Central Japan Cherry Blossom Tour
11–25 April 2020
15 days | $8290 – EARLY BIRD PRICE. SAVE $300! | 8 places left – BOOK NOW
Explore Central Japan during cherry blossom season!
Japan is a fascinating country full of incredible contrasts, and well-known for its beauty during the cherry blossom (sakura) season.
In this 15-day Central Japan Cherry Blossom Tour you will get to experience festivals and the cherry blossom season in an incredible photogenic part of the country. We explore a melting pot of traditional festivals, futuristic cities, diverse landscapes, and ancient temples among the sakura.
We start by visiting Mount Yoshino, Japan’s most famous cherry blossom location and enjoy the annual Yoshino spring festival as we make our way up the mountain among all the blossoming cherry trees.
Experience the colourful Takayama Festival, one of Japan’s three most famous festivals. Enjoy the fascinating karakuri puppet performances, and view the incredible beauty of the ornate festival floats (mikoshi) as they are illuminated and paraded around at night.
We also visit the UNESCO World Heritage site of Shirakawago, a village in the mountainous Hida region, famous for its gassho-zukuri farmhouses.
We explore the hustle and bustle of two of the world’s most energetic and dynamic cities in Osaka and Tokyo, and visit famous areas including Dotonbori, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Harajuku and Ginza.
View the symmetrical beauty of Mt Fuji while setting up the perfect landscape shot at Lake Kawaguchi.
Explore magnificent Kyoto temples and Japan’s two finest original castles, Himeji Castle and Matsumoto Castle. Visit one of the most incredible gardens in the world at Kenrokuen.
See geisha up close and watch the elegance of their traditional art and service.
This is a travel tour unlike any other. If you’ve ever wanted to visit Japan during cherry blossom season, don’t miss out on this tour!
Book now and take advantage of our early bird pricing!
Day 1 – KYOTO | 11 April 2020 (Sat)
Arrive at Kansai International Airport and make your way to our accommodation with airport transfer assistance provided. Our hotel is located just 13min by train from central Kyoto. An introductory dinner will be held and we’ll discuss the photography and activities we will undertake in the Kansai region over the next few days.
Meals: B, D
Day 2 – KYOTO | 12 April 2020 (Sun)
We start off our first full day in Japan visiting Ninnaji Temple, famous for it’s late-flowering cherry blossoms.
Next are two of Kyoto’s most famous temples today, the gold-covered Kinkakuji, and Ryoanji, featuring Japan’s most famous zen rock garden.
We spend late afternoon and sunset exploring Fushimi Inari Shrine and its thousands of vermillion torii gates snaking up the mountainside.
Day 3 – NARA, MOUNT YOSHINO | 13 April 2020 (Mon)
Today we leave Kyoto and head south to Nara prefecture, starting off with a morning visit to Todaiji Temple, one of the world’s largest wooden buildings and home to the largest sitting Buddha statue in the world.
Next up is Mount Yoshino (Yoshinoyama), Japan’s most famous cherry blossom spot. There are thousands of sakura trees planted on Mount Yoshino, creating a beautiful patchwork of pink during sakura season as you look down the mountain.
We visit several temples as we make our way up the mountain and stop at various viewpoints. The hike up is vigorous at times but the reward is a glorious view of the sakura-dotted mountainside. The Yoshino spring festival will also be on and we’ll be able to view a colourful and traditional parade.
Day 4 – TAKAYAMA | 14 April 2020 (Tue)
We make our way to Takayama to see one of our tour highlights – the famous Takayama Festival, one of Japan’s three great festivals.
The Takayama Festival is famous for its incredibly ornate festival floats and the karakuri puppet performances from the top of these floats. It gets even better at night when the floats are illuminated and paraded around town.
During the day you can even try some of the delicious local Hida beef, just as delicious as its cousin Kobe beef.
Day 5 – KANAZAWA | 15 April 2020 (Wed)
In the afternoon, we make our way north to Kanazawa, often called “Little Kyoto” for its similarities to Japan’s cultural capital. We visit to Kenrokuen, one of the “Three Great Gardens” of Japan, and undoubtedly Kanazawa’s top attraction. We finish our day with an evening visit to the beautiful Higashi Chaya Teahouse District, where Kanazawa’s geisha still work today.
