2019 Cherry Blossom Tour - Central Japan
Cherry blossom in a country setting is very special, adding the famous Takayama Festival creates a lifetime experience
The popular Cherry Blossom Tour – Central Japan includes the well known Takayama Festival again in 2019. You will also take in some of the smaller cities and country towns of Japan to enjoy cherry blossom in unique settings. The 14 day tour also blends in many of Japan’s ‘must see’ iconic sights in well-known cities such as Tokyo, Kyoto and Kanazawa with plenty of free time to satisfy your personal interests.
Places visited: Tokyo, Kyoto, Kanazawa, Takayama (Festival), Shirakawago, Matsumoto and Kawaguchiko
Group size: Min 6, Max 8
Transport: Train, public bus, taxi
Accommodation: 3.5 star hotels in Tokyo, Kyoto, Kanazawa and Matsumoto, Japanese style inns (with futon bed) in Kawaguchiko and Takayama
Fitness level: Above average (please refer to FAQ)
Spectacular display of cherry blossom & Japanese gardens
Takayama Spring Festival
Majestic Matsumoto castle
Stunning view of Mt Fuji at Kawaguchiko
Day 1: Arrival
Welcome to Japan in spring! It's time to see the 2019 cherry blossom. A Journey to the East guide will meet and welcome you at one Tokyo's International Airports on your arrival. You will be transferred to your hotel in Tokyo by the airport bus or train.
Day 2: Cherry Blossoms & Central Tokyo
Today you start with a short orientation with your guide and take the subway to Asakusa where ‘old Tokyo’ still exists and the atmosphere conjures up images of days long gone. After lunch you will continue your tour to Ueno and Yanaka on the theme of ‘old Tokyo’. After coming back to you hotel, you will have a welcome dinner tonight.
Day 3: Tokyo - Free Day
Today it is Tokyo your way. Tokyo is a fascinating multi-faceted city which can satisfy wide ranging interests from history, art, fashion, food, culture and more. With lots of maps and suggestions you can head off to pursue your favourites.
Day 4: Essence of Kyoto
The shinkansen (bullet train) wisks you away from Tokyo and will bring you to the beautiful old capital of Kyoto. On your arrival we will visit the best cherry blossom sights on the day. Kyoto streets are packed with delightful little cafes and shops with tasteful Kyoto memorabilia, magnificent Japanese pottery and silk goods. You will also enjoy a traditional Buddhist vegetarian lunch, Shojin Ryori.
Day 5: Kyoto (Arashiyama)
Today’s theme is “romance” as you embark on a walking guided tour of 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 will have private banquet where a maiko (geisha in training) will join you. You will get a glimpse of the fascinating life of geisha
Day 6: Kyoto
There is so much to see in Kyoto beyond temples and palaces. Today is set aside for you to explore the things that take your fancy. Journey to the East is more than happy to help you sift through the myriad of options. Why not trying tea ceremony or Japanese cooking classes? Making a day trip to nearby cities such as Nara or Osaka is also easily achievable.
Day 7: Kanazawa
Leaving Kyoto we head for another treat. Kanazawa is the home of Kenrokuen Garden, one of Japan’s top three gardens. The day will start with a walk in the gardens, then on to the charming historical Higashi Chaya area. Also today is slated for a visit to the craft center and samurai residence district.
Day 8: Kanazawa
The small city of Kanazawa has plenty to see and again we have set aside the day for you to see what interests you most. A local favourite Omi Market, the ninja temple and 21st Century Museum of Art are just some of the examples.
Day 9: Shirakawago
Today you will travel by private mini bus to the UNESCO World Heritage listed site of Shirakawago. This charming farming village is known for its ‘A-frame’ thatched farm houses. After the guided tour of the village, you will continue your bus travel to another historic town of Takayama, which will be in the midst of the famous Takayama Festival. Takayama’s speciality food wise includes Hida beef. Enjoy sampling the marbled beef at tonight’s dinner at your ryokan.
Day 10: Takayama - The Festival
The day starts with the morning market, which is believed to have been running for more than 200 years. Takayama is a historic playground and you will feel the nostalgia while visiting sights such as Jinya (a feudal era government house) and amble through the streets of timber-clad old merchant houses. In the afternoon, it is time to see the spectacular Takayama Festival Parade. Read more about the Takayama Spring Festival
Day 11: Matsumoto - The Castle City
A bus ride through an incredible mountain pass will take you to your next destination, Matsumoto. Visit the majestic Matsumoto Castle, which is extra special in the cherry blossom season. The castle is one of the only four as a national treasure of Japan. Walking through the lovely streets of Nawate and Nakamachi, you will understand why people speak so highly of it.
Day 12: Mt Fuji & Onsen
You will travel on a scenic train to the town of Kawaguchiko in Fuji Five Lakes district west of Mount Fuji. At this time of the year Kawaguchiko 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 Itchiku Kubota Kimono Museum – a talking point for all who visit Kawaguchiko. The visit to Kawaguchiko comes with an opportunity to experience Japanese traditional accommodation, ryokan and an onsen (mineral hot spring spa) on this tour. Onsen is a favourite pastime of Japanese people. Soaking in a hot tub looking over the lake to Mt Fuji, you will understand why so many Japanese people find it special.
Day 13: Tokyo
In the morning a highway bus will bring you back to Tokyo and you will have a final few hours in this mega city to finish off your Japan experience. It is also the last night to share the meal with your fellow travel mates.
Day 14: Goodbye
This morning you check out of your hotel after breakfast and your 2019 Cherry Blossom Tour - Central Japan concludes. You may also have time to see a bit more of Tokyo before you head to the airport on your way home.
The itinerary is indicative only. Actual activities may differ.
- 13 nights accommodation (including 3 nights in traditional inns)
- 13 breakfasts, 4 lunches and 7 dinners
- All local transport (train, bus and taxi) including Japan Rail Pass
- Pre-loaded Suica card for non JR travel in Tokyo and Kyoto
- Locally licensed English speaking tour guides
- Cultural activities and entry fees included in itinerary
- Luggage transfers (one suitcase per person)
Does not include:
- International airfare
- Travel insurance
- Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages
- Tips and gratuities (not routinely expected in Japan)