All Japan Tours 337 N.Vineyard Ave Suite 215, Ontario, CA 91764
Toll Free: 1-855-325-2726 (US/CANADA) Tel: 1-909-988-8885
Fax: 1-909-349-1736 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Land cost: from USD $8298.00 (Limit to 12 guests)
Single supplement: USD $1860.00
Tour duration: 14 days 13 nights
Himeji / Yasugi / Matsue / Kurashiki / Seto Ohashi Bridge / Takamatsu / Naoshima / Bizen / Osaka / Nara / Kyoto / Mt Fuji / Hakone / Tokyo
Tour cost includes:
• 12 nights Western style and 1 night Japanese style accommodation
• Meet and greet upon arrival at Osaka Kansai Airport or Itami Airport
• Private airport transfers on arrival and departure
• Private coach transfers between destinations in Japan
• Comprehensive escorted with a garden specialist English speaking tour guide
• Breakfast everyday
• 9 lunches and 6 dinners
Admission fees and activities
• All entry fees to sites, activities listed in the itinerary
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All prices are per person, based on twin (double on request) or triple occupancy.
International flights are not included on our tours - this allows you the flexibility to choose your own departure and get the best value for your money!
We can arrange international flights for US customers if needed, please ask for details.
Welcome to Osaka! We will pick you up from the airport and take to the hotel by private car.
NOTE 1: The meet and greet and airport transfer to the first hotel is ONLY available on the first day of the tour. If you plan to stay extra nights before the start of the tour, please contact us for the transfer if needed.
NOTE 2: If you wish to stay extra nights before the tour starts, please contact us to book hotel accommodations.
Today, we will visit Himeji Castle, the most magnificent castle in Japan and one of the surviving twelve original castles. The six-story castle keep is iconic; its dazzling white coated walls that seem to spread from the tower like wings lend Himeji Castle the nickname “White Heron” (or White Egret) Castle. A short walk from the castle is Kokoen Garden, which was opened in 1992 – the 100- year anniversary of Himeji City’s founding. Built over a residencial area of high-ranking samurai warriors, Kokoen features a garden with a big pond with a dynamic waterfall, full of colorful carp, and several more different gardens. The cherry blossoms here are especially beloved in Himeji. The tour will stop in Yasugi for a look at the Adachi Museum of Art. The outer landscape garden – a masterpiece established by museum founder Adachi Zenko – has been repeatedly heralded as the Best Garden in Japan by the “Journal of Japanese Gardening”. We continue to Matsue to check into your ryokan, a Japanese styled inn, facing Lake Shinji, for a relaxing evening.
Today you will explore the former castle town of Matsue, beginning with imposing Matsue Castle. Also known as “the Black Castle” for the inky coloring of its central keep, it is one of Japan’s few original castles that preserves the same central structure it had since the feudal era. The cherry blossoms of the surrounding park are really beautiful. We will enjoy a short ride in a small boat around the castle moat and soak in the tranquil landscape. Nearby is an old samurai district featuring the Buke Yashiki, a traditional samurai home filled with preserved artifacts detailing the simple, yet elegant mode of living for these warrior-noblemen. Then travel to an island in nearby Lake Nakaumi to visit Yushien Garden. While the garden features many traditional landscape elements, it is famous for its collection of 250 types of peonies. Some are kept outside in traditional, protective, bamboo coverings, but far more are kept inside in the lovely indoor garden.
In the morning, we will start the day with a tour of Kurashiki Canal Area, a scenic historical quarter with gorgeous waterways bordered with willow trees plus old- fashioned storehouses built in the Edo-era style. Then we tour the Ohara Museum of Art - one of the first museums of Western art in Japan. The museum features Japanese Craft Arts and Asiatic Arts, in addition to a great collection of Western paintings. Then drive across the Seto-ohashi Bridge to Shikoku. Seto-ohashi, or “Great Seto Bridge” is actually a 13-kilometer long network of smaller bridges linking the main Island with Shikoku Island across the Seto Inland Sea. This incredible bridge system uses smaller islands to transition from one link to the next, in a clever combination of different modes of engineering, to make one of the longest bridges in the world. Making our way into Takamatsu, our first stop is a local bonsai farm. This private farm offers an exclusive look into the world of bonsai - miniature pine trees shaped into elegant and thought-provoking works of art. Continue to Ritsurin Garden, a traditional Japanese garden regarded as one of the top gardens of Japan. The garden features peaceful walking paths beneath well-maintained trees along beautiful ponds, and 400-year-old Kikugetsu-tei teahouse with an excellent view, sitting next to a large pond.Here, you can enjoy amazing skills and passion of Japanese gardeners.
