JAPAN: Boutique VIP "Cherry Blossom Tour - Women's Tour" - 14 days
29th March - 11th April 2020 : Expressions of Interest Welcome
Destinations: JAPAN: Tokyo | Mt Fuji | Takayama | Kanazawa | Kyoto | Osaka
Tour Grading MODERATE: Suitable for travellers with an average level of fitness and mobility
Tour Commences In: Tokyo
Number of Days: 14 days / 13 nights
Accommodation: Luxury / Deluxe
Leaders: Australian Tour Manager & professional expert local guides
Tour Concludes In: Osaka
Tour Style: Luxury / Deluxe Escorted Small Group Tour
Meals: Breakfasts; 13: Lunches; 4: Dinners; 4:
Transportation: Luxury / deluxe chauffeur driven air-conditioned private vehicles, Buses & Trains
Are you thinking of going on a tour of Japan but not quiet sure what to expect? Well then, come along and join us on our boutique small group women's tour and share our amazing experiences with other like-minded women and discover Japan's history and culture whilst exploring this magnificent country. Its Cherry Blossom season "Sakura" (Prunus serrulata,) the perfect time to discover Japan in all its glory.
Tokyo is one of the worlds largest cities, with skyscrapers, the 'glam' and the 'ritz' and the neon lights contrasting with it's historical shrines and temples. We stroll in the magnificent Imperial Palace Gardens; take a moment to pause at temples and shrines and if you wish, there is also the opportunity to shop till you drop at either the markets or at the high end of town. Visit Nikko, famous for a UNESCO historical shrine that has amazing carvings and metal work incorporated by top artisans of the time. Find the famed 3 wise men!
Mt. Fuji. I am sure like us, you remember seeing a picture of Mt Fujiyama in your childhood, captivating & Iconic. In real life this Holy Mountain is even more magnificent. Whilst we are here, we also view an outstanding collection of Kimonos at the Kubuta Itchiku Art Museum.
We travel through some beautiful scenery to Takayama where some traditional ways still exist in this modern world. Our hotel stay here is in a traditional Ryokan and dinner this evening is Kaiseke cuisine. Our morning market tour here is a joy. We mingle with the locals, both the sellers who have travelled with produce from their farms to the locals who are purchasing it. Its fabulous.
We travel to an area and see the famous Gassho-Zukuri style farmhouses. A way of life formed over centuries by the extremes of mother nature.
We spend time in Kanawaza, a town of great cultural achievements. We visit, observe and participate in handcraft workshops here, its a wonderful experience. Both these cities have fantastic morning markets where we taste some delicious local products. We also tour one of the best Japanese gardens, one of the top 3 in Japan. It has the six essential features that include vastness, symmetry, solemnity, coolness, antiquity and pleasure. Truly magnificent.
Kyoto was once the capital of Japan. It's famous for its numerous classical Buddhist temples, as well as gardens, imperial palaces, Shinto shrines and traditional wooden houses. It’s also known for its formal traditions including tea ceremonies, in which we are able to participate and we have moment with a geisha, and an opportunity to perhaps try your style in a beautiful Kimono taking the time to appreciate a more traditional lifestyle.
We travel to Miyajima Island, one of the most scenic spots in Japan. it has long been regarded as an Island of Gods. It is a romantic and historical island where the Itsukushima Shrine, a World Heritage site is. it has numerous preserved shrines, temples and historical monuments.
We visit Hiroshima, a modern city that was largely destroyed by an atomic bomb during World War II. We stop and remember.
Then its onto Osaka, it's Japan's second largest metropolitan area after Tokyo. It has been the economic powerhouse of the Kansai Region for many centuries. It's known for its modern architecture, nightlife and hearty street food. Its a city that loves to eat: it's unofficial slogan is kuidaore ('eat until you drop')
You may get fully involved in true Japanese culture! Our Australian host and our professional local guides will support you along the way.
