - The finest example of Japanese shrine architecture nestled in a peaceful, picturesque park with over 120,000 trees.
Akasaka Guest House - Brief photo opportunity outside the Guest House Gate; entrance is prohibited. A magnificent Western-style palace built in the baroque architectural style.
National Diet Building (Drive by) - See the imposing Japanese Capitol (House of Parliament) dominated by a massive central tower.
Imperial Palace East Garden - Enjoy a pleasant walk in the East Garden of the Imperial Palace, of historical interest and scenic beauty. (Mon. & Fri. Visit Imperial Palace Plaza, Double Bridge, instead of East Garden) Visit the inner moat, 15-feet thick walls and gnarled pine trees surrounding the 250-acre fortress, home of the Emperor and Empress).
Ginza Shopping District (Drive through) - Stroll at Ginza area.
After the tour, make your way to the closest JR Yamanote Line train station and board a local train to JR Akihabara Station. To most foreign visitors Akihabara is known as 'Electric Town' due to its rank as the world's largest electrical equipment town.Take the JR Yamanote Line train one stop north of Akihabara to Ueno and the Ameyoko Ueno Market. The long market lanes run from JR Okachimachi Station to JR Ueno Station. This area used to be a thriving flea market immediately after the end of the WWII. There are over 500 shops that sell everything from basic foods to high-class imported goods at reasonable prices, and it is always crowded with shoppers.
In the evening return to JR Shinagawa Station on the Yamanote Line local train.
Stay: Shinagawa Prince Hotel - 2/2

Day 03: Tokyo - Takayama
This morning activate your 7 Day Japan Rail (JR) Pass. At the Japan Rail Station Ticket Office / Travel Service Centre within JR Shinagawa Station (open 5:45am-22:55pm).
After checking out of your hotel, return to JR Shinagawa Station. From here, board the Shinkansen Hikari or Kodama bullet train to JR Nagoya Station (approx. 2hrs). Change trains at JR Nagoya Station and board the Limited Express (Wide View Express) Hida train to JR Takayama Station (2 hrs 20 min). This magnificent train journey through the Japan Alps (often compared to the Alps of Europe) will be one of the highlights of your trip to Japan.
Hida / Takayama is a traditional medieval town located in the mountains of Gifu Prefecture. It is possible to walk across the centre of Hida / Takayama in about 20 minutes, and most of the attractions are concentrated in the old part of town, within minutes of each other. To get to your accommodation at the Hida Hotel Plaza walk past the Hida / Takayama Tourist Information Office (in front of the station) and head north (left) at the station's main exit for 5 minutes.Enjoy an afternoon stroll around this museum-like town, dotted with attraction after attraction, including a variety of small museums devoted to traditional crafts embodying the town's long-standing tradition of the finest craftsmanship. Visit the 'old private houses' that lie in the area between Miyagawa River and the famously lush and picturesque Shiroyama Park. This quite residential area is replete with shops selling traditional wares, antique shops Japanese-style inns, sake breweries and restaurants serving local specialities.
Stay: Hida Hotel Plaza - 1/1

Day 04: Takayama - Kyoto
An excellent start to the day can be had at the Takayama Jinya Market and the Miyagawa Market. Located on the banks of the Miyagawa River these morning markets are open daily from 7am to noon. Here you will find people from nearby farms selling fresh produce and flowers.
Return to Takayama Station where you can purchase a Hida-no-Sato (Hida Folk Village) discount ticket - 900 yen - (Hida-no-Sato Setto-Ken) which includes a return bus ride (10 minutes each way) and admission to the Hida Folk Village. Here you will find restorations of more than 30 typical old thatched-roofed (gassho-zukuri) houses, relocated here from the various places around the Hida area. The site recreates the atmosphere and scenery of mountain villages of old in a beautiful mountain setting. Open 8:30am - 5:00pm.
From Takayama Station board the Limited Express (WideView) Hida train to JR Nagoya Station (2 hrs). Change trains at JR Nagoya Station and board the Shinkansen Kodama or Hikari train to JR Kyoto Station (40-60 min).
Your accommodation at the New Miyako Hotel in Kyoto is a 2 minute walk from Kyoto Station across the road to the south west of the station.
Stay: New Miyako (Main) Hotel - 1/3

