Ancient & Modern Japan

Ancient & Modern Japan
Ancient & Modern Japan
Ancient & Modern Japan
Ancient & Modern Japan
Ancient & Modern Japan
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  • Overview
  • Itinerary
  • What's Included
  • Reviews
  • Dates
  • Exodus

Explore Zen gardens, temples and the most iconic sights of Japan

Ancient wooden temples, raked-pebble Zen gardens and chanting Buddhist monks juxtaposed with space-age towers, neon lights and bullet trains; Japan’s captivating blend of old and new is legendary. As we explore the southern and western stretches of Honshu, Japan's largest island, we discover the country's unique culture amongst the serene shrines and gardens of Nara and Kyoto and the rarely visited mountainous heartland of castles and spas. Our last stop is the vast and futuristic capital city of Tokyo: sprawling, inimitably busy, welcoming and extraordinary.

Highlights
* Spot mysterious geishas in Kyoto's Gion district * Experience cherry blossom season or beautiful autumn colours * Watch the famous snow monkeys bathing in hot springs * Take the incredible high speed 'bullet train' * Explore temples in Kyoto and discover futuristic Tokyo
Food

3 breakfasts and 3 dinners are included. Japanese cuisine is usually one of the main highlights of any trip to Japan. It is based on rice with miso soup and other dishes which are usually prepared with seasonal ingredients. Seafood is very is common, and it usually comes grilled or deep fried. Sushi and sashimi aside, other staple dishes include Soba or Udon noodles, Sukiyaki (meat, fish and vegetables cooked in broth) and Yakiniku (grilled meat). The included dinners are usually taken at traditional guesthouses which will serve a /kaiseki/ style dinner, a multi-course meal including a dozen of tiny dishes prepared with locally-sourced seasonal ingredients. When food is not included, your leader will always be on hand to recommend the best local eateries and arrange some group meals for a full immersion in Japan's varied and excellent cuisine.  Please note that in Japan the availability of certain specialised products for restricted diets, e.g. gluten-free, strict vegetarian (no fish/seafood) or vegan is minimal or non-existent. The group meals arranged by the tour leader will be in traditional eateries where the choices of vegan dishes may be limited to simple salads or boiled rice. However in Kyoto and Tokyo a number of vegan restaurants are available.  It may also be a good idea to bring with you some foodstuffs that you normally consume, or to supplement meals with snacks purchased in the local convenience stores. Please advise us at time of booking you have any specific dietary requirements.

Destinations
  • Asia
  • Japan
  • Sakura
  • Kyoto
  • Matsumoto
  • Tokyo
  • Hiroshima
  • Hakone
  • Takayama
  • Japanese Alps
Tour Types
  • Natural Wonders
  • Cultural
  • Snow Activities
  • Adventure
  • Active
  • Mountains
  • Foodie
  • Winter
  • Food & Drink Holidays
  • Singles
Day 1

The group flight to Kansai Airport (Osaka) departs in the afternoon from London.



Day 2

The trip starts in Kyoto, an atmospheric city set amidst beautiful hills. Those on the group flights from London will be met on arrival at Kansai Airport this evening and transferred to our hotel located in the city centre. * *



Day 3

With over 2000 temples, shrines and gardens, Kyoto is a treasure house of Japan's cultural heritage and remains undoubtedly one of the most fascinating cities in Asia. Unlike many other Japanese towns, it escaped the ravages of both the Second World War and modern urban development, thereby keeping intact much of the spirit and architecture of traditional Japan. Today, we have an introductory tour of the city. Starting with a visit to the famous Golden Temple of Kinkakuji, built in 1397 as a summer villa for the shogun Yoshimitsu Ashikaga and immortalised in Mishima Yukio's novel, 'The Golden Pavilion'. We then visit the Ryoanji temple, home to Japan's most famous and iconic rock garden, before moving onto the impressive Nijo castle, built in 1603 as a residence for the Tokugawa shoguns. At lunch we will head back to central Kyoto for a stroll at the famous Nishiki Market, known as 'Kyoto's Kitchen', which specialises in all things food related and is a great place to find seasonal foods and Kyoto specialties, such as Japanese sweets, pickles, dried seafood and sushi. Those who wish may opt to take a leisurely lunch at one of the local restaurants in the area or rest at the hotel. Later in the afternoon, we will have the opportunity to walk around historic Gion, Kyoto's most famous geisha district. Packed with bars, restaurants and traditional teahouses, Gion is at its most atmospheric in the early evening, when the lanterns are lit and apprentice geisha will flit about the back streets on their way to their appointments.



