Takayama festival is considered to be one of the three most beautiful festivals in Japan. Their huge floats are paraded all day and night with mechanical puppet shows, brilliant color paper machete, and lanterns.
This fully escorted tour takes you to the West side of Japan, exploring Kyoto, Kanazawa, Takayama festival, Shirakawa-go, Matsumoto, Hakone, Mt. Fuji, and Tokyo. You will get to experience tea ceremony in a Buddhist Temple, a cruise in Lake Ashi with a breathtaking view of Mt. Fuji, and walk along a rural gassho village. If you want to be part of the fun… just follow the taiko drums!
Day 01: Arrive in Tokyo
Meet and Greet on your arrival in Tokyo. Our representative will guide you to your Hotel. Rest of the day is free for you to recover from your jet lag.
Day 02: Tokyo
Today will be devoted to exploring the multi-cultural spots of Tokyo. We will first stop by the Imperial Palace Plaza to get a glimpse of the current Emperor's home. Next the tour will head out to Edo Tokyo Museum where you can get acquainted with the history of Tokyo.
After lunch, we will delve in the old town district of Asakusa - shop around the Nakamise Shopping area and pray at the Sensoji Temple. We will also stop by the famous Meiji Shrine located in Shibuya. In the evening, we will probe the stores at Harajuku, the unofficial fashion capital of Japan that offers the latest pop culture and fashion. Returning to our hotel, we will be passing by the famous Shibuya Crosswalk.
Day 03: Tokyo - Owakudani
After a relaxed morning, we will start our day heading to Owakudani and check into our Ryokan on arrival. Owakudani is an active volcanic crater still steaming from its last eruption some 3,000 years ago. There you will get a taste of the local cuisine, the black egg, cooked in one of the craters. We will then take a cruise in Lake Ashi where on a clear day you can get a clear view of Mt. Fuji.
We will continue with a ropeway ride and then head to Lake Kawaguchi for the Lake Kawaguchi Cherry Blossom Festival. The famous lake near the base of Mt. Fuji becomes surrounded by beautiful cherry blossoms, adding to the gorgeous scenery of the clear waters of Lake Kawaguchi and iconic Mt. Fuji.
The day would not be complete without a long relaxing soak in the onsen, hot spring, to rejuvenate you for tomorrow's adventure. Yukata, a Japanese robe, will be provided for you. The onsen is located in our own ryokan, a Japanese style hotel, which includes a traditional Japanese cuisine.
Day 04: Owakuduni - Takayama
In the morning, we will head to Takayama Festival with some side trips along the way. First stop is Matsumoto Castle. This castle is one of the very few original castles that were kept intact and never destroyed. Also its unique black coloring gave its nickname karasu-jo, the Crow Castle. It's one of three must see castles in Japan and ranked on the top 100 world castles.
We will continue to a small farming community of Shirakawa-go. It's declared an UNESCO world heritage site where the old traditional farm homes, gassho-zukuri, are preserved to maintain the beauty of the scenery.
Following the sound of drums, we will reach our destination to Takayama just in time to witness the festival in full swing. We will first check into our Hotel. Takayama Festival is considered to be one of the best festivals in Japan. Their huge floats will light up the night's sky with many arrays of color paper lanterns.
Day 05: Takayama - Kyoto
Takayama, or as some people call it "little Kyoto," has many areas where homes and shops are more than 300 years old and well preserved. The morning market is also located in that area and we will explore many vendors and activities. You will have free time to roam around to buy souvenirs, take pictures, or visit other important sight see spots. We will have time to see the Takayama floats in the day time to see a puppet performance from the floats. The portable shrines are also stages to mechanical puppets that people control inside the floats called karakuri.
We will proceed to Kyoto passing through Kanazawa where we will visit the Kenrokuen Garden, known as one of the three most beautiful landscape gardens of Japan. A stroll along this beautiful garden featuring streams, hills, and everything nature has to offer is sure to calm your soul.
On reaching Kyoto we'll check into our Hotel. We will start our tour of Kyoto by visting the Kiyomizu Temple, the most iconic temple of Japan, Kiyomizu Temple is a wooden structure that overlooks the city of Kyoto. On the base, three canals sprout water representing love, wisdom, and longevity. In the evening we'll take stroll down the Gion Geisha District.
Day 06: Kyoto - Osaka
Today we will first visit the Golden Pavilion, or Kinkakuji, a must see attraction where the two upper floors are covered in gold leaf. Upon leaving the gorgeous Golden Pavilion, we will head to the Nishijin Textile Center, where you can witness the creation of traditional kimonos. The center offers courses in handweaving, traying on elegant kimonos, and if you'd like you can even purchase it.
Our next stop is the Fushimi Inari Shrine, famous for its thousands of iconic red torii gates that lead to the sacred Mt. Inari. We will then walk to Ninenzaka, an area of town with streets filled with Kyotoesque shops, perhaps an ideal place for souvenir shopping. From here we will visit Kodaiji Temple, built in 1606 in memory of Toyotomi Hideyoshi by his beloved wife, Nene. This beautifully constructed shrine is well balance with nature maintaining a Japanese and Zen Garden with a Bamboo Forest.
Checking out of our Hotel we will finally proceed to Osaka and check into our Hotel for the night.
Day 07: Depart Osaka
Today after breakfast in time transfer to the Airport to catch your flight back home.
You can also extend your vacation before/ after the tour in Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto.