Eclectic Japan

Highlights & Hidden Delights

Eclectic Map - Best of Morocco

The itinerary below is an example of what we can and have put together. We can use this as a base for your own customized journey through Japan.

 

Pricing shown in an estimate. Prices will vary. Our tours are all private. Feel free to contact us with any questions you may have.

Check Out the Full Itinerary

Day 1 – Arrive in Kyoto

Airport transfer (1.5 hours), Dinner

Welcome to Japan! After arriving in Osaka’s Kansai International Airport, you’ll be picked up and whisked in a private car to the ancient capital of Kyoto. You’re likely exhausted from the long flight, so feel free to settle in and unwind at your hotel, preferably downtown or in the historic district of Gion or Higashiyama on the east side of town. If you have the energy, step outside and explore your surroundings a bit. The banks of the Kamo River are an ideal place for an atmospheric evening stroll. 

Day 2 – Kyoto (Higashiyama, downtown)

Breakfast, Dinner

Start your day in northern Higashiyama, on the northeast side of town, at Ginkaku-ji (“Silver Pavilion”), a Zen temple renowned for its garden. This marks the northern edge of the contemplation-inducing Philosopher’s Path, which you’ll meander down, heading south. Stop at the moss-drenched temple of Honen-in and the mighty Zen temple of Nanzen-ji, complete with secret grotto. You’ve likely worked up an appetite. Eat lunch near Nanzen-ji, then continue on foot into the southern half of Higashiyama. Start at mighty Chion-in (“The Vatican of Pure Land Buddhism”), then proceed to Maruyama Park, a cherry blossom hotspot in spring, which backs onto a network of cobblestone streets. Follow them uphill to the thronged, though quintessential temple of Kiyomizu-dera where you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of Kyoto. Stop back at your hotel to freshen up, then head downtown for dinner. Sated, take a nighttime stroll down the dreamy, lantern-lit alleyway of Pontocho. If you’re still going strong, check out a few of Kyoto’s best cocktail dens.

Day 3 – Kyoto (Arashiyama, Northwest, Gion)

Breakfast, Dinner

On your second full day in Kyoto, make your way first to the northwest side of town. Here you’ll find a few of the city’s most iconic temples including Ryoan-ji, with its meditative rock garden, and the gold-leaf-covered Kinkaku-ji (“Golden Pavilion”). Next, hop in a taxi and make the short trip to the city’s western district of Arashiyama. Have lunch at one of the many eateries that line the Katsura River, then venture to the beautiful landscape garden behind the temple of Tenryu-ji, before veering down the path that runs through Japan’s most recognizable bamboo grove. As you reach the edge of the massive bamboo grove’s path, be sure to visit the much less-crowded Okochi-Sanso Villa, a traditional home surrounded by exquisite grounds that was once the home of a Japanese movie star. The remainder of your afternoon is free. Consider venturing farther into Arashiyama’s backside to a cluster of atmospheric temples, or return to your hotel to rest and freshen up before dinner in the Gion district, Kyoto’s prime geisha zone. If you feel like splurging on a once-a-lifetime cultural experience, consider booking an evening with private geisha accompaniment.

Day 4 – Kyoto (Fushimi Inari Taisha), Osaka (Minami, food tour)

Transport (20 minutes), Breakfast, Street-Food Tour

Fushimi-Inari in early morning (arrive by 9am) 

On your last half-day in Kyoto, make your way to Fushimi Inari Taisha early in the morning. One of Japan’s most bewitching shrines, it is a sight that you’re sure to remember your whole life. Venture as far up the path, lined with countless vermillion gates and watched by an army of stone fox guardians, as you feel inspired to go, but be aware that most take 2-3 hours to reach the top, which offers stellar views of the city. With Fushimi’s magic lingering, make the short bullet-train trip to Osaka, where you’ll spend the rest of the day and the night. With the afternoon free, you can relax at your hotel, or ascend to the top of the Abeno Harukas 300 building to gawp at Osaka’s vast sprawl. In the evening, join a street-food crawl with a local tour outfit that takes you on a culinary deep-dive into the Minami (south) side of “Japan’s Kitchen”. If you’ve got staying power after dinner, bar hop through the backstreets of Ura-Namba and get to know Japan’s friendliest locals. 

Day 5 – Himeji, Hiroshima

Transport (1.5 hours), Breakfast

After eating breakfast at your hotel in Osaka, hop on the bullet train and head west to Himeji to visit Japan’s best-preserved, most impressive fortress from feudal times, “White Heron Castle”.  After admiring the imposing medieval keep, eat lunch in Himeji, then continue west to Hiroshima. Here, you’ll meet an expert local guide who will elucidate the heavy past of this now vibrantly rebuilt city as you visit Peace Memorial Park and the sobering Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. For dinner, try Hiroshima’s spin on the dish of okonomiyaki, and compare your notes on how it’s different from the way the Osakans do it. Tonight, rest up for your day-trip to Miyajima tomorrow.