Day 4

Today we make a day trip to Japan's ancient capital, Nara (approx. 1hr each way). With eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites, it's second only to Kyoto as a repository of Japan's cultural legacy. Our walking tour includes a visit to the most iconic temples and shrines, including the Todaiji Great Buddha temple. Built in 752 by the Emperor Shomu this enormous 15 meter tall bronze Buddha is housed in what is reputed to be the largest wooden building in the world. We also spend time in the Nara Koen park, famous for its large numbers of overfed and slightly unruly deer, and visit the attractive Kasuga Shinto shrine, before returning to Kyoto in the late afternoon.



Day 5

Today is a free day for individual sightseeing. With so much to see and do in Kyoto it can be difficult to know where to begin. Our advice is to start with a very early visit to Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto's most important Shinto shrine and famous for its thousands of vermilion torii gates, which straddle a network of trails behind its main buildings. Getting there before the crowds at sunrise is the secret for a magical experience. The rest of the day could be spent exploring one of the several well established and easy-to-follow walking tours that take in many interesting sights. The eastern part of Kyoto is particularly rich in temples and gardens, and one can spend the day in this area, perhaps strolling along the tree-lined canal known as the Philosophers' Path and taking time out for contemplation in one of the many intriguing Zen gardens that dot the hillsides. Another day-trip to consider would be to Arashiyama, a pleasant tourist district in the western outskirts of Kyoto. The area has been a popular destination since the Heian Period (794-1185), when nobles would enjoy its natural setting. Arashiyama is particularly popular during the cherry blossom and autumn colour seasons. If you are interested in Japanese arts and cultural activities, there is also the option of visiting a cultural show to see some of Japan's ancient traditions such as the tea ceremony and Japanese theatre (these can be arranged locally by your tour leader and subject to availability).



Day 6

Today is our first experience of Japan's shinkansen (bullet train) as we speed our way to Hiroshima for the day (approx. 2hrs each way). Once in Hiroshima, we make a short excursion by local tram and ferry to the beautiful island of Miyajima; famous for the 'floating' tori (Shinto gate) of the Itsukushima-jinja Shrine. At high tide, when set against the backdrop of Mt Misen, this tori makes for one of the most beautiful and photogenic sights in Japan. Please note, whilst the ‘floating’ tori of Itsukushima-jinja Shrine is currently undergoing renovation works until summer 2020, we still recommend a visit to this enchanting island as part of the day trip to Hiroshima. In the afternoon we spend time at the A-Bomb museum and the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, both monuments to the fateful day in August 1945 when the city was selected as the target for the world's first wartime use of the atomic bomb. In the park burns a symbolic flame that will only be extinguished when the last nuclear weapon on earth has been destroyed. We depart Hiroshima late afternoon arriving back at our hotel in Kyoto in the evening.



Day 7

Travelling by train through forested valleys we make our way this morning to the peaceful and attractive old town of Takayama (approx. 4 hrs) nestling sleepily in the centre of the majestic Hida Mountains. We spend two nights here and have plenty of time to appreciate the charm and ambience of this delightful place. In the afternoon we visit the Hida Folk Village, an interesting outdoor museum of traditional rural architecture set in pleasant landscaped gardens, located a short walk from our accommodation. We stay in a traditional Japanese style accommodation where we have the opportunity to experience the Japanese lifestyle and hospitality (please refer to the accommodation section for more information).



