2022 Cherry Blossom Tour of Japan – Classic Route

2022 Cherry Blossom Tour of Japan - Classic Route

A classic introduction to Japan’s must-see sights in spring time – temples, castles and gardens set against stunning cherry blossoms.

This tour is for those who prefer a higher level of comfort in their travel style.

Tour Overview

The 2022 Cherry Blossom Tour of Japan – Classic Route is specifically designed to combine Japan’s must-see sights set against the cherry blossom with travelling in comfort.

You start your experience in the bustling national capital of Tokyo and visiting the one-time seaside capital of Kamakura. Next is the hot springs town of Hakone with its views of Mt Fuji. Then continuing your Journey to Kyoto, to surround yourself in the imperial heritage of this UNESCO-listed city. Heading south west we come to historic Hiroshima and then to the sacred island of Miyajima. Finally the tour concludes with another cultural contrast in Osaka.

This 14-day tour blends cherry blossom colours in with Japan’s most classic destinations. Along the way it offers deeps insight into Japan’s history and cultural traditions, including a private-group encounter with a modern-day geisha.

This tour offers an authentic introduction to the country in spring-time for those who prefer a more relaxed pace and some luxury in their accommodation. It’s a perfect option if you like a holiday which is almost fully escorted by specialist guides, includes all your transport in Japan and most meals. You will enjoy very personalised and boutique travel experiences.

Group size:

Minimum 4, Maximum 8

Length:

14 Days

Start: Wednesday 23rd March 2022 in Tokyo

Finish: Tuesday 5th April 2022 in Osaka

Price per person twin share: AU$10,150 (US$8,050*)

Single Supplement: AU$2,700 (US$2,150*)

Status: Only 4 places left

Tour Code: GSL-22a

Start: Wednesday 30th March 2022 in Tokyo

Finish: Tuesday 12th April 2022 in Osaka

Price per person twin share: AU$10,150 (US$8,050*)

Single Supplement: AU$2,700 (US$2,150*)

Status: Fully booked

Tour Code: GSL-22

*US$ price is approximate, using recent average exchange rate. AU$ price is the official price and will always be charged. Please refer to Terms and Conditions 2.1.

Itinerary

 

Day 1: Arrival in Tokyo

Welcome to Japan! On arrival at one of Tokyo’s international airports, you will be met by a Journey to the East guide and escorted to your hotel by private transport. After a good night’s sleep, you will be ready to start the first full day of your 2022 Cherry Blossom Tour of Japan - Classic Route.

Tokyo (Imperial Hotel Tokyo or similar)

No meals

Day 2: Tokyo

Today we begin the guided tour of Tokyo at Shinjuku Gyoen Park with hundreds of cherry trees. After admiring the beauty of cherry blossom, you then will travel through the middle of Tokyo, in a private minivan,  sighting major landmarks such as the Diet in the Marunouchi area. This area includes Hibiya Park, the Imperial Palace plaza and the recently restored historic Tokyo Station. Your guide will take you on a walking tour through this fascinating district.

Tonight we gather for a welcome dinner at a restaurant serving modern Japanese cuisine.

Tokyo (Imperial Hotel Tokyo or similar)

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Kamakura

A break from bustling Tokyo is ahead of us today as we immerse ourselves in the former coastal capital, Kamakura.

Nestled among rolling hills and the coast of Tokyo Bay, Kamakura is home to some of the country’s best Zen Buddhist temples and the 11.4m high bronze Buddha constructed in 1252. The trip starts aboard the delightful “Enoden”, a local train which takes us through sleepy backstreets to the beach at Enoshima.  We explore a few of Kamakura’s best temple gardens with their cherry blossom trees.

In the late afternoon we make a stop at Komachi Street, where you can pick up some beautifully crafted gifts or wander through tiny street side galleries. Then it’s back on the train to Tokyo and a group dinner together.

Tokyo (Imperial Hotel Tokyo or similar)

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Tokyo

In the morning we explore the area of Harajuku, where you’ll find the expansive shrine complex of Meiji-jingu surrounded by a peaceful forest park with over 120, 000 trees and more than 350 species.

