Traditional & Tropical Japan 2019/2020
Per Person Price: €5,445 | £4,950 | US$6,350 | AU$8,950
(Single Room Guaranteed) €6,500 | £6,050 | US$7,750 | AU$10,900
Sub-tropical Pacific Island, Amami Ooshima, is one of Japan’s best kept secrets. This is the perfect way to finish an exhilarating journey through Honshu Japan
Traditional & Tropical is one of our all-time favourite tours. Travel through Japans mainland island of Honshu capturing the best places to see while on your first trip to Japan including Tokyo, Kyoto, Matsumoto, Takayama, Kanazawa, Kyoto and finally finishing up on one of Japan’s best kept secrets, Amami Ooshima.
Traditional & Tropical Japan - Video Overview
Welcome to Tokyo - Where East Meets West
Welcome to Tokyo! Two fun filled days touring and taking it all in. Our local Tokyo guide will try to fill in the gaps for you and answer all the questions you are bound to have. Tokyo is like no other city you have ever been to. Don’t worry, the chaos is very organised, clean, safe, and works extremely well (considering it caters for up to 30 million people every day). We love Tokyo for its quirkiness, people, and most of all architecture and places to visit. Our guide will show you the best of Tokyo whatever the season!
Jigokudani (Snow Monkeys) & Magical Matsumoto
From Tokyo, we head north into the Japanese Alps region. Most people recognise this area as where the famous snow monkey’s spend their time in Jigokudani. Overnight in a traditional ryokan not too far from the hot spring town. Kaiseki dinner & onsen (hot spring) baths are certainly worth this journey. On the following day, we move to the magical town of Matsumoto. Matsumoto Castle is one of our favourite original Samurai Castles in Japan. It has been preserved (internally) in its original form, unlike some other large castles in Japan (Osaka & Nagoya). Climb to the top and see how the Feudal Lords lived. If time allows, we may stop at the Ukiyo-e Museum which holds the largest private collection of woodblock prints, paintings screens, and old books in the world. The scenic drive from Matsumoto to Takayama takes approx. two hours.
Takayama is nestled in the Hida Mountain Range. Famous for hida beef (tastes just as good as Kobe beef), sake (rice wine) making, and old merchant streets still very active selling their goods and foods. Two nights here will be enough to give you a sense of how the Japanese people enjoy the vibrant morning market, lively streets by day, yet somewhat sleepy streets at night. If you are on our April or October tours, watch out! The Spring/Autumn Festival light up the streets at night with giant wooden carved floats parading like royalty. Street food vendours gather, music lovers play, dancers do their thing. Certainly a highlight of the trip.
Takayama Festival (April & October Tours Only)
On our April & October tours, you will get the very special chance to see the Takayama Spring or Harvest festival. Watch the whole town come alive from morning til evening over two full days, with giant festival floats parading the streets, local artisans displaying their wares, street food stalls on every corner, naked or half dressed men running through the streets, and women and children performing their native local dances with great excitement. The atmosphere is something that cannot be bought, only experienced in Japan, unique to this ancient town of Takayama.
Gokayama - Cultural Creations
Today, en-route to Kanazawa, we visit the Unesco World Heritage 400 year old farm villages in Gokayama. Not far from the more famous village of Shirakawago, we prefer to stop at Gokayama. Less tourists, more authenticity, and welcoming locals. Today will be filled with cultural activities. Your first task is to make your own sheets of rice paper at the local washi paper-making store. As if you haven’t done enough, you then have to prepare your own soba noodles for lunch! All adding to the fun and a great distraction from temples and shrines, often overpowering on other tours.Time permitting we will then have a cup of tea with some local farmers who will hopefully perform a traditional dance, in front of the open fire. If you feel like joining in on the dance, by all means!
Kanazawa - Top Three Gardens in Japan
Kanazawa, located in Ishikawa prefecture, is home to one of Japan’s top three gardens, Kenrokuen Garden. View the magnificent cherry blossoms on our April tour, or the start of the Autumn leaves in our October tour. No matter what the season, this garden is one of Japan’s finest. During your free time in Kanazawa you will also have the opportunity to visit the 21st century museum of contemporary art. Perhaps not for everyone’s taste, it certainly is en-trend in Japan right now. Abstract modern art sculptures and pieces await the senses! From Kanazawa we take an express train ride to Kyoto, lasting just over two hours.
3 Days in the Culture Capital - Kyoto
Flowing with tradition, Kyoto is the ultimate destination for anybody who wants to soak up time-honoured Japanese culture. Home to a number of UNESCO World Heritage sites, over 1,600 Buddhist temples and 400 Shinto shrines, this ancient city showcases the heart and soul of traditional Japan. Kyoto boasts an array of world-class gardens, majestic festivals and delicate cuisine, all of which make much of the rhythms of nature and the changing of the seasons. On first glance however, visitors will see that like any large Japanese city, grid-like Kyoto has its fair share of neon and concrete. But the discerning eye will soon pick out Kyoto’s treasures: sacred shrines tucked in among shopping arcades, timeless teahouses nestling among modern businesses and mysterious geisha rustling down backstreets among the tourists and souvenirs. Kyoto’s charm lies in these details and whether you’re here for three days or three years, the closer you look, the more you’ll discover.
