Day 1: Australia –– Fukuoka
Board your international flight from Australia to Fukuoka.
(Note: some flights may depart one day later)
Day 2: Fukuoka
Welcome to Fukuoka, Japan! Following customs, immigration formalities and baggage collection, make your way down to the arrival area where you will meet your friendly tour guide. Your guide will transfer you to your hotel.
Day 3: Fukuoka (B,D)
This morning we will gather together as a group and head off with our tour guide for a day tour of Fukuoka. Our tour will start with Fukuoka’s famous Gion Temple Cluster where we will visit Tochoji Temple and Kushida Shrine. One of them houses the Hakata Machiya Museum, which is a small museum that features the history of Hakata and recordings of the Hakata dialect. Enjoy of the unique temple and museum before we stroll on towards Kushida Shrine, which is home to the Hakata Gion Yamakasa Matsuri. Pass through the tori gate, walk across the bridge over the heart shaped pond and come across the main hall with plum trees surrounding it to fulfil the whole experience of the stunning Daizaifu Tenmangu. Finish up your tour with a visit to Canal City Hakata a unique shopping with a canal running through the centre of it. Enjoy your afternoon shopping and eating some local dishes. Once you finish up your tour for the day, your tour guide will take you back to your hotel where you can enjoy a good rest.
Day 4: Fukuoka – Nagato – Hagi (B,L,D)
Ohaiyou-gozaimasu (Good morning!) Today we will be travelling from Fukuoka via Nagato to Hagi. We will start by walking through 123 tori gates to reach one of Nagato’s most spectacular shrines, Motonosumi Inari Shrine. After that we’ll head to the former castle town of Hagi. Take a stroll around the Hagi castle ruins and the beautiful park that features Mount Shizuki, a popular hiking spot. After visiting the remains of the castle we will make our way over to the historical township with the different samurai styled residences. You can walk around Kikyu Residence, Kubota Residence, Kida Takayoshi Residence to see the Meiji and Edo houses, sake businesses, tatami mat style rooms and the gardens. Enjoy the Mori Clan’s powerful capital and step back in time to the samurai periods in this small quaint town of Hagi.
Day 5: Hagi – Hiroshima (B,D)
After eating breakfast, we will start our journey by stopping at Iwakuni a small city not far from Hagi in Yamaguchi Prefecture. Iwakuni is famous for its uniquely structured elegant wooden bridge, Kintaikyo Bridge. Kintaikyo Bridge makes up five bold arches onto massive stone pillars as it crosses over the Nishiki River. It was commissioned by Kikkawa Hiroyoshi, the third feudal lord of Iwakuni, whose statue stands at the entrance to the nearby Kikko Park. After that we head back on the road towards Hiroshima but first we will stop at Miyajima. Miyajima is famous for its two structures built over the water, the giant ‘floating tori gate’ and the key shrine Itsukushima Shrine. Enjoy strolling around this peaceful and romantic place with groups of wild deer wandering around, the beautiful mountains, the temples, floating tori gate and the abundance of nature. After our stop in Miyajima we will get back in the bus and head towards Hiroshima where you will stay the night.
Day 6: Hiroshima – Himeji – Kobe (B)
After eating breakfast we will start our day trip in Hiroshima heading onto Himeji and finally arriving in Kobe. We begin our tour in Hiroshima with the Peace Memorial Park and Atomic Bomb Museum, one of the commemoration buildings for the victims that were killed during the atomic bombings in WWII. After that we will head to Himeji, well known for its famous white elegant castle, Himeji Castle. Enjoy walking around this historical castle and of course stop into the traditionally Japanese styled garden, Koko-en Garden. Consisting of nine separate, walled gardens designed in various styles from the Edo period this garden is a magnificent attraction to see while you tour through Himeji. Finishing up our day tour we get back in the coach and head to Kobe where you will stay the night.
Day 7: Kobe – Osaka (B)
Today is a free day to explore Kobe at your own pace. Kobe is a port city and the first foreign trade route in the 19th century. With its European inspired buildings, its deliciously juicy Kobe beef, its international city corners and its beautiful harbour, Kobe is certainly a place you should add to your bucket list! You could even become Sherlock Holmes for a while in Kitano village. Kobe has a lot to offer so take your time to enjoy your morning here. After enjoying your morning in Kobe we will transfer to Osaka where you can enjoy the rest of your day.
Day 8: Osaka – Nara – Osaka (B,D)
Today we will take a day trip to Nara and a night walking tour of Osaka.
