Trip Type : Small Group Tour
Shogun Trail tour
Kyoto Nagasaki Shogun Trail Trip
Train & Rail Journeys Trains & Rail Shogun Trail package

Shogun Trail

Explore! Premier
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
4.6 . Excellent
96%
Travel Style: You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level: Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level: Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
12 days
From: $ 4,900 $ 408 / day
Checking price

Overview

Highlights

  • Tokyo - Explore the city's lively neon-lit streets and visit the nearby Hakone National Park for a spectacular view of Mount Fuji
  • Bullet Train - Experience comfortable rail travel at an average speed of 174 mph
  • Kyoto - See the traditional side of Japan, with its stunning temples, immaculate Zen gardens and enigmatic geishas
  • Tea with a geisha - Enjoy Japanese tea with a geisha and learn about her art and her life
  • Hiroshima and Nagasaki - Reflect at the sites of the world's first atomic bomb attacks
  • Hirado - Discover this island's rural charm and spectacular scenery

Short Description

This action-packed journey by high-speed rail covers many of Japan's iconic sites. We explore Tokyo's neon-lit streets, discover Kyoto's tranquil temples and visit the site of the world's first atomic attack in Hiroshima. Travelling away from the normal tourist trail, we uncover the country's rural charm with a stay in a traditional ryokan on the beautiful island of Hirado, take tea with a geisha and visit rolling tea plantations.

Small groups are usually defined as between 10 and 24 travelers, often less. If you're the kind of person who enjoys more intimate experiences and personal service this is a good choice. All else being equal you will pay a premium for this style vs a larger group tour.
Trip Type Small Group Tour
See all the highlights and popular spots on a classic tour.
Itinerary Focus Classic Highlights
Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels.
Lodging Level Value - 3 star
Flights & Transport N/A
Start City N/A
End City Fukuoka

Travel Theme

Train & Rail Journeys

Destinations

Japan

Cities & Attractions

Kyoto Nagasaki Tokyo

Activities

Trains & Rail

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Itinerary

Day 1 - Join tour in Tokyo

Description

Our tour starts in Tokyo, the modern-day capital of Japan. After checking in to our conveniently-located hotel which will be our base for the next three nights, we will enjoy an included dinner with the rest of the group and our Tour Leader.

Included Meals : Dinner

Day 2 - Walking tour through Tokyo's shrines and gardens

Description

Over one-quarter of the Japanese population live within a 50 km radius of the centre of Tokyo, making it the most populous metropolitan area in the world. The result is a bustling and exciting city - the economic powerhouse of Asia. However, scratching its neon-clad surface reveals a city bursting with history and tradition.

A morning stroll to Tokyo’s oldest temple, Asakusa, will introduce us to Tokyo’s unique culture. We then board a boat for a short journey along the Sumida River. Gaining a totally different perspective of the city, we drift past high rise apartments, secluded gardens and busy warehouses. Arriving in the heart of the city near Hamarikyu Gardens, you may wish to visit the Meiji shrine and Shinjuku area, where the latest electronic gadgets dazzle from glowing shop-fronts.

Included Meals : Breakfast

Day 3 - Free day in Tokyo or optional excursion to Kamakura

Description

Today you have the option of either spending more time in Tokyo, or enjoying an optional excursion to the historic town of Kamakura. The former capital is home to over 60 Buddhist temples and many Shinto shrines. Here, we take a woodland walk along ancient footpaths leading to some of the most mysterious, yet uniquely Japanese temples and shrines in this historic town. Our 90-minute hike ends with a visit to the famous giant Buddha statue. The wooden temple that surrounded this 10-metre bronze figure was washed away by a huge tidal wave that swept inland in the 13th century.

Included Meals : Breakfast

Day 4 - Boat ride on Lake Ashi; transfer to Hakone

Description

Today, we spend the day exploring the Hakone National Park – home to the towering Mount Fuji. Although distances are short, we use a variety of forms of transport including bus, funicular rail and cable car as we make our way initially to the hot, bubbling sulphur springs at Owakudani. From here, on a clear day, there are magnificent views of the snow-capped mountain that is so synonymous with Japan. Whilst at the springs, you may wish to join the locals in eating an egg boiled in the sulphur pools - just one is reputed to increase life expectancy by seven years!

