Hidden Worlds of Japan


Japan is an ancient and enigmatic land, and our insider’s journey reveals aspects of it few travelers ever get to see. 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, and in seaside Kanazawa, we stroll streets lined by immaculately preserved teahouses from the Edo and Meiji eras. We explore romantic Kyoto, the thousand-year-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.

Itinerary at a Glance

March Itinerary

Days 1-7
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.

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Days 8-14
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 cherry-blossom-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.

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April Itinerary-In-Brief

Days 1-2: Eastern Kyoto
Day 3: Koyasan
Days 4-6: Western Kyoto
Days 7-8: Kanazawa
Days 9-10: Takayama
Days 11-13: Tokyo
Day 14: Depart



Discover Kanazawa’s Edo-period geisha quarter and Takayama’s traditional architectural styles
Explore Kyoto, with its Zen gardens, majestic palaces, welcoming teahouses, food markets, and artisan districts
Enjoy overnights in traditional ryokans, the serene inns that reflect Japanese culture in miniature


Length: 14 days
Cost From: $9395  
Arrive: Tokyo, Japan (or reverse)
Depart: Osaka, Japan (or reverse)
Lodging: 12 nights ryokans and hotels, 1 night temple lodging
Meals: All meals included except lunches and 2 dinners (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
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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