NATURE AND SIPIRTUALITY

19 Days / 17 Nights

A tailor-made itinerary dedicated to the discovery of the most important cities and monuments of Japan with a special focus on the nature of this beautiful country.

You will have the chance to walk between the ancient villages of Magome and Tsumago, along the Nakasendo route that connected Edo (modern Tokyo) and Kyoto in feudal times, and spend the night at a typical Japanese-style guesthouse in one of the two villages.

Next stop is Nagano, a city in the Japanese Alps, famous for winter activities, beautiful temples and relaxing spas; from here you can visit the well-known Jikokudani park where monkeys bathe in outdoor hot springs.

On Mount Koya, one of the most sacred areas in Japan, you will experience firsthand the spirituality of this country, walking a short stretch of the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage and spend the night at one of the local Buddhist monasteries.

Obviously, the itinerary also includes Tokyo, the hub of the Japanese and world economy, Kyoto, the ancient imperial capital, and Kanazawa, where you will bask in the atmosphere of traditional Japan and its ancient rituals. You will also enjoy an overnight stay at a traditional ryokan in Takayama, famous for its wood crafts and excellent sake, where you will relax in the onsen thermal baths.

The trip ends in Osaka, for a last taste of delicious food before going back home.

This is a rich itinerary, perfect for travelers who are interested in Japan’s natural landscape and experiences related to the millenary culture of this beautiful country!

Itinerary

DAY 1: YOUR COUNTRY - TOKYO

Departure from your airport of choice. Overnight flight.

DAY 2: TOKYO

Arrive to Tokyo Airport (Narita or Haneda).

Transfer independently to your hotel in Tokyo.

Rest of the day free to rest or to start visiting the gigantic and hectic Tokyo.

Optional service upon request: transfer to your hotel by public transportation with English-speaking assistant or by private car.

DAY 3: TOKYO

Breakfast included.

Free day for sightseeing. Many the districts in the city worth visiting, such as the more traditional Asakusa and Ueno or the more futuristic Shibuya, the fashion district, Shinjuku, with its countless night lights, is ideal for experiencing the night life and the izakaya (traditional Japanese bars), and Odaiba, an artificial island built in Tokyo Bay.

Optional service upon request: full-day or half-day private guided tour with English-speaking guide or assistant.

DAY 4: TOKYO

Breakfast included.

Free at leisure to further explore the city or for a day trip.

For day trips not too far from Tokyo, we recommend Yokohama, port city famous for its Chinatown, and Kamakura, with its ancient Buddhist and Shinto shrines and temples, away from the frenzy of the gib cities.

DAY 5: TOKYO

Breakfast included.

Last day to explore Tokyo or its surroundings.

A recommended day trip is Nikko, easily accessible by JR trains.

Nikko is an ideal point to start immersing yourself in the natural and traditional aspects of the itinerary thanks to its sacred area, with the Toshogu Shinto shrine, and the Kegon waterfall.

DAY 6: TOKYO - TSUMAGO/MAGOME

Depart in the morning for the ancient village of Magome by train and local bus.

Here you can admire wooden buildings dating back to the feudal period and feel as if you have travelled back in time, to the days of the samurai.

We recommend walking from Magome to the village of Tsumago: the trail, gentle and about 8 kilometers long, makes for a wonderful 2-3 hours in nature sprinkled by small temples and traditional-style houses. This is the Nakasendo route, which connected Edo (modern Tokyo) and Kyoto in feudal times

The overnight stay will be at a typical family-run pension in one of the two villages, which will include Japanese-style dinner and breakfast.

DAY 7: TSUMAGO/MAGONE - NAGANO

Depart by local bus and train for Nagano, a city in the heart of the Japanese Alps.

We recommend visiting the Zenkoji Buddhist temple, one of the oldest in all of Japan. Nagano is also a renowned spa area, so why not take this chance to relax in one of the onsen in the area?

DAY 8: NAGANO

Breakfast included.

We recommend the excursion to Jigokudani (literally, “valley of hell”), located about 40 minutes by bus from the city: it is the famous natural park where monkeys, in winter, bathe in the natural thermal baths inside the park.

