Shoguns and Samurai
A small-group guided cultural tour exploring the highlights of central Japan

Central Japan is a region of tall mountain ranges and fast-flowing rivers. It was not until recently that roads reached the remoter villages, and today many remain remarkably well-preserved, and evocative of centuries past. Our journey takes us through Japanese history from modern Tokyo, known as Edo during Japan’s period of rule by the Shoguns, to end near Kyoto, Japan’s capital for 400 years and the repository of much of the country’s cultural heritage. From Tokyo we head first to Yudanaka Onsen hot spring where the famous “snow monkeys” come to enjoy the natural hot spring baths just like humans. In feudal times people travelling from Kyoto to Tokyo would use the Nakasendo way – the road through the central mountains – one of a network of ancient highways. We will visit one of the best preserved sections in the Kiso Valley, where the lovely villages of Tsumago and Magome have been immaculately restored.


This trip can be customized for 2 or more travelers as to fit your own schedule.  Alternatively join an existing small group of other travelers! With a small group, a Tour Manager will accompany the group for the duration of the trip. The small group program not only lower the cost (compared to a customized program), but also provides opportunities to make some new friends.


  • Explore Tokyo on a guided walking tour and visit Nihombashi - the 'centre of Japan'

  • Stay at a hot-spring ryokan, bathe in natural thermal waters and see the snow monkeys of Yudanaka Onsen

  • See the exquisitely-preserved villages of Tsumago and Magome

  • Visit a sake brewery in Obuse and search for handicrafts in the lovely city of Takayama

  • Visit the old imperial capitals of Kyoto and Nara

  • Stay in monastery lodgings in the temple town of Mount Koya

What's included

  • Full-time services of an English-speaking tour guide

  • 13 nights in hotels and Japanese-style inns (Ryokan, Minshuku and Shukubo)

  • Daily breakfast & 8 dinners

  • All transportation between tour locations

  • Entrance to museums, temples, and other sights on the group's itinerary

  • Forwarding of one item of luggage on 3 occasions


What’s Not Included

  • Flights

  • Airport transfers

  • Pay locally for drinks with meals and for lunches

  • Entrance fees to museums, temples etc. not mentioned in the itinerary

  • A single room supplement is required for solo travellers at hotels