Your first full day in Japan would start off with a trip to the Tokyo Imperial palace. At the palace park you will enjoy watching gorgeous Japanese pine trees ‘Matsu’. Just a step away, over the moat filled with sacred Japanese carps, there is a local landmark, Nijubashi bridge, one of Tokyo’s symbols.
The next step would be moving to elegant Ginza, Tokyo’s fanciest district. It has been Tokyo’s heart ever since Japan opened up itself to the world in the 19th century. The luxurious Wako department store, Ginza’s most famous landmark, is a fascinating Art Nuovo masterpiece. It is located at Ginza’s Fourth Intersection, which is Tokyo’s Times Square. The name Ginza comes after the establishment of a silver-coin mint that started there back in 1612, during the Edo period. Today’s Ginza is a popular upscale shopping area with numerous internationally renowned department stores, boutiques and restaurants located in its vicinity. It is considered one of the most expensive, elegant and luxurious districts in the world. One can enjoy watching fascinating Cartier, Christian Dior, Chanel, Louis Vuitton or Mikimoto flagship stores concentrated in this area. By the way, those who prefer not fashion but high-tech gadgets or most modern cars might want to visit Nissan Expo or Sony Building, also located in Ginza.
Our next destination would be Odaiba island. This artificial island is a unique place itself with various attractions, from amusement parks, including Deisan park, to the futuristic TV Fuji building designed by world’s famous architect Kenzo Tange. You can even spot here local Stature of Liberty, a gift from France. We may also choose to visit Toyota Expo Center (with the F1 simulator available) and Monogatari hot springs facility where you can try on a kimono or take a bath the old Japanese way.
When this long and intense day is over, you will be returning to your hotel.
Hakone is a picturesque mountainous national park just about an hour and a half of drive from Tokyo. Hakone national park is a part of the bigger Fuji-Hakone-Izu national park. It is a popular place of choice for a brief vacation for Tokyoites themselves with its ryokans, onsen, or hot springs, and its pacifying scenery during all four seasons.
First, we will get to the Ashi lake with its stunning view of Mount Fuji, reflected in its still waters, of course, if weather is good enough and the sky is clear. We’ll then sail out on board the historical pirate ship to feel the scent of the old time Japan, once again enjoying Hakone’s beautiful views.
The second leg of this trip would be going up on the ropeway to reach Owakudani. Its name stands in Japanese for ‘Great Boiling valley’ and it is a volcanic valley with active sulphur vents and hot springs. It was created around 3000 years ago as a result of the explosion of the Hakone volcano. Owakudani is a popular tourist site for its scenic views, volcanic activity, and kuro-tamago or ‘black egg’, which is a local specialty of eggs hard-boiled in the hot springs. The eggs turn black and smell slightly sulphuric. According to a local legend, eating one is said to add seven years to your life. Sure, it is a worth-trying deal!
Later on, we will be moving to the Yunessun hot springs resort and spa to enjoy rotemburo, which is an open-air hot spring bath, truly a once-in-a-lifetime Japanese experience! Here, soaking in a bath with a view at the Japanese landscape garden, you will be relaxing both physically and mentally, seeking – and finding – harmony with the beautiful nature all around.
Having spent enough pleasant time in a Japanese bath, you will stop for a night at a local hotel.
Mount Fuji, or Fuji-san, Japan’s highest peak (3 776 m), is the most known and the most sacred symbol of the country since times immemorial. Its image or its references can be found in countless works by the Japanese artists and poets, including world-famous Hokusai and Basho. Not so long ago, in 2013, it was added to the World Heritage List as a Cultural Site. According to UNESCO, Mount Fuji has ‘inspired artists and poets and been the object of pilgrimage for centuries’.
Our introduction to Fuji-san will start by riding the Subaru line, one of the highways to reach its slopes. We will get to its 5th station, up to around 2,300 meters above the sea level and this spot is also one of the starting points for Fuji summit ascent expeditions. It offers unobstructed views along with shrines and souvenir shops. We will head to the Fuji Visitor Center to explore a small museum and view exhibits covering the Fuji Five Lakes and Mt. Fuji's cultural importance, grab a bite to eat or catch views onto the mountain at the observation deck.
Then we will leave the station and visit the Sengen shrine, a very ancient Shinto temple where, according to a local legend, the mountains’ female spirit, Konohanasakuya-hime, resides.
Another point of interest would be historical village Saiko Iyashino-Sato Nenba that depicts the medieval Japan’s way of life. Nestled among the base of the mountains it is a truly charming place. Also known as ‘Healing Village’, the community is comprised of 22 traditional thatched roof houses that depict old-time scenery of the Showa Period (1926-1989). Each house highlights traditional Japanese culture through hands-on experiences such as crafts, sampling of local produce and an opportunity to dress up in Samurai armor or kimono. In winter, snowfall transforms the village into a magical, fairytale-like landscape that commands a magnificent view of Mt. Fuji like no other!
You will return to Tokyo after the tour is finished.