Japan Essentials: Tokyo, Kyoto & Hakone (8 Days)

japan trip 8 days

Sample Trip Highlights

  • An immersive private itinerary, carefully designed by Boutique Japan with love
  • Explore Tokyo, one of the most thrilling cities in the world
  • Discover Kyoto, the cultural heart and soul of traditional Japan
  • Experience the natural beauty of Hakone National Park, nestled beneath the majestic Mount Fuji
  • Stay in boutique and luxury hotels and ryokans that cater to your taste and preferences
  • Enjoy unique private tours and experiences with knowledgeable local experts
  • Seamless logistics, including transportation via the famous shinkansen (bullet train)
  • Pre-departure information to help you prepare for your trip
  • Access to Boutique Japan’s expertise, relationships, and firsthand experience
  • Dedicated Japan specialist to answer your questions and provide exceptional customer service

The beautiful Tokyo skyline

Itinerary Overview

Fly into either Tokyo’s Narita (NRT) or Haneda (HND) airport. You can also customize the itinerary to begin in the Kansai region, flying into Osaka’s Kansai (KIX) or Itami (ITM) airport.

Day 1: Arrival in Tokyo, Japan
Day 2: Explore Modern Tokyo Highlights & Enjoy an Evening Izakaya Outing
Day 3: Visit Tsukiji Market & Stroll through Old Tokyo
Day 4: Experience a Luxurious Ryokan Stay in Hakone with Onsen (Hot Springs) & Kaiseki Dinner
Day 5: Travel by Shinkansen (Bullet Train) to Kyoto & Take a Private Walking Tour of Gion Geisha District
Day 6: Discover Unique Highlights of Kyoto On & Off the Beaten Path
Day 7: Visit Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine and Explore Fushimi Sake District
Day 8: Departure from Japan

You can choose to depart from either of Osaka’s airports, or customize your trip to end with departure from Tokyo or any other location in Japan.

Itinerary Details

Day 1: Arrival in Tokyo, Japan

Welcome to Japan! Upon arrival in Tokyo, you will be greeted and transferred to your beautiful accommodations in a private vehicle. We recommend keeping your first evening free to account for unexpected flight delays or fatigue from the journey. Take this time to settle in and get ready for the exciting adventure that awaits you in Tokyo.

Your Tokyo hotel options include TRUNK or K5, providing a comfortable and stylish stay.

Meiji Jingu Shrine in Harajuku, Tokyo, Japan

Day 2: Explore Modern Tokyo Highlights & Enjoy an Evening Izakaya Outing

Ohayou gozaimasu (good morning)! Today is your first full day in Tokyo, and you’ll begin with an immersive half-day tour that introduces you to the vibrant city. Your private guide, who is both fun and knowledgeable, will accompany you and enhance your experience by sharing insights and trivia about Tokyo’s rich culture and history.

While Tokyo can certainly be explored without a guide, having one by your side ensures a deeper understanding of the city. Tokyo offers a mix of experiences, ranging from bustling city streets, stunning modern architecture, charming backstreets, beautiful gardens, and a vibrant food scene. Your guide will take you to neighborhoods such as Aoyama, Daikanyama, Naka-Meguro, and Shimokitazawa, where you can immerse yourself in the local culture and discover hidden gems. Visit museums, shrines, or gardens like the Nezu Museum, Meiji Jingu Shrine, or Hamarikyu Garden.

After the tour, you’ll have the option to relax at your hotel, explore independently, or use the pre-departure materials provided by Boutique Japan to enhance your free time. In the evening, experience the true essence of Japanese culture by dining and drinking at a private izakaya. This casual yet authentic Japanese-style gastropub offers a delightful atmosphere and a variety of delicious Japanese dishes. Immerse yourself in the local culture and engage with the friendly locals.

Japanese izakaya chef and diner

Day 3: Visit Tsukiji Market & Stroll through Old Tokyo

Begin your day with a visit to Tsukiji Market, known for its lively outer market where you can immerse yourself in the vibrant world of Japanese cuisine. While the wholesale section of the fish market moved to Toyosu in 2018, Tsukiji’s outer market remains an incredible place to explore.

Stroll through historic lanes and alleys filled with shops and small restaurants that exude charm and atmosphere. Afterward, head to nearby Ginza, a bustling district known for high-end shopping and dining experiences. From there, venture into Tokyo’s historic shitamachi districts, starting with Yanaka. This well-preserved historical district offers quaint streets, small temples and shrines, traditional shops selling Japanese sweets and goods, and galleries like the renowned SCAI the Bathhouse.

Continue your journey to Ueno, a bustling yet old-fashioned district famous for Ueno Park, which houses various museums, including the Tokyo National Museum. Along the way, explore Ameyoko-cho, an outdoor marketplace filled with groceries, clothing shops, and open-air yakitori stalls.

After a full day of exploring Tokyo’s past and present, take some downtime to relax. In the evening, treat yourself to an exquisite sushi meal or indulge in Tokyo’s legendary nightlife.

Stylish casual Tokyo restaurant

Day 4: Luxurious Ryokan Stay in Hakone with Onsen & Kaiseki Dinner

Today, bid farewell to Tokyo and embark on a journey to Hakone National Park, located just outside the city. Hakone is renowned for its luxury ryokans, soothing hot springs (onsen), and breathtaking views of Mount Fuji on clear days.

