Sublime Japan

Destinations: Japan

Trip Duration: 15 Days

Max Group Size: 20

Minimum Age:

Sublime Japan Itinerary

Day 1-2: U.S - Tokyo

Depart the U.S. for your flight to Japan. Cross the international dateline and arrive at Narita International Airport where a private driver await to transfer you to tonight’s hotel.

Check into the hotel this evening and free at leisure tonight.


  • Accommodations: Royal Park Hotel Tokyo 
  • Meals Included: Meals Aloft
Day 3: Tokyo

In the morning, visit the Shibuya crossing. Thought to be the busiest intersection in the world, watch as traffic comes to a standstill and over 3,000 seamlessly people pass across the intersection. Visit the nearby Hachiko memorial. Hachiko was a dog who met his master every day at Shibuya station when his owner got off from work. One day, his owner passed away at work but Hachiko would continue to return to Shibuya station every day for 10 years awaiting his master. Hachiko is seen by the Japanese as an embodiment of loyalty and a bronze statue was created in his honor.

Tour the Meiji Jingu Shrine, a Shinto shrine dedicated to Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shoken, the great-grandparents of the present emperor. The lovely ground spreads over 700,000 square meters covered by a forest of 120,000 trees donated by people from all over Japan. For many Japanese, the shrine is both a spiritual home and an oasis in Tokyo.

Walk the fashionable Omotesando and Aoyama Streets to soak in modern Japanese culture and enjoy lunch at a local restaurant. Enjoy a welcome dinner at the beautiful Zipangu Akasaka featuring exquisite Japanese cuisine.

  • Accommodations: Royal Park Hotel Tokyo
  • Meals Included: (B,L,D)
Day 4: Tokyo

Take the elevator up to Roppongi Hills Mori Tower Observatory with a breathtaking view of the expansive modern city from 53 stories high. Visit the Mori Museum at the top. The museum offers rotating exhibitions from contemporary artists and architecture. Past exhibits include Ai Weiwei, Tokujin Yoshioka, and Bill Viola

Explore the Mitsukoshi Depachika. In Japanese, department stores are called depato while the basements are chika. Combine the two and you have depachika. History goes back to 1673 when it was opened as the Echigoya dry goods. Mitsukoshi’s Ginza branch has one of the city’s best depachika where the highest quality of culinary delights are artistically crafted and displayed

Stroll through Ginza, Tokyo’s most famous upmarket shopping, dining and entertainment district lined up with department stores, boutiques, art galleries, restaurants, night clubs and cafes. The evening is free with dinner on your own.

In the afternoon, visit TeamLab Borderless. This 10,000 square meter space uses 520 computers and 470 projectors to create an experience that will stimulate all five senses. With no set path through the exhibits, visitors can allow their curiosity and imagination to wander, as they explore alien environments and fantasy realms.

  • Accommodations: Royal Park Hotel Tokyo
  • Meals Included: (B,L)
Day 5: Tokyo - Kyoto

In the morning, transfer to the Tokyo train station and board the Shinkansen (Bullet Train) bound for Kyoto (about 3 hours). Not only are these machines some of the fastest trains in the world, traveling at a maximum of 285km on some sections of track, but they are also some of the most frequent—in some cases leaving the station once every two minutes.

After checking into your hotel, visit Kinkakuji Temple—the Golden Pavilion, an exquisite pavilion surrounded by a beautiful pond.

Next, stop by the nearby Ryoanji, an important symbol of Kyoto. The lovely temple is famed for the rock garden, an oblong of sand with an austere collection of 15 carefully placed rocks. The intricate Japanese architecture is surrounded by beautifully landscaped grounds around the lake.

Tour Gion (the Geisha District) in Kyoto. The area is dotted with old style Japanese houses called Machiya. If you are lucky you can spot a Geishas or Maikos (apprentice geishas) with elaborate make up and hair dressing in gorgeous kimono dress.

  • Accommodations: Kyoto Hotel  Okura
  • Meals Included: (B,D)
Day 6: Kyoto

In the morning wander the famous Nishiki Market. With over 100 shops and restaurants, it’s no wonder this five block long shopping street is known as “Kyoto’s Kitchen”.

Meet Catherine Ludvik, a Canadian native and a professor of Japanese religions at Stanford Kyoto Bing Center. Living in Kyoto for 20 years, Catherine offer a private tour at the grand Daitoku-ji temple complex founded in 1319, the headquarter of Rinzai sect of Japanese Zen Buddhism. The complex consists of nearly two dozens of sub-temples and is one of the best places in Japan to see a wide variety of Zen gardens as well as experience Zen culture and architecture.

