JAPAN’S Alps & Ancient Roads Autumn Leaves Tour 2021 16 Nights

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Where do we go – and Why?

We will follow the Nakasendo Trail, one of the ancient highways which linked Tokyo with Kyoto during the rule of the Tokugawa Shoguns (1603-1867). Then we will wend our way through the valleys and mountains to the “Roof of Japan”. Japan is justly famous for its scenery and this route take us through some of the loveliest areas of this mountainous country – and in autumn when the colours can be utterly spectacular. Hues of yellow, red, gold and green cover the hills and mountainsides. You will experience Japanese accommodation, delight in the food, arts and crafts, glimpses of history and you will have ample time to explore both the old and new in the modern cities of Tokyo and Kyoto.


The Capital of Japan with a population of 30,000,000 and where ancient traditions and culture walk hand in hand with modern day technology.


The Nakasendo Trail:

Three former “Post Towns” have been beautifully preserved and we will visit all three. They are Magome, Tsumago and Narai. All towns have closed their roads off to vehicles and as much as possible no TV antennas or electricity wires are seen. Tsumago and Narai (Narai of a Thousand Houses) have since 1976 been designated as “Protected Area for the Preservation of Traditional Buildings”. Narai is now the heart of the Kiso Lacquer Industry.


Matsumoto, Kamikochi & Takayama:

Matsumoto boasts a castle completed in 1614 which is now a designated National Treasure. We will also visit the largest wasabi farm in Japan – Daio Wasabi farm. Kamikochi is part of the Chubu Sangaku National Park and is has some of the most beautiful and picturesque scenery to be found in the Japan Alps. In Takayama “Roof of Japan” there are homes built some 400 years ago lining the old streets. Takayama often called “Little Kyoto” is also home to one of the most famous Matsuri Festivals in Japan. We will visit the Takayama Kaikan which houses a display of these beautiful floats.

Shirakawa-go, Gokayama, Kanazawa & Kyoto:

Both the villages of Gokayama and Shirakawa-go are UNESCO World Heritage Listed. In Gokayama try your hand at washi paper making. In Shirakawa-go you will see why the roofs of the houses are called “Gassho-zukuri” or “hands in Prayer”. Kanazawa has been appointed by UNESCO as a “City of Crafts and Folk Art in the Creative Cities Network in Japan”.
Home to the Kenrokuen Gardens (one of Japan’s 3 most famous) this old Samurai City also produces 98% of Japan’s gold leaf and is home to the only Geisha district outside Kyoto.


Amanohashidate & Ine:

Amanohashidate roughly translates to “Bridge in Heaven” and along with Matsushima in Miyagi Prefecture and Miyajima in Hiroshima Prefecture has for centuries been named one of Japan’s most famous scenic landscapes.
Ine is a working town with a long and rich history as a fishing village. It is also regarded as one of the most beautiful villages in Japan.


Kyoto “Hana no Miyako”

or the Flowering Capital. Arts, crafts, villas and gardens, sculpture, tea ceremonies, Temples and Shrines. Kyoto, steeped in history and culture and the Capital of Japan from 794 to 1868 has it all.

This tour captures the ever vibrant city of Tokyo and the majestic and regal city of Kyoto. In-between walk in the footsteps of yesteryear in Magome, Tsumago and Narai. Be in awe of one of the most beautiful castles in Japan, Matsumoto Castle. View the macaque monkeys at Jigokudani, connect with nature in Kamikochi, watch artisans working with gold leaf in Kanazawa, walk amongst 8000 pine trees on the Amanohashidate sand bar and enjoy fresh seafood in the beautiful fishing village of Ine.

This is a small group tour of maximum 14 clients plus an Experience Australian Tour Escort.


Land Only Pricing
Twin Share:                $7,265.00 per person
Single Occupancy: $7,965.00 per person

