Essence of Japan

Essence of Japan

We’re off to do a tour of Japan but spending a little extra time in Tokyo at the beginning to explore.

Tokyo

We embrace this dazzling city with a full day tour, taking in legendary landmarks – the moated Imperial Palace, the Ginza (Silver Mint) district, the five-storey Asakusa Kannon Temple and the 634m Tokyo Skytree. One of the star attractions is Meiji Shrine, the picturesque Shinto shrine set in a delightful tree-lined avenue.

The pond and Cherry-blossom trees in Shinjuku Gyoen
The Kaminarimon gate of the Sensoji Temple, also known as Asakusa Kannon Temple, in Tokyo Japan

 

Tokyo – Mt Fuji – Matsumoto

The Five Lakes District is dominated by majestic Mt Fuji, an icon of world travel towering over this region of exceptional natural beauty – on a clear day, the snow-capped, conical volcano is mirrored on the placid waters of Lake Kawaguchi. 

Red Pagoda with Mt Fuji on the background
Matsumoto – Takayama
This morning we visit Matsumoto Castle, a striking timber and stone structure with a unique moon-viewing turret. We also take time to sample sake at a traditional brewery. Our journey proceeds through the breathtaking Japanese Alps to the hill town of Takayama. Here we stop at the Hida Folk Village, a large open-air museum with a collection of antique houses from the region and a fabulous showcase of crafts and ancient traditions.
matsumoto castle
Takayama
Our walking tour of Takayama, known as ‘little Kyoto’, is filled with fabulous attractions from the open-air flower and fruit market to the imposing government house.
Takayama
Takayama – Kanazawa
We transfer by coach to Kanazawa, visiting the World Heritage Shirakawago Village en route. Kanazawa is a historic castle town, which boasts beautifully preserved samurai and geisha districts. Our sightseeing tour includes Omicho market and Higashi Chayagai.
Shirawago Village
Kanazawa – Hiroshima
We pack overnight bags whilst our main luggage is transferred to Kyoto for our arrival on day 10. A sightseeing tour of Kanazawa this morning includes the gorgeous Kenroku-en Garden and Buke-Yashiki (Samurai’s house). We then transfer to Kanazawa Station to depart for Hiroshima by JR Limited Express Train and JR Bullet Train. On arrival, we head to the Rihga Royal Hotel Hiroshima (4T) or Grand Prince Hiroshima (4T) to spend the next two nights.
Kenroku-en Garden
Hiroshima – Nara – Kyoto
We transfer to Hiroshima Station for our JR Bullet Train journey to Shin Osaka, where we board our coach for Nara, the first permanent capital of Japan. Attractions here include the famous Todaiji temple, which was built in 794 and became the guardian temple for the city. The building is claimed to be the oldest wooden structure in the world and houses a huge bronze Buddha. We also visit Nara Park, also known as Deer Park, to see hundreds of freely roaming deer. Our adventure proceeds to culturally-rich Kyoto, known historically as ‘Hana No Miyako’, the flowering capital with its wealth of fine architecture in its shrines and temples, gardens with their profusion of colour and variety of art and craft shops. We spend time in the Gion area, the country’s most famous geisha district,
Todaiji temple Nara
Hiroshima – Nara – Kyoto
We transfer to Hiroshima Station for our JR Bullet Train journey to Shin Osaka, where we board our coach for Nara, the first permanent capital of Japan. Attractions here include the famous Todaiji temple, which was built in 794 and became the guardian temple for the city. The building is claimed to be the oldest wooden structure in the world and houses a huge bronze Buddha. We also visit Nara Park, also known as Deer Park, to see hundreds of freely roaming deer. Our adventure proceeds to culturally-rich Kyoto, known historically as ‘Hana No Miyako’, the flowering capital with its wealth of fine architecture in its shrines and temples, gardens with their profusion of colour and variety of art and craft shops. We spend time in the Gion area, the country’s most famous geisha district,
Todaiji temple Nara
Kyoto
Highlights of this morning’s tour include the wonderful Ryoanji Temple, a Zen temple with a famous rock garden, and also the beautiful Kinkakuji Temple, or the ‘Golden Pavilion’, whose top two floors are completely bedecked in gold leaf. We also visit Nijo, a fortified castle with ornate audience halls and unique ‘nightingale’ floors designed to replicate the sound of the nightingale song when stepped on.
Nijo Castle
Kyoto – Hakone
After further exploration of Kyoto, including the Kiyomizu Temple, we also enjoy a traditional tea ceremony. We later take the JR Bullet Train from Kyoto to Mishima and continue to Hakone.
Kiyomizu Temple, Kyoto
 Lake Ashi, Mount Fuj