Japan in May 2017 Tour
Our May 2017 tour includes many of the famous sights of Japan, the exotic mix of locations ranging from traditional experiences like onsen and ryokan stays through to the modern, industrial Japan of today. This allows guests to enjoy a range of famous, historic and noteworthy sights that showcase the variety and beauty of Japan in a short time. From the metropolis of Tokyo, the Kumano Koda trails, to the mountain areas of Hakone and Takayama this tour allows you to experience a wide variety of what Japan has to offer.
Joining a tour: Our tours commence with our meeting you at the airport in Tokyo (Narita or Haneda) and assist with the initial transfers to your hotel in Tokyo. We have some flexibility on dates if you want to arrive early and enjoy a few extra days in Tokyo.
Departing a tour: Activities on a day where you are departing a tour will be adjusted to take into account travel time to the airport. For the May 2017 tour we return to Tokyo on 23rd May and can assist with airport transfers or accommodate tour extensions that you might want.
Tuesday May 9th Tokyo: We will meet you at the airport (Narita or Haneda). After clearing immigration, luggage collection and customs meet us at the exit in the arrivals hall. We then transfer to our Tokyo hotel in the centre of the city. Options include seeing some of the city dining out or just sleep if you are jetlagged.
Wednesday May 10th Tokyo: Visit Asukusa Kaminarimon (thunder gate), Hozomon and pagoda. An array of stalls lines the entrance to this shrine selling souvenirs and snacks, a tradition stretching back several hundred years. Also in Asakusa we can arrange a kimono photo-shoot or samurai training for the more adventurous. Either lunch from the food stalls or from a nearby restaurant. In the afternoon, visit one or more of the famous neighbourhood areas of Shinjuku, Shibuya or Ginza. This allows time to see the expansive Shinjuku Gardens or, because we run flexible tours, let us know what you would like to do or see.
Thursday May 11th Tokyo: A visit to Harajuku (a trend setting shopping area for the Tokyo youth), and if desired stroll across to the higher-end stores of Omotesando. For a dose of more traditional culture, the nearby Meiji Shrine is adjacent to Harajuku. The afternoon is available for visiting one of the many museums around Tokyo including the National Museum next to Ueno Park, experience the "Robot Restaurant" (for the cabaret show, not dinner), or head to the Akasaka Ninja restaurant for an entertaining dinner option.
Friday May 12th Tokyo to Hakone: Transfer from Tokyo to the picturesque Hakone district via Odawara (with an optional visit to the castle). With two nights there is ample time to explore and enjoy the natural beauty of the area. There are many museums including a Venetian Glass museum and Open Air art museum.
Saturday May 13th Hakone: A day to undertake the sightseeing loop which includes travelling to Lake Ashi to enjoy a walk along the cedar avenue to the Hakone checkpoint, boat cruise across the lake to Togendai, ropeway and the Tozan cable car with a stop at Owakudani to view the volcanic activity of the area. On a fine day the loop trip around Hakone provides many places to view Mt Fuji including from the lake and the ropeway. (Depending on weather we may take the ropeway and boat cruise on the Friday to take in the views of Fuji-san.)
Sunday 14th May Hakone to Kyoto: Leaving Hakone, head south to Kyoto by shinkansen (bullet train). After depositing luggage at our hotel, use the afternoon to visit the Fushimi Inari shrine founded in 711AD. The unique feature are the 10,000 torii gates that line the path from the main shine buildings along the route to the top of Inari mountain (takes around two hours for the hike to the top and back - optional).
Monday 15th May Kyoto: Start the day by visiting the "golden pavilion" Kinkaku-ji in the north east of the city and then Nijo Castle before heading to Kodai-ji temple. The Kodai-ji complex includes a Zen garden, bamboo forest before heading to Gion via Ishibe Alley.
Tuesday May 16th Kyoto: 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 shopping options.
Wednesday May 17th Kyoto to Hiroshima: Heading south-west from Kyoto we reach the city of Hiroshima. The Peace Park and Museum are easily accessed the nearby (rebuilt) Hiroshima Castle includes a samurai museum.
Thursday May 18th Hiroshima: A full day in Hiroshima allows time to visit and explore Miyajima Miyajima Island and Itsukushima Shrine - the location of the famous "floating" torii gate. Miyajima is accessed by a short local train and ferry ride. Depending on fitness and inclination we can use the ropeway and head to the top of Mount Misen. The walk back down the mountain provides some excellent scenery and vantage points looking back across the island towards the mainland.
Friday May 19th Hiroshima to the Kumano Kodo Trails: Heading back to Osaka and then south into the Wakayama prefecture by JR limited express onto the Kii Peninsula. The area is famous for the Kumano Kodo trails, a set of pilgrimage trails in Wakayama Prefecture that have been in use for over 1000 years. The Kodo ("old ways") are a key part of the region's UNESCO designation.
Saturday May 20th Kumano: A day to explore the Kumano Koda trails, and the famous shines of the area (Hongu Taisha or Nachi Taisha).
Sunday May 21st Kumano: A second day for some relaxation and enjoying springtime in Japan, or one of the longer kodo trails.
Monday May 22nd Kumano to Takayama: A travel day as we head back to Osaka and a quick shinkansen ride to Nagoya before boarding the Wideview Hida express to the mountain town of Takayama. (The journey includes the scenic Kiso Valley.) At Takayama stay at a traditional Japanese ryokan (inn), complete with onsen (hot springs bath).
Tuesday May 23rd 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.
Wednesday May 24th Takayama to Tokyo: Leaving the mountains, complete the journey across the main island of Honshu to Toyama and then catch the shinkansen train back to Tokyo and the necessary transfers to either Narita or Haneda for return flights home.
The price for the sixteen days tour (accommodation for fifteen nights) is from Y545,000 per person share twin/double (USD4,800). Shorter or longer duration is also available.
Prices include airport transfers to/from Narita or Haneda to Tokyo and 14 day rail pass, entrance fees (shrines/temples/castles/museums) and tour fees. Breakfast and dinner are included with the ryokan stay in Togura and breakfasts in some other locations based on the hotel choice. Prices generally exclude meals and incidental costs unless specifically included.
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