Day 6 – Miyajima, Hiroshima

Transport (40 minutes), Breakfast

Today you’ll visit the charming island of Miyajima, a short jaunt by train and ferry from downtown Hiroshima. The mountainous island is best known for its iconic Itsukushima Shrine, which has a gate that appears to ‘float’ at high tide. You can also walk right up to it at low tide. Also be sure to check out Daisho-in temple. After eating lunch at one of the island’s seaside cafes or in its quaint town center, ride the cable car to the top of Mount Misen, walk to a series of temples atop the mountain, and admire phenomenal views of the Inland Sea spreading in all directions. By late afternoon, make your way back to the port to backtrack to Hiroshima by ferry and train. Back in Hiroshima, take a breather at your hotel and wash up before dinner. Consider visiting a few of the city’s more colorful places to grab a drink after you eat.

Day 7 – Hakone

Transport (4.5 hours), Breakfast, Dinner

Eat breakfast and hit the rails again, this time heading east towards Tokyo. Before you arrive in the megalopolis, though, stop in Hakone, an inviting onsen (hot-spring) resort a few hours south of the hypermodern capital. Once in Hakone, settle in for the day and night at a ryokan (traditional inn) where the impeccably Japanese art of service known as omotenashi is practiced. Spend the rest of the day and evening soaking in an onsen bath, donning a yukata (lightweight kimono), and enjoying a haute kaiseki feast, made with top-notch, seasonal ingredients, for dinner.

Day 8 – Tokyo (eastern, old-school side)

Transport (1.5 hours), Breakfast, Dinner

After a filling breakfast at your ryokan and a final dip in the onsen bath, leave Hakone by train and proceed north to the mega-city of Tokyo, the heart of modern Japan. Save the more high-octane corners of town for the next day. You’ll arrive around lunchtime, but won’t likely have worked up an appetite just yet. Make your way to the eastern side of town, to explore the old-school, slightly slower-paced side of town, centered on the district of Asakusa, along the historically important Sumida River and home to the city’s most popular temple Senso-ji; and Ueno, a brief subway ride away, where you’ll find the first-rate Tokyo National Museum, which houses the world’s largest collection of Japanese antiquities. Depending on your energy levels, consider visiting Akihabara, just a few train stops — or 20 minutes on foot — away from Ueno. This is the best spot to glimpse some of Japan’s quirky subcultures, chief of them being otaku, a catch-all word for all things geek, from anime and manga to maid cafes and cosplay. Or, simply head to your hotel to rest and refresh. The bustling western districts of Shinjuku or Shibuya or the upscale area around Tokyo Station would each be a good place to base yourself. Your dinner options are seemingly infinite, as Tokyo boasts more restaurants (and Michelin stars) than any city on earth. Aim for something iconic –– a vaunted sushi shop in Ginza, perhaps?

Day 9 – Tokyo (western, modern side)

Dinner, Food and Drink Tour

Focus your second day on the western, more modern side of Tokyo. Think: Lost in Translation and visual inspiration for Blade Runner. But first, start at the surprisingly tranquil Meiji Jingu, Tokyo’s most impressive shrine, dedicated to the Emperor Meiji, then wander through the neighboring side streets of the sprawling district of Harajuku, ground zero for youth fashion in Japan. Proceed down Omotesando and its high-end shops to Aoyama, where you’ll find the Nezu Museum’s collection of premodern Asian art and a wonderful garden. Make your way next to Shibuya, the beating heart of Japanese youth culture and home to the world’s busiest intersection—ascend to the top of Shibuya Sky for a bird’s-eye view—and have dinner and drinks at a lively izakaya (Japanese-style pub with a casual, yet impressive food menu) in trendy Ebisu, one train stop away. Finish your night in neon-drenched Shinjuku, a key inspiration for Blade Runner director Ridley Scott’s aesthetic vision, followed by a bar crawl through the dense network of bars known as Golden Gai. Whether you’re a cocktail enthusiast or whisky connoisseur, ask us for bar recommendations. If you’re more into music, we’d love to share a list of our favorite DJ bars. When it comes to nightlife, Tokyo doesn’t disappoint.

Day 10 – Tokyo (free day) 

Spend your last full day however you see fit, whether souvenir shopping, watching a kabuki play at Ginza’s Kabuki-za, or exploring an area that has piqued your interest. One possibility we recommend is using your final day to explore the city’s local side. A good starting point is the well-preserved pocket of old-school charm that is Yanaka, in the city’s northeast. This district was mercifully left relatively unscathed by WWII firebombing raids. Its tangle of streets, dotted by temples, mom-and-pop shops and galleries in historic buildings, make for a pleasant walk. In the late afternoon, either head to to the western suburb of Kichijoji, 15-20 minutes west by train from central Tokyo, or to the hip enclave of Shimokitazawa, awash in vintage clothes and atmospheric restaurants. If you opt for Kichijoji, visit the Ghibli Museum, a quirky ode to anime director Hayao Miyazaki’s fictional universe set in the tranquil green space of Inokashira Park. For dinner, Kichijoji’s Harmonica Yokocho is a fantastically atmospheric place to eat sticks of chicken, washed down with beer, alongside friendly locals in a culinary alleyway strewn with red lanterns. Shimokitazawa is a great place to eat and drink with some of the capital’s coolest denizens, and perhaps catch some live music. 

Day 11 – Depart Japan

Your Japan adventure comes to a close today. Use whatever time you have until your flight back, from either the international airport in Haneda or Narita, to do any last-second shopping, exploring or eating. To be safe, aim to allow yourself three hours at the airport to smoothly make it through customs. We hope you’ve had a fantastic journey that you’ll cherish for life! 

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