Our next stop is Lake Ashi, a magnificent lake created from the eruption of the Hakone Volcano over 3000 years ago. A short boat ride takes us to Moto Hakone. Here, you may choose to relax in one of the lakeside restaurants, or enjoy a one-hour trek along a section of the old Tokaido Highway, following in the footsteps of the shogun warriors. Passing through a stately avenue of ancient Japanese cedar trees lining the old route, we walk on some of the original paving stones. This ancient trail was mainly for the use of the nobility and shoguns as they travelled with huge retinues between the feudal court in Edo (Tokyo) and their own regional castles.

In Hakone, we are accommodated in a traditional inn, known as a ryokan, where we sleep on comfortable, folding futon mattresses. During our stay, we learn about local etiquette, such as when to take off our shoes and the pleasures of taking a Japanese bath, all of which helps enhance our stay in this traditional establishment.

Included Meals : Breakfast

Day 5 - Bullet train to Kyoto; explore the Geisha district

Description

Leaving the mountains behind us, we take the world-famous 'Bullet Train', or Shinkansen, to Kyoto - the cradle of all things uniquely Japanese. This Imperial capital was at the heart of events that shaped Japan's destiny for more than 1000 years. As the only major Japanese city to remain unscathed by World War II bombings, signs of the past are in its grand temples and palaces, and also in the many quaint shops selling traditional wares. This afternoon, we head to the famous geisha district of Gion. Here, we hope to catch a glimpse of these enigmatic entertainers, as they scuttle to work in the teahouses or high-class restaurants.

This evening, after settling in to our well-positioned hotel where we will spend the next three nights, we can look forward to an included dinner at a local restaurant.

Included Meals : Breakfast, Dinner

Day 6 - Explore Kyoto's temples and zen gardens

Description

Kyoto is regarded as Japan's loveliest city, with more than 2000 temples and shrines, many set in manicured landscaped gardens. We spend the next two days exploring the city. We begin by visiting the famous Golden Pavilion. The temple is a three storey building with the top two tiers covered in gold leaf. Set in a lake the building appears to float on the water and the reflections, coupled with the background of forest make it worthy of its place on many Japanese postcards. There is also time to stroll along Kyoto's charming streets and tree-lined canal, simply soaking up its unique atmosphere.

Included Meals : Breakfast

Day 7 - Continue to explore traditional Kyoto

Description

We spend today visiting some of the cities many temples. We start with the Ryonji Temple with its beautiful zen gardens and famous rock garden. The exact history of the gardens is unknown but it is thought the temple was converted from an aristocrats villa in 1450. Whilst in the gardens try testing out the theory that at least one of the rocks is hidden from every vantage point. We also plan to visit Nijo Castle. Built in 1603 as a Shogun palace, it is a great example of the sumptuous setting in which the Shogun would have held audiences with his samurai warriors. It is possible to take an optional trip to nearby Nara, a journey of 45 minutes each way by train. Nara is one of Japan's greenest cities and is home to the Todai-ji Temple, the world's largest wooden building which is also home to a giant bronze Buddha statue.

Included Meals : Breakfast

Day 8 - Reflect at Hiroshima Peace Park; train to Nagasaki

Description

An early morning train takes us to Hiroshima, where we will spend the morning exploring this thought–provoking city in our own time. Completely destroyed on 6th August 1945, when it was the target of the first atomic bomb to be used in wartime, Hiroshima has literally risen from the ashes, and is now a thriving, friendly city.

You may choose to visit The Peace Memorial Park and the well-presented museum on the site of the 1945 A-bomb hypocentre. Whilst serving as poignant reminders of the nuclear holocaust, their over-whelming message is of hope that such horrors will never reoccur. Travel around the city is easy, thanks to the provision of colourful street trams, brought in from all over Japan after the war.

This afternoon, we regroup to take the train to Nagasaki, where we will spend the next two nights. This is a city with an eventful history and was, of course, the target of the second atomic bomb attack on Japan. In a cruel twist of fate, the city bore the unimaginable brunt of a last-minute change of plan, when the preferred target of Kokura was obscured by cloud.

