ARRIVAL TO TOKYO, transfer to a luxury hotel in downtown (check-in 2 pm), then city tour
Your first day in Japan would blast off with a trip Odaiba island. This artificial island is a unique place by itself with various attractions, from amusement parks, including Deisan park, to the futuristic TV Fuji building designed by world’s famous architect Kenzo Tange. You can even spot here local Stature of Liberty, a gift from France. There is also a nice observation deck to enjoy the gorgeous Rainbow bridge floating over the Tokyo Bay.
You will then visit Oedo Onsen hot springs facility where you can try on a kimono or yukata, traditional Japanese cloth, and take a bath the old way. Entering the historical theme park, you will walk the streets of the old Edo, enjoying the lifestyle of the past centuries with its customs and traditions. This journey in time would bring you lots of memories to keep!
With your first day in Japan coming to an end, you will be escorted to your Tokyo hotel.
TOKYO ‘EASTERN CAPITAL’ tour
7 am – 9 am
breakfast at hotel, meet the guide and start your day with the ‘Eastern capital’ tour
‘TO-KYO’ in Japanese stands for ‘Eastern capital’. So your second day in the Eastern capital would start with a visit to the Imperial palace. At the palace park you will enjoy watching gorgeous Japanese pine trees ‘Matsu’. Just a step away, over the moat filled with sacred Japanese carps, there is a local landmark, Nijubashi bridge, one of Tokyo’s symbols.
The next step would be moving to elegant Ginza, Tokyo’s fanciest district, neighboring the Imperial palace. It has been Tokyo’s heart ever since Japan opened up itself to the world in the 19th century. The luxurious Wako department store, Ginza’s most famous landmark, is a fascinating Art Nuovo masterpiece. It is located at Ginza’s Fourth Intersection, which is Tokyo’s Times Square. The name Ginza comes after the establishment of a silver-coin mint that started there back in 1612, during the Edo period. Today’s Ginza is a popular upscale shopping area with numerous internationally renowned department stores, boutiques and restaurants located in its vicinity. It is considered one of the most expensive, elegant and luxurious districts in the world. One can enjoy watching fascinating Cartier, Christian Dior, Chanel, Louis Vuitton or Mikimoto flagship stores concentrated in this area.
From stylish Ginza we will then relocate to trendy Aoyama/Harajuku district, full of cool fashion spots, both ‘hole in the wall’ and much bigger international flagship stores such as incredible Prada boutique with exteriors made of glass. You’ll stroll down Omotesando boulevard with its upscale Omotesando Hills department store, which is very popular among Tokyoites. You will also have an opportunity to shop at the ‘Oriental Bazaar’, the place to get Japanese souvenirs of any kind you might think of.
In the second half of today’s tour we would be moving to neighboring Shinjuku, Tokyo’s downtown with its skyscrapers towering in the area. You might recall famous 2004 Sophia Coppola’s movie, ‘Lost in Translation’, mostly staged at the Park Hyatt Tokyo hotel located right here in Shinjuku. We will then get up to the observation deck of the Tokyo Metropolitan Building, designed by world’s famous architect Kenzo Tange. You will enjoy the breathtaking view of the metropolis down below. One can even spot Mount Fuji on a clear sunny day.
Finally, you’ll be visiting the Yoyogi park to see the beautiful Shinto shrine, Meiji-jingu, one of Japan’s most important spiritual places, would be a nice contrast with the futuristic Shinjuku. Meiji-jingu was built as Emperor Meiji’s own shrine and is famous for its wedding ceremonies in the traditional way.
When your day is done, you’ll get back to your Tokyo hotel for some rest.
KAMAKURA trip: ‘JAPAN’S WAR CAPITAL’
7 am – 9 am
breakfast at hotel
meet the guide and start your day
10 am – 6 pm
The Kamakura shogunate, Japan’s medieval capital, was founded by Minamoto no Yoritomo, Japan’s first shogun.
