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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: info@alljapantours.com

Japanese Art, Garden & Culture Private Tour

Tour Code: GTW4768190

Tour Information

Land cost: from USD $16698.00

Single supplement: USD $0.00

Tour duration: 24 days 23 nights

Destination:
Tokyo - Hakone - Takayama - Shirakawago - Kanazawa - Himeji - Okayama - Kurashiki - Takamatsu - Naoshima - Yasugi - Matsue - Hiroshima - Kyoto - Koyasan - Osaka - Nara

Tour cost includes:
• 1 night temple lodging, 19 nights Western style and 3 nights Japanese style accommodation
• Airport transfers on arrival and departure
• Public transportation between destinations in Japan
• 14 day Japan Rail Pass for your transport (usually by shinkansen)
• Local guides in each city
• Luggage forwarding between hotels
Meals
• Breakfast everyday
• 4 dinners
Admission fees and activities
• All entry fees to sites, activities listed in the itinerary.

Itinerary

Day 1

Arrival at Tokyo Narita or Haneda Airport

Upon arrival, proceed through customs and meet your driver just outside the exit gate, they will be holding an “All Japan Tours” sign for easy visibility. Proceed to your hotel by private car. Upon arrival at the hotel, you will be free for leisure.

Hotel Century Southern Tower or similar class

Day 2

Tokyo

Meet your guide after breakfast and traverse through Tokyo’s pristine public transportation system. In the morning, you will have a choice between two excellent locations. The first of these is the Edo Tokyo Museum which exhibits life size replicas as well as miniature models of structures during the Edo period in Japan. Your other option is to visit Yanaka where you can experience the atmosphere of old Tokyo. You can see many types of shops lining the streets here, from butchers to confectionary shops. Then, you’ll be taken to Asakusa Kannon Temple, an active place of worship where you can see the largest paper lantern in Japan. You will also be able to explore the Nakamise Market, which is located right after the temple's outer gates. This is a traditional-style shopping street with several centuries of history. Next, board a Sumida River Cruise and enjoy views of the city’s skyline and bridges. Then visit the beautiful landscape garden of Hamarikyu which features seawater ponds that change level with the tides. You may also choose to add a Kabuki performance to your schedule to experience this ancient art and cultural tradition.

Breakfast

Hotel Century Southern Tower or similar class

Day 3

Tokyo

Our first stop this morning will be to enjoy the natural atmosphere of the Meiji Shrine, dedicated to Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken. Then visit Omotesando Avenue, a sloping tree-lined boulevard in Tokyo's fashionable Aoyama district that goes through parts of both Shibuya and Minato wards. Omotesando is often described as the famous Harajuku district’s mature older sister. Meanwhile, Aoyama is somewhere between Omotesando and Shibuya: still mature but also forward thinking and exclusive. At the Nezu Museum, you can enjoy a collection of pre-modern Japanese and East Asian art that Nezu Kaichiro put together. After bombing in World War II destroyed some of the collection, Nezu Kaichiro’s son continued to add to it to ensure that his father’s collection remained impressive. In Roppongi, you will have a choice to visit the Mori Art Museum – displaying modern art from new artists around the world. Though modern art can sometimes be complex, the Mori museum aims to have exhibitions which are accessible to the everyday viewing public. Nearby, you can visit Mori Garden – hidden away in the skyscrapers of Roppongi Hills and built in the style of a landscape garden. Alternatively, you can visit the Omiya Bonsai Village where a number of nurseries are located, along with the Omiya Bonsai Art Museum.

Breakfast

Hotel Century Southern Tower or similar class

Day 4

Tokyo - Hakone

Travel to the land at the base of Mt. Fuji where we will board a Lake Ashi Cruise to enjoy and appreciate Hakone’s natural scenery. We will take a 20-minute ropeway ride from Togendai to Owakudani. Along the ropeway, weather permitting, there will be great views of Mt. Fuji in the distance. While in Owakudani, visitors will have the chance to see hot springs and sulfurous fumes along the trails of an active volcanic zone. Next, we will visit the Hakone Open Air Museum which successfully attempts to create a harmonic balance of nature and art by exhibiting various sculptures on its grounds in combination with views of the surrounding valley and mountains. Tonight, relax in the onsen hot spring and enjoy a traditional kaiseki dinner at your hotel.

