Backroads of Japan
Tokyo and Kyoto-the modern and imperial capitals of Japan, respectively-represent the perfect merger of the ancient and the contemporary. On this trip, you'll thoroughly explore both and everything in between, from traditional villages and miles of rice fields to ancient temples and the stunning vistas of the Japanese Alps. Snow monkeys, geishas, the teeming pedestrian scrambles of Tokyo's Shibuya district, and the impossibly friendly staff of your traditional ryokan are just a few of the locals you'll meet and never forget.
Bus, bullet train, local train, bicycle, walking.
Hotels and traditional guesthouses/onsens (9 nts), traditional inns (2 nts, shared facilities).
Experience the bustle of modern Tokyo, visit the Zenkoji temple in the Japanese Alps, discover the snow monkeys bathing in the hot springs, cycle the Kibi Plains, explore Kyoto's temples.
Modern Tokyo walking tour. Zenkoji Temple visit (Nagano). Jigokudani Monkey Park visit (Matsumoto). Matsumoto Castle visit. Hida No Sato folk village visit (Takayama). Sake street visit. Kibi Plains bike ride (outside Kurashiki). Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine visit. Visits to Kiyomizu and Chion-in temples. Japan Rail (JR) pass (7 days). All transport between destinations and to/from included activities.
Day 1 Tokyo
Arrive at any time.
Day 2 Tokyo
Take a CEO-led walking tour of eclectic modern Tokyo from the hub of Shinjuku to Shibuya through Yoyogi Park and Harajuku.
Day 3 Tokyo
Enjoy a free day to experience the city or venture out to Mt Fuji.
Day 4 Tokyo/Nagano-shi
Journey to the Japanese Alps and Nagano, host city of the 1998 Winter Olympics. Visit the historic Zenkoji Temple.
Day 5 Nagano-shi/Matsumoto
Discover the world-famous Jigokudani Monkey Park and watch Japanese snow monkeys bathing in the natural hot springs. Continue to Matsumoto.
Day 6 Matsumoto/Takayama
Explore Matsumoto's breathtaking 'Black Crow' Castle and continue to the traditional alpine market town of Takayama, known as 'Little Kyoto'.
Day 7 Takayama (1D)
Visit the Hida No Sato traditional folk village, sake breweries and craft shops. With free time walk through the forest, go for a bike ride or relax at an onsen spa.
Day 8 Takayama/Kurashiki (1B)
Travel to picturesque Kurashiki, retaining its old world charm with black and white buildings.
Day 9 Kurashiki
Enjoy a bike tour through the Kibi Plains, surrounded by rice fields and ancient burial grounds. On this scenic ride, glide past shrines and temples and get a glimpse of rural Japanese life.
Day 10 Kurashiki/Kyoto
Travel to Kyoto for two nights in the traditional heart of Japan. Arrive in the afternoon and hike up Fushimi Inari through 10,000 stunning torii gates.
Day 11 Kyoto (1B)
Visit the impressive Kiyomizu-dera, and take in the breathtaking Chion-in temple. This afternoon, enjoy free time in this lovely city. Experience some of the many great walks through zen gardens, teahouses, shrines and shops and maybe even spot a real-life geisha.
Day 12 Kyoto (1B)
Depart at any time.