Japan Cherry Blossoms

From $10,250 per person

See Japan in all its glory. Springtime in Japan sees diverse landscapes blanketed in pink cherry blossoms. Take in the many sights of this truly spectacular country including historic shrines, castles, gardens and even a journey on the Bullet Train. 

Thursday 26 March – Wednesday 8 April 2020 (14 Days)

Day 1 – Thur 26 Mar | Auckland – Sydney – Tokyo (FM)     
Flight Details TBC
Today we depart Auckland via Sydney with Qantas Airways for our overnight flight to Tokyo.

Day 2 – Fri 27 Mar | Arrive Tokyo (D)   
On arrival at Narita International Airport, we are met by our local English speaking guide and transferred to our hotel where we enjoy a welcome drink before checking into our hotel rooms. Afterwards, we gather for dinner at the hotel.
Accommodation: Shinagawa Prince Hotel or similar – 3 nights

Day 3 – Sat 28 Mar | Tokyo (B,D)
We visit several shrines, temples and major sites in Tokyo. Our first stop is Meiji Shrine, a shrine dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his consort, Empress Shoken. Then explore Asakusa Kannon Temple, a colourful and beautiful Buddhist Temple, Tokyo’s oldest Buddhist temple with its five-storey pagoda. The streets around Sensoji have many traditional shops selling Japanese crafts and souvenirs and are a delight to wander through. We also view Tokyo from a different angle as we cruise along Sumida River and appreciate the cherry blossom. After our cruise, we take a leisurely stroll in Hamarikyu Gardens before taking in a bird’s eye view of Tokyo from the observation tower of the iconic Tokyo Tower. We enjoy dinner at a local restaurant before returning to our hotel.

Day 4 – Sun 29 Mar | Tokyo – Kamakura – Tokyo (B,D)
After Breakfast, we travel to Kamakura, an ancient seaside capital with many shrines. Its most recognizable landmark is the Kotoku-in Temple’s Great Buddha, with a 13m high bronze statue still standing after a 15th-century tsunami. We also visit the Tsuruogaoka Hachimangu Shrine which dates back to 1063, and which is particularly beautiful during cherry blossom season. We enjoy dinner at a local restaurant before returning to our hotel.

Day 5 – Mon 30 Mar | Tokyo – Hakone – Yamanashi (B,D)
Leaving Tokyo behind, we make the hour and a half journey to Hakone, the gateway to Mt Fuji and surrogate national park. Hakone is a popular resting post since the Japanese warrior Toyotomi Hideyoshi ordered a natural bath to be built here in 1590 enabling his battle-weary men to relax in the natural hot spring waters of this volcanic area. We visit Yamanakako Hanano Miyako Flower city park, located at the area of Lake Yamanakako, the nearest lake to Mt. Fuji, where we can enjoy various kinds of flowers from spring to autumn. Afterwards visit Hakone Shrine situated on the shores of Ashi Lake. Later in the afternoon we will cruise along Lake Ashi enjoying the picturesque and serene natural beauty of the crater lake, along with views of Mt. Fuji. Late afternoon we check into our hotel before dinner.
Accommodation: Fuji Lake Hotel or similar

Day 6 -Tue 31 Mar | Hakone – Hamamatsu (B,D)
This morning we travel to Saiko Iyashi no Sato a former farming village on the western shores of Lake Saiko. The village was destroyed by a typhoon in 1966. Forty years later the village’s traditional thatched roofed houses were reconstructed and reopened as an open-air museum and traditional craft village where we can learn about the culture and try out and purchase various local handicrafts. The Village is surrounded by Aokigahara Forest “sea of trees” and at the east entrance The Narusawa Hyoketsu Ice Cave is regarded as one of the tourist spots within the Fuji Five Lakes area. We then travel 30 minutes to Fuji Kachoen Garden Park where it is home to an amazing garden and bird sanctuary and also very well known for its owls and colourful flowers. This afternoon we travel to Hamamatsu and visit the Hamanako garden park. We enjoy dinner at a local restaurant before returning to our hotel.
Accommodation: Hamanako Royal Hotel or similar

Day 7 – Wed 1 Apr | Hamamatsu – Toyohashi – Nagoya (B,D)
After breakfast, the group will travel on the Shinkansen bullet train from Hamamatsu to Toyohashi. On arrival, we take a short visit around the area. We then coach to Nagoya and visit Nagoya Castle where we can view the beautiful Cherry blossoms in full bloom. About 1000 trees of 10 species of cherry trees such as Someiyoshino and weeping cherry trees burst to bloom one after another. During the period of full bloom, the castle lights up. We then visit the Atsuta Shrine, the oldest shrine which stands in a pleasant wooded park in southern Nagoya. After our visit to the shrine, we then visit Shirotori Garden, a Japanese style garden with a path running along the banks of streams and ponds. Before we retire to our hotel we visit Oasis 21, a modern floating glass structure housing a shopping oasis.
Accommodation: Hotel My Stays Nagoya Sakae or similar

