All Japan Tours 337 N.Vineyard Ave Suite 215, Ontario, CA 91764
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Tour cost includes:
• 14 nights in hotels and Japanese-style inns (Ryokan and Minshuku)
• All transportation between tour locations
• Forwarding of one item of luggage on 3 occasions
• Comprehensive escorted with AJT professional English speaking tour guide
• Breakfast everyday
• 8 dinners
Admission fees and activities
• All entry fees to sites, activities listed in the itinerary
Welcome to Kyoto! Meet at the tour hotel in central Kyoto in the evening. There will be a Welcome Dinner at a nearby restaurant.
We begin our tour of the historic city of Kyoto at Ginkaku-ji, the Silver Pavilion, a Zen temple modeled after the Golden Pavilion. This was built as a retirement residence for Ashikaga Yoshimasa and filled with beautiful moss gardens and varies temple structures. Next, we will stroll along the Philosopher’s Path which runs along a water canal lined with hundreds of cherry blossom trees. We then reach Nanzenji Temple, a famous Zen temple converted from the retirement villa belonging to Emperor Kameyama, we can enjoy the views and unique architectural traits of ancient Japan. After lunch, we continue to explore Kyoto, traveling to Nijo Castle, a designated UNESCO world heritage site and a perfect architectural example of castles from the feudal era of Japan. Lastly, we will visit the Nishiki Market. This narrow shopping street, commonly referred to as 'Kyoto's Kitchen,' is filled with more than 100 restaurants and shops showcasing Kyoto specialties such as Japanese sweets, pickles, dried seafood, and sushi.
In the morning, we make our way to Asuka by local
train. Asuka is an integral part of Japanese history as
the town is one of Japan’s first capitals in early
civilization and where Buddhism was introduced from
Korea. We then make our way to Osaka port where
we embark on an overnight ferry to Beppu through the
Seto Inland Sea. As we calmly drift pass the
thousands of small islands that are spread across this
body of water, you can enjoy your own private cabin
and relax in a Japanese hot bath.
Walking distance: 5.3 km / 3.3 miles
Time required: About 1.5 hours
Beppu is considered a bather's paradise as it is a celebrated hot spring resort destination. One of Beppu's most celebrated attractions, the Jigoku Meguri, or "Boiling Hells" hot springs are ideal for viewing rather than bathing. The springs earned their name because it was said that these mysterious, steamy attractions resembled a scene from hell ("jigoku" means "hell"). From Beppu, we make our way by bus to Kurokawa Onsen where we spend the night in a traditional Japanese Ryokan, or traveler’s inn. In the evening, relax in the natural onsen hot spring and enjoy a traditional kaiseki dinner.
After breakfast, we make for Takachiho by private charter bus. Along the way, we will pass by Mt. Aso, Japan’s largest active volcano. The Five Peaks of Mt. Aso is said to resemble a sleeping Bhudda hence being given the name “Reclining Buddha”. We continue to the southern part of the mountain range and stop in Shirakawa Springs where we will be spending the night. While the natural hot springs are a treasure to the area, we will also have the pleasure of sampling the renowned mineral water with some of the locals.
In the morning, we continue towards Takachiho and
first make a visit to the Amano Iwato Shrine. The
shrine was built near the cave where Amaterasu, the
Shinto Sun Goddess, is said to have hidden herself.
We then head to the Takachiho Gorge, a narrow
chasm cut through the rock by the Gokase River. The
nearly sheer cliffs lining the gorge are made of slow
forming volcanic basalt columns, which resemble the
scales of a dragon where the stone twisted and flowed
as it was formed. After our evening dinner at our
Ryokan, we make our way to the Takachiho Shrine to
witness a Yokagura Dance Performance. An
outrageously ribald dance that supposedly caused
Amaterasu to leave the cave to see what all the fun
was about, and in doing so she returned her light to
Walking distance: 6 km / 3.75 miles
Time required: About 2 hour
Today, we continue our journey from Takachiho to Kumamoto and visit the Suizen-ji Garden. This Japanese-style landscape garden pays tribute to the Tokaido, one of the five important routes of the Edo Period which connected Kyoto to Edo (Modern Day Tokyo). There is even a miniature version of Mt. Fuji! We then continue to the city of Kagoshima, rich in culture and cuisine that is distinctly unique from other places in Japan such as local dishes like Kurobuta and Grilled Bonito. Shochu rivals Sake as drink of choice in these parts as well.
