Japan Family Holiday
Futuristic Tokyo is a whirlwind of colour, razzmatazz and life, but scratching the surface transports you into a world of cultural mystery and intrigue. You'll get a real flavour of the orient visiting city markets, before heading to a calmer pace in Hakone where you explore the area's famous sulphur pools and enjoy some traditional home cooking. Kyoto is full of shrines, temples and gardens and is surrounded by tranquil waters. One of the most famous sights is the golden folds of the Kinkaku-ji Temple.
Take an overnight flight - on arrival you will be met and transferred to your hotel.
Konnichiwa! Welcome to Tokyo.
Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 7pm Day 2.
Make your way to your first nights accommodation and check in. You will meet your group leader and the rest of your family group at the welcome meeting.
Tokyo is a dynamic, modern hub, the thriving capital of an ancient land. Contradictions are everywhere, as hi-tech gadgetry and neon lights play an integral part in the lives of a population steeped in tradition.
There's the chance tonight after dinner for an optional night walk and to see the incredible city skyline from the 45th floor of the Government Tower.
Bursting with contemporary urban culture, there are many sides of Tokyo to explore - from fascinating musuems and world-class shopping to neighbourhood backstreets lined with restaurants and karaoke bars.
During our time here you will have a number of included activities accompanied by your tour leader as well as free time to explore on your own. The order and day of the included activities will depend on a number of things, including weather or local events. Your leader will discuss with you the plan for the next few days at the group meeting. We'll get around the city using the extensive and efficient public transport network - the fastest way to get to where you need to go and the best way to have the most local experience of what life is like in this big city.
While in Tokyo you will:
Get ready for a very early start to catch a live auction at the world-renowned Tsukiji Fish Market. This market is the biggest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world, selling more than 400 types of seafood from around the globe. The auctions start around 5.20am and conclude by 7.00am.
The Tsukiji Fish Markets are closed every national holiday and every Sunday, and the tuna auctions may be closed to visitors during busy times.
Sit down at one of the sushi restaurants surrounding the market and enjoy the freshest sushi breakfast you will ever eat! You may also want to browse among the surrounding shops specialising in Japanese kitchen gadgets and restaurant supplies.
Head to Akihabara to explore the manga (comic) market and then visit a comic making studio to see how manga is made.
Visit a sumo stable where you can watch the wrestlers take part in their morning practice. Please note that occasionally the sumo stables are closed and not accessible to the public. Another activity will be substituted in its place if this occurs.
Take a walk through a Tokyo depachika. The word is a combination of depato, meaning department store, and chika, meaning basement. In Tokyo the basement of many department stores is dedicated to food. Over the years, these ‘food halls’ have become one of the premier places to see the cutting edge of Tokyo’s food scene. Unlike a supermarket, where food is organised into aisles, a depachika is made up of many stalls with a mind-boggling array of both traditional and non-traditional Japanese foods. At some depachikas you can even find take-away sushi from Michelin-starred restaurants. Feel free to grab another snack if you are still hungry!
No doubt you've seen or heard of the Japanese animated films Spirited Away, Tottoro or Howls Moving Castle? They were all made here in Tokyo at Ghibli Studio, where will visit during our time in the city.
Learn to write your name in Japanese characters and try your hand at calligraphy (and your mouth at pronouncing some useful Japanese words!) in a class with a local teacher.
Take a look inside the Sony showroom for a glimpse at the newest technology from this Japanese company, from the latest TVs and home theatre, to personal devices, new video games to try and even robots to play with!
Cook your own "okonomiyaki" dinner (hotplate pancake) on one of our nights here, all while on board a boat on Tokyo Bay surrounded by the lights of the city.
On Sunday we'll visit Yoyogi Park where we'll join the locals for a picnic lunch and have the chance to see cosplay, local teenage bands, circus, acting and traditional arts groups all meeting to play and perform.
Some options during your free time include Tokyo's beautiful Imperial parks and temples, unique museums such as the Tokyo Edo Museum or the Samurai Sword Museum, watching a game of baseball or:
Spend time at Kodomo no Shiro, a children's play area consisting of 7 (yes, seven!) floors of indoor fun for kids including art & craft activities, music, movies, toys, games and playgrounds.
