Autumn Leaf Colors in Japan - November 2020 Tours

Autumn Leaf Colours in Japan - November 2020

Our autumn and November tours focus on the beautiful fall leaf colours that occur across the country.  Many of the cherry trees that provided beautiful blossom in spring provide orange hues while the Japanese maple can provide rich red leaves as well as brilliant yellow and browns.

We make the most of the season to capture the best by heading to areas that provide reliable scenery and also interesting locations.  This is covered in our early November tour by heading north of Tokyo to Aomori and Sendai before heading into the Japanese Alps.  For the later tour the best colours are usually further south in many locations around Kyoto and also Tokyo.

If you are interested in a visit to Japan in November, consider joining one of our Japan autumn tours or feel free to contact us if you would like a customised or private tour tailored to your requirements.    You can use the contact us form or email us at admin@japancustomtours.co.nz

Early November Schedule

Saturday 24th October Tokyo: We aim to meet all our guests at the airport and assist with your transfer to our hotel in Tokyo.  Options for the day depend on your time of arrival but generally as an arrivals day there is free time to explore the local area.  Typically we use a centrally located hotel in Shinjuku.

Sunday 25th October Tokyo: Start the day with a visit to Asukusa and the oldest temple in Tokyo.  The impressive Kaminarimon ("Thunder gate") marks the entrance to the temple along with Hozomon and a five story pagoda. An array of stalls lines Nakamise Street.

Heading to Ueno provides good options and variety for lunch adjacent to the expansive Ueno Park. The park also contains several museums (including Tokyo National Museum) and the beautiful Tōshō-gū shine that enshrines the first Shōgun of the Tokugawa Shogunate. Finishing our visit in Ueno we include a walk through the old style market of Ameya-Yokocho with its many varied stalls and small shops including many located under the railway tracks

Monday 26th October Tokyo to Aomori: Utilising the high-speed shinkansen we head to the northern part of Honshu (the main island of Japan) for the seasonal autumn colours.  There will be time during the afternoon to see Wa Rasse, a museum celebrating the summer Nebuta float festival, and the floating car ferry museum.

Tuesday 27th October Aomori: With a full day available we journey to the nearby city of Hirosaki to visit the nearby town of Hirosaki, famous for its castle and park.  The park has more than 2600 cherry trees (for the fall colours) and an interesting botanic garden.  At this time of year the park also hosts a local chrysanthemum festival.

Wednesday 28th October Aomori to Sendai: Retracing our path we taking the Hayabusa shinkansen to Sendai taking around around two hours. After dropping luggage at our hotel the afternoon is available for a visit to the Date Masamune mausoleum (Zuihoden).

Thursday 29th October Sendai: A day trip to the nearby Matsushima Bay, one of the three "views of Japan". Activities for the day include a cruise around the bay with its many beautiful pine-tree covered islands and to Fukuura Island.  Another of the features of the bay are the the caves carved into the approach to the temple Zuigan-ji. The caves were used for memorial services and as a cinerarium to house the ashes of the deceased. 

Friday 30th October Sendai to Nagano: From Sendai there is a simple shinkansen trip to the outskirts of Tokyo and then up to the mountain city of Nagano.  In the early afternoon we visit Zenko-ji temple, founded in the 7th century and houses the first Buddhist image in Japan (552CE).  

Saturday 31st October: Nagano: A day trip to visit the famous "snow monkeys" at Jigokudani Monkey Park.

A short shinkansen trip to Kanazawa (''Little Kyoto''). An opportunity for a lunch of fresh sushi at Omi-cho market before visiting the famous Kenrokuen Garden and Kanazawa castle. Additional options include the 21st Museum of Contemporary art or some of the local temples.

Sunday 1st November: Nagano to Takayama: A short trip from Nagano takes us to the city of Matsumoto.  From here we take the scenic bus journey through a section of the Japanese Alps with some beautiful scenery and large elevation changes.  During the course of the journey there should be some great displays of autumn colour on the hillsides.  Arriving at the onsen (hot spring) mountain town of Takayama there is time in the afternoon to explore the town's historic buildings, shops and museums on foot. 

Monday 2nd November Takayama: A free morning to explore the town, check the local markets or visit one of the different museums or temples scattered around the town. After lunch head to the world heritage site of Shirakawa-go (a half day bus trip) with its unique steep thatched-roofed houses. 

Tuesday 3rd November Takayama to Hiroshima Completing the scenic journey through the mountains to Nagoya and then the shinkansen to Hiroshima. The afternoon is available to visit the Peace Park and Museum in Hiroshima city.

Wednesday 4th November Hiroshima: A full day in Hiroshima allows time to visit and explore Miyajima Island and Itsukushima Shrine are the location of the famous "floating" torii gate, 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 good viewing and vantage points.

Thursday 5th November Hiroshima to Kyoto: The trip from Hiroshima takes around two hours with an arrival into Kyoto around mid-day. We begin our sightseeing at the Fushimi Inari Shinto shrine (famous for its 10,000 vermillion torii gates). Given time/inclination we can visit one of the other nearby attractions in the eastern side of the city such as Sanjusangendo that has 1,000 hand carved statues, or the Kyoto National Museum.

