Winter in Japan - Dec 2016

Tokyo city skyline River view in Kyoto Gion in Kyoto

Winter in Japan Tour - December 2016

Because different people have different requirements and travel dates, we can generally accommodate guests arriving and departing on different dates.  The schedule below is based on current tour requests.  But please contact us if you would like to travel before or after this period. And of course if you would like to see or do something in particular, please let us know.

Early planning for Christmas and New year is important as it is one of the busy travel seasons, especially for New Year's Eve in Tokyo. 

Possible Schedule

The following is a sample schedule to illustrate what is possible.  If your dates are shorter or you have different plans, ideas or things you want to do, get in touch and we can organise something for you. 

Monday 19th Dec Tokyo: Arrive Narita. Expect clearing immigration, luggage collection and customs to take about an hour.  We will meet you at the airport and transfer to your hotel in Tokyo.  Options include exploring the local Shinjuku area, some dinner and seeing some of the city at night.

Tuesday 20th Dec Tokyo: Visit Senso-ji temple in Asakusa (Tokyo's oldest temple). The afternoon is available to visit some main areas of Tokyo including Meiji Shrine/Harajuku/Yoyogi Park or Shibuya for shopping. Shibuya is often viewed as quintessential Tokyo with the large “scramble” crossing and crowds.

Wednesday 21st Dec Tokyo to Takayama: Travel by shinkansen and then local train to the mountain town of Takayama, staying at a traditional Japanese ryokan (inn), complete with onsen (hot springs bath).  

Thursday 22nd Dec Takayama: During the morning explore the town's historic buildings, morning market and shops on foot and/or visit the festival floats exhibition hall.  The afternoon is reserved for a ½ day bus tour that visits the World Heritage Site of Shirakawa-go with its old traditional “A frame” farmhouses.  Dinner time is an ideal opportunity to sample the famous Hida Beef.

Friday 23rd Dec Takayama to Kyoto: A morning visit to the Hida Minzoka Mura Folk Village (a short local bus ride from Takayama), before transferring to Kyoto. After checking in at your Kyoto hotel, there is an option for a short visit to the famous Fushimi Inari shrine (10,000 tori gates) - it is very easy to get to (right next to a train station) and is a good option for sightseeing in the late afternoon.

Saturday 24th Dec Kyoto: Many options including shopping at the covered Nishiki Market, which includes a selection of local food stalls. The Isetan and Takashimaya department stores are also excellent for shopping and both have vast food halls. Alternatively visit the famous "golden pavilion" Kinkaku-ji, Kodai-ji Temple overlooking the city or Toji and the five story pagoda (a symbol of Kyoto).

Sunday 25th Dec Kyoto: A day trip to the world heritage site at Nara. At Nara there is both Todai-ji temple (with the world's largest bronze Buddha), and Kagusa Shinto shrine. There are sacred deer roaming the park and some excellent souvenir shops. We normally arrange the schedule to have lunch before returning to Kyoto.

Monday 26th Dec Kyoto to Hiroshima:  Travel to Hiroshima (around two hours, 380km). During the afternoon, visit the historic A-dome (atomic bomb dome), Peace Park and Museum complex. 

Tuesday 27th Dec Hiroshima: Visit Miyajima and Itsukushima Shrine. Miyama is a short local train and ferry ride. Ferry tickets are covered by the JR passes. Our selected accommodation adjacent to the main railway station.

Wednesday 28th Dec Hiroshima to Nagoya: Transfer back to the city of Nagoya, home of Nagoya Castle, an excellent science museum, Meiji Mura outdoor park and the Maglev/railway park.

Thursday 29th Dec Nagoya to Tokyo: Because of the New Year holiday, head back to Tokyo as a base for sightseeing for the weekend.

Friday 30th Dec Tokyo: Sightseeing in and around Tokyo. Day trip options include Hakone (Fuji), Nikko and Kamakura to visit Hase Dera temple, the Bronze Buddha at Kotoku-in and Engaku-ji.

