Japan unmasked tour, 14 days

“A two week, small group tour following a comprehensive itinerary around Honshu Island, with a mix of classic sights and hidden gems such as Miyajima Island as well. Staying in variety of hotels and inns. ”


Tokyo | Nagano | Matsumoto | Snow monkeys | Takayama and Hida Folk Village | Kanazawa | Hiroshima | Miyajima | Kurashiki | Kyoto | Travel by bullet train | Stay in traditional ryokan or minshuku inns

Description of Japan unmasked tour, 14 days

Two weeks to spare and donít want to miss anything in Japan? Then this is the tour for you. The pace is fast, but the reward is visiting so many of Japanís must-see destinations. And a wide range of fantastic experiences await Ė from peaceful rural towns and Buddhist Temple lodgings, to bullet train rides and big nights out in Tokyo and Hiroshima. Throw in the famous snow monkeys plus a tour of Kyotoís geisha districts, and you have a perfect fortnight showcasing all that is great about Japan.

Tokyo is the start and end of the tour, the perfect place to get acquainted with Japan. After exploring Tokyoís modern and traditional sides, itís onto the bullet train as we speed up into the mountains, for a night in temple lodgings and a trip to see the famous snow monkeys.

Matsumoto and its fine original samurai castle is up next, followed by two nights in the pleasant mountain town of Takayama, home to sake breweries and Japanís finest craftspeople. On next to Kanazawa, home to one of Japanís most beautiful gardens, then back on the bullet train to reach Hiroshima, where we pause to contemplate Japanís past, then relax on the peaceful nearby island of Miyajima.

Kurashiki is one of the hidden gems of this tour, with its picturesque canal district, lined with art galleries and cafes. If you like exploring on two wheels then there is also the chance to cycle the Kibi Plain, to get a glimpse of rural life in Japan.

Kyoto comes next, and the chance to spot geisha, seek out hidden temples and shrines, and absorb the sense of culture and history that draws Japanese from across the country to their spiritual home. The tour comes full circle with a bullet train ride back to Tokyo, and look out for a view of iconic Mt Fuji as the train speeds past!

SOLO TRAVELLERS can choose to book on any available departure, or on dedicated departures for solo travellers.

Travel Team

If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. The Travel Team.

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Responsible tourism

As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we screen every trip so you can travel knowing your holiday will help support conservation and local people.

This tour makes maximum use of public transport, so we minimise the need for car and private travel. From trains and trams to ferries and buses, you can travel Japan knowing you are helping the environment AND seeing Japan as the locals do.

Cycling is an optional excursion in Kurashiki, and comes highly recommended. This is a great way to understand more about rural ways of life in Japan. Japanís big cities may grab the headlines, but large numbers of people live in small towns, villages and rural areas. And with a huge population to feed, Japanís farmland is under a lot of pressure to deliver! Your time in the Japan Alps also allows you to understand more about Japanís geography and ecology, and how Japan must protect its natural resources.

Your tour leader will make sure they help you do your bit at every turn, whether it be pointing out recycling bins, prompting hotel staff not to replace towels every day, or providing reusable chopsticks at mealtimes.

The Impacts of this Trip

The Japan Unmasked tour includes two highlight stays in traditional Japanese accommodation. In Nagano weíll stay in a shukubo, simple lodgings that were built for pilgrimís visiting Zenko-ji Temple. As part of our stay we will be taken on a tour around Zenko-ji with an English speaking local guide who will explain the templeís history stretching back to the 7th Century. The shukubo is just a stoneís throw from the temple which makes it easy for us to join the hall for the monksí morning prayer service featuring chanting and meditation. Breakfast is shojin ryori Ė austere Buddhist fare that is strictly vegetarian.

In Takayama we stay in a minshuku, another traditional inn where we will again sleep on futon bedding on tatami mat floors. The rooms are not en-suite, instead weíll bathe Japanese style in the communal hot spring baths (men and women separately). Dinner is included on the first night: a seasonal, locally grown, homecooked feast!

These inns offer a real insight into Japanese life helping us to better understand the communities we are travelling through.


1 Reviews of Japan unmasked tour, 14 days

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed on 15 Aug 2019 by

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

The temples, the onsen in Nagano, travelling by bullet train, Matsumoto castle. The woodblock museum Matsumoto, the Hida village outside Katayama, the bike ride, the samurai house and garden. Kenrokuen gardens. The food experience. Our excellent guide.

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

Give everything a try.

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

Yes, however the Japanese people can teach us a thing or two about manners. Infrastructure and transport and managing litter.

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

It was a fabulous experience but our marvellous guide Van was instrumental in making it such a great experience, would not have been the same without him. I might add that the pre trip information, the city dossiers and the instructions for
getting to the first hotel in a strange city were superb. The rail pass and the
equivalent of an oyster pass just allowed me to get from a to b seamlessly on arrival. Accommodation was very good.

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