On the way back to Nagano, we suggest stopping in Obuse, a small town in classic Japanese style, and visit the beautiful museum dedicated to the painter Hokusai, who lived in this village for several years.

DAY 9: NAGANO - KANAZAWA

Breakfast included.

Depart by Shinkansen train to Kanazawa, wonderful city and luckily one of the few major Japanese cities to be spared by air raids during World War II.

We recommend visiting the Nomura Samurai House, the Kenroku-en, known as one of the three most beautiful traditional gardens in Japan, and the “geisha district” with its many tea houses and traditional buildings.

DAY 10: KANAZAWA - SHIRAKAWAGO - KANAZAWA

Breakfast included.

Day trip b local bus to the village of Shirakwago, one of Japan’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Stroll in the village and enjoy its Gassho-style houses (“prayer-hands construction” style), characterized by thatched roofs.

DAY 11: KANAZAWA - TAKAYAMA

Breakfast included.

Depart by Shinkansen train for Takayama, lovely city famous for traditional handicrafts and sake, as well as for its onsen (traditional Japanese hot springs).

The overnight stay is at a traditional ryokan, where you will relax in the onsen (indoor and/or outdoor baths of the facility) and enjoy a delicious traditional dinner.

DAY 12: TAKAYAMA - KYOTO

Breakfast included.

Depart for Kyoto, old capital of Japan, by Shinkansen train.

Rest of the day free to start visiting the city, rich in history and artistic heritage.

DAY 13: KYOTO

Breakfast included.

Free day for sightseeing. Must-sees are some the most famous Buddhist temples, such as Kiyomizu-dera and Kinkaku-ji (the temple of the Golden Pavilion). Immerse yourself in the unique spiritual atmosphere of Japan.

Optional service upon request: full-day or half-day private guided tour with English-speaking guide or assistant.

DAY 14: KYOTO

Breakfast included.

Free at leisure to further explore the city or for a day trip.

Less than one hour by train, Nara is the ideal day trip: the must-see here is the Todaiji temple, which houses one of the world’s largest bronze statue of Buddha. On the way back to Kyoto, stop at the Fushimi Inari-taisha shrine.

Himeji is well connected by Shinkansen train: this city is famous for its beautiful castle, known as the “White Heron Castle”) because of its brilliant white exterior.

DAY 15: KYOTO

Breakfast included.

Last day to explore Kyoto or its surroundings.

Do not forget to visit the Arashiyama district, where you can stroll in a natural forest of bamboo.

DAY 16: KYOTO - MOUNT KOYA

Breakfast included.

Depart by train for Mount Koya, one of the most sacred places in all of Japan. (You will use vehicles partly covered by the JR Pass and partly by your included Koyasan Pass.)

Mount Koya is one of the most important Buddhist monastic centers in Japan: stroll between the temples and walk along the paths in the woods, enjoying a unique atmosphere.

The overnight stay will be at a shukubo, the guesthouse of a Buddhist monastery. For dinner, enjoy a vegetarian meal, as the Buddhist doctrine demands.

DAY 17: MOUNT KOYA - OSAKA

Breakfast included.

At dawn, you will have the chance to attend the morning prayers of the monks of the temple.

Vegetarian breakfast included.

Depart to Osaka by the local lines included in your Kyasan Pass, which will take you right to the city.

Enjoy this metropolis and its contrast between modernity and the past, for example by visiting the Shitenno-ji temple or the museum inside the Castle. Then spend the evening in Namba and Dotombori, main areas of Osaka’s nightlife, where you can taste the famous and excellent local dishes, such as Takoyaki and Okonomiyaki, in addition to the local street food.

DAY 18: OSAKA

Breakfast included.

Free at leisure to further explore the city or for a day trip.

We recommend the city of Kobe, where you can try a fairly expensive gastronomic experience, the famous Kobe beef, or the Universal Studios Japan theme park, for a last day of pure fun.

DAY 19: OSAKA - YOUR COUNTRY

Breakfast included.

Depart for the airport.

Arrive to your airport of choice.

Services

Upon request, quotations for:

  • Optional guided visits
  • Pocket Wi-Fi rental
  • Airport transfers
  • Homestay experience
  • Dinner with a Japanese family at their house
  • Itinerary changes to suit your individual needs
  • Other optional services