Skip to content
2024 Autumn Leaves Tour of Japan

2024 Autumn Leaves Tour of Japan

This tour is ideal for those who enjoy a higher level of comfort and easier pace. It offers comprehensive cultural insights, diverse landscapes and a variety of authentic experiences of Japan.
“…In a lifetime of travelling this would be by far the best organised experience overall.”
– – Brian & Cheryl Palliser

Duration

14 days

Theme

Group size

Min 4

Max 8
ようこそ
welcome

Top Tour Highlights

Kyoto's western suburb, Arashiyama

Enjoy this very photogenic part of Kyoto, especially in autumn on rickshaw.

Kenroku-en Japanese Garden

Arguably the best Japanese garden in Japan, Kenroku-en is located in central Kanazawa.

Tokyo

One of the biggest cities in the world, Tokyo has so much to see and do.

Mount Fuji and Hakone

Very relaxing resort town of Hakone is a great place to enjoy arts, nature and views of Mt Fuji.

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park

Take your time and absorb the solemn feeling of the atomic bomb site and it's informative museum.

Private dinner party with Maiko

Enjoy having a private conversation with an apprentice geisha to get an insight of this age old profession.

ようこそ
welcome

Tour Overview

Stroll through Japan’s iconic sites under the gorgeous coloured autumn leaves. Japan in autumn is like a dream, and this tour is paced to give you the time to savor the dream.

The 2024 Autumn Leaves Tour of Japan takes you to iconic destinations including Tokyo, Hakone, Kanazawa, Shirakawa-go, Kyoto, Hiroshima and Miyajima.

In particular, the tour visits many Japanese gardens renowned for their display of autumn leaves such as Rikugi-en Garden and Nezu Museum of Art in Tokyo, Hakone Museum, and one of Japan’s best gardens – Kenroku-en in Kanazawa. Selected gardens in Kyoto and Arashiyama will also be at the peak of their autumn colours at the time of your visit.

This 14-day tour includes the comfort of 4+ star western style accommodation and a mix of public (bullet train) and private transport.

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Tokyo

Welcome to Japan! On arrival at Narita or Haneda International Airport, you will be met by a Journey to the East guide and escorted to your hotel by private transport.

Today is an arrival day and no group program is scheduled. Your hotel is located right in the middle of Tokyo near glitzy Ginza. Why not take a stroll, relax and be ready to start the first full day of your 2024 Autumn Leaves Tour of Japan.

*Many of our guests arrive a day or so early to settle in before the tour starts. We can arrange your additional nights accommodation in the same room as the tour.

Tokyo (Gate Hotel Tokyo or similar)
None
Day 2: Tokyo

Start out with some orientation with your guide before you begin your exploration of Tokyo.

Tokyo has many faces and today you begin our exploration of Tokyo in Marunouchi area between the expansive Imperial Palace Plaza and the beautifully restored 100-year- old Tokyo Station. Marunouchi literally means inside wall or moat, and it was originally the inner sanctum of Edo Castle, now the Emperor's Palace. It is the oldest and elitist office area in Japan, where all the top Japanese companies have headquarters, and a great spot to see the blend of history and modernity. In Marunouchi you will see;

  • Hibiya Park, which is one of the top autumn colours sites in Tokyo,
  • The Imperial Palace Plaza with 2,000 impressive black pine trees, a whole world away from the business district of Marunouchi,
  • Tree lined Marunouchi streets and old buildings which marked the modernization of Japan in the 19th century,
  • The red-brick façade of Tokyo Station, one of the city’s most striking pieces of architecture, against the glass and steel of neighboring skyscrapers.

After wandering through Marunouchi with your guide, you will have lunch at a local restaurant rubbing shoulders with the Japanese office workers.

In the afternoon, you will visit Rikugi-en Japanese Garden, renowned for its autumn leaves display.

Your "welcome Japan" dinner tonight is at a restaurant in Ginza.

Tokyo (Gate Hotel Tokyo or similar)
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 3: Tokyo

You start the day when you travel by a private minivan to Meiji Shrine, located in the heart of Tokyo’s fashion district, Harajuku. Surrounded by a forest of evergreen trees and stroll gardens, this impressive Shinto shrine complex provides a peaceful oasis of Japanese autumn leaves in an otherwise bustling city.

