2019-2020 Winter in Japan
See winter in Japan, it is a wonderland of its own. Some people think this is the best time of the year in Japan.
This tour is run as a private tour for four or more people
The ancient temples and farmhouses in their ‘white coats’ are breathtakingly beautiful. Japanese people love the hot springs and especially when enjoying the view of a snow-covered landscape. This 2019 Winter in Japan (through to Februrary 2020) has been specially designed for you to experience life in the snowbound mountains with a wonderful range of selected winter cuisine and a special treat of a night stay in a working Buddhist temple.
Tour dates: You can choose any date for this tour
Places visited: Tokyo, Yudanaka, Matsumoto, Takayama, Kyoto, Hiroshima and Miyajima, Mt Koyasan and Osaka
Group size: Min 4, Max 10
Transport: Bullet train, local train and public bus
Accommodation: 4 star hotels in Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, equivalent Japanese style inns in Yudanaka, Takayama and Miyajima, and temple lodging in Koyasan
Fitness level: Moderate (please refer to FAQ)
A World Heritage listed village - spectacular in winter
Overnight in a working Buddhist Temple on sacred Mt Koya
World famous snow monkeys in the hot springs
Food in winter is at its best - experience the difference
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park & A-bomb museum
Overnight at Miyajima - quintessential Japan
Day 1: Arrival
Welcome to Japan in winter - a very special time of the year!
Today you will be met by Journey to the East staff at the airport and will be transferred to your hotel in Tokyo.
Day 2: Multi-faceted Tokyo
After a brief orientation by our Tokyo guide, you will begin the guided tour at Asakusa (“old Tokyo”). The next stop is the up-market Ginza district where you will have the chance to browse the high fashion after lunch. Tonight’s welcome dinner will give you a great taster of the range of speciality food you will experience during your tour of Japan in winter.
Day 3: Tokyo - Your Choice
After breakfast the day is free for you to choose what you like most. There is such a huge selection in Tokyo, so we offer you a list and detailed maps to help you get around at your own pace and see what interests you.
Day 4: Central Honshu –The Snow Country
For the next five days you will experience life of central Honshu and the snow bound magnificent Japanese Alps. You will head to the atmospheric hot spring town of Yudanaka and to view cute monkeys soaking in the hot springs. Tonight you will stay in a traditional Japanese inn or ryokan and try an onsen, hot mineral spring spa, a favourite pastime of Japanese people. Also enjoy character filled shops and many historical monuments in town.
Day 5: Matsumoto and Takayama – Nature Touches History
Today, you will head to Takayama via Matsumoto. Matsumoto Castle is one of only four castles designated as a national treasure of Japan. You continue through an incredible mountain pass to Takayama, a historical playground of the Central Japan. Enjoy Takayama’s nostalgic feeling of times gone by while you amble through the streets of timber clad old merchant houses.
Day 6: Shirakawago - World Heritage Site
You will make a guided day trip to a secluded mountain village of Shirakawa-go. Shirakawa-go was inscribed on the UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1995. The village retains its historic landscape with some 150 traditional farmhouses build in a style called Gassho-zukuri. Winter in Japan makes this fascinating village seem like a dream.
Day 7: Takayama - Time Capsule
This morning you head for Takayama’s famous morning market, which is believed to have started around 200 years ago. Your guided tour will continue taking you to visit a number of sites including Jinya (historical government and court house) and Kokubunji temple. Today you will have a free afternoon to check out charming handicraft and coffee shops housed in the old buildings. Don’t forget also to drop-in on boutique sake breweries, which this area is famous for, during your stay in Takayama.
Day 8: Essence of Kyoto
As you leave Takayama this morning, winter in Japan displays something special while you are on the scenic train to Kyoto. In Kyoto, your guide will take you to the ‘must-see’ places such as Kinkakuji temple (the Golden Pavilion) and the magnificent World Heritage listed Nijojo Castle. A pause for lunch of Kyoryori, a colourful Kyoto speciality. In the afternoon the guide will show you the Kiyomizu Temple, images of which are most frequently used in tourism brochures and guidebook covers. Streets leading up to the temple are packed with delightful little cafes and shops selling tasteful Kyoto memorabilia. This evening you will enjoy a walking tour of Gion district which is famous for geisha.
Day 9: Free Day in Kyoto
After breakfast take your pick from the dozens of attractions in Kyoto. Suggestions and maps will be provided.
Day 10: Hiroshima & Miyajima
Today you visit the Peace Memorial Park and the A-bomb Museum in Hiroshima. You then take a short ferry ride to visit quintessential Japan on the island of Miyajima where you will stay at a traditional ryokan.
Day 11: Miyajima
This morning you will wander the island at your own pace, experience the shops and famous Otorii (large red gate on the sea) and even take a ropeway to the top of Mount Misen to see the magnificent sea view.
Day 12: Mt Koya – Buddhist Monastery
Today you will take a train up to the sacred Buddhist mountain of Mt Koya. Mt Koya is the head temple of esoteric Buddhism, Shingon-mikkyo founded 1200 years ago. Your guide will take you to some of the significant sites on the mountain. Here you will stay at a working temple and gain an insight into a stoic life of monks. The exquisite dinner served by monks will certainly change your view of vegetarian food forever. The silence of snow highlights the sacredness of this mountain all the more sharply. Please be sure to discuss the Mt Koya visit with Journey to the East to be sure you prepare properly for this fascinating visit.
Day 13: Osaka – Vibrant Merchant City
This morning you have the option to attending a morning service at your temple, which we highly recommend. After breakfast you will have a few hours before heading down the mountain to the vibrant city of Osaka. Osaka is an amazing city and the light-up at night is such a contrast to the peace of the previous night. Tonight you will enjoy Osaka speciality dinner as you say good-bye to your fellow travellers.
Day 14: Goodbye
This morning you will check out of the hotel after breakfast and the tour concludes.
1) This tour goes to places with heavy snow. Please come with warm clothes and appropriate footwear.
2) If you plan to leave Japan from Narita you can use your JR Pass to travel from Osaka on the last tour day to Narita.
3) The itinerary is subject to change without notice.
- 14 nights accommodation including 5 nights in traditional inns and 1 night Buddhist temple lodging
- 14 breakfast, 4 lunches and 7 dinners
- All local transport (train and bus) including 14 day Japan Rail Pass
- Locally licensed English speaking tour guides daily except free days in Tokyo, Kyoto and Miyajima
- Cultural activities and entry fees
- Luggage transfers from Tokyo to Takayama and from Kyoto to Osaka
Does not include:
- International and domestic airfares
- Travel insurance
- Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages
- Tips and gratuities (not routinely expected in Japan)
- Taxis or local transport
- Any cost specifically excluded above