Exciting Days, Comfortable Nights
FROM: USD $7,185

Cherry Blossom Festival - 13 days

Escorted Group Tour: Springtime is possibly one of the best times to visit Japan, when cherry blossom trees come out in full bloom across the nation. Take in the highlights, visit some of the country’s most beautiful gardens, witness the famous Spring Geisha Dances and take part in a tea ceremony in Kyoto on this special departure.

Inclusions
Itinerary
Prices & Dates
Hotels
Reviews

Trip Highlights

Tokyo - Cruise down the Sumida River, see the cherry blossoms in bloom in Hamarikyu tei-en gardens, Sensoji Temple, Meiji Shrine and Shibuya crossing
Takayama - ancient town famed for its narrow streets lined with inns, tea houses, shops and merchant houses. Plus visit to the traditional Hida village on the outskirts of town
Staying in a traditional ryokan - sampling Japanese hospitality, bathing in natural hot springs, wearing a Yakata (casual Kimono) and sleeping on a futon
Kyoto - walking tour of Gion and watching the beautiful Spring Geisha Dances and tea ceremony
Hakone - Fuji Hakone National Park offering incredible views of the snow capped Mt Fuji. Explore the region and travel aboard mountain bus, switchback railway, boats and cable cars
Matsumoto - Matsumoto castle - one of the few original and complete castles in Japan, giving a real sense of ancient Japan and how the samurai used to live and fight
Kanazawa - seeing Cherry Blossoms at Kenroku-en - one of the best and most beautiful feudal lords' gardens in Japan.
Kyoto - Explore the UNESCO listed ancient and cultural capital of Japan. Visit Nijo Castle, Sanjusagen-do Temple and Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion) Temple
Hiroshima - Peace Park, Peace Memorial Museum, UNESCO Listed A-Bomb Dome and Children's Peace Monument

Included

12 breakfasts and 4 dinners
Airport arrival and departure transfers. Shared shuttle bus transfers from either Narita or Haneda Airports
Day trip to Hiroshima with visits to Peace Park, Peace Park Museum, various memorials and the A- Bomb site
Sumida River boat cruise in Tokyo
Ticket to the Spring Geisha Dances and tea ceremony hosted by Geisha (Miyako Odori ceremony) and guided tour of the Gion (Geisha) district in Kyoto
Entrance fees to all included sightseeing
12 nights 3 - 4 star accommodation (including 2 nights in a traditional Japanese Inn in Takayama)
Guided sightseeing and walking tours in Tokyo, Matsumoto, Kanazawa, Takayama, Kyoto and Hakone
All relevant transfers and transportation - private buses and rail passes - individual or other (including Tokyo Transport Pass and 2 day Hakone Free Pass), and luggage forwarding on day 7,10 & 12
Fuji Hakone National Park - with lake cruise, cable cars, ropeways and switchback trains
Escorted by a licensed English speaking Japanese tour guide
Maximum group size: 18 persons

Not Included

International flights and visas
Laundry, drinks, items of a personal nature

Itinerary

Day 1

Welcome to Japan

Upon arrival in Tokyo (Narita or Haneda airport) you will be met by our transfer person who will give you your Tokyo Transport Card (referred to as an IC card) which will allow you to move freely around the city on the subways and train systems and assist you to transfer to our tour start hotel in Shinjuku, one of the most modern districts in the city, and later enjoy a welcome dinner at a local restaurant. A flight arriving to Tokyo before 16:00 would be ideal if you intend to join our welcome meeting commencing this evening at 18:30.
Overnight: Tokyo

Day 2

Tokyo Sightseeing - Meiji Shrine, Ginza, Shibuya & river cruise

Today we embark on a full day tour of the city. We start with a cruise down the Sumida River, followed by a walk through Hamarikyu tei-en, a tranquil garden that is just a few minutes walk from the lively Ginza shopping district, where we will be able to see cherry blossom trees. Later we explore Here we’ll visit the revered Meiji Shrine where the emperor Meiji and his wife are enshrined. The last stop of the day is the Shibuya crossing - regarded as one of the busiest pedestrian intersections in the world. It is said that up to a 1000 people converge onto the intersection with every light change. Known as 'the scramble' we'll give it a go then grab a coffee at the second floor Starbucks located directly. The remainder of the afternoon offers free time for you to further discover this exciting city, before our group welcome dinner at a local restuarant this evening.
Overnight: Tokyo  |  Breakfast, Dinner

