Best of Japan Economy

More than any other country, the Japanese have managed to integrate ancient traditions and bleeding-edge technology harmoniously into their daily lives. With the perfect mix of new and old, this well-rounded tour has something for everyone.


Tokyo, Kamakura, Hakone, Takayama, Shirakawago, Kanazawa, Hiroshima, Miyajima Island, Kyoto

In the best that Japan has to offer, you’ll enjoy a colorful mix of large cities like Tokyo, quaint and traditional Takayama and Shirakawa-go, the ambiance and solitude of Miyajima Island and the ancient shrines and temples of Kyoto, the testament to peace of Hiroshima, the natural beauty of Hakone, the thermally-heated mineral water baths at an onsen and more.

You’ll participate in a tea ceremony, stroll through farmer’s markets, see where the geisha live and work, visit beautiful Miyajima Island, soak in the thermally-heated mineral waters at an onsen, admire sacred Mt. Fuji (weather permitting), the icon of Japan and much, much more.

DAY 1Arrive Tokyo

After clearing customs and immigration (which can take up to an hour and a half due to increased tourism to Japan), you will be met at Tokyo’s Narita Airport by a Samurai Tours guide. The guide will then purchase a limousine bus ticket for you and help you board the bus to the hotel. No meals included.

Travel: 1-1/2 Hours; Walking: TBD

DAY 2Tokyo – Tokyo Tower, Ginza, Asakusa

After breakfast, you will start the day with a Welcome/Orientation meeting. Next, the licensed, English-speaking guide will escort you to the Tokyo Tower. The Tokyo Tower is a communications and observation tower in the center of Tokyo. At 332.9 metres (1,092 ft), it is the second-tallest structure in Japan. The structure is an Eiffel Tower-inspired lattice tower, with a main observatory at 150 meters that is reached via elevator or a 600-step staircase. Thanks to the tower’s central location, the observatory offers an interesting view of the city despite being only at a relatively moderate height.  Afterwards, we will travel to the famous Ginza district, the most expensive real estate in the world. Ginza is recognized by many as one of the most luxurious shopping districts in the world, attracting visitors and regulars alike from across the globe. Before continuing we will first stop for a lunch of Kushiage (fried meat and vegetables on bamboo skewers). Next we will travel to the nearby Asakusa area. Here we will tour the Nakamise-dori, Senso-ji Buddhist Temple and the Asakusa Shrine where you will learn about Buddhist and Shinto Japanese religious practices. We will return to the hotel, where we will go through the train tickets for the rest of the tour. Breakfast at the hotel and lunch at a local restaurant included.

PLEASE NOTE: Due to weather conditions, the Tokyo Sky Tree is sometimes closed. And at times, the view may be limited or even obscured due to the clouds.

Travel: 1 Hours; Walking: Heavy

DAY 3Tsukiji Fish Market, Free Afternoon

We will start the day by traveling to Tsukiji Market, the world’s largest fish market. It is estimated that 20% of all the fish caught in the world passes through this market. There are two parts to the Tsukiji Market- the inner market and the outer market. The inner market is for wholesale business and the outer market is for retail. Since groups are not allowed to walk together in the inner market, you will be given some time to wander around the inner market on your own. We will then take some time to walk around the outer market as a group. After this we will go to a restaurant near the market that is popular with locals, and owned by the self-proclaimed “tuna king” for a sushi lunch (lunch not included). After lunch, the afternoon is free to explore Tokyo on your own. Go shopping for that perfect souvenir, visit the Meiji Shrine dedicated to the Japanese emperor of the 19th century, or wander through the trendy Shibuya or Harajuku districts where you will more than likely see interesting and far-out fashions.It is a short walk to the Kabukiza theater. There, you can attend one act of a Kabuki play if a play is scheduled on that day. Admittance is first-come, first-served, and you will have to wait in line to get in. Ask the guide for availability, admittance procedures and the schedule for that day if you are interested. Breakfast is included.

The Tsukiji Fish Market is relocating in Oct 2018. All tours after that date will not be visiting the fish market until the new location can be assessed.

