2019 Cherry Blossom Spectacular
Think of Japan in spring and what springs to mind? Cherry blossoms of course!
This 2019 Cherry Blossom Spectacular truly delivers the magic of Japan. It picks a route to show you the explosion of colour as the cherry blossom bursts open. Then contrasts the best sights of the bustling modern high fashion cities against the peaceful centuries-old temples, traditional Japanese gardens and castles. It includes some exclusive private close cultural encounters and an amazing range of carefully selected Japanese cuisine. Spectacular – it is indeed! This year only 8 guests per tour will be able to join our signature Cherry Blossoms Tour.
Places visited: Tokyo, Kamakura, Nagoya, Hiroshima, Miyajima, Kyoto, Kanazawa, Matsumoto and Kawaguchiko
Group size: Min 6, Max 8
Transport: Bullet train, express and commuter trains, ferry, bus and taxi
Accommodation: 4 star hotels and equivalent Japanese style inns
Fitness level: Moderate (please refer to FAQ)
Our most comprehensive cherry Blossom tour of Japan
Fabulous Five Lake district with views of Mt Fuji
Visit Hiroshima in spring
Exclusive private tea ceremony with a tea master
Private conversation with a Buddhist monk
Matsumoto and Japan's best castle at cherry blossm time
Day 1: Arrival
Welcome to Japan in spring. A Journey to the East guide will meet and welcome you at one of Tokyo’s International Airports on your arrival. You will be transferred to your hotel in Tokyo by the airport bus or train.
Tomorrow morning, after a good night’s sleep, you will be ready for your first guided visit on your 2019 Cherry Blossom Spectacular Tour of Japan.
Day 2: Cherry Blossoms & Central Tokyo
After orientation by your guide at your hotel, your full-day guided tour of Tokyo will begin. Today's program includes some of the most famous cherry blossom viewing spots in Tokyo. Cherry blossom is a symbol of Japan and has enchanted people every spring from ancient time. A ride on Tokyo's subway takes you to Asakusa, the home of the oldest temple in Tokyo called Sensoji Temple. It is said to have been built in 628. A stroll along the many charming streets of Asakusa takes you to a popular spot for tempura lunch. To tantalize the senses you will take a cruise on the Sumida River and admire the dream-like views of cherry blossoms from water.
In the afternoon, you will have a backstreet guided tour of famous Ginza district.
Tonight’s welcome dinner is at a Japanese restaurant in the modern development area of Shiodome. As well as exquisite Japanese cuisine, tonight’s treat is a great night view of the Tokyo Bay, which you can enjoy from the restaurant.
Day 3: Japanese Culture & Cherry Blossoms
JttE exclusive experience! You visit a tea ceremony master’s studio in a quiet suburb of Tokyo and learn about the history and the Way of Tea. After the traditional lunch with the teacher, you turn your hands to traditional tea making. Because this is our private session and plenty of time is allocated, you can ask the master all the questions you want regarding this Japanese traditional culture and history.
Day 4: Kamakura - Peace & Serenity
The pace will take 180 degree change today from busy Tokyo. Immersing yourself in the peace and serenity of the old sea-side capital, Kamakura. Kamakura was the capital between 1185 and 1333. It is only a one hour train trip from Tokyo but a sharp contrast with the crowded metropolis. You will board a quaint local train, Enoden, which brings you to the ocean front. The visit includes a sample of temples and gardens, stroll through cherry trees and green bamboo. Komachi Street is dotted with small craft shops where you can check out the skilfully made local products.
Day 5: Nagoya - Manufacturing Powerhouse of Japan
The bullet train will whisk you out of Tokyo to the industrial Mecca of Japan, Nagoya. A surprising place where you will visit select sites that showcase Japan’s manufacturing technology including the Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry & Technology and Noritake Garden (a famous Japanese porcelain maker). You will enjoy leaning about industrial history and another important aspect of Japanese culture, the dedication to quality.
JttE exclusive experience! While in Nagoya you will visit Nittaiji Temple where you have a private conversation with an English-speaking Japanese Buddhist monk. He will show you a monastery where monks train, and give you a fascinating insight into Japanese Buddhism. He shares his knowledge through his great sense of humour.
Nagoya is also known for having developed its unique food culture. You will sample some of those at dinner tonight.
Day 6: Hiroshima and the A bomb
After spending the morning in Nagoya the bullet train takes you further south-west on the island of Hoshu. You arrive in Hiroshima to visit the Peace Memorial Park and the A-bomb Museum. After a stirring day you will spend the night in the famous city of Hiroshima.