From the shrine you walk along the fashionable tree-lined boulevard of Omotesando. Here the world’s super-brands sit comfortably alongside edgy Japanese designers, avant-garde architecture and Harajuku’s teen pop-culture.

After lunch, you will visit Nezu Museum of Art for its sublime collection of Japanese and Asian art as well as its magnificent garden in the autumn colours. On a way back to your hotel, you will drop by the golden coloured avenue of Ginko Trees in Aoyama.

This evening you will try more casual dining experience near your hotel.

Tokyo (Gate Hotel Tokyo similar)
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 4: Hakone

Take an overnight trip to Hakone. Hakone is a scenic hot-spring holiday destination located in the mountains near Mt Fuji and renowned for its natural beauty and world-class art museums.

The garden at Hakone Museum is spectacular with its Japanese maple trees in red autumn leaves at this time of the year. A visit to Narukawa Art Museum is an opportunity for you to see modern-day Japanese paintings and experience the exquisite view of Mt Fuji across Lake Ashi.

Tonight you will have your first chance to experience an authentic kaiseki-style banquet and a soak in a hot-spring onsen bath. Your guide will talk you through the ritual and etiquette of the Japanese bath and explain why a visit to an onsen remains one of the nation’s most popular pastimes.

Hakone (Hakone Nanase or similar)
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 5: Hakone

This morning you try a traditional Japanese breakfast – a nutritious, protein-rich mix of grilled fish, miso soup, tofu, rice and pickles.

Walking through the Hakone Open-Air Museum you will come upon amazing sculptures from the likes of Henry Moore and Rodin.

After a leisurely morning relaxing in Hakone's ambience and nature, you travel back to Tokyo by bullet train. Upon arrival back in Tokyo, the rest of the day is at your leisure. Why not venture out to shop at nearby Ginza to find a special piece of Japanese art and craft? Your guide will make some suggestions and  directions too!

Dinner tonight is at hotel.

Tokyo (Gate Hotel Tokyo or similar)
Breakfast (Japanese style), Lunch, Dinner
Day 6: Kanazawa

You board Japan’s impressive shinkansen (bullet-train) and head to our next destination, Kanazawa, located on the Sea of Japan coast.

Kanazawa's historical lineage, as a wealthy castle town steeped in samurai culture, offers an impressive range of architectural and cultural attractions and beautifully preserved streetscapes. In Kanazawa, you visit;

  • Kenrokuen Garden, a castle garden dating back to the 17th century and regarded as one of three best gardens of Japan, and
  • An authentic tea house to experience a Japanese style tea ceremony

For dinner tonight, enjoy premium wagyu beef cooked in front of you at a Teppanyaki restaurant.

Kanazawa (Hotel Nikko Kanazawa or similar)
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 7: Shirakawago

A day-trip by private minivan takes you to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Shirakawago. This is a charming rural village surrounded by mountains and blazing autumn coloured leaves.

The village’s famous thatched-roof farm houses known as gassho-zukuri (meaning “hands clasped together in prayer”) are the main attraction. Their steeply-slanted roofs were built to withstand the region’s heavy snowfalls. You will hear about their fascinating history and construction.

Your lunch today is a warm bowl of soba noodle, the local specialty, and dinner is at a Michelin star restaurant back in Kanazawa.

Kanazawa (Hotel Nikko Kanazawa or similar)
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 8: Kanazawa

This morning, you set out to explore the beautifully preserved Nagamachi samurai resident district and visit one of the former samurai houses which is now a museum. The museum-house showcases the great architecture and the might and wealth of samurais in this area during the heyday of the feudal era.

You then visit Omicho Market, a lively working market. As you walk through the market the guide will point out some unique products of west coast Japan. The market houses many little local restaurants, one of at which you have lunch today.

There is a great variety of things to see in Kanazawa and this afternoon and evening have been set aside especially for you to make your own selection.

Kanazawa is well-known for its superb level of art and craft including pottery, lacquerware, silk and gold leaf. You can also participate in a culinary activity such as a cooking class or sake tasting.

Please ask Journey to the East for more information.