Day 05: Kyoto
After breakfast, commence your exploration of the ancient city of Kyoto. At 08:45am, you will be collected from your hotel's lobby to join the Kyoto Morning Tour. Your English-speaking local guide will take you by bus to Nijo Castle, the Golden Pavilion, and the Kyoto Imperial Palace (on Sat., Sun. & national holidays, visit Higashi Honganji Temple instead). The tour will disband at the Kyoto Handicraft Centre. This is an excellent place to purchase authentic Japanese arts and crafts at affordable prices. (The centre offers courtesy vehicle services to major hotels in Kyoto and a likely return time being around 1:30pm).
From the Kyoto Handicraft Centre set out on an afternoon walk to explore the Higashiyama area. From nearby Maruyama Park head south where you will come across an array of small and large temples and shrines. Make your way to Kiyomizu Dera (Temple) (300 / open 6:00am-6:00pm) along the attractive winding road lined with colourful souvenir and curio shops. Kiyomizu Dera is famous for its giant wooden Butai (stage) overlooking panoramic views of Kyoto and its main hall purely constructed of wood and suspended by huge columns and beams without the use of a single nail, screw or bolt.
In the evening stroll through Gion; Kyoto's most famous geisha district. Gion is the one place in Japan where you may see Maiko or Geisha walking between appointments. As darkness falls watch the traditional lanterns gradually come to life and you wander down tiny alleys housing a variety of restuarants offering tempting cuisine.
Stay: New Miyako (Main) Hotel - 2/3

Day 06: Kyoto - Nara - Kyoto
A full day of sightseeing awaits you in Nara. Here, you can find peace of mind and natural beauty as you uncover the many treasures of Japan's former capital (710-784AD).
From JR Kyoto Station board a JR Nara Line limited express train for Nara (45 min). All sightseeing is within comfortable walking distance of Nara Station. From the station make your way along Sanjo-Dori (street), past the 100 yen shop and amusement game centre, and head towards Nara Park.
Enjoy lunch while sitting in the picturesque Nara Park, famous for the 1200+ tame deer that roam the area. Here you'll be surrounded by impressive World Heritage listed cultural assets. Todaiji Temple, the world's largest wooden architecture, houses the 'Giant Buddha' that soars 16 metres in height - a star attraction (500 / open approx. 8:00am-4:30pm). Return to Nara Station via Nara-machi, an old precinct full of traditional houses, shops and tearooms in calm and pleasant surroundings, giving a good contrast to the great temples and old burial mounds.
Return to Kyoto in the late afternoon. Be sure to visit the Sky Plaza Observation Deck on top of Kyoto Station for a free panoramic view of the surrounding area of Kyoto. This modern station also contains a large shopping mall, including hotels, theatres, specialty shops, restaurants and event venues.
Stay: New Miyako (Main) Hotel - 3/3

Day 07: Kyoto - Hiroshima
Check out of the New Miyako Hotel after an early breakfast, return to JR Kyoto Station to board the Shinkansen Hikari bullet train to either JR Shin Osaka Station (14 min) or JR Okayama Station (85 min). Change trains here and board either the Shinkansen Hikari or Kodama bullet train to Hiroshima (a further 2 hrs or 42 min - total travel time 2 - 3hrs).

From JR Hiroshima Station, your accommodation at the New Hiroden Hotel is a 3 minute walk. Head past the Hiroshima Tourist Information Desk and exit right at the station's main exit, walk past the Hiroshima Higashi Post Office (on your right), turn right at the main street and continue straight ahead for 2 minutes; the New Hiroden Hotel is on your right.

Hiroshima, the world-renowned "City of Peace", has experience a miraculous rebirth as a modern thriving city rising from the ashes of its tragic history.

