Japan is a bucket list destination for many travelers. The incredible wealth of experiences that can be had around the country draw people in from around the world. But with the language and alphabet barrier, making independent travel plans to Japan can be daunting for travelers who don’t speak or read Japanese. The good news is that there are plenty of amazing Japan tours offered by some of the most highly-regarded tour companies in the world.
While many of the best tours of Japan take travelers to see the famous cities of Kyoto, Tokyo, and Hiroshima, there are also Japan tour packages that take travelers to slightly more off-the-beaten path destinations like the city of Takayama in the Japanese Alps and Hagi, which is known for its impressive castles. No matter what part of Japanese culture you want to experience, there’s a group tour to fit your interests and preferred travel style.
10 Great Japan Tours for 2023 and 2024
These 10 Japan tours take travelers around the country by plane, train, or expedition ship. During these multi-day Japan group tours, you’ll see all of the top destinations of the country and have some immersive experiences that will help you feel truly connected to the people of Japan. The perks of booking a group tour vacation package include being able to see all of the big highlights of the country without having to figure out things like accommodations, transportation, meals, and activities on your own. In fact, most of these are included in the overall cost of the tour, and all of the details of the tour once you arrive are arranged by expert guides.
1. Smithsonian Journeys Eternal Japan
Over 13 days, travelers on the Smithsonian Journeys Eternal Japan tour will see some of Japan’s most popular highlights starting in Tokyo and ending in Osaka. In Tokyo, you’ll be able to visit the gallery of Koshun Masunaga, one of Japan’s highlighted calligraphers; as well as see the Imperial Palace and have free time in Ginza, Tokyo’s bustling shopping and entertainment district. Those who love nature will enjoy time at Mt. Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, and setting sail on Ashi Lake for views of the iconic mountain.
Other activities on this trip include attending a traditional tea ceremony, going to a local sake brewery, and seeing the Kofuku-ji, a Buddhist temple with a five-story pagoda. One thing to note about this Japan tour is that since the flights are included in the cost and the itinerary, the actual sightseeing doesn’t start until day three.
- Length: 13 days
- Starting price: $8,284
- Group size: up to 24 people
2. Collette Cultural Treasures of Japan
Like many tours, the Collette Cultural Treasures of Japan tour starts in Tokyo. While in the iconic city, guests will explore Asakusa, Tokyo’s oldest Geisha district; participate in a traditional tea ceremony; and have some free time on the oldest shopping street in Japan, the Nakamise Shopping Arcade.
After Tokyo, the tour makes stops in seven more Tokyo cities, towns and villages. In Takayama, travelers can take a walk through a 600-year-old open-air market along the Miyagawa River in search of tasty treats and local treasures. In Kanazawa, you’ll visit the Samurai district for a tour of a former home of a wealthy samurai family, tour a fish market, and spend time in one of Japan’s most beautiful gardens. Foodies will enjoy a sushi-making class in Kyoto, while movie buffs will love seeing the shrine of Inari, which guests may recognize from the movie Memoirs of a Geisha. Note that this Collette trip also uses the first day of the itinerary as a travel day to Japan, so sightseeing doesn’t begin until Day 2.
- Length: 14 days
- Starting price: $4,499
- Group size: 16 people
3. Exodus Travels Walk the Kumano Kodo
Travelers looking for a self-guided active trip will want to consider the Exodus Travels Walk the Kumano Kodo tour. This 11-day tour starts in Kyoto and ends in Osaka, and packs in plenty of exciting places to explore along the way. After a day of sightseeing around Kyoto, the journey to walk the Kumano Kodo begins in Takijiri. Days four and five are walking days, during which you’ll see small villages and some Oji shrines along the way to Yunomine Osen for a rest day.
The final leg of the walk takes place on days seven and eight, where you can choose your own adventure to ascend the Kogumotorigoe path or walk a section closer to Hongu to see the valley. The walk ends with a view from the Ogumotorigoe Pass, where you can see the Pacific Ocean and the Nachi-taki waterfall. Though this tour is self-guided, it includes all your accommodations, luggage transfers between accommodations along the trail, all breakfasts and six dinners, train transfers, and some in-country support.
- Length: 11 days
- Starting price: $5,479
- Group size: Up to 8 people
4. EF Go Ahead Tours Cherry Blossoms in Japan: Tokyo to Kyoto
Seeing the cherry blossoms blooming in Japan is a dream trip for many people, and with the EF Go Ahead Tours Cherry Blossoms in Japan: Tokyo to Kyoto tour, you can see the beautiful blooms (and more) with ease. The 10-day tour starts in Tokyo, where travelers get to see Yoyogi Park and the Meiji Shrine before going through the Harajuku neighborhood. The afternoon is spent in Ueno Park and exploring Tokyo on your own. After Tokyo, everyone will make their way to Hake, which is known for its hot springs and impressive views of Mount Fuji.
The 10-day includes three days in Kyoto. In this vibrant city, guests will see the Golden Pavilion—one of Japan’s most famous temples—as well as take a guided Zen meditation class.
The tour has plenty of free time, including two completely free days during which you can explore on your own. Guides have plenty of suggestions for making the most of your free time, or you can join an organized (add-on) excursion like a trip to the Nishiki Market or visiting Kamakura.
- Length: 10 days
- Starting price: $4,289
- Group size: 15-35 people
5. Adventures by Disney Japan
If your travel group includes kids, consider the Adventures by Disney Japan tour. The family-friendly group tour is best suited for families with kids that are six years old or older because of the long days and some strenuous walking.
