This journey will take you to and through the most renowned sights of Japan, giving you a great introduction to this historic land. From the old capital of Kyoto to the modern capital of Tokyo and through serene countrysides and onsen hot spring villages, you will see first hand the culture and lifestyle of Japan, noticing how traditions have adapted to exist in the present day.
- Participating in and viewing local festivals in Kyoto and Takayama
- An overnight stay at a Buddhist Temple
- Participation in a private tea ceremony
- Stays at traditional ryokan inns
- Relaxation in some of Japan’s natural onsen hot springs
- Rides on shinkansen bullet trains
*Highlight availability varies season to season and is subject to change.
The following tour is an example of what we can offer you as a fine all-aspects trip through 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. Upon arriving at your accommodation, you will receive the custom guidebook we made for your journey. Feel free to browse through it, orienting yourself further with the great adventure that awaits you. Itinerary will be tailored according to your flight schedule.
Days 2 and 3 The Birthplace of Japanese TraditionOvernights in Kyoto City
Kyoto City, the heart of Japanese tradition and where you can still find to this day historic arts and customs living and adapting to exist in the present day. Your days in Kyoto will take you to the best of its seventeen UNESCO World Heritage Sites, while bringing to light what makes each so significant as well as a representative masterpiece of its era. It is in this city that you will come to understand how modern Japan has come to be. You will discover the basis of Japanese aesthetics, and learn about the old religions and daily tales that have made the Japanese story of today. Depending on when you come to explore this old capital, we will make sure to give you the unique chance to view and participate in one of Kyoto’s high-energy seasonal festivals that celebrate life and great harvests where you will dance, shout, carry a mikoshi portable shrine, and learn how to properly wear a happi festival coat while taking part in a living tradition.
Day 4 Pilgrimage Paths and Temples in the MountainsOvernight Temple Stay on Mt. Koya
On this day you will leave Kyoto and make your way to the sacred slopes of Mount Koya. If you choose to travel by rental or private hire car, the first part of today’s journey will be spent visiting the old capital of Nara, boasting the world’s largest wooden building, and one of Japan’s largest depictions of Buddha. In Nara, you will also have the chance to walk through a scenic park, being nuzzled by its free-roaming deer, once believed to be messengers of the gods.
Whether you choose to travel by car or by public transportation, this day will definitely hold for you a visit to Mt. Koya, the mountain that has been a major religious center and important pilgrimage site since the ninth century. This sacred mountain is home to the Shingon sect of Buddhism, a sect strongly influenced by the Buddhism that crossed the seas from Tibet. In this spiritual place, you will visit Japan’s oldest and grandest graveyard, the resting place of people of renown from the aristocratic rule era to the present day. On this mountain you will also visit Kongobuji Temple, complete with its stone gardens and amazing works of art done in old Japanese style. Your day of spirituality will come to a close by staying a night at a Buddhist monastery, enjoying a vegetarian meal of Buddhist shojin ryori before calling it an evening.
Day 5 The Sea Shrine of MiyajimaOvernight in Hiroshima City or on Miyajima Island
This morning will start with an early morning Buddhist prayer service as the sun rises, followed by another amazing meal of vegetarian shojin ryori as breakfast. Bidding farewell to the quiet mountainside, you will journey forward to Hiroshima and its neighboring island of Miyajima. The island of Miyajima is home to the fantastically whimsical sea shrine that looks as if it is floating on the waves at high tide. Once you step upon its shore, this day will be dedicated to exploring the famed shrine, along with a few hidden gems and amazing views before the sun sets behind the shrine’s brilliant red torii. In the evening, you will either remain on the island to enjoy a stay at one of the local ryokan inns, or you will move on to Hiroshima City for the night to bask in its nightlife, and perhaps to try the local delicacy called okonomiyaki.
Day 6 Unforgettable Hiroshima to Boisterous OsakaOvernight in Osaka City
Waking up to the sea breeze or to the sounds of a waking city, today will be spent learning about the amazing rising-phoenix city of Hiroshima. You will start with a visit to the Peace Memorial Park and Museum, and get a humbling view under the shadow of the Genbaku Atomic Bomb Dome. The morning could also be partially spent visiting the Mazda factory, giving you a glimpse into Japanese innovation and a peek into how it aided in the recovery of Hiroshima. Moving from Hiroshima, you will continue on to the city of neon lights and comedians that is Osaka. Filled with themed markets, and even more unique people, you will be treated to an evening of fun and merriment as you walk through the entertainment districts of amazing food and drinks. You will surely feel the reason as to why Osaka is known as the city of outgoing people and unique character.
