Japan golden route holiday

“A very well priced 10 day self-guided tour of Japan’s cultural and natural highlights, with added extra and expert guide to help get your head around Kyoto and Tokyo.”


Tokyo | Kyoto | Guided tours in Tokyo and Kyoto | Hakone National Park | Night in traditional ryokan inn | Hot spring baths

Description of Japan golden route holiday

Treading in the footsteps of samurai along the old Tokaido Road, the Golden Route will take you from neon-spangled Tokyo to Kyoto, the ancient capital and epicentre of Japanese culture and tradition. En-route you’ll also visit the hot springs region of Hakone, a national park in the foothills of Mount Fuji.

Tokyo is a phenomenon; a city that rose like a phoenix from the ashes of World War Two to become an economic powerhouse. Tokyo has many major sights to Senso-ji Temple in the historic downtown area of Asakusa, or the teenage hangout of Harajuku and electronics district Akihabara to try out the latest technology. An early morning visit to Tsukiji fish market or a sumo stable training session can be taken in, or for a more relaxed pace take a cruise down the Sumida River to Hamarikyu Garden to try your hand at tea ceremony.

Just an hour from Tokyo but a world apart, lies Hakone National Park. Here you’ll stay in a traditional Japanese inn to experience sliding doors, tatami mat floors, futon bedding, green tea and dinners of fantastic Japanese food. The national park is loved for its views of Fuji-san, visible from the cable cars, mountains railways and even a pirate ship that criss-cross the region making it easy to explore.

The elegant Shinkansen or ‘bullet train’ will whisk you from Hakone down the coast to Kyoto. Here you’ll find Japan’s best gardens, temples, shrines and the famous geisha, not to mention bamboo groves, kaiseki cuisine, antique shops and craft experiences.

The included Japan Rail Pass means that from Kyoto it is possible to take day trips for no extra cost. Hikone-jo, an original samurai castle; the historic temples and deer park in Nara or Hiroshima’s Peace Park memorial of the atomic bombing are just some of the possibilities.

As well as breakfast each morning, two evening meals, transport between destinations and quality, tried and tested accommodation, your holiday package includes the services of a professional guide for a day in both Tokyo and Kyoto - a fantastic way to get a true insight into these must-see cities.

Day-by-day itinerary

Day 1:TOKYO (no meals) | Meet and greet at Narita Airport, train and taxi transfer to first hotel in Tokyo’s historic Asakusa district. The hotel is close to Senso-ji Temple, the Kaminarimon market streets and the Sumida River.
Day 2:TOKYO (breakfast) | 8 hours with a private local guide. Itineraries are not fixed in advance and the guide will be happy to incorporate your sightseeing ideas, or make suggestions. You will travel around Tokyo by public transport and must pay for any entrance fees on the day.
Day 3:TOKYO (breakfast) | Free sightseeing day. Your tailor-made Info-Pack will have sightseeing ideas and information.
Day 4:HAKONE (breakfast & dinner) | 40 minute Shinkansen 'bullet train' journey to Odawara, then a local bus to your accommodation in Hakone. Stay in a traditional Japanese inn (ryokan).
Day 5:HAKONE (breakfast & dinner) | Free sightseeing day. Use the included Hakone Freepass to travel around Hakone using the buses, mountain railways, cable cars and even a pirate ship across Lake Ashi. Top sites include the volcanic craters of Owakudani, the outdoor sculpture park and art gallery, as well as Hakone Shrine.
Day 6:KYOTO (breakfast) | Take the Shinkansen on to Kyoto in 2 hours 10 minutes. In the evening why not head to Kyoto’s Gion district where you may catch a glimpse of a geisha scurrying between tea houses.
Day 7:KYOTO (breakfast) | 8 hours with a private local guide. The itinerary is not fixed but suggestions include Nijo Castle, Kinkakuji (the Golden Temple), Ryoan-ji and the famous Zen rock garden, the red shrine gate tunnels at Fushimi Inari, the Path of Philosophy, Kiyomizu-dera.
Day 8:KYOTO (breakfast) | Free sightseeing day. You may like to continue exploring Kyoto, or use the included Japan Rail Pass to make a day trip to Nara, Hikone Castle, Osaka or Hiroshima.
Day 9:TOKYO (breakfast) | Travel by Shinkansen back to Tokyo, around 2 hours 40 minutes. Tonight you will stay in the bright neon entertainment district of Shinjuku; the perfect spot for karaoke, last minute shopping or simply a great final Japanese meal out.
Day 10:DEPART (breakfast) | Use the Japan Rail Pass one last time to take the Narita Express train from Shinjuku to Narita Airport.

Hello. If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. Rosy & team.

01273 823 700

Departure information

This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements
Our top tip:
Take cash as ATM’s are tricky and don't fear being robbed. Welcome to crime-free Japan. Now there's a USP.
Trip type:
Self-guided tour, but with guides at chosen spots.
Solo travellers welcome. Surcharge for single rooms.
Good standard hotel and 1 night in traditional ryokan inn.
Accomm., transfers, transport passes, tour guide 2 days.
All breakfasts, 2 dinners included. Budget £3 for fast street food, £8-10 for unflashy dinner.
“Asakusa isn’t the full on neon in your face side of Tokyo. It eases you into the city.”

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Japan golden route holiday


This trip makes use of Japan's excellent public transport system for environmental reasons, but also because it is fast, efficient and the most fun way to travel; all part of the Japanese experience!