Breakfast / Dinner

Hakone Yunohana Prince Hotel or similar class

Note: We will courier your big baggage from Tokyo to your hotel in Kanazawa. Please pack your essentials for 2 nights in a small bag to carry with you to Hakone.

Day 5

Hakone - Takayama

Today, you will make your way to Odawara Station via shuttle bus on your own. Once there, board the bullet train to Nagoya. From Nagoya, transfer to Takayama via JR express train (14-day JR pass included). Upon arrival at Takayama Station, make your way to the hotel on foot. You will then be free for leisure in the afternoon.

Breakfast

Takayama Green Hotel or similar class

Day 6

Takayama - Shirakawago - Kanazawa

In the morning, you will be able to enjoy a walking tour of Takayama with your guide. We will start with the Takayama Morning Market, where visitors can taste local farm products and snacks. Then explore Sanmachi Suji, one of the three Old Town streets that have survived in a beautiful state, with some businesses that have been around for centuries. In the afternoon, you will transfer to Shirakawa-go with your guide via highway bus – the journey takes about 50 minutes. You will be visiting a UNESCO World Heritage site in the rural area of Shirakawa-go. Ogimachi Village is the main attraction, we will walk past thatched roof farm houses and cultivated fields and see unspoiled Edo period wooden buildings. Once there, we will go to the Shiroyama Viewpoint, and also Gassho-zukuri Minkaen, which is an open-air museum of farmhouses and structures relocated to this area. Wada-ke House is the largest farmhouse in the area, which belongs to the village leader, is now open for visitors to have a look inside these buildings. From Shirakawa-go, continue to Kanazawa via highway bus – bus tickets are included and the journey will take 135 minutes. Upon arrival at Kanazawa station, make your way to your hotel on foot on your own.

Breakfast

Nikko Hotel Kanazawa or similar class

Day 7

Kanazawa

Today you will enjoy a fully guided tour of Kanazawa via public transportation. Visit Kenrokuen Garden, regarded as one of the top three gardens of Japan. Stroll along the garden and enjoy the view of trees, stones, bridges and teahouses. Then, visit one of Japan’s most popular museums: the 21st Century Museum. It showcases contemporary artists from Japan and all over the world. The museum was designed without a front or back in order to encourage viewers to approach the art from multiple angles. Step back through time in the Nagamachi Samurai District where many old samurai residences remain at the foot of the former Kanazawa Castle. One such house, the Nomura family residence, has been fully restored and filled with artifacts of the time period to reflect the samurai class. Visit the Kaga Yuzen Traditional Industry Center. Kaga Yuzen is a type of silk fabric made for Kimono. You can see many Kimono on display here which use this fabric. Additionally, should you choose to add the experience to your itinerary, you can try on one of the traditional garments. Other optional experiences in the area include a Gold Leaf Craft Workshop and a visit to the Kutani Pottery Kilns which are famous for their detailed and intricate designs.

Breakfast

Nikko Hotel Kanazawa or similar class

Day 8

Kanazawa - Himeji - Okayama

Make your own way to Kanazawa station on foot and take the JR express train to Osaka. From Osaka, board the bullet train to Okayama (14-day JR pass included). On the way, you can choose to stop in Himeji to visit Himeji Castle and Kokoen Garden. Himeji Castle is one of the original surviving twelve castles of Japan. It is known as "White Egret Castle" and "White Heron Castle" because of its brilliant white exterior, which resembles a bird taking flight. Nearby is Kokoen Garden, a relatively recently constructed Japanese style garden, opened in 1992 on the former site of the feudal lord's west residence. You will then be free for leisure in the afternoon, after your arrival in Okayama.

Breakfast

Hotel Granvia Okayama or similar class

Note: We will courier your big baggage from Kanazawa to your hotel in Okayama. Please pack your essentials for 1 night in a small bag to carry with you to Okayama.

Day 9

Okayama - Kurashiki - Okayama

Today, you will tour Kurashiki and Okayama with your guide. In Kurashiki, you will visit the famous Canal Area. This location was very important along the distribution route of rice during the Edo period. Today it is a scenic area where visitors can walk along the canal and see the old storage units, along with buildings from the Edo period. We will also visit the Ohara Museum of Art, which is considered the first museum of Western art in Japan. It is a private museum consisting of three adjacent buildings next to the canal. Back in Okayama, you will visit Korakuen Garden, a landscape garden and the main attraction of Okayama. It is one of three most famous gardens in Japan featuring a large pond, walking paths, and many different types of trees.

