Please note that we are basing the dates of this tour on the opening of Japan’s borders to tourism by fall. This depends on how far along Japan is in vaccinating its population. You will need to have proof of being vaccinated yourself. There is a chance that this tour may be delayed until Oct 31th to Nov 12, 2022 so please do not purchase airline tickets until we notify you that it is OK to do so.
|On Oct 31st - leave home on your individually arranged flights. You will lose one day when you cross the International Date Line. |
Nov 1st - Arrive at Haneda Airport near Tokyo where you will be met by one of our guides and escorted to a hotel where we will stay for three nights. Breakfast is included in all of our hotels during our tour. Dinner or lunch is included only when specified in this itinerary.
Nov 2nd - Tokyo is immaculate, stylish and refined as well as kitschy and chaotic. Today and tomorrow we will explore the life of the city beginning each day after breakfast at around 9:00 AM. This morning we’ll travel by train to Harajuku and spend the day leisurely walking along Omotesando-dori through a ‘museum’ of contemporary architecture designed by world superstars. There will be detours along the way to Cat Street, popping into an art gallery or special shop, and pausing to relax in a cafe. After lunch, we’ll visit a private art collection at the Nezu Institute of Fine Arts where you can unwind in its beautiful garden. Dinner this evening is included.
|Nov 3rd - Have your large piece of luggage available in the hotel lobby this morning. It will be transferred to our Kyoto hotel. Retain a backpack or small piece of luggage with your essentials. We begin the day at one of Tokyo’s most beautiful gardens, Rikugien, built in 1700 for the 5th Tokugawa Shogun.
Next, we’ll head south to The National Museum of Modern Art near the Imperial Palace grounds. Afterward, we'll walk the paths of the Imperial East Gardens to have lunch. We will be in the Ginza area where there is so much to see and do. For those of you who are comfortable, we will set a time and place to meet so that you can choose visits according to your own interests. Walking maps with top attractions will be provided. Here you will find numerous antenna shops created by prefectural governments from all over Japan that sell regional food, limited-edition sake, and local crafts. Most prefectures in Japan have their own style of craft and pottery. Several art galleries, major department stores, the International Forum (glass and steel structure shaped like a ship), the largest Uniqlo, an eleven-floor office/art supply store, Kabuki theatre, and much more are all within walking distance as is Nihonbashi with shops that have existed for hundreds of years.
Nov 4th - Travel two hours by Japan’s fastest train, the Nozomi, to Kyoto this morning. Taxi to Hotel Resol Kyoto Shijo Muromachi located in a super central location where we will stay for 4 nights. After leaving our bags we’ll walk up Karasuma-dori to Kyoto Gosho, to visit the Imperial Palace and the beautiful grounds surrounding it. We’ll have lunch (included) along the way. Check into your room to get settled and once you are ready for dinner, know that there are dozens of restaurants available within easy walking distance from our hotel. Recommendations are available.
Nov 5th - This morning, travel by local bus to a scenic, nature-filled escape from the city known for its fall colors. We will wander along the wonderfully atmospheric path to visit two of the oldest temples in Kyoto, Saimyo-ji and Jingo-ji. To rid ourselves of bad karma we’ll take part in the peculiar but fun tradition of kawarake-nage. Leaving the hamlet of Takao, we follow a scenic forested flat trail along the Kiyotaki River for about an hour till we reach the Kiyotaki bus stop. A short bus ride will bring us to a restaurant in Arashiyama for lunch (included). After lunch we will visit Toji-in, a calm, less frequented gem of a garden in Northwest Kyoto followed by Kinkaku-ji, the Golden Temple, perhaps Japan’s most iconic garden. Taxi back to our hotel.
Nov 6th - We’ll spend the day in Higashiyama, (eastern Kyoto) beginning at Shoren-in, a Monzeki temple meaning its head priest is a member of the Imperial family. We’ll walk south to visit the gardens at Chion-in, headquarters of Jodo Shu Buddhism, then stroll through Maruyama Park to southern Higashiyama stopping along the way at Rakushisha to relax and admire the owner’s prize koi. We’ll visit Zen sub-temple, Entoku-in, where Nene, wife of Hideyoshi, one of the three shoguns who unified Japan, spent her last years. this temple is a hidden gem with ink paintings by Hasegawa Tohaku and a dry garden designed by Kobori Enshu that has been designated a place of scenic beauty. Afterward, bypassing the crowded Kiyomizudera neighborhood shops (a good place to visit on your free day) we’ll stop for lunch (included) then visit to Kyoto Ceramic Art Association Official Shop and Gallery to see examples of the best Kyo-yaki (Kyoto pottery).