Saturday 31st Dec Tokyo: As it is New Year's Eve several of the city's major attractions will be packed with people most of the night. This provides a unique opportunity to visit Asukusa Kaminarimon (thunder gate), Hozomon and pagoda. An array of stalls lines the entrance to this shrine. Another option is to visit Meiji Jingu as many thousands of people visit this shrine to start their new year in the best possible way.

Sunday 1st Jan Tokyo: Explore some more of Tokyo such as Shinjuku, visit to the Imperial Palace or the port area of Odaiba.

Monday 2nd Jan Tokyo: Final day in Tokyo with transfers to the airport and trip home.

Optional ryokan experience: For a different view of Japan we often visit a 100 year old Japanese inn located near Nagano in the Japanese alps. This would fit after the night in Nagoya.

Thursday 28th Nagoya to Togura: Depart from Nagoya and then a scenic train through the mountains to Nagano. There is an option to stop at Matsumoto and view their famous "Crow" castle. After arriving in Nagano transfer to a local train bound for Togura (30 minutes) and check in at Ryokan Kamesei. Have a private soak in the ryokan's hot spring baths or explore the neighbourhood before enjoying an especially prepared traditional ryokan dinner. During dinner we arrange geisha entertainment traditional music and dance. The ryokan accommodations include breakfast and dinner. (This is a traditional inn with sleeping on futons, with shared mineral baths – as mentioned, there is a private bath available.)

Friday 30th Dec Togura: After breakfast (provided), to Nagano station and take the bus to Jigokudani Monkey Park. We expect that there will have been several snow days during December, so the weather is likely to be cold. There is a walk of approximately 2km to the “snow monkeys”.

Saturday 31st Dec Togura to Tokyo: Because of the New Year holiday, head back to Tokyo as a base for sightseeing.

Joining a tour is easiest on the dates we are in Tokyo as Patrick is able to meet you at the airport and assist with the transfer to Tokyo itself.  After clearing immigration, luggage collection and customs meet us at the exit of the arrivals hall.  We will then collect our JR Rail passes using pre-purchased vouchers. (Japan Rail requires passes to be purchased before travelling to Japan.)  If arriving at Narita, we take the Narita Express train to Shinjuku Station (1 hour) and then transfer to the selected hotel.

Departing a tour:  Activities on a day where you are departing a tour will be adjusted to take into account your travel time to the airport.

Price Inclusions/exclusions

Pricing is takes into account the accommodation rates that we expect to be in place at the time of bookings.  The tour price reflects the fact that rates are lower when booked in advance, and more expensive when booked shortly before the tour commences.

For bookings within two months of the start of the tour the price for a fifteen day tour (accommodation for fourteen nights) is from Y595,000 per person share twin/double.  Shorter or longer duration is also available.  The optional 2-day extension is priced at Y57,500 including breakfast, dinner, geisha entertainment and Jigokudani bus round trip and entry fee.

For bookings more than two months prior to the start of the tour the price for a fifteen day tour (accommodation for fourteen nights) we are able to provide a discounted price of Y495,000 per person share twin/double.  The optional 2-day extension is priced at Y57,500 including breakfast, dinner, geisha entertainment and Jigokudani bus round trip and entry fee.

For solo travellers (one person, without a shared room), the cost of accommodation is unable to be shared, but we have a policy to limit the extra cost and have priced our tour for a single person at JPY695,000.  An early confirmed booking discount would also apply.

Prices include rail transfers from Narita to Tokyo and 14 day rail pass (Green Class), entrance fees and tour fees.  Accommodation is selected to average 4-star or higher and will normally include breakfast.  Please let us know if you would like either twin or double beds.

Lunch, dinner and incidental costs are usually excluded unless specifically included. As a guide for budgeting, Y7,000 per day per person would cover lunch and dinner as well as a range of tea/coffee, snacks and vending machine drinks during the day. 

Bookings and Inquiries

If you are interested in joining a winter in Japan tour please contact us or email us directly at admin@japancustomtours.co.nz.  Pricing will be based on availability and largely dictated by the cost of accommodation and the schedule you choose.