Depending on your timing into Hiroshima consider the following touring options:

Peace Memorial Park: Covering an area of 122,100 sq metres this park houses the city's "peace memorial facilities;"

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum: Open 8:30am-6:00pm (Mar.-Nov.), 8:30am-5:00pm (Dec.-Feb.), 8:30am-7:00pm (Aug.); enter 30min. before closing time. Closed: Dec.29-Jan.1. Admission: 50. Rental audio guide is available in 16 languages 300;Atomic (A) Bomb Dome: Positioned below the epicentre, this skeleton of melted steel and concrete stands as a stark reminder of the city's August 6, 1945 bombing;

Hiroshima (Rijo) Castle: Representative of a flatland castle, this castle was first established in 1589 until its destruction in 1945. Having been rebuilt in all its glory it is now used to exhibit historic artefacts. Open 9:00am-6:00pm (5:00pm Dec.-Feb.); enter 30 min. before closing time. Admission: 360. Closed: Dec.29-Jan.2;

To access these sites board a Streetcar (Tram car) from in front of Hiroshima Station and alight at the Genbaku Domu-Mae (Atomic Bomb Dome) streetcar stop (150 / 15 min.). From here use your tourist map to identify a convenient touring circuit.
Stay: New Hiroden Hotel - 1/2

Day 08: Hiroshima / Miyajima Island / Hiroshima
Enjoy a day of exploration upon the sacred earth of Miyajima Island (Shrine Island).
From Hiroshima Station board the JR Sanyo Line to Miyajimaguchi Station (26 min). Miyajima is reached by JR ferryboat (10 min / using your JR Pass) from Miyajimaguchi Pier, a few minutes walk from JR Miyajimaguchi Station.

The entire 30 sq. km. island is designated by the Japanese government as a Special Historic Site and Special Place of Scenic Beauty. The must see Itsukushima Shrine, built in the sixth century, is dedicated to the maritime guardian goddesses. The shrine buildings are connected by corridors which stretch out over the water giving it the appearance of floating on the sea at high tide. The giant red wooden O-Torii (Grand Gate) is the most noted symbol of Miyajima.

Be sure to take the 1.7km ropeway (1800 round trip) to Mount Misen's summit to absorb one of the three most spectacular panoramic views in Japan. Keep your eye on the summit's mischievous monkeys before descending on a peaceful walk through the ancient forest.

Return to Hiroshima early evening to feast upon the city's popular delicacy Okonomiyaki - a savoury, layered noodle pancake cooked on an iron hotplate at your table. The locals are very proud of their contribution to Japanese cuisine!
Stay: New Hiroden Hotel - 2/2

Day 09: Depart Japan / Hiroshima - Narita International Airport
Spend your last day in Japan completing any final sightseeing or shopping.

After breakfast, check out of your hotel. From JR Hiroshima Station board the Shinkansen Hikari bullet train (changing trains at either Okayama Station or Shin Osaka Station) to JR Tokyo Station (approx. 5 hrs).

At Tokyo Station change trains and board the Narita Limited Express train to Narita International Airport (60 min).

Be sure to check in for your scheduled flight at least 2 hours prior to its departure.


Cherry Blossom Tour 13Nights/14Days

Day 01: Arrive in Japan / Narita International Airport - Tokyo
Upon arrival at Narita International Airport (NRT), you will clear the international arrivals process in the following order: quarantine & immigration, baggage claim, customs inspection and exit to the Arrivals Lobby.

Activate your 14 Day Japan Rail (JR) Pass at the Japan Rail Station Ticket Office / Travel Service Centre (open 6:30am-9:45pm) located in Terminal 1 & 2. From the airport board the JR Narita Limited Express train service to JR Tokyo Station (approx.60 min). Within JR Tokyo Station change trains and board the JR Yamanote Line train to JR Shinagawa Station.

If you are using the Narita Airport Limousine Bus to travel from the airport to your accommodation, present your transfer coupon at the Limousine Bus Counter in the Arrivals Hall. Here your coupon will be exchanged for a bus ticket and you will be directed to your designated bus stop. The journey to your hotel will take approximately 100 minutes.

