Backroads of Japan

Tokyo to Kyoto

12 days from 2,507 pp

Tokyo and Kyoto—the modern and imperial capitals of Japan, respectively—represent the perfect merger of the ancient and the contemporary. On this trip, you’ll thoroughly explore both and everything in between, from traditional villages and miles of rice fields to ancient temples and the stunning vistas of the Japanese Alps. Snow monkeys, geishas, the teeming pedestrian scrambles of Tokyo’s Shibuya district, and the impossibly friendly staff of your traditional ryokan are just a few of the locals you’ll meet and never forget.

Tokyo to Kyoto

12 Days, From 2,507 per person

Is this for me?

Travel Style: Classic

All of the highlights, culture, access, and I-can’t-believe-we-did-that moments, all at a great price.

Service Level: Standard

Comfortable tourist-class accommodations with character; mix of public and private transport.

Physical Rating: 2 – Light

Light walking and hiking suitable for most fitness levels. Nothing too challenging.

Trip Type: Small Group

Small group experience; Max 16, avg 12

Age requirement: 12+

All travellers under age 18 must be accompanied by an adult.

Day 1: Tokyo

Arrive at any time.

There are no activities planned until an evening welcome meeting.

Arrival Day and Welcome Meeting:
1h18:00

The adventure begins tonight. Feel free to explore before your welcome meeting, but make sure you’re back in time to meet the group. After introductions, your CEO will review the details of your tour. Please note that normal check-in times apply at our start hotels, but you can usually store your luggage for the day if you arrive early.

 

Accommodation:

Candeo Hotel Ueno Koen (or similar)

Day 2: Tokyo

Take a CEO-led walking tour of eclectic modern Tokyo from the hub of Shinjuku to Shibuya through Yoyogi Park and Harajuku.

Orientation Walk:
Tokyo

Let your CEO guide you around eclectic modern Tokyo from the hub of Shinjuku to Shibuya through Yoyogi Park and Harajuku.

Free Time:
Tokyo Afternoon

Explore Tokyo’s for something different in each place.

 

Accommodation:

Candeo Hotel Ueno Koen (or similar)

Day 3: Tokyo

Enjoy a free day to experience the city or venture out to Mt Fuji.

Carte Blanche:
Tokyo Full Day

There’s plenty to see and do in Tokyo, and we wanted to make sure that you had some time to take it all in. Feel free to relax or try optional activities like visiting the Tsukiji Fish Market, checking out Ueno Park, and visiting Tokyo Skytree. Your CEO has more ideas if you need them. Just ask!

 

Accommodation:
Candeo Hotel Ueno Koen (or similar)
Day 4: Tokyo/Nagano-shi

Journey to the Japanese Alps and Nagano, host city of the 1998 Winter Olympics. Visit the historic Zenkoji Temple.

Bullet train:
Tokyo – Nagano-shi3h

Get to your next destination faster than the speed of flight (ok maybe not that fast) aboard a high-speed train.

 

Zenkō-ji Temple:
Nagano-shi

Visit the Buddhist temple of Zenkō-ji, one of the last remaining pilgrimage sites. Built in the 7th century, the city of Nagano was built around the already standing structure.

Day 5: Nagano-shi/Matsumoto

Discover the world-famous Jigokudani Monkey Park and watch Japanese snow monkeys bathing in the natural hot springs. Continue to Matsumoto.

Matsumoto is a quaint castle town featuring one of Japan’s most treasured castles.

Jigokudani Monkey Park Visit:
Nagano-shi

Visit the Jigokudani Monkey Park, where wild snow monkeys can be seen bathing in the natural hot springs. The pool where most of the monkeys soak is man made, fed by the hot springs. Along the walking paths up to the pools other monkeys tend to stop and watch visitors curiously.

Train:
Nagano-shi – Matsumoto1h30m-2h

Climb aboard, take a seat, and enjoy the ride.

Day 6: Matsumoto/Takayama

Explore Matsumoto’s breathtaking ‘Black Crow’ Castle and continue to the traditional alpine market town of Takayama, known as ‘Little Kyoto’.
Visit one of Japan’s most treasured castles maintaining it’s original wooden interior and stone exterior. Explore the castle where 16th century samurai once roamed.
Continue past the mountains, rice fields and traditional homes to Takayama. Discover the traditional Japanese way of life in a family-run guesthouse.

Matsumoto Castle:
Matsumoto

Stop at the castle of Matsumoto one of Japan’s most treasured castles, maintaining it’s original wooden interior and stone exterior. Explore this castle where 16th century Samurai once roamed before venturing out with the group to wander Matsumoto’s ancient streets and or dine in a traditional storehouse.

Local bus:
Matsumoto – Takayama3h

Climb aboard, grab a seat, and enjoy the ride.

Free Time:
Takayama Evening

Start exploring Takayama.

 

Accommodation:
Minshuku Iwatakan (or similar)
Day 7: Takayama

Visit the Hida No Sato traditional folk village, sake breweries and craft shops. With free time walk through the forest, go for a bike ride or relax at an onsen spa.
Visit the ‘Praying Hand’ houses, huge thatched homes and well-preserved Edo samurai era dwellings nestled beneath the mountain peaks. From the Hida No Sato Folk Village to saki tasting at local traditional brewery Takayama offers a great opportunity for exploration.
With free time in the afternoon opt to walk a forested trail, go for a bike ride, have a nap on the Tatami mats at the Ryokan or relax in a Japanese Onsen (hot spring) before enjoying a traditional dinner together as a group.