Continue through the Daitokuji complex to look at breathtaking entrances to sub-temples. Stop in front of the monks training section and emerge past the bamboo forest to get to Imamiya Jinja shrine at the northwest end of Daitokuji. At Imamiya Jinja, Catherine will talk about Japanese original religion Shintoism and Shinto shrines. Enjoy a vegetarian lunch prepared by the temple staff

Wander the lively Ninenzaka and Sannenzaka traditional market alleys.

Enjoy an elegant dinner at Sodoh Higashiyama featuring Italian and Japanese fusion cuisine. Their elegant Japanese garden surrounding is tranquil and inviting.

  • Accommodations: Kyoto Hotel Okura
  • Meals Included: (B,L,D)
Day 7: Kyoto - Fukuoka

Take the bullet train from Osaka to Hakata (Fukuoka), about a 2.5 hour ride. Upon arrival, meet your local guide. Fukuoka (福岡) is Kyushu’s largest and one of Japan’s ten most populated cities. Hakata, the former castle town, remains the name of one of Fukuoka’s central districts and of the main railway station.

Fukuoka is renowned across Japan for its good and cheap food. A bowl of tonkotsu ramen here will set you back as little as 280 yen in some restaurants, while the city’s street-side yatai stalls draw crowds from across Japan and Asia.

Enjoy this day at leisure to explore the city on your own.

  • Accommodations: Grand Hyatt Fukuoka
  • Meals Included: (B)



Day 8: Fukuoka - Dazaifu

Transfer by coach to Dazaifu in the morning for a full day of exploring outside the city of Fukuoka. You can begin your discovery of Dazaifu’s cluster of temples and famous shrine at your preferred pace to find the noble ambiance of the Dazaifu Tenmangu shrine. The complex was the burial place of poet and scholar, Tenman Tenjin, and remains an important destination for students who make offerings and wear amulets that will help them pass their entrance exams.

Once at Komyozenji Temple, you can visit the front garden to find 15 rocks that rise out of raked pebbles. From above, the rocks form the Japanese character that references light. Moss patches add a lush contrast to the gray rocks and strewn pebbles, accentuating hints of greenery in each individual stone. You will bask in the tranquil corner of the eastern hills when visiting the Kyushu National Museum to find a chronicle of the cultural transactions between Asia and Kyushu that once fed greater Japan. The exhibition features priceless artifacts from across Japan and Asia, including a 13th-century paper of calligraphy that tells the story of “A Tale of Flowering Fortunes,” which was Japan’s first historical novel.

  • Accommodations: Grand Hyatt Fukuoka
  • Meals Included: (B)
Day 9: Fukuoka - Yufuin

his morning, you will board a sightseeing train bound for Yufuin. As you pass through mountain valleys on your way to the hot springs resort area, you will notice the charms of rural towns as they sprout from the mountain slopes. Soon, you will reach Kinmonko, your stylish accommodation that feels like a secluded village. The hotel is also surrounded by an oak forest. Your private villa will have all the modern amenities in addition to panoramic views of stunning rice terraces. After exploring your villa, you can stroll around Yunotsubo Street while being surrounded by a ring of dramatic mountains.

Shops showcase traditional Japanese crafts, from immaculate ceramics, distinctive clothing, and fascinating woodwork. The flat basin makes it easy to explore, and the crisp aroma of ferns will accentuate the natural beauty of Lake Kinrinko at the edge of the town. You can also find a popular cafe that serves Swiss roll cakes with soft sponge that are swirled with whipped cream, which visitors from around Japan celebrate for the way they melt in your mouth.

  • Accommodations: Kinmonko
  • Meals Included: (B,D)
Day 10: Yufuin - Beppu

After breakfast, travel to Beppu, a nearby hot-spring town with colorful and distinctive spring ponds that are known for their intense heat. The collection of seven springs are meant for viewing and not bathing. The boiling pond features crystal-blue water beneath puffs of steam. Mud bubbles protrude from Oniishibozu Jigoku, and each bubble resembles the shaven head of a monk.

You will also find the notable Chinoike Jigoku in the Shibasaki District, which features bubbling red water that is surrounded by lush trees. The natural grandeur of the pools emerges from their diversity, and you may notice the various colors of the water that range from clear geysers, which are used as boiling ponds for cooking demonstrations, to milky water.

Return to Yufuin in the afternoon.