Optional Food Tour – Afternoon Kappabashi Tour and Cooking Class

Travel: 1/2 Hours; Walking: Medium

DAY 4Kamakura – Kotokuin (Great Buddha), Hase-dera, Hokokuin (Bamboo Temple), Hakone Yumoto Onsen

Before leaving Tokyo, you will prepare your luggage to be transferred to Takayama, and will be traveling to Hakone and Takayama with an overnight bag only. You should prepare your overnight back with enough items for 2 days and 1 night. We board a subway and an express train to the ancient city of Kamakura, the former capital of Japan in the 13th century. Hase-dera Temple, originally established in the 8th century houses a famous Kannon statue made from wood and gold leaf, and also has a commanding view of the nearby ocean. Next we will visit Kotokuin, the home of the famous Kamakura Great Buddha. This 40-foot tall bronze statue of Buddha, built in the 13th century is an icon of Japan. After a relaxing noodle lunch, we continue by taxi to Hokokuin Temple, also known as the Bamboo Temple. Here you will be able to relax and enjoy the serene atmosphere of the bamboo garden while savoring tea and sweets. Late in the afternoon, we will travel to Hakone Yumoto Onsen, where we will stay overnight. Here you can enjoy the thermally-heated mineral baths at the ryokan. A local, licensed English-speaking, Japanese guide will be joining us for the day. Breakfast at the ryokan and lunch at a local Japanese restaurant are included.

Travel: 2-1/2 Hours; Walking: Medium

DAY 5Hakone; Travel to Takayama

Before meeting with the group in the morning, you will be eating the breakfast you purchased the night before in your room. If you save your receipts, the guide will reimburse you. After checking out of the ryokan, we will tour Hakone. Hakone is famous for its natural beauty and the view of nearby Mt. Fuji (weather permitting). We will be taking many different forms of transportation (electric train, funicular, gondola and bus) around Hakone including the Hakone Sightseeing Boats on Lake Ashi. In good weather, passengers aboard the sightseeing cruise can get a fine view of Japan’s most famous peak, Mount Fuji, and enjoy Hakone’s rich scenery reflected on the lake’s calm surface. After returning to Hakone Yumoto and picking up our overnight bags, we will continue on to Takayama. Takayama, in the middle of the Japan Alps, with its traditional inns, shops, and sake breweries, has managed to retain its traditional charm.

(PLEASE NOTE: High winds and/or heavy rain can, and will often cause cessation of services on the Sightseeing Boat cruise. Should this occur, we will not be able to operate the itinerary as listed above, and will replace it with the best possible alternative given the weather conditions. Also, in the case of bad weather, even if the boats are still operating, we may alter the itinerary for your comfort and safety as Mt. Fuji will not be visible anyway.)

Travel: 5 Hours; Walking: Medium

DAY 6Takayama – Morning Markets, Takayama Jinya, San-machi-suji

This morning we stroll through the farmer’s markets, sampling the numerous options from vegetable stands and stalls selling herbs, pickles, and souvenirs. After that, we tour the Takayama-jinya, which was the governing office of Takayama and the surrounding area since the early 17th century. The guide will take you to the Sanmachi-suji district, consisting of merchant homes dating back to the 16th century. From here the rest of the day is free to roam and explore Takayama. Visit the many temples, shrines and museums, rummage through antique shops, or relax at one of the sake breweries. Breakfast at the hotel is included.

Travel: TBD; Walking: Medium

DAY 7Shirakawa-go, Kanazawa

Before leaving Takayama, you will need to prepare your main luggage for transfer to Kanazawa. We will be traveling to Kanazawa with an overnight bag only. Please prepare your overnight bag for 2 days and 1 night. After breakfast, we take a public highway bus to the valley of Shirakawa-go. Shirakawa-go is the home of many Gassho-zukuri (Praying Hand) style homes, which have been moved here from the surrounding area. These homes were first used as long ago as the 18th century and are still being used today. We stop for a short time to explore some of these traditional farmhouses. Following an enjoyable lunch and some free time to explore in the afternoon, we catch another public bus to the city of Kanazawa. Kanazawa, located on the northern coast of Japan, was once controlled by one of the wealthiest families in Japan, the Maeda Clan. They were admirers and sponsors of many traditional arts, and these arts flourished under their sponsorship. Many of these arts are still being practiced today in Kanazawa. Breakfast at the hotel and lunch at a local restaurant are included.

