A Cultural Trip Through Japan
TOKYO > KAMAKURA > MT FUJI > NAGOYA > KYOTO > OSAKA
Amazingly familiar and unfamiliar simultaneously, from the moment you arrive in Japan, it’s almost as if you’ve landed on another planet. Prepare to be pleasantly disorientated as you negotiate this fascinating land where ancient gods, customs and craftsmanship are mixed up with cutting edge modern technology, futuristic fashions and up-to-the-second style.
On this Japan tour, you’ll go beyond what other travellers experience as your local guides introduce you to an authentic side of Japan along with its tantalizing culture. Our local guides are passionate about urban as well as rural Japan and are excited to share Japan’s unique culture and customs with you. You’ll also have many opportunities to meet and participate in fun local activities with friendly local people as you journey through mega-metropolises to small villages.
Japan is a unique destination that is best experienced with local support. We love Japan and know that you will too.
Dates: We recommend this tour from March to November. Contact us for custom tour details! Please note that this is a Sample Itinerary and can be altered to best suit your travel needs.
This is a customizable tour. Dates are available upon request.
USD per Person
THIS IS A CUSTOMIZABLE ITINERARY FOR GROUPS OF ALL SIZES.
DATES ARE AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST.
Day 1: Arrival to Tokyo
Welcome to Tokyo, one of the world’s most bustling and interesting cities! After your arrival you will be transferred to your accommodation, before getting the chance to admire the amazing view over the skyline from the Metropolitan Building South Observatory. It is not only an astonishing sight but also gives a fantastic first impression of Tokyo´s structure and its appeal as a city.
Your first day in Japan will end with a Welcome Dinner at a nice restaurant nearby.
- Meals: -/-/D
Day 2: A Glimpse of Traditional Japan: Temples and Shrines
On the second day of your journey, it is time for some sightseeing. The first destination is the Sensoji Temple, not far from your accommodation, as well as the Nakamise Shopping Street nearby. Sensoji Temple is Tokyo´s oldest temple and a popular destination for tourists, as well as locals. Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543 – 1616), the founder and first shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate, saw great potential in the Temple and used it as a “guardian” to protect Edo city´s northeast gate from potential invaders. Today it is still an impressive sight and has not lost any of its beauty. Admire the great lanterns, the golden ornaments and the bright red color, before strolling along the adjacent Nakamise Street. Nakamise provides a variety of traditional Japanese snacks, souvenirs, restaurants and cafés.
After your shopping experience and so much time on your feet, you can relax a little during a nice river cruise, before traveling to the beautiful city of Kamakura, sometimes also referred to as “the Kyoto of Eastern Japan”. There, you can enjoy a Matcha Tea experience at Hokokuji Temple while surrounded by a beautiful Bamboo Forest. Hokokuji is a small and pleasant temple, associated with the Rinzai Sect of Zen Buddhism. You will also learn something about Shinto at Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine which is Kamakura’s most important shrine and was founded in 1063 by Minamoto Yoriyoshi.
End your day with a leisurely evening beach stroll.
- Meals: B/L/D
Day 3: Craftsmanship and a Castle Town
On your second day in Kamakura, you will visit what is undoubtedly the most famous sight of the city, the Great Buddha of Kamakura. It is one of Japan´s biggest Buddha statues, only surpassed in size by the Buddha Statue inside the Todaiji Temple in Nara. It was cast in 1252 and originally located inside a temple, but during several wars those buildings were destroyed and only the bronze statue of Amida Buddha remained. After admiring this impressive monument, your journey will continue to Hasedera Temple. This temple is associated with the Jodo sect and houses an eleven-headed statue of Kannon, the goddess of mercy. Furthermore, there is another statue of Amida Buddha, this time much smaller and golden. Additionally, the nearby Kannon Museum is also worth a visit. You can learn a lot about gods and religion here and enjoy the nice adjacent garden with many ponds and koi fish. You can also stroll along Komachi Dori, a nice little shopping street with restaurants and trendy boutiques.
Then it is time to bid Kamakura farewell and travel to Odawara, a city in Kanagawa Prefecture that is bordered by the Hakone Mountains, Sakawa River and Sagami Bay. Here, the Hakone mosaic work (Hakone yosegi zaiku) is produced, a handicraft made from various tree species that can be found on Mt. Hakone. It makes use of different wood patterns and colors while creating an eye-catching piece of art. Originally, the wood mosaics were sold to travelers on Tokaido Highway, but they still make a great and unique souvenir.
