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 Kate to explore the lantern-lit lanes of romantic Kyoto, a thousand-year-old city of temples, gardens, and palaces. In 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 will be in traditional ryokans, with one night in 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.
— Marli K., Larkspur, CA
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, as is the classic Kenroku-en garden. At lovely Himeji, we make a pilgrimage to the atmospheric temple of Engyo-ji, which gained fame as a setting in the movie The Last Samurai.
View the mysterious Zen rock garden at Ryoan-ji, and visit sublime Daitoku-ji, 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 even rice paddies. We also explore Kyoto’s incredible food markets and workshops with superbly crafted folk arts.
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 Day 14 via Osaka.