Travel: 2 Hours; Walking: Medium

DAY 8Kanazawa – Kenrokuen Garden, Kanazawa Handicrafts Museum, Naga-machi Samurai District

We begin the day touring the Kenrokuen Garden. This garden is considered to be one of the three best gardens in Japan and was initially constructed in the 17th century. After enjoying the garden, we tour the Kanazawa Handicrafts Museum to learn how the local Kanazawa handicrafts are made. After lunch we will tour the Naga-machi Samurai District. This area of Kanazawa, located at the foot of Kanazawa Castle, was the residential district for the samurai serving the castle. The area preserves a historic atmosphere with its remaining samurai residences, earthen walls, private entrance gates, narrow lanes and water canals. Here, we will also tour the Nomura House. The Nomura family was a high-ranking retainer for the Maeda family. Breakfast at the hotel and lunch at a local restaurant are included.

Travel: 1/2 Hours; Walking: Heavy

DAY 9Travel to Hiroshima, Hiroshima – Peace Park and Museum

Before breakfast, bring your luggage to the lobby to be transferred to Kyoto. Please prepare your overnight bag for 2 days and 1 night. After an early breakfast, we will travel to Hiroshima where we will tour the Peace Memorial Museum and the Peace Memorial Park, which are both sobering testaments to the dropping of the A-bomb on August 6, 1945. Breakfast at the hotel is included.

Travel: 5 Hours; Walking: Medium

DAY 10Miyajima Island – Mt. Misen Ropeway, Itsukushima Shrine; Kyoto

We will travel by local train to the harbor where we will board a ferry for Miyajima Island. Miyajima Island is said by the Japanese to be one of the top three scenic sights in Japan. We will visit the Itsukushima-jinja shrine which was built in its present form in 1168. After some free time on the island, we will return to the mainland and travel to Kyoto. Steeped in history and tradition, Kyoto has in many ways been the cradle of Japanese culture. A stroll through Kyoto is a walk through 11 centuries of Japanese history. For many, just the name of Kyoto conjures up the classic images of Japan: streets of traditional wooden houses, the click-clack of geta (wooden sandals) on the paving stones, geisha in a flourish of brightly colored silks, and a tea master deliberately warming water and making tea. Breakfast at the hotel is included.

Travel: 5 Hours; Walking: Medium

DAY 11Kyoto – Nijo Castle, Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion), Nishiki Koji, Tea Ceremony

Before leaving for the day, you will need to prepare your main luggage to be sent forward to the airport (the cost of this transfer is not included). If you would prefer to keep your luggage, you can do so. If you will be sending the luggage, you will need to keep enough items for three days/two nights. The luggage transfer forms will have been provided to you prior to this day, and you are responsible for paying for this transfer. After breakfast, we will start the day at the Nijo Castle. Built in 1603, it was the Kyoto home of Tokugawa Ieayasu, the first Tokugawa Shogun. The ostentatious style of construction was intended as a demonstration of Ieyasu’s prestige, and to signal the demise of the emperor’s power. The finest artists of the day filled the castle with delicate transom woodcarvings and paintings by the Kano School on sliding doors. One of the castle’s most intriguing features is the so-called “nightingale” floors. To protect the Shogun from real or imagined enemies, these floorboards creak when stepped on. Next we will visit Kinkaku-ji. Kinkaku-ji, also known as the Golden Pavilion, is one of Kyoto’s, as well as Japan’s, most recognizable attractions. The gleaming building covered in gold leaf seems to float on the aptly named Mirror Pond, especially on a sunny day. After lunch you will have some free time at Nishiki Koji. Nishiki Koji is a narrow, five block long shopping street lined by more than one hundred shops and restaurants. Known as “Kyoto’s Kitchen”, this lively retail market specializes in all things food related, like fresh seafood, produce, knives and cookware, and is a great place to find seasonal foods and Kyoto specialties, such as Japanese sweets, pickles, dried seafood and sushi. Following this free time, we will participate in an authentic tea ceremony. The regimented discipline of the tea ceremony has been practiced for more than 400 years, and at one time was considered mandatory for Samurai as an aid to train the mind. After the tea ceremony, we will return to the ryokan. Breakfast at the ryokan and lunch at a local restaurant included.