As a contrast, we wander through the teen pop-culture neighbourhood of Takeshita-dori and then on to the elegant Omotesando boulevard, home to some of Japan’s most fashionable designer brands.

In the afternoon, Tokyo is yours to explore by yourself. Let us know if you’d like us to arrange something specific, otherwise you could spend the afternoon visiting the city’s many museums, checking out the latest technology in Akihabara, enjoying the urban buzz of Shibuya, or exploring one of Japan’s mega-department stores and their impressive basement food halls. Talk to us in advance to arm yourself with some information and tailored recommendations.

Tokyo (Imperial Hotel Tokyo or similar)

Breakfast

Meiji jingu shrine, Tokyo

Day 5: Hakone

We leave Greater Tokyo today and head south by train to Hakone, a scenic hot springs resort area located in the mountains near Mt Fuji.

We pass by the checkpoint of the Old Hakone Highway, the main route between Tokyo and Kyoto in the feudal period and used for centuries by retinues of foot-soldiers and traders. At Lake Ashi we hop on board the ‘Viking’ ship that plies the lake, aiming to catching a view of Mt Fuji in the distance.

Tonight you experience your first stay at a ryokan, or traditional Japanese inn, with western style bedding. Here you enjoy a multi-course kaiseki dinner and your first soak in an authentic onsen, a mineral hot springs spa. After a full-day sightseeing, you’ll understand why a soak in the therapeutic waters remains the favourite recreational pastime of the Japanese.

Hakone (Manatee or similar)

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Hakone to Kyoto

This morning, we continue exploring beautiful Hakone.

Firstly, stop at the Hakone Open-Air Museum with its amazing outside sculptures. We then board a delightful “switchback” train through quaint spa towns and lush woods. From Hakone we take a shinkansen (Japan’s super-express bullet train) headed for the delightful old capital of Kyoto.

In the evening over dinner, you’ll have the chance to meet a maiko (a geisha-in-training) and learn more about the fascinating life of a modern-day geisha.

Kyoto (Hotel Nikko Princess Kyoto or similar)

Breakfast (Japanese-style), Dinner

Kyoto, Philosopher's Path, cherry blossom

Day 7: Kyoto

Originally made capital in 794, Kyoto remains the cultural heart of Japan and is home to 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites and a wealth of craft shops, museums and delightful cafes. As every year is different, we will plan today’s itinerary according to the best places to catch cherry trees in full bloom.

We head to Ginkakuji (the Silver Pavilion) to enjoy the delicate blossoms in the temple’s gorgeous garden setting before taking a stroll along the Path of Philosophy, lined with a breathtaking avenue of cherry trees.

Kyoto (Hotel Nikko Princess Kyoto or similar)

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Arashiyama

A short day-trip takes us to the lush region of Arashiyama in the mountains to Kyoto’s west. The area is known for its natural beauty – sublime gardens, traditional villas, rivers and ravines set against a stunning mountain backdrop.

Adding to the atmosphere, you’ll take a rickshaw ride (a two-passenger wagon pulled by young men in traditional dress) and travel through groves of thick bamboo.

After lunch, you will visit Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion) on the way back to your hotel.

Kyoto (Hotel Nikko Princess Kyoto or similar)

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Cherry Blossom in Spring, Kyoto, Taizo-in temple, garden

Day 9: Kyoto

Morning guided tour of the Uji area of Kyoto is on the cards today. Uji is most well known for production of Uji matcha tea, and has a relaxed rural feel in contrast to busy central Kyoto.

This afternoon is yours to experience Kyoto in your own way. Kyoto offers an endless range of traditional craft shops, ancient temples and some of Japan’s most beautiful gardens. We provide recommended plans for our guests (depending on your area of interest), and don’t hesitate to speak to us if you have something specific you’d like to do.

