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Home > Japan > Japan Itineraries > Japan In Bloom

Japan in Bloom

Departures

March

Duration

16 Days

Locations

Tokyo - Kanazawa - Takayama - Kyoto - Nara - Ise-Shima National Park - Hakone

Overview

Journey through Japan during its most picturesque season. With the Sakura trees in bloom, be captivated by the shades of pink and white as you explore the vibrant streets of Tokyo, the historic city of Kanazawa, and the quaint town of Takayama, reminiscent of the bygone Edo era. No trip to Japan would be complete without a visit to Kyoto, the country's beating cultural heart. Next, travel to Ise-Shima National Park, where you will enjoy a luxurious stay at the famed Amanemu resort. Finally, end this magical trip in Hakone, in the foothills of Japan's most sacred symbol, Mount Fuji.

Itinerary in Detail

    Day 1 – Tokyo

    Upon arrival at Narita airport, a private chauffeur will take you to your hotel in the city center. One of the world's largest cities and the political, economic, and cultural capital of Japan, Tokyo is a perfect fusion of old and new. While aesthetically, Tokyo's bright neon lights are reminiscent of a utopian future, the city's culture is deeply intertwined with centuries-old traditions.

    Hotel: Aman Tokyo

    Aman Tokyo

    Day 2 – Tokyo

    Today, enjoy a day of touring in Tokyo with a private driver and guide. First, travel to the huge Meiji Jingu shrine, constructed in 1920 by more than 100,000 volunteers to honor Emperor Meiji, the first emperor of modern Japan at the outset of the Meiji period. Next, walk along the main streets of Omotesando and Aoyama, lined with fashionable shops, cafes, and restaurants. Next is the Harajuku area - experience the Shibuya Crossing, the busiest road crossing in the world and popularized by the film "Lost in Translation." Nearby, visit the Roppongi area to climb up to the Roppongi Hills observation deck on the top floor and take in the sweeping panoramas of the city. Continue your visit to the Ginza district, known for having the most expensive real estate on earth and home to some of the country's most prestigious companies, numerous brand shops, department stores, boutiques, bars, and restaurants. Take some time to visit some of Ginza's famous department stores and stop by their basement floors called 'Depachika,' high-end food courts where Tokyoites buy their delicacies. Return to your hotel later this afternoon. Enjoy a sushi-making class with a master chef this evening and feast on expertly prepared Japanese cuisine.

    Hotel: Aman Tokyo

    Aman Tokyo

    Day 3 – Tokyo

    Following breakfast this morning, your private guide and driver will meet you in the lobby of your hotel for another full day of sightseeing in Tokyo. First, take a brief stop at the Imperial Palace, located on the former site of the Edo Castle. The Palace itself is home to the Imperial family and, therefore, cannot be visited, but the huge park area, surrounded by moats and massive stone walls, makes for a pleasant walk. Next, visit the Asakusa and Nakamise districts in the afternoon. Characterized by its south gate, Kaminarimon, Senso-Ji Temple was founded in AD 628 when two fishermen netted a small statue of Kannon, the deity of mercy. On the premises are colorful Nakamise-Dori, a pedestrian lane lined with numerous shops and souvenir stands. Continue to Ameyoko, a busy market street along the Yamanote Line tracks between Okachimachi and Ueno Stations. The name "Ameyoko" is a short form for "Ameya Yokocho" (candy store alley), as candies were traditionally sold there. Next, you will experience "Shodo" – the Japanese art of calligraphy. More than an art form, Shodo cultivates your inner self. Emphasis is placed on the shades of the ink, the movement of the writing brush, and the combination of the strokes as you write your chosen "Kanji," the Chinese characters on which the Japanese writing system is based. Each kanji symbolizes a concept and reflects a historical connection to the word's inner meaning. Return to the hotel this afternoon and enjoy an evening at your leisure.

    Hotel: Aman Tokyo

    Aman Tokyo

    Day 4 – Tokyo

    This morning you will travel to the Toyosu and Tsukiji Fish Market with your private driver and guide. If you are an early riser, witness the spectacular dawn tuna auction at Toyosu before exploring the outer market at Tsukiji, which is home to winding alleyways and food stalls serving all manner of Japanese delicacies. This afternoon explore the interactive art gallery, Team Lab Planets. Immerse your body in the art of this vast, complex, three-dimensional 100,000-square-foot world. Wander, explore with intention, discover, and create a new world with others. Finish your tour today with a unique Kintsugi experience. Kintsugi is a Japanese art form in which breaks and repairs are treated as part of the object's history. Artisans carefully mend broken ceramics with a lacquer resin mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. The repairs are visible, beautiful, and an antidote to the culture of disposability. In this experience, you will join a Kintsugi workshop in Omotesando. Afterward, return to the hotel and enjoy your final evening in Tokyo.