Your accommodation at the Shinagawa Prince (Main) Hotel is a one minute walk west of JR Shinagawa Station. The Shinagawa area thrived during the Edo Era (1600-1868) and was home to feudal lords; nowadays this modern landscape is home to many global businesses, including Sony headquarters.
Stay: Shinagawa Prince Hotel - 1/4

Day 02: Tokyo: Ueno / Asakusa / Akihabara
Continue your exploration of Tokyo by boarding a JR Yamanote Line train to Ueno and the Ameyoko Ueno Markets. The long market lanes run from JR Okachimachi Station to JR Ueno Station. This area used to be a thriving flea market immediately after the end of the WWII. There are over 500 shops that sell everything from basic foods to high-class imported goods at reasonable prices, and thus it is always crowded with shoppers.

Just a short distance from Ueno Station is Ueno Park - one of Japan's most crowded, noisy and popular cherry blossom viewing (hanami) locations. With its 1000+ cherry trees, Ueno Park turns a delicate shade of pink in early April; delighting picture snapping strollers and sake swigging merrymakers. (Admission is free / food stands are available).

Next, take the subway to the nearby Sensoji Temple (popularly known as Asakusa Kannon Temple), Tokyo's oldest and most impressive temple is said to have been founded in the 7th century. Nakamise Dori, the colourful shopping promenade, extends from Kaminarimon Gate to Hozomon Gate and is an excellent place to buy everything from kimono to traditional sweets. Only a few minutes walk from Kaminarimon Gate is Sumida Park, where cherry blossom trees stretch a few hundred metres along both sides of the Sumida River. Hanami can also be enjoyed from boats that cruise the river. (Admission is free / food stands are available).

Later in the day return to Ueno and and board a train one stop to Akihabara. Akihabara boasts the largest area of electronic appliances and devices in the world. Here, the very latest in technology and system compatibility is available to both the Japanese and foreign market.
Stay: Shinagawa Prince Hotel - 2/4

Day 03: Tokyo: Harajuku / Shinjuku / Shibuya
This morning take a train to Harajuku Station and the Meiji Shrine - Japan's most famous Shinto shrine dedicated to the Emperor Meiji and his consort. This area is covered by an evergreen forest of 120,000 trees, 365 different species, which were donated by people from all over Japan. On weekends, you may encounter a Japanese wedding ceremony. (2 min. walk from JR Harajuku Station).

Yoyogi Park, located to the south of the Meiji grounds, is where Tokyo's talented sub-culture meets and performs (weekends). Regular acts include Elvis impersonators, magicians, dancers and rock bands.

For lunch, explore the selection in the side alleys off Takeshita Dori - the lively street (weekends) that prides itself as the font of "new teenage Tokyo street fashion." Bargain hunters will enjoy a visit to 'Daiso' to delight in what you can buy for only 100 yen!

From nearby JR Yoyogi Station head east to explore Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. This large park features more than one thousand cherry trees of over a dozen varieties in Western and Japanese style gardens (Entrance 500 / Open hours 9am-4:30pm).

Later in the day take the train to JR Shinjuku Station - the largest and busiest train station in Japan. From the West Exit walk 10 minutes through the high-rise business district to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office Building to ponder the commanding views of the city from its 45th story observation deck. The night view is breathtaking! (9:30am-10:30pm / free entry).

Stay: Shinagawa Prince Hotel - 3/4

Day 04: Tokyo - Kamakura - Tokyo
Venture out today to enjoy one of Japan's most popular sightseeing spots; Kamakura. This historic seaside city is only a 45 minute journey from JR Shinagawa Station on the JR Yokosuka Line train.

As the former capital of Japan (from 1192 to 1333), Kamakura has many renowned Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines and numerous well-preserved historical treasures nestled among a peaceful wooded and rustic setting.

Dankazura (2 min. walk from the station) is a 100 metre long pedestrian approach, lined with cherry blossom trees, leading to the colourful Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine. The 850-tonne bronze Great Buddha and the picturesque Enoshima Island all draw large numbers of visitors to Kamakura throughout the year.

