Exciting Days, Comfortable Nights
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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, and witness the famous Spring Geisha Dances in Kyoto on this special departure.

Itinerary
Prices & Dates
Inclusions
Hotels
Reviews
Day 1

Welcome to Japan

Upon arrival in Tokyo (Narita or Haneda airport) you will be met by your tour guide or transfer person who will give you your Tokyo Transport PASMO Card which will allow you to move freely around the city on the subways and train systems. Transfer to 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 as we expect to head off for dinner at 18:30.
Overnight: Tokyo  |  Dinner

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 day and evening offer free time for you to further discover this exciting city.
Overnight: Tokyo  |  Breakfast

Day 3

Matsumoto Castle

Tokyo – Matsumoto. This morning we start our journey to Matsumoto, which will take around three and a half hours. Upon arrival we will visit Matsumoto Castle, one of the remaining original castles in Japan and perhaps the most iconic landmark in the city. Enjoy free time in the evening, and why not try the local speciality – soba noodles.
Overnight: Matsumoto  |  Breakfast

Day 4

Takayama

Matsumoto – Takayama. A bus ride from Matsumoto will take us 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. This afternoon we explore Takayama’s old quarter, where you can wander around the shops and visit a sake distillery to sample the town’s famous and potent sake. 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 & the Hida Village

In the morning we will explore the town's market stalls, overflowing with fresh produce brought in daily from the surrounding fields. Later we will head to the outskirts of 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 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 will travel by express train 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 - 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 exploring the garden we will visit the Ninja temple (or Higashi Chaya District if travelling on 01 Apr 2017 departure) and Nomura Family Samurai house, which will then be followed by free time.
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

Days 8-9

Kyoto's best temples & the Gion Geisha District

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. Later we make our way to Gion, the famed Geisha district for a guided walking tour where we'll attend the famous Spring Geisha Dances (in Japanese 'Miyako Odori'), 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.

Day 9 is offered as free time where you have the opportunity to explore Kyoto at your own pace. You are free to spend today doing whatever takes your fancy. You could also choose to use your included Japan Rail Pass to make a day trip to Himeji to see the UNESCO Listed Himeji Castle - Japan's largest and best preserved castle, Hiroshima - to visit the A-bomb site or Nara with its rich cultural heritage and 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Overnight: Kyoto  |  Breakfast x 2, Dinner x 1

Days 10-11

Hakone NP - at the foot of Mt Fuji

Kyoto - Hakone. 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. See trip notes regarding visits to Owakudani as some sections are currently closed due to the volcanic activity.
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 (we suggest a visit) and abundance of interesting souvenir and craft stalls. Today is a great 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 comes to an end. Included transfer to Narita or Haneda International Airports by shared shuttle bus.
Breakfast

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.

Departure dates noted with a 'G' are guaranteed to operate. All other departure dates are guaranteed with a minimum of 2 persons.

Guaranteed Departure
4+ places available
Limited places
Sold out
On Request (Please Contact Us)
2017
Price/Person
Single Supp.
25 Mar - 06 Apr
10% off
G
USD $7185
USD $1935
01 Apr - 13 Apr
10% off
G
USD $7185
USD $1935
2018
Price/Person
Single Supp.
USD $7185
USD $1935
USD $7185
USD $1935

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.

Shinjuku Washington Hotel , Tokyo

Our Category: Standard   |   Regional Category: 3 Star Hotel

The Shinjuku Washington Hotel is a colossal property located in the heart of one of Tokyo's most popular areas. The rooms are simple and practical, offering guests a comfortable, no-frills stay. While there are plenty of eateries within walking distance of the property, guests aren't likely to want to go anywhere once they see what's on offer within the hotel complex. Visitors can choose from a Chinese or Japanese buffet breakfast followed by dinner in the steak house or American-style restaurant. The hotel is just a 15 minute walk from the Shinjuku railway 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.

Hotel Gimmond Kyoto, Kyoto

Our Category: Standard   |   Regional Category: 3 Star Hotel

The Gimmond is a large and comfortable hotel, located in the middle of the city centre of Kyoto. Each of the rooms is equipped with a range of modern amenities such as an air cleaner, TV and WiFi. The rooms also enjoy a simple design and neutral colour scheme, ensuring a pleasant and relaxing stay for all guests. When hunger strikes, visitors can indulge in authentic Japanese dishes in one of the hotel's fantastic restaurants, or Italian classics in the other. The property's nearest subway station is Karasuma Oike, just 2 minutes from the hotel on foot.

Hotel New Hankyu Kyoto, Kyoto

Our Category: Standard   |   Regional Category: 3 Star Hotel

The New Hankyu Hotel in Kyoto is a large, modern property with excellent facilities and a fabulous location. The guest rooms are decorated in a simple and practical manner, swapping glamour and glitz for comfortable furniture and neutral colours. The main feature of the hotel is its numerous eateries and the sensational dishes they concoct. In total they have 18 restaurants, the most popular of which are Olympia, a Japanese buffet restaurant, and Loin, a steakhouse serving Australian and Japanese meat.

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!

Trip Highlights

Tokyo - Cruise down the Sumida River, see the cherry blossoms in bloom in Hamarikyu tei-en gardens, Ginza shopping district, 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 the Geisha district (Gion) and the watching the beautiful Spring Geisha Dance performance
Matsumoto - Matsumoto castle - one of the only original 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 famous for its 1000 life-size statues of Kannon, and Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion) Temple
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

Included

12 breakfasts and 4 dinners
Airport arrival and departure transfers. Shared shuttle bus transfers from either Narita or Haneda International Airports
All rail tickets, individual or other for included sightseeing
Sumida River boat cruise in Tokyo and entrance to Hamarikyu gardens
Tickets for Spring Geisha Dance performance in Kyoto and guided tour of the Gion (Geisha) district
Maximum group size: 18 persons
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 - buses, trains and rail passes (including Tokyo Transport Pass and 2 day Hakone Free Pass)
Fuji Hakone National Park - with lake cruise, cable cars, ropeways and switchback trains
Escorted by a licensed English speaking Japanese tour guide

Not Included

International flights and visas
Entrance Fees: USD$55-$65, paid in local currency
Laundry, drinks, items of a personal nature

Scoring an average traveller rating of 4.75 out of 5 based on 8 recent reviews

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
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.

• 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
Tour
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
Tour
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
Tour
Guide
Country

Tour Details
Range
OTG Signature
Exciting Days, Comfortable Nights
Starts
Tokyo
Ends
Tokyo
Departs
25 March 2017
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
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

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.

Johanne & Warren Naseby
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