Discovering Japan in Spring
We start in Tokyo, undoubtedly one of Asia's most exciting cities and finish up in Kyoto. Along the way we visit some incredible historical and cultural sites and really gain an appreciation of the
history of this country.
On this "Outside the Square adventure" we will be exploring like the locals do, using the amazing bullet trains and local transport with just a few bus trips when its really the only way to get to a
Japanese food is a highlight of this trip and will introduce you to many hidden gems as we get to experience the delights of this amazing cuisine. Each region has a specialty dish and we will try them all. We have chosen spring time as this is the wonderful time to visit this country, temperatures are pleasant, and flowers are starting to bloom.
Day 1: Arrival in Tokyo
Konnichiwa! Welcome to Japan
As people will be arriving from different countries and at different times, we will be giving you detailed instructions as to how to catch the Airport bus direct to our first hotel. This is easy, and the staff at the transfer counter speak English. We will be at the hotel ready to greet you.
Overnight Tokyo Hotel
Day 2: Tokyo
This morning we head to Shibuya crossing rumoured to be the busiest intersection in the world. Upwards of 3000 people cross at any one time. For those that don’t want to experience the crossing we will also view it from above so you can take some photos if you choose.We will then head to The Meiji Shrine with free time to explore this beautiful area.
After lunch we will head back to Shinjuku to explore or free time at your leisure.
We are staying in Shinjuku, a whole city within a city and one of the most popular areas to stay in Tokyo. In the afternoon we will head to Shinjuku Gyoen (park) It was opened to the public in 1949 and is a beautiful park with speciality gardens. We will experience the traditional art of Japanese tea making served with Japanese sweets.
Shinjuku Station is one of the world’s busiest railway stations handling 2 million passengers every day. It is also the main hub to connect you anywhere in Japan if you want to explore other areas of Tokyo. Or stay in Shinjuku and visit many of the stores in the area for some souvenir shopping.
Welcome Dinner Included: Freshen up before we all meet up for a light meal at a local Japanese Izakaya. Izakaya is Japanese style bar/gastropub serving drink and Japanese food or snacks. It’s popular among locals to hop in right after work for a couple of beers. Izakaya alleys are old fashioned, narrow streets
and usually seat only a few people at one time.
Overnight Tokyo Hotel
Day 3: Tokyo
This morning we head to Tsukiji markets. Although the wholesale fish markets have moved now to Toyosu. The Tsukiji markets are still filled with street food vendors. Try some chargrilled tuna or fried squid or may other options. A foodie delight with many sweet and savoury options to taste test as
After lunch we will walk to Ginza, free time at your leisure or join me to visit the Nissan Café where you can see some flash cars and get your face printed on your own coffee.
This evening we will meet up for dinner.
Day 4: Tokyo - Nikko (train) Approximately 2 hours by train
Enjoy a couple of free hours this morning before we head to Nikko. We will catch an express train (approximately 1 hour) and then a local train (approximately 1 hour) out of Tokyo towards Nikko.
Enjoy the trip watching the beautiful countryside, most trains have the trolley carts with snacks such as bento boxes green tea and beer.
Nikko has a lot of monuments to visit featuring on UNESCO’s world heritage sites.
We will arrive into Nikko early evening and meet for early dinner.
Day 5: Nikko
This morning we will walk and cross Shinkyo (The sacred bridge) which is the main bridge to the temples. After crossing the bridge, we come to Rinnoji Temple complex which includes 15 temples and towers in the mountains. The main building Sanbutsudo houses 3 large Buddha statues. We then have time to explore the other temples as you wish.
We will then head back to the sacred bridge area for lunch and the afternoon is free time.
Perhaps take the bus to the waterfall and lake or explore the sacred bridge area and town.
Day 6: Nikko – Hakone (Local train, bullet train) Approximately 3 hours total travel time
This morning we depart approximately 09:00am for Hakone.
Leaving Nikko we will board a local train followed by 2 shinkansen bullet trains and finally a bus on our way to Hakone a scenic hot springs resort in the foothills of Mount Fuji. We will arrive by mid-afternoon. We are staying at a beautiful hotel surrounded by Yuzakayama’s forest.
Settle into your rooms and afterwards enjoy the hot springs (Japanese onsen) on location, there is separate bathing for men and woman.
This evening we will meet for dinner near the hotel.
Day 7: Hakone
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast at the hotel before we head out for the day. This morning we hop on a boat across Ashinoko lake and then head to the Hakone ropeway. Enjoy the greatest views of the gondola as we climb all the way up to Owakudani. When we are at the top we will have lunch and you have the opportunity to try a kuro-tamago (black egg) which is boiled carefully in a hot spring, this is a specialty food that can only be purchased here and is said to increase your life by seven years if you eat one.
Mid Afternoon free time at your leisure, visit the open-air museum or the museum of art. Or for the more adventurous the Mishima Skywalk which is approximately 1 hour away.
Meet this evening for Dinner
Day 8: Hakone – Takayama (train) Approximately 4 hours by train
This morning we travel to Takayama that is in Gifu prefecture. Takayama is a charming Edo period town located in the Japanese alps, famous for its traditional inns, and sake breweries.