Today, take a ferry to Naoshima Art Island for a day of inspiration with buildings designed by renowned Japanese architect Tadao Ando. We start with the Art House Project, where artists renovate old houses, turning the house and the space inside into a new work of art. Then move to Benesse House, a combination of modern museum and deluxe hotel, with myriad works of artists from all over the world. These include a series of outdoor sculptures set up on the park and shoreline. Next, we will visit the Chichu Art Museum. Built into a hill on the southern coast, Chichu Art Museum’s underground display rooms use natural light to showcase works from a limited selection of artists including Claude Monet and James Turrell. Tonight, you will stay in the Benesse House, which is equal parts hotel and art gallery, for a relaxing evening of artistic immersion.
Today, we take the ferry back to Okayama, and travel from there to Bizen famous for Bizen Ware, ceramics much favored by Japanese. After we arrive, we will first tour the Bizen Osafune Japanese Sword Museum, where a variety of swords can be seen as you study the history and process for making Japanese swords, and even have the chance to see swords being hammered up close. Next, we make our way to the Imbe Bizen Pottery Village which is the center of the Bizen style of pottery-making. Around the village you can see the workshops, kilns, and shops that preserve this time-honored craft. The quiet and simple wares, made without glaze, are beloved by Japanese. From there, we continue to Osaka, arriving just in time for a dinner of Wagyu Beef. Wagyu has become world- famous as a richly-textured, high-quality beef that is so tender it practically melts in your mouth, and tonight you will be able to savor for yourself the mouthwatering taste of this prized meat.
Today we travel to Nara, the ancient capital of Japan back in the 8th century. Our first stop is the city's most iconic historical landmark - Todaiji Temple, famous for the world’s largest bronze statue of Buddha. The thousand adorable Shika deer wandering freely around the grounds of the temple make Todaiji especially charming. From Todaiji's Nandaimon Gate, its a short walk to Isui-en Garden, a name meaning “garden founded on water” in reference to its picturesque ponds dotting the green landscape, fed by the small river nearby. We go from there to the Higashimuki shopping area, where you will have lunch on your own. Then we take a short trip to see the five- storied pagoda of Kofukuji Temple - family temple of the noble and powerful Fujiwara clan and an iconic city landmark. There you also see its private museum with a lot of the nicest treasure of Japan from the 8th Century. Nearby is Naramachi - an Edo-era heritage quarter, where you will find the nearly 100 year-old Nigiwai-No-Ie House. This former merchant's dwelling was simply built with old- fashioned tatami rooms, a traditional kitchen, and a pretty backyard garden. Then we return to Osaka for a relaxing evening at the hotel.
In the morning, the visit to Osaka continues with a visit to Hasshu-an, a charming establishment that intruduces visitors to Japanese traditions. Here we will enjoy a Green Tea Ceremony, an Ikebana (flower-arranging) Experience, and a lesson in Zen Meditation. Next, a short drive takes you to Kyoto, where our first attraction of the day is Nijo Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site from Japan’s feudal era, and palatial temporary residence of the Tokugawa shogun when he was in Kyoto. The magnificent buildings and elegant interior are well preserved – the foremost example of Edo-era castle architecture. We continue with a walking tour of Ponto-cho and the Gion Geisha District. Ponto-cho is an alley packed with various restaurants that serve everything from traditional and modern Kyoto cuisine to foreign dishes. The nearby Kamogawa River lends a charming atmosphere to the whole alley as you walk past the various storefronts. Then walk through the Gion Geisha District, where its streets are lined with ochaya (teahouses), exclusive establishments where guests are entertained by Geisha and Maiko, Geisha apprentice.
Begin the day with a visit to the Kyoto Imperial Palace. This was the palace of Japan’s Imperial Family for 500 years until 1868, during which the capital moved from Kyoto to Tokyo. It means the Emperor moved to Kyoto at that time.Then we will tour the Arashiyama district. First is a visit to see Tenryuji Temple where you can catch a glimpse of an exquisite traditional landscape garden with a big pond and borrowed scenery. Then we walk through a dense grove of towering bamboo trees before our visit to Ryoanji Temple. Ryoanji is home to a world-famous rock garden, or "karesansui". While the exact meaning of the garden is a mystery, one can't help but feel a sense of peace and tranquility from its simple, elegant design. Next, we visit the Golden Pavilion, which is perhaps Kyoto's most renowned landmark. The three-story temple is covered in shining gold-leaf and topped with a representation of a phoenix. Then we travel to Daitokujji Temple, a massive complex with over twenty-two sub- temples, each of which has a unique Zen garden within the grounds. The temple is also thought of as the spiritual birthplace of Japanese Tea Ceremony, containing a tea house used by the legendary tea master Sen-no-Rikyu. We will visit two of the sub-temples: Zuiho-in and Daisen- in. In Zuiho-in, you see one of the 20th Century Zen Gardens, designed by Shigemori Mirei. Daisen-in, created in 1509, has one of the oldest remaining Zen gardens. The gardens surrounding the main hall represent metaphorical journey of a human life. End the day with a private dinner with a "Maiko" or Geisha apprentice who gives an elegant traditional dance performance in gorgeous kimono.
