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The 12 Best Japan Tours and Experiences of 2024

We’ve curated this list for those seeking deeper cultural experiences and amazing food during their tour of Japan’s many spectacular attractions. If that describes you, we’ve got 12 tours and experiences to add to your Japan trip bucket list.

We’ll cover the day tours, the short-duration activities, and the all-inclusive, multi-day group trips for getting around Japan. For any time of year and region, these are the best you’ll find in Japan in 2023.

What kind of tours and experiences are available?

Japan is a great place to travel. With the wide range of group tours and experiences on offer, you’ll have never-ending adventures. Here’s what to look for:

  • All-inclusive tour packages. These small group tours ensure you hit the main sightseeing locations (such as Tokyo Tower and the Golden Pavilion) while getting immersive experiences. See Japan on an action-packed tour via the bullet train, try the best foods, and get experience with kendo classes, and sushi making. You’ll be sure to make the most of your time!
  • Day tours are a great addition to any Japan itinerary. These tours are shorter excursions you can pepper throughout your trip as you make your own way through the country.
  • Experiences and half-day walking or food tours spice up Japan trips. Have unique experiences and try Japan’s best food while still having plenty of time to do your own thing. These tours are a great addition to your travel plans.

What are some tips for when I visit Japan and go on tours?

Japan trips won’t be enjoyable without some planning and packing. Here are some tips to ensure you are prepared for common eventualities and have an amazing experience on these Japan tours.

  • These tours and tour packages have you headed to various locals. Be sure to pack layers, especially if going in the spring and headed to Shirakawa-go. Near a snow-capped peak, you could catch a bit of a chill.
  • Go in spring if it’s the first time you’re going to travel to Japan. Catch the Cherry blossoms as you absorb Japan’s culture. Areas like Mount Fuji and Kyoto will be bursting with life and beauty during this season in Japan.
  • Stores in Japan today commonly accept credit cards. It’s still advisable to carry some cash in case of small purchases or eventualities.
  • Your first trip to Japan should focus on Honshu. Of the four main islands, it is the largest and contains Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka.
  • Get a tour guide for the famous locations. While beautiful to see on their own, knowing the stories and significance of the locations you visit will help you enjoy the experience more.
  • Group tours can be a great way to get to know people! Especially if you are traveling alone we recommend tours to liven up your travels and make connections with like-minded travelers.
  • Get your eSim beforehand so you are ready to receive messages and stay connected. You’ll be sure to find tour start locations and connect with your guide through a cell service.

What are the Best all-inclusive group Japan Tour Packages?

Japan One Life Adventures – 14 Days

Japan One Life Adventures tours.

For your first time in Japan, you’ll want a tour that hits the highlights and gives a varied experience. That means Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto. One of the best Japan tour packages, this all-inclusive deal does just that, going above and beyond to introduce Japanese culture with an out-of-this-world tour guide.

What you’ll do: Starting in Tokyo and then heading to Kyoto and ultimately Hiroshima, you’ll sample the best of Japan over eight locations. Some of the highlights of this group tour are:

  • Lots of curated food.
  • Travel by bullet train.
  • Guided tours of the Meiji Shrine (Tokyo), Kyoto temples, and other religious sites.
  • A temple stay.
  • See Mount Fuji from Hakone.
  • Take sushi-making and kendo classes.
  • See many of Japan’s iconic spots, such as Peace Memorial Park and Miyajima Island torii gates, with tour guides. Learn about Japan’s dedication to peace where the atomic bomb fell.
  • Learn Japanese history.
  • Experience Japanese culture firsthand.
  • Potentially go and visit Ritsurin Park and much more!

Duration: 14 days

Languages Offered: English

Price: $2,602

Group Size: Max of 22

Why we like it: As far as tour packages go, it’ll be difficult to match this one for a first trip to Japan. Many of the locations on this itinerary are what we ourselves recommend. Even more, this Japan tour takes you to some out-of-the-way rural areas that are truly gorgeous and all the way to southern Japan. You’ll end your Japan trip knowing you made the most out of the time.

Cherry Blossom Festival – 13 days

Cherry Blossom Festival Japan tours

Spring is the season of rejuvenation, and in Japan, of cherry blossoms. Throughout the country these trees bloom pink and white, showering places like Kyoto and Nara in their petals. This is the tour to see the cherry blossom season in its full glory.

