The city of Tokyo is a treat for the eyes! From colourful “cosplayers” to enchanting “geishas” – Tokyo will never cease to mesmerize and entertain you. This iconic capital city is the perfect example of cutting-edge technology meeting ancient charm. Neon skyscrapers and superfast trains stand beside tiny shanty bars and medieval shrines. We will drive you down to your hotel, where you check in and enjoy the rest of the day at leisure, exploring these various sides of the city.
Start your day with an exploration of Tokyo’s most iconic sights. We begin at the Hama Rikyu Garden, a quite retreat in the middle of the pulsating streets of Tokyo. Then, experience the old-world charm of Japan as you walk through the small streets of Asakusa, one of Tokyo’s oldest and most well-preserved districts. And soak in Edo culture at the Sensoji Temple at the famous Nakamise Dori street. You will also have the option of trying out a Japanese art form by attending a calligraphy class or a traditional tea ceremony. End your day’s visit at the Ginza district for a bout of shopping and fine dining.
Day 3: People and Places (Tokyo)
Begin your day with a pleasurable stroll in the Yoyogi park, a lively area of the city where you are bound to find interesting local entertainers and artists. Next, we will explore the best of Tokyo’s sub-culture at fashion hub Harajuku, known for the famous “Harajuku Girls” who gather here every Sunday, ‘cosplaying’ their favourite fantasy heroes.
Satisfy your hunger pangs at Roppongi Hills, a modern shopping and entertainment complex which offers a variety of food options. Later we will visit the Mori Art Museum and end the day with a panoramic 360-degree view of Tokyo from the Roppongi Hills Observation Deck.
Day 4: Hot Springs and Hot Baths (Tokyo – Hakone)
Today, we journey to the town of Hakone, a scenic retreat about an hours’ drive from Tokyo.
Take a ropeway ride across the Owakudani valley, a great vantage point to observe the crystal-clear waters of Lake Ashi, interspersed with rising volcanic fumes and a magnificent view of the legendary Mt. Fuji. Add a dose of art to your day out in nature at the Hakone Open Air Museum where the beauty of sculptures comes alive amidst the scenic backdrop of the hills.
And end the day with a relaxing open-air hot-spring bath at a traditional Japanese inn or “ryokan”. Followed by a gourmet Japanese Kaiseki dinner served in the privacy of your room.
Day 5: Old World Charm (Hakone – Kyoto)
From Hakone, we will travel by bullet train to Kyoto to visit one of the most famous sites of Japan, the historic Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion) Temple. Next, visit the Zen temple of Ryoan-ji, famed for its rock garden comprising of nothing but clay walls, raked sand and fifteen rocks. Complete the day’s visit at the Geisha district of Gion, renowned for its preservation of traditional architecture and the entertainment presented by the graceful “Geiko” which literally means “woman of art.” The first half of the 19th century is popularly called the ‘Golden Age’ here, when more than 3000 “Geikos” entertained the gentry in over 700 teahouses in Gion.
Day 6: Spiritual Explorations (Kyoto)
Start the day by exploring the city of Kyoto and visit various shrines and temples, starting from Sanjusangendo Temple – famed for its 1001 statues of Kannon, the goddess of mercy. From there, we will visit the Kodaiji Temple – famous for its Zen gardens, a bamboo grove leading to two famous teahouses and the splendid Makie (or lacquerware), which give this temple its nickname - “Maki-e Temple”.
Discover Kyoto’s distinctive culinary delicacies at Nishiki, a narrow shopping arcade only 400 meters in length with just over 100 vendors. And complete your day with an exclusive private encounter with a Maiko or Geisha who are finely schooled in the arts of song, dance and games, accompanied by a musician; in one of Kyoto’s most exclusive Japanese restaurant.
Day 7: Tryst with History (Kyoto – Nara – Kyoto)
Journey to the ancient city of Nara from Kyoto, the 8th Century capital of Japan. We will begin our excursion of this city from the Nara Park, also known as “Deer Park,” home to hundreds of freely roaming deer and situated in the heart of the city. Then visit the Kasugataisha Shrine, originally established in 768AD as the shrine of the powerful Fujiwara family. Seek the blessings of Lord Buddha at the gigantic Todaiji temple, one of Japan’s most famous and historically significant temples and be mesmerized by the giant statue of Buddha Vairocana. Complete your Nara tour in Naramachi, the former merchant district where you can enjoy some authentic local cuisine.
Day 8: Heading Back (Kyoto – Kansai Airport)
Say goodbye to Kyoto as we journey to the airport for our flight back home.