After breakfast, our first stop for the day will be Ginkaku- ji, the Silver Pavilion, a Zen temple where you can feel what Zen is like. It was a retirement villa for shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa, who was a great connoisseur and patron of art and culture but a poor politician. The memory of that historical period can still be seen while strolling by rare dry sand gardens and old structures. Next you will take a walk down the famous Kyoto Philosopher's Path and view the lovely cherry blossoms. Then meet with a Japanese garden expert and former gardener, and go together to visit Murin-an - a Japanese strolling garden created after Japan started rapid Westernizaion in the latter half of the 19th Century. This is a new type of Japanese gardens liberated from many restrictions in making gardens, where you enjoy bright green plants, grass and moss everywhere you look, hearing the sound of peaceful streams. While here, you can talk with the Japanese garden expert and ask questions about the time-honored art of Japanese landscape gardening. Then enjoy exclusive access to a local private garden in Kyoto by visiting the Namikawa Yasuyuki Sippo Memorial Museum. Namikawa Yasuyuki was a Japanese cluisonne artist known for his naturalistic style and transparent black enamel, and this museum houses some of his most famous works. After, we go to the Heian Shrine, which was built to honor the foundation of Kyoto (once known as Heian) of over a thousand years ago. The shrine itself is known for its enormous torii gate and vermillion-colored main building with green roof tiles in an old style. Behind the main building are the Shin-en Gardens - a series of five gardens with various ponds, traditional buildings, and plants, including its "weeping" cherry trees. Finally, enjoy a Kimono Wearing experience where you will be able to try on a colorful kimono, and take pictures while in the traditional Japanese attire.
Before traveling to Mt. Fuji, you will first board one of Japan’s high-speed bullet trains to experience the thrill of this high-speed local transportation.You'll be surprised at its punctual service as well. Disembark at Shin- Fuji Station near Lake Kawaguchi to visit the Kawaguchiko Muse Museum, featuring charming dolls made by artist Yuki Atae. Continue across the lake to the Itchiku Kubota Art Museum. This art museum is devoted to the works of silk-dyeing artist Kubota Itchiku, who devoted his life to recreating elaborate kimonos using the lost art of silk- dyeing. Then take a stroll around Oishi Park, which sits on the shores of Lake Kawaguchiko and offers spectacular views of Mount Fuji when it's sunny.
This morning, enjoy a scenic cruise along Lake Ashinoko, which borrows scenery from Mt. Fuji to create a stunning landscape. The next attraction will be the Hakone Open- Air Museum, which displays abstract sculptures and structures designed by various artists. It balances the outdoor exhibits with the surrounding mountains and valley. Then we take a drive to the capital city of Tokyo which, despite the dense urban sprawl, has much of its cityscape devoted to parks and gardens. Rikugien, or "six poems garden" is especially inspirational, reflecting in its quiet pond, manicured shrubs, and abundant trees, a number of poetic scenes, not only from six poems, but eighty-eight of them. Finally we go to one of Tokyo's most prized cherry blossom viewing spots - Chidorigafuchi. A stroll beside the broad palace moat at this time of year, when the long branches of over two hundred cherry trees hang heavily over the water's surface, beckoning visitors to step out of the busy Tokyo streets and into a springtime dream.
After breakfast, we will make our way to the garden of the Hotel New Otani Tokyo. This beautiful garden with a dynamic waterfall is steeped in 400 years of feudal history and possesses a peaceful ambience while nestled in the heart of Tokyo. Next is Asakusa Sensoji Temple, Tokyo’s oldest temple, and home to Kaminarimon - a gate hung with an enormous paper lantern. Next, board a Sumida River Cruise, where you can enjoy urban scenery of the city on your way to Hama Rikyu Garden, a traditional landscape garden next to the sea surrounded byTokyo's skyscrapers. Visit the famous Tsukiji Outer Market, home to tasty sushi. There're some other food options. Have lunch on your own. Finally, discover the unique urban designs of Ginza architecture on a local walking tour with your friendly guide. We have farewell dinner.
After breakfast, our tour officially ends.
Checkout time is 11 am.
Transfer to Tokyo Narita Airport or Haneda Airport by private car.
NOTE 3: The departure airport transfer is ONLY available on the last day of the tour. If you plan to stay extra nights after the tour, please contact us for the transfer if needed.
NOTE 4: If you would like to stay longer in Japan, please contact us to book hotel accommodations.