After exploring this traditional craft, you can stretch your legs a little during the Odawara City Walking Course and learn more about this so-called “gateway to Hakone”. The course is about 8 kilometers long and in approximately two and a half hours you will get the chance to explore the Odawara Literature Museum, the Odawara Castle tower, the Maidashi gate and more.
- Meals: B/L/D
Day 4: All About Nature and Mount Fuji
Your day starts with a train ride, this time to Kozu, where you can start the Kozu and Soga Hill Walking Course. If you are lucky and the weather conditions are good, you will not only be rewarded by an impressive view over Sagami Bay and the Ashigara Plains, but also with the sight of Mt. Fuji in the distance. The route stretches along approximately 11 km and takes about three hours to complete, so you will have enough time to enjoy the beautiful nature surrounding you. The Sugawara Shrine and the Zuiunji Temple are also interesting landmarks on your way, if you are in the mood for more Shinto and Buddhism.
Your next destination is Fujinomiya, where you will visit the Mount Fuji World Heritage Centre. As the name implies, this museum is dedicated to Mount Fuji, Japan´s most important mountain and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here you will receive answers to any question you ever had about the famous volcano, no matter if you are interested in its history, cultural significance or even seismology. The observation hall is also worth a visit, since it provides a breathtaking sight of Mount Fuji and the interactive exhibitions will entertain for sure.
After the museum it is time for another shrine, also dedicated to Mount Fuji. The Fuji Sengen Shrine is in the southwestern foothills of Mount Fuji and was originally built over 1000 years ago to protect the area from volcanic eruptions, and marks the traditional starting point for climbing said mountain. Originally the shrine consisted of more buildings – constructed by Tokugawa Ieyasu – but after various earthquakes only the Inner Shrine, Outer Shrine and Tower Gate remain. Here, climbers can pray and purify themselves before making the ascent. The grounds also feature many cherry trees, which make it especially pleasant during springtime.
- Meals: B/L/D
Day 5: Flowing Beauty and Adventure in Nagoya
Today starts with more breathtaking nature, this time in form of the famous Shiraito Falls. “Shiraito” translates roughly to “threads of silk” and describes the white streams of water, fed by Mount Fuji´s spring water and flowing off the edge of a 20-meter-high cliffs.
Another popular sightseeing spot which also involves water is the artificial Tanuki Lake, located on the western slope of Mount Fuji. Most visitors enjoy fishing and hiking in the area, as well as the captivating way in which the holy mountain is reflected on the surface of the lake. You can relax here and take in the calming surroundings, before heading to your next destination which is Nagoya.
Here you can enjoy the East Nagoya Walking Tour and take in everything this beautiful city has to offer. Of course, the next shrine – namely the Atsuta Shrine – is not far away, but Nagoya is probably more famous for its white castle. Unfortunately, it was destroyed during WWII and even now it is constantly reconstructed, so it is no longer open to the public. But even if viewed just from the outside it is still an impressive example of Shoin architecture. Other delights of Nagoya include the Osu Kannon Temple, the downtown area “Sakae” and the Nagoya Port Area. There is indeed a lot to explore in Japan´s fourth most populated city. In the evening, you can enjoy the skyline and night view at the Nagoya TV Tower Observatory.
- Meals: B/L/D
Day 6: Traditional Arts and Dinner with Company
As Nagoya Castle unfortunately cannot be entered, today you will instead take a short trip to Inuyama. Inuyama, which literally translates to “Dog Mountain” is just a 30-minute-train-ride away from Nagoya and offers an Open-Air Museum about the Meiji Period, Urakuen – a beautiful garden with a teahouse and, of course, Inuyama Castle. This castle is one of Japan`s oldest surviving castles, built in 1537 and having survived wars and natural disasters. It sits right on top of a hill and is beautifully preserved. If you do not mind the stairs, you can get a nice view over the city and nearby Kiso River while exploring this authentic architectural treasure.
Back in Nagoya, you can visit the Noritake Garden Ceramics Centre and learn more about the design and manufacturing of ceramic goods. The first floor is dedicated to the manufacturing process, the second to the pattern application process and the third to the finished products.
After that, you will travel to Kyoto by train and have time to explore the Higashiyama Area. Higashiyama is a well-preserved historic district with many shops and a unique atmosphere. The shops try to retain their traditional style and offer local specialties and goods, so you can spend a lot of time exploring these pleasant streets. Your eventful day will end with a dinner in company of a Maiko, an apprentice geisha.