Prices are per person


This tour is being escorted by Jan Hutton. Jan has been specialising in travel to Japan for over 25 years. Her love of Japan started when she joined Jaltour/JAL in Brisbane in 1988. At the time of her early retirement in 2000, she had the most successful Office and turnover in Australia. Since then she has continued her close association and affection for Japan by escorting groups for the Cherry Blossom, Spring and Autumn seasons.Her firsthand invaluableknowledge of the UNESCO World Heritage Kumano Kodo has been gained by escorting groups though this area over the past 9 years.During a recent trip to Japan, Jan was invited to participate in a discussion with the Prime Minister of Japan, Mr. Shinzo Abe and the Governor of Wakayama Prefecture. Mr. Abe was interested in her comments with regards to the growing interest and success of tourism in the Kumano Kodo, Hongu and the overall Wakayama Prefectural area.All destinations on our “Japan’s Sacred Mountains – UNESCO World Heritage” and  “Ancient Roads and beyond” tours are visited frequently by Jan. These visits are from a working point of view to inspect properties, research local points of interest, tourist sites and to gain in-depth information of all areas.Her passion, professionalism and wealth of knowledge of Japan is unsurpassed and she is held in very high regard within the Japan Tourism Industry.She has a working history in Tourism/Travel/Hospitality spanning many years including flight crew, Qantas First Class Lounge Supervisor and DreamWorld Guest Relations Manager on the Gold Coast. Jan has visited Japan over 60 times both with groups and independently to update her knowledge, renew old acquaintances and plan out new tours.



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  • 16 nights accommodation : 14 breakfasts : 2 Lunches : 2 Dinners
  • All transportation as per itinerary including Shinkansen (Bullet train)
  • Private coach with Japanese/English speaking guide from 23rd October through to 30th October 2021
  • Japanese/English speaking guide 1st & 2nd November
  • 2 Luggage transfers : Tokyo to Matsumoto : Matsumoto to Kyoto
  • All sightseeing and entrance fees as per itinerary
  • Washi paper making in UNESCO World Heritage Gokayama
  • Full escorted within Japan by an experienced Australian Escort
Not Included
  • Return airfares
  • Airline/Airport taxes
  • Transportation, entrance fees and meals on Free Days


Terms and Conditions
  • All prices are in Australian dollars inclusive of taxes
  • A non-refundable deposit is required within 7 days of booking
  • Full payment is required 60 days prior to travel
  • Tour cost is based on 10 – 14 participants. Experience Japan reserves the right to re-cost or cancel the tour should this number not be attained
  • Airfares are not included in the tour price. For the best available quote, please enquire with Experience Japan team
  • Transportation, entrance fees and meals on free days are not included
  • Cultural activities are subject to change
  • Experience Japan does not in any way discriminate against persons with disabilities and/or very limited mobility. However some of the sites visited during our escorted tours may involve some walking and climbing stairs.  Travellers with disabilities and/or very limited mobility are recommended by Experience Japan to be accompanied by their own assistant who is capable of providing all or any assistance that is required.  No special assistance to participants with disabilities and/or very limited mobility is included on any Experience Japan Escorted Tours.  We at Experience Japan reserve the right to refuse participation in any of our Escorted Tours to any participant who we consider is, within reason , likely to impose unfair hardship on Experience Japan and/or its personnel.  As an alternative we at Experience Japan would be more than happy to arrange Independent tour arrangements for those travellers with special needs.
  • It is a requirement that all participants on this tour has a valid international travel insurance. It is recommended to have full comprehensive travel insurance at the time you pay your deposit for a tour. Claims may be made for cancellation due to unexpected medical and unforeseen circumstances as specified in your Insurance policy.
  • Credit card fees apply
  • Cancellation fees apply. 1. Deposit – non-refundable and non-transferable 2. Cancellations inside 60 days prior to departure or failure to commence the tour – 100% of the cost of the tour
  • Prices correct as of 28 January 2021 and may change due to currency exchange rate

Day 1 : Wednesday : 20th October :

Arrival into Narita Airport OR Haneda Airport and transfer by shared private shuttle to the Shiba Park Hotel for our three (3) night stay.

Accommodation: Shiba Park Hotel – Tokyo : In 20th October Out 23rd October


Day 2 : Thursday : 21st October : Tokyo at Leisure :

Your Tour Escort is available for suggestions and will take you on a tour of Tokyo by subway/train/walking. Escorted day tours such as Mt.Fuji-Hakone, Nikko, Kamakura and sights of Tokyo are available. It is highly recommended to pre-book these tours prior to departure from Australia.


