Arrive: Osaka, Japan
Depart: Osaka, Japan
In the rural town of Shigaraki, we visit a 5th generation indigo artisan, then continue to the Miho Museum, an architectural wonder designed by I. M. Pei. We also visit a small town known for shigaraki yaki, a ceramic style recognized as one of Japan's “six ancient kilns.” Our private dinner in Kyoto with a geisha illuminates an ancient Japanese tradition of hospitality.
Pricing below is per person and based on double occupancy. The earlier you book, the more choice you’ll have. WT also has the most generous cancellation and transfer policies in the industry, we make it easy if you change your mind. Have a small group of your own? Take over an existing date or choose your own. You’ll have your own private guide–and the adventure–all to yourselves!
$600 due at time of reservation
90 days prior to departure: Balance
Up to 91 days prior to departure: No Charge!
61-90 days prior to departure: 25% of trip cost
46-60 days prior to departure: 50% of trip cost
45 days or less: 100% of trip cost
Scroll through our signature accommodations for this trip below. Although it is highly unlikely, we may make substitutions when necessary.
Days 1-4 (4 nights)
Noku puts us in the heart of Kyoto, right next to the Imperial Palace. While we soak up 1,000-year-old Japanese history, we also appreciate the artistry of modern Kyoto. The hotel's guest rooms are sleek and modern, embellished with art pieces reflecting the cultural essence of Kyoto, and each one...
Day 5 (1 night)
Located in a tranquil setting dotted with maples and cherry blossoms, Hanayashiki Ukifune-en looks out over the peaceful Uji River. The ryokan has 28 guest rooms featuring Japanese-style bedding, tatami floor mats, and floor-to-ceiling windows. No ryokan would be complete without common baths and this one has two, both infused...
Days 6-7 (2 nights)
The Hotel Nikko Nara is connected to the JR Nara train station and is not far from the Todai-ji Temple and Nara Park, making it the perfect location to head out and explore Japan's original capital city. A respite from the bustling city, the guest rooms with western beds and...
Days 8-9 (2 nights)
Gorgeous views of Toba Bay stretch far and wide from this sleek hotel. Rooms feature modern décor and offer a combination of Western beds and Japanese tatami floor mats. Each room has a private bathroom and either an ocean or mountain view. The hotel has two restaurants, a waterfront café,...
Days 10-11 (2 nights)
This gleaming resort and spa lies along the edge of the Pacific Ocean buffered by green mountains and cavernous hot springs. Hotel Urashima has five uniquely styled bath houses teeming with fresh waters from the surrounding 200 hot springs in Nachikatsuura. Four restaurants offer up to 80 buffet items...
Kawayu Onsen, Japan
Day 12 (1 night)
Set at one end of the hot-spring village of Kawayu Onsen, the family-run Fujiya Ryokan is one of the most traditional of the local ryokans. Large, comfortable guest rooms look out on the Oto River, where hot-springs bubble to the surface, and are decorated in traditional Japanese style. You can...
Wilderness Travel Trip Leaders have a passion and a joy for creating an unforgettable journey. We are extremely proud of them and the incredible travel experiences they make possible. For more information, including client comments about them and which specific trips they will be leading, please click on their profiles below.
We make the most of our time in Japan. After rising and eating breakfast, we leave our ryokan for a walking tour. Daily mini-lectures by our Trip Leader help provide insights into the past and future, the history, politics, geography, and food of Japan. On some days, we visit temples and shrines, and other days, we follow the pathways of the shoguns or visit sites of breathtaking natural beauty. We ride the subways and buses, but we do most of our sightseeing on foot.
Although not physically demanding, the trip will yield greater rewards if you are in good physical condition and able to stay on your feet for 6-7 hours per day. There is much to see, and a fair amount of walking is necessary to take it all in—and you will find there are many steps to climb! Japan is a land of staircases and hills and you will enjoy the trip more if you are dressed comfortably and are in good physical condition. Please remember we will be sleeping on futons and eating at floor level, so it is important that you are able to sit down on, and get up off, the floor without much difficulty.