Breakfast

Hotel Granvia Okayama or similar class

Day 10

Okayama - Takamatsu - Okayama

In the morning, meet your guide and travel to the island of Shikoku. Here, near Takamatsu, you can visit the Kinashi Bonsai Village. There are over 30 nurseries in this area that focus on growing pine trees for the purpose of Bonsai. Alternatively, you can visit the Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum, dedicated to the prominent Japanese-American artist, sculptor, and landscape designer. Isamu Noguchi is responsible for the design of the bridge featured at the Hiroshima Peace Park, the Moerenuma Park in Sapporo, and the garden at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris. The museum is located in his workshop and home, located in a traditional merchant-style residence. Next, visit Ritsurin Garden, a traditional Japanese garden regarded as one of the top three gardens of Japan. The features of the garden include the rest houses, tea houses, bridges, historic trees, and ponds. You will then return to Okayama for the night.

Breakfast

Hotel Granvia Okayama or similar class

Day 11

Okayama - Naoshima

Today, you will transfer to and explore the island of Naoshima with your guide via public transportation. Your first stop will be the Art House Project, where artists renovate old houses, turning the house and the space inside into a new "work of art." Nearby, you may visit the Ando Museum – dedicated to and designed by the famous Japanese architect for whom it is named: Tadao Ando. The museum resides inside an old, traditional Japanese building. However, once inside you will see that Mr. Ando has indeed left his mark. You will also see many displays on his activities throughout the island and throughout Japan. Your last stop of the day will be the very non-traditional bath house “I Love Yu”, a play on words with “Yu” being the Japanese word for hot water. Here, you will see many more art installations during your bathing experience.

Breakfast

Benesse House or similar class

Note: Please store your big baggage at the hotel and pack your essentials for 1 night in a small bag to carry with you to Naoshima.

Day 12

Naoshima - Okayama

Considered to be one of the world’s best museums for contemporary art, Chichu Art Museum, designed by Tadao Ando and nestled deep underground on the island of Naoshima, is both an intimate environment and a world-class institution. We explore Chichu’s collections and investigate what makes this Japanese museum so special. Lee Ufan Museum features works by the Korean contemporary artist Lee Ufan, who was born in Korea but has been working and teaching in Japan. On display are large installations made of stone, concrete, and huge slabs of iron, as well as a number of paintings from earlier in his career. The Benesse House Museum was designed by renowned Japanese architect Tadao Ando and displays works from many different artists, both from Japan and abroad. About 20 of these works reside on the lawns and beaches that surround the museum, including the famous pumpkin. Your guide will then take you back to the mainland and back to Okayama.

Breakfast

Hotel Granvia Okayama or similar class

Day 13

Okayama - Yasugi - Matsue

Today, you will explore Yasugi and nearby Matsue via public transportation with your guide. In Yasugi, visit the Adachi Museum of Art. Here, you will be able to see the award-winning garden which is the creation of Adachi Zenko. He hoped that viewing the garden and art together would pique people’s interest in Japanese art. While in Matsue, travel on to one of the islands in the lake 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. After enjoying the beautiful sights, return to your hotel where you can once again soak in the onsen hot spring.

Breakfast / Dinner

Hotel Ichibata or similar class

Note: We will courier your big baggage to your hotel in Hiroshima. Please pack your essentials for 2 nights in a small bag to carry with you to Matsue.

Day 14

Matsue

Continue to explore the castle town of Matsue, beginning with the castle itself. This is one of only a dozen original castles in Japan, meaning that its main tower has survived to this day through fires, earthquakes, and the anti-feudal demolitions of the Meiji Period. It is sometimes called the "black castle" after its darkly-colored, austere exterior. You can also enjoy a lovely cruise around the moat of the castle to get more interesting views of the castle and surrounding area. Visit the home of Lafcadio Hearn, one of the first western authors of Japanese culture. Hearn's former residence is now open to the public along with a museum located next door that is dedicated to his work and person. Take a walk down the streets of the old samurai district where samurai families used to live. One of the homes, Buke Yashiki, has been restored and filled with artifacts making for a very interesting time capsule of samurai life.

Breakfast / Dinner

Hotel Ichibata or similar class

Day 15

Matsue - Hiroshima

This morning, you will make your own way to Matsue Station and take the Highway bus to Hiroshima (bus tickets included). Upon arrival at Hiroshima Station, make your own way to the hotel on foot. You will then be free for leisure in the afternoon. If you would like, we can arrange for you to enjoy a traditional Ryokan stay on the impressive Miyajima Island.