The Japanese love karaoke. Lose your inhibitions and sing the night away with a visit to a karaoke box for some after dinner drinks, snacks and songs.
Hotel Parkside or similar - 4 nights (Bx3)
Today you leave Tokyo behind and head direct to Hakone by train. It’s astonishingly easy to travel by train in Japan. Trains operate with metronomic precision, and the sight of a white-gloved guard, bowing to a carriage full of travellers, is something you’ll never forget!
Part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, Hakone has just about everything you could wish for – hot springs, mountains, bush walks, lakes, breathtaking views of Mt Fuji and interesting historical sites. Famed as a luxurious resort area since the Meiji period, Hakone's onsens (hot spring baths) are a top holiday destination for Tokyo residents looking to unwind.
There’s something for everyone here in Hakone. Together we will:
Ride the cable car to visit the volcano area of Owakudani with its sulphur pools which emit foul-smelling, but supposedly beneficial, gases. Try one of the hard boiled eggs, which are turned black by the water, they are alleged to prolong your life. If the weather is fine, we’ll get sublime views from Lake Ashino-ko of the icy cone of Fuji-san; Japan’s definitive mountain broods serenely on the skyline.
Take a scenic walk around the historic lake area, visit the old Samurai Postal Town and museum.
Meet the staff of the local cultural centre or visit a nearby school.
Enjoy a traditional music, language, origami or calligraphy lesson (where you will learn to write your own name in Japanese characters on a scroll to take home with you).
In Hakone our accommodation is in a small family-run ryokan. A ryokan is a traditional Japanese inn, where the owners take pride in preserving the atmosphere and history of the building, which is usually wood. A garden is also a common feature. You will stay in a Japanese-style room on a futon, which will be comfortable enough (but don’t expect modern conveniences!) and tonight you can enjoy a traditional style home-cooked meal.
Our ryokan also has its own outdoor and indoor onsens which families can book and use privately.
Fuji Hakone Guesthouse or Similar (2 nts) (Bx2 Dx2)
The charms of the former imperial capital of Kyoto are discreetly hidden, and our stay will reveal some of the finest temples, shrines, palaces and gardens in the country. You have plenty of time to explore together - though you could easily spend a week in Kyoto without getting bored!
There are many great experiences included in our stay here:
Wander the Gion disctrict in the evening with your leader and see if you can spot geikos (geishas) or maikos (apprentice geishas) with their elaborate dress and make up.
Go for a leisurely bike ride along the great paths around some of Kyoto's key sites - definitely the best way to navigate the city.
Experience a food market with your leader and learn all about the ingredients on sale and how to use them. Maybe even buy some supplies for a picnic lunch by the riverside.
Visit Hikone Castle on a half day trip, including the samurai quarter.
Explore the stunning sights of the Arashiyama area, such as Tenryuji, rafting with boatment on the old Kyoto River and a walk through the bamboo forest.
In the rest of your free time you might like to:
Learn the art of Japanese archery (kyudo), try your martial arts skills in an Aikido class or master traditional culinary skills in a cooking lesson.
Immerse yourself in the time honoured tradition of a tea ceremony.
Check out the fashions at a kimono showroom.
Universal Studio Japan is only an hour away from Kyoto by fast train.
We'll have a chance to try some great local food here, such as Kyoto style okonomiyaki, tempura, teppanyaki, local style izakaya and of course, more sushi!
Daiwa Roynet Hotel or similar (4 nts) (Bx4)
Your tour ends today in Kyoto. You will be transferred to the airport for your overnight flight home.
Tokyo is a whirlwind of colour, razzmatazz and life, but scratching the surface transports you into a world of cultural mystery and intrigue. You'll get a real flavour of the orient visiting city markets.
Hakone Hot Springs
Hakone is part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park. Discover hot springs, mountains, bush walks, lakes, breathtaking views of Mt Fuji and historical sites. Relax at the of a day's exploring in a natural hot spring bath. You stay in traditional style Japanese accommodation here to get a real feel for this deep and intriguing culture.
The former imperial capital of Japan, Kyoto has much to discover from fine temples, shrines and palaces to exquisite gardens. Exploring by bike is a great way to travel around, you might stop for refresment with a traditional tea ceremony.