Travel: 1 Hours; Walking: Heavy

DAY 12Fushimi – Fushimi Inari Shrine, Higashiyama District, Yasaka Shrine, Gion Geisha District, Kenninji Temple

After breakfast, we are off by train to the nearby city of Fushimi, one of the largest sake producing regions of Japan. Here we will visit the Fushimi Inari shrine. This Shinto Shrine, established in the 8th century, is famous for the long tunnels of vermilion torii gates straddling a network of trails leading to the top of the heavily forested Mt. Inari. We will then travel to the Higashiyama District. This area of narrow, cobblestone alleys with its temples, shrines, numerous shops and restaurants is truly enjoyable and relaxing. We will stop for lunch in the Higashiyama District. We will then visit the Yasaka Shrine, also known as the Gion Shrine. This shrine, built over 1350 years ago, is one of the most famous shrines in Kyoto. The shrine’s main hall combines the honden (inner sanctuary) and haiden (offering hall) into a single building. Next, we will walk to the famous Gion Geisha District. Here, you will see where the Geiko (in Kyoto they call themselves Geiko, not Geisha) and Maiko live and work. You may even see one on their way to one of their appointments. Finally, we will travel to the Kenninji Temple. Kenninji Temple is the oldest Zen Temple in Kyoto. The temple was founded in 1202 by the priest Yousai, who was ordained at just 14 years old. There are multiple gardens at this temple to enhance the Zen experience. We will then enjoy our “Sayonara” dinner at a nearby restaurant. Breakfast at the ryokan and lunch and dinner at local restaurants are included.

Travel: 1 Hours; Walking: Heavy

DAY 13Return Home

It’s time to say “sayonara” (Goodbye). You will be escorted to the Kyoto train station, where you will return on your own to Tokyo’s Narita airport or Osaka’s Kansai airport by train. (If you are flying out of Narita Airport, be sure to schedule a flight after 15:00 to allow yourself enough time to catch your flight.)

If you sent your luggage ahead, you will need to retrieve the luggage in the Departure lobby of the airport using the map below. See the appendix to locate where you can retrieve your luggage at the airport. Breakfast at the ryokan included.

Travel: 1-1/2 Hours; Walking: Light

As a general rule:
Light – 0 to 2 miles on level ground
Medium – 2 to 4 miles on level ground or 0 to 2 miles on hilly ground
Heavy – 4 to 6 miles on level ground or 2 to 4 miles on hilly ground


  • Local, licensed, English-speaking, Japanese guides
  • Travel Guard Gold Policy from Travel Guard, one of the world’s largest travel insurance providers, will be provided to everyone from the United States. All others will receive a $100 per person credit and will be responsible for obtaining their own travel insurance in their own home country. (The insurance provided by Samurai Tours will cover the land portion only. Insurance to cover airfare and other additional expenses is the tour member’s responsibility.) Click Here for More Information About Coverage
    • The provided insurance coverage includes:
      • Trip Cancellation (up to trip cost)
      • Trip Interruption (up to 150% of trip cost)
      • Trip Delay (up to $750)
      • Missed Connection (up to $250)
      • Baggage and Personal Effects Loss (up to $1,000)
      • Baggage Delay (up to $300)
      • Medical Expense (up to $25,000)
      • Medical Evacuation and Repatriation of Remains (up to $500,000)
      • Accidental Death or Dismemberment (up to $10,000)
      • Coverage for financial default of tour operator
      • Cancel for Work Reasons
      • A waiver of any pre-existing medical conditions that could eventually cause you to interrupt your trip (entire trip, including airfare must be insured  for pre-existing waiver to be valid.  Contact travel guard for for information)
    • Travel Insurance Surcharge: Depending on your age at the time the travel insurance is purchased, you may be subject to the following surcharge for your travel insurance. Travel insurance surcharges will be due at the same time as your tour deposits. (the surcharge itself is not insured)
      • Up to 69 – $0
      • 70-74 – $100
      • 75-79 – $175
      • 80-84 – $300
      • 85+ – $500
    • Travel Insurance Opt-Out: If you would prefer to opt out of the travel insurance, please note this at the time of registration. You will receive a $100 credit per person, which will be reflected on your invoice. In the event that you would need to cancel your tour, cancellation penalties may apply. See the Terms and Conditions page for the Cancellation Fees Schedule.
  • Meeting service at Tokyo’s Narita Airport and transfer to the ryokan in Tokyo
    • The meeting service will meet you at the airport and provide you a transfer to the ryokan in Tokyo
    • Meeting service can only be provided between 6am and 9pm. If you arrive at a time outside of these hours, we will need to provide alternative directions for you to get to the ryokan on your own.
  • Sending service to the Kyoto train station and transfer to Tokyo’s Narita Airport or Osaka’s Kansai Airport. (Transfers to Itami Airport are not included)
    • The sending service will escort you to the Kyoto train station and make sure you board the correct train. The sending service will not accompany you to the airport.