Exploring on your own is the best way to enjoy a tour of Kamakura.

Stay: Shinagawa Prince Hotel - 4/4

Day 05: Tokyo - Hakone / Mt Fuji
After checking out of your hotel, return to JR Shinagawa Station. From here, board the Shinkansen Kodama bullet train to JR Odawara Station (30 min).

At Odawara Station, purchase a 'Hakone Free Pass / Hakone Weekday Pass' which entitles the holder to 2 or 3 days of unlimited travel on a variety of local transport including the unique mountain railway, bus, cable car, ropeway and cruise boat. Use your 'Pass' to gain entry to and discounts at the region's many hot springs, museums, galleries, gardens, temples and shrines.

From Odawara Station to your accommodation at the Palace Hotel Hakone take the Hakone Tozan Bus for Togendai (via Hakone-Yumoto) and get off at Palace Hotel Hakone Mae (50 min). Your hotel has a volcanic outdoor onsen (hot spring) - one of the region's thirteen volcanic spas - a perfect way to relax after a busy travel schedule.

Wedged between Mount Fuji and lzu Peninsula, encircled by forested mountains and deep ravines, extraordinary views (weather permitting) from Hakone of Mount Fuji and the Japan Alps are a magnificent scene to remember.

Spend the remainder of the day exploring the many sights of this 'out of the ordinary' resort town.

Stay: Palace Hotel Hakone - 1/2

Day 06: Hakone / Mt. Fuji
After breakfast, use your 'Hakone Free Pass / Hakone Weekday Pass' (and the provided tourist maps & brochures) to explore some of the many sites of the Hakone region, including:
Lake Ashi: The 400,000 year-old volcanic crater lake that never freezes! Ashiko is a popular place for fishing, boating and water sports. Use your 'Hakone Pass' to cruise the lake by pirate ship. On a clear day you will be able to take pleasure in Mt. Fuji's inverted reflection.
Owakudani (Greater Boiling Valley): Accessible by ropeway this entire gorge reeks of sulphurous fumes, spewing clouds of steam from crevasses among bubbling hot springs.
Ancient Cedar Avenue: Enjoy a leisurely stroll along this superb 2km flora-lined winding passage; once the pathway to Edo (Tokyo).
Stay: Palace Hotel Hakone - 2/2

Day 07: Hakone - Hida / Takayama
Check out of your accommodation. From the Palace Hotel Hakone Mae bus stop take the Hakone Tozan Bus for Odawara Station (50 min). At Odawara Station board the Hikari bullet train (1hr 15min) or the Kodama bullet train (2hr 15min) to JR Nagoya Station. Change trains at JR Nagoya Station and board the Limited Express (Wide View Express) Hida train to JR Takayama Station (2 hrs 20 min). This magnificent train journey through the Japan Alps (often compared to the Alps of Europe) will be one of the highlights of your trip to Japan.

Hida / Takayama is a traditional medieval town located in the mountains of Gifu Prefecture. It is possible to walk across the centre of Hida / Takayama in about 20 minutes, and most of the attractions are concentrated in the old part of town, within minutes of each other. To get to your accommodation at the Hida Hotel Plaza walk past the Hida / Takayama Tourist Information Office (in front of the station) and head north (left) at the station's main exit for 5 minutes.

Enjoy an afternoon stroll around this museum-like town, dotted with attraction after attraction, including a variety of small museums devoted to traditional crafts embodying the town's long-standing tradition of the finest craftsmanship. Visit the 'old private houses' that lie in the area between Miyagawa River and the famously lush and picturesque Shiroyama Park. This quite residential area is replete with shops selling traditional wares, antique shops Japanese-style inns, sake breweries and restaurants serving local specialities.

Stay: Hida Hotel Plaza - 1/2

Day 08: Hida / Takayama
An excellent start to the day can be had at the Takayama Jinya Market and the Miyagawa Market. Located on the banks of the Miyagawa River these morning markets are open daily from 7am to noon. Here you will find people from nearby farms selling fresh produce and flowers.