Kanazawa (Hotel Nikko Kanazawa or similar)
Breakfast, Lunch
Day 9: Hiroshima

After a few days exploring Japan’s central regions, you board an express train and shinkansen bullet train to whizz down to Japan’s western regions to visit the iconic sites of Hiroshima and Miyajima.

At Hiroshima, we visit the Peace Memorial Park and its informative and sobering Atomic Bomb Museum, contemplating the devastating impact of the world’s first atomic bomb attack in August 1945. Despite this history, present-day Hiroshima remains a very welcoming and vibrant city, characterized by wide boulevards and attractive leafy parks.

After dinner at our hotel, you will have the opportunity to visit Shukkeien Garden where the coloured autumn leaves are illuminated and you feel like you're in a fantasy land.

Hiroshima (Sheraton Grand Hiroshima or similar)
Breakfast, Dinner
Day 10: Miyajima

A minivan and short ferry ride take you to the picturesque island of Miyajima, best known for the vermillion-red floating torii gate of Itsukushima Shrine (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). After admiring the gate, you begin a tour of this unusual shrine.

Originally constructed in 593 when the island was designated a sacred island only to be inhabited by the gods, the Itsukushima Shrine is also famous for its unique pier-like structure which sits above the tides.

You will visit pretty Momijidani Park to see its trademark maple trees ablaze in autumn leaves. Miyajima is home to several important Buddhist temples and pavilions, as well as a popular shopping street near the waterfront with its restaurants and souvenir shops.

In the afternoon you return to your hotel in Hiroshima and enjoy Hiroshima specialty food, Okonomiyaki for dinner.

Hiroshima (Sheraton Grand Hiroshima or similar)
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 11: Kyoto

You leave Hiroshima this morning on the shinkansen to Kyoto, the most iconic of cities.

With 17 World Heritage listed sites, Kyoto is the cultural heart of Japan and the guardian of many of its ancient traditions. Originally made capital in 794, present day Kyoto offers an endless range of traditional craft shops, refined restaurants, ancient temples and Shinto shrines. It will be a mass of autumn leaves at this time of the year.

After stopping for a quick lunch, you will walk through some of the iconic sites of Kyoto including;

  • Nijo Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage listed site, which display the best autumn colours at the time; and
  • Kinkakuji, Golden Pavilion beautifully framed by autumn leaves

Our dinner tonight is at a shabu shabu restaurant serving wagyu beef. A maiko (apprentice geisha) will join us for a private performance. You have the unique opportunity to engage with her in person and learn more about this centuries-old art form and the life of a modern-day geisha.

Kyoto (The Celestine Kyoto or similar)
Breakfast, Dinner
Day 12: Arashiyama (Kyoto)

In Arashiyama at the foot of the mountains to Kyoto’s west, once again you will immerse yourself in magnificent autumn scenery against the backdrop of exemplary temples and gardens. Today, you will;

  • Visit Tenryuji Temple, one of the best examples of formal and informal Japanese gardens,
  • Take a Rickshaw ride to go through Arashiyama 's famous Bamboo Grove,
  • Explore deeper into rural Sagano and fully experience the rustic simplicity and serenity of mountain temples away from the tourist crowds, and
  • Sample Kyoto’s traditional tofu cuisine, a local specialty which has its roots in Kyoto’s Buddhist vegetarian past for lunch.

Your evening is free to explore Kyoto and sample its many restaurants.

Kyoto (The Celestine Kyoto or similar)
Breakfast, Lunch
Day 13: Kyoto

A minivan takes you to the southern part of Kyoto to visit one of Kyoto’s most famous Shinto shrines, Fushimi-Inari Taisha. A vast shrine complex, it’s best known for the thousands of vermillion-red torii gates that frame the pilgrim paths winding through the woods of Mt Inari.

After another magnificent temple garden, you will visit Nishiki Market, dubbed as Kyoto's kitchen. A 400 meter narrow passage is packed with more than 100 venders selling pickles, vegetables, seafood to cookware, ceramics and paper products.

This afternoon you have some free time to explore Kyoto. Why not explore Kyoto’s bustling food and textile markets? Or, you may prefer to wander around Kyoto’s great range of craft shops and department stores for that something special to take home.

Tonight, we will gather one more time for our "Farewell Japan" dinner.