Day 7 Artisan City KanazawaOvernight in Kanazawa
Today you will head from Osaka to the west coast of Japan, on to a city called Kanazawa. Kanazawa is a city of artisans and a proud history. Known as the little Kyoto of western Japan, Kanazawa actually holds its own as it purposely carved its imprint in the country as a city of the arts with a drive to perfect technique and offer the best wares and works in the whole of Japan. It is in this city that you will find masters of gold leaf, kimono cloth dyeing, ceramics, and lacquerware decoration along with a whole other list of craftworks. Here you will also get the chance to walk through an old geisha and tea house district, as well as explore a well-preserved samurai housing district, not to mention enjoy a stroll through a bustling seafood market. Kanazawa is also home to one of Japan’s three most renowned palatial gardens, and an award-winning art museum, known for its exhibits and unique architecture.
Days 8 and 9 Farm Village to FestivalOvernights in Takayama
Leaving urban Japan for more remote climes, you will go from Kanazawa first to Shirakawa village where you will have the chance to view architecture and lifestyles unique to this area of the Japanese Alps. Shirakawago is known for its farm-fresh foods, sparkling canals of mountain stream water, and its friendly locals. Shirakawago is proud of its heritage carved from heavy winter snows that, in the past, locked the village out from the outside world, motivating the people to find ways to thrive and survive independently. You’ll note for example the gassho zukuri farmhouses, created specifically to store a good amount of food and withstand extreme winter weather. After your leisurely visit in the village, you will continue deeper into the countryside to the town of Takayama where, depending on the season, you may again view and participate in a bright and festive matsuri festival. The night holds the most fascinating part of Takayama’s festivals with lantern-lit festival carts and songs filling the evening air. You will be sure to have pleasant dreams of the amazing scenes that filled your day.
The morning after the festival, the morning market invites you to try local delicacies and look through trinkets and knick knacks made by Takayama’s farmers. If you choose to have a guide for this day, they will be sure to help you figure out the country-exotic displays of vegetables and meals. The rest of the day will be spent touring Takayama, soaking in the feudal-era atmosphere, and enjoying light hikes along the town’s eastern mountains before once again enjoying a pleasant evening at your accommodation and its hot spring baths.
Day 10 The Castle of Black and Monkeys of SnowOvernight in Yudanaka
Leaving Takayama, you will either travel by highway bus or private car along a scenic mountain road that will provide you with breathtaking views of mountains, rivers, and impressive dams. After viewing the plethora of natural and man-made wonders, you will come to the old castle town of Matsumoto. It is here you will see for yourself the famed castle of black, one of the few remaining castles left intact since the feudal era. In Matsumoto you will also have the chance to stroll through the old streets to Nakamachi with its markets and galleries, a district well kept allowing you to bask in the aura of eras gone by.
From Matsumoto you will continue on by train or private car to the onsen town of Yudanaka. Blessed with natural hot spring waters, this is the city that is also famed for its bath-loving snow monkeys, which you will get to see after a light hike to their retreat. In the evening, you can retire to your traditional ryokan inn lodging, enjoying an evening of relaxation as you soak in natural hot springs, recharging for the adventures to come.
Day 11 The Beautiful Scenes of HakoneOvernight in Hakone
Today takes you by train or private car from one hot spring haven to the next. You will go from Yudanaka to the beautiful, volcanically sculpted natural landscapes of Hakone. Noted as one of Japan’s gorgeous national parks, Hakone offers rides through the skies on ropeways, fantastic views of Mt. Fuji on clear days, and art amongst nature at such as the Chokokunomori Open Air Museum. After discovering the sights of this area for yourself, you will have another chance to sample the relaxation to be had while enjoying Japan’s hot springs as you settle into your accommodation for the night.
Days 12 to 14 Prismatic Tokyo and Magnificent NikkoOvernights in Tokyo City
Leaving Hakone by train or private car, you will find yourself in the metropolis of Tokyo. You will spend the end of your journey in Japan in this city of modern marvels mixed with tradition. Taking what you experienced in Kyoto to heart, you will find how the past lives on in even Tokyo as you visit sights from ancient temples to innovative works of architectural splendor. As you visit the more trend-setting districts, you may even get a glimpse of how kimono and yukata of old have inspired designs in the newest fashions. During your stay in Tokyo, you will also have the chance to make a day journey to palatial Nikko, the fantastic homage built to shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu and his legacy. The many facets of Tokyo mixed with the splendor of Nikko will make for a grand finale for your adventure in the land of the rising sun.
Day 15 Farewell, and SayonaraItinerary will be tailored according to your flight schedule.
We wish you pleasant travels as you leave this land of the rising sun. We hope that you are taking with you lasting memories of the times you had here, and hope that you can return one day to discover even more. Farewell from all of us at Windows to Japan, and sayonara.