Day 0 – travel day, arrive Tokyo Narita airport, redeem JR Pass and take Shinkansen to Kyoto for 5 night stay at Westin Miyako Hotel (the best customer service I’ve ever experienced was at this hotel).
Day 1 – Cycle Kyoto 30km full city tour. Great way to get familiar with Kyoto and all the key sites including Golden Pavilion and Fushimi Inari Shrine.
Day 2 – JR Pass day trip to Nara. Nara Walk full day walking tour – morning to the shrines/temples/parks including Todaji temple and Deer Park. Then afternoon for old town stroll, house museum and sake tasting.
Day 3 – JR Pass day trip to Osaka. All star Osaka 3 hour walking tour for city highlights, then Osaka Castle, next to Spa World onsen/sauna amazing experience for about 3 hours and finally street food dinner on Dontonbori before returning back to Kyoto hotel.
Day 4 – JR Pass day trip to Miyajima and Hiroshima. 2 hour Shinkansen to Hiroshima, then tram and ferry to Miyajima – all of these are covered by JR Pass. Explore the shrine, town, deer and floating torri gates at Miyajima. Return to Hiroshima to explore museum and memorials.
Day 5 – Kyoto to Arashiyama to explore Bamboo Forest, Tenryuji and Monkey Park, then formal tea ceremony at Koto near Golden Pavilion. JR Pass in the late afternoon to Tokyo for next hotel Grand Prince New Takanawa (next to Shinagawa station) for next 6 nights.
Day 6 – Tokyo – Ueno Park, Tokyo National Museum, Shitamachi Museum (free English guided tour) and Asakusa with Sensoji Temple.
Day 7 – Tokyo – FooDrink Tsukiji Market morning 4 hour tour of inner and outer markets followed by amazing sushi lunch in Ginza area nearby. Explore Ginza with Matsuya, Kit Kat store and the Sony Showroom. Tokyo Tower at night.
Day 8 – Tokyo – Yoyogi Park cherry blossom viewing over breakfast picnic. Meiji Shrine. Harujuku area and then Shibuya for lunch at Genki Sushi and shopping at Tokyu Hands.
Day 9 – Tokyo – Cooking Sun 9 course cooking class with Wagyu steak and much more. Shinjuku Goyen Park for amazing cherry blossoms everywhere. Explore Shinjuku including Tokyo Metro Govt Bldg where the 2020 Olympic HQ displays the torch, flags and info on upcoming games. Night time lit up sakura in Roppongi Hills (near Ritz Carlton hotel) followed by Roppongi Kaguwa show.
Day 10 – Tokyo – Odaiba area to spend the day at Tokyo Onsen Monogatari for a great way to relax at the end of a trip where we averaged 20k steps per day.
Day 11 – Tokyo – Edo-Tokyo Museum (free English speaking guided tour). Narita Express to start journey to return home.