The Golden Route
Tokyo to Osaka
12 days from €8,950 per person
Japan is an island of unique culture and sky-high thinking. Explore this incredible nation in luxury, travelling from Tokyo to Kyoto, passing under the watchful peak of Mount Fuji and experiencing all the quintessential elements of Japan as you go
Day 1-2: Fly to Tokyo
Fly overnight to the dazzling metropolis of Tokyo, Japan’s capital city. Depending on your time of arrival the rest of the day is yours to start soaking up the local culture.
Day 3: Explore Tokyo
Tokyo is at once a hub of the ultra-modern and deeply traditional. It is a city forever pushing boundaries – you’ll find yourself in the world’s biggest city, choosing from restaurants with the most Michelin stars and standing in the shadow of the world’s tallest tower. It is here that your tour of the city begins, ascending the Tokyo Skytree, to see the city laid out at your feet. Continue to Asakusa where, after donning a traditional kimono, you’ll visit Tokyo’s oldest temple, Senso-ji, and soak up the atmosphere of Nakamise shopping street. This afternoon, explore the history of Tokyo as imperial capital at the Edo-Tokyo Museum. (B)
(On the May and September departures, there is an extra special addition to this tour, a Sumo Tournament. Many of Japan’s most ancient traditions are preserved in the sport, and the ritual involved in its performance are as fascinating to watch as the wrestling itself. Your seats are reserved in the late afternoon, when the big, stronger wrestlers compete.)
Day 4: Sushi Making
Enjoy a morning at leisure before transferring to a Sushi restaurant for a lesson in the preparation of this delicious Japanese delicacy. After you’ve learned the techniques, eat your creations for lunch. The afternoon visit Meiji, a Shinto shrine enveloped by beautiful woodland, before returning to the hustle and bustle of the city at the famous Shibuya crossing. This evening, take to the waters of Tokyo Bay to admire the bright lights of the city on a dinner cruise.
Day 5: Lake Ashi cruise
Transfer to the spa region of Hakone by coach. Take to the calm waters of Lake Ashi, taking in the beautiful scenery and, weather depending, catching your first glimpse of the mighty Mount Fuji peeking over the surrounding hills. Fly up from the lakeside over the Alpineesque hills to the summit of Mount Komagatake on the Komagatake Ropeway, from where you’ll have breathtaking views of Mount Fuji, if it isn’t hiding behind cloud. Explore the exhibits of the Hakone Openair Museum, which is home to a number of works of art by Picasso, Henry Moore and Taro Okamoto. The rest of the afternoon is free until dinner, perfect of making the most of Hakone’s most famous asset – hot springs!
Day 6: Mt Fuji
Travel from Hakone to Fuji, where you’ll visit the 5th Station. At 2,400 metres up the mountain, the views of the summit from here are fantastic. If the road to the 5th Station is closed, you will instead visit the Fuji Visitor Centre. The rest of the day is at leisure to enjoy the facilities of your hotel.
Day 7: Bullet Train to Kyoto
Travel by road to Odawara where you’ll board a bullet train that will whisk you off to Kyoto. On arrival, the rest of the day is at leisure.
Day 8: Kyoto & Kendo Lesson
Today is a full day tour of Kyoto, starting at Kinkaku-ji, the ‘Golden Pavilion’, before contemplating Zen at Ryoanji, Japan’s most famous classical garden. Next you’ll have some free time in the vibrant Arashiyama district – the Bamboo Forest should not be missed and there are some lovely little shops to explore. Later, take part in a Kendo lesson. Learn the basic forms and techniques of this martial art, which is a form of swordsmanship which uses bamboo swords and protective armour. This evening, enjoy a traditional Japanese dinner with a Maiko (apprentice Geisha) performance.
Day 9: Zen Meditaiton & Tea Ceremony
A centre of Zen Buddhism, Kodai-ji is a 17th-century temple set in classical Zen gardens. Start the day here with a Zen meditation session, before experiencing the rituals of a traditional Japanese tea ceremony after which you can sip on your matcha tea. Visit Kiyomizu Temple, then take a walk around the old district of Higashiyama before stopping off to learn about some of Japan’s traditional arts – calligraphy and origami. The rest of the day is at leisure.
Day 10: Explore Nara
Wander the pathways of vermillion torii gates at the enchanting Fushimi Inari Taisha. Transfer to Nara and explore the city with visits to Todaiji Temple, where you’ll see the Great Buddha, and Nara Park, where you can meet the resident Sika deer. Finish at Kasuga Shrine then transfer to Osaka.
Day 11: Umeda Sky Building
Spend the morning exploring. Visit one of the city’s most recognisable buildings, the Umeda Sky Building, ascending to the rooftop observatory for views over Osaka. Stroll through the bright and brash Dotonburi district and stop for a local lunch. The rest of the afternoon is free before a delicious farewell meal of Shabu-shabu, a hotpot style dish of thinly sliced meats and vegetables which you cook in broth at your table.
Day 12: Fly Osaka to Ireland
Transfer to the airport and fly to Ireland, arriving home the same or following day.
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