Along with our friends at Context Travel, we are offering numerous tours around Japan; a lively city that honors its history and embraces the future. We offer tours in Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, and Hiroshima. To book your next Japan adventure, email firstname.lastname@example.org .
Introduction to Tokyo: Aesthetics and Architecture - 3 hours
This three-hour tour is designed to provide a perfect introduction to Tokyo for first timers, or to reorient returning travelers to the aesthetics of the Japanese capital. We will begin our tour in Meiji Jingu, the perfect starting point because of the time period it represents, and as an example of traditional Japanese design. Join a local architect or design writer to explore the districts of Harajuku, Omotesando, and Roppongi, looking not only at buildings and architectural design, but also at the underlying aesthetic principles that inform Japanese design. Through our examination, we'll develop a more nuanced appreciation of Japanese art, architecture, and culture as a whole.
Tokyo in a Day - 8 hours
One can easily spend days unpacking Tokyo. Unfortunately, time is not always on our side when traveling. With this in mind, we have two thematic itineraries to help discover this dazzling metropolis. Tokyo embraces the future while honoring its past, maintaining both an electric feel and a natural beauty. Both of these day options allow for a deep plunge into the history, culture, gastronomy, and aesthetic of Tokyo.
The first itinerary includes visiting “Old” Tokyo. It starts with a short Tokyo briefing at hotel at 9 am, before visiting Yanesen, Ueno Park, Asakusa and Senso-ji temple.
The second itinerary includes visiting “New” Tokyo. It starts with a briefing at a hotel at a more relaxed hour of 10:30 am, before visiting Akihabara, Ginza, Omotesando, and Harajuku before finishing in Shibuya.
At the end of the energetic day (option A or option B), we will emerge with a deeper understanding of what life is like in this dynamic city. From sleek skyscrapers to tumbledown bars to Shinto temples, we'll have touched on a lot. We’ll have ventured across the city to sites relevant to the fabric of everyday life in Tokyo. Hopefully, we will leave one another with a better grasp of the geography of the city in order to tackle the sites we missed during the remainder of our stay.
Otaku: From Geek to Chic - 3 hours
On this 3-hour Akihabara Tour, we will explore the Tokyo's hub for otaku, providing an intimate look at one of Japan’s most misunderstood subcultures. Otaku is a term for devoted enthusiasts, most often of manga (comic books) and anime (cartoons): cultural products that are now seen as an inescapable part of life in contemporary Japan. The fandom surrounding manga and anime has become an international phenomenon with otaku today being associated with “cool” Japan. Together, we'll peel back the layers of Japanese culture, developing a richer understanding of the origins of otaku and placing the phenomenon in the greater context of Japanese society. Today, Akihabara is celebrated for its arcades and anime related goods. It was a different story after WW2, when the neighborhood was the place to go for electrical appliances, particularly radios. Small retailers crammed in under the railway lines to sell their products, often at cut-rate prices on the black market.
Tokyo Evening Sake Tasting Experience - 2 hours
Explore the world of Japanese sake with a local expert on this 2-hour Tokyo sake-tasting experience. During our time together, we will visit an off-the-beaten-path neighborhood of Tokyo, frequented mainly by locals, and learn about the most important aspects of the sake production process, including brewing techniques, current trends, and tasting techniques, while gaining a greater appreciation for this celebrated beverage. Regardless of our level of sake knowledge, we will find this walk both informative and fun.
Tokyo Food Tour: Old Tsukiji Outer Market - 3 hours
Immerse yourself in Tokyo's world-famous Tsukiji Market on this 3-hour Tokyo Food Tour, led by a local expert deeply knowledgeable about the market. Together, we'll visit the outer market and look at how Japan’s cuisine is heavily influenced by the seasons and geography, the central role that seafood plays in the Japanese diet, and—of course—taste some amazing Tsukiji sushi.
From Play to Pray: Asakusa Tour - 2 hours
During this two-hour Asakusa tour, we'll join a local historian and Tokyo expert to explore this exciting neighborhood sitting in the "low" area of the city, away from Tokyo’s flashy lights and business centers. Also known as the Geisha district, the Asakusa area was well established before the Tokugawa Shogunate began to rule from Edo—what later became Tokyo—in 1603. We will discuss this national narrative as we walk through this area that still hints at some of the character of old Japan. We'll explore the role of Asakusa as a sleepy fishing village turned Geisha district, and look at larger themes of pleasure and entertainment in the history of Tokyo, all the while getting a great feel for the atmosphere and culture of this popular area of Tokyo.