The trip starts in Kyoto, where you’ll enjoy a morning rickshaw tour through Arashiyama and the Bamboo Forest. During dinner one evening, you’ll enjoy a performance by a Maiko, a Geisha in training. Travelers will travel by train to Hiroshima and visit the deeply affecting Hiroshima Peace Park and the accompanying museum dedicated to the atomic bomb victims and World War II.
Other highlights of the tour include a hands-on demonstration of Taiko drumming, seeing a live Sumo wrestling demonstration, a countryside bike ride, and trying to cross the busiest intersection in the world, Shibuya Crossing.
Adventures by Disney has built in plenty of downtime on this trip, allowing families to explore cities and villages on their own as well as with the group. And the knowledgeable Adventure Guides are always available to answer questions or give suggestions about things to do as well.
- Length: 10 days
- Starting price: $10,399
- Group size: 35-44 people
6. Trafalgar Splendours of Japan
The Trafalgar Splendours of Japan tour takes place over 13 days and includes visits to some of Japan’s most beloved cities. The tour starts in Tokyo, where you’ll see the Sensoji Buddhist Temple, the oldest temple site in the city. Guests on this tour also have the opportunity to be dressed in a traditional kimono by a professional stylist. The tour continues to the Japanese Alps where you’ll see Mount Fuji and stay in Takayama.
Later in the journey, travelers visit the Nagamachi District to learn about samurai life, take part in a traditional tea ceremony, and see the Fushimi Inari Shrine. There’s also a day spent at Miyajima Island, where there is a torii gate in the sea near the shore.
- Length: 13 days
- Starting price: $6,475
- Group size: 40 people
7. Globus Independent Tokyo, Kyoto and Hiroshima City Stays
Travelers looking for a tour that’s both completely planned out and has a guest list that’s limited to just the family and friends you want to include should consider the Globus Independent Tokyo, Kyoto and Hiroshima City Stays tour. The tour includes private guided sightseeing to the Samurai Museum, the Meiji Shrine, and the Asakusa Kannon Temple. Your guided tour of the city also includes a trip to the Tokyo Skytree, where you can go up to the 450th floor to see panoramic views of the city.
Halfway through the trip, you’ll travel via bullet train to Kyoto, and once in the new city, you’ll have a private tour of the Temple of the Gold Pavilion, the Sanjusangendo Temple, and a walking tour of Gion, Kyoto’s most famous geisha district.
On the final full day of the trip, your group will be taken to Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, and to Miyajima Island to see the Itsukushima Shrine. With built-in free days, there’s also plenty of opportunity to explore on your own, see some of the other temples in each city, or travel through local markets to try traditional Japanese foods.
- Length: 9 days
- Starting price: $4,869
- Group size: Just your family or friends
8. Abercrombie & Kent Classic Japan
If you’re looking for a smaller group tour, the Abercrombie & Kent Classic Japan tour may fit the bill. With just 18 people on each tour, you’re sure to get personalized experiences and even more immersion into Japanese culture.
The trip starts in Tokyo, where you’ll learn how to play taiko, Japanese drums, and then explore the Tokyo National Museum and the Meiji Shrine. Foodies will love Day 3 in Tokyo, when everyone starts at a local fish market and then gets a hands-on sushi-making lesson. In Hakone, the group will indulge in a Kobe beef lunch too.
Other trip highlights include a walking tour of the Dotonbori District in Osaka, a visit to Nara Park to feed deer by hand, and experiencing a Shinto ceremony at the Kasuga Taisha Shrine. Depending on what time of year you plan to travel to Japan, you may see the blooming cherry blossoms of spring or fall’s red maple leaves.
- Length: 9 days
- Starting price: $13,495
- Group size: 18 people
9. Intrepid Premium Japan
The Intrepid Premium Japan tour is a great option for couples, or for families with older teenagers. These small 12-person group tours have a minimum age of 15 and take travelers from Tokyo to Kyoto. Besides visiting the temples of Tokyo, travelers also have the opportunity to visit Nakamise dori shopping street and a popular depachika underground food hall.
The trip includes two days in Takayama, a city known for its traditional inns and sake breweries. Here you’ll go on a walking tour of the city and a stop at a pop culture museum, the Takayama Showa-kan Museum.
The tour ends in Kyoto, where the group visits the samurai castle at Himeji, takes a meditation class, marvels at the Fushimi Inari Shrine, and learns about sake making at the Gekkei-kan Sake Brewery.
- Length: 12 days
- Starting price: $7,625
- Group size: 12 people
10. National Geographic Expeditions Coastal Japan: Imperial Dynasties and Modern Culture
Those looking to see more of Japan’s coastal regions will want to book the National Geographic Expeditions Coastal Japan: Imperial Dynasties and Modern Culture tour. The trip starts with a day and a half of land-based touring in Tokyo, and then the group boards the National Geographic Resolution for an expedition cruise around the Sea of Japan. One of the first stops is Kanazawa, where you’ll see the geisha and teahouse district of Higashi Chaya Machi.
Throughout the rest of the sailing, travelers will stop at the castle town of Hagi, explore Nagasaki Peace Park in Nagasaki, hike through the forest on Yakushima Island, and see Himeji Castle in Kobe. Throughout the journey, the group is joined by National Geographic experts who share their knowledge of the regions and answer questions along the way.
- Length: 16 days
- Starting price: $24,650
- Group size: 102 people