Nov 7th - Have your luggage ready this morning in our hotel lobby. It will be transferred to our Kashihara hotel.
This is your free day to explore places of personal interest. Dinner will be included tonight.
Nov 8th - This morning there is a short train ride to Nara where we will arrive before 10:00 AM. Nara was Japan’s 7th CE capital and many of the temples and shrines here are much older than those in the rest of the country. We’ll drop off our small bags at the Daiwa Royal Hotel D Premium Nara where we will stay for two nights. There is a hot spring onsen at this location. We’ll begin our walking tour of this beautiful, ancient city at Kofuku-ji, established in 669 CE to visit the Treasure Hall’s great Buddhist art and sculpture collection. Next, to one of my favorite Japanese gardens, Isui-en, and a neighboring garden as well. After a cafe break, we’ll visit 6th CE Todaiji to view awe-inspiring, 53 ft. Dainichi Buddha. Lunch is followed by a walk through the deer park with paths lined by thousands of lanterns to visit Kasuga Shrine, established in 768 CE. One last stop at the Manyo Botanical Garden featuring plants that were mentioned in a revered 8th CE compilation of 4500 wake poems, the Manyoshu. Afterward, we’ll taxi back to our hotel.
Nov 9th - Our destination this morning is Horyu-ji, founded in 607 to honor Prince Shotoku, statesman and patron of Buddhism in Japan. The Pagoda and Golden Hall here are the world’s oldest extant wooden buildings. 2300 important cultural structures and articles and 190 National Treasures dating from the 7th CE are in the temple’s collection. In 1993, Horyu-ji became Japan’s first Unesco World Heritage Site. It serves as both monastery and seminary. We will spend the morning here, then taxi back to Nara where you can explore the streets of atmospheric Naramachi, the Edo period merchant quarter with its old wooden houses (machiya), boutiques, and small restaurants. Dinner is included this evening.
Nov 10th - A private bus will pick us up at our hotel this morning to bring us to Koyasan, a small, remote mountaintop community of Shingon Buddhist monks, a Unesco World Heritage site, and one of Japan’s most magical places. It was founded in 805 by one of Japan’s most revered religious figures, Kobo Daichi. We'll spend most of the day in this sacred place wandering the paths of the ancient forest to visit Banryutei, Japan’s largest rock garden, Danjo-Garan, Okunoin, an otherworldly cemetery, and more. Lunch is included today. Following our visit to Koyasan, our bus will deliver us to Candero Hotel in Kashihara where we will stay for two nights. This hotel has a beautiful onsen-like spa.
Nov 11th - A private bus will pick us up at our hotel this morning and take us to the AKAME 48 Waterfalls area. Here we will hike a gorgeous 2.5-mile forested trail, with some ups and downs. There are five major waterfalls and innumerable small ones in the area and it is home to giant salamanders that we will have a chance to observe. Following our hike, we’ll visit Kaede no Sato, a renovated old school building with an art gallery and restaurant where we will have lunch (included). It is also home to the World Maple Park with an astonishing 1,200 species of maple. Afterward, we have arranged a visit to the private home and garden of Mr. and Mrs. Okuda of Sakurai city, friends from our horticulture tours. A farewell dinner is included this evening.
Nov 12th - Our tour ends when you check out of our hotel this morning however, we will escort you back to Tokyo Shinagawa station. It takes one hour to arrive in Kyoto from Kashihara and two hours from Kyoto to Tokyo where we will arrive at about 1:15 PM.
Cost of Tour
(There may be an adjustment to the price of the tour if the dollar falls below 100 yen per dollar)
$3900 per person for a queen bed or twin room (double occupancy)
$4200 per person for a single room
Included in Tour:
Lodging for 11 nights in western style hotels
All breakfasts with western and Japanese foods plus 5 lunches and 4 dinners.
All transportation within the country including taxis, trains, private coaches.
All entry fees per itinerary
Two knowledgeable guides throughout the tour, at least one who is fluent in Japanese
A detailed daily itinerary and other information to prepare you for your travel to Japan
Not Included in Tour:
International airfare and trip insurance
Personal expenses such as telephone calls and laundry
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