Kamakura stands like a true fortress, surrounded by the mountains from three sides and looking at the sea from the forth side. Kamakura is a home for over 200 Buddhist and Shinto temples and shrines. Hase-dera, commonly called the Hase-kannon is one of the Buddhist temples in the city of Kamakura, famous for housing a massive 9-meter high wooden statue of Kannon, making it the tallest wooden structure of such kind in Japan. As the legend says, the statue was built in 8th century AD.
You should also take a look at the Kotoku-in temple, renowned for its ‘Great Buddha’, a monumental outdoor bronze statue of Amida Buddha, which is one of the most famous icons of Japan.
Kamakura's defining feature is Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu, a Shinto shrine in the center of the city. A 1.1-mile road runs from Sagami Bay directly to the shrine. This road is known as Wakamiya Oji, the city's main street. Built by Minamoto no Yoritomo as an imitation of Kyoto's Suzaku Oji, Wakamiya Oji used to be much wider, delimited on both sides by a 3-meter deep canal and flanked by pine trees.
Walking from the beach toward the shrine, you will pass through three torii, or Shinto gates, called respectively Ichi-no Torii (first gate), Ni-no Torii (second gate) and San-no Torii (third gate). Between the first and the second lies Geba Yotsukado which, as the name indicates, was the place where riders had to get off their horses in deference to Hachiman and his shrine.
Of course, we will not miss the Zeniarai Benten temple, a Shinto sacred site. In spite of its small size, it is the second most popular spot in Kamakura after Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu. This shrine is popular among tourists because the waters of a spring in its cave are said to be able to multiply the money washed in it.
Kamakura is also famous for its seasonal festivals – matsuri – celebrating the city and its history, mainly in April and September. The September festival is a very well-known event with many attractions, the most famous of which is the yabusame or Japanese horseback archery. Being there in mid-September, it would be a good idea to attend it.
It is also interesting to know that Kamakura is known as the ‘Japanese Miami’: it is a great seaside resort with its surfers catching the wave and nice seafood restaurants.
You will return to Tokyo by car after the tour is wrapped-up.
KYSHYU / BEPPU trip: ‘HELL to HEAVEN!’
From 7 am
breakfast at hotel and check-out, then guided luxury car transfer to Haneda airport, flight to the island of Kyushu.
Kyushu means ‘nine provinces’, it is Japan's third largest island, located southwest of Honshu. The island of Kyushu is the cradle of the Japanese civilization offering many historic treasures and abundance of natural beauty.
Upon landing at Oita airport you will start discovering the so-called ‘hells of Beppu’. This location is one of Japan's most famous hot spring resorts. It produces more hot spring water than any other resort in the country. Beppu offers an unmatched range of baths to be enjoyed, including ordinary – and probably already familiar to you – hot water baths but not limited to it. There’re also fascinating mud baths, sand baths and steam baths around Beppu. Besides, the Hells of Beppu or jigoku are several spectacular hot springs for viewing rather than bathing.
For instance, Umi Jigoku is one of the most beautiful ‘hells’. It is known as the ‘sea hell’ and features a pond of boiling blue water. In its spacious gardens you will find a number of smaller, orange colored hells and a clear water pond with lotus flowers whose large leaves are strong enough to carry small children!
Another ‘hell’ worth visiting is Oniishibozu Jigoku named after the mud bubbles emerging from boiling mud pools and looking like the shaven heads of monks. You might then like to visit Shiraike Jigoku, true to its name, the ‘white pond hell’. It is a pond of hot, milky water surrounded by a nice garden. Afterwards, we plan to see Kamado Jigoku, the ‘cooking pot hell’. It features several boiling ponds and a flashy demon statue as cook. On the grounds, you will have an opportunity to drink the hot spring water, enjoy hand and foot baths, even inhale the hot spring steam!
Another Beppu attraction is Oniyama Jigoku. Beware, there’re many crocodiles sneaking around, they are bred and kept on the grounds of this ‘monster mountain hell’. Then our next step would be seeing Chinoike Jigoku, the ‘blood pond hell’, is a pond of hot red water. It is one of the more photogenic hells so you may want to set up a nice photo session over here. Finally, Tatsumaki Jigoku, the ‘spout hell’ featuring a boiling hot geyser erupting every half an hour for up to 10 minutes.