Kyoto (The Celestine Kyoto or similar)
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 14: Bon Voyage

This morning after breakfast, your 2024 Autumn Leaves Tour of Japan concludes.

You can return to Tokyo by train or air to fly home, or depart from Osaka’s Kansai International Airport. Perhaps you might like to linger in Japan for a little longer. We will be delighted to plan your personal post-tour extension to show you a different part of Japan. Please see our Model Extension Itineraries for inspirations!

Note: The cost of an escorted transfer to your departure airport is not included in our Small Group Tours (as we found many guests choose to stay in Japan a bit longer), but we will be happy to arrange your transfer to next destination or to exit airport. Please see our FAQ for more details.

Breakfast

Dates & Prices

2024 Autumn Leaves Tour of Japan

Per person twin share:

Single supplement

Inclusions

Each guest is personally looked after with one-on-one interactions with our hand-picked, expert tour guides. As part of your investment, this tour includes:

  • First-class wisdom and higher standard of individual care and attention
  • 13 nights’ accommodation (including traditional Japanese inns)
  • All breakfasts
  • 10 lunches (2 free choice lunches)
  • 10 dinners (2 free choice dinners)
  • Airport meet & greet on arrival
  • Hotel transfer by private transport on arrival
  • All local transport (train and private minivans)
  • Pre-loaded Suica card
  • Expert English speaking tour guides (Locally licensed)
  • Cultural activities and entry fees included in itinerary
  • Luggage transfers (1 piece per person)

DISCLAIMER: Unless otherwise stated, this tour does not include the costs of international and domestic airfares, transfers on the last day, travel insurance, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, transport during free time, personal expenses (laundry, internet, telephone, coin lockers etc.) and Visa (if required).

Who this Japan tour is for...

This is a perfect tour for people who:

  • Want to be in Japan at the peak of autumn colours
  • Wish to cover must-visit cities at slower pace (multiple days in each location)
  • Enjoy comfortable accommodation (4 star +) including ryokans but all with western beds
  • Prefer an organised tour with most activities and meals included
  • Like the use of minivan which gives you greater access and comfort

Reviews

WOW! What an experience. Waking up to see the sunrise over Mt Fuji, then taking an outdoor onsen bath as the sun crept higher. The accommodation was a unique experience from the moment we arrived to the time we departed. The traditional rooms with Tatami mats and bedding, the yukata, the traditional meals and number of courses – they had to be seen to be believed.

5/5
Trip date: 2017

Katie & Alexander Walshe

Australia

We don’t have anything to suggest to change as we thoroughly enjoyed the experience as it was. It was good advice to have the extra day in Tokyo before and after the tour to allow time to settle in before the tour and travelling home at the end. With the additional [custom] walking trip, it would probably have been better to have an extra day in Osaka before starting the walking tour to allow time to prepare and rest.  

5/5
Trip date: 2017

Sue & Merv Cowie

Australia

What a wonderful Autumn Leaves tour we had. Great places, guides, hot tubs and food. Journey to the East thought of everything. It took the pressure off travelling to Japan.

5/5
Trip date: 2017

Sue & Peter Wood

Australia

Our 2019 Autumn Leaves Comfort Tour of Japan was fantastic. We thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the tour. All the guides were fantastic and the attention to detail by Journey to the East was exemplary. The food, the stories, the autumn colours, the transport and the hotels were all wonderful. The planning and execution were first class and nothing was left to chance. We could not recommend this tour more highly.

5/5
Trip date: 2019

Stuart & Elaine Sime

Australia

A very well-organised tour of some of the major cities, with emphasis on autumn colour in gardens, temples, and shrines, led by extremely good local guides. We were lucky to be there at the peak of autumn colour. The tour gave a good introduction to Japanese culture, including religion, food, and history. The hotels were excellent and we ate at top restaurants which highlighted different aspects of Japanese food. The tour organisers were extremely helpful and met every request, especially for our tour extensions. Individual, detailed itineraries were a bonus.

5/5
Trip date: 2019

Mary Campbell

Australia

As a single traveller this tour was superb in every way – a wonderful group of fellow travellers, fantastic guides + unforgettable autumn colours! Thank you Journey to the East

5/5
Trip date: 2019

Kay McNamee

Australia

Have a question about this tour? Get in touch with our staff directly.