- Be in awe of Tokyo, one of the world’s most exciting cities
- Admire the beautiful cherry blossom in the splendid Imperial Palace Garden
- Sip tea in the tranquil Hama-rikyu Japanese Garden
- Discover the most famous and picturesque bridge in Tokyo
- Prayer for ‘good fortune’ at the Meiji Jingu Shrine
- Visit Senso-ji Temple, Tokyo’s oldest temple
- Walk and shop the Harajuku area and continue onto the ‘Paris end of town’
- Venture into a fabulous fabric / haberdashery shop
- Shop in Harajuku area, Ginza district and the famous Nakamise shopping street
- Cruise down Tokyo’s Sumida River to Old Downtown
- Embrace the view from the 52nd floor of Tokyo’s Tower Observatory
- Experience the Tsukiji Market, the largest in Japan
- Participate in a Sushi Making lesson
- Ride ‘Shinkansen’ Bullet Train
- Travel to Nikki and visit Toshogu Temples & Shrines – find the 3 wise monkeys
- Absorb the breathtaking view of Mt Fuji
- Local produce on display at Kawaguchiko Natural Living Centre
- Be in awe of the Kimono exhibition at the Kubota Itchiku Art Museum
- Travel through beautiful scenery to Takayama
- Be captivated at the Takayama Yatal Kaikan Museum
- Experience a traditional Ryokan Hotel & indulge in an Onsen – Hot Spring Bath
- Try the delicious Kaiseki cuisine
- Participate in the morning Miyagawa market and mingle with the locals
- Taste sake during our sake making tour
- Indulge your taste buds at Kanazawa Omicho Market
- Explore Kenrokuen Garden, on of the top 3 gardens in Japan
- Kanazawa, the city of handcrafts, participate in activities and workshops
- In Kyoto, tour temples, shrines & castles, some are listed as UNESCO sites
- Experience an authentic Tea Ceremony
- Delight in a kimono moment
- Tour Gion geisha district
- Share dinner with Geisha/Maiko
- Travel to beautiful Miyajima and the Itsukushima Shrine, a World Heritage site
- Remember at Hiroshima - Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park & Memorial Museum
- Experience Osaka on our city tour with castles, a river cruise, a Floating Garden
- Walk Namba and Dotonburi area, the place to be in Japan
- Along the way be enthralled with cherry blossom, delicious cuisine, and the charming people of Japan
- Exclusive airport arrival and departure transfers for all guests
- Quality 4 star Modern & Boutique Ryokan hotel accommodation
- Meals as indicated in Itinerary; B = Breakfast: L = Lunch: D = Dinner
- Personally escorted by Australian Host
- Private services of a specialist professional bilingual tour guides
- Luxury private air-conditioned vehicles for transportation
- Bullet Train & other JR Train & Bus Travel as per the itinerary
- Admission fees to all sightseeing & activities as per itinerary
- Room sharing option for Single Travellers
- An exclusive BT&T travel information Booklet
- Day 1: Sunday 29th March 2020: Arrive Tokyo
- Day 2: Monday 30th March 2020: Tokyo:
- Day 3: Tuesday 31st March 2020: – Tokyo:
- Day 4: Wednesday 1st April 2020: Tokyo - Mt Fuji:
- Day 5: Thursday 2nd April 2020: Mt Fuji - Takayama:
- Day 6: Friday 3rd April 2020: Takayama - Shirakawago - Kanazawa:
- Day 7: Saturday 4th April 2020: Kanazawa:
- Day 8: Sunday 5th April 2020: Kanazawa:
- Day 9: Monday 6th April 2020: Kanazawa – Kyoto:
- Day 10: Tuesday 7th April 2020: Kyoto
- Day 11: Wednesday 8th April 2020: Kyoto:
- Day 12: Thursday 9th April 2020: Kyoto - Hiroshima - Osaka:
- Day 13: Friday 10th April 2020: Osaka:
- Day 14: Saturday 11th April 2020: Depart Osaka
Japan Travel information
Day 1: Sunday 29th March 2020: Arrive Tokyo:
Konnichia and irasshaimase. Hello and Welcome to Tokyo! Upon arrival at Tokyo Narita or Haneda International Airport, transfer by airport shuttle service to your centrally located hotel.
You may wish to arrive a day earlier to visit Tokyo Disneyland or shop or maybe just to get your bearings and recover from any jet lag you may have.
Later this evening, gather in the foyer to meet your other travelling companions with whom you will share this wonderful journey. Join your host at our Welcome Reception drink with local appetisers.
Day 2: Monday 30th March 2020: Tokyo: (B/L/D)
Our professional specialised guide will meet us at our hotel after breakfast, to go to the first venue, the Meiji Jingu Shrine. It was established in 1920 and is dedicated to the spirits of Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken. We continue onto Harajuku district. Harajuku has been the epicentre of Tokyo teen fashion styles for decades, especially goth and funk and it includes big-name international fashion boutiques with Takeshita-dori, the pedestrian street, the most famous area of all. It includes great restaurants, cafés and gift shops galore. We stop along the way at a fabulous haberdashery / fabric shop. Just a short walk further along is the sophisticated area of Omote Sando street, the ‘”Paris end of town’ with its artistic fashion buildings and galleries along the zelkova tree lined street. We then travel to Roppongi area and find ourselves at the Tokyo City Tower Observatory where the view from the 52 floor is breathtaking.
Following lunch we travel to the spectacular Imperial Palace Garden. The imperial Palace in Tokyo is where the Emperor of Japan and his family resides. We stop and soak up the grandeur of this impressive garden and appreciate Japans honorable cherry blossom trees all about us. Later, we travel to the Ginza district and explore the area and visit one of the well-known Department stores here. Later we return to our hotel to freshen up before our ‘Welcome to Japan Dinner’ this evening.
Day 3: Tuesday 31st March 2020: Tokyo – Nikko – Tokyo: (B/L)
This morning we take a ‘Shinkansen’ (bullet train) to visit one of Japans major attractions, apart from its cherry blossom, the Toshogu Shrine at Nikko. It is part of a World Heritage Site of shrines and temples. Built in 1617 it is dedicated to the founder of Shogunate, the first shogun layasu. Top artists and first-rank craftsmen were summoned from all over the country and created these magnificent buildings. You can see the skilled craftsmanship in the details of the carvings, metal works and paintings. Following lunch, we continue on and visit the Kogon Water Fall. It is one of the highest waterfalls in Japan, and it’s very popular with the locals. Returning to Tokyo, this evening is at your leisure. You may wish to have a relaxing evening or revisit some of the areas we explored yesterday.
Day 4: Wednesday 1st April 2020: Tokyo: (B/MT/D)
Its an early start, we're off to the Tsukiji Market, the largest fish market in Japan, with fish and other produce shops to explore. Our guide will take us through the market, and discuss the food culture of the Japanese people.
We then travel to the beautiful Hama-rikyu Japanese Garden. This garden used to belong to Samurai Family, and is now operated as a government owned garden. We stop and reflect for a moment and appreciate the the seasonal flowers blooming as we enjoy a delicious green tea at a tea house located in the middle of the pond in the garden.
We continue on and board our boat for a cruise on the Sumida River, one of the main rivers running through Tokyo. We disembark at Asakusa. Asakusa is known as Tokyo’s Old Downtown where they say it is the ‘best preserve old atmosphere of Tokyo’. We visit Senso-ji Temple, known as the oldest Buddhist temples in Tokyo. We have free time on Nakamise shopping street, another popular shopping spot before we transfer to our venue for our private Sushi Making lesson. Sushi is a staple of the Japanese diet. In this hands-on program you will enjoy learning and making various types of Sushi. The staff will prepare the ingredients. We then enjoy our delicious creations for dinner. We return to our hotel and prepare for our departure from Tokyo in the morning.