Day 3

Matsumoto Castle

Tokyo – Matsumoto. This morning we drive to Matsumoto, and upon arrival visit the incredibly beautiful Matsumoto Castle, which is one of the original and most complete of the handful of medieval castles that exist in Japan today. The towering black and white structure holds some 400 years of history, is a National Treasure and is the most iconic landmark in the city. The reward for climbing the narrow stairs to the top are the stunning views that can be seen from the slim wooden windows (used for archers and gunmen) of the Japanese Alps, Matsumoto City and the swans circling in the moat below. This evening offeres free time where you might wish to try the local speciality – soba noodles.
Overnight: Matsumoto  |  Breakfast

Day 4

Takayama - Hida Folk Village

Matsumoto – Takayama. From Matsumoto we drive to Takayama, a charming town in the heart of the Hida Mountains. Established in the 16th century as the castle town of the Kanamori family, the town is famous throughout Japan for its old town area of narrow streets filled with well - preserved inns, tea houses, shops and merchants houses with the latticed windows and overhanging roofs characteristic of the Edo period. Later this evening there will be time to wonder around but first we drive to the outskirts of the town to visit the fascinating Hida folk village, a outdoor museum comprising 30 or so farm houses traditional farm houses from around the Hida region, re-built here on the hillside overlooking the town. Tonight we will enjoy a classic Japanese ryokan meal at the traditional inn where we will be staying.
Overnight: Takayama  |  Breakfast, Dinner

Day 5

Takayama's Old Quarter

In the morning we will explore the town's market stalls, overflowing with fresh produce brought in daily from the surrounding fields. Later we explore Takayama’s old quarter, where you can enjoy free time to wander around the shops and perhaps visit a sake distillery to sample the town’s famous and potent sake.

Tonight, we recommend you head out for dinner to sample some of Takayama’s delicious Hida beef at one of the many restaurants or Beef Burger cafes.
Overnight: Takayama  |  Breakfast

Day 6

Cherry Blossoms of Kanazawa

Takayama – Kanazawa. Today we travel to Kanazawa, home to one of Japan’s most impressive gardens, Kenroku-en, located opposite Kanazawa Castle. Once part of the feudal lord's garden, Kenroku-en is regarded as one of the best places to see the country's famous cherry blossoms later this afternoon - hopefully in full bloom. In Kanazawa the cherry blossom trees are due to bloom in late March/ early April. When in bloom, these delicate soft pink flowers can be seen lining the streets and filling the parks and gardens all over the city.

After time for lunch in the lively Nagamachi Samurai district we visit the Nomura Family Samurai house and Ninja temple (not actually associated with Ninja but rather for the its deceptive defences and escape routes). Our last stop of the day is Kenroku-en where we can sit, relax and admire the blossoms till sunset.
Overnight: Kanazawa  |  Breakfast

Day 7

Kyoto - beauty, art and culture

Kanazawa – Kyoto. A morning express train takes us to Kyoto, Japan’s ancient and cultural capital, where we will spend the next three nights. As one of the most culturally rich cities in Asia, Kyoto is home to 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites, over 1,600 Buddhist temples and 400 Shinto shrines.

Upon arrival we embark on a guided walking tour of the UNESCO listed Nijo Castle. Built by the first Tokugawa shogun in 1603, the exquisite castle is a wonderful example of Momoyama architecture. The later part of the afternoon offers free time for you to visit more of Kyoto's beautiful sites.
Overnight: Kyoto  |  Breakfast

Day 8

Hiroshima - Peace Park, Museum & Memorials

Kyoto - Hiroshima - Kyoto. This morning we depart for a full day sightseeing excursion to Hiroshima taking one of the fastest trains in Japan (the Nozomi Shinkansen) which reaches speeds of up to 300km on the route. Arriving to Hiroshima we visit the iconic A-Bomb Dome - one of the very few buildings left standing after the blast, Peace Park and Peace Park Museum all of which are sobering reminder of Hiroshima’s devastating past. We’ll also visit the Children's Peace Monument a memorial to the children killed, where school children from around the globe donate paper origami cranes, signifying hope and peace. We return to Kyoto just after sundown. Note: if travelling on our 31 Mar 2018 departure the arrangements of day 9 will be conducted today an the arrangements of day 8 conducted tomorrow.
Overnight: Kyoto  |  Breakfast

Day 9

Kyoto's best temples Geisha Tea Ceremony

This morning we visit the stunning Zen Buddhist temple of Kinkakuji, known as the Golden Temple which forms part of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto World Heritage Site. The top floor of the two-story structure is completely covered in gold and sits beside a small lake where its beauty is reflected in the calm waters. After we tour Sanjusagen-do Temple famous for its statues of Kannon. The one thousand life-size statues of Kannon are made of Japanese cypress and completely covered in gold leaf. Standing in rows of 10 each hand carved so that no two are alike.

After we make our way to Gion, the famed Geisha district for a guided walking tour where we'll attend the famous Spring Geisha Dances with tea ceremony hosted by Geisha (in Japanese 'Miyako Odori' ceremony), followed by dinner at a Gion restaurant. Keep our eyes open in Gion as its very possible to see Maiko (apprentice Geisha) dressed in beautiful kimono walking to and from there lessons.
Overnight: Kyoto  |  Breakfast, Dinner

Days 10-11

Hakone NP - at the foot of Mt Fuji

Kyoto - Hakone NP. Today a bullet train takes us to Fuji Hakone National Park, at the foot of the iconic Mount Fuji, where we will spend the next two days exploring the local area. Here, we have access to unlimited travel on nearly all the local modes of transport thanks to our Hakone Free Pass card, from mountain bus, tram and switchback rail, to lofty cable cars. We'll also take a cruise across the picturesque Lake Ashi to Moto-Hakone to visit the Shinto Shine of Hakone-jinja, where we are also rewarded with the best views of Mt Fuji, accompanied by Lake Ashi and the red Torii gate of Hakone in the foreground.
Overnight: Hakone  |  Breakfast x 2, Dinner x 1

Day 12

Tokyo - Sensoji Temple district & free time

Hakone - Tokyo. Heading back to Tokyo, rather than staying in modern Shinjuku, this time we will be staying in old-town Akakusa - a pretty district famous for its historic Sensoji Buddhist temple and abundance of interesting souvenir and craft stalls. After a guided visit of Senso-ji Temple the later part of the afternoon offers opportunity to do any last minute sightseeing or shopping and you may also wish to head up the Tokyo Sky Tree for some final dizzying views of the city.
Overnight: Tokyo  |  Breakfast

Day 13

Goodbye Japan

Today our holiday concludes. we offer post-tour accommodation for those interested in staying in Tokyo a little longer. Included transfer to Narita or Haneda International Airports by shared shuttle bus.
Breakfast

Prices & Dates

Prices shown are per person travelling. 'Twin/Double' prices per person apply when there are 2 people travelling, sharing a room. The 'Single supplement' applies for single travellers who require their own room and needs to be added to the 'Twin/Double' price. If you are happy to be paired up with another single traveller of the same sex on your tour, this can be arranged provided another solo traveller of the same sex is already booked upon the tour, thus avoiding the single person supplement.

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2018
Price /
Person
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USD $7,185
USD $1,935
USD $7,185
USD $1,935

Hotels

The hotels listed below are ones which we frequently use on this tour. We reserve the right to substitute these hotels to ones of a similar standard when necessary.

Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku, Tokyo

Our Category: Standard   |   Regional Category: 3 Star Hotel

Renovated in 2007, the chic Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku offers contemporary accommodation in Japan's capital. Guest rooms are tastefully furnished in a modern style with comfortable amenities. The hotel also offers a number of excellent dining options including the Villazza trattoria style restaurant and the Bar Ku Kon Shinjuku dining experience! Why not sip on a delicious cocktail by the crackling fire - a great way to spend the evening! Located in the west of the city - a short walk from Shinjuku train station.

