Experience Japan's Sakura Season
Japan is a multifaceted gem, with neon-lit modern cities, alpine villages nestled amidst mountain regions with pastoral sceneries that appear untouched by the modern world, and relics of an imperial and feudal past, preserved for all to see.
Join us as we explore this nation during Sakura season, when the cherry trees burst forth in a glorious display of colour. In Japan, spring arrives early, and for approximately two weeks, millions of trees teem with new life.
- Experience Japan during the lovely Sakura season when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom
- Komagatake Ropeway with scenic views of Hakone
- Step into the past at the mountain village of Shirakawago, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Enjoy a relaxing Japanese night in a traditional Ryokan (inn)
- Visit one of Japan’s largest and most famous gardens, Kenroku-en, the “Garden of Six Qualities”
- Enjoy a tea ceremony at Matsuri-no-Mori Museum
- Tour Hiroshima and nearby Miyajima island
- Visit Himeji Castle, Kyoto’s Nijo Castle, and Nara plus other UNESCO World Heritage sites
- Enjoy Japan’s extensive and very efficient rail system, including bullet train rides
- Visit the Golden Pavilion (Kinkaku-ji Temple) in Kyoto
- Return economy group airfare from Canada to Narita (Tokyo)
- 13 nights in first-class hotels as indicated or similar, including 1 night in a traditional ryokan, a Japanese country inn
- 27 meals included as noted in the itinerary (B - 13 Breakfasts, L - 6 Lunches, D - 8 Dinners) featuring traditional Japanese dishes
- Transfers and intercity transportation by private coach and rail service, as indicated
- Services of your tour escort plus our professional Japanese tour guide and local guides
- All surcharges, taxes, and fees for included services
- Airport transfers in Canada or equivalent value with purchase of group airfare
Tour members from across Canada will gather in Vancouver for the overnight flight to Narita (Tokyo).
Arriving in Tokyo this afternoon, we will transfer to our hotel, located in the centre of Tokyo. After settling in, we gather for an opportunity to meet our fellow travellers and enjoy a relaxed buffet dinner.
Tokyo Prince (3 nights)
Our full day city exploration will begin with a visit to the Imperial Palace Eastern Gardens, home to 210,000 square meters of green space that is open to the public. Stroll through the Ginza district, the most expensive real estate in the world, with some free time to explore. Witness the world’s busiest intersection, Shibuya Crossing, where hundreds of people cross from all directions every time the signal changes. After enjoying a lunch of Kushiage (fried meat and vegetables on bamboo skewers) we proceed to the Tokyo Skytree to visit the top level for an awe-inspiring view of the city. We may even see Mt. Fuji on a clear day. At Asakusa, explore the vibrant streets of Nakamise-dori, the Senso-ji Buddhist temple, and learn about Japan’s unique religious practices, with a photo stop at the Asakusa Shinto shrine.
Travel by local train to Kamakura, the 13th century capital and home to countless poets and artists. Discover iconic landmarks during a walking tour, such as the Kotoku-in temple, home to a 40-foot bronze Buddha, the Hase-kannon temple, and the Tsurugaoka Hachimangu shrine. Stroll along the colourful Komachi-dori street with its many shops.
Departing Tokyo, we drive south, skirting the Japanese alps before driving up the slopes of Mt. Fuji (weather permitting). Enjoy a delightful cruise on Lake Ashi and take the Komagatake Ropeway for scenic views of Hakone. Next is Nagano for the night, where we step into another world, relaxing in a cotton yukata (dressing gown) by the natural hot springs, enjoying meals in a tatami-matted room and sleeping on a traditional futon.
Senjukaku Ryokan (1 night)
Our journey continues via Matsumoto, noted for its majestic six-storey castle, to the mountain village of Takayama. Visit the Hida Folk Village, a living museum of rural homes and barns, where we will experience the traditional lifestyles of a bygone era. Later we will visit the Matsuri-no-Mori Museum to learn about the art of tea and to experience a traditional Japanese tea ceremony. The museum has a collection of massive yatai (parade floats) created for the annual harvest festival.
Hotel Associa Takayama Resort (2 nights)
This morning, join a comprehensive walking tour exploring this delightful small city. Visits include the Miyagawa Morning Market, the traditional wooden houses and shops of Kami Sannomachi street and Kusakabe Folk Museum. The latter was formerly the residence of the Kusakabe family and has been designated an important cultural property. We’ll also visit Takayama Jinya, the former regional headquarters of the Tokugawa Shogunate.
