Starting your adventures in the old capitals of Kyoto and Nara, you will make your way through the country in springtime, taking in stories and sights from the past and noticing movements that are looking to the future. You will experience the wonders of the main sights while coming into contact with the many aspects of Japanese culture and festivities as they were, as they are, and as they are evolving.
- Participation in the exciting Furukawa Matsuri Festival near Takayama (April)
- A night of enlightenment at a Buddhist temple
- A relaxing stay at a traditional ryokan inn
- Hands-on cultural encounters
*Highlight availability varies season to season and is subject to change.
The following tour is an example of what we can offer your group as a festive springtime tour of Japan. If interested, feel free to contact us to find out what we can add to this schedule to make it special for you. We look forward to making a custom tour for you!
Day 1 Yokoso and Welcome To JapanOvernight in Kyoto City
After arriving in Japan, you will transfer to your accommodation in Kyoto City. In the evening you will meet your guide and group over a tour orientation and welcome dinner. Itinerary will be tailored according to your flight schedule.
Days 2 and 3 The Center of Historic JapanOvernights in Kyoto City
These two days will be dedicated to the heart of traditional Japan. In Kyoto you will view wonders such as the Golden Pavilion, the shogun general’s castle, colorful Nishiki Market, and so much more as you walk the streets that samurai and powerful leaders once crossed. We will bring you to the best of Kyoto’s seventeen World Heritage Sites, all the while bringing you in touch with the lifestyles and living traditions of the local people.
Day 4 Meditation in the MountainsOvernight in a Temple on Mount Koya
Leaving Kyoto you will head via coach to Nara, Japan’s first capital. It is here where you will find the great Buddha housed in an intricate and impressive temple made simply of wood. You’ll also stroll through the near-by park filled with families of deer believed to be messengers to the gods. From serene Nara you will travel into the mountains and arrive at Mount Koya. This area has been the sacred pilgrimage ground for those following the Shingon sect of Buddhism for generations, and is nestled in an ancient forest made home to the solemnly beautiful resting place for temple monks and fervent believers. You will visit Kongobuji Temple with its beautiful stone garden and elaborate Japanese-style drawings. Your day of enlightenment will come to a peak as you dine on shojin ryori vegetarian cuisine and practice meditation at the temple.
Day 5 Sacred Waves and a City of PeaceOvernight in Hiroshima City
Finishing your moments of reflection during morning service and a shojin ryori breakfast, the sea shrine of Miyajima calls to you on this day. Truly a sight to behold when the tide is high, the island it is on is also home to a smaller temple that holds unique ceremonies and statuary. Leaving the sea shrine behind you, you will move on to the city of peace that is now Hiroshima. Despite having gone through that moment of horror in 1945, Hiroshima has become a lively city, one filled with hope and a message of peace for all its visitors. In the evening, you’ll get to enjoy Hiroshima’s unique brand of nightlife, as well as its delicious local dish called okonomiyaki.
Day 6 Feudal Streets to Comedic NightlifeOvernight in Osaka City
The morning holds for you visits to the Peace Museum and Peace Park where you’ll encounter stories of devastation and legends of recovery. Availability willing, you will also get the chance to visit the Mazda factory here – a unique chance to witness some of Japan’s technological and infrastructural innovations. From looking toward the future to stories of a feudal past, you will then head out to Kurashiki. Kurashiki is a feudal-era town that boasts beautifully preserved historic streets and a picturesque, willow-tree-lined canal once used by merchants long ago. Merchant warehouses lining the canal have been transformed into galleries, cafes, shops, and more, all worth a look. After properly exploring Kurashiki, you will make the trek to Osaka – the city of comedians and neon lights. Osaka at night is the best nightlife you may ever encounter. With many restaurants, bars, clubs, and stores open late, you may find yourself wanting to explore until the sun rises.
Day 7 Coastal City of Artisans and GoldOvernight in Kanazawa City
From the boisterousness of Osaka you will take your leave and head west toward the coast’s city of gold. Kanazawa is so called as it is home to highly skilled artisans of gold leaf. Not wanting to be left out, you’ll find master artists of ceramic and sculpture here as well. Kanazawa shows off even more of its artisanal prowess as it boasts one of Japan’s top three landscape gardens, as well as an award-winning museum of modern art. Of course, visits to the city’s historic seafood market, samurai and geisha districts are all musts as well.
Day 8 Mountain CultureOvernight in Takayama
Leaving Kanazawa, you now head into the mountains to a town that is very proud of its unique architecture and culture. Shirakawago is a World Heritage Site and is a picturesque town of thatched-roof houses, green fields, and streams of fresh water. This town has been through the worst winters and its people can tell you how to handle them all. So proud are they of their history as a self-sufficient village, you will get the chance to tour some of the winter-ready homes and learn about the lifestyle of the townspeople. After touring the town, you will make your way over to feudal-era town Takayama in full on festival time. Today is the Furukawa festival, and you can choose to take part in this grand event before the evening comes to a close.
Day 9 Morning Markets, Castle Roads and Hot SpringsOvernight in Yudanaka
Takayama’s morning market is a treasure of fresh foods and hand-crafted wares made with love by local farmers. You will easily make friends with the jovial old ladies and farmers manning the market stalls. After treating yourself to a few jokes and snacks in the morning, you will make your way through scenic river-lined roads to the castle town of Matsumoto. Matsumoto’s “black crow” castle is the last original remaining castle of the feudal era. After visiting that wonder of history, you’ll tour the old castle town streets filled with small shops, interesting galleries, and other hidden treasures. The night holds a stay at a traditional ryokan inn in the town of Yudanaka where you can relax in an onsen hot spring and enjoy a meal of fine Japanese cuisine in the land of snow monkeys.
Day 10 Volcanic BeautyOvernight in Hakone
Today you will start with a refreshing hike to the home of the curious snow monkeys. Enjoying the local flora and fauna, you will be treated to a view of families of macaque soaking away the day in a hot spring nestled in nature, made just for them. After your leisurely hike, you will go from the Alp’s mountainous beauty to volcanic gorgeousness by venturing out to Hakone. As you take the scenic roadways to the national nature reserve, you will make a stop at an outstanding museum dedicated to one style of kimono fabric dyeing. Then you finish the trek to Hakone. Hakone is a beautiful area carved by volcanic activity that took place centuries ago. The beautiful nature to be found in the area is enhanced by works of mankind, one of them being the renowned Hakone Open Air Museum with fascinating sculptures gracing the natural backdrops. Enjoy a short cruise over the caldera lake, make sure to try on a clear day to catch a peek of flawless Mount Fuji, ending the day with another onsen hot spring soak and a lovely stay at a traditional ryokan inn.
Days 11 to 13 Marvels in the Metropolis and Magnificent NikkoOvernights in Tokyo
Leaving the wilds, you enter into the urban landscapes of Tokyo. Here you will enjoy the multi-faceted city as you walk through posh and inventive fashion streets, stroll amongst the towering spectacles of architecture that decorate the metropolis, and enjoy some of the latest innovations and pop culture trends as you weave your way in and out of Tokyo’s many districts. On one of these days, you will take a break from the modern madness and visit serene Nikko, the palatial homage to the man who unified Japan with some of Japan’s best and most colorful and intricate wood carvings, not to mention the chance to relax your mind while enjoying the peaceful view of the area’s waterfalls.
Day 14 Farewell and SayonaraItinerary will be tailored according to your flight schedule.
We wish you the best journeys as you leave this island nation. We hope that you are taking with you lasting memories, and hope that you can return one day to discover even more. Farewell from all of us at Windows to Japan, and sayonara.