What you’ll do: A round trip tour starting in Tokyo to Hiroshima in southern Japan. With a focus on cherry blossoms, you’ll see the renowned places of Japan for their beauty in the Spring season.

  • See Tokyo on a river cruise and visit Matsumoto Castle.
  • Stay in traditional Japanese inns (ryokan) and get your chance to explore hot springs.
  • Head to Takayama in the heart of the Hida mountains, the “Japanese Alps”, to see the ancient feudal city.
  • Taste wasabi directly on a farm visit.
  • Visit several impressive gardens, including Kenroku-en and Kanazawa Castle.
  • Adventure to several UNESCO World Heritage sites and enjoy a geisha ceremony with tea in Kyoto.
  • And much more!

Duration: 13 days

Languages on offer: English

Price: $5,385

Group Size: Max of 18

Why we like it: Seeing the cherry blossoms in Japan creates a memorable experience. Besides Kyoto, many of the beautiful gardens included will shock and amaze. A fast-paced and active itinerary, you’ll also get to see some areas with a slower pace of life. It’s the perfect way to be inspired and have an amazing time during the popular cherry blossom season.

What are the best one-day Japan tours and excursions?

Takayama and Shirakawa-go private tour and photoshoot in the Japanese Alps

Private tour and photoshoot in the Japanese Alps

Head to the countryside renowned for a UNESCO WORLD Heritage Site, culture, and beauty. A slice of Japan that in recent years has been coming into focus, you are unlikely to meet crowds while still enjoying a world-class experience.

What you’ll do: Don’t worry about transportation! Your driver will lead you on this small-group tour from Kanazawa, Yakwayama, or Toyama to a total of 6 pristine locations. See the country, and the architecture, and get a feel for the authentic rural life of Japan as you explore the area known as the Japanese Alps. Explore, eat, and shop while learning about the area that’s become known as “Little Kyoto.” At the end, have a professional photoshoot!

Duration: 7 hours

Languages on offer: English

Price: $470.38 for a group of 2-4. $588.32 for a group of 4. $657.69 for a group of 5-7.

Group Size: 2-7

Why we like it: Shirakawa-go is a little off the beaten path, and you’ll have to bus around to some of the best sites. Having a knowledgeable guide + driver who can get you there quickly and comfortably will ensure you have a smooth trip. The professional photoshoot to remember your time is just icing on the proverbial cake, especially if you arrive during the spring cherry blossom season.

Full-Day Biking Tour Exploring the Best of Kyoto

Kyoto’s top sites are within biking distance of each other. You can ride through the old streets and by the river to see more than just the top locations. Get a feel for the city with a guide as you traverse the streets of Japan’s cultural center.

What you’ll do: Bike to 6 of Kyoto’s top locations and pass by many more. Stop for lunch a delicious Japanese lunch and head out for more. Your expert guide will help you navigate the crowds and the streets while you learn all about this top historic spot.

Duration: 7 hours

Languages on offer: English and Japanese

Price: $104.01

Group Size: 9

Why we like it: Walking or biking through Kyoto will give you a new appreciation for its beauty. It’s easy to just hop on and off a bus, with everything in between becoming a blur on your Japan visit. This bike trip will ensure you catch the ambiance and feel of the city it

What are the Best Food Tours in Japan?

You can’t skip the food in Japan. If you do nothing else in this beautiful country, eat.

A food tour is a great way to ensure you try those hidden gems that give you the real Japan. Go deep, go right, and get away from the tourist traps to try the best Japan has to offer.

Shibuya All You Can Eat Best Food Tour in Tokyo

Shibuya All You Can Eat Best Food Tour in Tokyo

Shibuya is a trendy shopping and nightlife extravaganza of a district. Central to Tokyo, it’s one of the top locations for shopping, sightseeing, and especially gastronomy in all of Japan. Head to this must-see district and enjoy four courses with a resident expert.

What you’ll do: Beyond eating, you will taste a range of Japanese foods on the side streets where the best local foods are to be found. Includes four courses over multiple locations. Learn about the city and food through a tour of Shibuya that includes sushi, yakiniku (Japanese grilled meat), chicken karage (Japanese fried chicken), and takoyaki (fried Japanese octopus balls) plus drinks and dessert. Be sure to bring a comfortable pair of shoes!