Thought Beppu is full of ‘hells’, it feels more like true paradise. You bet we will design the optimal route to see the maximum number of the above-mentioned ‘hells’. After our long and exciting journey is done, you will take a rest at ryokan where you are to enjoy hot bath right at your room.
ASO tour: ‘LAND OF ANCIENT ERUPTIONS’
From 7 am
breakfast at hotel and check-out, then guided transfer to Mt. Aso area
Tens of thousands years ago, in times immemorial, there were multiple volcano eruptions of gigantic scale that formed the modern Aso caldera. Today Mt. Aso is a large active volcano in the center of Kyushu island. The mountain's caldera with its circumference of over 100 kilometers is one of the largest in the world. Surrounded by a circular rim, the caldera contains multiple rural towns and wide areas of agricultural lands.
In the center of the caldera there’re mountain's active volcanic peaks, including Mt. Nakadake, whose spectacular crater is easily accessible by toll road or ropeway.
Visiting these places, we have to take into consideration that the area around the summit is not always open, gases can be intense, and people with respiratory problems should refrain from approaching the crater. Sometimes it might be simply closed off for approach because of its volcanic activity that is constantly monitored.
You then would visit very ancient Aso shrine. Although its origins are uncertain, is believed to date back almost two thousand years to the end of the Yayoi period (300 BC to 300 AD). It is also worth mentioning that twelve Shinto deities are enshrined at Aso shrine, including one god who is believed to have created the whole Aso area.
You will get back to your hotel after the excursion.
TAKACHIHO tour: ‘WHERE GODS CAME DOWN TO EARTH…’
From 7 am
breakfast at hotel and check-out, then guided transfer to Takachiho
Some people say that Japan is land beloved by gods for its incomparable natural beauty and deep spiritual heritage. In this regard, Takachiho is the place to go. It is a small fairy-tale town, the centerpiece of the Japanese mythology and the site of probably the most known Shinto legend. According to the myth, Amaterasu, the sun goddess, became so outraged by her brother's, Susanoo, cruel actions that she hid herself in a cave, refusing to come out and depriving the world of her life-giving light.
Other gods and goddesses tried everything to lure her out. But nothing worked. Finally, one goddess performed an outrageously ribald dance, known as yokagura or night dances, that caused the other gods to roar with laughter. Amaterasu was so curious to hear it that she left the cave to see what all the fun was about, and, thus, she returned her light to the world…
It is also the disputed landing pad of the god Ninigi-no-Mikoto, grandson of Amaterasu, who was sent down from heaven to establish the lineage of Japanese emperors, a distinction which it competes for with Mount Takachiho-no-mine in Kirishima National Park. One can say that Takachiho is the place where Japan’s history has begun.
This is why Takachiho is known as a ‘power spot’, a place of tremendous religious importance and natural beauty, which radiates spiritual energy. Among the best spots for a spiritual experience are Amano Iwato Shrine and Takachiho Gorge. You’re going to see both sacred sites during the excursion.
Takachiho gorge is a narrow chasm cut through the rock by the Gokase river. The nearly sheer cliffs lining the gorge are made of slow forming volcanic basalt columns which resemble the scales of a dragon where the stone twisted and flowed as it formed. Partway along the gorge is the impressive 17-meter high Minainotaki waterfall cascading down to the river.
Another great spiritual spot is Amano Iwato shrine. It was built exactly near the cave where Amaterasu hid herself away as the legend says. The shrine's main buildings are located on the opposite side of the Iwato river from the cave. The cave cannot be approached, however, there is an observation deck behind the shrine from where you can gaze across the river.
After your exciting tour into the depth of the Japan’s mystique past is over you will have a guided transfer to the town of Kumamoto.
KUMAMOTO tour: ‘FOLLOWING THE LAST SAMURAI’
From 7 am
breakfast at hotel, guided transfer to Kumamoto castle.