You'll receive a pair of reusable chopsticks at the start of this trip to avoid the use of wooden disposable chopsticks. Thousands of disposable chopsticks are thrown away each year in Japan; usually after less than 10 minutes of use. The manufacture of disposable chopsticks results in huge deforestation in neighbouring countries such as China, and after use, there’s the problem of landfill and pollution from incineration.

We encourage all accommodation on this trip to reduce energy as part of our annual supplier survey. We provide clients with cards requesting hotel staff not to replace towels and linens, to save water, energy and reduce the use of potentially harmful detergents.

Japan is big on recycling so look out for separate bins in the accommodation and outside convenience stores.


All the accommodation on this trip is Japanese owned and run, and in Hakone you'll experience the traditional way of doing things at a historic ryokan such as bathing in a hot spring bath, sleeping on futons, wearing slippers (not shoes!) and a light kimono around the building.

Dinner is included at the Hakone ryokan, a chance to eat seasonally, locally produced cuisine. Our Info-Pack contains details of local restaurants and craft shops for the other places on your itinerary.

In Tokyo and Kyoto you'll spend the day with Japanese guides who will give you the local lowdown on each city and really help you understand the culture and history of all the sights you see. For example many temples have legends attached; stories that you’d never get to know if you just wandered around by yourself. Why not ask the guides to teach you some Japanese etiquette tips, to show you how to write your name in Japanese or to recommend restaurants that you might be otherwise too scared to try; they can translate the menu for you and introduce you to new dishes.

Reviews of Japan golden route holiday

You can trust Responsible Travel reviews because, unlike many other schemes, reviews can ONLY be written by people who we have verified have been on the holidays.

I am reborn! Simply the best holiday I have ever been on
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
Very enjoyable
It was OK
A bit disappointing really

Reviewed on 25 May 2016 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Staying in the traditional hotel ryokan with the onsen and experiencing the traditional dinner and breakfast. The fantastic rail network of shinkansen was fabulous.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

The package was very well put together, but do not try and do it all. There is so much to see, do and learn that I would advise to try and do less but in more depth. The information in the pack was useful and relevant and up to date, with lots of good ideas and tips. There was a lot of information on culture, local custom and practice and places to see and visit and I would recommend anyone to make use of the information to plan their day. We found the mobile WIFI dongle that we got at the airport very good and we had constant access to google maps, email, phone etc as often the WiFi in hotels is weak.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes, we found all the hotels had 'green options' and locals were performing the various services that we had requested.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

We would recommend everyone to use this holiday provider for a first trip to Japan as the package was very well put together and executed. Everything was right, correct and we did not have any single disappointment. All the transport arrangements, tickets and timings were perfect. The hotels were cleverly chosen to reflect the various different specialties of the area, and were of a high standard at a reasonable cost. We did not find any language barriers, and even the private tour guides had outstanding English. There was always someone to speak to from the company if you needed any further assistance or advice. We found their advice and planning resulted in us having the best holiday ever.

Reviewed on 18 Sep 2016 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

My visit to Japan has reset my stereotypical views of the Japanese people I am ashamed to say. My previous experience has been of the large groups that travel with tour operators all over the world and don't appear to interact with
'foreigners'. However, we found them to be so friendly, welcoming and
helpful even when not asked! This was such a lovely thing to experience and I feel an apology is due.

Aside from thisKyoto was wonderful and would have loved more time thereThe Shinkansen are such an amazing experience, quite easy to become a train spotter as witnessing their speed is spectacular

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Please use the public transport it is such an amazingly easy way to travel, seems daunting at first but will soon become second nature. Signs are in English, certainly in Kyoto, hakone and Tokyo. The equivalent to an Oyster card is amazing, can use on all the hundreds of vending machines and we emptied ours
at the 'family Mart' at our final destination buying a sandwich

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Certainly we used all local services and businesses. Entrance fees of course
continue to contribute to upkeep of historical sites

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Simply spectacular! So well organised, thorough guidance on itinerary and rail links, cannot fault it.

Reviewed on 02 Nov 2014 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Our time spent in Hakone. Despite not being able to see much due to a Typhoon the Gora Tensui was a fantastic Ryokan and great
place to relax in a storm.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Leverage the baggage transfer service. It made travelling on the train much simpler as we could forward our large bags and use
smaller suitcases for shorter 2 day stays.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes and taking the Shinkansen is a great way to travel.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Excellent and good value for money

Reviewed on 19 May 2014 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

We enjoyed it all. The travel arrangements all worked perfectly. Hotels were fine. Amy at the tour operator was terrific.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

6 hour day tour of Tokyo was a bit stressful for seniors, in the amount of stairs and walking particularly between subways. The guide could have given us more options for traveling.
Two tour guides to Geisha district were poor and overly talkative The tour and experience was great. The two tour guides in Tokyo and daytime Kyoto were wonderful.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Popular similar holidays

Sri Lanka holidays, tailor made

Sri Lanka holidays, tailor made

Independent tailor made holidays to Sri Lanka

From £1845 15 days including UK flights

Southern India tour, temples & nature

Southern India tour, temples & nature

Tour from Coimbatore to Bangalore via Mysore

From £494 6 days excluding flights

Thailand cultural tour, floating market & beach

Thailand cultural tour, floating market & beach

Get a taste of rural Thai life and traditional cuisine

From £690 4 days excluding flights

Ethiopia holiday, tailormade

Ethiopia holiday, tailormade

Discover the people, places and wildlife of Ethiopia

From £1720 17 days excluding flights

Convert currencies