Mon 25 Mar : Auckland > Tokyo
Morning flight to Tokyo. On arrival we will be transferred to our hotel for an evening at leisure.
Tue 26 : Tokyo (B,L,D)
Full day tour of Tokyo visiting Meiji Shrine, Tokyo’s most famous Shinto shrine which is wonderfully serene and austere. Visit Tokyo Tower, Omotesando Street, Asakua Kannon Temple, Akihabara Electronic Town and drive by the famous intersection of Shibuya, the bustling shopping district. Lunch is included at a local restaurant. Enjoy a welcome dinner this evening.
Wed 27 : Tokyo (B,L)
Full day tour of Tokyo where you will visit the Tsukiji Outer Fish Market, then visit a restaurant to learn how to make sushi from a local chef. Visit Ginza Mitsukoshi, the oldest surviving department store in Tokyo. See the Imperial Palace Plaza, Hamarikyu Garden and Ueno Park, a popular spot for cherry blossom parties with more than 1000 cherry trees lining the streets. Evening at leisure.
Thu 28 : Tokyo > Yudanaka (B,L,D)
This morning depart for Nagano by bullet train and then travel by train to Yudanaka, the spa town. Here we visit the Jigokudani Monkey Park where we hope to see ‘snow monkeys’ bathing in the steaming natural onsen pools. Check in to our hotel complete with indoor and outdoor onsens (spas). Enjoy a traditional Japanese dinner at your ryokan.
Fri 29 : Yudanaka > Takayama (B,D)
Continue to the historical town of Takayama – set in the heart of the Japanese Alps, visiting the Zenkoji Temple, a wasabi farm and Matsumoto Castle en route. This town is beautifully preserved with many buildings dating from the Edo period, when the city thrived as a wealthy town of merchants. They provide a glimpse into the former living quarters of the merchants and exhibit traditional household goods and local arts and crafts. Dinner is at the hotel this evening.
Sat 30 : Takayama > Shirakawago > Gokayama > Kanazawa (B,D)
Visit the morning markets and the former government house of Takayama. See the Shirakawago UNESCO World Heritage Listed site, famous for its traditional gassho-zukuri farmhouses, with their steeply pitched thatched roofs, some of which are more than 250 years old. Visit the Japanese Paper Village of Gokayama. Finish in Kanazawa a pristine castle town with an array of cultural attractions.
Sun 31 : Kanazawa > Kyoto (B,D)
Visit Kenrokuen garden, one of Japan’s most beautiful gardens. In spring, visitors can see plum and cherry blossoms. We also visit the Samurai House, Gold Museum and Ohmi-cho Market. Then we travel a little over two hours on the train to Kyoto.
Mon 1 Apr: Kyoto (B,L,D)
Kyoto is Japan’s cultural heart, known for its Buddhist temples, beautiful gardens and colourful shrines. Enjoy a full day tour to see the Kinkakuji Temple and Ryoanji Temple, ending with Kiyomizu Temple, perched on a hill overlooking the Kyoto basin and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Dinner at a local restaurant.
Tue 2 : Kyoto (B)
Visit Nijo Castle then Arashiyama for a visit to the Sagano Bamboo Grove with thick green bamboo stalks which seem to continue endlessly in every direction. See the ‘Moon Crossing Bridge’ a central landmark famous for its cherry blossom viewing. Finish with a visit to Tenryuji Temple. Afternoon at leisure.
Wed 3 : Kyoto > Nara > Osaka (B)
Touring today includes Nara en route to Osaka. Visits include Todaiji Temple, Nara Park, the Kasuga Shrine, with great views from Osaka Castle.
Thu 4 : Osaka (B,L)
Enjoy a half day tour of Osaka including the Kaiyukan Aquarium. See Umeda, the commercial and business district, with its prominent skyscrapers. Enjoy time at leisure.
Fri 5 : Osaka > Hiroshima (B,L)
We drive to Kobe to visit a sake brewery then have lunch at a Teppanyaki restaurant. In the afternoon take the bullet train to Hiroshima.
Sat 6 : Hiroshima > Miyajima (B,D)
Hiroshima has rebuilt itself as one of Japan’s most laid back yet vibrant cities full of wide boulevards and art museums, great food and friendly, welcoming people. Visit the Peace Memorial and Museum, A-Bomb Dome and take a short ferry ride out to Miyajima Island, a small wooded island located in the Inland Sea. Here you will find the famous, floating Torii Gate, a shrine known worldwide for being built over water, seemingly floating in the sea.
Sun 7 : Hiroshima > Hakone (B,D)
Take the bullet train to Hakone via Nagoya. Visits the Ichiku Kubota Museum and scenic Lake Kawaguchi before transferring to our hotel. Some great views of Mt Fuji today, weather permitting.
Mon 8 : Hakone > Tokyo (B,L,D)
Ride the cable car up Mt Owakudani, passing over sulphurous vents and hot springs. In this volcanic area, you can eat a hard-boiled egg from the sulphuric hot springs, adding seven years to your life! From the top, if it’s a clear day, we will see stunning views of Mt Fuji, Japan’s highest and most worshipped mountain, and Lake Ashi. We end with a cruise on Lake Ashi then continue by road to Tokyo where we enjoy our farewell dinner.
Tue 9 : Tokyo > Auckland (B)
Morning at leisure. Afternoon transfer to the airport for our overnight flight to Auckland.
Wed 10 : Auckland
Morning arrival in Auckland