Discover Kyoto, Amanohashidate, Ine and the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage trail – 12 Days
12 days from £pp
This 11 night itinerary introduces you to the highlights of the Kyoto region, particularly the region north of the city ‘Kyoto-by-the-sea’. Highlights include sightseeing in Amanohashidate, discovering the treasures of Ine, an overnight stay at a Buddhist monastery in Koya-San and the chance to enjoy hiking some of the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage route. Our private guides will accompany you on discovery tours of the mesmerising cities of Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo and you’ll discover beautiful destinations and enjoy demonstrations from local artisans along the way. Other highlights include carefully selected Japanese gardens, the temples of Nara and overnight stays on Nakanioshima island.
Your English speaking assistant will welcome you on your arrival in Tokyo and assist you with your luggage as you proceed to the domestic terminal for your onward flight to Itami Airport, Osaka. After a short domestic flight (1h 15mins) you will be met by your private driver and guide who will accompany you to your hotel to drop your luggage. Enjoy a gentle stroll to get your bearings at the famous Minami entertainment district, including Dotonbori and the Kuromon market, before heading back to your hotel, the Imperial Hotel, Osaka.
After breakfast you will be met by your private guide and driver who will transfer you to the region of Amanohashidate (2 hrs by private transfer), celebrated as one of the ‘top-three’ iconic views in Japan. Starting your discovery at the Nariaiji Temple, part of the historical Kannon Pilgrimage route, you’ll enjoy magnificent vistas out over the Amanohashidate peninsula from your hilltop location, before you descend down to Kasamatsu Park by foot, taking time to enjoy the spectacular scenery and viewpoints. You’ll make the final descent to the waterside by cable car. After a lunch at a local restaurant you can enjoy your afternoon lake-side, take a walk across the sandbar or rent e-bikes to explore the area with your guide. You’ll spend the evening at the charming local hotel Monjusou in Amanohashidate.
After breakfast you will be met by your private guide and taken to the beautiful traditional fishing village of Ine by private transfer (35mins), where you can wander amongst the ancient wooden boathouses that hug the waterside and take a boat trip out onto the lake. These unique waterside buildings hide centuries-old traditions, including Mukai, a 260 year-old Sake brewery famous for their distinctive red sake. After your visit and tasting, you will drive along the scenic coastline of the Tango-hanto peninsula to the Tamiya Raden textile studio (45 mins drive), where you will witness the production of exquisite textiles inlaid by hand with mother of pearl. Famous across Japan, these textiles are made for some of the most exclusive couture houses throughout the world. Before you head back to your hotel at Amanohashidate, you have the opportunity to visit the Nippon Genshosha sword smiths, three young artisans continuing to produce traditional Japanese swords and other metalwork items, providing an insight into the authentic crafts still produced throughout Japan today.
After breakfast your guide will accompany you on your journey to Kyoto (1h 45mins), the guardian of Japan’s traditional culture. Kyoto was the Imperial capital of Japan for the majority of the last millennium and is home to no less than 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Your guide will take you on a journey into the heart of the history of Kyoto, exploring the 400-year-old Nijo Castle and landscaped gardens in its outer concentric ring. You will enjoy a private Samurai experience in a traditional Samurai house, followed by the afternoon exploring the Gion district including the Nishiki market. Your accommodation for the night is at the hand-picked The Hotel Higashiyama by Kyoto Tokyu Hotel.
After breakfast you will be met by your private guide and depart for a day of exploration of the historic temples and Japaneses gardens to the north-east of Kyoto. This includes a tour of the Buddhist temple Kinkaku-ji, with its magnificent Golden Pavillion and the stunning Ryoan-ji Rock Gardens. After a special traditional lunch hosted in one of the temples, you will be transferred to the Fushimi Inari Shrine, famous for the thousands of vermillion Torii gates. There are plenty of opportunities for walking the many sacred trails on Mt Inari that comprise this important Shinto shrine complex before you return back to your hotel in Kyoto.
After breakfast you will be met by your private guide who will accompany you to the historic city of Nara (50 mins). The old city, which stood as the Imperial Capital of Japan 1300 years ago, offers eight spectacular temples, shrines and ruins which conjointly form another UNESCO World Heritage Site. You’ll visit the spectacular Todaiji Temple and the Great Buddha amongst other highlights, before your journey takes you on to one of the most beautiful towns of Yoshino (1 hours drive), particularly celebrated during the cherry-blossom seasson. Onwards to Koya-san, the centre of Shingon Buddhism, you will experience an overnight stay in traditional temple lodgings, with an opportunity for an atmospheric night-tour of the sacred Okuno-in mausoleum and cemetary.
After a traditional breakfast your private guide will accompany you on your journey to temple complex of Oyu no Hara (1hr 50mins) which marks one of the main gateways to the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage route with the world’s largest Torii gateway at 33 metres. You will walk part of this celebrated trail to one of the three most famous shrines, the Kumano Nachi Taisha, built in 33BC. Your guide will then accompany you by road, via the spectacular rice paddy terraces of Maruyama Senmaida to the port of Katsura (1 hour 40mins) for the short ferry ride to your private hotel on the island of Nakanoshima.
After breakfast your private guide will accompany you to Nanki Shirahama Airport (1hr 40 mins) for your domestic flight to Tokyo Haneda airport (flight time 1hr 10mins). You will be met by your private guide who will transfer you to your hotel to drop your luggage. You’ll explore the newly developed mid-town in Roppongi, a city within a city. Enjoy shopping, galleries and attractions matched to your interests, before heading back to your hotel, the Hyatt Centric Ginza, Tokyo for a memorable dinner.
After breakfast you will be met by your private guide for a full day sightseeing in Tokyo, taking in among other highlights, the Tokyo Sky Tree, Asakusa and a scenic river boat trip. We will tailor the day to include places of particular interest to you, including suggesting the best of the shopping, entertainments and museums. Of particular note is the Teamlab Planets interactive gallery or the Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, where you can explore the latest robotics and concepts for the future. Lunch and dinner reservations will be arranged at restaurants to suit your interests, followed by another night at the Hyatt Centric Ginza.
On your penultimate day you can explore Tokyo at your leisure. You will have travel passes provided and we can make all necessary recommendations and reservations for you so you can explore the city and all its highlights before a relaxing evening back at your hotel.
On your final morning you will be accompanied by your private guide to Tokyo Haneda International Airport (30 mins), where you depart for home.