  • Accommodations: Kinmonko
  • Meals Included: (B,D)
Day 11: Yufuin - Takachiho

The majesty of Takachiho will captivate you when you travel from Yufuin to the Takachiho Valley. The quiet water of the Gokasse River winds along the slopes, carving the volcanic gorge into a unique V-shape. You can board a small boat and cruise to the popular Manai Falls. The serene environment will showcase how the mountain peaks surround the valley and reach nearly 3,280 feet above sea level. Here, you can explore your surroundings at a leisurely pace. Azure colors contrast the emerald canopy, and overhanging rocks will border you with the background roar of Manai Falls. After discovering the region’s splendor, you will find the welcoming beauty of the Solest Takachiho Hotel near the Takachiho Shrine. An ambiance that stems from nature’s beauty will immerse you in a natural blend of gentle comfort and countryside panoramas.

  • Accommodations: Solest Takachiho Inn
  • Meals Included: (B)
Day 12: Takachiho

In the morning, you can find traditional bamboo cups and the lingering aroma of customary Takachiho beef in the dining room. After breakfast, you can enjoy the day at your pace by visiting the elegant terrain of the Tohcimata Terrace fields. Farmers tend to the landscape, crafting rice terraces, vegetable fields, and tea plantations for added greenery among the valley’s slopes. Once at the Amano Iwato Shinto Shrine, you will learn the legend of the sun goddess who hid in a cave.

The shrine was built near the supposed cave from the myth and can be viewed from the observation deck behind the main building. You can look across the river and notice piles of stones that mark visits from pilgrims. In the evening, your immersion into Japanese culture and local lore will continue at Takachiho Shrine, where you will view the Kagura dance performance. The unpainted buildings blend with the forest and allow light to filter through the canopy to create a calming atmosphere. As the dance begins, you will witness a number of the 33 episodes that depict divine quarrels between the gods.

  • Accommodations: Solest Takachiho Inn
  • Meals Included: (B)
Day 13: Takachiho - Mt. Aso - Kagoshima

In the morning, you will reach Takamori Village at the foot of Mount Aso. The pristine nature accentuates the village’s beauty, and the culture encompasses elements from the legends of Amaterasu, the sun goddess. The cedar paths lead away from the central village and will take you to a pair of 400-year-old cedar trees where the surrounding air fills with hints of pine needles and spice. You may hear the serene water of the Shirakawa River passing through town beneath narrow stone bridges that lead to the main Tatsumi Bridge.

After enjoying the village charm, you will continue to Mt. Aso on the Mt. Aso Ropeway. The cable car travels across an active volcano at over 354 feet high. You will have exceptional views of the lush valley, winding river, and active crater. When you reach the Shiroyama Hotel Kagoshima, you can relax in your luxurious room with fantastic views of the Sakurajima volcano and access to open-air hot springs.


  • Accommodations: Shiroyama Hotel Kagoshima
  • Meals Included: (B)
Day 14: Kagoshima - Chiran

You will find palm trees that line the streets of Kagoshima and the relatively mild climate that sweeps through the streets. The manicured landscape of the Senganen Garden overlooks the coastline and is embellished with small ponds, babbling streams, elegant bamboo groves, and noble shrines. You will continue to Chiran, where a collection of restored samurai houses will allow you to bask in both history and serenity. As you visit the samurai houses, you will notice the embellishments of the mid-Edo period and have access to the lavish gardens that have been decorated with waves of sand and volcanic ash. The aroma of green tea will emanate from the shops, especially during the spring harvest. If you have time in the day, you can take the ferry to Sakurajima Island to walk along the volcanic island that emerged from billions of tons of flowing lava.

  • Accommodations: Shiroyama Hotel Kagoshima
  • Meals Included: (B)
Day 15: Kagoshima - Osaka - U.S.

After breakfast, transfer to the Kagoshima airport by hotel shuttle for your flight to Osaka (about 1 hour, economy class). Transfer to your international flight home. Arrive in the USA on the same day. (B, Meals aloft)

Beautiful Landscapes
City Touring
Delectable Cuisine
Hot Springs
Rice Terraces
Shrines and Temples
Traditional cuisine

Airport Transfers
All accommodations as per program
All entrance fees
All meals listed in itinerary
All sightseeing, entertainment, and cultural activities listed in itinerary
All transfers and transport as per program
English speaking guides
preparatory materials

Any compulsory and peak season surcharge
Domestic U.S. and international airfare
Excess baggage charges
Gratuities to local guides and drivers on main tour
Liquor, wine, & beer, and other items of a personal nature
Meals not included in the tour
Passport Fees
Travel insurance
Visa processing

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from $8875
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