Day 5: Thursday 2nd April 2020: Tokyo – Mt Fuji: (B/L)
We depart Tokyo this morning from Shinjuku Station. Shinjuku Station is the biggest station in the world, with more than 3 million people travelling through this station every day. Our journey takes us to the area called Yamanashi, known as the home of Mt. Fuji. On arrival, glimpse the panoramic view of Japan’s Alpine Mountain Range from the observatory. We continue on with our guide to the Kawaguchiko Natural Living Centre located right in front of Lake Kawaguchi where there’s a stunning view of Mt. Fuji. (No promises its not always a clear day) The next stop is Kubota Itchiku Art Museum, which houses the stunning Kimono Collection done by the Legendary Kimono Designer Icchiku Kubota. Following the visit to the museum, we will be transferred to our hotel.
Day 6: Friday 3rd April 2020: Mt Fuji – Takayama: (B/L/D)
We will be travelling along a very beautiful scenic route through the Nagano and Japanese alps today, passing farming communities on our way to Takayama. On arrival our guide will take us on a tour of some of the traditional houses, shops and restaurants and to the historical Takayama Jinya, a local Governors office in the Edo period that still retains its original form from over 200 years ago. It is the last remaining building of its type here. We then visit Takayama Yatal Kaikan, the Festival Floats Museum to see the colourful floats being prepared for the Takayama Festival in mid April. It is one of the most popular festivals in Japan. We continue on to the San-Machi Suji historic district, famous for lacquer ware shops and sake breweries. And of course, we cannot miss a visit to the local Sake Brewery were we will view the Sake making process, and yes ‘sip’ some sake at the end of the tour.
This evening we will enjoy our stay in a traditional Japanese hotel. There is an Onsen (hot spring bath) available here so take a moment to indulge. Dinner this evening is traditional Japanese Kaiseki cuisine.
Day 7: Saturday 4th April 2020: Takayama – Shirakawa-go – Kanazawa: (B/L/D)
It’s the local market day today. Miyagawa Morning Market. We mingle with local people selling fresh fruit and vegetables and other produce from the farms around the area. Our guide will explain some of the famous products of the region including miso and offer a taste of some traditional rice dumplings and Japanese home-made sweets.
We depart Takayama and head to Shirakawa-go travelling through the mountainous picturesque Shokawa Valley. Shirakawa-go village is nestled in the countryside and is famous for its Gassho-Zukuri style farmhouses with their steep thatched rooves that are designed to with stand the large amount of heavily snow that falls in the region during winter. Houses subsisted on the cultivation of mulberry trees and the rearing of silkworms in the large attic space. We will walk through the village, to see how the traditional life in the country side in Japan is.
We continue onto Kanazawa. During the Edo Period, Kanazawa served as the seat of the Maeda Clan, the second most powerful feudal clan after the Tokugawa in terms of rice production and fief size. Accordingly, Kanazawa grew to become a town of great cultural achievements, rivalling Kyoto and Edo (Tokyo). During World War Two, Kanazawa was Japan's second largest city (after Kyoto) to escape destruction by air raids. Consequently, parts of the old castle town, such as the Nagamachi samurai district and Chaya entertainment districts, have survived in pretty good condition. Today, Kanazawa remains an important city in its region and serves as the capital of Ishikawa Prefecture. The city boasts many historical attractions such as restored residences and districts, as well as modern museums.
After arriving to Kanazawa, we will visit to Higashi Chayagai District. This district is known as the historical area, where preserving the atmosphere of 18-19th century when Samurai dominated Japan. Enjoy the atmosphere of an old era, as we wonder around this lovely small town.