Tokyo After Dark: Night Food Tour - 3 hours
Tokyo’s food scene needs no introduction. While the incredible array of epicurean delights—from world famous sushi shops to ramen spots hidden in basements—is well documented, navigating this sprawling labyrinth of a city can be difficult even for intrepid travelers. Amazing food abounds, but is often tucked away in alleys, unassuming buildings, or train stations. In this 3-hour Tokyo Night Tour, led by a local chef or food expert, we will trek through the neon drenched, perennially buzzing streets of Shibuya and visit some of the area’s most authentic eateries, sampling their tasty plates and acquiring insider tips on the unique culinary culture of Tokyo.
Tokyo Tour for Kids: World of Pop Culture - 2 hours
Growing up in a city like Tokyo, with its electric lights, buzzing arcades and lively otaku culture might be very different from what most children are used to. Is life here really like it is in animes? What would it be like to go to school in Japan? In this two-hour Tokyo for Kids Tour, we’ll try our best to explain what it is like to be a child here today by exploring the world of anime (cartoons), arcades, manga (comic books), and themed cafes.
Tokyo Day Trip: Kamakura Tour - 4.5 hours
The perks and efficiency of Japanese rail transport allows for a range of accessible, deeply engaging day trips from Tokyo. An hour by train from the crush of Tokyo Station is the charming town of Kamakura, home to one of Japan’s most widely recognized religious icons—the 13.35-meter-tall Great Buddha of Kamakura. In this half-day Kamakura Tour, we’ll visit this massive bronze structure as well as some of Kamakura’s other important temples and shrines, such as Engaku-ji and Hase Temple. Depending on the weather, we’ll walk within Kamakura, or alternatively take the local electric railway part of the way there.
Tokyo National Museum Tour - 2 hours
This two-hour tour of Tokyo's National Museum, led by a Japanese art expert or historian, provides a deep dive into Japanese culture and history. Located in the beautiful Ueno Park, the 1872 National Museum houses one of the largest and most impressive collections of objects, sculptures, and paintings related to Asian art and archeology, with a particular focus on Japan. From samurai swords to kimonos, this fine collection tells the story of the history of Japan through its art. Together, we'll explore and discuss a number of the national treasures, touching on some of the 110,000 individual items dating from the earliest years of civilization on the Japanese islands, all the way through to the Edo period and modern day.
Tokyo Briefing: Coffee and Stroll - 2 hours
Our personalized Welcome to Tokyo tour, led by a Context guide and local expert, is an ideal start to help you plan your Tokyo itinerary. The introduction is designed to answer both practical questions about the city, such as how to navigate the subway or how to visit a temple, as well as giving insight into the basics of this overwhelming city's history, politics, and daily life.
Custom and Multi-Day Tour of Tokyo - 1-6 days
Unsure of what to do in Tokyo? We can work with you to create a custom tour to suit your interests, from art to architecture, food to photography. In a half-day or full-day, we can design the perfect walk for your trip, drawing on our network of expert Tokyo tour guides. Here are some example itineraries:
Tokyo Custom Tour:
For those unsure of exactly what they want, we have a few sample itineraries to stimulate your imagination. For instance, we could explore Old Tokyo and Ueno Park while discussing the role of a green public space in a dense city like Tokyo, and how Tokyoites lived in past decades. Alternatively, we could create a layover tour, getting you outside the airport and immersed in the impressive architecture and consumption culture of Tokyo, followed by an authentic meal with your guide.
Have something in mind?
If you have a specific idea, or theme in mind, please consider the following questions, and we’ll work together to plan a customized itinerary. Just choose your preferred date, and mention your ideas in the notes section. We’ll then be in touch to review your ideas and finalize an itinerary. We only charge once all details have been confirmed.
How many hours would you like the walk to be?
What are your main goals?
Which sites and venues would you like to prioritize? Do you want to just pass by or explore inside as well?
An old saying states that the Japanese are born Shinto, but die Buddhist. While not completely accurate, the phrase gives insight into the mingling and synchronicity of religions that permeate Japanese culture. During this three-hour Kyoto Temple Tour we'll explore the Gion District of Kyoto and visit several key Shinto and Buddhist temples with an expert in Japanese history and religion. Along the way, we'll learn about the history, traditions, and rituals of both Shintoism, the native spiritual belief of Japan, and Buddhism, which was imported from China and Central Asia.
Gion Night Tour: Exploring the Geisha District - 2 hours
On this 2-hour tour of Kyoto at night we'll dive into the deeply traditional Gion District which serves as both the historic home and beating heart of Geisha Japan. In the company of a local Kyoto resident and expert on Japan, we'll see the area alive and bustling after dark. This Kyoto Geisha Tour of Gion is fantastic for exploring traditional daily life in Kyoto; from the historic housing structures, shrines, and temples, to the role of geishas and kabuki in Japan's cultural history.
