Splendours of Japan - Celebrate the Takayama Festival
From 06/10/2022 to 19/04/2023
3 lunches (including Connect with Locals).
First class travel Highlights.
Audio Headsets for flexible sightseeing.
Daily breakfast and an average of 50% of evening meals.
Luxury air-conditioned coach or alternative transportation (such as rail journeys).
Cherry-picked hotels, all tried and trusted.
Optional Experiences and free time.
All porterage and restaurant gratuities.
Must-see sightseeing and surprise extras.
An expert Travel Director and separate Driver.
All hotel tips, charges and local taxes.
Airport transfers on the first and last day of your guided holiday.
Day 1 - KONNICHIWA TOKYO (2 NIGHTS) Your in-depth exploration of Japan begins in Tokyo. On arrival at Narita or Haneda Airport, take a shuttle bus transfer to your centrally located hotel, where you'll join your Travel Director and fellow guests for a Welcome Reception drink and local appetisers.
Day 2 - EXPLORE VIBRANT TOKYO We launch our City Tour in the old-time entertainment centre of Asakusa, where we'll encounter the Sensoji Buddhist Temple. One of Tokyo's most colourful and popular temples, Sensoji has been rebuilt countless times since it was founded in 628, making it Tokyo's oldest temple site. Strolling down Nakamise next, we immerse ourselves in the sights and sounds of shitamachi (downtown Tokyo), admiring the wooden dolls, colourful chiyogami (origami paper) and traditional Japanese sweets. We'll ascend Tokyo Skytree, the world's highest free-standing broadcasting tower for panoramic views of the city, then enjoy the rest of the day at leisure or on an Optional Experience where a professional stylist will dress you in a traditional Japanese kimono.
Day 3 - OFF TO THE FIVE LAKES DISTRICT Our first stop today is the Imperial Palace Plaza from where the two bridges that form the entrance to the inner grounds of the Imperial Palace can be viewed. We'll have the opportunity to explore the leafy Imperial Palace East Gardens before continuing our City Tour. At the Edo-Tokyo Museum, we delve into the history and culture of Tokyo's Edo era, then continue to the Ginza district where we'll learn how to make sushi with a 'Local Specialist'. We venture to the Five Lakes District next, keeping a keen eye out for the UNESCO listed Mt. Fuji which dominates the landscape.
Day 4 - MAJESTIC MT. FUJI AND TIMELESS TAKAYAMA (2 NIGHTS) This morning ascend Mt. Fuji by road to 2,300 metres at the 5th station before taking a ride up Mt. Tenjo on the Kachikachiyama Ropeway (both weather permitting), for jaw dropping views of Mt. Fuji and Lake Kawaguchiko. Continue your journey through the Japanese Alps to the hillside town of Takayama, before enjoying an early dinner at the hotel. Later 'Dive Into Culture' as the warm glow of lanterns beckon and with them, an opportunity to delve into centuries of tradition at the Yomatsuri Night-time Festival. Watch in wonder as ornate floats lit up by hundreds of lanterns parade through the streets to sounds of cheery bystanders, drums and jangling bells.
Day 5 - JOIN THE LOCALS AT THE TAKAYAMA FESTIVAL Immerse yourself in tradition as you walk through the Edo-style streets of Takayama's Old Town. Indulge in a lunch of Japanese Hida-gyu - beef from a black-haired Japanese cattle breed, renowned as one of the finest quality varieties of beef. After lunch, immerse yourself in the town's festive atmosphere. Admire the intricately carved yatai (floats) that date back to the 17th century and feature karakuri ningyo (marionettes) which move and dance as their strings are managed by the tsunakata (puppeteers). Later, return to the hotel by coach.
Day 6 - EXPERIENCE GOKAYAMA AND ON TO KANAZAWA Journey back in time this morning during a visit to the peaceful UNESCO-listed Gokayama, a mountain village set amidst five valleys. Admire the unique construction of the local Gassho-zukuri wooden houses that have been built without the use of nails with steeply sloped thatched roofs to prevent snow from building up on them. Later Dive Into Culture observing local artisans making washi paper and trying your hand at making your own. This MAKE TRAVEL MATTER(R) Experience contributes to the sustainability of this small business. Then, continue to Kanazawa and take a short walk through the Omicho market and enjoy an insider's view of everyday life in a busy coastal town. Next, visit the gardens of Kenroku-en, shaped over a hundred years before continuing with a visit to a Local Specialist to learn the secrets of painting gold leaf. Stay overnight in Kanazawa.
Day 7 - ONWARDS TO KYOTO (2 NIGHTS) We board an Express train this morning to Kyoto, where we'll 'Connect With Locals' at a traditional ryokan, built in 1932 to serve as the second residence of Emperor Akihito's uncle. We'll enjoy a 'Be My Guest' lunch and learn about local Japanese customs as our hosts welcome us into their beautiful home. After lunch, we visit the UNESCO-listed Kinkakuji Temple with its famous Kinkaku (Golden Pavilion), the proud symbol of Kyoto and a Zen temple, which has its origins as a 14th century villa.
Day 8 - DISCOVER ENCHANTING KYOTO The blazing orange torii gates of Fushimi Inari Shrine guide our path through the forest, up into the mountains and to a sacred site that has heard prayers for prosperity and happiness since the 8th century. We continue to Sanjusangen-do Hall and admire the minute detail of each of its 1,001 "thousand-handed" goddesses of mercy statues, then enjoy a walking tour of the Gion area. This evening, we indulge in a Farewell Dinner with your Travel Director and fellow guests.
Day 9 - SAYONARA JAPAN Our encounter with Japan's age-old traditions and modern cityscapes at its end, we take a transfer by airport shuttle service to Kansai International Airport or Osaka Itami Airport for our onward flight. Alternatively, continue to Hiroshima by choosing the 13 day itinerary. Sightseeing Highlights CITY TOUR of Tokyo and Kyoto SEE the traditional Gassho-zukuri houses in Gokayama, the beautiful gardens of Kenrokuen in Kanazawa VIEW Mt. Fuji VISIT the Sensoji Temple, the Skytree Observation Tower, the Edo Tokyo Museumin Tokyo, Mt. Fuji 5th Station, the Kinkakuji Temple, Fushimi Inari Shrine and Sanjusangen-do Hall in Kyoto CONNECT WITH LOCALS A kaiseki lunch at a traditional Japanese ryokan home near Kyoto where you will learn about local customs. (Day 7) DIVE INTO CULTURE Sample Japanese sake during a walking tour in the Edo-style streets of Takayama Old Town. (Day 5) Learn how local artisans make Japanese washi paper in the UNESCO village of Gokayama. (Day 5) LOCAL SPECIALIST Sushi making in Tokyo. (Day 3) Gold Leaf painting in Kanazawa. (Day 6) MAKE A DIFFERENCE Help support a local business with a visit to a washi paper workshop. You'll watch the family at work, and test your paper-making skills for yourself. (Day 5)
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