Japan golden route holiday

Our bestselling tour of Japan is as local as it gets, using infamous bullet trains to take you across the country, staying at locally-owned accommodations where delicious seasonal dishes and local rituals are the order of the day.
Tokyo Kyoto Guided tours in Tokyo and Kyoto Hakone National Park Night in traditional ryokan inn Hot spring baths
£2060excluding flights
10 Days
Tailor made
More info
The price is per person based on two people sharing a twin/double room.
We are happy to accommodate solo travellers - please contact us for pricing. Black-out dates (prices not valid): 29-Dec to 4-Jan 29-Aprl to 5-May 9-Aug to 17-Aug
Make enquiry

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 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) | Join our Insider expert for a group walking tour through the Tokyo backstreets. Explore lesser known districts including Yanaka and Rikugien Garden, as well as the fashion districts of Harajuku and the famous Shibuya scramble.
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.

Price information

£2060excluding flights
The price is per person based on two people sharing a twin/double room.
We are happy to accommodate solo travellers - please contact us for pricing. Black-out dates (prices not valid): 29-Dec to 4-Jan 29-Aprl to 5-May 9-Aug to 17-Aug
Make enquiry

Departure information

This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements

Leader interview

“Asakusa isn’t the full on neon in your face side of Tokyo. It eases you into the city.”

Travel guides

Japan railway
With super-fast, super-efficient shinkansen bullet trains connecting practically every major city, and the potential to head up into the mountains too...
History holidays suffer from an image problem. They conjure up a picture of a sedate older crowd crammed into coaches, ticking off a list of antiquity...

Holiday information

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.
Dietary requirements:
We can cater for vegetarian and vegan diets.


18 Reviews of Japan golden route holiday

4.5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed on 13 Oct 2019 by

The most exciting part of the holiday was the rugby. Read full review

Reviewed on 29 Jul 2019 by

This was a very varied and comprehensive introduction to the country. The cities were really interesting and undoubtedly Kyoto's multiple sites make it a bit of a gem but we really enjoyed the smaller towns like Kanazawa and quiet and peace of Mount Koya. Read full review

Reviewed on 23 Jun 2019 by

The fabulous gardens in Shinjuku Tokyo were memorable. Read full review

Reviewed on 20 May 2019 by

Sailing across Lake Ashi on a pirate ship was the most exciting part of our holiday ! Read full review

Reviewed on 18 Aug 2018 by

It was a fantastic experience for my children. Holiday of a lifetime. Read full review

Reviewed on 22 Apr 2018 by

The most memorable part would have to be a takoyaki party in Osaka, where we all communally prepared the dish together. The Buddhist morning prayers in Koya-San were also quite memorable. Read full review

Reviewed on 01 Jan 2018 by

Eating the local foods and staying in local accommodation was the highlight. Excellent. It was a very busy holiday with a lot going on everyday. Read full review

Reviewed on 29 Sep 2018 by

Highlights were places where the crowds were less and we could take more time to get a sense of place. This was mainly in the small shrines and temples and also on Miyajima island. Read full review

Reviewed on 07 Oct 2017 by

The japanese alps, Miyajima, Hiroshima, cooking class, visit to Maiko, cycling - actually. Everything! The trip was fantastic, really well organised - we just had to arrive and enjoy! Read full review

Reviewed on 31 May 2017 by

The most memorable was the boat ride down the Hozugawa River starting at Kameoka and a JR train journey from Kyoto that is reasonably short. It was a real experience, and made worry free by the superb back-up of the tour operator. I wouldn't hesitate for a second to recommend them. Read full review

Reviewed on 17 May 2017 by

It's hard to identify just one most memorable or exciting part - everything was amazing. The culture, the people, the food, the scenery, the transportation. I thoroughly enjoyed my time there. Read full review

Reviewed on 01 May 2017 by

The most memorable was Himeji Castle with cherry blossom in full bloom! Read full review

Reviewed on 17 Oct 2016 by

It blew away all my expectations in all honesty. I will definitely be booking my next trip through Responsible Travel again. The question is where to next?? Read full review

Reviewed on 25 May 2016 by

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. Read full review

Reviewed on 11 Oct 2016 by

(The holiday was) Excellent...over 300 photos taken.... an indication of our enthusiasm to capture the glorious sights. Read full review

Reviewed on 18 Sep 2016 by

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

Reviewed on 02 Nov 2014 by

Excellent and good value for money Read full review

Reviewed on 19 May 2014 by

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

Responsible Travel

As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we've screened this (and every) holiday so that you can travel knowing it will help support the places and people that you visit, and the planet. Read how below.


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!

We recommend you purchase 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 recommend clients request 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.

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