Japan is an ancient and enigmatic land, and our insider’s journey reveals aspects of it few travelers ever get to see. In seaside Kanazawa, we stroll streets lined by immaculately preserved teahouses from the Edo and Meiji eras, and in ancient Takayama in the Japanese Alps, we’ll find the elegant work of Hida artisans much in evidence in the splendid merchant houses and centuries-old sake breweries. We explore romantic Kyoto, the thousandyear- old cultural and artistic capital of Japan, in depth, attending a stunning Miyako Odori dance performance. Our visits to artists, incredible food markets, exquisite landscapes, and tranquil Zen temples unveil Japan’s unique traditions, and our accommodations include serene ryokans and a Buddhist monastery perched on a mountaintop.
The overall trip design was great. We were able to see a good variety of things in Japan, from the cherry blossoms and temples to the wonderful countryside. Kate also did a great job of making the trip a wonderful experience for the entire group.
— Bob S., Half Moon Bay, CA
Tokyo / Takayama / Kanazawa
After visiting Tokyo’s treasures, we head to the mountain town of Takayama, where we’ll taste the wares at a 17th century brewery and see the craft heritage expressed in thatched gassho-zukuri farmhouses that seem right out of a fairytale. In Kanazawa on the Sea of Japan, we explore the city’s grand feudal castle and gorgeous Kenroku-en garden.
Kyoto / Koyasan / Osaka
Our fantastic five-day exploration of Kyoto includes the mystical Zen rock garden at Ryoanji and sublime Daitokuji, whose small Zen temples and gardens are associated with masters of the Japanese tea ceremony. In eastern Kyoto, we walk the cherryblossom-lined Path of Philosophy, and in western Kyoto, we’ll explore the Sagano and Arashiyama districts, remnants of Kyoto’s rural past with their thatch-roofed houses, welcoming teahouses, rice paddies, and the poet Basho’s hut. We also enjoy Kyoto’s workshops and superbly crafted traditional arts. One night, we ride by cable car up to mountaintop Koyasan Monastery for an overnight in a shukubo (temple lodge). Depart on Day 14 via Osaka.