For those requiring meeting or sending services on other than the scheduled arrival/departure dates, there will be a $100 fee for the meeting service from the airport into Tokyo or the sending service to the Kyoto train station.)

  • All transportation costs when traveling with the group. (Transportation costs during scheduled free times are the tour member’s responsibility.)
  • 14-Day Japan Rail Pass
  • Lodging for 12 nights in Western-style hotels (3 Star) or Japanese-style ryokans including all taxes and fees (all accommodations are subject to change)
  • Meals
    • Breakfast every morning
    • 6 Western-style or Japanese-style lunches
    • 1 Japanese-style dinner
  • The appropriate amount of free time to allow you to explore and discover your own personal Japan.
  • Admission fees to the destinations and activities listed in the Tour Highlights column on the right. (Itinerary specifics subject to change.)


  • Use of audio tour guide system (must provide own headphones)
  • Electronic version of itinerary
  • Sayonara dinner at the end of the tour

Each tour member receives an electronic copy of our tour handbook. This handbook is full of tips and suggestions taken from our Japan travel experiences that allow you to better plan and prepare for your trip, and therefore enjoy your trip even more. The tips and suggestions included cover everything from how to save while exchanging money, what to pack, some basic Japanese-language tips, general etiquette do’s-and-don’ts, ryokan customs, etc.


Airfare is NOT included.

A printed itinerary is NOT included

Alcoholic beverages, soft drinks and desserts are NOT included

Tour Map

Overall Customer Ratings

Individual Customer Reviews

Anonymous – Mar 29, 2018 to Apr 10, 2018

Elaine Hartless – Mar 29, 2018 to Apr 10, 2018

Dianne Parker – Mar 29, 2018 to Apr 10, 2018

SHAILESH & CAROL VYAS – Dec 07, 2017 to Dec 19, 2017

Kay Anderson – Sep 14, 2017 to Sep 26, 2017

Kris – Jul 20, 2017 to Aug 01, 2017

Anonymous – Jul 20, 2017 to Aug 01, 2017

Jason Stoeke – Jun 22, 2017 to Jul 04, 2017

Anonymous – Jun 22, 2017 to Jul 04, 2017

Paul Fearing – Mar 30, 2017 to Apr 11, 2017

Keiko Hsu – Mar 23, 2017 to Apr 04, 2017

maryann Greven – Sep 15, 2016 to Sep 27, 2016

Anna Kato – Sep 15, 2016 to Sep 27, 2016

Anonymous – Jul 21, 2016 to Aug 02, 2016

Catherine Lilly – Jul 21, 2016 to Aug 02, 2016

Owen Skinner – Jul 21, 2016 to Aug 02, 2016

Daniel Zhang – Jul 21, 2016 to Aug 02, 2016

Douglas Sirotiak

Stephen Hunt – May 19, 2016 to May 31, 2016

Anonymous – May 19, 2016 to May 31, 2016

Kathleen Applen – Mar 24, 2016 to Apr 05, 2016


Sara Taylor

Anonymous – Oct 22, 2015 to Nov 03, 2015

Richard Jentarra – Oct 22, 2015 to Nov 03, 2015

Fredrick Klotz – Aug 27, 2015 to Sep 08, 2015

susan williams – May 21, 2015 to Jun 02, 2015

Biplab Panda – Mar 26, 2015 to Apr 07, 2015

Douglas Tateoka

Laurel F. Johnson – Jul 20, 2014 to Aug 01, 2014

Vicki Granucci – Jun 22, 2014 to Jul 04, 2014

Pat and Pinmart – Jun 22, 2014 to Jul 04, 2014

Margo B. Holm, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, ABDA

Angela Bechtel

Marilyn Marie Smith

Valerie Rader – Jun 22, 2014 to Jul 04, 2014

Jo Ann Tower – Mar 27, 2014 to Apr 08, 2014

barbara thomas


sandie knopf – Oct 20, 2013 to Nov 01, 2013

pat mcdonald – Oct 20, 2013 to Nov 01, 2013