Return to JR Takayama Station where you can purchase a Hida-no-Sato (Hida Folk Village) discount ticket - 900 yen - (Hida-no-Sato Setto-Ken) which includes a return bus ride (10 minutes each way) and admission to the Hida Folk Village. Here you will find restorations of more than 30 typical old thatched-roofed (gassho-zukuri) houses, relocated here from the various places around the Hida area. The site recreates the atmosphere and scenery of mountain villages of old in a beautiful mountain setting. Here you can try your hand at making candles and senbei (rice crackers). Open 8:30am - 5:00pm.

Stay: Hida Hotel Plaza - 2/2

Day 09: Takayama - Kyoto
Following breakfast, board the Limited Express (WideView) Hida train from JR Takayama Station to JR Nagoya Station (2 hrs). Change trains within the station and speed to JR Kyoto Station onboard the Shinkansen Hikari or Kodama bullet train (40-60min).

Your accommodation at the New Miyako (Main) Hotel in Kyoto is a 2 minute walk from Kyoto Station across the road to the south west of the station.

Be sure to visit the Sky Plaza Observation Deck on top of Kyoto Station for a free panoramic view of the surrounding area of Kyoto. This modern station also contains a large shopping mall, including hotels, theatres, specialty shops, restaurants and event venues.

Stay: New Miyako Hotel - 1/3

Day 10: Kyoto / Higashiyama / Gion
After breakfast, commence your exploration of the ancient city of Kyoto. At 08:45am, you will be collected from your hotel's lobby to join the Kyoto Morning Tour. Your English-speaking local guide will take you by bus to Nijo Castle, the Golden Pavilion, and the Kyoto Imperial Palace (on Sat., Sun. & national holidays, visit Higashi Honganji Temple instead). The tour will disband at the Kyoto Handicraft Centre. This is an excellent place to purchase authentic Japanese arts and crafts at affordable prices. (The centre offers courtesy vehicle services to major hotels in Kyoto and a likely return time being around 1:30pm.)

From the Kyoto Handicraft Centre set out on an afternoon walk to explore the Higashiyama area. From nearby Maruyama Park, Kyoto's most popular public park for cherry blossom viewing, head south where you will come across an array of small and large temples and shrines. Make your way to Kiyomizu Dera (Temple) (300 yen / open 6:00am-6:00pm) along the attractive winding road lined with colourful souvenir and curio shops. Kiyomizu Dera is famous for its giant wooden Butai (stage) overlooking panoramic views of Kyoto and its main hall purely constructed of wood and supported by huge columns and beams without the use of a single nail, screw or bolt.

In the evening stroll through Gion; Kyoto's most famous geisha district. Gion is the one place in Japan where you may see Geisha or Maiko walking between appointments. As darkness falls watch the traditional lanterns gradually come to life and you wander down tiny alleys housing a variety of restaurants offering tempting cuisine.

Stay: New Miyako Hotel - 2/3

Day 11: Kyoto - Nara - Kyoto
A full day of sightseeing awaits you in Nara. Here, you can find peace of mind and natural beauty as you uncover the many treasures of Japan's former capital (710-784AD).

From JR Kyoto Station board a JR Nara Line limited express train for Nara (45 min). All sightseeing is within comfortable walking distance of Nara Station. From the station make your way along Sanjo-Dori (street), past the 100 yen shop and amusement game centre, and head towards Nara Park.

Enjoy lunch while sitting in the picturesque Nara Park, famous for the 1200+ tame deer that roam the area. Here you'll be surrounded by impressive World Heritage listed cultural assets. Todaiji Temple, the world's largest wooden architecture, houses the 'Giant Buddha' that soars 16 metres in height - a star attraction (500 / open approx. 8:00am-4:30pm). Return to Nara Station via Nara-machi, an old precinct full of traditional houses, shops and tearooms in calm and pleasant surroundings, giving a good contrast to the great temples and old burial mounds.