- Meals: B/L/D
Day 7: Gold, Deer and a Buddha Statue
Before leaving Kyoto again, visit one of the most famous sights in the city: Kinkakuji, often referred to as the golden pavilion. This Zen temple stands up to its name since it is almost completely covered in gold leaf. Originally it was associated with Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, whose grandson also built the Ginkakuji – the silver pavilion – on the other side of Kyoto. Around 1408, Kinkakuji became a temple of the Rinzai sect and burned down several times but was reconstructed quite quickly. For this reason it is technically quite a young building, as the last reconstruction took place in 1955. Kinkakuji also inspired famous Japanese author Mishima Yukio to write a popular novel with the same name, within which the burning of the temple works as a central theme and motive.
After admiring the beauty of Kinkakuji, it is time for another train-ride to your next destination. Nara can easily be reached in about 40 minutes and as soon as you step out of the station, you will probably be greeted by the tame deer. You can feed them but beware, they can be feisty.
Nara is best explored on foot, since every important sight can easily be reached in under thirty minutes. Walk around and enjoy the unique and almost cozy atmosphere of this town, which was once Japan´s first capital, back in the 8th century.
Furthermore, Todai-ji Temple is quite possibly one of Japan’s most important and famous temples. The main hall is the world’s largest wooden building and houses a giant Buddha statue. Nearby you will find the beautiful Isuien Garden with many lush trees and some teahouses. Sarusawa-ike or Sarusawa Pond is also worth a visit, especially at night when its surface reflects the stunning Kofukuji Temple. During the Nara and Heian period, the Kofuku-ji Temple was known as the family temple of the Fujiwara clan and it consisted of over 150 buildings. It is also one of the head temples of the Hosso Sect of Buddhism, which represents an Indian Buddhist philosophical tradition known as the Yogacara School. Today, there are still free public lectures related to Buddhism and Buddhist Art, held on the second Sunday of every month, in the Kofuku-ji Meeting Hall.
- Meals: B/L/D
Day 8: Buddhistic Art and Cup-O-Noodles
Before you leave Nara and head to Osaka, pay a visit to the Nara National Museum. It offers a huge variety of Buddhist and religious art in general. Here you will find sculptures, paintings, writings, decorative arts and even archaeological works. It is the perfect place to learn more about the history of Buddhism and the relationship between art and religion.
It is then time to hop on the train and travel to Osaka, where you can enjoy a unique experience at the Osaka Cup-O-Noodles Museum. You can learn more about the creation and history of this popular snack and even create your own personal packet of Cup Noodles. The museum also offers interactive quizzes, a theatre in the shape of a cup of noodles, a tasting room, the opportunity to make chicken ramen by hand and much more.
In the afternoon, you can return to the more traditional delights while enjoying a guided tour that explores the religious sites of Osaka. In the evening you can enjoy yet another night view, this time from the Umeda Sky Building. Which city has the most amazing skyline, Tokyo, Nagoya or Osaka?
It is up to you.
- Meals: B/L/D
Day 9: Departure
On your last day in Osaka it is best to visit Osaka Castle. Take your time to explore one of Japan´s most popular sightseeing spots. The construction started in 1583 but the castle was destroyed and rebuilt again twice. Thankfully, it survived the terrible destruction of WWII and in the 1930´s, the reconstruction of the castle tower began. Now the tower houses a museum based on the life of Toyotomi Hideyoshi and even has an elevator for easier access – however, this little touch of modernization will not spoil your experience at this impressive landmark. Like Himeji castle, it is also a popular spot for hanami (cherry-blossom-watching) but it is worth a visit throughout the whole year as well.
Included: OPTION TO CONTINUE YOUR ADVENTURE TO OTHER PARTS OF JAPAN! Let us know where else you would like to visit.
Contact us for custom tour details! Please note that this is a Sample Itinerary and can be altered to best suit your travel needs.
- End of Service
Date: Upon Request
from $4475* USD per person based on double/twin occupancy
Please note that pricing will depend on number of participants and time of year. Price for more participants will be LESS. Please contact us for more information.
A 20% non-refundable deposit is required at time of booking to reserve your place – payable by eTransfer, wire transfer credit card or cheque. Please contact [email protected] for more booking information.
*Price is subject to change without notice.
Full payment is due 60 prior to departure.
PLEASE NOTE: This itinerary is subject to change. Although we always do our best to stick to the itinerary, due to the ever-changing nature of Morocco, activities, hotels, and visits are subject to change due to forces beyond our control.
FLIGHTS: Please do not purchase your flights until this tour is confirmed.
PASSPORTS: Must be valid for at least 6 months upon return date to your home country. Proper documentation is the responsibility of each traveller.
VISAS: (responsibility of the traveller)
Cancellation, Travel, Flight, and Health insurance are required and are the responsibility of the participant to research and secure the appropriate coverage. Click HERE for a Travel Insurance Quote or please email [email protected] for a quote.
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