* Be blown away by the flashing neon extravaganza of Tokyo's Robot Restaurant
* Take an evening walking tour of Kyoto's Gion geisha district
* Have lunch at the colourful Kawaii Monster Cafe in Tokyo
* If all this sounds great and makes you want to see even more, why not extend your stay in Japan!
* Enter the imagination of Japan's finest animator at the Studio Ghibli Museum
* Get in touch with your spiritual side with a session of zazen meditation in Kyoto
* Take a boat ride across Lake Ashi in the shadow of Mount Fuji
From day-glo cafes, video game arcades and kawaii street fashions to ancient temples, exquisite gardens and spectacular natural scenery; J-Pop & Go! is the perfect mixture of kitschy pop culture and traditional Japan.
HYPERJAPAN is the UK's biggest celebration of Japanese pop culture and food, attracting an ever-increasing throng of guests to its convention in London every year. Now, HYPERJAPAN has collaborated with InsideJapan Tours to create the ultimate J-culture adventure: J-Pop & Go!
Covering six incredible destinations in ten nights, this fast-paced tour will introduce you to some of Japan's most important pop culture haunts as well as some of its most venerated historical sites - giving you an insight into how the modern and the traditional are interwoven in today's society.
In Tokyo you'll dive head first into the crazy Day-Glo world of the Kawaii Monster Cafe; enter the world of Hayao Miyazaki at the Studio Ghibli Museum; view Tokyo's skyline from the 60th floor of Ikebukuro's Sunshine City; and be hypnotised by the flashing neon lights and bikini-clad robots at the Robot Restaurant.
As you speed west toward Kyoto, Japan's capital of culture and history, you'll stop off for one night in Hakone - a national park famed for its hot spring baths, beautiful traditional inns and spectacular views of Mount Fuji. Then, with two nights in Kyoto, you'll have a chance to sample some more traditional experiences - try zazen meditation at a Zen temple, spot geisha in the Gion district and marvel at the Golden Pavilion of Kinkaku-ji.
Further west still, a sobering visit to Hiroshima's Peace Park Museum and the stunning Miyajima Island will be followed by a night in vibrant Osaka.If this sounds good and makes you want to see even more,
Important Practical InformationMax Group Size: 16Single Supplement: There is a single supplement for this tour. Single travellers will have a single room at all of the western style hotels. They will be asked to share with another single traveller of the same sex at the Japanese style stays (maximum 1 night).
Transport: Please note that most transfers are by public transport making use of Japan's first-rate transport network.
Luggage: We highly recommend that to make your stay more enjoyable you pack reasonably light. Large suitcases will be an inconvenience to you. A small case or bag with wheels or a rucksack are most appropriate for this tour as you will have to carry your bags for short distances and some stations do not have escalators or elevators/lifts. You will also need a small overnight back-pack (for up to two nights) for use when we forward our main bags to the next location.
Accommodation: All western style hotels have ensuite rooms. The ryokan accommodation in Hakone has a shared bathroom and toilet facilities. However, a natural hot spring 'Onsen' bath and showers are available for private use. Due to the nature of the Capsule hotel in Osaka, there are only shared baths and toilets. Under 18s are usually not allowed to stay in capsule hotels; please check with us as we can arrange alternative accommodation.
International Flights: This tour starts and finishes in Tokyo for arrivals and departures at Tokyo Narita or Tokyo Haneda Airport.
Check-in: Please note that rooms at the Tokyo hotel are only available from 3pm. (You can, however, securely leave your luggage at the front desk at any time).Fitness: Even when not using public transport, sightseeing in Japan often involves walking between sights, climbing up steps in temples and being 'on the go' for much of the day. To enjoy any of our Small Group Tours you should be of moderate fitness, able to walk and climb stairs without difficulty and able to maintain a pace that is comfortable for the majority of the group.
➕ Day 1-3
Take a tour of Tokyo's famous pop culture sites, from Akihabara "electric town" to
Welcome to Japan! On arrival at Tokyo you will be met by your driver and travel, by shared shuttle, to your hotel in the Ikebukuro district, where you'll be met by your tour leader. There is plenty to keep you stimulated in this pulsating shopping and entertainment district of Tokyo. Later this evening you convene with your tour leader and the rest of the group for a welcome meeting. Your tour leader is sure to take you out for a fun-packed meal tonight if you wish to join! On day two you will have an extensive walking tour of the city. Your tour leader will introduce you to the wacky street fashions of Harajuku, buy you lunch at the Kawaii Monster Cafe, take you for a stroll through the woods to Meiji Shrine, and show you the famous scramble crossing at Shibuya ' to name but a few highlights. For the March departure, tickets to Tokyo's Anime Japan events are included. This is very likely the biggest convention of its kind in the world, featuring all the top names in anime and manga. Your third day in Tokyo will begin bright and early with a visit to Tsukiji Fish Market. Here you'll wander through the market and watch the expert fishmongers at work. We recommend a sushi breakfast for the very best start to the day. Please note that there are plans to relocate Tsukiji Fish Market to a new site. If this happens an alternative experience will be offered. After your visit to the market you'll take the monorail across the bay to the hyper-modern, glittering neon island of Odaiba ' stopping to admire the giant animated Ghibli clock at Shiodome on the way! Following this, your tour leader will be heading towards Akihabara "electric town", Tokyo's mecca for geek culture. If you fancy something different, we recommend a visit to the towering Skytree for amazing views across the city, or the futuristic National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (called the Miraikan).
