Highlights of Japan Tour
The perfect introduction to the Land of the Rising Sun for first-time visitors, take in the sights of Tokyo, Kyoto & rural Japan in this highlights of Japan tour.
The electric and eccentric neon jungle of Tokyo is at the top of everyone’s Japan bucket list, and with good reason.
A world away from the West, a visit to Tokyo is akin to a trip into the future, complete with towering skyscrapers and technologically-advanced toilets.
With 14 diverse districts like mini-cities in themselves and a puzzling Rubik’s cube of 278 subway stations over 13 lines, Tokyo is best explored with a local guide.
All our Japan itineraries include a private tour of Tokyo, so you won’t miss out on what the city has to offer.
You’ll use your Manaca Travel Card (provided) to hop on and off public transport and explore Japan’s lively capital. Each district has a distinct personality and you may be surprised by what lies underneath the surface of this populous metropolis.
Asakusa is the heart of old Tokyo, where you can find the city’s oldest and most popular Buddhist temple, Senso-ji. Meanwhile, the Imperial Palace area is home to the Japanese royal family as well as the peaceful Emperor’s Gardens – a big contrast to the modern cityscape.
For authentic Japanese cuisine, the best place to go is the city's fish market (currently moving to a more modern premises). Arrive early for a sushi breakfast and to peruse the market, or even earlier if you’d like to see the tuna auctions at dawn.
Shibuya is a busy shopping district famed for the multi-directional Shibuya Crossing, which sees up to 2,500 pedestrians crossing at once; as well as the moving The Myth of Tomorrow mural by Taro Okamoto, depicting the bombs dropped on Japan during WWII.
If you’re looking to experience the kooky side of Tokyo, head for the trendy district of Harajuku for an explosion of bizarre fashions, off-the-wall boutiques and popular fast food restaurants, which cater to the area’s style-conscious teenagers.
Alternatively, try Akihabara: Tokyo’s geeky pop culture paradise, filled with overwhelming noise and flashing lights from arcades, anime collector stores and ubiquitous maid cafes. Keep your eyes peeled for real-life Mario Kart go-karting on Tokyo’s roads!
A trip to Tokyo is an experience you’ll never forget, though you may feel like you need a quiet sit-down after your time here. Japan’s capital is unapologetically outrageous, offbeat and intense – but that’s exactly why you’ll fall in love with the place.
Japan can be unbearably hot in the summer (especially in crowded Tokyo) and incredibly cold in the winter. Therefore, the best times to visit are spring and autumn, though these are also the most popular. Spring brings with it cherry blossom (sakura) season, which is particularly symbolic in Japanese culture. If you’re lucky enough to visit Tokyo while the blossoms are in bloom, be sure to visit Ueno Park to see Tokyoites enjoying hanami picnics under the trees.
It’s best to avoid the rains of June and July, as well as the super-busy “Golden Week” in April/May, when many Japanese also take their holidays and popular destinations are booked up well in advance. Events and festivals to look out for in Tokyo include the world’s largest anime fair (March), the Shinto shrine processions of Sanja Matsuri in Asakusa (May), Roppongi Art Night (May) and the fireworks of Sumida-gawa (August).
Most of our luxury tours of Japan include time in Tokyo, as the city is home to Haneda International Airport as well as being a strong central hub for travel to other destinations in the country. Each stay in Tokyo includes a private tour with a local guide, some include tickets to Tokyo’s Skytree (the world’s tallest tower, with epic views of Tokyo’s skyline) and a highlight of our Japan Honeymoon itinerary is a romantic helicopter ride over the city.
The Gate Hotel Kaminarimon in Asakusa is directly opposite the Thunder Gate leading up to Senso-ji temple, one of Tokyo’s top sights; while The Park Hotel Tokyo is perfect for those who wish to immerse themselves in Japanese art. The architecture features a sun-lit atrium on the top 10 floors of the Shidome Media Tower and each of the Standard Queen Rooms was designed by a different Japanese artist.