Experience the luxury of staying in a traditional ryokan, where you can immerse yourself in Japanese hospitality. Enjoy a tranquil soak in the healing waters of the onsen before savoring a kaiseki dinner, a multi-course feast featuring seasonal and local specialties.

Hakone offers more than just relaxation at your ryokan. Visit The Hakone Open-Air Museum, a unique attraction showcasing sculptures by renowned artists like Rodin, Miró, and Noguchi against the backdrop of the park’s stunning landscape. Explore Hakone’s famous sightseeing loop, which includes a scenic mountain train ride on the Hakone Tozan Railway, a funicular railway, a gondola ride on the Hakone Ropeway, and a scenic cruise on Ashinoko (Lake Ashi).

After a day of adventure, retreat to the peaceful ambiance of your ryokan.

Hakone Jinja Shrine at Ashinoko (Lake Ashi) in Hakone National Park, Japan

Day 5: Travel by Shinkansen to Kyoto & Take a Private Walking Tour of Gion Geisha District

Start your day with a relaxing morning at your ryokan. Enjoy a rejuvenating soak in the onsen and a delicious Japanese breakfast before departing for Kyoto.

Travel from Hakone to Kyoto via Japan’s famous shinkansen, also known as the bullet train. This comfortable and efficient mode of transportation offers a glimpse of Japan’s efficiency and technological advancements. Make sure to indulge in a seasonal bento box and some sake for a truly authentic experience.

Kyoto is a city steeped in history and culture, boasting 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites. As the former capital of Japan for over a thousand years, Kyoto is the epitome of traditional Japan. Although it is now a bustling modern city, Kyoto has managed to preserve its long-established traditions and pockets of tranquility amidst the neon lights and concrete structures.

In the early evening, embark on a captivating private walking tour through the enchanting backstreets of Kyoto’s Gion geisha district. Your expert guide will provide insights into the geiko (geisha) and maiko (apprentice geisha) culture, sharing the history and reality behind this traditional profession. While strolling through the narrow lanes and hidden alleys, you might even encounter geiko or maiko on their way to evening appointments. Conclude your immersive experience with a delicious meal at a local restaurant. Kanpai!

Your stay in Kyoto offers the choice between Hotel Kanra Kyoto or Hyatt Regency Kyoto, both providing exceptional comfort and convenience.

Traditional lanterns in the Gion geisha district of Kyoto, Japan

Day 6: Discover Unique Highlights of Kyoto On & Off The Beaten Path

Kyoto is not only about famous landmarks but also about exploring off the beaten path to truly experience the city’s essence. While visiting remarkable temples, shrines, and gardens is essential, taking the time to wander through lesser-known areas provides a deeper understanding of Kyoto’s rich cultural heritage.

Throughout your time in Kyoto, you will have the opportunity to visit an exceptional selection of Kyoto’s gems, carefully curated to match your interests and priorities. Explore the historic Higashiyama district, stroll along the picturesque Philosopher’s Path, and immerse yourself in the serene beauty of the Arashiyama district. Your expert guide will tailor the tour to your preferences, ensuring an unforgettable experience.

Kyoto is also known for its cuisine and traditional crafts. Visit the bustling Nishiki Market, a food lover’s paradise filled with local delicacies. For those interested in the arts and traditional crafts, a visit to a shokunin (master craftsperson) in their private workshop provides a unique insight into Kyoto’s craftsmanship.

Beyond the traditional culture, Kyoto is also a hub of creativity. Discover stunning modern design in museums, art galleries, shops, and cafes scattered throughout the city.

After your private tour, take the remaining time of the day to relax at your hotel or continue exploring independently. Utilize the pre-departure materials provided by Boutique Japan to make the most of your free time.

Arashiyama Bamboo Forest Kyoto Boutique Japan

Day 7: Visit Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine and Explore Fushimi Sake District

Begin your day with an early visit to Fushimi Inari Taisha, one of Japan’s most famous landmarks. To avoid crowds, it’s advisable to arrive early in the morning. The shrine is located at the base of Mount Inari, and its vermilion torii gates line the walking path up the slope. While the lower areas tend to be crowded with visitors taking selfies, higher up the mountain, you’ll find thinner crowds. If you enjoy hiking, consider embarking on the trail for a rewarding experience. The Kyoto area also offers several fantastic day hikes for nature enthusiasts.

After visiting Fushimi Inari, meet a local sake expert who will guide you through the nearby Fushimi sake district. This area is renowned for its sake production and offers a fascinating glimpse into the world of Japanese rice wine (nihonshu). As you wander through the historic streets, learn about the sake-making process and sample delicious varieties of sake along the way.

Enjoy your final evening in Kyoto, savoring the memories you’ve created throughout your Japan journey.

Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine Kyoto Japan

Day 8: Depart Japan

You have the morning free until your departure time. Make the most of your remaining time in Kyoto by indulging in some last-minute explorations and savoring the local cuisine.

In good time for your departure flight, a private transfer will pick you up from your hotel and take you comfortably to your departure airport.

Depart Japan with unforgettable memories, knowing that Boutique Japan is always here to welcome you back to this incredible destination.

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