Included Meals : Breakfast

Day 9 - Take a walk though Dejima, Nagasaki's Dutch quarter

Description

This morning we are given a tour of Nagasaki, which, for long periods in its history, has served as Japan’s main contact with the outside world. In the 16th century, the city became established as the main trade point with the Portuguese. As well as providing wealth from trade, the Portuguese introduced Christianity. After almost a century of turmoil, the religion was banned, foreign traders were expelled, and Japan closed its doors to the West.

The one exception was the artificial island in Nagasaki harbour, Dejima. This small, closely guarded enclave was the site of the Dutch Trading Mission, which remained Japan's only contact with the outside world for almost 200 years. During our visit here, we can see that some of the original features remain, as well as some excellent reconstructions of the 18th century buildings. Continuing our tour in the Glover Gardens, we will see fine foreign residences of the Meiji period and enjoy impressive views over Nagasaki Harbour, perhaps the most scenic harbour view in Japan.

The afternoon has been left free to explore this historic city in your own time.

Included Meals : Breakfast

Day 10 - Drive through scenic tea plantations and ferry ride to Hirado Island

Description

This morning we travel light, sending our main luggage on to our final destination of Fukuoka and packing our rucksacks for our stay on the island of Hirado. Our route takes us along a scenic road through tea plantations. We'll stop at a picturesque terraced area and walk through the fields to the tea farmer's house. There'll be an opportunity to sample some of the brew including green 'Sencha' and roasted 'Hojicha' teas before enjoying a traditional style lunch with the local tea farmers. After lunch we continue our journey to the seaside city of Sasebo. Here we board our ferry to the charming harbour quayside in Hirado. Our accommodation for the next two nights is a classic ryokan, furnished in the traditional Japanese style with futon mattresses on the tatami mat floors.

Included Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11 - Full day to explore Hirado and Ikitsuki Islands

Description

Today, we will explore the pristine and unspoiled islands of Hirado and Ikitsuki, connected by an impressive 400 metre-long bridge which happens to be the longest truss bridge in the world. Accompanied by a local expert on a day-long minibus tour, we will discover rural Japan and take in the remote countryside of the 'Hidden Christians’. Along the islands’ shores, fishing remains one of the main occupations, but we also have the opportunity to learn about traditional industries along the way. We plan to visit a museum dedicated to the whaling industry, which played a vital role in the history of this region. On our journey, we will gain views of the islands’ spectacular coastlines and towering cliffs.

Included Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 12 - Sail among the '99 Islands' then travel to Fukuoka

Description

This morning will be spent soaking up the charms of Hirado. The city has prospered as a castle town for almost 500 years. Its excellent port enabled it to become the central stage for trade with China, Holland and Portugal from the 17th century. Our walking tour will offer fascinating insights into the way things were here in the early 1600s. As well as visiting the castle, we will take in the church commemorating Saint Francis Xavier who preached here in the 16th century; the sites of the old trading houses and the foreigners' cemetery.

This afternoon, we will enjoy spectacular views on a relaxing cruise through the fabled 'Ninety Nine Islands'. In actual fact, 170 islands, mostly uninhabited, lie alongside the indented saw-toothed coastline.

Later this afternoon, we travel to our accommodation near the airport in Fukuoka, for our final evening.

Included Meals : Breakfast

Day 13 - Tour ends in Fukuoka

Description

Our tour ends after breakfast this morning, although some flights may depart before this.

Included Meals : Breakfast

Availability

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Price From $ 4,900
Price Per Day: $ 408 per day
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Stride Featured in

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73 Explore! Travel Reviews & Ratings

96%
4.6 out of 5 (100+ reviews)
Excellent 55
Great 11
Average 3
Disappointing 3
Terrible 1
Value
4.5
Guide
4.7
Activities
4.6
Lodging
4.3
Transportation
4.5
Meals
4.4

Shogun Trail

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Trip of a lifetime seeing the Arctic in a week