Day 3 : Friday : 22nd October : At Leisure :

If you wish to join your Tour Escort she will take you to other areas of Tokyo today by subway/train/walking


Day 4 : Saturday : 23rd October : Tokyo – Nagoya – Nakatsugawa :

For the following 2 days please travel with a small overnight case. Your large case will be forwarded to Matsumoto to collect on arrival. Your Tour Escort will arrange the forwarding. Transfer to Tokyo Station by taxi and depart on the Shinkansen for Nagoya. Here we will be met by our Japanese/English speaking guide and transfer to Nakatsugawa by private coach. Lunch on board our coach. On arrival at Nakatsugawa transfer to our Hotel. Free Time. (D)


Accommodation: Hotel Hanasarasa : In 23rd October Out 25th October  

Day 5 : Sunday : 24th October : Nakatsugawa to Magome/Tsumago – Nakatsugawa : :

Breakfast and we will depart mid-morning on our coach for our full day of sightseeing of Magome and Tsumago. For those wishing to walk between Magome and Tsumago it takes approximately 3 hours. On your arrival into Tsumago you will be met by the remainder of the group and enjoy sightseeing in Tsumago. Later in the afternoon transfer by our coach back to our accommodation in Nakatsugawa. (B)


Day 6 : Monday : 25th October : Nakatsugawa to Matsumoto via Narai :

Breakfast and depart by our coach for Narai “Town of a Thousand Houses”. Free time to stroll the third of the Post Towns and early afternoon departure for Matsumoto for our 2 night stay. Prior to arrival at our Hotel we will visit the Daio Wasabi Farm which is the largest Wasabi farm in Japan. (B)


Accommodation : Hotel Buena Vista Matsumoto : In 25th October Out 27th October


Day 7 : Tuesday : 26th October : Matsumoto at Leisure :

Enjoy a day at leisure in Matsumoto. Take the “Sneaker” Bus and visit Matsumoto Castle one of Japan’s oldest and finest. Nawate Street reflects the nostalgic atmosphere of old-time Japanese Shopping. The “Little Paper Shop” exhibits beautiful origami. For those interested your Tour Escort will take you by train to Jigokudani (Hell Valley) where you can view the Snow Monkeys. All train fares/entrance fees etc are at own expense. (B)


Day 8 : Wednesday : 27th October : Matsumoto to Takayama via Kamikochi :

This morning please have your large suitcase in the Hotel foyer at 7:00am so your Tour Escort can arrange for the luggage to be transferred to Kyoto. A cabin size bag will suffice for the following 4 days. Morning departure on our chartered coach to Kamikochi. Enjoy a stroll around the beautiful Taisho-ike Pond ending up at the Kappabashi Bridge. This area is extremely popular with artists and photographers as beautiful scenery abounds. Early afternoon departure for Takayama/Furukawacho and prior to our arrival at our Hotel we will visit Hida-no-Sato. This exhibits a grand display of old farm houses which have been preserved as living museums. (B)


Accommodation: Hida Tomoe Hotel Furukawacho In 27th October Out 29th October


Day 9: Thursday : 28th October : Takayama-Furukawacho :

After breakfast we will take a local train to Takayama (16 minutes travelling time). We will visit the Takayama Kaikan which houses some of the magnificent floats seen in the famous Takayama Matsuri Festival, Nikko-kan and the old streets of Sanmachisuji. Lunch and the remainder of the day at leisure. (B)


Day 10 :Friday : 29th October : Takayama – Shirakawago/Gokayama – Kanazawa :

Depart by our coach for Gokayama and Shirakawa-go. Both these towns are UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1995. Here you will see why the houses are called “Gassho-Zukuri” or “Hands in Prayer”. The roofs have been architecturally designed over many years to withstand the large amounts of snow that fall in this area during the winter period. Enjoy washi (paper) making at Gokayama. Mid-afternoon arrival into Kanazawa. (B)


Accommodation: Daiwa Roynet Hotel Kanazawa : In 29th October Out 31st October


Day 11 : Saturday : 30th October : Kanazawa :

Our sightseeing today will include the Kenrokuen Gardens, one of Japan’s three most famous and also the beautiful Seison-Kaku which is located in the grounds. The 13th Lord of the Maeda family built the Seison-Kaku as a retirement home for his mother.

We will also visit the Nagamachi Samurai District and afternoon at leisure.