    Hotel: Aman Tokyo

    Aman Tokyo

    Day 5 – Kanazawa

    This morning, following breakfast, check out of your hotel and meet with your private driver for a transfer to Tokyo station. Upon your arrival at the station, you will be assisted to your bullet train to Kanazawa. In Kanazawa, meet with your private guide and driver at the train station. Then, start your day touring the magnificent Kenrokuen Garden, reputedly the most beautifully landscaped garden in Japan and the perfect place to enjoy the cherry blossoms in bloom. Kanazawa Castle's outdoor garden once belonged to the powerful Lords of the Maeda family. Next, stop by a Kaga Yuzen studio, one of Japan's leading artistic forms of textile dyeing. With splendid patterns and lengthy painting processes, it is renowned as a luxury item. Meet the third-generation Kaga Yuzen artist and observe his amazing work. Continue to your hotel and enjoy the rest of the day at leisure.

    Hotel: Hotel Nikko

    Hotel Nikko

    Day 6 – Kanazawa

    Today enjoy a full day of sightseeing in Kanazawa with a private driver and guide. First, stroll around the Omicho market in the city center, which locals regard as the "Kitchen of all Kanazawa People." Watch as the freshest seafood is displayed and take in the market's vibrant atmosphere before enjoying the fresh Sushi for which Kanazawa is famous. Continue to the Higashiyama Geisha District. Built in 1820 by the Maeda government, the architecture still preserves an ambiance of feudal times with the intricate wooden lattice fronts of old geisha houses interspersed with charming Japanese lanterns. Stroll through the traditional streets of Kanazawa to view the historic homes of Nagamachi Samurai District, tangible evidence of Kanazawa's prosperous past. The narrow, rock-laid streets bordered by earthen walls and decorative gates will transport you into the past. Finish the day with a visit to the Museum of Contemporary Art before returning to the hotel in the late afternoon.

    Hotel: Hotel Nikko

    Hotel Nikko

    Day 7 – Takayama

    Following breakfast this morning, your private guide and driver will meet you in the hotel lobby. Today you will travel to Takayama, a secluded mountain village designated as a World Heritage Site in 1995, where the Gassyozukuri farmhouses are still perfectly maintained. These traditional buildings with steeply sloped roofs perfectly harmonize with the beautiful nature of Shirakawago. Typically, there are four stories inside these vast buildings. To withstand the weight of heavy snow, the angle of the roof is sharp. The shape of the rooftop is like that of two hands in prayer to Buddha, and the act is called Gassho in Japanese. Visit the Takayama Yatai Kaikan float festival museum, where many of the floats are from the 17th century and are true works of art. Stroll the traditional streets of this small town where many buildings date from the Edo period. If you have time, visit one of the nearby Sake breweries for a tasting experience before returning to your hotel in Kanazawa in the afternoon.

    Hotel: Hotel Nikko

    Hotel Nikko

    Day 8 – Kyoto 

    This morning, check out of your hotel in Kanazawa and meet with your assistant and driver for a transfer to the train station. Today, you will travel to the city of Kyoto. Your assistant will be waiting for you at the platform, where you will begin an afternoon sightseeing in a private vehicle. Travel to the Golden Pavilion Kinkakuji temple. It was built in 1397 to serve as a retirement villa for Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, whose grandson used the temple to inspire the Silver Pavilion Ginkakuji. Next, venture to the Gion District, famed for the preservation of its traditional architecture and entertainment and where you may have the chance to see a graceful Geiko (Geisha in Kyoto dialect). Finally, continue to the beautiful Four Seasons Hotel, where you will check-in and enjoy an evening at leisure.

    Hotel: Four Seasons Kyoto

    Four Seasons Kyoto

    Day 9 – Kyoto

    Today, meet your private guide and driver in the hotel lobby for a day of touring in Kyoto. First, start with a visit to Kiyomizudera Temple. Kiyomizudera is one of the most celebrated temples in Japan. It was founded in 780 A.D. on the site of the Otowa Waterfall in the wooded hills east of Kyoto and derived its name from the fall's pure waters. In 1994, the temple was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list. Kiyomizudera is best known for its wooden stage that juts out from its main hall, 40 feet above the hillside below. The location affords visitors a nice view of the numerous cherry and maple trees below that erupt in a sea of color in spring and fall, as well as of the city of Kyoto in the distance. Next, continue to the Yasaka Shrine. The Yasaka Shrine, also known as Gion Shrine, is one of the most famous shrines in Kyoto. Founded over 1350 years ago, the shrine is located between the famous Gion District and Higashiyama District and is often visited by tourists walking between the two districts. If you have time, stop by the Kodai-Ji Temple, which has a beautiful light display during the autumn and spring evenings. End your tour today with an exclusive tea ceremony and Zen Meditation experience in a temple close to the public.

