Sunrise 2 Day, 3Days, 4Days highlight Short Guided Tour

Japan’s mountainous regions and villages are some of the most incredibly picturesque and moving locations in the world. On this tour, we invite you to see the wild monkeys of Nagano, and experience the local farming culture of Takayama. The tour also visits the cultural heart of Japan in Kyoto, and either the ancient city of Nara or the spiritually enriching town of Ise. You will truly experience the diversity of Japanese culture and history on this tour.


DAY 1 – Fly into Narita or Haneda Airport

Upon arrival at Narita or Haneda Airport, meet your English speaking staff at the arrival lobby and he/she will take you to the Airport Limousine Bus stop to board the service to your hotel.

You will have the rest of the day free at leisure.


DAY 2 – Tokyo (Breakfast, Dinner)

Enjoy breakfast at your hotel. You will meet your fellow travellers and the English speaking guide, and start the morning tour of Tokyo. The tour begins with a visit of the world famous and iconic Shibuya street crossing, and then moves onward to the Imperial Palace for a photo opportunity. We head to the district of Asakusa to see Sensoji Temple, the oldest temple in Tokyo. Outside the temple, there will be a bit of free time to shop at Nakamise Shopping Arcade, which sells traditional Japanese items like kimono and Japanese sweets.

The afternoon will be spent free at your leisure, before we meet up again for a Welcome Dinner.


Day 3 – Tokyo – Kusatsu Hot Springs (Breakfast, Dinner)

We leave Tokyo now for the hot spring town of Kusatsu, which will prove to be a uniquely Japanese and perhaps even uniquely “Kusatsu” experience. A large source of hot spring water in the centre of town is affectionately called “Yubatake”, or “Field of Hot Water” is the pride and symbol of the town of Kusatsu, and you will have an opportunity to stroll the area and explore the various traditional shops around it. In the town of Kusatsu, they practice something called “Yumomi”, a traditional method of cooling down hot spring waters without diluting them with external cold water sources, and you should have an opportunity to partake in this as well if you so choose.

This evening, we’ll be sleeping on Japanese futons on bamboo mat flooring, in a Japanese style of hotel known as “Ryokan”. Dinner will be served at the ryokan, as is the norm; a ryokan stay would not be complete without the accompanying hospitality and banquet meals.

HOTEL SAKURAI – Traditional Japanese Room (Standard)

Day 4 – Kusatsu Hot Springs – Nagano (Breakfast, Lunch)

*Your Luggage will be transported separately from Kusatsu to Kanazawa this morning. Please prepare overnight bags for the stay on Day 5.*

We’re travelling by bullet train to Nagano today, a mountainous, landlocked region famous for its various ski resorts and local produce. In Nagano, we’ll be participating in a local “Soba Noodle” making experience which we’ll be enjoying for lunch. This is then followed by a trip to the Snow Monkey Park, which usually involves the monkeys bathing in the hot springs in the winter, however they will still be observable in their natural habitat even outside of winter. 


Day 5 – Nagano – Kanazawa (Breakfast)

We will have quite a long day in store today, with an initial visit to the Hokusai Museum in Obuse, a tribute to the renowned Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai and his iconic woodblock prints. This is followed by Zenkoji Temple in Nagano city, a very old Buddhist temple constructed in a time before the split of various sects of Buddhism, and as such, all forms of Buddhist practice are welcome here. We’re treated to a hands-on experience of “Mawarigoma”, the act of burning sacred wooden chips to drive away evil and pray for health, peace and prosperity.

We then depart Nagano for Kanazawa via bullet train once more; a city with a rich samurai heritage and an incomparable appreciation of the arts. We’ll be visiting Kenrokuen Garden, considered to be one of the best landscaped gardens in Japan, and also the Nagamachi Samurai housing district, where we’ll get to visit Nomura House, and preserved samurai house of the Nomura family.


Day 6 – Kanazawa – Shirakawago – Takayama – Kanazawa (Breakfast)

*Your Luggage will be transported separately from Kanazawa to Kyoto this morning. Please prepare overnight bags for the stay on Day 7.*

We’ll be taking an excursion out of Kanazawa today, first to the UNESCO World Heritage farming village of Shirakawago, an open air museum famed for its traditional straw-thatched roof houses known as “Gassho-zukuri”.

We then continue onto the mountain town of Takayama with its many preserved traditional buildings, and we’ll have some free time for lunch as we explore the beautifully preserved architecture of old Japan; we recommend having some of the local “Hida” wagyu beef, a mouth-watering specialty. We’ll also be visiting a local sake brewery in this area. After lunch, we’ll visit Yatai Kaikan Hall, exhibiting the many floats that the yearly Takayama festivals are renowned for; before heading back to Kanazawa.


