Our first Japanese tour since the pandemic has just landed, and we thrilled to take you on a live journey with the group.
After a smooth arrival, with hardly any queues, a speedy ticket and covid checking service, the group were soon out on the quiet streets of Japan exploring the wonders of Osaka on their first day. Thanks to our fabulous and informative ‘How To’ guides to fill in the visa application, our group were able to get ahead of the line with their pre-arrival pack.
Here are just a few pictures of how quiet Japan truly is. The group practically had the park and Todaji Temple to themselves!
Day 1: Nara and Osaka
Upon arrival to the marvellous city of Osaka, the group spent some time wandering down the exciting streets and savoured some of the quirky street food that gives Osaka its title ‘Japans Kitchen!’. Afterwards, the group headed out to Nara, Japans first capital, where they explored the quiet Nara Park and Todaji Temple and met some of the local residents, the famous deers.
The day ended with a visit to Himeji Castle and a cruise along Yodogawa River. A rather exciting day it looks like!
Day 2: Himeji
Today, the group left for Hiroshima, stopping at the stunning Himeji Castle. The hilltop castle is a beautiful example of 17th Century Japanese architecture, and stands the ‘best preserved castle in Japan’ thanks to the pristine white walls and incredible intricacy.
From the castle, the group had time to explore the Koko-en, a traditional-style garden. We can’t believe how quiet it is… it looks like the group had the castle and garden to themselves! After arriving in Hiroshima, the group enjoyed some rest and recovery before their next big day tomorrow.
Day 3: Hiroshima
A very moving but interesting day from the group in Japan!
En route to Hiroshima, the groups national escort, Sakai, gave them an insight into Origami. They were taught how to make a paper crane! After arriving in Hiroshima and settle in, the group started the day with a visit to the children’s memorial in Hiroshima, built to commemorate the thousands of innocent children who died at the atomic bombing, including Sadako Sasaki, who consoled herself by making those paper cranes. What a thoughtful experience from Sakai!
The rest of the day consisted of hopping on a short ferry ride over to Miyajima Island, where the group witnessed a fascinating Shinto ceremony in the shrine, they also met the friendly local deer and had a stroll along a traditional shopping street. Another fantastic day in Japan for the books.
Day 4: Japanese Bullet Train to Kyoto
This morning, the group headed out early to enjoy a quintessential Japan experience – the famous bullet train! Taking them all the way from Hiroshima to Kyoto, our group sat in comfort watching the scenery whizz by as they travelled at speeds of up to 320km per hour.
On arrival in Kyoto, the group sat down to a traditional test bento box lunch before soaking up the atmosphere of Ryoanji Temple, home to the most famous zen garden in Japan. A garden which once saw over a million visitors a year, our group were lucky enough to have the place entirely to themselves fully enjoying the tranquility of their surroundings, which is exactly what they were designed for! The day was topped off with another of Japan’s icons – the breathtaking Kinkakuji Temple, also known as the Golden Pavilion.
Day 5: Kyoto
We had a wonderful wedding anniversary today, and what a perfect place to celebrate. The temple houses the Jinshu Shrine, dedicated to the Japan deity of love! The streets of Kyoto look absolutely enchanting.
It’s been a great day of exploring as the group set out this morning to discover Kyoto. Starting at Fushimi Inari Shrine, the group wandered the sacred grounds soaking up the serenity of the surroundings. The visit was followed by a fantastic traditional tea ceremony, and a visit to Kiyomizu Temple.
Day 6: Kyoto to Kanazawa
After setting off for Kanazawa, the group arrived at what is dubbed Little Kyoto because of its beautifully preserved historic district. The group spent the morning wondering around the extensive grounds of Kenrokuen garden, one of Japan’s three great gardens. Over 400 years old, this Japanese landscape garden was originally the private garden of Kanazawa Castle. Now, the public can enjoy the gorgeous rivers, tranquil lakes, tea houses and ancient trees.
The group then took a step next door to one of Japan’s most popular art museums, exhibiting works of acclaimed contemporary artists from Japan and all over the world!
Day 7: Kanazawa and Shirakawago
This morning the group headed out to the samurai house in Kanazawa, surrounded by a beautiful garden. As the only people there, the group were able to soak up the peace and quiet of the garden before. They then continued into the mountains to find the hidden heritage village of Shirakawago. An area of stunning scenery, and villages, it’s fair to say the group were in awe of Shirakawago’s natural beauty.
After trying their hand at wash paper making, an 600 year old practice, the group then kicked back in a modern style ryokan inn. This experience was made complete with relaxing hot baths with views over the mountains like you can’t image. A marvellous day all in all!
Day 8: Takayama
They were up early, in preparation of a full day in Takayama, a fabulously preserved 17th century Japanese town. It was perfect timing, as they witnessed the incredible Takayama floats paraded through the town for the spring and autumn festivals! The morning was spent exploring some of the best preserved Eco architecture in Japan.
After a delicious bubbling pot of shabu shabu (beef cooked at the table), the group walked it all off along the historic shops and sake breweries of Kamisannomachi Street. The food in Takayama was definitely the highlight for the group today! We can see why…
Day 9: Shirakawago to Nagano
This morning, the group headed for Nagano, also recognised as the gateway to the Japanese Alps. After a breathtaking drive through sheer forested slopes, past river gorges and ribbon lakes, and service stations that look nothing like our own, the group arrived in Nagano ready to explore the Matsumoto Castle.
The castle is the oldest wooden castle in Japan and is a perfect example of traditional architecture of Japan. Lunch consisted of visiting the oldest Miso producers in the country where the owner himself, a 6th generation Ishi family member gave the group a tour! After, the group went on to visit the Daio Wasabi Farm, one of the largest farms in Japan. Wasabi Ice Cream anyone?
Day 10: Snow Monkeys in Japan
Today was a very special day for the group, as they met the mischievous yet adorable snow monkeys!
After a lovely walk up the groves of cypress and oak trees, with the cascading river hundreds of feet below, the group arrived at the stunning pools where the macaques bathe in the winter. In the summer, the troop of over 160 monkeys scamper about the valley. They lounge around on the paths grooming each other while the youngsters tumble around wrestling.
In the afternoon the group visited Zenkoji Temple, a complex dating back over 1400 years. Some of the group entered the pitch black underground tunnel under the Japanese temple. Some even touched the key to paradise in the temple, said to grant enlightenment to anyone who touches it!
Join us again tomorrow to find out where the group venture to next! In the meantime, discover the Japan Uncovered tour.