Kyoto (Hotel Nikko Princess Kyoto or similar)

Breakfast

Day 10: Hiroshima

Leaving Japan’s cultural capital, we hop back on the shinkansen and head further west to the city of Hiroshima. We visit the Memorial Peace Park and its informative museum, and contemplate the devastating impact of the world’s first atomic bomb.

It is a great opportunity to experience life in a modern regional city of Japan. You can wander through shopping arcades, old and new.

Tonight’s dinner also highlights great regional cuisine, “soul” food of Hiroshima including Okonomiyaki.

Hiroshima (Sheraton Grand Hotel Hiroshima or similar)

Breakfast, Dinner

Hiroshima, Peace Memorial Park, A-Bomn dome, cherry blossom

Day 11: Miyajima

Today, we head to the sacred island of Miyajima by train and ferry. Miyajima is one of the top scenic spots in Japan. It’s best known for the vermillion-red floating torii gate, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Tonight we stay on the island and enjoy Miyajima’s serene atmosphere and Buddhist heritage after the day-trippers have gone. Early evening is also a good time to snap a picture of the famous torii gate at sunset. Dinner is a kaiseki banquet at our ryokan with western style beds.

Miyajima (Miyajima Grand Hotel Arimoto Tokyo or similar)

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 12: Osaka

After enjoying some free time in the morning visiting temples, strolling its shopping streets or even taking the ropeway to see the fabulous sight out over the Seto Sea, we head back to Hiroshima. From here we catch a shinkansen to Osaka.

Osaka is our final destination and Japan’s third largest city. It is a vibrant commercial hub, that originally became an important political base in the 16th century when the shogun built a new castle here after unifying Japan.

In the evening we explore the lively entertainment district of Dotombori, famous for its night-time neon and historic canal. We wander the street stalls, stopping to sample freshly grilled takoyaki and okonomiyaki pancakes.

Osaka (Hotel Hankyu International or similar)

Breakfast (Japanese-style), Dinner

Osaka Castle

Day 13: Osaka

On the last day of the tour, our guide will take you to Osaka’s iconic castle. It was rebuilt in 1931 on the original castle site. A visit to the castle museum will introduce us to the city’s feudal past. The museum's exhibits also include a grand display of armour and weapons from yesteryear.

We will tour through some of the older parts of the city, sampling more of Osaka’s famous street-food. Osaka is very much a food-focused town and even has a local expression “kuidaore”, which carries the meaning of ruining yourself financially by indulging in too much good food!

In the evening, we come together one last time for a farewell dinner in a teppanyaki-style restaurant serving delicious wagyu-beef.

Osaka (Hotel Hankyu International or similar)

Breakfast, Dinner

Day 14: Goodbye

This morning after breakfast, your 2022 Cherry Blossom Tour of Japan – Classic Route concludes. You can travel to Kansai International Airport (about 1 hour from central Osaka) or return to Tokyo on the shinkansen (about 3.5 Hours). Perhaps you might like to linger in Japan for a little longer. We will be delighted to plan your personal post-tour extension to show you a different part of Japan. Please see our Extension Model Itineraries for inspirations!

Note: The cost of an escorted transfer to your departure airport is not included in our Small Group Tours (as we found many guests choose to stay in Japan a bit longer), but we will be happy to arrange your transfer to next destination or to exit airport. Please see our FAQ for more details.

Breakfast

Please note that there may be slight changes to the itinerary described above to accommodate changes in train timetables, opening hours, and hotel and restaurant availability.

All photographs on this website are representative only and are not a commitment to what may be on view on the day.

Inclusions

Includes:

  • 13 nights accommodation (including traditional inns)
  • Lunches & dinners as specified
  • Airport meet & greet and hotel transfer by private transport on arrival
  • All local transport (train, bus and taxi)
  • 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 and domestic airfare (unless otherwise stated)
  • Transfer on the last day
  • Travel insurance
  • Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages
  • Tips and gratuities (not routinely expected in Japan)
  • Transport during free time
  • Personal expenses (laundry, internet, telephone, coin lockers etc.)
  • Visa (if required)