We set our sights on Shinto shrines and blushing blossoms. Fascinating religion and the fickle nature of fleeting beauty dance together in anticipation. City lights blink to life, welcoming our flight and the evening. We touch down and check in to the Palace Hotel Tokyo.
Waking amid the sprawling skyline of Tokyo, you might like to enjoy this morning on your own schedule. This afternoon, embark on your first Your World experience.
Indulging in a tantalising Welcome Dinner, we become acquainted with fellow travellers and the futuristic capital.
Today we discover the pleasures of Tokyo on a short boat cruise. Beginning at Hamarikyu Garden, uncover traditional Edo period design and admire the striking juxtaposition of classic and modern vistas. Afterwards, skirt the river to Asakusa Kannon Temple.
This afternoon, you might like to join us for another Your World experience.
A fine dining experience awaits you tonight.
First climbed by an anonymous monk in 663, Mt Fuji is a deeply spiritual destination. Along paths strewn with Shinto shrines, over 200,000 locals and foreigners conquer the summit every year. For those who practice the Shinto religion, the mountain is a place of worship for the goddess Sengen-sama and a representation of the divine spirit of nature.
Of course, we won’t ask you to strain yourself with the climb. Stunning from afar, absorb the true character of the site from a more reserved position. Drive to Hakone where we will join a boat ride from Hakonemachi to Togendai. On the clearest of days, viewing the peak can be a sanctified experience. Enjoy the spectacle from a cable car ride to Oowakudani.
Returning to Tokyo, a choice of fine restaurants rounds out the evening.
Board a bullet train and shoot towards Kanazawa. Enjoy a bento box on board, sampling traditional Japanese lunch foods and watching as thatched rooftops whip past windows.
Meaning ‘Garden of Six Attributes’, Kenroku-en celebrates the theory that there are six essential elements required for the perfect garden. Later, explore the gated Nagamachi Samurai Houses and discover craft-work of the past at a local museum. Following the footfall of classic Japan, we are guided to Takayama where we make our home at Hotel Associa Takayama Resort. Drink in mountainous views and sink beneath steaming waters of the open-air onsen.
Soil is brushed off vegetables, trinkets don every second stall and with a stream of resilient locals, the Miyagawa morning markets are in full swing. Walk along San Machi Street, wooden houses of ebony and umber lining the way, and cross unlikely paths with craftsman exhibiting their traditional skills. Later, we journey to a village preserved in time - World Heritage-listed Shirakawago.
A former capital that’s home to elusive geisha and quietly smoking teahouses, Kyoto is the wiser brother to its more flamboyant siblings, Tokyo and Osaka. The city’s elegance becomes apparent as we delve into revered temples and sacred sites, including Kinkakuji Temple and the Old Imperial Palace. Stroll the streets of the city’s renowned Gion district, keeping your eyes peeled for geisha who are known to frequent the area.
Join our World Hosts this evening at one of their favourite local eateries or, you may choose to dine at our home for the following four nights, Kyoto Hotel Okura.
Shinto shrines pepper our path and a fifteen-foot-tall Buddha statue watches over the city. Visit the Todaiji Temple. Naturally, we continue to the Deer Park and then to Kasuga Shrine, where lanterns hang from crimson beams and stone pillars. A final visit to the Fushimi Inari Shrine closes our time in Nara.
Later, travel back to Kyoto. This evening we will be treated to an exclusive Cherry Blossom dance performance. While we don’t want to spoil the surprise, we can disclose that dinner afterwards will certainly be one to remember.
Today is spent exploring the cultural and historic heart of the country. Venture to Nijo Castle and embark on the Philosopher’s Walk. Admire astounding views from the wooden stage at Kiyomizu-dera before visiting the tranquil Zen Gardens.
This afternoon, choose from two equally enthralling Your World opportunities.
The treasures of Kyoto are seldom thrust upon a brightly lit stage. More often than not, the true riches of this city are found in its deeply rooted connection to the country’s culture and history.
Today, Your World is alight with artistic experiences that take you one step further into this unique land.
Of course, if you would prefer to spend the afternoon on your own schedule, that is always respected too.
We travel by bullet train to Hiroshima this morning. A mosaic of miniature paper cranes speckle Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. We pay our respects here and also at the skeletal remains of Hiroshima’s former Industrial Promotion Hall, the A-Bomb Dome.
Later this evening, we dine like locals. Hiroshima’s unofficial regional dish, okonomiyaki, is otherwise known as Japanese cabbage pancake. Streets and alleyways are sprinkled with hundreds of grills that showcase this unlikely cuisine.
A quiet sanctuary, the vermilion torii gate floats just out of reach. Miyajima, just a touch away from the rest of the world, is a gateway to ancient times. We travel to the island’s shores today and admire the Itsukushima Shrine. A Shinto monument that dates back to the 12th century, this iconic torii gate is best viewed at high tide – and since we spend a full day on the island, we’re sure to sneak a glimpse of it eerily floating above the surface.
Enjoy time to explore the island on your own schedule. Perhaps sample the local speciality, momiji manju (sweet maple leaf-shaped cakes), or take a stroll through the shrine’s fascinating prayer hall.
Venture to Kumamoto today, pausing en route in Hakata to discover the ceramic district of Arita. Delve into the region’s history of pottery at the Kyushu Ceramic Museum. Delicate porcelain and terracotta decorate aged walls. This evening we put our feet up, drink in hand, and cherish the airy vistas. At our final port of call, Hotel Nikko Kumamoto, the revered Kumamoto Castle and clear mountain ranges can be spied from our windows.
Kagoshima rests in the shadow of Sakurajima Volcano. The town turns a blind eye to the mountain’s frequent winks of ash, grey and silver flakes dancing across the bay. Visit the traditional garden of Iso-Teien and continue to Shoko Shuseikan. Return to Kumamoto the same way we arrived – by bullet train of course.
We explore Kumamoto today, visiting the Kumamoto Castle – dustings of pink and ivory blossoms fluttering into view. Explore the exterior renowned for its fine hanami, flower viewing, and afterward, touch on Suizenji Park and its elaborate garden which features a miniature replica of Mt Fuji. Later, we are able to view the ranges surrounding Mt Aso, Japan’s largest active volcano. As it’s our last evening together, we celebrate with a Farewell Dinner.
This morning is yours for personal reflection. Enjoy a private moment of peace, or squeeze in some last minute sightseeing. This afternoon, we fly back to Tokyo and join our final flight.
Touch down in Australia this morning, bidding farewell to the Land of the Rising Sun. Contemplate your favourite cultural encounters from this journey before recapping them for family and friends.
Sometimes travelling can be a chore, distracting you from the fascinating places you are in. That’s why everything mundane has been moved behind the scenes. You will never have to carry a map, luggage, small change for tips or bargain for a taxi fare.
There are no hidden costs. Everything is included – flights and other travel arrangements, luxurious accommodation, travel insurance, all dining and drinks, and even sightseeing trips. Even the Your World experiences within your itinerary and internet access when available.
Fares are in Australian dollars and include Qantas flights from Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane. Per Person, Twin Share.Prices from other cities are available on request.
Solo availability at the above price is limited.
Land Only Guests join the tour at Palace Hotel Tokyo for overnight on Day 1 and depart Haneda Airport in Tokyo on Day 16.
Tour notes: This journey is reserved for a group of just 24 guests.