Three cyclists pausing for a photograph outside shrine

Mountains & Culture Family Activity Holiday

Trip code

Family holidays are always a fine balancing act of different wants, needs and interests, but Japan has everything you need to get it spot-on.

Covering everything from Ghibli theme parks and samurai castles to noodle making, taiko drumming and sword fighting — with plenty of chances to relax in between — we like to think of this itinerary as Ferris Bueller’s two weeks off: Japan edition.


Price based on 3* accommodation, transport & experiences
per family
Let us help plan your holiday and make it perfect for you

Key facts

13 days / 12 nights
Enjoy expert guided tours of Tokyo and Kyoto
Get active with a cycling tour of the Hida countryside, tatedo sword fighting in Osaka, and taiko drumming in Kyoto
Get messy with a soba noodle-making class in Matsumoto
Lose yourself in the wonderful world of Japanese animation at the Studio Ghibli Musem

Transport in detail

All transfers are by public transport (limited express train, bus and Shinkansen bullet train) unless otherwise specified. If you’d prefer to travel a different way, there are lots of other options, including private transfers with a driver or self-drive car rental. Just let us know and we’ll tailor the trip to you.

What's great

This itinerary is packed with hands-on activities which introduce Japanese culture in a fun and exciting way

As well as some alternative activities, it covers some of the most iconic destinations in Japan, with plenty of opportunities for more traditional sightseeing

You’ll get to experience five very different Japanese cities as well as the beautiful scenery of the Japanese Alps

Sticking to well-known destinations means you can expect a great range of accommodation, food, transport and family-friendly activities at every stop

We love to include self-catered, apartment-style accommodation in the cities, so your family has a bit more space to spread out

If your kids are a bit choosy about food, don’t worry – even traditional Japanese inns will have child-friendly meals, including favourites like Japanese curry

Things to consider

Though you’ll have a day in the countryside outside Takayama, this is primarily a city-based itinerary

Though there’s a good variety of different destinations on this trip, you won’t be straying far from the beaten path

Some of the activities included on this itinerary may not be suitable for children under the age of six, or for those with limited mobility. Just chat to us if you’d like to tailor your activities accordingly.

The experience

Every family is different, and every trip should be too. Let us know what your family loves (or doesn’t) and we’ll design a holiday just for you.

Day 1-3


Tokyo is a paradise for families. It’s clean, safe, friendly, and nowhere in the world has more ways to spend an afternoon – quite literally. Our tip is to think of it as a collection of smaller towns: it’s much more manageable. To ease you in, we’ve included a half-day tour of the city with one of our resident Tokyoites, who’ll show you the ropes and tailor the day to your family. Old-fashioned Asakusa is a perennial favourite, with its bright red temple and myriad ice cream flavours, while Harajuku is the place to seek out crazy teen fashions or go wild in a 100 yen shop. For anime enthusiasts, a monorail ride across the bay to see Odaiba’s giant Gundam statue is a surefire winner.

Person walking past red gates at Asakusa Temple, Tokyo


Dive into the world of Totoro and other animated classics at the enchanting, interactive Studio Ghibli Museum

Get a bird’s-eye view from the top of the Tokyo Skytree, the tallest tower in the world at 634m (not included in the basic trip price)

Try your hand at the games in one of Akihabara’s giant amusement arcades — or just watch the Tokyo kids and see how it’s done

Waving lucky cat figures

Day 4


It’s time to leave the neon lights behind and journey into the mountains to Matsumoto, home of the famous “Black Crow” castle. One day is enough to tackle the main sights of this small city, which is known for its great art — from Yayoi Kusama’s eye-popping polka dots to one of the best woodblock print collections in the country. It’s also known for its spicy wasabi and delicious soba noodles, so have a go at making the latter with an included lesson. First, make the dough using buckwheat flour and spring water from the mountains. Then, roll it out with a rolling pin as long as your arm, cut it into long, thin noodles, cook, and slurp them down!

Colourful flower sculptures at Matsumoto Museum of Art


Climb the steep staircases and search for the hidden floor in Matsumoto Castle, one of just a few original samurai castles left in Japan

If you like, we can also arrange a trip to the Daio Wasabi Farm, where this tongue-tickling condiment is added to everything from ice cream to chocolate (not included in the basic trip price)

Learn how to make noodles with local soba master Takagi

Autumn leaves at Matsumoto castle

The finer detail

  • Breakfast on five mornings (not included at your apartment in Tokyo or your townhouse in Kyoto)
  • One evening meal at your traditional inn in Takayama
  • One lunch at your soba noodle-making class in Matsumoto
  • One full-day experience: Hida Satoyama rural cycling trip in the Takayama countryside
  • Three cultural experiences: noodle-making in Matsumoto, taiko drumming in Kyoto and tatedo sword fighting in Osaka
  • Tickets to the Studio Ghibli Museum
  • Two half-day private city tours: on in Tokyo; one in Kyoto
  • All accommodation
  • All domestic transfers and transport
  • Seven-day Japan Rail Pass
  • Manaca transport card with 2,500 yen credit for city transport
  • Pocket Wi-Fi device
  • Your personalised InsideJapan Tours Info-Pack, complete with transport recommendations and departure times so you don’t need to worry

Day 1: Subway and train transfer from Narita Airport to your hotel in Tokyo (80 min)

Day 4: Limited express train transfer from Tokyo to Matsumoto (2.5 hours)

Day 5: Bus transfer from Matsumoto to Takayama (2 hours 40 min)

Day 7: Limited express and bullet train transfer from Takayama to Kyoto (3.5 hours)

Day 10: Bullet train transfer from Kyoto to Osaka (15 min)

Day 12: Bullet train transfer from Osaka to Tokyo (2 hours 55 min)

Day 13: Limited express train transfer from Tokyo to Narita Airport (80 min)

  • International flights
  • Local transport (buses, subways, taxis) at any destination unless otherwise specified
  • Any lunches or dinners unless stated
  • Entrance fees to any sites not included in guided experiences
  • Tipping and personal expenses
  • Baggage handling