Once you arrive in Nara it is a short walk to the main attractions. We will visit Todaiji Temple and its Great Hall as it houses one of the largest bronze Buddha statues in the world. On your return to the station, wander back through Nara Deer Park where you can see hundreds of deer roaming around. Nara’s 1,200 deer have become the symbol of the city as it comes from the Shinto idea that every creature, nature or object is a messenger of god.
After enjoying most of the day in Nara we will head back to Osaka.
As we arrive back in Osaka city, we will make a stop at Osaka Castle. Osaka Castle came to be of great importance throughout Japanese history especially when warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi built it and ruled Japan there. After that, we will finish off our day with a tour of one of Osaka’s central food and entertainment centres Dotonbori. Enjoy wandering around trying the local foods, shopping districts and posing with one of Osaka’s famous icons, Gurico!
Day 9: Osaka –– Kyoto (B)
Today we experience a taste of the bullet train from Osaka to the historical capital Kyoto (approx. 15 minutes). In Kyoto we will visit Kinkakuji Temple otherwise known as the Golden Pavilion. Kinkakuji is a Zen temple and World Heritage site with two floors covered entirely in thin layers of pure gold and detailed architecture incorporating three distinct architectural styles of Shinden, Samurai and Zen. After that we will head to Nishijin Textile Centre and enjoy a traditional kimono show. Kimonos are still used today in Japan for formal ceremonies and festivals.
Day 10: Kyoto (B)
Today is a free day at leisure.
Kyoto is the old capital of Japan and has a long history and traditional culture. While you are wandering around Kyoto you you could visit the former residence of the Emperor of Japan, the famous Kyoto Imperial Palace and Heian Jingu Shrine built for the 1100th anniversary of the capitals foundation in Kyoto. Other places you could visit are Sanjyusangendo Temple, one of the world’s longest wooden structures housing 1001 life size Buddhist Kannon deities; Kiyomizu-dera Temple that is a UNESCO World Heritage listed site and famous for its Otowa Waterfall. Take a stroll down the narrow streets of Gion where you can see the historical Geisha quarters and tea houses. Or you could climb up the famous Fushimi Inari Taisha, known for its thousands of tori gates lined up to the reach the top of the mountain where you can see the statue of the fox deity.
Day 11: Kyoto – Kanazawa (B)
This morning we will make our way to Nijo Castle, the Kyoto residence of the Tokugawa Shogunate and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. After that we will go to Togetsu Bridge and the Bamboo Grove, the landmarks of Western Kyoto’s Arashiyama District for over four hundred years. The Togetsu Bridge leads the way to the traditional shrines, temples and Sagano bamboo forest. Standing amongst the Bamboo Grove is like being in another world and is nothing like any other forest you have seen before. It is mesmerizing, peaceful and encapsulates Japanese aesthetic really well. After that we will gather and head on our way to Kanazawa.
Day 12: Kanazawa (B)
Today we will travel onwards to Kanazawa, once known as a castle town established around 300 years ago. First up we will visit Buke Yashiki (a samurai house) and learn about how the high ranked samurais lived during the Edo period. Later we will make our way through the streets of Higashi Chaya, a district lined with quaint old buildings that were once teahouses used by the local geisha (traditional Japanese female entertainers) and their guests. Next, we will visit Kenrokuen Garden one of Japan’s “three best landscape gardens” and considered the most beautiful of them all with spaciousness, seclusion, artifice, antiquity, water features and panoramas. Then we will go to Omicho Market to try the local foods and see the local crafts. After that your guide will take you back to your hotel.
Day 13: Kanazawa (B)
Today enjoy a free day oh leisure in Kanazawa.
Kanazawa is the capital of Ishikawa Prefecture, on Japan’s central Honshu Island. It’s known for well-preserved Edo era districts, art museums and regional handicrafts. Today while you are in Kanazawa there are many attractions you can check out. From the temple equipped with secret doors and traps, Ninjadera, to the beautifully designed Kanazawa Castle, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Nishi Chaya District, Oyama Shrine, Seisonkaku Villa, the 21st Century Museum and D.T. Suzuki Museum are all must see attractions. You can never go wrong in this quaint, peaceful and nature surrounded city of Kanazawa.
Day 14: Kanazawa – Shirakawago – Takayama (B)
Today we will go on a half day tour of Shirakawago to explore the small village and the gassho style houses. On this tour you will stop at the observation point so you can view the whole of Shirakawago and while you are there your English speaking tour guide will teach you about the history of this unique village. Enjoy looking inside the traditional houses and get a feel of what it is like to live in Shirakawago. Try some local foods and snacks as part of this wonderful village of Shirakawago. After our tour in Shirakawago we will head towards Takayama where you will stay the night in your hotel.