Hida Takayama Hot Spa Hoshokaku, Takayama

Our Category: Standard   |   Regional Category: 3 Star Hotel

Set within a beautiful, traditional Japanese building, the Hoshokaku sits on a hill overlooking the city. The spacious rooms include authentic low furniture as well as sliding screen doors and a natural colour scheme that is both aesthetically pleasing and calming. There are plenty of open air baths within the property as well as a spa and planetarium room. At meal times, guests can feast on delicious Japanese food at the hotel's onsite restaurant. The hotel is well located just 5 minutes from the Old Town and a short drive from the Takayama train station.

Garden Hotel Kanazawa, Kanazawa

Our Category: Standard   |   Regional Category: 3 Star Hotel

Built in 1983, the Garden Hotel Kanazawa affords a superb location right next to JR Kanazawa Railway Station. Guest rooms are furnished in soft colour tones, are of a decent size for Japan and are very clean, Guests can take advantage of complimentary high speed Wi-Fi throughout. Guests can dine on a selection of delicious Japanese, Chinese and Western food at the onsite restaurant. Perfectly located next to the station and great place to stay when using trains to get around Japan.

Mitsui Garden Hotel, Kyoto

Our Category: Standard   |   Regional Category: 3 Star Hotel

The Mitsui Garden Hotel is a good mid range hotel located on one of Kyoto's main avenues, Shijo. The Yuzen Gallery of silk dying and Mibu Temple are just a few minutes walk away and all of Kyoto's sights are easily reached from here. The hotel was renovated in February 2010 and features modern and comfortable fully ensuite rooms. You can also use the on‐site traditional Japanese style bath house if you wish. The hotel has its own restaurant and bar/cafe.

Hakone Yumoto Onsen Tenseien, Hakone

Our Category:    |   Regional Category:

This ryokan style accommodation is nestled within one of Japan's most beautiful spots, surrounded by stunning scenery and bubbling hot springs. Within the grounds are two tumbling waterfalls and a shrine - the perfect place to take a stroll in the morning or evening. The rooms are spacious and decorated in a traditional Japanese manner with dark wooden furniture and cream fabrics. Guests have the option of purchasing breakfast at the hotel as well as indulging in a massage if they need a bit of pampering. There is free WiFi throughout the property.

Asakusa View Hotel, Tokyo

Our Category: Standard   |   Regional Category: 3 Star Hotel

Set in an Art Deco style, the Asakusa View Hotel offers modern accommodation in an ideal location. Guest rooms are brightly lit and feature impressive floor to ceiling windows. Complimentary Wi-Fi is available and for a surcharge guests can use the pool. The hotel also has a number of good dining options including Cafe de Kapitein on the ground floor and Karuta on the 6th – offering a great selection of Japanese cuisine. The hotel is also directly connected to Asakusa Station – so getting to and from here couldn’t be easier!

Reviews

Scoring an average traveller rating of 4.78 out of 5 based on 9 recent reviews

Our guide Mari was excellent, nothing was too much trouble.

• Submitted 25 Apr 2017
Tour
Guide
Country

Mark Fujishige was fantastic and we had some great conversations with him about Japan and he was able to tell us so much. We enjoyed his company for the whole tour. Tour was well paced & loved the hotels.

• Submitted 01 Dec 2016
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Guide
Country

The tour was, in a word - Fantastic. Great hotels and in great locations. Also the nights stayed in each hotel was well thought out.

Tour content was excellent. Pace was fast but that is how we like it. Cant complain about anything.

• Submitted 01 Dec 2016
Tour
Guide
Country

The tour was, in a word - Fantastic. Great hotels and in great locations. Also the nights stayed in each hotel was well thought out.

Tour content was excellent. Pace was fast but that is how we like it. Cant complain about anything.

