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 Best of Japan

 Holiday Length: 15 days
 Start City: Tokyo
 End City: Kyoto
 Departures: See grid
 Type of Holiday: Small Group Tour
 Minimum: 1  Maximum 16                       




Day 1   Tokyo arrival
   

Welcome to Japan. Meet, assist and limousine bus transfer to your hotel.

     
Day 2   Tokyo
   

Spend the day exploring the capital city. Visit Tokyo Tower and continue to the famous luxurious shopping district of Ginza. Savour a Kushiage 'skewers' lunch and depart towards the Asakusa area. Visit Nakamise-dori, Senso-ji Buddhist Temple and the Asakusa Shrine before returning to the hotel. (B,L)

     
Day 3   Tokyo
   

Today is at leisure to explore Tokyo at your own pace – you may visit the Meiji Shrine or stroll through the trendy Shibuya district where you will be very likely to discover the latest fashion trends and impressive styles! (B)

     
Day 4   Tokyo - Kamakura - Great Buddha - Bamboo Temple - Hakone
   

Today, prepare your overnight bag and travel light while your luggage will be transferred to Takayama. Catch the subway & express train to reach the ancient city of Kamakura, the former capital of Japan in the 13th century. Visit Hase-dera Temple and Kotokuin, the home of the Kamakura Great Buddha. Grab a noodle lunch and continue by taxi to Hokokuin Temple, also known as the Bamboo Temple. Relax in the serene atmosphere of the bamboo garden while savouring tea & sweets. Later, travel to Hakone Yumoto Onsen for overnight. Take advantages of the onsen facilities at this traditional ryokan and relax in the thermally-heated mineral baths. (B,L)

     
Day 5   Hakone - Takayama
   

Today explore Hakone by electric train, funicular, gondola and by boat – cruising on the peaceful lake Ashi. Hakone is known for its natural beauty, and in particular, for the beautiful unobstructed views of the sacred Mt Fuji (weather permitting.) Continue to Takayama, a charming traditional town dotted with historic inns, shops & sake breweries and the Japanese Alps as backdrop. This evening, savour a Kaiseki-style dinner at your ryokan. (B,D)

Note: high winds and/or heavy rain can disrupt operations of local boats; if unable to operate as per itinerary an alternative will be offered.

     
Day 6   Takayama
   

This morning, stroll through the farmer's market, sampling some local foodie delights. Visit Takayama-jinya, the 17th century governing office of Takayama. Continue to the San-machi-suji district and explore the many 16th century merchant homes. The afternoon is at leisure to soak into the traditional atmosphere of Takayama – visit one of the many temples, shrines or museums, browse through unique items at one of the antique shops, or relax one of the sake breweries. This evening will be the perfect opportunity to try Hida Beef (same type of dish as the more famous Kobe Beef) at one of the local restaurants. (B)

     
Day 7   Takayama - Koya-san (Buddhist Temple)
   

This morning pack your overnight bag and travel lightly while your luggage is delivered to Osaka. Catch the Shinkansen Bullet Train bound for Osaka, and continue to Koya-san by subway, train and funicular. Koya-san is the world headquarters of the Shingon School of Esoteric Buddhism. Kobo Daishi, considered by many to be the most influential religious person in Japanese history, established a religious community here in the year 816. Upon arrival check-in at the shukubo (Buddhist temple lodging), and spend the remainder of the day exploring the area with its 110 temples and beautiful gardens. This evening, your shojin-ryori traditional Buddhist dinner will be served by the Buddhist Monks from the temple. Finish your day with a night visit of the Okuno-in Cemetery or the Garan temple complex. (B,D)

     
Day 8   Koya-san - Osaka
   

Early morning, attend o-inori (Buddhist prayer services). After a shojin-ryori breakfast, continue to the Okuno-in temple, where Kobo Daishi is buried. Many Japanese still believe that Kobo Daishi is not dead, but merely in a very advanced state of meditation, waiting to be awaken at the appropriate time. Explore the Garan Temple complex and return to Osaka after a Shojin-ryori lunch. This evening is at leisure to stroll through Dotombori-dori and Namba Districts (South Osaka), where the dining & nightlife scene is concentrated. While there, you may also visit the Ebisu-bashi bridge. (B,L)

