Trails of Japan

Tokyo to Osaka

13 days from 6,690 pp

Overview

Traditional versus modern, nature versus urban – Japan is a land of contrasts. This exhilarating tour encompasses it all, delving deeper into Japan’s rich past, present and future, covering robot restaurants to tranquil temples to potent saké and all that’s in-between.

13 days Tokyo to Osaka

From 6,690 per person

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: Discover Tokyo

Today you will explore the two sides of Tokyo, the modern and the traditional. The city tour begins at the Tokyo Skytree, the world’s tallest tower at 634 metres. From the top, on a clear day, you may catch a glimpse of Mount Fuji. Close by is Asakusa, at the heart of which is Sensoji, Tokyo’s oldest temple, and the vibrant Nakamise shopping street. This afternoon includes a stop at the famous Shibuya road crossing, the tranquil Meiji Shrine and the vibrant district of Harajuku. Finally, it’s time for a uniquely Tokyo experience – the Robot Restaurant. Here you’ll experience what can only be described as a sci-fi cabaret – utterly surreal and only in Japan! Dinner is at leisure.

Day 4: Japanese Drumming

This morning, try your hand at traditional Japanese drumming with a Taiko class, where you will learn the fundamental techniques of beating the ‘wadaiko’ with ‘bachi’. Next, head to the district of Akihabara, Tokyo’s electronics district. Wander the neon-billboarded streets and visit a Maid Café, one of Tokyo’s most popular types of themed establishments. This afternoon, explore Tokyo’s past at the Edo-Tokyo Museum or Tokyo National Museum.

Day 5: Mount Fuji

The perfectly symmetrical cone of mighty Mount Fuji is the iconic image of Japan – this morning you will journey out of Tokyo into some of Japan’s beautiful rurality at the foot of the mountain. Pick up a hiking trail and tramp through alpine forest, across meadows and around lakes at the Fuji’s base, pausing often to gaze on the peak towering above you.

Day 6: Snow Monkeys

Travel to Matsumoto and explore the magnificent Matsumoto Castle, also known as ‘Crow Castle’ due to its black exterior. Continue to Naganao, stopping in Yudanaka to visit the Japanese Macaques, or Snow Monkeys, at the Jigokudani Yaen-Koen (Monkey Park). These creatures are unique in the fact that they make use of the area’s natural hot springs, bathing and playing in and around the water.

Day 7: Japanese Alps

Travel to Hotaka and ride up into the Japanese Alps on the Shin-Hotaka Ropeway, reaching an observation platform at 2,156 metres, which gives breathtaking views over the surrounding mountains (weather permitting). Drive to Takayama where you will be staying at a ryokan, a traditional Japanese inn with onsen facilities. Here you can relax and bathe in the natural hot spring pools and experience this most traditional pastime. This afternoon you will have time to explore Kamisannomachi Street and sample the street foodon offer. This evening, enjoy a Hida beef dinner.

Day 8: Bullet Train to Kyoto

Take a Limited Express train to Nagoya, where you’ll change onto a Shinkansen bullet train to Kyoto. This afternoon, start discovering Kyoto’s rich heritage with a visit to the enchanting Fushimi Inari Shrine with its pathway of vermillion torii gates before admiring the views over the city from Kiyomizu Temple. Stroll around the old neighbourhoods of Higashiyama and Gion, the geisha district, with a stop at Gion Corner, that showcases the seven professional performing arts.

Day 9 Japanese Tea Ceramony

This morning, take a half day tour of Kyoto by bicycle, starting at Kinkaku-ji, the ‘Golden Pavilion’, before contemplating Zen at Ryoanji, Japan’s most famous classical garden. Continue to the Arashiyama district where you will have some free time to explore the Bamboo Forest. Later in the afternoon, witness the rituals involved in the preparation and pouring of matcha tea in a traditional tea ceremony.

Day 10: Kyoto Culture & Koya -san

Spend the morning exploring the craft of kimono creation and the complicated process of dressing in a traditional kimono at Nishijin Textile Centre, before a cultural experience that will see you learning the paperfolding art of origami. This afternoon, travel by road to Koya-san, where you will spend the night in a 13th-century temple sleeping on a traditional tatami mat floor.

