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Gardens & Galleries

Gardens & Galleries

13 Nights / 14 Days

€6,800 / £5,850 / US$7,300 / AU$11,500 (Per Person sharing twin/double)

“A deluxe tour steeped in horticultural richness, spiritual zen, and culture preserved at various UNESCO World Heritage Sites and Museums, with visits to the best Japanese gardens and award-winning art galleries.”

Gardens & Galleries of Japan is a once-in-a lifetime tour taking you to the best Japanese gardens and award-winning art galleries. You will experience not only the incredible beauty of these gardens but also the stunning natural landscapes that inform their design. Our Japanese garden experts will accompany you throughout, explaining the concepts and execution of the different styles of Japanese gardens.

Itinerary

Day 1: Tokyo (2 nights)

Arrive in one of Tokyo’s international airports (Haneda or Narita). Met by transfer staff on arrival and taken to your Tokyo hotel. You will have free time in Tokyo until tour orientation that evening, where you will meet your tour leader and the rest of the group. Enjoy a welcome dinner at a local izakaya-style Japanese casual restaurant.

Accommodation: Chinzanso 5* Hotel (or similar)

Day 2: Tokyo Sightseeing

Today you will travel around Tokyo like locals with our expert local guide. Begin with a visit to Hamariyku Garden. Next, you will visit Asakusa Kannon Temple, Tokyo’s oldest and most important temple. Located in Tokyo’s Asakusa district, it offers a real taste of the old city’s traditional side.

From Asakusa, continue onto the Sumida Hokusai Museum (closed on Monday), and then, as the sun sets, you’ll enjoy the dazzling lights of the stylish Ginza shopping and entertainment district.

Accommodation: Chinzanso 5* Hotel (or similar)

Day 3: Kamakura

Kamakura is a haven of tranquility, home to many secluded temples and shrines.

Engakuji is one of the leading Zen temples in Japan and the second-most important of Kamakura’s five great Zen temples. Built into the slopes of Kita-Kamakura’s forested hills and surrounded by maple trees. Enjoy stunning views out over Kamakura Bay.

Sea breezes lift the air as you glance up at the tender smile of an enormous statue of the Great Buddha at Kotokuin Temple, who has sat in the sun since the 13th century. At 11.3 meters tall, it is the second-tallest bronze Buddha in Japan, complete with 1.8-meter-long straw sandals.

Walk the wooden paths and lush grounds of Hasedera Temple, home to an 11-headed wooden statue of Kannon. Make a wish at a shrine, view relics, texts, and places of prayer, then explore a cave filled with Buddhist scriptures.

Overnight in a luxurious marina hotel located in Zushi, an area used by many of Tokyo’s elite to escape the craziness of the metropolitan city. Riviera Zushi can be described as Zen-on-the-sea. Dinner included overlooking Enoshima Island, and if you’re lucky, Mt. Fuji views.

Accommodation: Riviera Marina Hotel Zushi (5* Boutique)

Day 4: Kyoto (3 nights)

Zoom into Kyoto by bullet train to discover the heart and soul of traditional Japan. In your own time, start to explore one of the 17 phenomenal UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
At first glance, grid-like Kyoto may seem like any city with neon and concrete. Discerning eyes will soon source some treasures. Kyoto’s charm lies in these details, with sacred shrines tucked in among shopping arcades, time-honoured teahouses nestling among modern businesses, and mysterious geisha scuttling down backstreets among the tourists and souvenirs.
Maiko (trainee Geisha) will offer their delightful company over some tea in the Gion district. In the evening, explore the narrow streets of Pontocho and Gion through the eyes of a local.
Enjoy spending time at a contemporary and traditional hotel.

Accommodation: Kyoto Kanra Hotel (Boutique 4*)

Day 5: Kyoto Sightseeing with our local guide

Our local guide really brings to life the history and culture of Japan’s ancient capital, providing great insight into the special character of this unique city.

Exploring Kyoto is wonderful at all times, though some seasons bring out the best of particular places.