Day 8

With over a dozen museums and galleries to suit all interests and several well-kept temples and parks, there are plenty of ways to spend a relaxing day in Takayama. We start with a short orientation tour around the morning market held daily along the banks of the Miyagawa River in the centre of town. Here amidst the friendly farmers with their familiar, and not so familiar, agricultural produce it is also possible to find some interesting souvenirs. Not so far away and of particular interest is the well-preserved collection of streets known as Sannomachi, where the many wooden built shops, restaurants and sake breweries give the area a mediaeval feel. For an insight into the life of medieval Japanese officials and the way they dealt (often not so compassionately) with those in their charge, a visit to the old Government House of Takayama-jinya is recommended. The remainder of the day is free to explore the town at your own pace: we recommend taking a stroll along the temple-line path called the Higashiyama Walkway and visit the several temples and attractions created by the mediaeval warlord, Kanamori Nagachika (1524-1600), who longed for Kyoto.



Day 9

Today we travel by express and local trains to the historic castle town of Matsumoto (approx. 4hrs). Enroute, we visit the mediaeval village of Tsumago that has changed little from its heyday as a post town in the Edo period. This is the best preserved of the many staging posts along the old Nakasendo Way, which fulfils the same role it did in centuries past - offering food and refuge to travellers. Those who wish can join the leader for an optional 1hr walk through peaceful forest trails, starting by the Odaki and Medaki waterfalls and finishing in Tsumago. We reach Matsumoto late afternoon where we have time to relax and perhaps take a leisurely stroll after dinner to see the impressive castle by night.



Day 10

This morning we visit the impressive Matsumoto castle. Founded in 1504, this castle, otherwise known as Crow Castle due to its black colour, is one of the two best preserved in Japan, most others having been destroyed following the Meiji Restoration. Its imposing six story donjon has been designated a national treasure. Please note that the castle preserves its original interior and structure, with very tall steps and steep staircases which some might find difficult to ascend and descend. We return to Matsumoto train station for our afternoon journey (approx. 3hrs) to the relaxing spa town of Yudanaka, which boasts some fantastic natural hot springs, where we spend a night in another Japanese-style accommodation.* *



Day 11

As well as being home to some of Japan's best hot springs, the small spa-town of Yudanaka is mainly famous for being the gateaway to the famous Jigokudani Onsen or 'Snow Monkey Park'. Here, the indigenous macaque monkeys have discovered the benefits of descending from the hills to soak and play in hot baths - observing their behaviour up close is fascinating! This is the only tribe of monkeys anywhere in the world to bath in hot springs for warmth. The sight is most spectacular in winter, when snow covers the grounds and the hot steam creates some amazing visual effects but despite the name, the so called 'snow monkeys' actually inhabit the area year-round. To reach the park we walk for approx. 20-25 mins on an easy forest trail and we will have approx. 1hr free to admire and photograph these entertaining creatures. No visit to Japan would be complete without a trip to Tokyo. This afternoon, we travel from Yudanaka to the capital by bullet train (approx. 4hrs), arriving in the early evening. On arrival in Tokyo we'll transfer to our hotel and start exploring the bright lights of the big city at night.



Day 12

For those wishing to see still more of this wonderful country, today is the last day of your Japan Rail Pass, entitling you to free train journeys to many destinations. One popular day-trip amongst tourists and Japanese alike looking for a break from Tokyo is Hakone, part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, less than 1hr and 30 mins by train. Famous for hot springs, natural beauty and the view of nearby Mt. Fuji, Hakone area also encompasses Lake Ashi, which can be toured by boat. Another alternative blissful escape from the city is the coastal town of Kamakura, offering numerous temples, shrines, historical monuments as well as panoramic hiking trails. For those not wishing to leave Tokyo, this day is free to soak up the atmosphere of this truly astounding city. Whilst being perhaps the most  energetic and futuristic city in the world, for a capital, Tokyo still remains a remarkably friendly, safe, manageable and delightful place to visit.



Day 13

Today we have a guided tour of Tokyo. Making use of the city's highly efficient tube system we can visit some of Tokyo's main attractions including Ueno (depending on season) and the lively Senso-ji Temple in the old entertainment district of Asakusa. We will also visit one of the city's parks or gardens which become especially spectacular during cherry blossom and autumn season. There is also some free time to discover other attractions at your own pace. For those with a head for heights we recommend an optional visit to the iconic Skytree Tower for breathtaking views of the city. With a height of 634 meters, it is the tallest building in Japan and the second tallest structure in the world at the time of its completion. In the evening, the possibilities for entertainment are almost limitless with Tokyo's nightlife as exciting as anywhere in Asia.



