ABTA 38 Years | Mon - Fri: 9am to 5:30pm | Sat: 9am to 5pm | Sun: 10am to 4:00pm

Explore! Simply Japan

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Travel from super-modern Tokyo to villages, castles and temples that remain unchanged from the times of the Shogun and Samurai. Stay in a Buddhist temple and a family-run ryokan, meet snow monkeys and tame deer, and experience the modern and the ancient in this invigorating country.

  • Tokyo – Explore modern and ancient Tokyo, with the option to visit nearby Mount Fuji
  • Kyoto – Experience traditional Japan with temples Zen gardens and geishas
  • Kanazawa – Explore the Samurai district and discover the secrets of the Ninja Temple
  • Return Flights
  • Breakfast: 13
  • Explore Tour Leader
  • Bus, Ferry, Train Transport
  • 11 nights standard hotel
  • 1 nights simple monastery
  • 1 nights simple ryokan

TRIP PACE: Moderate

GROUP SIZE: 10 – 16

DAY 1 – Join trip in Tokyo
Your trip starts in Japan’s action-packed capital city of Tokyo. From the ultra-modern skyscraper-lined streets to ancient temples and quiet gardens, the city is one of colour and contradiction that is just begging to be explored.

DAY 2 – Experience the spectacular Fire Ceremony and discover Tokyo’s temples and frenetic city streets
You explore Tokyo on foot and using the super-efficient metro system along with the locals. Beginning in dramatic fashion, you attend the morning fire service at Fudo-do Temple. Here the esoteric Shingon sect perform a ceremony involving leaping flames and the chanting of sacred texts, accompanied by the deafening beat of huge taiko drums. The result is a truly atmospheric experience and an authentic insight into Japanese Buddhist culture.

DAY 3 – Explore Tokyo with the option to visit Hakone National Park for views of Mount Fuji
Today you are free to seek out the parts of Tokyo that you’d most like to experience, and there are plenty of exciting options to choose from in and around the city. Visiting beautiful Hakone National Park is a great way to spend the day, discovering the park’s numerous hot springs, lakes, woodlands, and stunning views of towering Mount Fuji dominating the horizon. You can join the locals by eating an egg boiled in Owakudani hot sulphur pools, reputed to increase life expectancy by 7 years! The park is easy to get to and takes just over two hours by train.

DAY 4 – Travel by train to Matsumoto and discover the impressive Crow Castle

A beautiful train journey of just under three hours takes us north from Tokyo to the pretty town of Matsumoto, flanked on each side by the Japanese Alps. The town’s 500 year-old castle is Japan’s oldest, and one of its most elegant. Known as ‘Crow Castle’ due to its black, sombre appearance, it retains its original wooden interior which offers a very authentic atmosphere as you walk through its hallways and rooms. The design is fascinating, with a moon viewing pavilion, a hidden floor for the Samurai and various booby traps to aid its defence.

DAY 5 – Meet the snow monkeys of Jigokudani and spend the night in Zenkoji Temple
Travelling by train and private bus, you make your way this morning to Jigokudani Onsen, home to Japan’s famous snow monkeys. Here the indigenous macaques descend from the hills to bathe and play in the hot springs, a unique behaviour not found anywhere else in the world. Despite their wintry moniker, the monkeys can be observed in and around the pool throughout the year. Your walk to the spring takes 30 minutes along a pretty forest trail which is mostly flat. Once at the spring you spend around an hour observing the monkeys before returning along the same path.

DAY 6 – Join the monks for morning prayers and explore the samurai district of Kanazawa
youwill wake at sunrise and make your way to the temple, wandering through the fragrant smoke of the temple’s giant incense burner to purify us before entering. In the main hall you’ll watch the monks performing their morning rituals, the mesmerising chanting of the ancient sutras echoing around us, before you receive a sacred blessing from the head monk of the temple.

DAY 7 – Free time in Kanazawa to try sushi at the Omichi Fish Market or discover the ‘Ninja Temple’
Today is a free day to make the most of Kanazawa. As the town was not targeted during World War II, much of Kanazawa consists of old buildings and gives a sense of what Japan was like in the 19th century. There is plenty to do and see, and a great option is to spend some time wandering around the colourful stalls at the town’s Omicho market, where fresh fish and crab are brought daily from the Sea of Japan along with vegetables from the surrounding countryside. A great dish to try here, particular to the region, is chirashi-zushi, which consists of pieces of sushi piled on the top of rice and often garnished with shredded egg.

DAY 8 – Try sake in the old town of Takayama and stay in a family-run ryokan
This morning you take the local train to Takayama, a city that retains an authentic, traditional feel like few others in Japan. During feudal times the city was a source of highly-skilled carpenters and therefore controlled directly by the shogun, leading to a thriving and prosperous trading community. The narrow streets of the Sanmachi Suji district are lined with dark wooden merchants’ houses, many of which are 300 to 400 years old. There are several traditional sake distilleries in the old town and you’ll try some of the city’s famous brew, considered to be among the best in Japan due to the region’s pure mountain water and cold winter months.

DAY 9 – Travel by train to Hiroshima and experience the poignant Peace Park and Peace Museum
Two wonderful train journeys will take us to Hiroshima this morning. The first is a picturesque route that follows an icy blue Hida River past shrines, bamboo groves and traditional fishermen before arriving in Nagoya. Here you change to the famous Shinkansen bullet train, covering the 400 kms to Hiroshima in around two and a half hours, travelling at speeds of up to 320 kmh and arriving early afternoon.

DAY 10 – Take the ferry to Miyajima Island, meet the tame deer and see the floating torii gate
After breakfast this morning you take a small ferry to Miyajima, just off the coast of Hiroshima. This tiny island has a very relaxed feel which is enhanced by the deer that roam freely through the streets. As you arrive you get a great view of the floating torii gate. Considered to be one of the most beautiful sights in Japan, these red gates appear to float on the water at high tide with the hills of the island forming a spectacular backdrop.

DAY 11 – Take the Bullet train to Kyoto and explore Nijo Castle
After breakfast you make your way back to the train station for the journey to Kyoto, which takes around two hours. The imperial capital for more than 1000 years has more than 2000 temples and shrines, many set in perfectly manicured landscaped, tranquil gardens.

DAY 12 – Free time to explore the Zen gardens, temples and geisha district of Kyoto
Getting around Kyoto is easy and there is a lot you can explore today. A good option is an early morning visit to Fushimi Inari Shrine, beating the crowds to walk the path through the thousands of red torii gates that snake up the hillside.

 

DAY 13 – Continue discovering Kyoto before travelling to Osaka for a final night amongst the neon lights
You have another morning to explore Kyoto before travelling to Osaka. An early morning visit to Kiyomizu Temple (Pure Water Temple) is a great idea, especially when followed by the pleasant walk along the cobblestone streets to Kodaiji. Here you can see a perfectly groomed towering bamboo grove, a Zen rock garden, and a pair of historic tea houses. Another option is to take the train to Arashiyama and walk along the Oi River to visit the UNESCO World Heritage designated Zen Tenryuji Temple.

DAY 14 – Trip ends in Osaka
Your trip ends this morning after breakfast in Osaka.

Please note, prices listed are guide prices only and are based on 2 people sharing and don’t include any additional supplements. Holiday prices are fluid and dynamic and may be changed at a moment’s notice, prior to booking, at which point they are confirmed. Please call the team free on 0800 707 6229 for more departure dates available and a quote.

Please call us free on 0800 707 6229 for pricing and availability

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Duration

14 Days

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