THE ROOF OF JAPAN
10 nights - All year round
Tokyo, Nagano, Tateyama, Kanazawa, Fukui, Kyoto, Himeji, Hiroshima, Miyajima
From £7,119.00 per person
Expand your horizons with this mindful tour of the majestic Japanese Alps – and visit the ancient home of the Samurai and Zen Buddhism.
This tour begins in Tokyo but quickly takes a path less travelled – and you'll witness a totally new side of Japan. You'll get up close and personal with a famous troupe of bathing monkeys, take the breathtaking scenic route through the Hida Mountains (often known as the Japanese Alps), see superb samurai architecture and experience monastic life in the original home of Zen Buddhism.
Escorted tours of Kyoto, Nara, Hiroshima, Miyajima, and Tokyo
10 nights' accommodation at three- or four-star hotels
Meals: Nine hotel breakfasts, one packed breakfast, six lunches, eight dinners
Bullet Train tickets: Three journeys in reserved second-class seats (Tokyo to Nagano, Kyoto to Himeji, Himeji to Hiroshima)
English-speaking guide as per itinerary below
Entrance and activity fees as per itinerary below
Local transport: Bus, ferry, private car, ropeway, cable car, and train all per itinerary
Day 1 & 2: UK / Tokyo
Your first day begins as you board your international flight to Tokyo. We do recommend arriving in Tokyo around noon – giving you enough time to explore during the afternoon.
Your English-speaking tour guide will meet you at the arrivals lobby and escort you into a private car for your first sightseeing trip.
Tokyo is one of the busiest and most densely populated capital cities in the world, but amid the bustle and all those high-rises, it has some of Japan's most beautiful historic and religious sites. You'll be spending two nights here.
The first stop is Senso-ji Temple in Asakusa, which is Tokyo's oldest Buddhist temple. This is right next to the historic Nakamise shopping arcade, which is a great place to pick up trinkets and souvenirs. Then it's on towards the Imperial Palace, the sumptuous residence of the emperors of Japan, and Nijubashi Bridge, which leads up to the palace gates.
Day 3: Tokyo
After a leisurely hotel breakfast, lunch and dinner are up to you, but your guide and the friendly hotel staff will have excellent recommendations, both for meals and sights to see.
Day 4: Tokyo to Nagano
After breakfast, your guide will collect you and whisk you to Tokyo station by private car, where you'll then board the Bullet Train heading for Nagano on a 90-minute train journey.
The first stop is Zenko-ji Temple, one of the oldest and most important Buddhist sites in all Japan.
After lunch, you're in for a real treat today, with a visit the monkeys' natural habitat: the forests of the Jigokudani Valley. The springs here are claimed by troupes of monkeys enjoying the warmth, and you'll have the rare opportunity to watch them while away the day.
That evening you'll check in at the four-star Hotel Metropolitan Nagano, where dinner will be provided.
Day 5: The Alpine Route
The Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route connects Nagano and Toyama in a spectacular winding journey through the magnificent Tateyama Mountain Range.
After breakfast at the hotel, your guide will accompany you to Ogizawa by private car, where your journey will begin with a short electric bus ride to Lake Kurobe and the astonishing Kurobe Dam.
The next leg of the journey is the Tateyama Ropeway (pictured on the left)
Next up is a bus journey between Murodo and Bijodaira. In the spring (mid-April to mid-June), there's so much snow that the bus drives through a carved snow corridor with walls that can reach up to 65 feet.
Later check in in Takaoka for the night. You'll be staying either at Amaharashi Onsen Isohanabi or at Healthian Wood, both of which have four stars. Dinner will be served at your hotel.
Day 6: Kanazawa
Your guide will meet you at the hotel after breakfast and will escort you to Kanazawa. Today you'll see the historic highlights of this wonderfully preserved medieval city, including the Nomura-ke residence, an Edo- period villa that once belonged to a high-ranking samurai family, and its stunning garden and beautifully preserved artefacts.
You'll then visit the Kenroku-en Gardens in the grounds of Kanazawa Castle, which are counted as one of the three most beautiful classical landscape gardens in Japan.
You'll have lunch at Omicho Market, which with around 200 shops and stalls is the city's largest fresh food market. You'll be eating kaisendon at Sashimiya, tasty cuts of high- quality sashimi served on a bowl of fresh- cooked rice.
After lunch, we've arranged a lesson in Kanazawa's most famous local craft: decorative gold leaf. This art form has more than 400 years of pedigree here, and to this day Kanazawa produces almost all the gold leaf in Japan. You will learn to decorate items of your choice, including small plates and chopsticks.
You'll then visit 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, which exhibits many works from acclaimed Japanese and international contemporary artists.
Tonight you'll stay either at the ANA Crowne Plaza Kanazawa or Hotel Nikko Kanazawa, both of which have four stars. Dinner will be served at the hotel.
Day 7: Fukui
Your guide will meet you after your usual hotel breakfast ahead of a full day of sightseeing around Fukui by private car.
The first stop is Tojinbo, a half-mile stretch of rugged basalt cliffs on the Sea of Japan, dramatic chasms and bluffs which soar up to 30m above the crashing waves below.
