Cultural Treasures of Japan    *alt*

13 days, from £3349
Collette Worldwide
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Immerse yourself in the ancient and modern cultures of Japan. Experience the electric city of Tokyo, where Yanaka Ginza, the ?shitamachi? of the city?s old town serves as a window to Tokyo?s past, and top-of-the-world views from Tokyo Tower give way to cosmopolitan vistas. Take part in a peaceful and meditative tea ceremony, and stand before the famous Senso-ji, a Buddhist temple dedicated to the Bodhisattva Kannon in Asakusa. Explore the lakeside resort of Hakone and cruise the waters of Lake Ashi. Board the Komagatake Ropeway for goliath views of Mt. Fuji, and tour Matsumoto Castle, the ?Crow Castle.? In the Japanese Alps, enjoy Hida beef and sake at a local brewery, and marvel at the gassho-zukuri-style homes of Shirakawa-go. Visit Kanazawa?s Omicho market, Kenroku garden and the Samurai district. Partake in a gold leaf class. Kyoto is the cultural capital of Japan and a marvel to behold. Absorb the beauty of Kinkakuji, the Golden Pavilion, whose top two floors are covered with gold leaf. Explore Kyoto?s Nijo Castle, home of the first Shogun. Take a lesson in the art of stenciling. Board the Shinkansen ?bullet? train to travel to Hiroshima where you?ll visit Miyajima, ?Shrine Island? and the Peace Memorial Park and Museum. Finally, sit down to a special farewell dinner in Kyoto that features a Geisha show.

Activity level: 4

* Explore the famous Yanaka Ginza district, the ?shitamachi,? with old town ambience reminiscent of Tokyo?s past.
* Explore the hot springs of Hakone, on the shores of Lake Ashi.
* Travel by the famous Shinkansen bullet train.


 Day 1 Tokyo, Japan - Tour Begins

Welcome to Japan, the ?Land of the Rising Sun." Begin in the electrifying city of Tokyo, where pop culture is turned all the way up and traditions are rich and long-kept. Tonight, experience a traditional kaiseki-style meal alongside your fellow travelers at a festive welcome dinner.

 Day 2 Tokyo

Feel the excitement start to build when you explore Asakusa, Tokyo?s oldest Geisha district. Then, turn to the tranquility of the famous Buddhist temple, Senso-ji. During your free time, explore the Nakamise Shopping Arcade. Luckily, you don?t need a time machine to get to Tokyo?s old town, Yanaka Ginza, where quaint shops and vendors pushing local cuisine transport you to a different time altogether. Afterward, get away from the bustle of metropolitan Tokyo to experience a quiet and peaceful tea ceremony.

 Day 3 Tokyo

Begin with a morning stroll through the outside grounds of the Imperial Palace, the Kokyo Gaien National Gardens, and see the Niju Bridge and Sakurada Gate, the well-known symbol of the Imperial Palace. Next, experience Tokyo city?s magnificence from above as you head over to the top of Tokyo Tower. On a clear day, you might even catch a glimpse of incredible Mt. Fuji. Walk through Tsukiji, the world?s largest, busiest fish market and a preamble to a true taste of Japan ? a sushi lunch inside the market itself. Later, amid a lush forest outside of Tokyo, you?ll find some well-deserved peace and harmony at Meiji Shrine.

 Day 4 Tokyo - Hakone

Journey to the lakeside resort of Hakone, renowned for its hot springs and spas. In the shadow of Mt. Fuji (UNESCO), this scenic town hugs the shorelines of Lake Ashi. Make a stop at Owakudani, located in an active volcanic zone. The Owakudani crater was created some 3,000 years ago, when Mt. Hakone erupted. From there, take to the deep-blue waters of Lake Ashi on a cruise where you?ll see epic views of the mountain before stopping in the charming town of Moto-Hakone. Climb aboard Komagatake Ropeway, an aerial cable car ascending to the Komagatake peak of Mount Hakone for breathtaking views of Mt. Fuji.