Day 14

Today has been left free for further individual exploration of Tokyo. Worth visiting is the Meiji Shrine; surrounded by tranquil forest, this Shinto shrine is one of the most popular in Japan and combines traditional Japanese architecture with love for the nature. Or for those interested in culture or shopping, there are limitless opportunities with districts like Ginza, Harajuku and Shinjuku catering for all tastes and needs! Your leader will be on hand to advise how best to maximise your free day in Tokyo. * *



Day 15

Those on the group flights will be transferred to Tokyo airport this evening for the daytime flight to London. Please note that although late check out is not included in the cost of the trip, the hotel provides free lugagge storage facilities. 



Day 16

Arrive London



* 3 breakfasts and 3 dinners * All accommodation  * All transport and listed activities * Flights from London (if booking incl. flights) * Group arrival transfer (for group flight) * Free departure transfer by shuttle service (must be booked in advance before trip commences with Exodus and is subject to availability) * Japan Rail Pass


Japan. Ancient and Modern

A superb trip, exploring a wide variety of destinations and experiences. Very stimulating. Wonderful to travel on public transport. I never expected to see and do so much. I loved the traditional wooden buildings / hotels we stayed in in the mountain areas. All the accommodation was excellent.

Rating: 5




Konichiwa and arigato!

This trip exceeded expectations in many ways - incredibly well-organised with a good balance between group activities and private exploration. The breadth of Japanese culture, both ancient and modern, was well covered, the accommodations were excellent, the food was extraordinary and the transport system very impressive. And the Japanese we met were always polite, respectful, friendly and calm. We came home with the feeling that the UK has a lot to learn!

Rating: 5




Fascinating experience!

You really couldn’t pack any more into 2 weeks! We walked round cities (lot of walking), visited temples, shrines, markets, gardens and castles and saw beautiful scenery from the trains. Our guide was very helpful and knowledgeable and always available for advice on what to do, where to go and where to eat in our free time.

Rating: 5




Fabulous, well paced trip to see the best of ancient and modern Japan

This was a bucket list trip for me and I was really pleased with the pace and the amount we covered in two weeks. The travel dates that I chose were specifically to see the blossoms and although they were late this year, we were lucky to see them and experience their serenity in Tokyo. The trip has lots of other amazing things in it too.

Rating: 5




Deers, monkeys, cherry blossoms and saunas in clean Japan with nicely behaved Japans.

Wild deers, snow monkeys, cherry blossoms, temple cats, bullet trains, metros, lovely and friendly Japans in clean Japan.

Rating: 5




Japan - land of dreams

Japan is a must in regards to countries you should see in your lifetime. This itinerary covers a lot and you will get a comprehensive outlook on Japanese culture through it. Every single day was an experience of it's own. There is a lot to say about Japan: transport system is excellent, streets are spotlessly clean. The best costumer service you will get and one of the kindest/most efficient people you will have a pleasure to meet. The diversity between new and old that you can see so clearly just by visiting Kyoto and Tokio is so interesting to witness. I will definitely come back to Japan after this trip!

Rating: 5




A Wonderful Trip to a Fascinating Country

I have been on many trips, all over the world, during the past decade or so, including many with Exodus. This Exodus trip I would rank as one of the very best. From start to finish, it was a wonderful experience, with a great group of fellow travelers. Each day was filled with new delights. The Japanese people were consistently kind, friendly, welcoming, and polite. The transport system is absolutely superb. The spotlessness of every location - even side streets in huge cities - has to be experienced to be believed. I am absolutely adamant that I will return to Japan in the near future because I was so enthralled by my experience during this trip.

Rating: 5




Ancient and Modern Japan

I really enjoyed the trip. Japan was everything I expected and more. So much so that I want to return in the next couple of years. I loved the fact that quite a few of the train journeys were made by bullet train. We were fortunate to be in Tokyo whilst the Cherry Blossom was in flower. Big tick on the bucket list.