Breakfast

Hotel Granvia Hiroshima or similar class

Day 16

Hiroshima

Our first destination of the day is the Peace Memorial Park. The Peace Park consists of the Peace Memorial Museum, the A-Bomb Dome, and the Cenotaph for the A-Bomb Victims. The Peace Park is one of the most significant features of the city, devoted to the events that occurred on August 6, 1945. Afterwards, we will travel to Miyajima, where we will see Itsukushima Shrine. It is famous for being uniquely built over water, and its large torii gate that appears to “float” over the sea during high tide.

Breakfast

Hotel Granvia Hiroshima or similar class

Day 17

Hiroshima - Kyoto

Make your way to Kyoto on your own via Bullet Train (14-day JR pass included). Upon arrival at Kyoto station, you will be met at the train exit by your guide. You will be guided through the rest of the day by your guide and visit the following locations. Begin with Nijo Castle, a designated UNESCO world heritage site and a perfect architectural example of castles from the feudal era of Japan. Then visit Ryoan-ji Temple, which is the site of the most famous rock garden in Japan. Visit Kinkaku-ji, the Golden Pavilion, so known because it is covered with 18-karat gold leaf. This three-story structure was originally built by the Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu in 1397.

Breakfast

Miyako Hotel Kyoto Hachijo or similar class

Note: We will courier your big baggage to your hotel in Kyoto. Please pack your essentials for 1 nights in a small bag to carry with you.

Day 18

Kyoto

Continue to explore Kyoto with a visit to Kokedera, or Saihoji. Here, you will be expected to participate briefly in simple chants and the transcription of Buddhist Sutra’s which have been pre-outlines for you in Japanese. Once you have completed this short task, you will be able to visit the temple’s moss garden which reportedly exhibits over 120 different types of moss. You will then visit the Arashiyama district. First is a visit to see Tenryuji Temple where you can catch a glimpse of the traditional rock landscape garden design. Then proceed through a dense bamboo grove, past several small shrines, tea shops and private houses before arriving at the Togetsukyo Bridge over Hozu River. Next, visit the Okochi Sanso Villa, built by the late Japanese actor Denjiro Okochi. The villa consists of several buildings and lovely gardens which the actor spent 30 years building. If you choose to add it to your itinerary, you will be able to enjoy the charming, old-fashioned trains of the Sagano Scenic Railway as you right through the mountains and take in the beautiful scenery. You may also choose to add a flat-bottomed boat cruise along the Hozugawa River where get a unique view of Arashiyama’s natural beauty.

Breakfast

Miyako Hotel Kyoto Hachijo or similar class

Day 19

Kyoto

In the morning, visit the Kyoto Imperial Palace. This was the former residence of Japan’s Imperial Family until 1868, during which the capital moved from Kyoto to Tokyo. You will then visit 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 hundreds of cherry blossom trees. While at 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. Within the complex, you can visit the sub-temple of Konchiin. Enjoy the unique complexity of the temple’s Zen garden, known as the Crane and Turtle Garden. Then, visit the lovely Murin-an garden. This is a rare example of a Japanese garden which also exhibits western architecture. Master gardener Ogawa Jihee designed a garden where one can enjoy tea on the veranda while soaking in the beauty of the garden. In addition to these excellent sites, you may also choose to add a visit to a private garden to your tour. This will be a garden which is not normally open to the public in which you will be accompanied by a professional garden designer who will be able to give you a unique perspective into these works of art.

Breakfast

Miyako Hotel Kyoto Hachijo or similar class

Day 20

Kyoto

Today, you will begin with the private garden at the Mirei Shigemori Garden Museum. While the home dates back to the Edo period, the Garden and tea houses were designed by Mirei Shigemori after he acquired the home in 1943. The garden is a typical example of one of Mirei’s lovely rock-focused gardens, though many in his day criticized him for thinking too far outside the box. Tour Kiyomizu-dera, a famous temple in Japan that is best known for its large wooden stage that overlooks a hillside of natural scenery. You may then enter the studio of the versatile artist Kawai Kanjiro. Here, he developed some of his most famous works which often came in the form of pottery. However, he was also known to create calligraphy, wood carvings, and other sculptural works. You will be able to see his large kiln on the property of the museum as well as many of his works. We will end our day in the Gion Geisha District, where its streets are lined with ochaya (teahouses), exclusive establishments where guests are entertained by Geisha and Maiko. Please note, optional experiences may require an additional day. One such experience is to try on the traditional garment of Kimono. Many visitors to Kyoto will wear a Kimono for the day to complete the traditional atmosphere that the city is known for. You can also experience Zen meditation in a temple with local monks or a Kaiseki dinner with a Geisha performance.