Maybe visit the Higashi Chaya District (Geisha area) and the Gold & Silver shops adjacent to the Higashi Chaya district. (B)


Day 12 : Sunday : 31st October : Kanazawa to Kyoto:

This morning we will take the train from Kanazawa to Kyoto arriving into Kyoto around midday and then transfer to our Hotel for our 4 night stay. Afternoon at leisure. (B)


Accommodation : Kyoto Karasuma Hotel : In 31st October Out 1st November


Day 13 : Monday : 1st November : Kyoto to Amanohashidate

This morning please leave your large luggage at Hotel Reception as they will keep in security until our return on Wednesday, 3rd November. Travel for the next two (2) nights with a small hand carry or back pack. Our Guide will meet us in the Hotel foyer this morning and we will take the local train to Kyoto Station and transfer to the train bound for Amanohashidate. On arrival we will leave our small luggage at our accommodation and have the afternoon sightseeing in and around Amanohashidate. (B/D)


Accommodation: Hashidate Bay Hotel (or similar) In 1st November Out 3rd November


Day 14 : Tuesday : 2nd November : Amanohashidate – INE – Amanohashidate

Today we will travel by coach to the beautiful fishing village of INE. Free time to explore INE and return to Amanohashidate mid afternoon. (B)


Day 15 : Wednesday : 3rd November : Amanohashidate to Kyoto:

After breakfast we will take the train back to Kyoto and move to our Hotel for our 2 night stay. Your Tour Escort will take you sightseeing and/or shopping, alternatively Free Time. (B)


Accommodation: Kyoto Karasuma Hotel : In 3rd November Out 5th November


Day 16 : Thursday : 4th November : Kyoto:

Breakfast and for those wishing to join your Tour Escort the following is planned but subject to change: Alternatively FREE day :

• Sumiya Teahouse : Shimabara is a former licensed courtesan and later geisha area of the city. Sumiya is the centre of tourism in the area and is operated as a museum Sumiya motenashi-no-bunka bijutukan (角屋もてなしの文化美術館, Sumiya Hospitality Cultural Museum or the Sumiya Motenashi Art Museum), showing the secular culture of the Edo period. Sumiya is one of the very few non-temple, non-shrine, non-palace buildings in Kyoto to survive from the Edo period and is the largest machiya in Kyoto.


History : The first licensed “entertainment area” in Kyoto was established by Toyotomi Hideyoshi at the junction of present-day Nijo and Yanaginobanba.


The entrance gate to Shimabara still stands and is a fine narrow, wooden gate with a tiled roof. A stack of wooden buckets stands by the gate as a reminder of the threat of fire to the wooden buildings that once stood within. Two former teahouses/restaurants/bordellos remain from the Edo Period. The best is Sumiya, and a must-see on a visit to Kyoto’s Shimabara.


Sumiya is the last remaining example of ageya architecture in Japan and is designated as an Important Cultural Property. Ageya were elegant restaurants where geisha and tayu aka oiran (courtesans) lived and performed for their guests and patrons.


Shimabara prospered as red-light district until 1958 when prostitution was made illegal in Japan and the geisha quarter survived until the 1970s. Shimabara was one of the three main licensed prostitution quarters established by the Tokugawa regime to control the practice. The other two were Yoshiwara in Edo (Tokyo) and Shinmachi in Osaka. Originally the Shimabara Pleasure Quarters would have been enclosed by a wall and surrounded by a moat.


• FOR THOSE INTERESTED : Kyoto Railway Museum : The Kyoto Railway Museum is one of the best railway museums anywhere in the world. It is a must for train fans. Formerly the Umekoji Steam Locomotive Museum, this superb museum was refurbished in 2016 and reopened as the Kyoto Railway Museum. It is now greatly expanded and covers all aspects of trains, from the earliest days of steam to the ultra-modern shinkansen (bullet trains).


Remainder of day at leisure OR alternatively we can visit Ginkaku-ji and the Path of Philosophy. PLEASE NOTE: All transport, entrance fees and meals etc on free/leisure days are at own expense. If needed taxis will be used between different areas as it is close to the same price per person as using public transport and much faster and more convenient.


If you are departing tomorrow from Itami Airport OR Kansai Airport (5th November) later this afternoon you will be notified of your pickup time for your Shared Shuttle transfer to Itami OR Kansai Airport. (B)


Day 17 : Friday : 5th November : Departure:

This morning please check out of your room The Hotel will mind your luggage until it is time to depart for the Airport. Please be in the Hotel Foyer at least 10 minutes prior to the advised departure time of the Shared Shuttle for Itami or Kansai Airport. (B)

“Hello Jan,

Thank you for the photographs, looking at them brings back the memories. It was a super trip last November, enjoyed it all thoroughly and would go again, so please don’t retire. You had the right mix of temples, shrines, shops , markets and travel.