On this day, we take a relaxing day-trip from
Kagoshima to Ibusuki, an onsen town particularly
famous for not its hot spring baths but for the sand
baths. Visitors are provided with a yukata robe can
spend 10-20 minutes buried in the volcanic black
sand. The sand is naturally heated by steam coming
from below. We return back to Kagoshima in the
evening for dinner.
Walking distance: 6.3 km / 4 miles
Time required: about 1.5 hours
Today we hop on another ferry ride to our next destination, UNESCO World Heritage site, Yakushima Island. The island is home to thousands of giant cedar trees like Jomonsugi, which name comes from Jomon (a period of Ancient Japan) and Sugi (Japanese for Cedar) and is estimated to be 2,000 to 7,500 years old. Tonight, we stay at a family-run guesthouse called minshuku and be treated to a meal using locally grown ingredients and the day’s fresh catch.
On our second day in Yakushima, we spend the day
hiking through the lush green forest of giant cedar
trees on one of the many trails. One trail leads to
Shiratani Unsuikyo, famous for being the inspiration
for the Studio Ghibli Film Princess Mononoke. At the
end of the day, we return back to your Minshuku by
Walking distance: 5 km / 3 miles
Time required: about 3 hours
Today we spend our last morning in the Tohoku region
by riding bicycles around the Tono countryside. Along
the road, you may visit one of the aforementioned folk
villages as you pass by the many traditional thatched
roofed farm houses. If the timing is right, you may also
be able to witness farmers hard at work harvesting
Japan’s staple food, rice! In the afternoon, we say
goodbye to Tono and make our way to Shin-Hanamaki
to board out bullet train back to Tokyo.
Cycling distance: 25 km / 16 miles
Elevation gain: little ascent or descent
Time required: 2 hours
In the morning, we return to Kagoshima by ferry and board a bullet train to Nagasaki. Originally an international port, the city played an important role in foreign trade between mainland China, Korea, and exclusively with some Western countries during Japan’s period of isolation. Nagasaki is a melting pot of cultures as it is said that this is where Buddhism and Catholicism were introduced to Japan. You can also see this in the architecture of some buildings in temples and churches. The city also shares a grim past with Hiroshima as it was the second city to be hit by an atomic bomb during WW2 and serves as a reminder to promote peace.
Today, we visit the man-made island of Dejima in the port of Nagasaki. This island was once used to segregate Portuguese merchants from the Japanese population to limit their missionary activities. Next, we visit Sofuku-ji Temple, originally built for Chinese settlers in Nagasaki and now belongs to the Obaku School of Zen Buddhism. What sets Sofuku-ji apart from other Japanese temples is that its architecture is built in a more Chinese style. Afterwards, you will have the option to relax and do some last minute shopping or pay a visit to the A-bomb Museum, built in remembrance to the events of August 9th, 1945. The goal of this museum is to promote peace so that horrific events such as these never occur again.
In the morning, we visit Glover Garden – an open-air museum where you can see a fine collection of historic mansions of former residents of Nagasaki who moved there from the western world. After lunch, we make our way to Osaka by bullet train. Upon arrival, you are free for leisure to relax or explore the area for some shopping and site seeing one your own. In the evening, enjoy your last night in Japan with your travel group at the Farewell Dinner.
After breakfast, our tour officially ends. Your guide will be happy to offer assistance and advice for your journey to the airport or onward travel in Japan.