Kumamoto is famous for its castle. Unfortunately, Kumamoto castle suffered serious damage in the earthquakes of April 2016. The inner grounds are currently closed to the public; however, it is possible to look at the massive fortress from the outside. Still, it is one of the most impressive castles in Japan. With large castle grounds and a variety of buildings, Kumamoto castle offers its visitors one of the most complete castle experiences in Japan, even from outside.
It has a rich history which could be a good reason to visit it anyway. The initial structure was constructed back in 1607 by powerful Kato clan. A few years after the Meiji Restoration the castle played a pivotal role in the Seinan Civil war, during which the famous samurai Saigo Takamori led an uprising in Kyushu against the new pro-Western government. Kumamoto Ccstle was the main garrison of government army in Kyushu, and Saigo attacked the castle in early 1877. Despite being outnumbered, the government forces were able to withstand Saigo's two-month siege, forcing the rebel forces to finally back down. Much later, the Hollywood movie ‘Last Samurai’ (2003) featuring Tom Cruise and Ken Watanabe, was produced, partly inspired by Saigo Takamori character and the events that took place in Kumamoto back in 1877.
Another great attraction to visit is Suizenji garden. It is a spacious, Japanese style landscape garden, best enjoyed by strolling along a circular path. It was built by the Hosokawa family in the 17th century.
The unique thing about it is that the garden reproduces all 53 post stations of the legendary Tokai-do, the strategic road, which connected Edo with Kyoto during the Edo period, in miniature form, even including a small Mt. Fuji.
After your Kumamoto tour is over you will have a guided transfer back to your hotel.
IBUSUKI tour: ‘SEASIDE RENDEZVOUS’
From 7 am
breakfast at hotel and check-out, then guided transfer to the town of Ibusuki.
Ibusuki is a popular seaside resort and onsen town famous for its unique sand baths where bathers are ‘buried’ in naturally heated sand. Ibusuki's most popular bathing spot is the large Saraku Sand Bath Hall. At sand baths, you will be provided with yukata robes and then ‘buried’ by staff in hot sand (up to 55° C) heated by natural steam coming up from deep inside. After staying ‘buried’ for about 15 minutes, all you have to do is just wash off the sand and enter regular hot spring baths for further body pleasure. Afterwards, it would feel like you’re born again and such an experience you just can’t miss!
Ibusuki is also known as ‘Japanese Hawaii’ because of its unusually looking black volcanic sands. You will enjoy its black sandy beaches as they really seem to be out-of-the-world.
We will then move to the southern end of Ibusuki City, to the Cape Nagasakibana, located at Satsuma peninsula southernmost tip, which has a nice lookout point with fantastic views onto the ocean and nearby Mt. Kaimondake also known as ‘Satsuma Fuji’.
Soon after your ‘hot’ excursion is done you will get to rest at your Ibusuki hotel.
KAGOSHIMA tour: ‘VISITING JAPAN’S NAPLES’
From 7 am
breakfast at hotel and check-out, then guided transfer to Kagoshima.
During this day you’ll be visiting Kagoshima, Kyushu's southernmost city. Historically, it was the capital of the Satsuma domain ruled by the powerful Shimazu clan for almost seven centuries until the introduction of the Meiji period. It’s been center of international trade and southern sea gates to Japan. Kagoshima is often compared with its Italian sister city Naples due to a similarly mild climate, lots of palm trees and, of course, beautiful Mt. Sakurajima, ‘Kagoshima's Vesuvius’, and city’s symbol.
Sakurajima is one of Japan's most active volcanoes. It smokes constantly and minor eruptions often take place multiple times per day. Located in the middle of Kagoshima Bay, Sakurajima (1,117 m) is the area's most prominent geographic feature. It is easily accessible by ferry that runs between Kagoshima port and the Sakurajima island.