Day 7 – Kanazawa – Kyoto (Breakfast, Lunch)

We’ll be travelling down to Kyoto by Limited Express train today, and then heading straight for Kinkakuji Temple, famous for its glimmering Golden Pagoda. Kinkakuji is the Buddhist temple original constructed in 1397 by Shogun Ashikaga (Commander in Chief of the Samurai Administration), and a new building was constructed in 1955 after the original was burnt down by arson; it is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

From here, we will be enjoying lunch, and then heading to a temple to participate in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony. The afternoon will see us visit the Arashiyama area, most famous for its nostalgic bamboo grove scenery.

Those who are up for it may feel free to join the guide on an evening walking tour of the Gion district; note that transportation and meal expenses this evening will need to be paid for on the spot.


On the upcoming Day 8, participants can choose to visit either Ise, or Nara.

Option 1: Day 8 – Kyoto – Ise – Kyoto (Breakfast, Dinner)

We make our way down south to the centre of Shinto mythology, the town of Ise; famous for Ise Grand Shrine, the most religiously significant site in all of Japan, with the shrine dedicated to the Sun Goddess Amaterasu.

After visiting the shrine, we spend some free time at Okage Yokocho, the shopping arcade located out the front of the shrine where we can enjoy local food and shopping, before returning to Kyoto in the evening for our farewell dinner.



Option 2: Day 8 – Kyoto – Nara – Kyoto (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

We make our way to the neighbouring prefecture of Nara, and the former capital city of Nara; today famed for its many deer in the central Nara Park area. On the grounds of the park, we visit Todaiji Temple, and World Heritage site with the world’s largest wooden hall housing a giant Buddha.

We will be enjoying lunch at a local restaurant, before visiting Nara’s Kasuga Taisha Shrine, dedicated to the deity responsible for the protection of this region.

We’ll be heading back to Kyoto this evening for our farewell dinner.


Day 9 – Kyoto – Kansai or Itami Airport (Breakfast)

If you are headed to Itami or Kansai Airport today, a shuttle taxi has been organised to take you there to meet your flight. Your room in Kyoto will be available until the regular check-out time.

*If you’d like to see more of Japan, you can link this tour with another tour: The Spiritual Heart of Central Japan. Let us know, and we can organise for you to join the Spiritual Heart of Central Japan tour prior and joining up with the group in Osaka prior to the start of the Setouchi Highlight Tour. The Spiritual Heart of Central Japan tour explores central Japan, including Tokyo, Kusatsu Hot Spring, Nagano, Kanazawa, Takayama, Kyoto, and Ise or Nara, with Sendai also as a possible pre-tour extension.*


  • Minimum 4 Participants Required to Operate

  • Hotels may differ according to availability

  • Transfers and Sightseeing will utilize chartered motorcoach or public transportation depending on the total number of participants

  • English Speaking guides/assistants (various) will be included for the entire duration

  • Train seating will be reserved Economy class seats

  • All Admissions included

  • Separate Baggage Transfer included on Day 4 (Kusatsu to Kanazawa), Day 6 (Kanazawa to Kyoto)

  • Payment must be received in full 60 days prior to travel


Operation Dates – Arrival into NRT/HND, depart from KIX/ITM


14JAN-22JAN – Low Season

18FEB-26FEB – Low Season

10MAR-18MAR – Shoulder Season

24MAR-01APR – Peak Season

07APR-15APR – Shoulder Season

21APR-29APR – Shoulder Season

05MAY-13MAY – Peak Season

19MAY-27MAY – Peak Season

16JUN-24JUN – Low Season

14JUL-22JUL – Shoulder Season

18AUG-26AUG – Shoulder Season

01SEP-09SEP – Shoulder Season

29SEP-07OCT – Peak Season

13OCT-21OCT – Peak Season

03NOV-11NOV – Peak Season

Basic Hotels


2 nights Shinagawa Prince Hotel – Standard Room

1 night Hotel Sakurai – Standard Japanese Room

1 night Hotel Metropolitan Nagano – Standard Room

2 nights D-PREMIUM Kanazawa – Standard Room

2 nights Miyako Hotel Kyoto Hachijo – Standard Room

Superior Hotels


2 nights Grand Prince Hotel New Takanawa – Superior Room

1 night Hotel Sakurai – Superior Japanese Room

1 night Hotel Metropolitan Nagano – Superior Room

2 nights D-PREMIUM Kanazawa – Superior Room

2 nights Miyako Hotel Kyoto Hachijo – Premium Room

Meal Inclusions


8 Breakfasts

2 Lunches, 3 for Nara Option

3 Dinners

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