Classic and Festive Japan

Tokyo, Kyoto, Nikko, Mount Fuji, traditional villages, hot springs, and seasonal festivals
Overview

overview

JOURNEYS has found a way to create an itinerary for a very small group at competitive prices.  Join this special trip during Cherry Blossom Festivals in April, during the Shichi-go San and Autumn Foliage Festivals in November, during the beautiful Oeshiki Festival of lanterns in October, or on your own dates. Witness the Japanese culture's unabashed and effusive homage to the seasons.

Visit the country's most exquisite landmarks, and meet locals off the tourist paths. Overnight in a few different traditional-style Japanese ryokans. Experience the hot springs baths so beloved by the Japanese. You'll have plenty of time to explore vibrant Tokyo before visiting Mt. Fuji and scenic Lake Kawaguchi. Travel back in time in the traditional villages at Matsumoto, Hida Takayama, and Shirakawa. Perhaps best of all, spend time in the old capital of Kyoto where the the simple elegance of the temples and gardens defy description. 

If your schedule permits, add a day-long or multi-day extension. Visit Nara or Hiroshima.  Consider an overnight stay on monastry grounds at Mt. Koya.

itinerary

itinerary

  • Day 1: Arrive Tokyo
    Tokyo park in autumn

    Welcome to Tokyo! Arriving late in the day on your flight from the U.S., you will be met at either the Narita or Haneda Airport and transferred to your comfortable, centrally-located hotel in Tokyo, your base for four nights.

    Meals
    None
    Lodging
    Shiba Park Hotel or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 2: Tokyo Temples and Views
    Get a bird's eye view of Tokyo from the Skytree

    Get to know this vibrant city as you spend the morning exploring cosmopolitan, yet historic, Tokyo and its many diverse neighborhoods*.  After breakfast, your guide will meet you at the hotel with the vehicle as you head out to the Asakusa district, an interesting and compact neighborhood filled with shrines and temples. Visit Senso-ji, Tokyo's oldest and most significant Buddhist temple complex. Afterwards, visit the Tokyo Skytree, the tallest building in Japan, for panoramic views over Tokyo. Return to your hotel where you have the rest of the day free to relax or do some of your own exploration.

     

    *Optional early morning visit to the Tsukiji Tuna Auction (leave hotel by 3:30 am; additional cost with guide ranges from $75 to $200 per person, depending on the size of the group.)

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Lodging
    Shiba Park Hotel or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 3: Tokyo Shrines and Pop Cultures
    If you're lucky, witness a traditional wedding at the Meiji Shrine

    This morning's Tokyo exploration includes the neighborhoods of Shibuya and Harajuku. You'll explore by public transportation in oder to learn how to get around the city on your own. First stop is Meiji Jingu, a famous Shinto shrine in a large forested area. You then walk over to Harajuku, a cosmopolitan area of the city known for shopping, sightseeing and street entertainment. Afterwards, your guide will assist with getting you back to your hotel, or spend more time exploring the Harajuku area on your own.

    If you're traveling in October, it may be possible to attend the  Oeshiki Festival, which commemorates the anniversary of the death of Saint Nichiren, the founder of the Buddhist Nichiren sect. Or, if you're traveling in early to mid-November, you'll be there for the day of Shichi Go San, a rite-of-passage festival for young girls and boys.

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Lodging
    Shiba Park Hotel or similar
  • Day 4: Tokyo Free Day
    Explore lovely Nikko on a day trip from Tokyo

    There is much to see and do in and around Tokyo and you'll have the day free to explore as you like. Tokyo is full of museums, parks, Japanese gardens, and upscale shops.

    Optionally, visit the sacred Nikko or the big Buddha at Kamakura (approx. $75-$150 per person with a guide, depending on group size.)  At Nikko, see the Toshogu Shrine and Rinno-ji Temple, an eight century Buddhist temple complex.  Kamakura was the political center of Japan in the 12th century and contains a number of temples, shrines and historical monuments including the famous Great Buddha, a large, bronze statue cast in 1252. 

