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Best Japan tours and tour companies for 2018

Catch bright cherry blossoms in spring or the best powder in winter, these are the top tours to book for Japan.

From the skyscrapers of Tokyo and the top of Mount Fuji to the narrow alleyways lined with izakayas and ramen shops, to the tranquil gardens overflowing with brilliant hues of pink in spring, Japan is full of wonders that will satisfy just about any traveller.

Whether you’re a green thumb in search of perfectly manicured gardens, a foodie in looking for the world’s best sushi, or an adrenaline junkie after powder-soft snow, we’re here to help you find the best Japan tour for your tastes.

Our favourite Japan tour companies

1. Wendy Wu Tours

Leaving no stone unturned, Wendy Wu Tours makes sure you get the absolute most of your experience in Japan, whether it's hiking Mount Fuji, seeing the snow monkeys soaking in natural onsens or tasting sake at a brewery – all without ever skimping on creature comforts.

  • Best for: Immersive, bucket list experiences
  • Cost: High-end
  • Our favourite itinerary: Trails of Japan mixes iconic highlights with unique experiences while taking you across central Japan, from Tokyo to Nagano, Takayama to Kyoto and across to Koyasan and Osaka over an immense two weeks.

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2. Nexus Holidays

Including flights in all its tours, Nexus Holidays’ budget-friendly holidays pack in as many city sights as possible without skimping on quality accommodation.

  • Best for: Sightseers on a budget
  • Cost: Mid-range
  • Our favourite itinerary: Impressions of Japan is perfect if you don’t have much time. It's a 9 day itinerary that squeezes in the highlights of Japan including Osaka, Kyoto, Nagoya, Mount Fuji and Tokyo.

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3. G Adventures

Whether you're a budget backpacker or an adventurous soul, G Adventures supplies fresh, unique and personalised small group tours that pack in as many activities as possible.

  • Best for: Small group tours, active tourists
  • Cost: Mid-range
  • Our favourite itinerary: Dust of your skis with the Sapporo Snow Festival and Japan Winter Highlights tour and explore some of the best powder this side of the nation. Then, wind down by catching the local colour and culture of the annual snow festival.

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Other tour companies that offer tours in Japan:

Best companies for different travel styles

Best cheap Japan tour company:

  • Gate1 Travel: Choose the independent travel route to explore at your own pace while keeping costs low in the Land of the Rising Sun. Land tours start from $2,469 for 9 days.
  • Intrepid: Constant deals and discounts on Asia tours make Intrepid a powerhouse for affordable Japan tours that are worth so much more. Tours start from $2,350 for 9 days.
  • G Adventures: Keep your wallet happy with G Adventures' range of shoestring tours geared at the 18–30s age bracket, which have everything you need and nothing you don't to capture the highlights of the country. Tours start from $1,512 for 6 days.

Best luxury Japan tours company:

  • Wendy Wu Tours: Pursuing quality and luxury, Wendy Wu Tours don't skip a beat, ensuring you're well refreshed from your hotel stay to your coach transfer, to make sure you're ready for the next exciting highlight of Japan.
  • Gate 1 Travel: Escorted and partially escorted travel options mean you won't have to lift a finger to organise the picture-perfect trip with all the bells and whistles. Longer trips through China and Hong Kong are also available for those seeking to see and do more.
  • Trafalgar Holidays: Kick back and relax as Trafalgar coordinates the best hotel stays, full meal options (including buffet breakfasts) and comfortable transfers from day one.

Best Japan cherry blossom tour company:

  • Wendy Wu Tours: Touring Japan year-round, Wendy Wu Tours picks up the pace in April for the peak cherry blossom season with four of its bespoke tours paying special attention to catching the sakura in bloom.
  • Japan Deluxe Tours: From Tokyo to Hiroshima and Osaka to Kyoto, Japan Deluxe Tours can take you there during cherry blossom season for unique experience backdropped by the dusting of pink cherry blossom hues.