  • In April, Toji and Haradani gardens bloom with Sakura cherry blossoms.
  • In May, Shoren-in-Monato is filled with Azelia and blue maple. April is also a time for special access to the interior of Toji Pagoda.
  • In September, Japanese bush clover can be seen at Nazenji and Keage incline.
  • In mid-November Autumn colours blaze at Saimyoji and Takao.

Some highlights:

  • Forest Bathing (Shinrin Yoku) in the Bamboo Forest, Kyoto

Day 6: Kyoto Free day

Enjoy some time out to explore Kyoto! You may choose to browse and shop around Nishiki Market, Teramachi Street for lacquerware, beautiful Japanese brushes and stationary, or some local world-class green tea.

Self-guided day trip options (pay locally):

1) Explore more of Kyoto’s Cultural Treasures (Kinkakuji Temple, Golden Pavilion, Kiyomizu Temple, Niji Castle, etc)

2) Himeji Castle and Koko-en Garden day trip

3) Day trip to historical Nara park

4) Day trip to Osaka city

Day 7: Train & Boat to Naoshima Island

Travel by boat to experience Naoshima Island with the beautiful backdrop of natural ecology as a setting for contemporary art and architecture. Dine at Benesse House and stay overnight on the impressive Art Island. Explore the highlights and more beyond at Benesse House Museum, Lee Ufan Museum, Chichu Art Museum, and the Art House Project.

Naoshima could easily be another pretty but forgotten island in the Seto Inland Sea, scraping a living from fishing. However, a unique art project has given Naoshima its well-deserved global reputation. Naoshima is home to a large collection of contemporary art galleries, exhibits, and installations that offer a tour de force of architectural expression integrating art and the natural environment. Two of the main galleries, the Chichu Art Museum and Benesse House, were designed by the world-famous architect Tadao Ando and feature works by Claude Monet, Walter de Maria, James Turrell, Andy Warhol, Richard Long, and Bruce Nauman, among others. The distances between the main art sites are small, and the picturesque island can be explored on foot or by bike.

 

Accommodation: Benesse Art-Site (Boutique, One-of-a-kind)

Day 8: From Art Island to Historical Hiroshima

On the way to Hiroshima, stop at the strolling garden at Okayama Kenrokuen Garden. This beautiful landscape garden, created around 300 years ago by the Ikeda family, is regarded as one of the three Great Gardens of Japan. Arrive in Hiroshima at sunset on time to explore the city’s many food markets and shopping districts.

Day 9: Magical Miyajima Island

At the “City of Water” Hiroshima has abundant historical sites with impressive architecture. Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park is a moving tribute to the victims of the atomic bomb and a site dedicated to world peace.

Miyajima Island, located just off the coast of Hiroshima, is one of Japan’s most loved places, with a charming rural atmosphere to match the beautiful surroundings. The island is perhaps best known for the red Torii gate of Itsukushima Shrine, which appears to be floating in the sea.

Visit the celebrated Itsukushima Shrine, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Shukkeien Garden and Hiroshima Castle are optional, time permitting.

Day 10: Matsue (2 nights)

Matsue, located in rural Shimane, is Japan’s best-kept secret. So much so, in fact, that popular cartoon character Yoshida-kun frequently quips that no one in Japan can find Shimane on a map, even though the area is known as the birthplace of Japan and the home of the gods.

En route to Matsue, you will visit Sandankyo Gorge (20-minute trail through the Gorge) and Izumo Taisha Shrine, one of the Shinto religion’s oldest and most sacred sites.

Other highlights include a delicious traditional kaiseki dinner at your ryokan and Lake Shinji’s fabulous sunsets.

 

Accommodation: Minamikan Ryokan (or similar)

Day 11: Matsue

On your guided day in Matsue, you will enjoy activities such as the Horikawa sightseeing boat around the moats of Matsue Castle and the canal network of the old-town area. Get a real sense of the atmosphere of this old castle town by walking along Shiomi Nawate Street, parallel to the moat. And you won’t want to miss the finely preserved buke yashiki or samurai residence. There are only twelve original castle structures remaining in Japan, and Matsue Castle is one of the finest examples of these Edo Period feudal strongholds, having survived for over 400 years. Note: You will not go inside the castle.