Our first stop will be at the mountain village of Shirakawago, a UNESCO World Heritage Site noted for its traditional gassho-zukuri (thatched roof) farm houses, some of which are over 250 years old. Visit the residence of the Iwase family, with its magnificent thatched roof home. Later visit Gokayama to observe the intricate and involved process of creating traditional Japanese paper (Washi).
Daiwa Roynet Hotel (1 night)
Walk through one of Japan’s most famous gardens, Kenroku-en, the “Garden of Six Qualities”. It features magnificent landscaping, flowering trees, and lakes. With some good fortune, we might be able to enjoy the enchanting colours of the cherry blossoms. Visit the Hakuichi Gold Leaf Museum with a demonstration explaining the art of gold leaf application before travelling by bullet train to Hiroshima, an important southern city. Box lunch will be provided for the train ride.
Grand Prince Hotel Hiroshima (2 nights)
Hiroshima is best remembered for the event of August 6, 1945 when the atomic bomb decimated the city and surrounding area. The Peace Memorial Museum and Peace Memorial Park are sobering testaments to the event and its aftermath. Time permitting, we shall visit Shukkei-en garden to enjoy the cherry blossoms or for a quiet walk with time to reflect. After an Okonomiyaki lunch, cross the Inland Sea by ferry to Miyajima Island, considered to be one of the top three scenic experiences in Japan. On the island, we will ride the cable car to enjoy the magnificent views from the peak and visit the Itsukushima-jinja shrine dating from 1168AD.
Travel by bullet train to Himeji to see the exterior of Himeji Castle, a 400 year old UNESCO World Heritage Site and national treasure. Continue by coach to historic Kyoto, capital of Japan for almost 1,000 years, until 1868. This delightful city conjures up classic images: streets of little wooden houses, geta (wooden sandals) clicking on the cobblestones, geisha in brightly coloured silk, tea ceremonies, traditional gardens, and more.
Kyoto Yamashina Hotel Sanraku (3 nights)
Our day begins with a walk through the unique Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, one of Kyoto’s most popular attractions, followed by the Kinkaku-ji temple, or Golden Pavilion. The three-story pagoda, covered in gold foil, is set next to a tranquil reflecting pool and surrounded by gardens and pine forests. Nearby are the gardens and palace of Nijo Castle, a UNESCO Site noted for the great Ninomaru Wing and Audience Hall with its nightingale floors. In Fushimi we will explore the gardens of the Inari Shinto shrine with its series of vermillion Torii gates and delightful cherry trees leading up to the slopes of Mt. Inari. With good fortune and good weather, this will be a most enchanting day with lots of colours to enjoy. Tonight enjoy a special Kaiseki dinner at a local restaurant.
Nara is one of the most gracious and sacred centres in Japan. Following an ancient tradition, the Kasuga Taisha shrine, founded in the 8th century to protect the capital, is rebuilt every 20 years. In the temple grounds you will find around 3,000 stone lanterns which are lit twice a year, during special festivals. At Todaiji temple, we visit Daibutsuden Hall, once the largest wooden building in the world, enshrining a great bronze seated Buddha. Before returning to Kyoto, we shall enjoy a stroll through the Deer Park. This afternoon we will walk through the Higashiyama District, with its narrow cobblestone streets and tiny shops, and into the Gion, where geisha still live and work.
Most of today is at leisure with ample time to explore this wondrous former capital. Take the opportunity to shop in the huge complex by Central Station or at the Kyoto Handicraft Centre. Discover the wonders of the Nishiki food market, the National Museum or the Kyoto Imperial Palace. If you want more religious sites, there are a host of unique temples throughout Kyoto. Late this afternoon, we travel by bullet train to Tokyo. Gather tonight for our Farewell Shabu-Shabu dinner.
Hotel JAL City Toyosu (1 night)
Following a leisurely start, we will transfer to Narita airport to catch our flights bound for Canada, arriving home the same day.
Have any questions? Contact Sharon at sbahadur [at] craigtravel.com or call 1-800-387-8890
Tour Cost in Canadian Dollars Per Person
Deposit is $800 per person. Final payment is due December 13, 2023.
Airfares from other gateways are available on request.
Tour price is based on sharing a twin room at hotels and on a minimum of 15 members, based on rates, taxes and fees effective June 2023 and are subject to change due to factors beyond our control. Group to be escorted from Canada with a minimum of 15 group members.
Insurance is NOT INCLUDED but is highly recommended. Premiums are calculated based on the individual’s age, destination (country), trip length, and trip booking window – please contact our staff to receive a quote. Your coverage starts on the effective date of your confirmation of coverage. Please discuss your insurance coverage prior to booking. Refer to the enrollment form for terms and conditions.