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.
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 23rd May Out 26th May
Your Tour Escort is available for suggestions and will take you on a day 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. (B)
This morning please have your large luggage in the Hotel Foyer no later than 7:15am as your Tour Escort will arrange for it to be forwarded to Matsumoto. For the following 2 days please travel with a small overnight case.
Transfer to Tokyo Station by maxi-taxi and depart on the Shinkansen for Nagoya. Here we will be met by our Japanese/English speaking guide and transfer by our chartered coach to Nakatsugawa for our two night stay. A box lunch and drink will be available on the coach. On arrival at Nakatsugawa transfer to our Hotel. Free time. (L/D)
Accommodation: Hotel Route-Inn Nakatsugawa : In 26th May Out 28th May
Breakfast and we will depart at 9:30am 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 a category of 1-5 (5 being the hardest) this walk would be a level 2). 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. Enjoy a relaxing Onsen. (B)
Breakfast and depart by our coach for Narai-juku “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 : Matsumoto Marunouchi Hotel: In 28th May Out 30th May
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)
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 30th May Out 1st June
After breakfast we will take a local train to Takayama (16 minutes travelling time).
We will visit the Yatai-kaikan (Takayama Festival Float Exhibition Hall) which houses some of the magnificent floats seen in the famous Takayama Matsuri Festival, Nikko-kan and the old streets of Sanmachisuji. Remainder of the day at leisure. (B)
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 1st June Out 3rd June
Our sightseeing today will be by private coach and 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)
This morning we will take the train from Kanazawa to Kyoto arriving into Kyoto around midday and then transfer to our Hotel for our 1 night stay. Afternoon at leisure. (B)
Accommodation : Kyoto Karasuma Hotel : In 3rd June Out 4th June
This morning please leave your large luggage at Hotel Reception as they will keep it in security until our return on Monday, 6th June. Travel for the next two (2) nights with a small hand carry or back pack.
Your Tour Escort will arrange taxis to Kyoto Station where we will transfer to the train bound for Amanohashidate.
On arrival we will be met by our local English speaking guide and consign our luggage to our Hotel shuttle to transport to our Hotel. After lunch we will visit Kaisen bridge (revolving bridge), Chionji Temple and Amanohashidate Viewland. Transfer to our Hotel by Hotel Shuttle bus. (B/D)
Accommodation: Hashidate Bay Hotel : In 4th June Out 6th June
Today we will travel by coach to INE which is one of the most beautiful fishing villages in Japan. Here we will enjoy a boat cruise on the bay. Free time to explore INE. On our return to Amanohashidate we will visit Kasamatsu Park and Nariaiji Temple. Free time and return to our hotel by Hotel Shuttle bus. (B/D)
After breakfast we will take the train back to Kyoto and move to our Hotel. Your Tour Escort will take you sightseeing and/or shopping, alternatively Free Time or join the “Tea with Maiko” Ceremony. (B)
Accommodation: Kyoto Karasuma Hotel : In 6th June Out 9th June
Breakfast and then meet with our local Tour Guide and coach for our day tour of Kyoto.
With the exception of Fushimi Inari Shrine all the sightseeing venues today are UNESCO World Heritage Listed.
• Visit the famous Ryoanji Temple with its beautiful Zen Garden which dates from the 15th century.
• Onto Kinkakuji “Golden Pavilion” whose walls are completely covered with gold leaf
• Our next stop is Nijojo Castle built in 1603 as a residence for the first Tokugawa Shogun.
After lunch (Hosted by Experience Japan) we traverse to the opposite side of Kyoto and
• visit the Fushimi Inari Shrine which is the headquarters of about 40,000 Inari shrines all over Japan. Founded in 711 it is also noted for the sight of 7,000+ torii (shrine gates) that are positioned over a long path up to the hill behind the shrine. (B/L)
Breakfast and for those wishing to join your Tour Escort, the following is planned but subject to change.
Alternatively FREE day:
Let us take a scenic train ride from Kyoto to Kibune nestled in the mountains. Here we can enjoy Kawadoko lunch whilst sitting on tatami over the rushing waters of the Kibune River. Kawadoko, roughly meaning “place at the river,” is a dining concept which involves eating next to or atop water in order to feel the breeze it supplies.
If time permits, on arrival back to Kyoto visit the 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 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.
If you are departing tomorrow from Itami Airport OR Kansai Airport (9th June), later this afternoon you will be notified of your pickup time for your Shared Shuttle transfer to Itami OR Kansai Airport. (B)
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)
This tour is being escorted by Jan Hutton. Jan has been specialising in travel to Japan for over 30 years.