Stay: New Miyako Hotel - 3/3

Day 12: Kyoto - Hiroshima
Check out of the New Miyako Hotel after an early breakfast, return to JR Kyoto Station to board the Shinkansen Hikari bullet train to either JR Shin Osaka Station (14 min) or JR Okayama Station (85 min). Change trains here and board either the Shinkansen Hikari or Kodama bullet train to Hiroshima (a further 2 hrs or 42 min - total travel time 2 - 3hrs).

From JR Hiroshima Station, your accommodation at the New Hiroden Hotel is a 3 minute walk. Head past the Hiroshima Tourist Information Desk and exit right at the station's main exit, walk past the Hiroshima Higashi Post Office (on your right), turn right at the main street and continue straight ahead for 2 minutes; the New Hiroden Hotel is on your right.

Hiroshima, the world-renowned "City of Peace", has experience a miraculous rebirth as a modern thriving city rising from the ashes of its tragic history.

Depending on your timing into Hiroshima consider the following touring options:

Peace Memorial Park: Covering an area of 122,100 sq metres this park houses the city's peace memorial features and over 300 cherry blossom trees. Cherry blossom season adds to the exquisite beauty of an already unforgettable area;

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum: Open 8:30am-6:00pm (Mar.-Nov.), 8:30am-5:00pm (Dec.-Feb.), 8:30am-7:00pm (Aug.); enter 30min. before closing time. Closed: Dec.29-Jan.1. Admission: 50. Rental audio guide is available in 16 languages 300;

Atomic (A) Bomb Dome: Positioned below the epicentre, this skeleton of melted steel and concrete stands as a stark reminder of the city's August 6, 1945 bombing;

Hiroshima (Rijo) Castle: Representative of a flatland castle, this castle was first established in 1589 until its destruction in 1945. Having been rebuilt in all its glory it is now used to exhibit historic artefacts. Open 9:00am-6:00pm (5:00pm Dec.-Feb.); enter 30 min. before closing time. Admission: 360. Closed: Dec.29-Jan.2;

To access these sites board a Streetcar (Tram car) from in front of Hiroshima Station and alight at the Genbaku Domu-Mae (Atomic Bomb Dome) streetcar stop (150 / 15 min.). From here use your tourist map to identify a convenient touring circuit.

Stay: New Hiroden Hotel - 1/2


Day 13: Hiroshima / Miyajima Island / Hiroshima
Enjoy a day of exploration upon the sacred earth of Miyajima Island (Shrine Island).From Hiroshima Station board the JR Sanyo Line to Miyajimaguchi Station (26 min). Miyajima is reached by JR ferryboat (10 min / using your JR Pass) from Miyajimaguchi Pier, a few minutes walk from JR Miyajimaguchi Station.
The entire 30 sq. km. island is designated by the Japanese government as a Special Historic Site and Special Place of Scenic Beauty. The must see Itsukushima Shrine, built in the sixth century, is dedicated to the maritime guardian goddesses. The shrine buildings are connected by corridors which stretch out over the water giving it the appearance of floating on the sea at high tide. The giant red wooden O-Torii (Grand Gate) is the most noted symbol of Miyajima.

Be sure to take the 1.7km ropeway (1800 round trip) to Mount Misen's summit to absorb one of the three most spectacular panoramic views in Japan. Keep your eye on the summit's mischievous monkeys before descending on a peaceful walk through the ancient forest.

Return to Hiroshima early evening to feast upon the city's popular delicacy Okonomiyaki - a savoury, layered noodle pancake cooked on an iron hotplate at your table. The locals are very proud of their contribution to Japanese cuisine!

Stay: New Hiroden Hotel - 2/2


Day 14: Depart Japan / Hiroshima - Narita International Airport

Spend your last day in Japan completing any final sightseeing or shopping.

After breakfast, check out of your hotel. From JR Hiroshima Station board the Shinkansen Hikari bullet train (changing trains at either Okayama Station or Shin Osaka Station) to JR Tokyo Station (approx. 5 hrs).

At Tokyo Station change trains and board the Narita Limited Express train to Narita International Airport (60 min).