Jan, thank you again for looking after me and the Photographs” Regards, Clare

“Good Afternoon Mihoko, I must compliment you and your team on the superb handling of our tour, especially Jan who when we had the odd problem responded immediately and came up with alternate solutions, it made the tour memorable. We have already recommended you to a number of friends. best wishes”  John & Monica

“I just wanted to give some feedback for the Ancient Roads tours in Japan I just completed. It was a wonderful leisurely tour through a country with bustling  cities and beautiful countryside.   I didn’t realise how easy we had it on tour until I talked to some over visitors on other tours.  They seemed to be constantly on the go with little free time.  I enjoyed the guided tours with Jan, Haru and Sacha (?).  Very passionate, informative and always thinking of the people on the tour with options and alternatives.This was my first visit to Japan but certainly won’t be my last.  A very good introduction to a wonderful country  - the people and the culture. Jan was an excellent hostess – always considering the passengers and she had us well organised! My only criticism was for the optional day tour I took to Hiroshima.  I found it quite expensive and on the day it was much too long yet, not enough time to explore the things I was interested in.  The guide was again very passionate about your job – could not fault her at all.  The personal choice was mine to do this tour but think it should be an optional overnight for the tourist to spend some more free time.” Linda

“Dear Jan san, my bestie. Thank you for making this holiday a dream come true. Without you and your hard work, organisation and laughter the tour would not have been as much fun. I have had fun. Love and best wishes.” Kathy

“Dear Jan, I hope to get time to load my photos onto computer this week and look at them more thoroughly.  Certainly enjoyed a wonderful experience and thank you so much for ensuring that this happened.  Your organisation was superb, especially when things don’t quite go to plan.  I really appreciated all the effort that you made and also appreciated your company throughout the trip.” Margaret.

“Hi Jan, Thank you very much for all the preparation you gave us prior to our Japan experience. We did appreciate the work that went into our holiday. Lots of fond memories and photos to relate to family and friends are now waiting to be shared.” Alan and Lesley

“We want to offer some very positive feedback on the “Ancient Roads and Beyond – Autumn Leaves” tour with Jan Hutton we have just completed.

We enjoyed the whole experience immensely. The tour provided an excellent blend of large cities and small towns, beautiful scenery, amazing temples, shrines, gardens and other cultural sites – the stunning autumn leaves were the icing on the cake.  The varied accommodation was very comfortable and the pace of activities manageable. The tour gave us a great insight into Japanese cult ure, old and new.

Jan Hutton did an outstanding job as our tour leader.  She is superbly organised and a great communicator. She kept us well informed on every aspect of what to expect well before we left Australia and throughout the tour.

We appreciated the flexible nature of arrangements, which allowed us to opt into, and out of, activities depending on our mood at the time.  Jan’s knowledge of unique an d interesting restaurants in many locations was an added bonus, as were her tips for efficient travel in Japan after we finished the tour.

We highly recommend this tour.” Peter and Carolyn “Dear Jan,

We have been to many countries but thanks to you this is one of the best adventures that we have experienced. Thank you in particular for the help in allowing Jan to negotiate her way around Japan and for the generous way that you have shared your time with Linda. Our impressions are that Japan is a wonderful country and its citizens are the nicest, most pleasant and helpful people that we have encountered. Your organisation and leadership are first class. You are a wonderful ambassador for Experience Japan.

Kind regards….David & Jan”

“Dear Jan,

WOW what a ride! This has been an eye opening adventure to such a beautiful country. Thank you so much for including a wide range of things to see and do.I really appreciate the extra time you spent with me. There will never be a big enough way to thank you for all that you did to help Dad and Jan have the best possible trip. Your extra effort made an incredible difference to all of us. You have a wonderful, caring and very patient nature. I am very lucky to have shared this time with you.

Thank you and lots of love…..Linda”

“Hi Jan,

Received your Email last Wed. Lovely to hear from you. Having trouble getting out of holiday mode. We had a wonderful time in Japan, thanks to our wonderful hostesse. I am talking about my next trip to Japan.[Autumn Leaves Tour].

Ron and Kay”

“Hi Jan,

It was a pleasure to travel with you. Your knowledge of Japan was very informative and your organisation was great. Our lasting feeling from the tripwas how polite, accommodating and pleasant are the Japanese people and how clean everything is and what Australia could learn from them.The scenery and historic villages were wonderful and we were greatly helped by the pleasant weather. Jan and I have travelled a lot but this was the best trip of all our adventures thanks to you and Hitomi.

Cheers from Adelaide David and Jan”


Thank you for your “welcome home”, and thank you very much for a wonderful holiday experiencing Japan. We both enjoyed it immensely, both your input and company and the camaraderie of the group.

Anyway, must go and cook if I remember how. Thanks again,