Tokyo blends the ancient and the futuristic, a juxtaposition that captivates wanderers from every corner of the earth. As you wander its streets, you’ll be enticed by the rich tapestry of long-standing traditions that beckon at every turn—the serene shrines, the grandeur of sumo wrestlers, or the samurai’s sword. Yet, it’s essential to immerse rather than merely check off a list.
Simultaneously, Tokyo’s futuristic allure is nothing short of mesmerizing. Japan, a cradle of technological marvels like the compact disc or the bullet train, presents Tokyo as a city that seemingly leaps out of a sci-fi narrative. Amidst the towering skyscrapers, the city pulsates with LED animations that dance across the skyline. The blend of the old with the new promises a Bachelor-worthy adventure as enriching as it is exhilarating.
Day 1: Welcome to Japan
Day 1 – Arrive Tokyo
Your epic adventure begins today when you arrive in Tokyo, Japan’s vibrant capital and city where it all happens.
After clearing arrival formalities, you are met in the Arrivals Hall and transferred to your hotel in the heart of Tokyo’s busy financial center.
Day 2: Shinjuku by Night
Evening in Shinjuku
- Late afternoon, meet your guide at the hotel and transfer to Shinjuku (approximately 40 minutes away).
- Upon arrival, begin your evening in Kabuki Cho, often touted as the world’s safest red light district, where you can explore various snack stalls and local pubs that add vibrancy to the district’s nightlife.
- Following your food exploration, take a 10-minute walk to the sacred Hanazono Shrine, a revered 17th-century Shinto Shrine.
- Round off your evening with a stroll through Golden-gai, stopping to sample some of the savory snacks that make this area a popular nighttime escape in Tokyo.
*The phrase “red light district” often carries a negative connotation but in the case of Kabuki Cho, it’s quite the contrary. Reviews and articles describe Kabuki Cho as the safest and cleanest red light district in the world, characterized by its neon-lit environment and a range of entertainment options besides its adult-oriented establishments. Despite being known for its nightlife and adult entertainment, the district is recognized for maintaining a level of cleanliness and safety not commonly associated with red-light districts, making it a unique and intriguing destination for visitors.
Day 3: The Way of The Sword
Samurai Sword-Making Experience
This is a unique “hands-on” experience in the ancient art of bladesmithing or crafting a Samurai sword. Led by one of only a few remaining master Japanese craftsmen, learn how these magnificent pieces are created.
Meet your guide and transfer to the swordmasters workshop (note this is a 90-minute drive, and lunch will be served en route to the workshop).
Arrive at the Bladesmith’s workshop and commence your class instruction in making a traditional samurai sword.
The class will begin with a short briefing on the history and tradition of sword making, followed by a detailed overview of the hand-crafted art of forging the sword. This includes the welding, forging “Tamaagane” (purse sand used in the production of the sword), and the hammering of the blade. You can take turns crafting a sword and learning the art of Japanese metalworking.
Leave the Bladesmiths and return to your hotel.
Day 4: Sumo Walk Through Time
Private Guided Tour of Tokyo By a Retired Sumo Champion
What might seem like an impenetrable sport is uniquely Japanese. Sumo is sacred and deeply tied to Japanese tradition, offering a mirror to the past and the rich, and is a beautiful form of cultural expression.
Guided by a retired sumo champion, this delightfully offbeat tour opens the door to the world of sumo and historic Tokyo. Starting in Ryogoku Kokugikan National Sumo Arena, the heart of Tokyo’s sumo culture, you join your gentle giant sumo resource for a walk through the Ryogoku and Asakusa Districts, two of the most historic areas of Tokyo.
With sumo as a metaphor for the history of these districts, your guide recreates through anecdotal examples the rich traditions of life for the sumo.
You’ll explore iconic sights, including the Ryogoku Kokugikan, the Sumo Store, Senso-ji Temple, the Nakamise shopping arcade, and Kaminarimon (“the Thunder Gate”).
Day 5: The Art of Anime, Manga, And More
This morning, you’ll meet your private guide in the hotel lobby and set off for a day of animated adventure that will include:
The Ghibli Museum
Co-founded by the celebrated film director Hayao Miyazaki (My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, and Ponyo), the Ghibli Museum is a wonderland of all things animated. The sign welcoming visitors says it best, “leave the adult behind and become a child again.”
Suginami Animation Museum
Located in the Tokyo Polytechnic University, this is a comprehensive exhibition of anime through the ages, from the first animation introduction to Japan in the early 20th century to its evolution into a distinctive Japanese art form by the 1970s.
Pokémon Center in Ikebukuro
Riding the wave of international Pokémon mania, the Pokémon Center is the world’s largest retail outlet featuring all-things-Pokémon.
Your anime adventure will end with a visit to Akihabara, once noted for its many electronic stores but today, since the late 1990s, it is now the otaku (die-hard fan) center for all aspects of anime and manga culture.
Following your tour of Akihabara, your guide will transfer you back to your hotel.
Day 6: Wheeling Your Way Through Tokyo
Forget the bus, get out of the car, and by no means take the subway – experience Tokyo by bicycle, a seemingly unusual way to explore one of the world’s largest megalopolises. But once on your bike and pedaling through the city’s many varied neighborhoods, you will experience Tokyo in a truly unique way.
You will transfer to Chuo-ku, Tokyo, where you choose your bicycle and try it before setting off. Once ready and under the supervision of your cycling guide, set off for your Tour de Tokyo, pedaling your way through some of the distinctive districts that make Tokyo so memorable:
Tsukishima (a traditional market area famed for its Monjayaki savory pancake) and Tsukiji Outer Market, the largest seafood market in the world.
Ginza (Tokyo’s chic shopping district – the city’s “Fifth Avenue”)
Shinbashi Station (Japan’s oldest railway station)
Azabu Juban Village (eclectic, eccentric, and exciting – where trendy meets traditional)
Roppongi, Aoyama, and Harajuku & Omotesando (iconic architecture and fashion-forward for today’s Tokyo)
Yoyogi Park (site of the 1964 Olympic Village – weather permitting, enjoy a picnic lunch)
The New National Stadium (site of the 2020 Opening Ceremonies)
Meiji Jingu Shrine (Tokyo’s revered Shinto Shrine set within a verdant forest park)
Yoyogi National Stadium (Tange Kenzo’s stunning design for the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games)
Jingu Gaien Mall (the beautiful Gingko lined Avenue)
Akasaka Palace (the magnificent State Guest House)
Parliament House (the site of the National Diet)
Imperial Palace Grounds (The Iconic Nijubashi Bridge and the moat)
Tokyo Station + KITTE (Marunouchi Minami Exit side)
Day 7: Departure Home
Private luxury transfer back to the Toyko airport for your return departure.