Hidden Worlds of Japan


Japan is an enigmatic land, and the perfect way to unlock its secrets is on our walking journey with Trip Leader Kate Ulberg, who has an extraordinary gift for introducing people to Japan. Join her to explore the lantern-lit lanes of romantic Kyoto, a thousand-year-old city of temples, gardens, and palaces. In seaside Kanazawa, stroll streets lined by immaculately preserved teahouses from the Edo and Meiji eras, and in Himeji, soak up the serenity of a 17th century mountaintop temple in an ancient forest. Most nights are in traditional ryokans, with one night in a Buddhist monastery perched on a mountaintop.

Itinerary at a Glance

Days 1-5
Tokyo / Kanazawa / Himeji

From Tokyo, head by train to Kanazawa on the Sea of Japan. This city’s Edo-period samurai homes and geisha teahouses remain fully intact and are a delight to explore. At lovely Himeji, we make a pilgrimage to the atmospheric temple of Engyo-ji, which gained fame as a setting in The Last Samurai.

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Days 6-11

View the mystical Zen rock garden at Ryoanji, and visit sublime Daitokuji, whose small Zen temples and gardens are associated with masters of the Japanese tea ceremony. In eastern Kyoto, walk the cherry-blossom-lined Path of Philosophy, and in western Kyoto, explore the lanes of the Sagano and Arashiyama districts, remnants of Kyoto’s rural past with their thatch-roofed houses, welcoming teahouses, the poet Basho’s hut, and rice paddies. We also explore Kyoto’s incredible food markets and workshops with superbly crafted folk arts.

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Days 12-14
Koyasan / Nara / Osaka

A cable car brings us to the mountaintop monastery at Koyasan for an overnight in a shukubo, or temple lodging. After observing the prayers and chanting in the morning, we catch the train for Nara, home to many of Japan’s most revered treasures. Walk Nara’s back streets to marvelous 7th century Horyuji Temple and ramble the lanes of Naramachi. Depart on Day 14 via Osaka.

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Enjoy Trip Leader Kate Ulberg’s cultural insights and passion for Japanese culture
Explore Kyoto, with its Zen gardens, majestic palaces, welcoming teahouses, food markets, and artisan districts
Discover Kanazawa’s Edo-period geisha quarter, visit Himeji’s famous castle and mountaintop temple
Experience traditional ryokans, the serene inns that reflect Japanese culture in miniature


Length: 14 days
Cost From: $8295  
Arrive: Tokyo, Japan
Depart: Osaka, Japan
Lodging: 12 nights ryokans and hotels, 1 night temple lodging
Meals: All meals included except lunches and 2 dinners
Activity: Walking, Cultural Adventures
Trip Level:

Walking, including some steep stairs, 6-7 hours a day, Japanese-style dining (sitting on floor)

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