* Stay in a traditional ryokan inn and a capsule hotel
* Try your hand at Japanese cooking and woodblock print making
* Brush up your photography skills on a nighttime Osaka tour
* Take the world famous bullet train
* Don samurai attire and learn swordmanship in Kyoto
* Uncover the secrets of Tokyo in our Mystery Game
While any of our Self-Guided Adventures can be undertaken by yourself, this trip has been specially designed with solo travellers in mind. We've balanced time for solo discovery with numerous chances to meet fellow travellers and interact with the Japanese in hands-on cultural activities.
This solo adventure will see you travelling by bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto and Hiroshima. You'll also visit the sacred island of Miyajima where you'll stay in a traditional Japanese inn, and the buzzing city of Osaka for a night in a capsule pod! While you'll make your way between cities and stay in the hotels alone, we've thrown in lots of group activities on this trip to facilitate meeting people - from a cooking class and printing workshop in Tokyo, to a samurai sword lesson in Kyoto and a nighttime photography course in Osaka. Solitude is a glorious thing and is often the best way to soak up Japanese culture. Contemplate Zen at one of Kyoto's tranquil rock gardens, or hike in peace to the top of Mount Misen on Miyajima Island. Cast yourself adrift in the crowds at Tokyo's famous zebra crossroads or absorb Hiroshima's tragic past at the Peace Museum. Eating out alone is common practice in Japan, and what's more, the country is one of the safest places to travel in the whole world. Japanese people may appear to be on the shy side, but if you're travelling alone, you'll find locals especially keen to go out of their way to help you with directions and sightseeing recommendations. Our staff regularly travel solo on research trips in Japan and all of our Travel Consultants have tips to share from their favourite sushi joints to the most peaceful temples. You'll also receive our InsideJapan Tours Info-Pack packed full of sightseeing and restaurant recommendations plus tailormade instructions for each journey on your trip. Our Japan office is also just a phone call away should you get lost in translation at any point.
➕ Day 1-3
Explore the capital by solving the clues in our Tokyo Mystery Game, then meet other travellers in a hands-on cookery class and a woodblock printing experience.
Welcome to Tokyo, the world's most exciting capital city. Your base will be the historic district of Asakusa where streets of antique shops, ceramics and vintage kimono lead to Senso-ji, the oldest temple in Tokyo. On your first full day we'll give you all the clues you need to tackle our Tokyo Mystery Game which will lead you across the city on public transport to famous districts and shrines as well as some interesting backstreets and areas you might not find yourself. On day two we'll arrange for you to join a group lesson at a popular cookery school. Your teacher, a born-and-bred Tokyoite, will reveal the secrets of Japanese cuisine. In the afternoon you'll swap chopsticks for ink and woodblock prints in a fun hour long print-making party.
Overnight: Richmond Asakusa
➕ Day 4-6
Travel on to Kyoto the cultural heart of Japan. Glimpse a geisha if you're lucky on an evening guided tour of Gion.
Next stop is Kyoto, home of Japan's very best cuisine, gardens and geisha. Kyoto was once the capital of Japan for more than 1,000 years and the seat of the emperor. Consequently this is the most culturally rich city in Asia with more shrines and temples than you can shake a stick at! To help you escape the crowds and discover some of Kyoto's most scenic spots, we've set up two tours for you. The first is a group walking tour in the early evening around Gion, Kyoto's premier geisha district. If you're lucky you may catch a glimpse of a geisha or maiko (apprentice) on her way to a teahouse appointment. On your second day in Kyoto, you'll have the services of a private local guide for the morning who can explain the city's intricate culture and long history. This evening things get a little more light-hearted ' joining other travellers, you'll don samurai attire to learn the principles of sword dancing. Follow the choreography to master a samurai sword dance! Your final day in Kyoto is free for you to further explore independently. Or you might like to take advantage of the included Japan Rail Pass and make a day trip to Nara, home of the great Buddha statue at Todai-ji Temple.
Overnight: Gracery Kyoto Sanjo
➕ Day 7-8
Visit Hiroshima's Peace Memorial Park en-route to the sacred shrine island of Miyajima.
Another trip on the bullet train will whisk you from Kyoto to Hiroshima in two hours. Here a detour into Hiroshima city centre is well worth the time to pay your respects at the Peace Memorial Park and to explore the moving Peace Museum. After that, hop on a short ferry ride to reach Miyajima. A sacred shrine island, once upon a time only Shinto priests were allowed to step foot on the island after passing through the giant red gate in the sea. Today everyone is welcome on the island, and while most people just visit as a day trip, you'll be spending two nights in a traditional Japanese inn. On your second day in Miyajima you could hire a bike to explore, or hike to the top of Mount Misen to take in the views of the Seto Inland Sea.
Overnight: Yamaichi Bekkan
➕ Day 9
A day of contrasts as you swap Miyajima Island for neon-spangled Osaka.
A ferry and then the bullet train again as you start to close the circle by returning east. Tonight you'll stay in the heart of Osaka, a city known for its down-to-earth atmosphere and a plethora of appetising street food. For a different view of the city we'll team you up with a local resident and photography expert for a group lesson in nighttime photography. Your guide will take you to his favourite spots to capture the city's nightlife, including views from the rooftops for a birds eye view of the neon. It's time for another unique accommodation ' a modern take on the capsule hotel. Here the cabins are compact but big enough to stand up in, a fun, affordable option in the centre of the city.
Overnight: First Cabin Midosuji Nanba
➕ Day 10-12
Your trip comes full circle as you return to the capital. Take the elevator to the top of the Skytree ' the world's tallest tower at 634m.
It's back to the capital and a chance to see anything you may have missed at the start of the trip. Tokyo has fantastic museum and art galleries, wonderful restaurants and gorgeous traditional gardens. Your Info-Pack will have plenty of sightseeing ideas and recommendations. We've thrown in a ticket to the top of the Skytree; the perfect way to round off your trip with an unrivalled view of this mega-metropolis. On your final morning you'll take a shuttle bus will pick you up from your hotel for a shared transfer back to the airport.
Overnight: The B Ikebukuro