You'll then jump back in the car heading for Eihei-ji, the Temple of Eternal Peace. Located deep in the mountains, It's a huge temple complex with more than 70 buildings all connected by covered overhead walkways which protect the monks from heavy winter snows.
Day-trippers are invited to try Zazen meditation at Kichijokaku, the large meditation hall. Uniquely Japanese, Zen practice sees participants sitting for long periods of quiet to explore the meaning of existence and achieve inner peace.
You'll stay in Hakujukan tonight. It features open-air baths and showers and will serve classic Buddhist temple cuisine. After dinner, you will get the chance to copy some sutras – another sacred Zen tradition.
Day 8: Kyoto
You'll wake before dawn this morning and attend the morning service. There are more than 100 monks living and practicing at Eihei-ji, and it's a moving, spiritual experience to witness them recite the sutras in dramatic unison as the sacred scent of incense wafts through the temple complex.
You'll eat breakfast at the inn before a short tour of a few more of Eihei-ji's precincts and treasures. You'll then hop back in the car headed for Kyoto, the one-time imperial capital of Japan, where your first stop will be a well-deserved lunch at a local restaurant!
You'll start your sightseeing tour by private car, visiting Arashiyama, a stunning district on the outskirts of the city which has been welcoming tourists since the Heian Period (794-1185). It's home to Tenryu-ji Temple, which is noted for its serene landscape garden and pond, and many lush green bamboo groves. Back in Kyoto, you'll then pay a visit to Kinkaku-ji Temple, which known as the golden pavilion for reasons that will become apparent
You will stay at Hotel New Hankyu Kyoto for your stay this evening, which is a stylish mix of modern and traditional. It has four restaurants, a bar and a rooftop beer garden.
Day 9: Kyoto
You'll have a full day to explore Kyoto at your own speed today, after a hotel breakfast as usual. You'll prepare an overnight bag before you head out, leaving your main suitcases at reception, which will be sent on to your next hotel in Hiroshima. You'll be responsible for your own lunch and dinner today, but Kyoto has more than its share of excellent restaurants.
If you'd prefer a more structured day, we can arrange a one-day bus tour of the best local sites, including the world-famous Fushimi Inari Shrine, which has hundreds of bright red torii gates running up the hillside. You'll also stop off at Nara, an even older capital of Japan (710-794), which has much of the best-preserved historic architecture in the whole country, including Todai-ji Temple, which houses the largest bronze Buddha in Japan, and the Kasuga Grand Shrine, which is one of the holiest sites in Japan's indigenous Shinto religion. Lunch will be included if you opt for this tour.
Day 10 & 11: Hiroshima & Miyajima
Your guide will meet you after breakfast and walk with you to Kyoto Station, where you'll board the Bullet Train to Himeji Castle.
Known as the White Heron Castle, Himeji is the best of Japan's surviving medieval castles. You'll also visit the nearby Koko-en Gardens, which showcase nine classical styles of gardening.
Hiroshima is best seen by private car, and you'll be visiting many solemn sights including the Peace Memorial Museum and Park, the Origami Crane Tower and the Atomic Bomb Dome which stands now as a monument to international cooperation.
Check in at the four-star Hotel Granvia Hiroshima (or another one of similar quality).
The next day, your guide will take you to the ferry terminal, where you'll board a passenger boat to Miyajima, a picturesque island that's home to the Itsukushima Shrine, another supremely important Shinto site. You may well recognise its famous giant torii gate that stands out in the sea.
Lunch will be at a nearby restaurant, and you'll then board the Miyajima Ropeway, a 15-minute cable-car journey to the top of the highest peak on the island, Mt Misen. At 500 meters above sea level, there are spectacular views of the Seto Inland Sea – and on clear days you can see Hiroshima far away in the distance.
Day 12: Return Home
Breakfast will either be served at the hotel as usual, or as a takeaway box if you're your flight is early in the morning. You'll drive to Hiroshima Airport by private car and catch your flight home. We hope you've had a brilliant time.
Price: from £7,199.00 per person based on twin/double room occupancy.
Please enquire for a 3* price or for a Single room supplement
10 nights' accommodation at three- or four-star hotels on a bed and breakfast basis
Other meals included: six lunches, eight dinners
Bullet Train tickets: three journeys in reserved second-class seats (Tokyo to Nagano, Kyoto to Himeji, Himeji to Hiroshima)
English-speaking guide as per itinerary above (including tip and allowance)
Entrance and activity fees as per itinerary above
Local transport: Bus, ferry, private car, ropeway, cable car, and train all per itinerary
All Japanese sales taxes and service charge
Full financial protection via Japan Journeys' membership of the Travel Trust Association through which your monies are held in a Trust Account until you return home (under Membership No. U3078), see: http://www.traveltrust.co.uk
NOT INCLUDED IN PRICE
Other meals not mentioned above
Entrance to any attractions not named above
To make a booking, a deposit of 10% of the total price is required.
The balance of the price of the trip must be made 12 weeks prior to departure.
All price estimates are based on current rates of exchange.
Travel can be a great experience, but it can also be fraught with problems, so when going anywhere it is essential you are properly covered with good travel insurance. You should be protected against cancellation, curtailment and loss or damage to your belongings as well as medical emergencies and have peace of mind if the unexpected happens.
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