 Day 5 Hakone - Matsumoto - Takayama

This breathtaking day begins in Matsumoto. Start at Matsumoto Castle, known as the ?Crow Castle? because of its striking black exterior. Enjoy the local cuisine as we stop for lunch at a Soba noodle shop. Later, you?ll step back in time in the rural Edo-period town of Takayama, nestled in the Japanese Alps. Well known to the locals for its connection to sake, this is the perfect place to gather for a visit to one of Japan?s last family-owned sake breweries. Afterward, experience a true Japanese epicurean treat ? traditional rice wine paired with a special Hida beef dinner.

 Day 6 Takayama

The ancient cultures of Takayama come alive this morning in the town?s historic district. Take a walk through the past and glimpse the 19th-century Jinya government building. Circuit the winding streets, where the town?s traditional charms are preserved in the inns and houses. Feel the energy of bustling open-air markets that date back over 600 years. This afternoon, relish some free time to continue your exploration of Takayama on your own.

 Day 7 Takayama - Shirakawa-go - Kanazawa

Today, embrace the unique charms of Shirakawa-go (UNESCO). Hidden away in the mountain, this harmonious village is famous for its gassho-zukuri-style houses ? thatched-rooftops designed to resemble two hands joined in prayer. Journey to Kanazawa, the origin of gold-leaf making since the 16th century. Next, it?s over to the Samurai district where we?ll enter the former home of the Nomuras, a wealthy samurai family who served the ruling Maeda family. Then, travel to the Geisha quarters of Kanazawa, the Higashi Tea district. Gather in town this evening for dinner.

 Day 8 Kanazawa

More than 25 acres of absolute beauty awaits you today at Kenroku-En ? Garden of Six Qualities. From the beauty of Japan?s most stunning gardens, dive in to the ancient craft of gold leaf making during a hands-on lesson in decorating your own bento box! In the center of town, take in the action of the Omicho fish market before venturing out on your own to really immerse yourself in Kanazawa?s dynamic culture.

 Day 9 Kanazawa - Kyoto

Kyoto awaits! The former Imperial capital of Japan is now one of the nation?s top cosmopolitan cities. At the same time, Kyoto?s connection with its past is strong; you won?t need to look far to see one of its 2,000 temples and shrines. Visit Kinkakuji, the Golden Pavilion, a zen temple whose top two floors are completely covered in gold leaf. Then, stroll through the Gion district where you may spot women in traditional dress along the narrow lanes of teahouses. Tonight, dine in the heart of the city at a traditional yakitori (grilled chicken) restaurant.

 Day 10 Kyoto - Bullet Train - Hiroshima - Kyoto

All aboard the Shinkansen bullet train to Hiroshima. Upon arrival, board a ferry for the short trip to Miyajima Island, or ?Shrine Island? (UNESCO), where the iconic torii gate and the Itsukushima Shrine appears to float on water. After lunch, head into Hiroshima city to visit the Peace Memorial Park, and pause to see the ruined Atomic Dome (UNESCO). Reflect at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. As this moving day comes to a close, return to Kyoto by the Shinkansen bullet train.

 Day 11 Kyoto

Explore Fushimi Inari Taisha for a tour of the most revered shrine of Inari. Follow the spectacular rows of orange torii (made famous in the movie Memoirs of a Geisha) that weave through the forest, leading you to the inner shrine. Move on to the home of the first Shogun, Nijo Castle (UNESCO), and see intricate woodcarvings, wall paintings, and the Ninomaru Garden, designed by Kobori Enshu, a landscape architect and tea master. Next, visit Marumasu Nishumuraya for a lesson in the art of stenciling at a traditional Kyoto townhouse.

 Day 12 Kyoto

Today, spend some time relaxing or set out to explore Kyoto on your own. Fully immerse yourself in Japanese culture tonight during a special kaiseki farewell dinner and Geisha show.

 Day 13 Kyoto - Tour Ends

Your tour comes to a close in this fascinating land. As you depart, reflect on its beauty and all you have learned about its rich history and culture.

Tour Map