Day 11: Morning Prayers

Rise early to join the monks for their daily morning service – hearing the recitation and chanting is a magical experience. After breakfast, take a walking tour of Koya-san. One of Japan’s holiest sights, this mountain top sanctuary is full of temples and pagodas to explore. Pay a visit to Kongobuji temple and Okunoin cemetery before travelling to Osaka.

Day 12: Snake Brewery & Himeji

Take a day tour to Himeji, visiting the 17th-century Himeji Castle which is considered a prime example of Japanese feudal period architecture. Continue on to a sake brewery, where you can learn about the brewing process of this potent rice wine and enjoy some tasters. Return to Osaka and experience the bright and brash Dotonbori district.

Day 13: Flying From Osaka

Transfer to the airport and fly to Ireland, arriving home the same or following day.

  • Experience the wacky Robot Restaurant in buzzing Shinjuku.
  • Take a traditional Taiko drumming class in Tokyo.
  • Hike around stunning Mount Fuji’s base.
  • Meet the adorable Snow Monkeys in Yudanaka.
  • Explore the sacred town of Koya-san and stay overnight in a temple.
  • Taste authentic Japanese saké at a local brewery
Visa

A visa is not required to travel to Japan for Irish Citizen passport holders. Should you hold any other passport then please contact us for more information.

Communication

Phone Calls: 
International and domestic calls can be made from your hotel room. To call the Irish the international access code is 00, followed by the country code 353, then the local area code (omitting the first 0), then the number. To call us at TravelAgent.ie it is 00 353 21 432 0710.

Mobile Phones: 
You will find high quality coverage. There are active roaming agreements with all phone carriers; however SMS and call rates can be expensive. We recommend that you contact your mobile supplier if you intend to use international roaming during your holiday and ensure you investigate all associated costs before you leave the UK.

Internet & Email: 
Internet cafes can be found in all major cities and even in some small towns. This is often the easiest and cheapest way to stay in touch. Most hotels have a business centre with internet access, but at a slightly higher rate. Some hotels may have Wi-Fi which usually comes at an additional cost and may only be available in hotel lobbies.

Tipping

Tipping is an expected element in the tourism industry today and Japan is no exception. Many passengers are often uncertain of how much to tip so we have established a tipping system whereby every passenger gives a set amount (in US Dollars) to the National Escort who will distribute the amount appropriately. On multi-country tips, this amount will be paid in stages on arrival in each country. If there is no National Escort, you will need to give your money to your Local Guides and tipping amounts for each city will be shown in your final itinerary. The amount for the kitty is calculated for each tour depending on the length, group size and services used during the trip.

The tipping amounts should be indicated in your final documents for guidance.

Shopping

Shopping can be a fun and entertaining component to any travel adventure. In keeping with most people’s interests whilst on holiday, your tour will include a reasonable number of opportunities to shop for local goods and souvenirs.

We have included visits to establishments that not only provide an opportunity to purchase a locally produced, great-value souvenir; but you’ll witness first-hand how these local products are made, their history and how they support the local economy. We are aware that people like to take home souvenirs, so we endeavour to ensure the shops you visit have a reputation for quality, honesty, and authenticity – we do our best to ensure that you don’t get ripped off.

Food

The cost of all meals is included in your group tour cost. Breakfast is a combination of local and western food, usually served buffet style at the hotel you are staying in. Lunches and dinners consist of traditional cuisine and are served at reputable local restaurants. As is traditional in this region, lunch and dinner consists of small dishes of local cuisine which is then placed on the table for everyone to share so you can experience the variety of speciality dishes. The amount served is more than ample for the whole group. We aim to cater to the tastes of the majority of people and so the food is not too spicy or unusual in taste.

Drinks will be at each tour members’ own expense and paid for at the end of each meal. Beer is widely available and cheap. Western style wine is very expensive to import and is not widely available except at upmarket restaurants. Bottled drinking water, soft drinks, and fruit juices are also widely available – remember that you should only have ice or fruit juices from a trusted restaurant, where they will use boiled or bottled water.

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