Best Japan ski tours company:

  • G Adventures: You won't be shortchanged on snow time with G Adventures' dedicated winter highlights tours as they take you to the peaks of the best resorts in the nation.
  • Topdeck: Why give yourself a day on the slopes when you can barrel down the best over a week? Topdeck knows what you're after and has geared tours for keen ski bunnies and nothing else.
  • Contiki: With three winter wonder tours under its belt, spending two weeks immersed in Japan's highlights and best snowfields with like-minded individuals is a breeze.

Popular Japan tour routes

Tokyo – Kyoto – Osaka

Get a taste for the country's most frequented cities, including the capital Tokyo and the traditional Kyoto. While you could spend weeks, even months, exploring Tokyo, a week is sufficient to blitz through it all while Kyoto and Osaka deserve at least two days.

A Week In Japan

A Week In Japan from Wendy Wu Tours

Travel to Japan in style with luxury tour experts Wendy Wu and gaze upon Tokyo's beautiful shrines, hit the foothills of Mount Fuji, play with deer at Nara Deer Park and climb the castle in Osaka.

  • Tour company: Wendy Wu
  • Best for: First timers
  • Length of tour: 9 days

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Tokyo – Kyoto – Hiroshima

The idyllic mix of sightseeing, culture and history, this route takes you from the islands east to west indulging in iconic sights such as Tokyo Tower and the Shibuya Crossing, the traditional temples and geishas of Kyoto and the reconstructed Hiroshima.

Iconic Japan

Iconic Japan from G Adventures

Soak up the sights and sounds of Tokyo, Tsumago, Kanazawa, Hiroshima and Kyoto first-hand with a barrel of in-depth activities such as visiting a samurai family home, chopstick and gold leaf painting, and meeting with a local monk at one of the many temples included in your tour.

  • Tour company: G Adventures
  • Best for: Culture and history lovers
  • Length of tour: 12 days

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How long do I need in Japan?

Based on our own experience as well as the tours mentioned in this guide, here's a general idea of how long you'll need to tick off those cities:

Number of days Tokyo Mount Fuji Kyoto Osaka Nara Hiroshima Takayama Nagoya Kanazawa Tsumago
7 x x x x
9 x x x x x
10 x x x x x x
12 x x x x x x
14 x x x x x x

7 days:

In seven days you can still travel the classic route of Tokyo to Kyoto and Osaka though it’s recommended either staying in Tokyo the whole time or cutting certain items short. Tours allow you to blitz through the cities and capture the best of the best, so it can be done though it may feel rushed.

7 Days, Tokyo to Osaka

7 Days, Tokyo to Osaka from Topdeck

  • Tour company: Topdeck
  • Best for: Youths 18–35
  • Places visited: Tokyo, Mount Fuji, Hakone, Kyoto, Osaka

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10 days:

To cover the classic route that takes you from Tokyo to Osaka and Kyoto, it is highly recommended to put aside 10 days to see it all. Tokyo alone needs 5 to 7 days to immerse yourself in the numerous districts including the luxury shopping hub of Ginza, colourful Shibuya and its Harajuku characters, neon lights of Shinjuku, traditional temples of Asakusa and bustling island of Odaiba, as well as a day trip to Mount Fuji. Then, three days should cover you to see Osaka Castle, Osaka Aquarium, wander the traditional streets of Kyoto and pay homage to its Golden Temple.

9 day Classic Japan

9 day Classic Japan from Nexus Holidays

  • Tour company: Gate 1 Travel
  • Best for: All ages
  • Places visited: Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto

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14 days:

With two weeks up your sleeve you can cover a lot of ground across Japan's main island, including Tokyo, Hiroshima and Takayama, a village where you'll see wooden homes built in the Edo period and more.

Discover Japan and Hike Mount Fuji – includes a two day hike to the summit of Mount Fuji

Discover Japan and Hike Mount Fuji – includes a two day hike to the summit of Mount Fuji from G Adventures

  • Tour company: G Adventures
  • Best for: Active adventures
  • Places visited: Tokyo, Mount Fuji, Hiroshima, Takayama, Kanazawa

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Stephanie Yip

Stephanie is the travel editor at finder.com.au. On top of being an avid traveller, she's an all-round bargain hunter. If there's a deal on hotels or a sale on flights, she'll know about it. And she'll let you know about it, too. Though probably not before she buys her own ticket.

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