Day 8 – Thur 2 Apr | Nagoya – Kyoto (B,D)
This morning we travel by coach to Kyoto, on arrival, we first visit Fushimi Inari Taisha, the shrine sits at the base of a mountain named Inari which is 233 metres above sea level. Afterwards, we go to the iconic Kinkakuji Golden Pavilion, a Zen temple in northern Kyoto whose top two floors are completely covered in gold leaf. Kinkakuji is an impressive structure built overlooking a large pond and is the only building left of Yoshimitsu’s former retirement complex. We then move on and view the Togestu Bridge, a wooden bridge spans the Katsura River in front of Arashiyama Mountain, offering incredible views of the spring cherry blossoms. We travel on to one of the most beautiful natural environments in Japan, Bamboo Street, a bamboo forest located in Kyoto Basin. Our last stop today is Gion Road in the heart of Kyoto, the city’s most famous entertainment district and the centre of its traditional arts.
Accommodation: Hotel Keihan Kyoto Hachijo or similar – 2 nights

Day 9 – Fri 3 Apr | Kyoto (B,D) 
With many highlights in our itinerary today, we visit Hirano-jinja shrine, known as a famous place for cherry blossoms. Approximately 400 cherry trees of 50 species, including several rare kinds, grow within the shrine grounds. We then explore Nijo Castle, this ornamental castle was built by the founder of the Edo Shogunate as his Kyoto residence and is surrounded by stunning gardens. We then visit the Heian Shrine, built on the occasion of the 1100th anniversary of the capital’s foundation in Kyoto, Heian is the former name of Kyoto. Afterwards, we visit one of the most celebrated temples of Japan Kiyomizu-dera “Pure Water Temple”. It was founded in 780 on the site of the Otowa Waterfall in the wooded hills east of Kyoto, and derives its name from the falls pure waters. At the end of our touring day, we visit the Philosopher’s Path one of the best scenic paths known as the path of meditation.

Day 10 – Sat 4 Apr | Kyoto – Kobe – Osaka (B,D)
This morning we travel to Yamashina canal, where you not only see cherry blossoms in full bloom but can also see Cole Flowers. We then travel to Kobe a place where foreign trade started in the 1860s and the first China Town was established by Chinese immigrants and traders, and by provisions of a treaty signed between Japan and a number of western governments a settlement was set up for Westerners on the slopes of Mt. Rokko. Around 20 of these former merchants’ mansions are now open to the public as museums. We visit the Moegi House built-in 1903 as the residence of the US Consul General Hunter Sharp. The residence is a two-story wooden, clapboard building with attractive bay windows, there are great views overlooking the Port of Kobe. Before our journey back to Osaka we visit Meriken Park a waterfront park located in the port city of Kobe.
Accommodation: Hotel Plaza Osaka or similar – 3 nights

Day 11 – Sun 5 Apr | Osaka (B,D)
After breakfast, visit Hamadera Park one of the oldest parks in Osaka, before travelling to Osaka and visit Osaka Castle, the castle is one of Japan’s most famous landmarks and it played a major role in the unification of Japan during the sixteenth century of the Azuchi-Momoyama period surrounded by imposing walls and moats. We finish the day visiting the famous shopping area Shinsaibashi.

Day 12 – Mon 6 Apr | Osaka – Nara – Osaka  (B,D) 
Our Tour today visits one of the most beautiful places in Japan, we travel to the historic and ancient capital of Japan, Nara. Explore Buddhist temples, shrines and the famous Nara deer park, Harushika Sake Brewery on this excursion from Kyoto. We stop at Nara Park, a 1,250-acre reserve that’s home to more than 1,000 free-roaming deer. Visit Todaji Temple, one of the oldest Buddhist temples in Japan and home to the country’s largest Buddha statue, before seeing Kasuga Shrine, which features over 3,000 stone and bronze lanterns. We then visit Harushika Sake Brewery established in 1884. On our way back to Osaka we view cherry blossoms on Mt Yoshinoyama before returning to the hotel.

Day 13 – Tue 7 Apr | Osaka – Australia (B,FM) 
This morning we have some free leisure time before our transfer to the airport for our flight home from Osaka.
Flight Details – TBC

Day 14. Wed 8 Apr: Arrive Auckland Via Sydney
We arrive back in Auckland via Sydney after our wonderful tour of Japan and the experiencing the highlight “Cherry Blossoms”.