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Lodging
    Shiba Park Hotel or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 5: Lake Kawaguchi
    Visit picturesque Lake Kawaguchi

    After breakfast, check out of the hotel, and drive to Lake Kawaguchi, where the best views of Mt. Fuji can be enjoyed. During the cherry blossom season, the seaside promenade near the Music Forest is particularly beautiful. In autumn, the display of colorful leaves are magnificent. Mt. Fuji, looming above, is one of Japan's best-known images, visible from Tokyo on a clear day, and towering over the area at close to 12,500 feet. From the Mt. Fuji Visitor Center, you will have excellent views of the mountain. Afterwards, visit the 5th station at the base of Mt. Fuji from where there are good views of the Fuji Five Lakes (visit to the 5th station and views are weather permitting.) From here, stop and visit Wind Cave, a lava cave formed by Mt. Fuji eruptions. Next, visit the Sengen shrine, dedicated to Princess Konohanasukuya, the Shinto diety associated with Mt. Fuji. Before checking in to your ryokan hotel, visit the local farmer's market.

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Lodging
    Royal Hotel Kawaguchi or similar
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  • Day 6: Matsumoto / Hida Takayama City
    Marvel at Japan's oldest wooden castle, Matsumoto-jo

    Today you'll make the two-hour drive to the laid-back town of Matsumoto City. Visit the amazing Matsumoto-jo (Matsumoto Castle), Japan's oldest wooden castle and one of four designated as National Treasures.  The drive then continues for about another hour and a half to the Shinhodaka Ropeway (cable car), which affords superb views of Japan's Alps. After a short break and a chance to enjoy the beautiful mountain scenery, continue to Hida Takayama City, a modern cith that still retains its traditional charms. Here you will find traditional Japanese style homes, inns, and shops as well as sake breweries producing the best sake in the world.

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Lodging
    Asunaro Ryokan or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 7: Hida Takayama
    Explore atmospheric Hida Takayama's traditional shops

    Start the day with a visit to the morning market, a great place to see all the local products and enjoy the local scene. Visit Jinya's 16th century town administrative center, with its lovely and extensive grounds, and  explore the Festival Cart Museum which displays the carts used in Hida Festival, one of Japan's largest.  While in Hida, be sure to sample Hida beef, well known for its high quality and delicious flavor, as well as Houba miso, another local favorite. 

     

    The Hida Takayama Spring Festival takes place in Mid-April allowing the opportunity to see the colorful floats (carts) and puppets that are paraded through the town.

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Lodging
    Asunaro Ryokan or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 8: Shirakawa-go and Kyoto
    See a UNESCO-designated home in Shirakawa

    You'll have some free time in Hida Takayama after breakfast and check-out, to explore on your own and to see the morning market again. Then drive about 45 minutes, into a dramatic and remote mountainous area, to Shirakawa village, famous for its UNESCO-designated historic old houses. Spend some time exploring the village, then transfer to the Gifuhashima station where you board the Shinkansen (bullet train) to Kyoto.  Your local guide will meet you at the train station in Kyoto and assist you to your hotel, which is just a short walk from the station.

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Lodging
    Century Hotel or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 9: Kyoto
    Meet geishas in Kyoto's old Gion entertainment district

    Kyoto is rich in UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Buddhist temples and shrines, and many other culturally-rich sights and you'll spend the day exploring with your guide, visiting a few of the city's fantastic sights as time permits. The Kiyomizu Temple is historic eighth century Buddhist temple. The structure was built entirely without the use of nails and offers impressive views overlooking the city. To get to the temple, you'll walk through Ninenzaka, a preserved historical district of Kyoto. Next, visit the Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine, the famous shrine dedicated to Inari, the god of rice, where thousands of torii shrine gates make a labyrinth of bright red tunnels along the mountain paths. If time permits and if you like, visit the Kyoto National Museum, a large and historic museum that focuses on pre-modern Japanese and Asian art.  Before returning to your hotel, your guide will take you on a walking tour through Gion neighborhood where you can get some insight into the lives of the Geisha.

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Lodging
    Century Hotel or similar
    Show on a map
  • Days 10-11: Kyoto
    Kinkaku temple in the fall

    You'll have these days free to explore Kyoto as you like. Some of Kyoto's other important temples include Kinkaku-ji Temple (Temple of the Golden Pavilion), a Zen Buddhist temple complex and garden that is a National Special Historic Site as well as a National Special Landscape and Ryoan-ji Temple (Temple of the Dragon at Peace), another Zen temple and garden containing a massive gate and a 15th century rock garden.