You will visit the stunning Adachi Museum of Art with its highly ranked and much celebrated Japanese Gardens in Yasugi.

In the evening, you will enjoy another sumptuous kaiseki dinner at your ryokan.

 

Accommodation: Minamikan Ryokan (or similar)

Day 12: Tokyo (2 nights)

This morning, you are in for a real treat. After your ryokan breakfast, you will visit Yuushi-en Garden on Daikonshima Island, a traditional walk-through garden with carp-filled ponds, streams, and waterfalls. In springtime, you can expect to see the famous peonies.

In the afternoon, you will travel to the airport for an internal flight back to Tokyo.

 

Accommodation: Park Hotel (Artist Room) (or similar)

Day 13: Tokyo

Have a final day of leisure in Tokyo now to spend in the city as you like. Of course, you can discuss options and sample day itineraries with our travel consultants before departure and with our group tour leader during your trip. As Tokyo has literally something for everyone, the challenge will not be finding something to do but rather choosing between the many great options.

Accommodation: Park Hotel (Artist Room) (or similar)

Day 14: Sayonara

The tour comes to an end after breakfast today, and you will be provided with an airport transfer service from your hotel. If you would like to stay longer in Tokyo, you can discuss various post-tour options with your travel consultant.

Dates and Prices

Single Room€8,030£6,950US$8,800AU$13,500
Twin/Double€6,800£5,850US$7,300AU$11,500
Triple Room€6,300£5,400US$6,800AU$10,600

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tour Starts:

April 03, 2024

Tour Ends:

April 16, 2024
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Tour Starts:

13 May 2024

Tour Ends:

26 May, 2024 (Peony & Water Iris)
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Tour Starts:

September 12, 2024

Tour Ends:

September 25, 2024
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Tour Starts:

November 20, 2024

Tour Ends:

December 03, 2024
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Accommodation

Hotel Chinzanso

Two Nights with a Welcome Dinner in their beautiful Garden restaurant

The hotel has a seasonal outdoor pool and water sports facilities, and guests can enjoy a meal at one of the 20 restaurants or a drink at one (or more) of the 6 bars or lounges.

Riviera Zushi Marina

One Night

Overnight in the magnificent marina hotel in what the Japanese call the Beverley Hills area of Tokyo. With just 11 rooms in total, you will feel very special at this unique property.

Hotel Kanra, Kyoto

Three Nights

Embrace beauty, wisdom, and the hospitality of Japan in KANRA. The name suggests you experience the spirit of this original location, created by incorporating traditional skills and techniques found in Kyoto. Natural materials are extensively displayed in a modern twist on the traditional “Machiya” style of wood, stone, iron, and pops of green.
Enjoy Wagyu beef with specially selected sake from small breweries in Kyoto at TeppanHANAROKU restaurant, where local and seasonal ingredients are found in each dish.
Or sample pizza and some wine from a selection of 150 kinds to pair with food cooked in a 600℃ kiln at the Kanra Kitchen. In the lounge, take an afternoon Parfait, or shop for authentic goods from all over Japan.
Tranquility waits at SPA Sanctuary with ZEN ambience, enriches the five senses, and leads you to a supremely relaxing experience of body and mind. Inspired by the practices of traditional Asian remedies and naturopathy to combat jet lag.

Benesse House Art-Site

One night
in the famous Benesse Art Site on Naoshima Island.
The name is derived from the words “be well.” The guest rooms are, in fact, located inside and around the museum. This hotel allows you to stay closest to the artwork. Drawings, paintings, prints, and other works by the artists in our collection are on display in each of the four different styles of guest rooms. Some notable works displayed: Imi Knoebel Grace Kelly I, Sol LeWitt Forms Derived from a Cube in Color I/II, Josef Albers White Line Square X VII, I-Sh and Thomas Ruff Stern. The architecture is expansive and open, letting you feel nature all around you, even indoors.