Day 15: Takayama – Nagano (B)
Today we will spend the day exploring Takayama city. Takayama is a city located in Japan’s mountainous Gifu Prefecture. Takayama retains a traditional feel like few other Japanese cities, especially in its beautifully preserved old town. While you are in Takayama we will visit the preserved Old Town, the open air museum of Hida Folk Village, the former local government office, Takayama Jinya, an impressive museum called Matsuri no Mori, pass by temples and the former castle site at Higashiyama walk, enjoy seeing a range of festival floats at the Yatai Kaikan and grab a bargain or food at the morning markets. Upon finishing your tour in Takayama board the bus to Nagano for our overnight stay.
Day 16: Nagano – Matsumoto (B)
Ohayou-gozaimasu! (Good morning!) After breakfast, we will gather together and head off to Hokusai Museum to discover the great artworks of Katsuhika Hokusai (1760-1849) one of Japan’s leading Edo period ukiyo-e painters. His most famous artwork is the “Thirty six views of Mt Fuji” which is a woodblock print that was influential to many talented painters such as Vincent Van Gogh.
After that we will continue on to Zenkoji Temple which was founded over 1,400 years ago and houses one of the first ever Buddhist statues to ever be brought into Japan. Enjoy this unique and fascinating temple. We will then continue on to Matsumoto city where we will view one of Japan’s most complete and original castles, Matsumoto Castle. A short stroll from the castle we will finish up our tour in Nakamachi Street where we can see nicely preserved buildings, warehouses, massive white walls, small shops, restaurants and traditional ryokans.
Day 17: Matsumoto – Mt Fuji (B,D)
Ohayou-gozaimasu! (Good morning) Today we will visit one of Mount Fuji’s springs, Oshino Hakkai. Oshino Hakkai is one of the eight ponds fed by melting snow filtering down from the slopes of Mount Fuji through porous layers of lava, resulting in very clear spring water that is well-regarded by the locals. Afterwards we will visit Mount Fuji’s 5th station, which is above the clouds, allowing you to view its enormous summit (if the weather permits). Stay the night in Mt Fuji area and enjoy a good rest.
Day 18: Mt Fuji – Tokyo (B)
Today we will visit Gotemba Peace Park to capture another breathtaking view of Mt Fuji and Hakone Checkpoint, which used to be an important checkpoint on the highway connecting Kyoto to Tokyo in the Edo period. Then we’ll take a cruise down Lake Ashi where you’ll be able to see the beautiful nature around you. We then make our way to Tokyo.
Day 19: Tokyo (B)
Enjoy a free day in Japan’s mega city, Tokyo!
You may like to spend a day in Tokyo Disneyland or DisneySea ($120). Or alternatively, you can join our wide range of optional programs (tea ceremonies, pottery making experiences, golden joinery, kimono photo shoots or cooking classes). All activities are not guided and transportation is self-arranged. Otherwise you can explore many attractions around the area, you will never be bored in Tokyo city!
Day 20: Tokyo – Nikko – Kinugawa Onsen (B,L,D)
Today, enjoy a tour of Nikko Toshogu Shrine one of UNESCOs world heritage sites with all its lavish decorations and ornate details. Nikko Toshogu Shrine houses the remains of Edo period’s founder, Tokugawa Ieyasu and is surrounded by a beautiful forest. Visitors can see a mixture of Shinto and Buddhist elements throughout the shrine. Then we will enjoy a Japanese style meal together near the famous Lake Chuzenji. After that we will move onto Kegon falls a 97 metre high waterfall. Here you can climb to the top of the observatory deck and look down onto the falls. After that we will transfer to Kinugawa Onsen where you will stay the night.
Day 21: Kinugawa Onsen (B,D)
Today we will explore Kinugawa Onsen area with a trip to Ryuokyo. Ryuokyo is a gorge located 3 km north of Kinugawa hot spring resort. We will enjoy some of the walking trails around the gorge and view the strange shaped rocks and waterfalls. After that we will walk over Kinu Tateiwa Otsuribashi Suspension Bridge where you can view Kinugawa River, the lush mountains and observation deck at the top of the stone rock. Your guide will transfer you back to Kinugawa Onsen Resort after this for your night’s stay.
Day 22: Kinugawa Onsen – Tokyo –-Australia (B)
At the appropriate time you will be transferred to the airport for your homebound flight. Tokyo is serviced by two airports, Narita and Haneda which are both accessible from Tokyo city. Make sure you check your flight details before going to the airport.
Day 23: Australia
Arrive home today.