Rating: 5




Ancient and Modern Japan

I really enjoyed the trip. Japan was everything I expected and more. So much so that I want to return in the next couple of years. I loved the fact that quite a few of the train journeys were made by bullet train. We were fortunate to be in Tokyo whilst the Cherry Blossom was in flower. Big tick on the bucket list.

Rating: 5




Great Trip

We had booked this trip to mark our 40th wedding anniversary and it did not disappoint. The travel arrangements all worked very well and our accommodation was of a very good standard. We had a brilliant guide, who introduced us to a series of memorable experiences, including our first taste of authentic Japanese cooking. The trip lived up to our expectations and was very much in line with what had been set out in the Trip Notes.

Rating: 5



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You will have the option to book your own flights independently with the operator.

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Touring with Exodus

With over 45 years’ experience of taking people on amazing adventure holidays, Exodus can help you reach some of the most incredible destinations on 500 itineraries across more than 90 countries around the world. All staff at Exodus have a passion for travel and adventure, and some team members have been professional archaeologists, wildlife guides, overland drivers, mountain leaders, diving and ski specialists and mountain bike gurus. But that’s not all. This reputable company is a Which? recommended escorted tour provider and has won many prestigious awards, including Best Activity and Sports Holiday Company at the 2018 British Travel Awards.

Exodus is all about adventure and helping others to achieve their travel dreams by offering a fantastic range of guided group holidays, self-guided trips, tailor-made getaways and escorted tours. So, if you’re looking to discover different countries, cultures, environments, cities, mountain ranges, deserts, coasts or even jungles, the expert team at Exodus can help you plan an unforgettable solo, group or family adventure.

Each tour and adventure has been created to give you maximum value for money, often including authentic activities, as well as flights, accommodation and a tour guide. And as the team has developed one of the very best and most exciting collections of guided-group tours and self-guided holidays, you’re guaranteed the adventure holiday of a lifetime, no matter which one you pick. Trips include everything from family adventure holidays and walking and cycling tours to mixed-activity tours and seasonal getaways. You can also ask Exodus to plan a tailored itinerary from scratch or tweak an existing one, which means you can book a bespoke holiday that is designed just for you.

Need some inspiration? You can enjoy varied walks in the stunning Spanish mountains, experience the magic of Italy in Tuscany or explore the rich Sri Lankan history and culture by bike. Try a host of different activities in glorious Turkish surroundings, ski through the magnificent Norwegian wilderness or embark on a journey through India’s tropical south. Visit Iceland and East Greenland, see the spectacular marine wildlife in the Maldives or cruise along the mighty Amazon River in Peru – the options are endless!

When it comes to travelling together as a family with Exodus, all family holidays are specifically designed to offer a mix of education and exploration, with plenty of downtime. Each adventure and tour has been created with one of three age ranges in mind, but children outside of the 5-8, 9-12 and 13-16 age bracket are welcome to travel too. Plus, the price for children up to the age of 16 is 25% lower than the adult cost for Exodus guided holidays to help make your trip more affordable. From canoeing and cycling in the Dordogne to safari tours in Africa and dolphin watching in Costa Rica, Exodus offer family adventures all over the world.

Something that makes this adventure holiday and escorted tour operator unique is the loyalty scheme, the Exodus Collective. When you book your second trip, you’ll join the Collective and be given access to exclusive discounts, sales previews and special travel benefits. The more you travel with Exodus the more you’ll be entitled to, and your membership also grants you special access to exclusive travel content.

At Exodus, they make sure that everyone travels respectfully and courteously in a small group to minimise their impact and to ensure each holiday is a beneficial experience for all those involved. Where possible, they believe in putting money directly into the communities they visit by eating locally produced food and using locally owned and run accommodation. They also strive to provide as much flexibility and choice as possible to make it simple for you to experience a memorable holiday, your way.

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tour details

This tour is operated by Exodus

15 nights from pp exc.flights; per Night
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Group Size:6 - 18
Suitable For: 16 to 99
Difficulty:Moderate
Meals:3 breakfasts, 0 lunches, 3 dinners.
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