Kyoto would not be complete without exploring the heart of Kyoto's gourmet world: Nishiki Market. In this 3-hour Kyoto Food Tour we'll explore the market and learn about traditional Japanese food, or washoku, which has recently been placed on UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage list. As we explore washoku in Kyoto we'll challenge our taste buds and learn its ins and outs by taking in the sights and smells of this alleyway market, moving beyond typical Japanese fare to better understand this varied, nuanced cuisine.
Custom and Multi Day Tour: 1-6 days
Unsure of what to do in Kyoto? Context can work with our local experts to help create a highly customized Kyoto private tour to suit your interests. Drawing on our network of Kyoto tour guides and range of other services, the limits of our Kyoto tours are circumscribed only by the bounds of our collective imagination. In a half day or full day, we can design the perfect walk to fit your trip. Here are some example itineraries:
Those looking for some inspiration, we have a few sample itineraries. For instance, we could delve into Arashiyama: Tenryuji temple and gardens, Bamboo Forest, and Okochi Sanso Village; amble along the Philsopher's Path with visits to Ginkakuji (Silver Pavilion), Eikando, and Nanzenji; discover Fushimi Inari Shrine and Tofukuji temple along with a sake factory; or discover the Shinto gods, teahouses and tea with a visit to Imamiya Shrine and Daitoku-ji, before ending up at an important Kyoto teahouse. If you have a specific idea, or theme in mind, please consider the following questions, and we’ll work together to plan a customized itinerary.
How many hours would you like the walk to be?.
What are your main goals?
Which sites and venues would you like to prioritize? Do you want to just pass by or explore inside as well?
Describe your group.We ask that you spend some time perusing our lists of private and small-group tours. Very often, clients are interested in the following themes and tours:
Beyond Zen: Kyoto Garden Tour -3 hours
Garden and landscape design is an art form that has helped define the aesthetics of Japan for centuries. By knowingly shaping their gardens, both emperors and nobles have recreated miniature landscapes with a level of precision and idealization that has made garden design a staple of Japanese culture. With its high ratio of well-preserved temples, Kyoto has always been the perfect environment for seeing a wide variety of garden styles. During our three hour walking tour we will focus on garden design during the Muromachi period, which saw a flourishing of Japanese culture, including the creation of Zen Buddhism.
Arashiyama Tour: 4 hours
The Heian period is for the Japanese like the Ancient Greek and Roman eras are for Europeans. Many of the foundational ideas, beliefs, and customs, as well as defining paintings, poetry, and works of literature were developed during that period, leading some to consider the Heian period as having been the primary period of development for Japanese culture. Not coincidentally, Heian is also a former name for Kyoto, which was at the center of this profound period of development. On our Arashiyama Tour we travel back in time to this integral period of growth on an excursion to the quiet enclave of Arashiyama on the outskirts of Kyoto, visiting villas, temples, and unspoiled forests to unearth how Japanese identity came about during this fertile period.
Kyoto in a Day: 8 hours
One can easily spend days discovering Kyoto. Unfortunately, time is not always on our side when traveling. We’ve carefully crafted two itineraires that allow for an enchanting look at Shinto shrines, Buddhist temples, Japanese gardens, local gastronomic delights and UNESCO World Heritage sites. In the company of a local expert, we'll spend 8 hours unpicking the cultural and historical heart of Japan. Much of our day will be on foot, but in between sites we'll travel either via taxi or an optional chauffeured-car service.
Journey to Tranquility: Nara Day Trip- 5.5 hours
Just a short train ride from Kyoto lies quaint Naramachi, or Nara, home to Japan's largest bronze Buddha and famous for its wild deer. In this Nara Tour, a day trip from Kyoto, we'll join a local guide for a tour of Nara, visiting key temples such as Todai-ji, Kasuga Shrine, and Kofuku-ji and learning about the Nara period in Japanese history. Of course, we'll also drop in on the deer, famous for their comfort around humans—we may even walk up and feed a few.
Introduction to Kyoto: The Story of Kyoto- 3 hours
Once the Imperial capital of Japan, the city of Kyoto still stands as the heart of Japan. On this 3-hour Introduction to Kyoto tour, we will discover the story of the emperors and the shoguns as we visit important sites such as the Imperial Palace (known as ‘Gosho’) and Nijo Castle. We will get an understanding of Kyoto’s biography and dig through the deep layers of history and traditional culture that overlap in this fascinating city.