Day 7: The Island of Miyajima
This morning a short ferry ride will take you to quintessential Japan on the island of Miyajima which is also one of the top scenic spots in Japan. Famous for the floating gate (Torii), Miyajima has stacks of history and atmosphere you will never forget. Stroll around the island’s backstreets after a guided tour of UNESCO World Heritage listed Itsukushima Shrine. A traditional Japanese inn will cement your memories of this picturesque island.
Day 8: Essence of Kyoto
The bullet train will take you to the city of icons – Kyoto. It is time to explore this beautiful old capital. You will enjoy a traditional Buddhist vegetarian lunch, Shojin Ryori when we arrive in Kyoto. We have carefully chosen the best sites to show you the spectacular displays of cherry blossoms at this time of the year and they include Heian Jingu and the Philosopher’s Path.
Day 9: Arashiyama – a romantic day trip
Today’s theme is “romance” as you embark on an excursion to Arashiyama and Sagano. As well as their natural beauty surrounded by pristine rivers and mountains, Arashiyama and Sagano are the famous locations of many romantic legends. A rickshaw ride will take you through rustic Japanese gardens, bamboo groves and rice paddies.
In the evening, you have a private banquet where a maiko (a geisha-in-training) will join you. You will get a glimpse of the fascinating life of geisha.
Day 10: Free Day in Kyoto
Today is set aside as a free day for you to enjoy Kyoto in your own way.
Discover the skill of artisans in silk kimono and pottery workshops, admire Zen gardens, or check out vibrant Kyoto food scenes at markets. Why not trying cooking class or silk weaving? Choice is endless.
Day 11: Kanazawa - Garden and Samurai city
Leaving Kyoto we head for the west coast of Japan to the city of Kanazawa. There are so many things to see here and we start with one of Japan’s very best gardens – Kenrokuen and then to explore the historical Higashi Chaya district. The Higashi Chaya district is a well preserved area with narrow streets where Kanazawa's geisha once entertained wealthy patrons in slatted wooden tea houses.
Day 12: Kanazawa - free afternoon
In the morning a guided tour will show you the Nagamachi district where samurai and their families used to reside. The afternoon is free for you to explore this delightful city. You could wander around the Kanazawa Castle area that is ablaze with its cherry blossom trees at this time or visit a few of the very high standard museums and art galleries.
Day 13: Matsumoto
Aboard a bullet train again you head for the very lovely city of Matsumoto which rests between the Japanese Alps and the Utsukushigahara plateau. The guided tour of Matsumoto will show you the surprising blend of its metropolitan atmosphere with its historical sites and traditions. You will get to visit the Matsumoto Museum of Art featuring the works of Yayoi Kusama which simply fascinate all who experience it.
Day 14: Matsumoto - the castle city
Visit the majestic Matsumoto Castle. The castle is one of the only four designated as a national treasure of Japan, and is extra special in the cherry blossom season.
The afternoon if free for you to explore this beautiful city
Day 15: Mt Fuji & Onsen
Travelling northeast once more to join a scenic train to the town of Kawaguchiko in the lake district west of Mount Fuji. Kawaguchiko at this time of the year has some of the most spectacular views of Mt Fuji with magnificent flowers and lake views in the foreground. You will have the opportunity to see the Itchiku Kubota kimino museum – a talking-point for all who visit Kawaguchiko. The visit to Kawaguchiko comes with the opportunity to experience Japanese traditional accommodation and an onsen (mineral hot spring spa) once more. Onsen is a favourite pastime of Japanese people. Soaking in a hot tub overlooking the lake and Mt Fuji, you will understand why so many Japanese people find it very special. Tonight you can also try masterfully presented kaiseki dinner at your ryokan and sleep on a futon.
Day 16: Tokyo - Free Day
Take a little more time to enjoy Kawaguchiko before heading for Tokyo for some free time. This evening high above Tokyo, in a sky scraper, is the farewell dinner with the breathtaking views of Tokyo lights and Tokyo tower.
Day 17: Goodbye
This morning you will check out hotel after breakfast and the trip concludes.
The itinerary is indicative only. Actual activities may differ.
- 16 nights accommodation (including 4 nights in traditional inns)
- Most meals – 16 breakfasts, 7 lunches and 11 dinners
- All local transport (train, bus and taxi) including 14 day Japan Rail Pass
- Pre-loaded Suica card
- Locally licensed English speaking tour guides
- Most cultural activities and entry fees included in itinerary
- Luggage transfers (1 piece per person)
Does not include:
- International airfare
- Travel insurance
- Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages
- Tips and gratuities (not routinely expected in Japan)