Hiroshima Sheraton Grand Hotel

Two nights

The Sheraton Grand Hiroshima Hotel is conveniently located next to JR Hiroshima Station, with direct access to the bullet train and bus terminals. Stay in luxury as you explore Hiroshima’s historic sites and architecture.

Modern décor blends Western and Japanese elements to create a harmonious atmosphere. All guest rooms feature the Sheraton Signature Sleep Experience, and Premium Club Rooms are welcome at the Club Lounge, offering breakfast, soft drinks, and cocktails. Restaurants feature the finest and freshest cuisine, and the bar is a great place to gather with friends, both old and new. Relax and recharge your mind and body at Shine Spa. A pool and fitness centre are located in the hotel.

Minami Ryokan

Two Nights

Matsue’s nicest ryokan is in the heart of the city. Here you will get a real taste of Japan with kaiseki dinner and hot spring baths. Founded in 1888, Minamikan is a well-established ryokan located in Shimane Prefecture with 130 years of history behind it. It stands in a great location, commanding a fine view of Lake Shinji.

Park Hotel Artist Room

Two nights

Located near Ginza with superb connections to the local metro system, the Park Hotel is one of Tokyo’s quirky art hotels. You will find seasonal works from local and international artists all over the hotel. Some can even be purchased! Another reason for choosing this hotel is because of their unique and one-of-a-kind artist rooms. Each room will have a different canvas throughout, inspired by Japanese contemporary artists. A nice way to finish our Gardens and Galleries adventure, we feel!

Tour Testimonial

Unique Japan Tours
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Whats Included

ServiceIncluded
Accommodation11 nights in Boutique and 5-star Western-style hotels and 2 nights in a luxurious Japanese-style ryokan (with hot spring baths and kaiseki evening meals)
English-speaking tour leader/Garden ExpertWhen six or more people are in 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).
Airport Transfers Arrival and departure airport transfers included to and from Tokyo hotel
Private Tour GuidesEnglish-speaking tour guides or garden experts in some places (Tokyo, Kamakura, Kyoto, Naoshima, Hiroshima, and Matsue)
Entrance Fees
 Included into all sights listed on itinerary
Cultural ExperiencesTokyo city sightseeing, Ginza Department Store, World Heritage Temples in Kyoto, bullet-train journeys, multiple award-winning Japanese Garden visits, Authentic Tea Ceremony, Adachi Museum of Art, Izumo Taisha Shrine, Naoshima Art Island, Hiroshima and Miyajima World Heritage Sites, and the coastal historic area of Kamakura.
Meals Breakfast daily, 5 evening meals
Other Inclusions:
  • Comprehensive Travel Pack
  • Local Emergency Contact
  • All Taxes and Accommodation Surcharges
  • You are asked to carry your own bags, so be careful when packing! Your tour leader will help you arrange luggage forwarding on some journeys by the reliable ‘Takkyubin Luggage Forwarding Service’). 2 times x 1 item per person included. Further bags can be forwarded if you pay locally.
  • Fixed Price Policy
  • Minimum 6 / maximum 16 people
  • No hidden costs!
This package does not include:
  • International Flights [Arrange own flights into and out of Tokyo’s Haneda or Narita Airports. Always check the arrival date on your flight; e.g. if flying from Europe or the US, you will arrive into Tokyo the following day (depending on airline you use).]
  • Meals other than those specified in the itinerary. Generally, you can expect to pay 1,000yen for lunch and anything from 2,500yen for your evening meals.
  • Beverages consumed at any meal (water served freely)
  • Baggage Handling You are requested to carry your own bags, so be careful when packing! Your tour leader will help you arrange luggage forwarding on some journeys by the reliable ‘Takkyubin Service’)
  • Tour Leader Or Driver Gratuity can be arranged among your group (Optional)

 

 


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