Discover Kyoto’s secrets and rich history
See historic sites like the Imperial Palace and Nijo Castle
Kyoto Walking Tour led by a historian
Full Day Hiroshima Excursion from Kyoto- 8 hours
Hiroshima will forever be scarred by the atomic blast it suffered at the end of World War II, making it a necessary place to visit to understand the incomprehensible degree of destruction wrought during the war. It is also, however, a lively city with a stellar food scene, excellent museums, and plenty of festivals. On this Full-Day Hiroshima Excursion from Kyoto, we’re joined by a local historian who will help us grapple with the destruction this city faced, as well as how it was rebuilt to become the thriving hub it is today. We’ll visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Museum and the Atomic Bomb Dome before grabbing a quick lunch and heading to Miyajima Island, known for its shrine, torii gate, and stunning views. This tour digs into the contrasts that define Japan—war and peace, urban development and serene nature, providing a fully fleshed out idea of what life is like in this important city.
Kyoto Tour for Kids: World of Samurai - 2 hours
We've designed this tour of ancient samurai culture specific for kids visiting Kyoto. Led by a guide trained to work with children and who comes equipped with activities and games, we'll step back through history to learn about the teachings of the samurai and the culture, history, and spirit of these ancient warriors. Along the way, we'll gain a deeper appreciation for the practices of Buddhism, the beauty of Japanese gardens, and the stunning Nijo Castle.
Secret Paths of Fushimi Inari - 3.5 hours
Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine is the central headquarters for over 40,000 Inari shrines throughout Japan. Originally dedicated to the god of rice (‘Inari’), the deity of this interesting shrine is enrolled to foster business prosperity with the agricultural decline and boasts the largest number of worshippers in Japan. While this intriguing shrine remains a popular attraction for visitors, there's much more to this iconic place than the shrine itself. This 3.5-hour Hidden Fushimi Inari Tour, led by a historian, follows mountain pilgrimage (‘Oyama Meguri’). Following this path, we will discover hidden altars, waterfalls, and sub-shrines of Mt. Inari without the crush of crowds and learn how the deities believed to be living in the mountain are worshipped. While exploring this path, we will also untangle the secret story of one of Japan’s most celebrated shinto deities, Inari.
Philosopher’s Path Tour - 3 hours
The centrality of nature has long been part of Japanese culture. Japanese traditional customs and Buddhist aesthetics suggest that there is no fundamental difference between nature and humankind; in fact, nature is what represents the core background of human existence. During this three-hour Philosopher's Path Tour, we will join a local historian for a nature-inspired stroll along Philosopher’s Path, following the course of the canal while visiting some of Kyoto’s most important temples and exploring the Japanese’ philosophical commitment to nature.
Kyoto Briefing: Coffee and Stroll with a Local Expert- 2 hours
Our personalized Welcome to Kyoto tour, led by a Context docent and local expert, is an ideal start to help you plan your Kyoto itinerary. The introduction is designed to answer both practical questions about the city, such as how to navigate the subway or how to visit a temple, as well as giving insight into the basics of its history, politics, and daily life.
The Way of Tea - 2.5 hours
The Japanese tea ceremony is steeped in history and tradition, serving as one of the best manifestations of Japan's rich culture. During this 2.5-hour Kyoto Tea Ceremony with a tea master we will learn about both the intricacies of the ceremony and the role that tea plays in Japanese culture. We'll also taste some excellent tea along with wagashi, traditional Japanese sweets meant to enhance the flavor of the tea, deepening our appreciation for both the nuanced flavors and rich traditions of tea in Japan
Introduction to Osaka: The Story of Osaka - 3 hours
Discover Osaka on our 3-hour introductory tour with a local expert or East Asian scholar. Designed to provide a perfect introduction to Osaka for first timers or reorient returning travelers to the history and culture of this vibrant city, this tour will explore Osaka’s growth from an early mercantile center to a bustling economic Asian powerhouse.
Savoring Osaka Food Tour - 3 hours
You’d feel cheated visiting Osaka and not tasting your way through its vibrant gastronomic scene. On this 3-hour Osaka Food tour, we’ll visit three main areas which will help us deepen our knowledge of food in the Kansai region and aliven our taste buds, to both traditional and contemporary Osaka food. Designed for enthusiasts wanting a deep dive into Osakan specialties as well as those looking for a primer on Japanese cuisine, our tour will include plenty of food, entwined with a historic and cultural narrative.
Custom and Multi Day Tour of Osaka - 4 hours
Need help planning a trip to Osaka? We can work with you to create a custom tour to suit your interests, from from an excursion to an alternative food tour, drawing on our network of expert Osaka tour guides. From a half day to a full-day or longer, our planning specialists have your trip covered.
Hiroshima in a Day- 8 hours
We’ve carefully crafted an itinerary that allows for a look at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Museum, the Atomic Bomb Dome, and Miyajima Island and a deeper understanding of the destruction this city faced, as well as how it was rebuilt to become the thriving hub it is today. This tour digs into the contrasts that define Japan—war and peace, urban development and serene nature—providing a fully fleshed out idea of what life is like in this important city.