Day 1 Arrive Tokyo
Arrive in Tokyo, meet and transfer to your hotel, located in the upscale Roppongi district.
• Ritz-Carlton Tokyo
Day 2 Tokyo (B/L)
Full day tour to cover some intriguing sights of this metropolis such as the iconic Tokyo Tower, Imperial Palace East Gardens and beautiful Meiji Shrine. A tea ceremony at the Hama-Rikyu Garden followed by a cruise along Sumida River to the Asakusa Kannon Temple, the oldest and most popular temple in the city with a harmonious melding of design and spirituality.
Day 3 Tokyo (B)
After breakfast, enjoy a walking tour of Tokyo with private guide using public transportation.
You will start with a pleasant stroll in Yanaka near Ueno, a hilly area lucky for much of it survived the bombing of WWII and considered as the core of Shitamachi Tokyo (the old “downtown”). You will find here the essential coziness of the old style of Japanese urban living, with a lively street life, public baths that serve as neighborhood social clubs and shopkeepers who make a habit of setting aside something for their best customers. Visit Asakura Choso Museum which really isn’t a museum in the ordinary sense, but the studio and house of Fumio Asakura, one of Japan’s best known sculptors of the early 20th Century. One of the highlights of your visit is the garden, designed by the sculptor, around which the whole house was built. This exquisite Japanese landscape garden incorporates spring water and huge rocks set to represent Confucianist precepts, the kind of place poets would have brushed bold black kanji depicting the delicacies of nature and the fragility of life. Trees and plants are sparingly placed among the rocks which gently overflow with water while huge carp swim laconically about in the still waters. You will also be amazed at Asakura’s private collection including ancient ceramics, his extensive art library, old silk kimono etc.
In the afternoon, continue to Ueno Park, home to Tokyo Cultural Hall, Ueno Zoo, Tokyo National Museum and numerous shrines, cultural and historical points of interest. Besides spending some quality time at Tokyo National Museum, the largest museum in Japan with over 88,500 collections associated with the fine arts and history of Japan and neighboring countries, you’ll want to be sure to visit a few key attractions inside the Tokyo’s largest park. It is specifically beautiful during the cherry blossom season in early April.
Day 4 Tokyo – Karuizawa (B/L/D)
After breakfast, transfer to Tokyo station by private car then transfer to Karuizawa by Shinkansen.
Enjoy lunch and a wine tour in a local winery.
Continue to Karuizawa and walk through the old town area.
Overnight at an amazing Ryokan with seasonal cuisine, spa treatments inspired by Zen precepts.
• Hoshinoya Karuizawa
Day 5 Karuizawa – Nagano – Matsumoto (B/L)
Transfer Nagano this morning and visit Zenko-ji Temple. With nearly 1,400 years of history, Zenko-ji is one of the few remaining pilgrimage sites in Japan. The temple contains a statue of Binzuru, a physician who was said to be Buddha’s follower. Visitors to the temple touch the statue in order to cure their ailments. The temple also contains a completely dark corridor. In this corridor worshipers try to touch a metal key hanging on the wall, in order to gain enlightenment. The key represents the Key to the Western Paradise of the Amida Buddha.
Enjoy a Japanese Shojin Kaiseki style lunch (vegetarian).
Take a walk around the Nakamise area outside of the temple before transferring to Matsmoto.
Visit Matsumoto Castle, one of Japan’s premier historic castles and historic treasure along with Himeji Castle and Kumamoto Castle. The castle maintains its original wooden interiors and external stonework. Matsumoto Castle is a flatland castle because it is not built on a hilltop or amid rivers. Its complete defense system depends upon an extensive system of inter-connecting walls, moats, and gatehouses.
Overnight at a roykan surrounded the Japanese Alps offering a luxurious multi-feature onsen bath.
• Hoshino Resorts KAI Matsumoto
This morning, transfer to the train station for your bullet train to beguiling Takayama, a treasure chest of Japanese architecture and traditions. Discover this fascinating town’s myriad of narrow streets, shrines and sake stalls.
See the Yatai Kaikan Hall, Kusakabe Folk Craft Museum and historic wooden houses in Kami Sannomachi Street of Japan’s most atmospheric towns.
• Hida Hotel Plaza
Day 7 Takayama/Kanazawa (B)
Wander the morning market and soak up the atmosphere of the old town followed by a drive through Lake Miboro.
This afternoon, travel by vehicle to Shirakawago and visit Gassho-Zukuri – large thatch roof dwellings, a unique architectural style which is another Japan’s UNESCO World Heritage. Afterward, we proceed to Kanazawa.
• Hotel Nikko Kanazawa
Day 8 Kanazawa/Kyoto (B)
A former castle town and samurai headquarters, Kanazawa is also home to one of Japan’s most famous gardens. Beautiful Kenrokuen garden is considered to be one of the Top Three Japanese gardens.
You will explore the garden and visit Kutaniyaki Pottery Kiln, Higashi geisha district and the interesting old Samurai Residence. Travel by train to Kyoto.
• Ritz-Carlton Kyoto
Day 9 Kyoto/Nara/Kyoto (B/L)
Morning sightseeing includes visiting the Golden Pavilion, Nijo Castle noted for its gorgeous interiors and Kyoto Imperial Palace
Lunch at Kyoto Handicraft Centre. After lunch, continue to Nara and visit Todaiji Temple that houses a great image of Buddha and the colourful Kasuga Shrine with 3,000 lanterns.
Day 10 Kyoto – Home City (B)
Transfer by Airport Limousine to Osaka Airport (either Kansai or Itami) for onward flight or stay longer for more exploration of Kyoto.