Japan is a blend of the traditional and modern, and our trip encompasses this unique mixture. We will stay at traditional ryokans as well as Japanese-style hotels. The quiet world of the ryokan is a venerable cultural institution—a way to experience a simple, timeless way of life. After being warmly welcomed, we trade our street shoes for slippers. Once inside, we remove our slippers as we step onto the finely woven tatami mats covering our sleeping room floors. Our rooms are spacious and pleasant with low tables and comfortable futon mattresses with quilts and blankets. Ryokans have double rooms (singles are sometimes possible). Some of our rooms will have attached toilets; at other times, we share the "down the hall" facilities. Although a few ryokans have western baths in the rooms, most have an ofuro (a Japanese-style bath).
Normally, a fresh cotton yukata (robe) is provided for each guest. These light kimonos can be worn anywhere in and around the ryokan and we often wear them to meals (make sure to wear the left side over the right). For many of our breakfasts and dinners, beautifully presented meals are served as we sit on the floor at low tables on our tatami mats.
A highlight of any visit to Japan is its superb cuisine defined by fresh ingredients and artful presentation. We will have ample opportunity to sample both familiar and new dishes. We will sample many types of Japanese food, and usually the first "bite" is with our eyes, the presentation being a tantalizing array of fresh fish, beef, vegetables, tofu, miso soup and, of course, rice, all served on individual plates and bowls of exquisite sizes, patterns, and proportions. We eat with chopsticks and are usually seated at low tables on the floor. At some ryokans, you may choose between a Japanese breakfast of fish, rice, miso soup, tofu, vegetables, pickled condiments and tea, or a western breakfast consisting of eggs, toast, salad, and coffee. Many places, however, offer only Japanese food.
During our stays in major cities, you will have some dinners and all lunches on your own, allowing you ample opportunity to sample the endless variety of Japanese food. When we are traveling, we may try an obento (box lunch), and we sample the snack foods of Japan and/or get a bowl of udon, ramen or soba noodles at one of the local spots. We often eat lunch at noodle shops, sushi bars and small neighborhood lunch spots, avoiding the infamous high-priced meals of Japan. Napkins are not used except at western-style restaurants; bring your own handkerchief.
Keep in mind that Japanese food is very different from what we are used to, and with the limited availability of American foods, your food intake will be a big part of the Japanese adventure.
In Japan, bathing is a time-honored tradition, a relaxing daily event. While staying in our ryokans, we will bathe as the Japanese do—using the ofuro system. In separate men and women's sides, the custom is to wash and rinse before entering the ofuro, a large tub of hot water where we can sit back with legs extended, submerged to the neck (this trip is not for the very modest!). Early Shinto was a religion of cleanliness and purification. Ritualistic bathing began during this time and has been perfected over the centuries. Either as a divine imperative or a luxury, bathing in Japan has always been regarded as more than a hygienic chore. The ofuro is the perfect way to finish a hectic day of travel. After a relaxing bath, we gather for the evening meal.
"Outstanding trip! Diverse itinerary, great introduction to Japanese artisans, very, very good look at the shrines, hiking trails, and seafaring traditions of this fascinating part of Japan."
San Antonio, TX
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Our Area Specialists know every detail about our tours. They will be happy to answer any questions and help you choose the journey that’s right for you. Contact us to learn more or book your trip today!
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With more than 200 different adventures to choose from, we want to help you find the trip that’s right for you. Our Trip Level system ranks each trip in two ways: a number rating from 1 to 6 according to the activity, and general travel rigors. 1 is the easiest and 6+ the most difficult—see descriptions below for explanations of each number. A plus (+) sign means the trip is a bit more strenuous than other trips of that level. The detailed explanation of each trip—below the bar with the number rating—is perhaps more important, specifying activities, altitudes, hiking, and travel conditions. The Detailed Itinerary, available by download or mail, gives further information. Our Area Managers can also answer questions and guide you to the trip that best suits your interests.
Level 1 – Easiest
Non-camping journeys, optional walks, little elevation gain or loss.
Level 3 – Moderate
Half- to full-day hikes (3-6 hours) over rolling countryside on most days, occasional steep trails. Many of our hotel-based walking tours are in this category, as are our snorkeling adventures.
Level 5 – Strenuous
Full-day hikes (4-8 hours), mountainous, steep terrain (hiking up or down as much as 3,500 feet) on many days. Trips with hiking at average altitudes of 10,000 to 12,000 feet are in this category.