This afternoon we will visit Hida Folk village 99,000 square metre site of sloped and thatched roof houses. Modelled on a folk village see demonstrations of traditional crafts. This area is known for its Hida-gyu beef given to beef from a black-haired Japanese cattle breed.
Day 9 Takayama
This morning we will visit the morning markets that date back over 600 years, treat yourself to the delicious local marshmallow treat of owara tamaten. There are lots of free samples to try and then purchase and souvenir shops to buy gifts to take home.
In the afternoon we will visit a local brewery and have a sake tasting. The local alpine climate and crystal-clear mountain waters are perfect for creating sake,
Meet this evening for Dinner
Day 10 Takayama - Hiroshima (train) Approximately 5 hours 30 minutes travel time
This morning we will take the express train to Hiroshima. (approximately 5 hours 30 minutes)
In the afternoon after we have settled into our accommodation we will venture out to the Hiroshima peace park. The Genbaku Dome and Peace memorial park. These sites are in memory of the first ever wartime use of the atomic bomb. The Dome sits just metres from where the bomb detonated. The memorial park is in memory to the victims, the memorial museum is an emotional experience walking through.
Afterwards we will walk through Hiroshima’s shopping street to dinner to try a Hiroshima signature meal Okonomiyaki (A kind of savoury pancake of egg, cabbage, soba noodles and meat or seafood.)
Day 11 Hiroshima
After Breakfast we will head over to the nearby island of Miyajima with its famous floating torri gate.
The ferry from Hiroshima only takes 10 minutes and they depart frequently. Miyajima is a very easy island to explore and you will see many deer on the island be careful as they even eat maps. Our first stop is a 10-minute walk from the ferry terminal to Itsukushima -jinja (shrine) which dates back to the 6 th century.
The Shrine and its red Torri gate are unique being built over water. When it is low tide you can walk out underneath the gate.
After this is free time to explore the island Omotesando Street is the busiest place in Miyajima for souvenir shops and restaurants. Try the local delicacy Momiji manju shaped like maple leaves and made from a sweet dough you can choose your filing inside from chocolate, custard, maccha, cheese and many more options, best served fresh when they are nice and warm. There is also some nice easy walking tracks, or try the Miyajima ropeway (gondola) Or walk to the top of Mt Misen for beautiful views.
Day 12 Hiroshima- Himeji – Kyoto (1 hour by train) (1 hour by train)
We leave Hiroshima early this morning so we can head to Himeji Castle a world cultural heritage site. This magnificent structure has 8 white plastered keeps and towers and 74 towers and gates. First, we will explore the castles surroundings and then go inside to climb the 5 levels.
After exploring we will then head to Kyoto on the train.
This evening we will stroll through the famous Gion, Kyoto’s most famous Geisha district. Today you can still observe the age-old tradition as they head out to perform dances and songs for members of the wealthy elite. We will also visit Kodaiji temple which is lit up beautifully at night over Spring.
Day 13 Kyoto
Kyoto is known as the cultural heart of Japan. Kyoto is also a great walking city.
This morning we will head to Fushimi Inari, this shrine sits at the base of a mountain and includes trails up to the mountain. The highlight of the shrine is the rows of torri gates known as Senbon torri one of the most photographed shrines in Japan.
We will then head to Kinkaku-ji temple (gold Pavilion temple) followed by the Nishiki markets where you will have more time to explore on your own.
Day 14 Kyoto
This morning we take a gentle stroll along the Path of Philosophy that links Ginkau-ji (silver pavilion)
with Nanzen-ji temple. This walk can be extended to the old town area and to Kiyomizu-dera
(Temple of clear water) with its famous viewing platform, also we may get the chance to see some
cherry blossom leaves)
After lunch for those that want to join, we will head to Nara which is 50 minutes by train and we will
visit the Todai-ji Temple which has the largest bronze Buddha statue in the world.
Farewell Group Dinner this evening we will have a special dinner in Kyoto.
Day 15 Departure – Kyoto -Osaka
The tour officially concludes after breakfast, for those that want to stay longer there is the options of extending your trip in either Kyoto or Osaka (addon hotel packages available)
For those of you leaving us today we will pick a time to escort you to the airport when we have all of your flight details.
Kyoto is a 40 min train ride to Osaka station and then its an easy 1hr bus transfer or train to the airport. Most flights from Kansai (Osaka) leave in the evenings. (Please book your flight after 2pm if leaving today)
Note: Our trip begins at Narita Airport, and concludes at Kansai Airport, Osaka.
Please note the Osaka flights are seasonal so international flight may depart from Tokyo with add on flight from Osaka or bullet train back to Tokyo. Please contact your travel agent Leisa Steele for more flight details.
Dates are 21st March - 4th April 2020
This year’s trip will be hosted by OTS founder Richard and Japanese speaking OTS traveller Raeburn.
This is an adventure where we will explore, travel and eat like the locals. This is an active trip that requires moderate fitness, good packing skills and a sense of humour and adventure.
Not Included :-
Please express interest ASAP as this is a small group trip and priority will be given to those that register their interest early.
Cost of this 4 star accommodation trip NZD $7800 pp (Approx USD $5340) twin share.
Single room cost plus NZD $890
First class rail pass + $250 NZD
Due to the nature of Adventure travel and the prices of the resources on which it depends, the published price of any trip is subject to change at any time, up to 60 days before the departure or until paid in full due to currency fluctuations.