Afternoon Tea with Kyoto Geisha
The icing on your cake while staying in Kyoto will certainly be our afternoon tea with a local Kyoto Maiko (young Geisha). Dressed in the most spectacular silk kimonos, wearing white & red contrasting make-up, with doll-like hair styles, they ooze beauty and charm. Get up close and personal over tea! Our friendly geisha are ready to answer your questions and give you a glimpse of their mysterious cultural underworld.
Tropical Amami Ooshima
With a full itinerary of activities and sightseeing done, you deserve nothing more than 3 nights on the tropical island of Amami Ooshima. Amami is located between the mainland Kagoshima and Okinawa. Less crowded, perfectly pure, stunning scenery, beautiful beaches, calm coastal drives, wondering wildlife, all await you on this island. Enjoy a private island tour with our local driver. Discover the Mangrove Lake on a canoe. Eat local Amami seasonal dishes. Wonder through the windy spectacular coastal drives. Your hotel is located on the beach with views to die for. Scuba diving, snorkeling, and all types of water sports are available upon request. Dinner is included at your hotel on all three nights.
Hotel Century Southern Tower (or similar)
This centrally located four star hotel is just walking distance from one of Tokyo’s most popular stations, Shinjuku. Shinjuku is a part of Tokyo that has it all – great shopping, variety of restaurants and entertainment areas, impressive buildings and an atmosphere that says so many things about Tokyo…. Vibrant, wacky, non-stop, crowded, busy, but serviced like no other city in the world! Conveniently accessed by many of the JR and Odakyu lines, it is a very handy place to be based for the duration of your stay in Tokyo.
Kanbayashi Hotel Senjukaku (or similar)
Founded in 1928, Senjukaku was a famous rural retreat of the Meiji Era and one of the earliest hotels to introduce a mix of Japanese and Western aesthetics. It has been the favorite of many cultural figures historically. During the post-War Occupation, it was also used as a resort by the American army. Rebuilt in 1989, with its wooden beams and family treasures on display, this expansive ryokan resort very much retains the same “modern” mood as the original. Senjukaku’s offerings include garden walks on site, indoor and outdoor hot spring baths and a massage service, as well as superb service from the staff and delicious and generous multi-course meals. In short, Senjukaku continues to uphold its proud tradition as a perfect country getaway.
Hoshokaku Ryokan (or similar)
Hoshokaku, one of Takayama’s most delightful ryokan’s, is about a three-minute walk from Jinya early-morning market, the old town and other popular sightseeing spots. Rooms are Japanese style but some offer western beds if preferred. Hot spring/onsen and kaiseki dinners are a real highlight when staying here.
Hotel Kanra Kyoto (or similar)
Hotel Kanra Kyoto is a distinct addition to Kyoto and a smart choice for travelers. Only 1 km from the city center, the hotel’s strategic location ensures that guests can quickly and easily reach many local points of interest. For sightseeing options and local attractions, one need not look far as the hotel enjoys close proximity to Hihgashi Honganji Temple, Shosei-en Garden, Nishi Honganji Temple.
Amami Bashayama Mura Hotel (or similar)
Bashayama Mura Hotel is the perfect place to simply chill!! Located in front of the cyrstal blue sea, your room comes with the perfect view, one you won’t find in many other hotels in Japan. Spacious rooms, again a rare attraction for hotels in Japan, the hotel is famous for its abundance of fresh seafood, friendly easy going service, and is a popular wedding venue in Japan. Just 20 minutes from the airport and 30 minutes from the main city of Naze with a local bus stop right outside the door.
Allamanda Aoyama Tokyo (or similar)
One of Tokyo’s newest and smallest five star hotels with just thirty bedrooms, this boutique hotel comes with lots of benefits. Located downtown in the heart of the major shopping districts of Omotesando and Harajuku, your stay at Allamanda will be nothing short of perfect while in Tokyo. Rooms are very spacious for Tokyo standards with the superior doubles starting at 50 square metres in size. An indoor pool and Spa facilities are there for you in the early morning or evening after a productive day out seeing the sights!
Prices & Inclusions
|Accommodation||10 nights standard & superior combined western hotels, 1 night in superior ryokan, 3 nights on beach front hotel|
|English Speaking tour leader||When 6 or more are on the group you will be escorted by our English speaking tour leader. If your group is less than 6 people, you will be doing the tour on a semi-escorted basis (Met in each area by our local assistants and guides).|
|Transfers||Arrival & departure airport transfers, Japan Rail Pass, Ferry Tickets, Chartered Vehicles, Bullet Trains, Domestic Flight to tropical islands|
|Private Tour Guides||English-speaking local tour guides in Tokyo, Takayama, Kyoto & Amami Ooshima|
|Entrance Fees||All sights listed on itinerary including Sumo Tournament Tickets for May & September dates, Takayama Festival April & October dates,|
|Cultural Experiences||Tokyo Fish Market, Karaoke Bar, Izakaya Dining Out, Tea Ceremony in traditional tea house featuring Kyoto geisha, World Heritage Temples and Shrines in Kyoto, bullet train journeys, Takayama Festival (April & October tours only), Snow Monkey Park, Samurai Castle in Matsumoto, Tokyo Sights by Day & Night!! Sumo Tournament Tickets (May & September tours only).|
|Meals||Breakfast daily, 1 lunch, 5 evening meals|
|This package does not include:|
Ireland & Global
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USA & Canada
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