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Tokyo . Fuji region . Kyoto . Kanazawa . Shirakawago . Takayama 

This journey is for those who wish to dig deeper into Japan as a destination and understand its culture. 


Traditional accommodation in Buddhist temples and Japanese inns expose guests to this elegant and exotic culture and cuisines that please the eye as they delights the palate.  During the day, visits to a mix of contemporary and historic attractions paint a broad picture of this unique country. 

Exploring a village deep in the Japan Alps, and less-visited cities such as Kanazawa and Takayama in addition to Tokyo and Kyoto broadens travelers' understanding of Japan.  

A Japanese-speaking group leader will travel with the group. Using Japan's ultra-efficient public transportation system saves time that is better spent enjoying each destination.

Your giveback on this journey is the Nozomi project. 

12 days / 11 nights
From $4999 per person sharing

Airport transfers
Bullet train journeys
Japan's most scenic alpine rail journey
3 nights hotel, Tokyo
2 nights temple stay, Fuji region

3 nights hotel, Kyoto

3 nights Takayama; Japanese Inn stay

Japanese-speaking group leader

Local expert guides per itinerary
Breakfast daily

Dinners at Temple-stay and Japanese Inn



On request
Women-only group departure:     November, 2024


Day 1 Arrive Tokyo

On arrival in Tokyo, take the airport shuttle to your hotel. Rest of day at leisure. 
Stay: Keio Plaza (or similar) 


Day 2  Tokyo tour on foot and by subway

First, we’ll visit majestic Meiji Jingu, the Shinto shrine that is dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shōken.  A stroll through the grounds of Yoyogi Park will bring us to Harajuku, renowned for its colorful street art and fashion scene.  From here we’ll wander toward the more traditional, upmarket boutiques lining leafy Omotesando Avenue - Tokyo’s Fifth Avenue.   

After lunch (own expense) we’ll watch the rock and roll dancers in Yoyogi Park, before continuing on to Shibuya where we will participate in a quintessential Tokyo activity - the Shibuya crossing.  Believed to be the busiest intersection in the world (and definitely in Japan), Shibuya crossing is like a giant beating heart, sending people in all directions with every pulsing light change. Nothing says ‘I'm in Tokyo’ louder than this.  
Stay: Keio Plaza, or similar (B)


Day 3  Tokyo tour on foot and by subway

Today’s exploration of Tokyo starts at Senso-ji Temple, Tokyo’s most visited tourist destination.  Busy Nakamise Street is the 300-yard approach lined with many souvenir shops and food stalls and it’s a great spot to try Tokyo street food. After our mobile lunch, we’ll head to Ginza, Tokyo’s ritziest neighborhood. On Sundays the main intersection is closed to cars and becomes a see and be seen spot. Next, we’ll take a peek at the grand exterior of the Imperial Palace; the grounds are not open to visitors.

In the afternoon, we’ll have free time. Some options in Shinjuku alone are a visit to the Yayoi Kusama or Samurai museums, shopping at fabled Isetan department store, wandering the narrow lanes of lively Kabukicho or taking a Japanese cooking class. 

Stay: Keio Plaza (or similar) (B)


Day 4   Tokyo - Minobu

Today we’ll take a 3 hour ride to Minobu and our accommodation for the following two nights, Kakurinbo Temple. This gem of a temple, which caters to overnight guests, is conveniently located for visiting the main temple for the Nichiren sect of Buddhism and its famous Japanese garden. We’ll dine on traditional shojin (vegan) cuisine using locally-sourced ingredients. All guest rooms are Japanese-style, with tatami mat floors, futon bedding and communal bathrooms. (B,D)

Stay: Kakurinbo Temple (B,D)


Day 5 Minobu

This morning, participation in Buddhist meditation is optional, but recommended. Later, relax at the temple, hire an e-bike to explore on your own, or take a gondola to the top of Mt Minobu for views of Mt Fuji (weather permitting).  

Stay: Kakurinbo Temple (B,D)

View of Meditation Garden

Day 6  Minobu - Kyoto

Ride the rails, traveling from Minobu to Kyoto.  After checking into our hotel, we’ll head to Kinkaku ji, the beautiful Gold Temple, to walk around the lake and through the grounds.  Next, we’ll visit Ryoan-ji a simple but evocative zen pebble and rock garden designed to facilitate meditation. 

Stay: Kyoto Tokyu Hotel (or similar) (B)

Shinto Monument at the Park

Day 7   Kyoto

In the early morning, we'll head to Fushimi Inari Shrine made famous in the west by the book and movie Memoirs of a Geisha.  The full pilgrimage walk takes 2 and 1/2 hours and is considered to be one of the top 10 experiences in Japan.  For those who don't wish to walk this distance, it is also possible to walk just a few minutes to see the vermilion tori gates and the shrine.  Later, we’ll join a tea ceremony demonstration in a temple.  We will end the day with free time at bustling Nishiki Markets. 

Stay: Kyoto Tokyu Hotel (or similar) (B)

Japan umbrellas.jpg

Day 8  Kyoto

Today is a free day for travelers to explore independently - Kyoto and the surrounding areas have so much to offer, and navigation is easy.  Perhaps visit some more temples, or head to Nara to see the deer park, or into Osaka to shop along Dotonbori. Your Japan Rail Pass will cover most destinations. Ambitious travelers could even visit Hiroshima for the day.

Stay: Kyoto Tokyu Hotel (or similar) (B,D)


Image by Vion Yeow

Day 9  Kyoto - Takayama 

Travel from Kyoto via the Hida Wide View Scenic train through the Japan Alps to Takayama. Check into our Japanese Inn, our home for the following 3 nights. (B,D)

Stay: Japanese Inn (B,D)

Takayama house cJNTO Dec16.jpg

Day 10  Takayama 

In the morning, we’ll explore the Miyagawa riverside markets in the old town. Stalls sell local crafts and produce. We’ll wander through San Machi Suji the traditional home of merchants and sake brewers which has been preserved for hundreds of years.   In the afternoon, opt to visit the Matsuri no Mori Museum, where the magnificent floats from the famous Takayama Festival are on view, or stretch your legs along the temple walk. 

Stay: Japanese Inn (B,D)

Image by Lucas Calloch

Day 11  Takayama 

Day at leisure to continue exploring Takayama or taking a side trip to Shirakawa-go,  a small, traditional village showcasing a building style known as gassho-zukuri. Shirakawa-go is one of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites.

Stay: Japanese Inn (B,D)

Sake Barrel Shrine

Day12  Takayama - Tokyo Airport

Travel back to Tokyo for departure.  (B)


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