This 10-day tour covers Japan’s defining destinations, starting in Kyoto, the tradition-saturated heartland of the country and ending in the Tokyo, the hub of modern Japan. Along the way you will visit Hida-Takayama with its traditional-style village dating from the Edo Period (1600-1868) and secluded in the mountainous Hida region of Gifu Prefecture (known as the ‘Japanese Alps’). Remaining in the mountains, your next stop will be Shirakawa-go, famous for its traditional gassho-zukuri farmhouses with their the steep thatched roofs that resemble the hand of Buddhist monk held together in prayer (gassho-zukuri means ‘constructed like hands in prayer’). From there you will travel on to Hakone, nestled in the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park that is famous for hot springs, natural beauty and, of course, the iconic Mt Fuji. Your final stop is Tokyo, world’s most populous metropolis with over 35-million citizens and considered one of the three command centers for world economy.
- Day One
- Kyoto — the tradition-saturated heartland of the country.
- You will fly into Kansai Airport, Osaka, where your driver will meet you at arrival gate and escort you to the airport shuttle that will take you to your hotel in Kyoto. We have selected either the Best Western Hotel Fino Osaka or the more luxurious Kyoto Royal Hotel & Spa, both centrally located. Kyoto has 17 World Heritage Sites — the most in one city — each representing masterpiece of the era in which it was constructed. You will be exposed to the daily tales that make up Japanese society.
- Day Two
- The classic sites of Kyoto
- Accompanied by your guide and private car, your excursion will bring you into contact with the fundamentals of Japanese esthetics — its architecture and landscaping as displayed by the stone garden at Ryoanji temple, the impressive Golden Pavilion, the Shogun’s castle and a downtown market. Here, you will walk the streets and hopefully catch a glimpse of a Geisha on her way to work.
- Day Three
- The gems of the Eastern Mountains
- Independently you may chose to visit the graceful garden of Heian Shrine and possibly watch some traditional martial arts training. Or visit the acclaimed Silver Pavilion and then set off for a stroll along the celebrated Philosopher’s Path (Tetsugaku no michi) that follows a canal lined with cherry trees. In April these trees explode with blossom and is one of the city’s most popular hanami (cherry blossom viewing) spots. You will love Kyoto’s photogenic winding streets filled with small specialized shops and cafés set against the backdrop of the Eastern Mountains.
- Day Four
- A Rural wander off the beaten track or up into the Japanese Alps
- You have two options on this day. One is to wander along beautiful country roads to experience rural Japan jumping off and on the local trains and buses and driving through forested mountains and small villages, where you can stay in one of the farmhouses. The old wooden homes convey a pleasant, rustic atmosphere and are equipped with simple, modern amenities. Your second option is to take a train to Takayama in the mountainous Hida region of Gifu Prefecture (known as the ‘Japanese Alps’). Takayama is a small town that has been preserved since the feudal period.
- Day Five
- Shirakawa-go — Up into the mountains
- Shirakawa-go, a World Heritage Site, is a quiet, picturesque village in a secluded area deep in the Southern Japanese Alps. The village is a patchwork of houses and rice fields connected by a network of watercourses. Shirakawa-go is famous for its traditional gassho-zukuri farmhouses with their the steep thatched roofs that resemble the hand of Buddhist monk held together in prayer (gassho-zukuri means ‘constructed like hands in prayer’). After strolling Shirakawa-go’s streets and browsing the appealing shops, you will return to Takayama by bus.
- Day Six
- Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park
- You take the train from Takayama to Hakone, a nature reserve and hot springs area with great museums as well as one of the best views of Mt Fuji. This is simply a spectacular destination.
- Day Seven
- Onward to the mega-metropolis
- In the afternoon you will catch a train to Tokyo and enter mega-metropolis and check into either the Villa Villa Fountaine Shiodome or the more luxurious Park Hotel Tokyo.
- Day Eight
- The many faceted city of Tokyo
- On your first day in Tokyo, you will explore the centre of city with your personal guide. Over the next few days, you will then explore Tokyo getting a thorough introduction to the daily life of its denizens. This is a vibrant and bustling city, where everything and everyone moves at high speed. You will be swept off your feet, but as you fly out, you will reflect on what will have been the most incredible travel experiences of your life
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