     

    Alternatively, and for an additional cost, your guide can take you to Arashiyama, or Mt. Hiei (approx. $50-100 per person, depending on group size) on Day 10.

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Lodging
    Century Hotel or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 12: Depart or Extend

    After breakfast, depart for Osaka by train in time to check-in for your onward flight back home (bullet train back to Tokyo will be an additional cost.)

    Or, if your schedule permits, consider extending your adventure to Nara and Mt. Koya or Hiroshima for a few days.

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Lodging
    None
Price and Date Details

Price and Date Details

Mar 30-Apr 10, 2015
Oct 8-19, 2015
Nov 8-19, 2015
Or Privately on Request
Land Cost:
$4,500
- $6,800
Group size 7-9 cost: $4,500 Group size 3-6 cost: $5,500 Group size 2 cost: $6,800
Single Supplement:
$750
The single supplement is applicable if a roommate is not available or if single accommodation is specifically requested. While single accommodation is not available on all trips, we will try and honor this request whenever possible.
Need to Know

Need to Know

Duration:
12 days
The number of days, or duration, in a destination corresponds with the itinerary as published. This is the time period covered by the land cost.
Comfort Level:
3
Charming Japanese ryokans (inns) & standard Western style hotels
Group Size:
2-9
The stated range indicates minimum required for guaranteed departure and maximum accepted on the scheduled dates. Exceptions can often be made for private departures.
Activity Level:
2
Easy walking

Terms & Conditions: 

Standard

Included in costs: Meals as noted, each night in double occupancy accommodations, land transfers between components, English speaking guides, park or site entry fees, surface transport, equipment other than personal gear, government tax, airport transfer assistance, in-country ticket reconfirmation and check-in assistance (where permitted), complete pre-departure packet, toll-free pre-departure phone assistance.

Not included in costs: Meals not noted as included, gratuities, beverages (except tea or coffee at meals), international or domestic airfare unless specified, airport departure taxes not included with air tickets, visas, itinerary changes after confirmation, any services not included in itinerary, any costs incurred due to canceled or delayed flights, acts of nature or other happenings beyond our control, or other costs as are more fully described in JOURNEYS Terms & Conditions.

Deposit and payment schedule: $500 per person per trip or the applicable amount based on the trip and the proximity of the departure date. A second deposit of $800 per person is due four months prior to departure, and final payment for land arrangements is due 60 days prior to departure.  Any applicable permit fees required in advance are non-refundable as well.  Airlines require full payment when tickets are issued. The deposit may be made by Visa, Master Card, American Express, or check, and the Reservation Form may be submitted by fax, mail, or via our website. Full payment schedule and cancellation penalties are described in our Terms and Conditions as noted in our Global Expedition Catalog, on our website, and elsewhere. Please request these if you do not have them before advancing a deposit.

Air fares: JOURNEYS can make complete air arrangements applicable to your trip as noted in this itinerary. If you wish to redeem frequent flyer mileage or arrange flights directly with the airline, you may do so on your own at no penalty. If you do, please consult with us on exact arrival and departure dates and times before having your tickets issued to avoid errors.

Insurance: When you make your application, we strongly recommend the purchase of comprehensive travel insurance in case of emergency situations. Please contact us for a recommended policy.

Itinerary Change Fee: There will be a $40 fee for changes once an itinerary has been confirmed and approved. Additional cancellation penalties or change fees may apply as per our terms and conditions. The passenger is responsible for such fees.

Resources

Trip Extensions

Trip Extensions

Kyoto-Nara Extension

Duration: 4 days

Join this post trip extension to Kyoto and Nara.  Dates are from Novmeber 20-23.  Accommodations in Japanes style Ryokans.

Hiroshima and Miyajima

Duration: 3 days

If your schedule permits, consider spending an additional three days and two nights in Japan, easily reached from Osaka, so you can visit historic Hiroshima and the nearby lovely park island of Miyajima.

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