     
Day 9   Osaka - Himeji Castle - Miyajima Island
   

This morning ride the Shinkansen to the city of Himeji. Visit Himeji Castle; built about 400 years ago, it is one of the largest and oldest original castles in Japan. Continue to Hiroshima by Shinkansen; while you travel have your bento lunch box. Arrive to Miyajima Island by ferry and check-in at your ryokan. Miyajima Island is one of the most scenic sites in Japan, especially appreciated as a quiet retreat from the mainland. Afternoon at leisure and kaiseki dinner at the ryokan. (B,L,D)

   
Day 10   Miyajima Island
   

Today is at leisure to soak into the peaceful atmosphere of the island. Relax, ride the cable car to the top of the island's mountain, visit the Itsukushima-jinja shrine, or simply wander around the island while having some grilled oysters and momiji manju (a popular Japanese sweet) – the island's specialty. (B,D)

   
Day 11   Miyajima Island - Hiroshima - Kyoto
   

Return to Hiroshima by ferry and local train. Today, visit the Peace Memorial Museum and the Peace Memorial Park, which both commemorate the dropping of the A-bomb on August 6, 1945. Later, continue to Kyoto by Shinkansen and check-in at your ryokan. (B)

     
Day 12   Kyoto
   

This morning, visit the Nijo Castle. Built in 1603, this castle was the Kyoto base of the first Tokugawa Shogun. The ostentatious style of construction was intended as a demonstration of Ieyasu's prestige, as opposed to the weakening power of the Emperor. The finest artists of the day filled the castle with delicate transom woodcarvings and paintings. One of the castle's most intriguing features is the so-called "nightingale" floors. To protect the Shogun from real or imagined enemies, these floorboards creak when stepped on. Continue to Kinkaku-ji, also known as the Golden Pavilion. Covered in gold leaf, the gleaming structure seems to float on the Mirror Pond – a beautiful view, especially on a sunny day. The afternoon is at leisure browse the busy stalls of 'Kyoto's Kitchen' or Nishiki Koji – a lively retail market specialises in all things food related. Later join an authentic tea ceremony before returning to the ryokan. (B,L)

     
Day 13   Kyoto
   

This morning, travel by train to the city of Fushimi, one of the largest sake producing regions of Japan. Visit the Fushimi Inari shrine. This Shinto Shrine, established in the 8th century, is famous for the long tunnels of vermilion torii gates straddling a network of trails leading to the top of the verdant Mt Inari. Continue to the Higashiyama District, a very charming area with narrow cobblestone alleys, temples, shrines, and numerous shops & restaurants – the perfect place to have lunch. Later, visit the Yasaka Shrine, also known as the Gion Shrine, and continue walking to the famous Gion Geisha District. Finally, travel to the Kenninji Temple, the oldest Zen Temple in Kyoto. Return to your ryokan for overnight. (B,L)

     
Day 14   Kyoto
   

Morning at leisure to relax & explore further at your own pace. This afternoon, return to the Gion Geisha District. In one of the local tea house, attend a Meet a Maiko session (a Maiko is a Geisha in training.) This evening, join the Sayonara Dinner at a local restaurant. (B,D)

     
Day 15        
Kyoto departure          
   

It's time to say "sayonara" (Goodbye). This morning you will be escorted to the Kyoto train station, where you will return on your own to Tokyo's Narita airport or Osaka's Kansai airport by train. (B)

Note: if you are flying out of Narita Airport, be sure to schedule a flight after 3.00pm to allow yourself enough time to catch your flight. 

     

INCLUSIONS






  • Meet at Narita Tokyo Airport & arrival transfer
• Assistance at Kyoto train station for departure
• 14 day unlimited Japan Rail Pass (standard carriage)
• Accommodation in Japanese-style ryokans
• Professional English-speaking local guides
• Sightseeing, activities, meals and entrance fees as per the itinerary
• Baggage (1 piece per person) transfer from ryokan to ryokan (while you travel with a light overnight bag): Tokyo – Takayama; Takayama – Osaka; Osaka – Kyoto

     
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