 

Hida no Sato (Hida Minzoku Mura Folk Village) Visit:
Takayama

Visit the Hida Folk Village, an outdoor museum where various buildings from the 1600s are open to tour. The steep, thatched roofs of the farmhouses are said to resemble praying hands. Take a peek inside to see tools and furniture from the original village.

Sake Street Visit:
Takayama

Stroll down this quaint road, lined with sake breweries and vendors, and learn more about this typical Japanese beverage made from fermented rice. Have a sample or two to test it out.

Free Time:
Takayama Afternoon

Get out and explore or head to the hot springs for a relaxing soak.

 

Accommodation:

Minshuku Iwatakan (or similar)

Meals included:

Dinner

Day 8: Takayama/Kurashiki

Travel to picturesque Kurashiki, retaining its old world charm with black and white buildings.
Get a real glimpse of old Japan at Kurashiki, a picturesque town in central Japan which has retained much of its old world charm with beautifully preserved black and white walled merchants’ homes and storehouses.
Many of the storehouses have been converted into museums, souvenir stores, boutiques and cafés. Most famous among the museums are the Ohara Museum of Art and the Museum of Folkcraft.

Bullet train:
Takayama – Kurashiki5h30m-6h30m

Get to your next destination faster than the speed of flight (ok maybe not that fast) aboard a high-speed train.

Free Time:
Kurashiki Afternoon

Start exploring this charming city.

 

Accommodation:
Court Hotel Kurashiki (or similar)
Meals included:

Breakfast

Day 9: Kurashiki

Enjoy a bike tour through the Kibi Plains, surrounded by rice fields and ancient burial grounds. On this scenic ride, glide past shrines and temples and get a glimpse of rural Japanese life.

Get Active: Bicycle Tour of the Kibi Plains:
20km

Head out by bicycle through the Kibi Plains. This amazingly scenic bicycle route passes by rice fields, ancient burial grounds, shrines and temples.

Free Time:
Kurashiki Afternoon

Spend more time wandering the quaint riverside streets of Kurashiki.

 

Accommodation:
Court Hotel Kurashiki (or similar)
Day 10: Kurashiki/Kyoto

Travel to Kyoto for two nights in the traditional heart of Japan. Arrive in the afternoon and hike up Fushimi Inari through 10,000 stunning torii gates.
Journey to Kyoto and visit some of the most magnificent temples in the country, dating back centuries. There are said to be 2,000 temples, shrines, palaces, museums and traditional gardens in Kyoto.

Bullet train:
Kurashiki – Kyoto2h30m-3h

Get to your next destination faster than the speed of flight (ok maybe not that fast) aboard a high-speed train.

Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine Visit:
Kyoto

Pay a visit to Fushimi Inari shrine, located just outside of Kyoto. Walk under the thousands of iconic torii gates (as seen in the film Memoirs of a Geisha) and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere. The shrine itself is at the base of the Inari mountain but includes many trails up to smaller shrines in the area.

 

Accommodation:
Ibis Styles Kyoto Station (or similar)
Day 11: Kyoto

Visit the impressive Kiyomizu-dera, and take in the breathtaking Chion-in temple. This afternoon, enjoy free time in this lovely city. Experience some of the many great walks through zen gardens, teahouses, shrines and shops and maybe even spot a real-life geisha.
Spend the morning discovering Buddhist, Zen, and Shinto nuances in some the beautiful Kiyomizu Temple (Love Temple) and the breathtaking Chion-in Temple.
Opt to explore more zen gardens, palaces, and temples in Kyoto or venture to nearby Osaka. Another option further afield is to visit the peaceful gardens and ancient temples of Nara, home of Japan’s largest Buddha.

Kiyomizu Temple Visit:
Kyoto

Visit the Kiyomizu Temple, a Buddhist temple in Kyoto and part of Kyoto’s UNESCO listed sights. Originally built in 798, the current structures were built in 1633 without the use of a single nail.

Chion-in Temple Visit:
Kyoto

The Chion-in Temple is the headquarters of the Jodo-Shu Sect of Buddhism. Visit the temple to marvel at the beautiful architecture and learn more about this form of Buddhism.

Free Time:
Kyoto Afternoon

Explore the city or head further afield.

 

Accommodation:
Ibis Styles Kyoto Station (or similar)
Meals included:

Breakfast

Day 12: Kyoto

Depart at any time.

Departure Day:
 Not ready to leave? Your CEO can help with travel arrangements to extend your adventure.
Meals included:

Breakfast

What’s Included

  • Modern Tokyo walking tour
  • Zenkoji Temple visit (Nagano)
  • Jigokudani Monkey Park visit (Matsumoto)
  • Matsumoto Castle visit
  • Hida No Sato folk village visit (Takayama)
  • Sake street visit
  • Kibi Plains bike ride (outside Kurashiki)
  • Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine visit
  • Visits to Kiyomizu and Chion-in temples
  • Japan Rail (JR) pass (7 days)
  • All transport between destinations and to/from included activities

 

Accommodations:

Hotels and traditional guesthouses/onsens (9 nts), traditional inns (2 nts, shared facilities).

 

Meals:

3 breakfasts, 1 dinner
Allow USD570-745 for meals not included.

 

Transportation:

Bus, bullet train, local train, bicycle, walking.

 

Staff & experts:

Chief Experience Officer (CEO) throughout.

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