    Hotel: Four Seasons Kyoto

    Four Seasons Kyoto

    Day 10 – Nara 

    Today meet your private driver and guide for a full-day excursion to Nara. First, visit the Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine en route before arriving in Nara. Travel to the bucolic Nara Park, commonly known as "Deer Park," which is home to hundreds of freely roaming deer, a symbol of the city and regarded as messengers of the gods in the Shinto Religion. The Nara Park houses several famous sights, including Kasugataisha Shrine, originally established in 768 A.D. as the shrine of the powerful Fujiwara Family. See the magnificent interior famous for its numerous bronze hanging lanterns and the many stone lanterns that lead up to the shrine. Move on to the gigantic Todaiji temple, reputedly the largest wooden building in the world and one of Japan's most famous and historically significant temples. Finish your Nara tour in Naramachi, the former merchant district of Nara, entirely unaffected by bombings during the Second World War. The district features several traditional warehouses and residential buildings, including the Naramachi Koshi-no-ie, an old residence open to the public. Small boutiques, shops, cafes, and restaurants can also be found along the narrow lanes in the district. Return to Kyoto this afternoon and enjoy an evening at leisure.

    Hotel: Four Seasons Kyoto 

    Four Seasons Kyoto 

    Day 11 – Ise-Shima National Park

    Today check out of the Four Seasons Kyoto and meet your chauffeur in the hotel lobby for a transfer to the Amanemu hotel in the Ise-Shima National Park. The Ise-Shima National Park area is renowned for its tranquil natural beauty in Japan. An escape from the hustle and bustle of Kyoto and Nagoya, Ise's coastal bays and forested islands are a breathtaking reprieve. Its small urban towns are home to thousands of years of culture, and its rural community continues to live in traditional ways, where fishing is a source of employment and wealth. The afternoon and evening will be at your leisure to explore the Bay area and enjoy the facilities of the Amanemu.

    Hotel: Amanemu

    Amanemu

    Day 12 – Ise-Shima National Park

    Following breakfast at your hotel this morning, meet your private guide for your transfer to Ise City. First, visit the Ise Jingu Shrine – Japan's largest and most revered shrine. Despite its simplicity for over two thousand years, the shrine has fascinated travelers and locals alike. Marvel at the green trees, wide gravel lanes, and traditional wooden structures. Unique to this shrine is the ceremony that takes place every twenty years to rebuild the wooden sanctum in a new location each time – all while using ancient techniques. Following a visit to the Shrine, travel to Ise City and marvel at the ancient Edo architecture. If time allows, stop for tea and enjoy the sites of this Edo City before returning to the hotel in the early afternoon. This afternoon, we recommend exploring some of the activities offered by Amanemu – embarking out into the bay with local fishermen, visiting pearl farms, or learning ancient fishing techniques. Sample locally caught fish or indulge in a spa treatment. Then, escape into the National Park and enjoy walking trails and the serenity of springtime nature.

    Hotel: Amanemu

    Amanemu

    Day 13 – Hakone

    This morning, following breakfast at your hotel, check out of the Amanemu and meet your chauffeur for a transfer to Nagoya Station. Today, you will be traveling to Hakone. Upon your arrival at Odawara Station, you will be greeted at the platform and transferred to Goran Kadan Ryokan for check-in. Lying between Mt. Fuji and the ocean in Fuji-Hakone Izu National Park is Hakone, a hilly hot spring town whose scattered cultural and natural attractions include picturesque Lake Ashi and an excellent open-air sculpture park.

    Hotel: Gora Kadan Ryokan

    Gora Kadan Ryokan

    Day 14 – Hakone

    Today start your sightseeing in Hakone from the hotel, where you will be met by your private guide and driver. Enjoy a ropeway ride to Owakudani Valley, around a crater created during the last eruption of Mt. Hakone around three thousand years ago. Experience the views of sulfurous fumes, hot springs, and rivers. Continue your visit with a serene lake cruise while glimpsing the magnificent views of Mt. Fuji in the background. Lake Ashi was also formed in the caldera of Mt. Hakone after the last eruption. Next, visit the unique Hakone Open Air Museum, where you can enjoy the balance of nature and art through a variety of sculptures in perfect harmony with picturesque views of the surrounding valley and mountains. Return to the hotel in the afternoon and enjoy an evening at leisure.

    Hotel: Gora Kadan Ryokan

    Gora Kadan Ryokan

    Day 15 – Tokyo

    Today, return to Tokyo by bullet train and enjoy your final day in Japan at leisure.

    Hotel: Aman Tokyo

    Aman Tokyo

    Day 16 – Tokyo

    Check out of your hotel and meet your chauffeur for a transfer to the airport ahead of your flight home.

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