For a summary of this tour you can read our trip report on the blog page.
Introduction to Japan Tour - February 2015
Dates and Schedule
Tuesday 17 Feb Tokyo: Patrick and Wendy meet you at Narita. After clearing immigration, luggage collection and customs meet Patrick and Wendy 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.) Take the Narita Express train to Tokyo Station (1 hour) and then transfer to the Yamamoto line to Shibuya to reach the Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel. Options for the evening include dining out, seeing some of the city at night or just sleep if you are jetlagged.
Wednesday 18 Feb For early risers, a visit to see the tuna auction at the Tsujiki fish markets (limited space – first come, first served from 5 a.m.). Alternatively the main wholesale areas are open to the public from 9 a.m. The outside market provides options for breakfast including very fresh sushi. Take the shinkansen (bullet train) to Kyoto. The trip is 158 minutes and is very comfortable. There are many types of bento (lunch box) and sandwiches available for around Y1000 in the train station and also a smaller range of food available for purchase on the train (including hot coffee and English tea).
Then a ten minute walk from Kyoto Station, or a short taxi ride, to Matsubaya Ryokan (Check-in is from 3 p.m.) Visit the Inari Fushimi shrine (10,000 tori gates), it is spectacular, and very easy to get to (right next to a train station) and is a good option for sightseeing in the late afternoon. Suggested dinner options while in Kyoto include Japanese pancake (okonomiyaki) or Korean BBQ restaurants.
Thursday 19 Feb 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 excellent souvenir and food shops in the railway station area. During the evening visit Kodai-ji Temple in Kyoto. The temple complex includes a Zen garden, bamboo forest and artisan souvenir shops. It is illuminated in the evenings and provides a view of the city. Access to/from will be via taxi.
Friday 20 Feb 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. Other options include a visit to the "golden pavilion" Kinkaku-ji
Saturday 21 Feb Transfer back to Tokyo on Saturday morning and the Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel. The afternoon is available to visit some main areas of Tokyo including Meiji Shrine/Harajuku or the local Shibuya area for shopping.
Sunday 22 Feb Morning visit to Skytree (Y2060 pp) and the neighbouring Asukusa Kaminarimon (thunder gate), Hozomon and pagoda. An array of stalls lines the entrance to this shrine. Either lunch from the food stalls or from a nearby restaurant before heading back to Narita Airport. Activities will be adjusted for earlier or later departures.
Price for the six day tour was Y175,000 per person including 7-day JR rail pass, two nights at the Cerulean Tower Tokyu, three nights at Matsubaya Ryokan and tour fee. Price excludes meals and incidental entrance fees.
"Are we there yet?" (Ninja, our #3 cat, is ready to go)