Many Thanks

Judy Davey

• Submitted 04 May 2016
Tour
Guide
Country

Thank you so much! It was a very memorable and positive experience for us (and my 60th birthday!). Our guide Mark was fantastic and we had some great conversations with him about Japan and he was able to tell us so much. We enjoyed his company for the whole tour. Mark was very accommodating and helped us with any queries we had. He explained timing, being ready in the mornings, meeting times, dinner arrangements etc very clearly. The 14 days was well paced and we did 4 to 5 hours of walking nearly every day (either with Mark or on our own).

Just some feedback for you. Timing for the Cherry Blossoms everywhere we went was spot on! Absolutely phenomenal! By the time we returned to Tokyo on Day 13, there weren't many left flowering so glad we were there when we did.

Shinjuku Hotel - 3 nights. great location, lovely modern room, nice breakfast options. Lovely first night dinner with the rest of the group to get to meet them.

Sending our big luggage on is a great idea (we've experienced this before), however a couple of people on our tour didn't quite understand the concept of having overnight bags (while being away from the main suitcase) and they were not well prepared.

Matsumoto was fantastic. Hotel room was only just okay. Clean but dated

Takayama Ryokan was awesome! Dinner was fabulous. Also the breakfast

Just a suggestion here though. 1 x traditional dinner in the ryokan is enough. 2nd included dinner was a repeat, we would have liked to have experienced a local restaurant.

Kanazawa hotel - location was excellent however, the hotel rooms were not up to the standard.

Kyoto and Gion district - lovely. The Miyako Odori was amazing. Included dinner at Mimiu was awesome. Hakone & the Fujiya Hotel!! What a fantastic time we had there with all the history! And the private onsen was a highlight.

We didn't get to see Mt Fuji while in Hakone because it was so misty but from our View Hotel in Tokyo we were very fortunate to see her on a clear day!

Also another suggestion - include a tour to the Skytree Tower. We did that on our last morning and had lunch there with so many choices. The food hall area was amazing.

Many highlights I haven't mentioned but the whole tour was fantastic! Mark was absolutely a delight and nothing was any trouble for him. Hoping to do another trip to Japan. We hear that November is an ideal time to go.

Jo & Warren Naseby

• Submitted 18 Apr 2016
Tour
Guide
Country

Richard was very engaging, knowledgeable, enthusiastic and flexible. We were lucky enough to be only 3 people on the tour, so he was able to give us lots of attention, answer all our questions and also take us to one or two places where he couldn't normally go with larger tours, so we felt extra privileged. He also laughed at our jokes, which was a bonus....It was great to be with someone who loved Japan so much and was fluent in the language.

(We also hope his head is better, after he banged it on a doorway!)

• Submitted 21 May 2015
Tour
Guide
Country

Aki was a great guide and gave us a view of more than just the tourist sights of Japan. He took us to local restaurants and shared his deep knowledge of the history of the places we visited - he is clearly very passionate about Japan!

• Submitted 05 May 2015
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Guide
Country

1. Well organized & timed for Sakura watch.

2. Good choice of cities/towns & sites to visit.

3. Good choice of hotels.

4. Fortunate to be in a friendly group.

5. Very good friendly & helpful guide.

6. Good duration for discovery of Japan.

• Submitted 25 Apr 2015
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Guide
Country

Overall, the holiday was fantastic with a packed itinerary and plenty of options. Hotels were excellent and the places we visited superb. The group were great too.

• Submitted 24 Apr 2015
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In Brief

Range
Trip Type
Starts
Tokyo
Ends
Tokyo
Departs
24 Mar 2018 & 31 Mar 2018
Hotel Rating
3 & 4 star & traditional ryokans
Local Payment
None
Tour Guide
Yes - escorted by a tour guide
Meals
Breakfast: 12, Dinner: 4
Visiting
Countries
Updated
18th May 2017

Extra Tour Info

Best Places to Visit
Places on our must-see list of any visit to Japan
Best Time to Visit
Information on climatic and weather conditions in Japan
Cherry Blossom Festival FAQ
A comprehensive guide
Top 10 Experiences
Our picks for Japan and where best to sample these delights

Our guide Mari was excellent, nothing was too much trouble.

Garth McQuade