Day 8: Sunday 5th April 2020: Kanazawa: (B/L)
This morning we visit the local vibrant Omicho market known throughout Japan for its fresh seafood and sushi. We stop and taste some delicious local products. We then explore the stunning Kenroku-en Gardens, “Garden of Six Qualities,” dating from the 1670s. Its a private garden and one of the three great gardens of Japan. The six essential features include vastness, symmetry, solemnity, coolness, antiquity and pleasure. This truly is a beautiful garden. Kanazawa is also famous for its arts and handcrafts including lacquer ware decoration, ‘makie’ and ceramics. This afternoon we visit a fabric dyeing and kimono painting studio and observe the technique used to decorate kimonos by painting dye directly on the cloth. There is a workshop to hone your skills if you wish to participate. We then visit to a gold leaf factory to view a demonstration of the process of gold leaf application.
Day 9: Monday 6th April 2020: Kanazawa – Kyoto: (B/D)
This morning we visit another artisan house specialising in amazing hand embroidery. Later we travel to Kyoto on an express train. On arrival we will be transferred to our hotel. Kyoto has a large cultural legacy from its 1200 year-long history and offers an array of wonderful attractions for tourists. This afternoon is at your leisure. We rendezvous later for our special dinner with VIP guests.
Day 10: Tuesday 7th April 2020: Kyoto: (B/L)
This morning we continue our tour of Kyoto and visit Kinkakuji, a Zen Temple, the Golden Pavilion in northern Kyoto whose two top floors are completely covered in 18-carat gold leaf. This temple was a retirement villa of the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimtsu, and he used it for entertaining. According to his will it become a Zen temple after his death in 1408. We continue on and visit Nijo Castle. Nijo Castle was built in 1603 as the Kyoto residence of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first shogun of the Edo Period (1603-1867). After the Tokugawa Shogunate fell in 1867, Nijo Castle was used as an imperial palace for a while before being donated to the city and opened up to the public as a historic site. Its palace buildings are arguably the best surviving examples of castle palace architecture of Japan's feudal era, and the castle was designated a UNESCO world heritage site in 1994. The ancient pine trees and 430 Sukura cherry trees here are stunning.
Following lunch at a local restaurant, we visit Sanjusangen-do temple. The main hall of Sanjusangen-do contains 1,001 wooden statues of Juichimen – Senju - Kannon, "11-faced, thousand -armed Buddhist goddess of mercy". The principal image, the seated statue of Senju Kannon, sits in the center of the collection. These statues exhibit an extraordinary level of craftsmanship from the Kamakura period, representing the essence of Buddhist art. We continue onto the beautiful Kiyomizu Temple. This temple predates the foundation of Kyoto and has had millions of pilgrims ever since. It is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site with over 30 structures, including a huge wooden veranda in front of the main hall that juts out over the cliff and provides you a panoramic view of Kyoto. There is a famous expression: that states "You must jump off the stage of Kiyomizu." it means that you should take the plunge to make your dreams come true. We walk down famous slope called Ninen-zaka & Sannen-zaka, enjoy the traditional atmosphere of the city that traces back to hundreds years.
Day 11: Wednesday 8th April 2020: Kyoto: (B/L/D)
This morning we tour the area called Arashiyma. It is rich in temples and has beautiful scenery. We visit Okochi Villa. Formerly the estate of the famed film actor Okochi Denjiro (1898-1962), this sublime villa and surrounding gardens are now open to the public. The main house here is one of the finest examples of traditional Japanese residential architecture anywhere. We walk through a famed bamboo grove to Tenryuji Zen Temple. It is one of the most important Zen temples in Japan and is listed on the UNESCO site. After lunch we have a special cultural experience of an authentic Kimono and Tea Ceremony experience. Free time this afternoon until we meet again for dinner.
