Day 1: Australia –– Tokyo
Board your international flight from Australia to Tokyo.
Please note: some flights might depart 1 day later.
Day 2: Tokyo
Arrive in Tokyo. Your friendly tour guide will be waiting at the airport to transfer you to the airport hotel.
Day 3: Tokyo – Nikko – Kinugawa Onsen (B, D)
Today’s drive this morning takes you to Nikko, an ancient town surrounded by deciduous cedar trees and majestic waterfalls. Visit the fascinating Nikko Toshogu, a UNESCO World Heritage site well known for its distinctive architecture made up many extravagant wood carvings and gold leaf decorations. Continue on to Kegon Waterfall (about 100 metres tall) set against the stunning backdrop of the greater Nikko National Park. Make a stop at Lake Chuzenji and be astounded by its natural scenery before returning to the hotel this evening to relax and unwind in a hot spring at Kinugawa Onsen.
Day 4: Kinugawa Onsen – Karuizawa – Jigokudani – Nagano (B, D)
This morning, the drive towards Karuizawa will take you through the majestic highlands of Nagano prefecture. On arrival, visit the main shopping street in Kyu-Karuizawa lined with stores selling a variety of local specialty products. Karuizawa was once the summer resort for the Canadian missionary who frequented the area in the late 1800s. Many of the town’s buildings thereafter, such as the chapels and cottages, are distinctly European in style. After lunch, travel to the famous Jigoku Valley Monkey Park, where you can see wild snow monkeys bathe in hot springs all year round.
Day 5: Nagano – Hakuba (B, L, D)
After breakfast, visit Hokusai Museum to discover the great Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849), one of Japan’s leading painters. Hokusai was most famous for his ‘Thirty six views of Mt Fuji’ painting and has gone on to influence many talented artists like Vincent van Gogh. Today’s special highlight is a soba noodle making experience. Soba noodles are made from buckwheat flour. Learn how to create and roll dough, and then slice it into thin soba noodles using a special soba knife. Enjoy your own noodles for lunch. Continue on to Zenkou Temple, one of the largest Buddhist temples in Japan with an astounding history that spans over 1,400 years.
Day 6: Hakuba – Kurobe Alpine Route – Tonami (B, D)
The drive along Kurobe Alpine Route is picturesque and the scenery varies depending on the season. In winter, you can witness massive snow walls that reach up to 20m in height. A visit in spring and summer will see the mountainside enveloped in lush, verdant alpine plants and flowers. In autumn, trees are ablaze with a stunning blend of orange, yellow and red leaves. On arrival, travel through the mountains using ropeways, cable cars and buses. A must-visit in this region is Kurobe Dam, one of the world’s largest man-made structures seamlessly blended in with the natural beauty of the Northern Alps. Afterward, stop by Mikuriga Ponds and be fascinated by the mysterious pristine blue waters of the volcanic lake.
Day 7: Tonami – Kanazawa – Shirakawago – Takayama (B, D)
Travel onwards to Kanazawa, which was once a castle town established around 300 years ago. Visit Buke Yashiki (samurai house) and discover how higher-ranked samurais lived in a feudal society during Edo period (1603-1867). Later, wander through the streets of Higashi Chaya, a district lined with quaint old buildings that were once teahouses frequented by geisha (traditional Japanese female entertainers) and their guests. Next, visit Kenroku Garden, regarded as one of the country’s most elegant Japanese gardens that combine six qualities of a perfect garden: spacious ness, seclusion, artifice, antiquity, water features and panoramas. The last stop for today is Shirakawago, a World Heritage site where 114 Gassho-style houses (steeply-pitched roofs in the shape of a triangle) built many hundreds of years ago stand together in its natural setting.
Day 8: Takayama – Nagoya (B,D)
Takayama is an atmospheric and historic town and many of its streets still retain a traditional feel dating back to the late 17th century. Enjoy breakfast before you set out on a light morning stroll through Takayama’s local food market lined with stands that sell local crafts, assorted snacks and fresh seasonal products direct from the farms. Afterwards, visit Takayama Jinya (historical government house) that was under control by the powerful Tokugawa Shogunate. Besides the main building you will find a large rice storehouse. Before lunch at Sanmachi, partake in a sake tasting experience. Sake (rice wine) is a specialty in this region due to the abundant rice fields and clear waters nearby. After lunch, drive to Nagoya and visit the Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology . Here you will learn about the history of Toyota as a textile machinery manufacturer and how it became a successful mass exporter and manufacturer of automobile and automotive technology including robots.
Day 9: Nagoya – Kyoto – Osaka (B)
Today’s morning visit is to Nagoya Castle, which was constructed by order of Tokugawa Shogunate in 1612. This castle is famous for shachihoko, a pair of golden fish ornaments nested on top of the castle roof. Bid farewell to Nagoya and travel to Kyoto to see the visually arresting Fushimi Inari Shrine . This shrine is most famous for its thousands of bright vermilion tori gates surrounded by a dense wooded forest. The shrine is dedicated to the Shinto god of rice and sake and features dozens of statues of foxes; foxes were once believed to be special messengers. Your last stop for today is Umeda Skygarden where you can settle down and catch a beautiful evening/night view of Osaka city.
Day 10: Osaka –– Australia (B)
Travel to Kansai International Airport for your flight to Australia.
Day 11: Australia
Arrive home this morning.