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging4.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
I travelled as a solo traveller and was relieved to find that about half the boat was also solo travellers. It was a great adventure - on a ferry board for a week with the most amazing panoramic views around us every day. We were regularly out on smaller boats to see the bird cliffs up close, or to go onto land to walk around. We saw lots of amazing wildlife including walrus, blue whales, beluga whales, endless species of birds, and of course Polar Bears! The week went by too quickly. It was a great mix of wildlife and landscapes. Each day there was a different guide giving a presentation of everything from the biology of a polar bear, to the fauna found in the arctic circle. You could join in for as little or as much as you wanted. Definitely recommended.
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Super good tour guide, but the itinerary was rushed

5.0
Details
Value4.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging4.0
Transportation4.0
Meals4.0
Junk on Halong Bay, Homestay in Mekong Delta. Hoi An Our tour guide, Long, was excellent and did a super job of mixing history and political context with what we were seeing. He went out of his way to add to the tour, actually taking us to favorite restaurant on his night off. The children loved him and we enjoyed his professionalism and his personal narrative of Vietnam. I felt that the itinerary was very rushed for a family tour. I understand the non family tour is longer and actually that would have been better for the family too. In particular a very busy day in Hue followed a mostly sleepless night on the train. We could have done with more time in Hue, or different activities. Hue was a bad day as the kite making was dull, crowded, and hot, then we didn't get to fly kites as we had not made them. In the end we had little time at the Citadel as we had to transfer into a small bus to navigate the streets.
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Excellent

5.0
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Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging4.0
Transportation4.0
Meals4.0
Mohammed was excellent!

Enjoy the trip

5.0
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Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
The highlight of this trip was seeing Machu Picchu, which I loved it.

Great Tour Leader will come back in 2017

5.0
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Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
A great tour leader - friendly, personable, approachable, knowledgeable of the local area, sights and people. We plan to come back and cycle with Andrew again in 2017.

Pleasant surprise experience

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation4.0
Meals5.0
It is hard to say because each outing was a pleasant surprise. The best experience was a workshop on feltmaking in Kazbegi town Georgia) where, as a group, we made the felt from scratch and created our own design. A great opportunity to discover a local craft. It is also an excellent example how this diverse group got along like a house on fire. In Armenia my fqvourite outing was the walk along the Garni river gorge with a local guide. The scenery was breathtaking.
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Details

Optional Activities

Optional Excursions

Tokyo - trip to Kamakura £20.00. Kyoto - Boat trip on Hozu River £30.00. Train to Nara - £10. Nagasaki - Sunset on Mt. Inasa £15

Guides

An Explore Leader is an integral part of any Explore trip and your trip will be led by one of our experienced Explore Leaders who have been handpicked and expertly trained. We believe that our Explore Leaders are the key to the success of our trips; they are passionate travellers who are bursting with first-hand local knowledge which they love to share. Your Explore Leader will also take care of all the planning and organisation throughout your journey. Their passionate approach will make this trip fun and inspiring, bringing the destination to life whether you're travelling alone or with others.

Tour Staff

Explore Tour Leader, Explore Tour Leader

Additional Information:

Tour Features

Book this itinerary as a private trip with prices from £XXX flight inclusive.

Additional JIs for FI - Start Tour

For your arrival transfer you will be met in the arrivals hall at Tokyo Airport (either Narita or Haneda depending on the airline you are flying with). Please look out for your name on a sign board and/or an Explore signboard. You will be transferred to the start hotel either by public transport accompanied by the Tour Leader or by public shuttle bus, which may stop at up to two other hotels, before dropping you at the joining hotel where you will meet the rest of the group. A voucher for this shuttle bus will be sent to you prior to departure. At the end of the tour your Tour Leader will provide you with a metro ticket to travel from the hotel to Fukuoka Airport.

Additional JIs for LO - Start Tour

Land Only customers should make their own way to the joining point unless you have pre-arranged an arrival transfer with Explore. If you do have a pre-arranged transfer you will be met in the arrivals hall at Tokyo Airport (either Narita or Haneda depending on the airline you are flying with). Please look out for your name on a sign board and you will be transferred to the start hotel by public shuttle bus, which may stop at up to two other hotels, before dropping you at the joining hotel. A voucher for this shuttle bus will be sent to you prior to departure.

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