Day 12: Thursday 9th April 2020: Kyoto – Miyajima – Hiroshima – Osaka: (B/L)
This morning we transfer to Kyoto Station and take the Bullet train to Hiroshima. On your arrival to Hiroshima Station, we will continue on to Miyajima by local train. At Miyajima Guchi Station, we then take a ferry boat to Miyajima. Miyajima is known as one of the most scenic places in Japan and has long been regarded as an Island of Gods on the beautiful Seto Inland Sea. It is a romantic and historical island, located, along with the Virgin Forest of Mt. Misen with numerous preserved shrines, temples and historical monuments. You will be visiting Itsukushima Shrine, a World Heritage site, which is famous for the view of its floating Torii Gate in the sea (when high tide), and also the blight colour shrine building.
After enjoying the visit to Miyajima, we will be transferred to Hiroshima City, to visit Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park & Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. (Atomic Bomb Museum) Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park is a memorial park in the centre of Hiroshima. It is dedicated to the legacy of Hiroshima as the first city in the world to suffer a nuclear attack, and to the memories of the bomb's direct and indirect victims. (as many as 140,000) The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park was planned and designed by the Japanese Architect Kenzō Tange at Tange Lab. Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum has continuously appealed for the elimination of nuclear armaments and the realization of permanent world peace. It is divided into east building and main building. At the east building, is the history of Hiroshima (Hiroshima-no-ayumi) dealing with the A-bomb exposure period is presented through picture panels, films, and figures concerning factors related to the historical background at the time. In the main building, the museum shows the devastation caused by the atomic bomb in detail. Peace Memorial Park, in which this museum is located, is known as a famous cherry blossom viewing site. After visiting Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, we transfer to Osaka.
Day 13: Friday 10th April 2020: Osaka: (B/L/D)
Our first stop today will be at Osaka Castle, known as a symbol of Osaka. We will be guided around this gigantic Castle, and discover how Toyotomi Hideyoshi (founder of the castle and Samurai Leader in 16th century) was powerful. We will then board a boat called, Aqua liner from the pier located near Osaka Castle. Osaka is said to be a City of Waterways. During the 60 minutes river cruise, the boat will pass through the downtown area of Osaka and offer us a glimpse of life in Osaka with the introduction to the city by our guide.
Next stop will be at Umeda Sky Building, which is famous for its Floating Garden that is built on the roof top of the building. It is a very popular Observatory, where people can enjoy the sweeping view of Osaka.
Enjoy our delicious Okonomiyaki lunch today, its referred as Japanese Style Pancake, a specialty from Osaka. After lunch, we travel to Namba Area, known as the old downtown of Osaka, where people can enjoy the busy streets full of unique neon signs and hundreds of restaurants lined up. In colourful Dotonburi, watch out for the large ‘crab’. We later gather for our special farewell dinner.
Day 14: Saturday 11th April 2020: Depart Osaka: (B)
This morning, we check out of our hotel after breakfast.
It is time to say farewell to acquaintances and new-found friends. ‘Sayonara’.
We take with us some wonderful memories of blue skies, stunning scenery including the glorious blooms of cherry blossom. Delicious food and wine and fabulous times together filled with fun and laughter.
Some guests may wish to stay another day or more in this amazing country. Please don’t hesitate to contact Boutique Tours & Travel for further travel arrangements.
Our itineraries are carefully planned and well thought out and we often can find some wonderful surprises. The magic of travelling in such a small group allows us to cater for this spontaneity and it is sometimes these unplanned occurrences that can be the most memorable. The rich tapestry of experiences and the characters you meet along the way will make this guided tour something special and one you will remember for a lifetime.
- Mt Fuji & Cherry Blossom
- Imperial Palace & Cherry Blossom
- Tokyo: Meiji Shrine
- Tokyo Tower
- Tokyo: Senso-Ji-Temple
- Nikko: Toshogu Shrine
- Tokyo: Sushi Cooking Class
- Tokyo: Tsukiji Fish Market
- Tokyo: Hamarikyu Garden & Tea House
- Kanazawa: Omicho Market
- Kanaazawa; Kenrokuen Garden
- Kanazawa: Gold Leaf
- Kyoto: Kinkakuji Temple
- Kyoto: Nijo Castle
- Kyoto: Sanjusangendo Temple