Breakfast

Miyako Hotel Kyoto Hachijo or similar class

Day 21

Kyoto - Koyasan

After breakfast, meet your guide and travel to the sacred Mt Koya(Koyasan) for the day. Your first stop on the mountain will be Okunoin Temple – regarded to as having the most sacred and largest cemetery of Japan. Afterwards, tour the Kongobuji Temple constructed by Toyotomi Hideyoshi to commemorate his mother after death. The Banryutei Rock Garden behind Kongobuji Temple is a large Zen garden beautifully composed to represent dragons emerging from clouds in the sky. Danjo Garan is one of the two most sacred sites on Mt Koya. In the 9th century, Mt Koya’s temple complex was founded on this very ground. At that time Kobo Daishi held a groundbreaking ceremony and then dedicated his life to the construction of Danjo Garan. Tonight, you will be staying at a temple where you will be able to enjoy the simpler things in life. Your dinner will be similar to a Japanese kaiseki dinner, with more focus on natural flavor. This form of cooking is referred to as Shojin Ryori, or Monk’s Food. As is tradition among practicing Buddhists, your meal will be vegetarian. After relaxing at the temple lodgings for a while, you may choose to venture back out to Okunoin where you may visit the graveyard once again by night.

Breakfast / Dinner

Sekishoin or similar class

Note: We will courier your big baggage from Kyoto to your hotel in Osaka. Please pack your essentials for 1 night in a small bag to carry with you to Koyasan.

Day 22

Koyasan - Osaka

In the morning, you will continue to learn about the life of a monk by participating in morning prayers. Then, you will enjoy a simple breakfast of Shojin Ryori. After breakfast, you will travel from your temple lodging at the sacred mountain of Koyasan back to the bustling Osaka. Osaka is not without rich culture however, as you will soon see. Today, you will first enjoy a relaxing Green Tea Ceremony. This activity was once only available for the social elite but has now been made available to a wide audience. You will be able to see how this ceremony encompasses not only tea but also pottery, confectionary, flower arrangement, and most importantly: patience. Afterward, you will try your hand at creating a flower arrangement in the Japanese traditional style. These are meant to look purposely simple, which can be far more difficult than it may appear! However, perfection is not encouraged so please enjoy your Ikebana experience as a time to meditate on the art of flower arrangement and do not focus too much on whether you have done it improperly. You will also be able to learn the art of calligraphy, even if you do not know how to write in Japanese. After enjoying these cultural activities, you will be able to visit either Osaka Castle -or- Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi. Visit Osaka Castle, which was built by Toyotomi Hideyoshi in aims for it to be the center of a new, unified Japan. Alternatively, visit the colorful, neon-lit entertainment district of Dotonbori. This area is popularly known for being the heart of the city, filled with eye-catching billboards and numerous restaurants. Then, make your way to Shinsaibashi, the largest shopping district in Osaka.

Breakfast

Courtyard by Marriott Shin-Osaka Station or similar class

Day 23

Osaka - Nara - Osaka

Today, we will travel to the ancient capital of Nara to visit the Nara National Museum which primarily displays Japanese Buddhist art. Nearby, visit the Isuien Garden – a traditional Japanese Garden with a scenic view structured using “shakkei” or borrowed scenery, fusing the background with the trees within the area. Then, we will visit one of Japan’s most famous temples and a landmark of Nara, Todaiji Temple. Outside the temple, interact with the wild deer of Nara Deer Park. There are special deer crackers available at every corner of the area. You may also want to add a Bamboo Chasen (tea whisk) making experience to this day to further your understanding of traditional Japanese culture and crafts.

Breakfast

Courtyard by Marriott Shin-Osaka Station or similar class

Day 24

Tour Ends

After breakfast, you will be free for leisure. You may make your own way to Osaka Kansai Airport via Haruka Express Train – train tickets included.

Breakfast

Note: If you would like the private airport transfer to be included, please contact us for the arrangements.