Friday 6th November Kyoto: Start the day by visiting Nijo Castle and then the 'golden pavilion' Kinkaku-ji in the north east of the city.  During the afternoon there are several options including the central city area (Nishiki Markets and Teramachi Street) or the Heian Shrine and its beautiful gardens.

Saturday 7th November 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. A feature of the area are the sacred deer that roam the park.

Sunday 8th November Kyoto to Tokyo: Transfer back to Tokyo and the conclusion of the tour.  Arrangements will be adjusted for airport transfers.  

Late November Autumn Leaf Viewing Tour

Saturday 14th November Tokyo:  We aim to meet all our guests at the airport and assist with your transfer to our hotel in Tokyo.  Options for the day depend on your time of arrival but generally as an arrivals day there is free time to explore the local area.  Typically we use a centrally located hotel in Shinjuku.

Sunday 15th November Tokyo: Start the day with a visit to Asukusa and the oldest temple in Tokyo.  The impressive Kaminarimon ("Thunder gate") marks the entrance to the temple along with Hozomon and a five story pagoda. An array of stalls lines Nakamise Street.  In the afternoon visit one or more of the famous neighbourhood areas of Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ginza. 

Monday 16th November Tokyo to Takayama: Travel by Shinkansen and then local train to the onsen (hot spring) mountain town of Takayama. Use the afternoon for a relaxing onsen bath or explore some of this old-style mountain town. 

Tuesday 17th November 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 1/2 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 18th November Takayama to Kyoto: Taking the WideView Hida train down the scenic Kiso valley to Nagano and then a short shinkansen ride to the historic previous capital of Japan. In the afternoon enjoy sightseeing at Inari Fushimi Shinto shrine (10,000 torii gates).  

Thursday 19th November Kyoto: Visit the beautiful Arashiyama district for viewing the autumn leaves and enjoy the view across the Katsura River and the nearby Sagano bamboo grove.  After spending time in Arashiyama, head to the "Golden Pavilion" Kinkaku-ji in the north-west of the city.  Returning to the centre of Kyoto you can explore the 400 year old covered Nishiki Market.

Friday 20th November Kyoto: Start the day at Nijo Castle before heading to the Heian Shrine and gardens.  During the evening visit Kodai-ji temple for the autumn leaf illumination.  The temple complex includes a Zen garden, bamboo forest and interesting artisan shops.

Saturday 21st November Kyoto to Hiroshima:  Heading south from Kyoto, take the shinkansen to Hiroshima.  The afternoon is available to visit the Peace Park and Museum in Hiroshima city and the rebuilt Hiroshima Castle (the castle includes a samurai museum).

Sunday 22nd November Hiroshima: A full day in Hiroshima allows time to visit and explore Miyajima Island and Itsukushima Shrine are the location of the famous "floating" torii gate, 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 good viewing and vantage points.

Monday 23rd November Hiroshima to Osaka: Head to Osaka the second largest city of Japan.  From the hotel it is a short walk across the moat bridge to visit the castle and grounds.  During the evening head to the Dotonbori district.

Tuesday 24th November Osaka: Day trip to the world heritage site at Nara.  At Nara there are both Todai-ji temple (with the world's largest bronze Buddha), and Kagusa Shinto shrine.  Sacred deer roam the park and temple/shrine areas.

Wednesday 25th November Osaka to Kanazawa: Completing the trip across the main island take the "Thunderbird" express train to Kanazawa.  Visit the famous Kenrokuen Garden and Kanazawa castle.  Enjoy local cuisine including fresh sushi and sashimi at the Omicho food market.

Thursday 26th November December Kanazawa to Nagano: Departing from Kanazawa head back into the Japanese Alps to Nagano.  In the early afternoon we visit Zenko-ji temple, founded in the 7th century and houses the first Buddhist image in Japan (552CE). 

Friday 27th November Nagano: After breakfast, head to Nagano station and take the express bus to Jigokudani Monkey Park. Depending on the weather it could be cold (maybe snow). There is a walk of approximately 2km to the "snow monkeys".  For those not wanting to see the monkeys there is an option to visit the Togakushi Shrine in the forest to the north-west of Nagano with its impressive tree lined approach.   

Saturday 28th November Nagano to Tokyo: Transfer back to Tokyo by shinkansen.  A visit to Harajuku and the Meiji Shrine, an important focal point of the city commemorating the Emperor and a significant change in the structure of Japan.  Also in this area is Yoyogi Park, a popular place for people to spend time on weekends.

Sunday 29th November Tokyo: Last day in Tokyo and transfers back to Narita or Haneda airports.

Price Inclusions/exclusions

The tour the price for the sixteen day (accommodation for fifteen nights) is from  JPY645,000 per person share twin/double.  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 JPY795,000. 

The price includes:

Exclusions are generally items such as theatre performances, sporting or other special events, theme parks, lunch and evening meals, snacks/drinks and other incidental costs such as hotel room service/laundry.

Bookings and Inquiries

If you are interested in joining this tour, please contact us or email us directly at admin@japancustomtours.co.nz.


 

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