Overnight: The B Ikebukuro
➕ Day 4
Enjoy stunning natural scenery, views of Mount Fuji and a night at a traditional ryokan inn in Hakone National Park.
Leaving the skyscraper forest behind, on day four you'll travel out of the city to nearby Hakone ' a beautiful national park and home to the iconic Mount Fuji. Anime buffs will know that Hakone is also the location of Tokyo-3 in the post-apocalyptic Japan of the popular Neon Genesis Evangelion series ' and you'll have a chance to visit the Evangelion gift shop whilst you are here. During your stay in Hakone you'll take a boat ride across Lake Ashi, eat black eggs boiled in the bubbling volcanic hot springs of Owakudani and ride the cable car up the mountainside to explore the area, hopefully enjoying views of Mount Fuji. Tonight you'll stay at a charming traditional ryokan inn with tatami mat floors, futon mattresses and some lovely indoor and outdoor onsen baths. Hot spring bathing is an integral and very enjoyable part of Japanese culture, so make sure you take advantage of these!
Overnight: Fuji Hakone Guest House
➕ Day 5-6
Try zazen meditation, visit the Golden Pavilion and take a tour of the Gion geisha district in Kyoto ' Japan's ancient capital of culture.
Kyoto is the jewel in Japan's crown. Imperial capital for over a thousand years and home to an estimated 2,000 temples and shrines; this truly is the cultural heart of the country. On day five you will rocket across Honshu main island at speeds of up to 320 kph (200 mph), arriving in Kyoto the cultural jewel in Japan's crown. There will be time to soak up the history and culture as your tour leader guides you through back streets, past temples and shrines to the traditional Gion geisha district of the city. In the early evening you will take a walking tour with a local expert - a chance to spot a geisha hurrying between appointments! On day six you will continue your discovery of Japan's traditional side with a session of zazen meditation at Gesshin-in Temple and a visit to the resplendent Golden Pavilion at Kinkaku-ji. Afterwards, your tour leader will head to the famous Zen rock garden of Ryoan-ji and the "nightingale floors" of Nijo Castle ' but if you would like to break away from the group there are a variety of great options available. We recommend a lesson in yuzen dyeing, a kimono show at the Nishijin textile centre, or an afternoon at the Toei Movie Park ' where you can dress up as a historical character and wander authentic film sets. There is also a great manga museum for those who would like to learn about the history of Japan's beloved comic book form.
Overnight: Ibis Styles Kyoto Station
➕ Day 7
Head west to Hiroshima, a vibrant modern city haunted by a tragic past.
After a bullet train ride to Hiroshima, today you will make the fifteen-minute ferry ride to Miyajima, a tiny island with fantastic natural beauty, a friendly resident population of deer, and a show-stopping view across the bay from Itsukushima Shrine. As you return to Hiroshima later in the day you'll chow down on the local speciality, okonomiyaki: a savoury pancake made from noodles and vegetables fried on a hotplate in the middle of your table.
Overnight: Hiroshima Sunroute Hotel
➕ Day 8
Explore Osaka, famed for its fun-loving inhabitants and mouth-watering street food.
On day eight you'll make a visit to Hiroshima's Peace Park and Museum, which provides a haunting reminder of the atrocities of World War Two ' as well as a powerful message of peace for future generations. Later, you will have the opportunity to participate in a tate-do stage-fighting workshop, where you'll learn how to wield a samurai sword before travelling to Osaka for a night in a capsule hotel. Capsule hotels were originally built to cater for salarymen who had missed their last train home after work and needed somewhere cheap to stay in the city, but today they have become popular with all kinds of traveller. Bunk down this evening in your own retro pod for a real contrast to the more traditional Japanese accommodation you experienced in Hakone!
Overnight: Capsule Hotel Asahi Plaza Shinsaibashi
➕ Day 9-11
Complete your pop culture tour of Japan with a visit to the Studio Ghibli Museum, home to the creations of Japan's undisputed king of anime.
In the morning, you'll have a chance to see some of Osaka ' one of Japan's most exciting and vibrant cities. You will be visiting Dotonbori, the takoyaki (octopus ball) paradise, before heading over to Doguyasuji - cooking tools street! Other options for the day are a visit to Universal Studios Japan, Osaka Castle or Osaka Aquarium before you shoot back to Tokyo on the bullet train. Whatever you do, don't forget to try some of Osaka's famous street food! After the day's entertainments you will board the bullet train once more to be whisked back to Tokyo this evening. On day ten you'll have a final full day to enjoy the many delights of Japan's capital city. Tickets to the fabulous Studio Ghibli Museum, home to the imaginative flights of director Hayao Miyazaki, are included ' definitely a must for any fan of anime! There are many possibilities for the rest of the day ' you might like to see Tokyo from the top of the Skytree, the tallest tower in the world; explore the shops at bustling Shinjuku ' or perhaps you'd prefer a visit to Nakano Broadway, a favourite haunt of Tokyo's otaku (geek) population. Your tour leader will be full of suggestions on how to spend your time. This evening you will say goodbye to Japan with a bang at Tokyo's world-famous Robot Restaurant, where the food is decidedly not the main attraction! We guarantee that you'll be blown away by the flashing neon, laser guns, sharks, tanks and bikini-clad fembots in this incredibly over-the-top spectacle. Afterwards, your tour leader will be sure to feed you well, with an included farewell dinner to see you off. Finally it's time to say sayonara to Japan as you catch the airport bus from Shinjuku Station to Narita or Haneda Airport. Have a safe journey home!
Overnight: Ibis Tokyo Shinjuku