Duration: 4 hours

Languages Offered: English and Japanese.

The price: $205.00.

Group size: 10 or fewer.

Why we like it: This is the perfect introduction to the daunting number of options making up Japanese cuisine. Get a curated list and expert advice to ensure you both try the hits and enjoy the selections. For the rest of your trip in Japan, you’ll know just what to order.

Tsukiji Fish Market Food and Culture Walking Tour in Tokyo

Tsukiji Fish Market Food and Culture Walking Tour in Tokyo

Tsukiji is a market in Chuo District, Tokyo with a long history of selling fresh wholesale food of all kinds to businesses and restaurants. The market started drawing foreign tourists in the 80’s, and excitement for all kinds of food, especially fresh sushi, continues in Japan.

Note: Confusion and rumors spread that Tsukiji closed in 2018. To clear the air: Tsukiji is not closed. The inner market, where auctions took place and allowed limited visitations, moved. The outer market remains with all its glorious shops and food dispensaries.

What you’ll do: Starting from Tsukiji Hongwanji Temple, the guide will walk you through the hectic and plentiful fish market. Your guide will tell you all about the 100-year history of the market while you sample various Japanese foods and drinks. End your journey at a sushi restaurant. It’s an experience you can only have in Japan!

Duration: 3 hours

Languages Offered: English

Price: $100.00

Group Size: N/A

Why we like it: We can’t deny delicious food mixed with rich, living history. It’s an active market where Michelin Star chefs come to shop and there are tons of unique cooking shops and food stores to check out. And you get to try authentic Japanese food that could not be more fresh. A unique experience worth the time.

The Nightlife Osaka Food Tour starting in Dotonburi

The Nightlife Osaka Food Tour starting in Dotonburi

Osaka is a foodie paradise. Many of Japan’s most beloved and unique foods originated in Osaka, including okonomiyaki and takoyaki. It’s also got a bustling and fun nightlife with tons of unique, atmospheric locations and restaurants. Don’t miss out on the food scene in Japan’s second-largest city.

What you’ll do: Learn about Dotonburi and its famous icons, then head to the side streets for a taste of real Osaka. Sample Osaka’s foods and local favorite locations and food stalls travelers rarely visit. After getting a taste of yakitori, kushikatsu, and takoyaki (to name a few) head to a maze of unique bars and finish your adventure in an Izakaya (Japanese-style pub) for more food and sake tasting.

Duration: 3 hours.

Languages Offered: English

Price: ¥24,200for13 years old and above ($164.39 based on the exchange rate to date). 0-2 years old – free. Children 3-12 – 50% off.

Group Size: Minimum of 2.

Why we like it: If you are headed to Osaka, I’m immediately jealous! The food can’t be overhyped. But it’s essential to get away from the overpriced and muddied tourist traps in Japan. This tour will take you to locations where Japanese people actually go out to eat while not skimping on the all-important sightseeing and Instagrammable locations. Even more, it is a night tour that is also family-friendly! It’s a win for everyone.

Gion and Kaiseki Kyoto Tour – Evening (Food emphasis)

Gion and Kaiseki Kyoto Tour - Evening (Food emphasis)

Within the ancient streets, buildings, and temples that create the magical ambiance of the big city is Gion. The Edo period-style wooden arching bridges, traditional buildings, mazes of tea shops, and active Geisha draw onlookers and explorers. And it’s bursting with delicious food.

What you’ll do: Kyoto, especially the Gion district, is known for the multi-course meal called Kaiseki which will be a highlight for any foodie’s Japan trip. Explore Gion guided by a knowledgeable guide who will clue you into Gion’s importance to Japan. Sample some local foods. Then head to an extravagant meal at one of Gions’ local eateries.

Duration: 3 hours

Languages Offered: English

Price: ¥29,500 (about $200 USD based on current exchange rate)

Group Size: Minimum of 2

Why we like it: We love Kaiseki. On the pricey side, the meal is often reserved for special events in Japan. The luxurious 10-course meal will have you feeling like an emperor. Plus, Gion is not to be missed, and a tour that explains the cultural significance of the area to Japan is the perfect appetizer for Kyoto’s most famous meal.

What are the Best Unique Experiences in Japan?

Not all Japan tours are walking and seeing. The next tours on this list will ensure you get into the action and try something you’ve never done before.

