Every 4 years the world comes together for one common major event, the Summer (or Winter) Olympics. Next year, this monumental event is taking place in Tokyo. If you have not planned your trip yet, you may be out of luck.
I spoke with Kristen from the fabulous Japan tour operator InsideJapan recently about getting a room for the Olympics. She shared with me that most hotels in Tokyo during this time are on a 3-night minimum room block and the lowest cost is around $800 per night and you must book 3 nights.
If you would like to experience more of what Japan has to offer, InsideJapan has a wonderful suggested Summer Games itinerary for 13 days. InsideJapan offers fantastic customized itineraries for you to experience the very best from this beautiful country.
Use the harbor city of Yokohama as your base for a day trip into Tokyo with an expert guide
Welcome to Japan! A private car will be waiting to whisk you in comfort from Tokyo Narita or Haneda Airport to your hotel in downtown Yokohama, overlooking the bay. After spending the rest of the day at leisure you’ll be refreshed and ready on the following day for a trip to Tokyo, just 40-minutes away by public transport. There you can tick off the main sites, explore the backstreet neighborhoods, and get to grips with the vast (yet impressively prompt) transportation network with the help of a local English-speaking guide.
The next day will be at leisure and your included Info-Pack will have plenty of suggestions on how to spend the day, from delving into Yokohama’s international past in the Motomachi merchant district or making your own ramen at the Cup Noodle Museum.
Of course, if you have any sporting event tickets for the Summer Games, we can make time in your itinerary to accommodate this. The National Stadium and other sporting venues in Tokyo are just 40 minutes away by public transport making it an affordable and easy day trip.
Overnight: Vista Premio Yokohama Minato Mirai
See Mount Fuji views in Hakone National Park
A 40-minute express train will take you out of the city and into the lush scenery of Hakone National Park in the foothills of Mount Fuji. Armed with your Hakone Freepass you’ll have unlimited access to the smorgasbord of transport that links the dispersed areas of Hakone, allowing you to hop between first-rate museums and sightseeing spots with ease. The quirky pirate ship cruise across Lake Ashi offers the best chance of seeing Mount Fuji, but don’t be too disappointed if you don’t catch a glimpse through the summery haze – she’s a notoriously shy mountain!
In Hakone, you’ll be staying a traditional ryokan inn, where you’ll sleep on futon mattresses spread on fragrant tatami mat flooring, and dinner will be a delicious kaiseki multi-course meal. Hakone is famous for its bubbling hot springs, and your accommodation has private baths in each room; even in the height of summer, the pools are incredibly therapeutic.
Overnight: Ichinoyu Susukinohara
Discover Japan’s ancient capital, the ‘City of Ten Thousand Temples’
The sleek Shinkansen bullet train will transport you down the coast and then inland to Kyoto, which served as the imperial capital from the 8th to 19th centuries. As with all Japanese cities, Kyoto is an intriguing mix of tradition and modernity, with centuries’ old wooden temples tucked between contemporary shops and apartment blocks; you never know what awaits around each street corner.
We’ll arrange for a local private guide to show you the best that Kyoto has to offer, from the must-see vermillion torii gates of Fushimi Inari shrine wending their way through the cool forest, or the shady bamboo grove of Arashiyama, to lesser-known spots known only by the locals. In between temple hopping you can drop into tiny cafes for a refreshing iced matcha drink, or shaved ice doused with syrup and topped with green tea or rice cakes – perfect for beating the heat.
While in Kyoto you’ll have the chance to use your included Japan Rail Pass to take a day trip to a nearby city. The foodie hub of Osaka, known as ‘Japan’s Kitchen’, is a popular choice especially for its street food; or you might like a more laidback day in harbourside Kobe, famous for its beef. Nearby Nara with its historic temples and cheeky deer makes for a pleasant day trip too.
The following day will be at leisure, allowing you to explore Kyoto at your own pace. In the evening you’ll join one of our guides for a small group tour of the atmospheric Gion district where exquisitely dressed geisha dart between teahouses.
Overnight: The Royal Park Hotel Kyoto Sanjo
Bring your trip to a close with a final stay in Tokyo, complete with a night food tour of Shinjuku
Your last journey on the bullet train will bring you back east, this time to the capital city itself. You’ll be staying in the historic Asakusa district where you can enjoy the fascinating juxtaposition of Senso-ji Temple with the 634-meter high Sky Tree looming behind it. On your first evening back in Tokyo, we’ve included our Neon Night Food Tour, a sociable foodie tour led by one of our own Insider experts. Tuck into some tasty dishes at various secret eateries tucked down hidden alleyways and finish off at the cozy bars of Golden Gai.
The next two days are at leisure, ideal if you have sporting event tickets. If not, there’s plenty of sights to see and you might like to head over to the manmade island of Odaiba, home to shopping complexes, a hot spring complex, amusement parks, and our personal favorite: teamLab Borderless, an immersive, interactive digital art museum (museum tickets are included). The night views of the capital back across Tokyo Bay are incredible.
Sadly, all good things have to come to an end, and on your final morning, you’ll be picked up by a shared shuttle bus to take you out to the airport. We hope you have a good onward journey.
Overnight: Asakusa View