Now THIS is a trip for the foodies! Japan is overflowing with rich history, culture, fresh culinary treats, and the kindest people you may ever meet. This excursion occurs during peak cherry blossom season, making for an incredibly picturesque experience. During your time, dress up in traditional geisha attire and roam the ancient streets and temples of Kyoto, try tako tamago (candied baby octopus), explore bamboo forests, and journey to a tropical island in the East China Sea. No matter what your fancy, Japan has it.
Today, you’re given time to find your way to the hotel and perhaps explore Tokyo a bit. The city is massive, yet the easy-to-understand rail system makes getting around a snap. We come together in the evening for a traditional Japanese dinner, meet and greet, and general overview of the days to come.
Our first day is spent exploring the vast city of Tokyo. You’ll visit rows of cherry blossom trees at Chidorigafuchi and Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. A visit to the National Museum of Modern Art shows a bit of Japanese history, with beautiful gold screens, watercolors, and more. Even non-art lovers will appreciate the simplistic design. Meet with a local organization working to improve life for many. The day concludes in the famous fish market district - a sushi lovers delight!
The highspeed rail allows for a quick ride to Hakone, known for lake Ashi and picturesque views of Mt Fuji. In Hakone, you’ll be able to select from a variety of activities. There are many traditional outdoor hot spring onsens (public bath houses) to enjoy, along with a sculpture garden hosting 120 exhibits that overlook the mountain range. If selecting the bath house, be aware large tattoos are not allowed in the public areas. Instead, you are able to use the private rooms. There is also the world’s 2nd longest cable car experience, with panoramic views of the mountains and surrounding areas and a mountaintop footbath. Or, simply explore the area of lake Ashi and Hakone’s many ice cream parlors and shops.
Depart Hakone early for Kyoto, a city with harsh lines separating old from new. One street has flashing lights, store windows, smooth sidewalks, and crowds of people, feeling just like Tokyo. Cross the river, and it’s like stepping back to the origins of Japanese culture. Geishas in wooden slippers roam the cobblestone streets, ancient shrines cast shadows on the tree-covered cliffside. Upon arrival, meet with a local organization set on improving their community and the world. After, the time is yours to explore all Kyoto has to offer.
Enjoy a sunrise start to the day as you bicycle around some of the top sights of Kyoto. Stops include one of Kyoto’s oldest temples, preserved historical landscapes, local hotspots, and the world-famous bamboo forest of Arshiyama. The afternoon is free to continue soaking in all the culture Kyoto has to offer.
Be sure to have an empty stomach as we head southwest to Osaka (15 minute train ride), the food capital of Japan. Be sure not to miss Minami, where you’ll find the 100 year old Kuromon Market, also known as Osaka’s Kitchen. Shopping in Japan can be a full day activity, especially in areas like Shinsaibashi-suji, a shopping destination for over 300 years. There is also a phenomenal aquarium, old castles, parks, and temples. It’s impossible to take in all Osaka has to offer, but we hope you’ll try your best!
Today, make a break from the city and head north for Tottori Sand Dunes. From the train (2.5 hours), take a tourist taxi to the dunes, where you will enjoy incredible views of sand and sea. Adjacent to the sand dunes is what is called a Sand Museum, which is filled with incredibly large and detailed sand sculptures. After soaking in the sights, hop back on the train and head to the famous Hiroshima (3.5 hours) for a good nights sleep before soaking in history.
Wake up fresh and ready for a day of exploration and discovery in Hiroshima. You’re given a variety of options and tours to select from. The day is whatever you make of it! Visit the historic memorials, take a ferry to Shrine Island, or visit the many parks and cafes.
In the morning, we’re back on the rail, headed even further south, nearly to the tip, reaching the port of Kagoshima (about 3 hours). Then, catch the ferry to Yakushima Island, soaking in mountain and ocean views. Upon arrival, check into the traditional Japanese style guesthouse and then enjoy the evening exploring the quaint downtown area with restaurants and waterfront views.
Yakushima is an island that seemingly takes you back in time. Few cars and people, moss covered mountains, trees dating back centuries, peace that only comes when removing oneself from the speed of civilization. Step back in time as you hike the ancient Shiratani Unsui Ravine through forests of massive cedars, moss covered boulders, and majestic views overlooking ravines that stretch to the East China Sea. After the exhilirating hike, re-energize in the soft sand and crystal blue waters of Isso beach. This island chain is sometimes called the Hawaii of Asia, and here you will see why!
Today is a free day, left for you to explore the island and all it has to offer. Perhaps rent a bike and explore, enjoy fresh sushi or massage, kayak, book a local tour guide, or beach hop. We come together in the evening for a traditional hot pot dinner among friends.
Today is our ending day. We will help arrange your departure or extension, depending on preference. Flights back to Tokyo from the island are about 3.5 hours and operate multiple times per day. Or, return by ferry and explore Kagoshima. The choice is yours!
Interested in a private tour, alternate dates from what’s listed, or other questions or inquiries? We’d love to help!