Every day on our epic 2 week Japan tour you'll see a different side to this fascinating country.
The daily contrast makes travelling here completely unique and – if done the right way – very ‘doable’ on a budget. Travel with us through major regions, top destinations, epic sites and off-the-beaten-track to discover countless hidden gems.
Day 1: Tokyo
Arrive in Tokyo and meet your Adventure Leader in the lobby of the hostel at 10am. Listen to your Japan briefing and hear about the itinerary and introduce yourself to the group. You will be able to drop off your bag at this point as well.
Take in the cityscape with an incredible view from atop the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building.
After lunch in Shinjuku, head to Asakusa to visit Sensō-Ji temple and explore its charming streets.
Optional: You can either kick back with a drink on a nearby Hoppy Street or relax with the locals at a nearby bathhouse. (460 JPY)
Experience one of Japan’s national obsessions – baseball, at a local batting cage.
Day 2: Tokyo
Breakfast is the freshest sashimi you’ve ever eaten at Tokyo’s iconic Tsukiji fish market. Marvel at the variety of fish and shellfish on offer and catch a glimpse of the Tokyo fleet’s latest haul of prized blue-fin tuna.
Discover how to make it all yourself with a lesson from a sushi chef, and then sample your creations.
In the afternoon, visit Akihabara – Japan’s “electric town” and hub of Anime and Manga, and also home to Japan’s most famous J-pop group, AKB48.
Have a “Made in Tokyo” experience at one of Akihabara’s maid cafes. The cost of entry and an order of food and drink is likely to be around 2000 JPY.
Optional: Real-life Mario Kart! Choose a costume and race through the streets of Tokyo! (£65) (PLEASE NOTE: to participate, you must secure an international driver permit valid in Japan BEFORE the start of the trip).
Day 3: Tokyo
Kick off the morning with a trip to the Tokyo Imperial Palace Nijubashi Bridge and the Imperial Palace’s gardens to learn about why Japan’s Imperial Family is so unique.
It’s another afternoon of traditional-modern contrast in the Harajuku area of Tokyo. First stop is Harajuku, Tokyo’s fashion district. French maids, punks, goths, lolitas, technicolour hair – anything goes in Harajuku. Stand back and watch or grab some hair dye and get involved!
Pay a visit to the busiest pedestrian crossing in the world, Shibuya Crossing and find the Hachiko Statue.
Optional: Stop by Cat Café MoCHA to make some furry friends while enjoying a cup of tea and slice of cake.
Day 4: Tokyo
First thing in the morning, head to Ryōgoku to discover Tokyo’s fascinating history at Edo-Tokyo Museum.
Ryōgoku is known as Tokyo’s Sumo District; you will have a chance to visit the Sumo Museum to learn about the history of the sport.
In the afternoon, learn the ancient art of samurai and have the chance to see a live sword demonstration in Tokyo’s Samurai Museum.
Optional: Robot Show experience in the evening. (£55)
Day 5: Kamakura
After brunch in Tokyo, it’s time to say goodbye to the modern capital and hop on a train to Kamakura – Japan’s medieval capital and home to the first shoguns.
Optional: The hostel is moments from the beach, and you can relax on the sand or try your hand at surfing. Surfboard rental options nearby. (3000 JPY for a day)
Check out some of the town’s many ancient shrines, and then hike over to Kotoku-in Temple to marvel at the Great Buddha statue, which stands at nearly 45ft tall and is made of solid bronze.
Embark on a hike to the Zeniarai Benzaiten Ugafuku Shrine, where people go to wash their money in the shrine’s spring.
There are lots of beachside bars where you can watch the sun go down.
Day 6: Hakone
Take a series of trains and buses to the beautiful Lake Ashi, where you’ll board a pirate ship! From the deck of this triple-decker man-of-war, you’ll cross the lake’s clear blue waters and get an unforgettable view of Mt. Fuji on a cloudless day.
Hike along the Old Tokaido and enjoy a lunch near Moto-Hakone.
Hop on board the Hakone sightseeing cruise and take in the sights of Mt. Fuji from the water.
Take the Hakone Ropeway – an epic cable car journey that drops you at Owakudani, an active volcanic zone where you can try black eggs – a local delicacy coloured by the sulphuric water they’re boiled in.
Spend the evening soaking in the sulphuric water of a traditional Japanese outdoor bath, called an onsen (please note: those with tattoos may not be able to enter onsen in Japan).
Day 7: Kyoto
Next stop is the station to board your first bullet train – to Kyoto. You’ll zoom across the country, covering around 440km in little more than two hours, leaving plenty of time to experience Kyoto later in the day and at night.
In the afternoon, wander the hillside streets to the stunning Kiyomizu Dera temple.
The city is famous for its history, temples, shrines and – of course – stunning geishas.
It also has a large student population and a thriving music scene… Kawaramachi is a good place to start. There are bars, jazz clubs and plenty of Izakaya pubs.
Attend a live geisha performance, which also features a tea ceremony, puppet show, traditional music, flower arranging and more.
For something quintessentially Kyoto, you can wander through Pontocho alley, full of lanterns and intimate wood-panelled restaurants. Quietly sip on sake and look out for geishas wandering past.
Day 8: Arashiyama, Kyoto
Start the day with a two-hour boat trip down the Hozugawa River. In your traditional wooden raft, driven by guides, you’ll cruise through rocky ravines and experience the rush of rapids as you meander through the Arashiyama Hills (weather dependent).
Head across to the Arashiyama Monkey Park. It’s a tough climb up, but at the top, you can feed monkeys or simply enjoy the panorama of Kyoto below.
Visit Tenryu-Ji Temple, one of the most important from the areas five great Zen temples. The temple’s gardens, designed in the 14th century, are a real show-stopper.
After leaving the temple, hike through Arashiyama’s Bamboo Forest.
Take part in a calligraphy class as you learn the art from a master.
Enjoy a dinner of one of Japan’s signature dishes, Ramen!
Optional: In the evening, sing your heart out doing one of Japan’s favourite pastimes – karaoke. As part of the price, you’re able to drink as much as you like! The karaoke comes with a twist, but you’ll have to come on the tour to find out what it is… (2100 JPY for 90 minutes)
Day 9: Kyoto
Take a breather and relax your vocal cords after the previous night’s exertions – You have a free day to enjoy as you please!
Suggested Independent: if you feel you have the energy, we would suggest taking a look at the majestic temples that adorn the Philosopher’s path.
Suggested Independent: Alternatively, you could check out the International Manga Museum.
Suggested Independent: Head to Fushimi Inari Shrine where you will see torii, torii and more torii. This is a truly remarkable place where a beautiful hiking trail will take you through a corridor of thousands of bright red gates.
Day 10: Kyoto
Today we cycle all day around Kyoto like a local!
First, we ride over to a Zen temple where you can discover your inner peace with meditation led by a Buddhist monk.
After your journey of tranquillity, see an iconic image of Kyoto: The Golden Pavilion at Kinkaku-Ji. Walk around the mirror pond and prepare to be mesmerised by the shimmering golden reflection of the pavilion on the water.
After lunch, jump on your bike and cycle around to the Imperial Palace, before bidding farewell to this most magical of cities.
Another bullet train will see you venture further west, bound for Hiroshima.
Day 11: Hiroshima
At the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, you will find out how this city came to suffer the consequences of the world’s first atomic bomb, but you will also learn that Hiroshima is now the standard bearer for a peaceful and nuclear-free world.
After a train ride and a short ferry trip to Miyajima Island, you’ll reach the Itsukushima shrine. To avoid angering the gods on the island, the main temple buildings were built on stilts on the shores of the island.
Just offshore, you will see an enormous torii gate standing in the sea. At low tide, you can walk across the sand to take a closer look.
Make your way back to the hostel and enjoy a free evening to relax.
Day 12: Osaka
Another bullet train will take you to Osaka, your final destination before heading back to Tokyo.
You’ll arrive in time for lunch in the Shinsaibashi area. After enjoying your fill of yakitori, ramen, sushi or whatever takes your fancy, it’s a short subway ride to Osaka Castle.
Take a stroll around the castle that rises above the enormous moat, and then check out the nine-level donjon.
In the afternoon, explore more of Osaka on your own, have the ultimate Japanese shopping experience in Shinsaibashi or rest up. Shenanigans in Namba await in the evening…
Start the night off by seeing if you can be the Dragon Trip Arcade Challenge Champion, and then walk through the Dotonbori riverfront and prepare to be blasted by neon. The eating, drinking, gaming and clubbing options around Dotonbori and Namba are endless – fill your boots!
This evening, you will sleep at a capsule hotel – small, intimate, private and quintessentially Japanese.
Day 13: Osaka
Say goodbye to your fellow Dragon Trippers over brunch in Osaka before catching your final bullet train back to Tokyo.