Another Kagoshima’s must visit landmark is Sengan-en garden, which is also known as Isotei-en, it was constructed in 1658. It is a Japanese style landscape garden in downtown Kagoshima. One of the garden's most striking features is its use of Sakurajima and Kagoshima Bay as borrowed scenery. The garden also includes small ponds, streams, shrines and a bamboo grove.
After a nice dinner at the local restaurant you will have a guided transfer to your hotel.
YAKUSHIMA tour: ‘VIRGIN TROPICAL PARADISE’
From 7 am
breakfast at hotel and check-out, then guided transfer (by ferry or plane, at your choice) to the island of Yakushima.
Yakushima is a forest-covered island off the southern coast of Kyushu. It is covered by an extensive cedar forest that contains some of Japan's oldest living trees. Trees more than 1000 years old are affectionately called yaku-sugi (a combination of Yakushima and sugi, the Japanese word for cedar), the most ancient of which may be over 7000 years old, originating in Jomon period, Japan’s most ancient historical epoch.
As a subtropical mountainous island, Yakushima attracts a lot of rainfall around the year, with a local saying claiming that it rains ‘35 days a month’. Some areas of Yakushima are declared a Natural World Heritage Site. You will take a fantastic hike around the island and its rain forests to see ancient cedar trees: the island has a very good trail network. Because of almost constant rains, proper rain gear and hiking boots are highly recommended.
During your hike you will see the famous Jomon-sugi, which is Yakushima’s main attraction. It is a giant cedar tree which is estimated to be 2000 to 7200 years old. Arguably, it is the oldest tree in Japan, it dates to the Jomon period from which it gets its name. It is not very tall, standing ‘just’ 25 meters high, yet it has a massive trunk about 5 meters in diameter.
After this once-in-a-lifetime tour is over you will be transferred back to Kagoshima by ferry.
spare day in TOKYO – visiting YOKOHAMA as an option – ‘GATES TO JAPAN’ tour
00:00 - 24:00
Токио по вашему выбору! Самостоятельный трансфер в аэропорт Кагосима и вылет в Токио. Прилет в Токио и самостоятельный трансфер в отель. Св
You’re welcome to spend this spare day visiting neighboring Yokohama. It has always been the ‘gates to Japan’, ever since this country has opened up to the world, full of foreigners busy strolling down the streets. This sea port town is full of attractions with the ‘Minato Mirai 21’ district as the obvious #1 option. Its name stands for the ‘Port of the future 21’. It was built in the 1990s to emphasize Japan’s strive into the future. And the Minato Mirai architecture with its wave of fascinating skyscrapers is truly futuristic and breathtaking, to say the least! Its centerpiece is the famous ‘Landmark Tower’, Japan’s tallest skyscraper over 300 meters high. You will want to get to the building’s observation deck to enjoy stunning view of the sea, the harbor and the land, including Tokyo to the north and Mount Fuji to the west, permitting the weather.
Going down on surface, we will take a walk in the picturesque Yamasita park, another city’s attraction. Right from here you will enjoy yet another nice view, this time from the sea level: you are to appreciate the grandeur of the 890-meter long Yokohama bridge hanging over the Yokohama bay. It is also here where you can see the legendary Hikawa Maru cruise ship (translated as Queen of the Pacific), now laid up forever at
Yokohama port. It is a must-visit sea museum today recalling its glorious past. Looking back from the shoreline you just can’t miss the Marine Tower, world’s tallest lighthouse standing proudly just behind the Minato Mirai area. You should also check out the Cosmo Clock 21, a giant Ferris wheel, one of the largest in Japan and the outside world: take a ride and enjoy the majestic panoramic views of the city slowly rotating above and below.
Yokohama, a very cosmopolitan city, is also a home to another #1: its Chinatown is the largest in Asia and one of the largest in the world. When you step inside it feels like you’re leaving Japan and entering China. By the way, it would be a good idea to enjoy some great Chinese food there at one of its numerous venues, just to make a break from equally great Japanese cuisine. Its largest temple, Kwan Tai, is another attraction to see in Yokohama.
After your Yokohama tour is completed you will return to your hotel in Tokyo.
departure from TOKYO