Go Kart Mario Style in Akihabara, Tokyo

Mario Kart Tour in Akihabara, Tokyo

Image courtesy of Klook.com

Visit Japan and see it like Mario! Take to the streets of the famous Akihabara, the neon light, pop culture, and anime exploding district of Tokyo, dressed in full costume and character. Akihabara is home to the whacky and fun. It’s a must-stop for any visit to Japan or Tokyo.

What you’ll do: Rent a go-kart and drive the streets as a group in Tokyo among the soaring skyscrapers. You’ll pass by a haze of interesting stores, allowing you to get the feel for Akihabara on the drive. Getting around in a go-kart and costume, people on the street will greet you and take pictures.

Duration: 1-2 hours

Languages Offered: English

Price: $59.79

Group Size: N/A

Why we like it: Tokyo is a lot of fun, but it’s massive! This is a chance to see lots of the places quickly while getting a little exhilaration from the thrall of driving a go-kart. With tons of iconic locations to take pictures on your way, you’ll be sure to have lasting memories from your Japan trip.

Ramen Cooking Class at Ramen Factory in Kyoto, Japan

Ramen Cooking Class at Ramen Factory in Kyoto, Japan

Japanese ramen is a must-try while in the country. The pros know what they are doing. Hand-made noodles, broth on simmer for days, and fresh ingredients will blow your socks off. And now, you can try your hand at the dish in gorgeous, historical Kyoto.

What you’ll do: Make ramen! Make the noodles yourself, prep the broth, and add your toppings. Get guided help from the experts as you prep your own lunch. Then sit back and enjoy your freshly prepared food.

Duration: 1.5 hours

Languages Offered: English, Japanese

Price: $115

Group Size: N/A

Why we like it: This is great not only for the chefs but for those who want to get hands-on. Perfect for couples or families traveling looking to try something new and even pick up a new skill. And you can’t go wrong with a delicious bowl of ramen in Japan.

Traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony wearing a Kimono in Kyoto Maikoya

Traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony wearing a Kimono in Kyoto Maikoya

Tea ceremonies in Japan are both ritualistic and delicious. Culturally important, getting involved in a tea ceremony is a great way to experience traditional Japan while relaxing. Even better if you can wear a kimono or yukata during the traditional Japanese tea ceremony for full immersion.

What you’ll do: Change into a yukata or kimono then head to a tatami room for a traditional Japanese tea ceremony. A guide will lead you through the process of tasting hand-stirred matcha (green tea powder) teas while you learn about Japan.

Duration: 1.5 hours

Languages Offered: English

Price: $58.97

Group Size: Limit 8 people

Why we like it: There are some traditions in Japan best experienced in Kyoto. Kyoto is famous for its history and traditions passed down from centuries ago, and is full of traditional tea shops. More than drinking green tea, it’s an immersive experience with rituals and a rich history that is also a lot of fun. This is definitely both a top cultural and overall trip experience we highly recommend.

Lunch or Dinner with Maiko Experience in Kyoto

Lunch or Dinner with Maiko Experience in Kyoto

Maiko are the Geisha in training. Highly skilled entertainers, you will definitely enjoy this famous slice of Japanese culture firsthand.

What you’ll do: Dinner and a show! Watch maiko show off their skills while you chow down on some Japanese dishes. After, take photos with the entertainers.

Duration: 1.5 hours

Languages Offered: English

Price: $10.15

Group Size: N/A

Why we like it: I admit this one’s a bit touristy, but it’s still a great way to experience traditional culture. The Geisha and maiko performances are fun and unique and take years to master. Definitely check this out if you have an interest in geisha and maiko!

Summary

We are excited about your trip to Japan! From Tokyo to Hiroshima, you are definitely in for the experience of a lifetime. There is so much to see and do, it’s easy to get lost in the options or wonder if you are missing out. With this list, you’ll get the best Japan has to offer, and we are sure you’ll be back for more in no time.

Jonathan Mcnamara

Jonathan is a veteran of the Japan and Korean expat life. He lived in Japan and Korea for almost 10 years, and speaks Korean and Japanese. A blogger, a writer, website maker who's had his share of relationships while living abroad, he's now turned his attention to helping others navigate traveling, living, working, and relationships in Japan.

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