Day 6 – SHIRAKAWAGO | 16 April 2020 (Thu)
Today is a day trip to Shirakawago, a village in the mountainous Hida region, and a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is famous for its gassho-zukuri farmhouses, which feature steep thatched roofs, designed to shed snow easily in this mountainous region. Some of these farmhouses are over 250 years old!
Day 7 – KANAZAWA | 17 April 2020 (Fri)
Kanazawa is one of Japan’s best-preserved Edo-period cities. We’ll be visiting Kanazawa Castle, the samurai district and the ingenious “Ninjadera” Temple today.
In the afternoon, we make our way to Lake Kawaguchiko with a dinner stopover in Tokyo.
Accom: Lake Kawaguchiko
Day 8 – LAKE KAWAGUCHIKO | 18 April 2020 (Sat)
Lake Kawaguchiko is part the Fuji Five Lakes area, with beautiful views of Mt Fuji in good weather, and several fantastic cherry blossom locations to enjoy. With clear weather, the cherry blossoms on the lake foreshore perfectly frame Mt Fuji in the background.
Accom: Lake Kawaguchiko
Day 9 – LAKE KAWAGUCHIKO | 19 April 2020 (Sun)
We have an early start this morning to visit the famous Chureito Pagoda and its beautiful view looking out towards Mount Fuji.
The rest of the day is free to explore various places around Lake Kawaguchiko, including Lake Saiko, the eerie Aokigahara Forest, the Kachi Kachi Ropeway, the Ice & Wind Caves, and the Iyashi no Sato Historical Village.
In the evening we make our way to Tokyo.
Day 10 – TOKYO | 20 April 2020 (Mon)
We are based in Japan’s incredible capital for the next two days. Tokyo is a sprawling megacity, home to over 38 million people – the largest megacity in the world!
We start with a morning visit to the famous Toyosu Market, the world’s largest wholesale fish market, and have a look at the incredible variety of seafood on sale. This is followed by a super fresh sushi lunch nearby!
After Tsukiji Market, we have free time. Our recommendation is to get some souvenir shopping, for example at electronics mecca of Akihabara, or Kappabashi Street which sells all you’ll ever need for the kitchen. You could also take in some culture by visiting one of the many museums in Ueno.
We finish off our day with a visit to Tokyo Skytree, the second-tallest structure in the world and tallest in Asia at 634m! There are amazing views to be had and fantastic opportunities to capture the Tokyo cityscape literally beneath you.
Day 11 – TOKYO | 21 April 2020 (Tue)
The morning is free time and you can spend this visiting the world electronics mecca of Akihabara, or take in some culture by visiting one of the many museums in Ueno.
In the afternoon, we visit Matsumoto and its premier attraction, Matsumoto Castle. This is one of the Japan’s few remaining original castles and is considered one of the premier castles along with Himeji Castle. We’ll be staying here until evening to photograph the castle at sunset and during blue hour, when it looks most beautiful.
After dinner, we make our way north to Toyama via limited express train and shinkansen.
Day 12 – TATEYAMA ALPINE ROUTE | 22 April 2020 (Wed)
Today we make a day trip along the Tateyama Alpine Route to Mount Murodo. This area is notable for its very high snowfall, and during spring the Alpine Route road needs to be cut out from the snow. We visit Yuki-no-otani, the snow wall that lines the Alpine Route, and which reaches heights of up to 14m!
Day 13 – HIMEJI, OSAKA | 23 April 2020 (Thu)
We visit Japan’s most famous castle today, the majestic Himeji Castle. This is one of the few original castles left in Japan and has undergone a recent restoration, so it looks even better than ever.
In the afternoon, we make our way back to Kyoto, with the rest of the day free time to explore more of the city. In the evening, we’ll make our way to Osaka to see the famous neon-lit restaurant district of Dotonbori, and also enjoy our farewell dinner here.
Day 14 – KYOTO | 24 April 2020 (Fri)
We start off early this morning to visit Arashiyama in western Kyoto. There we will explore the famous Sagano bamboo groves and walk around the historic Togetsukyo Bridge area.
We head back to central Kyoto and go to Gion at lunchtime for one of the highlights of our tour – a walking tour of Gion guided by a Kyoto guide, with our special farewell lunch accompanied by a maiko (apprentice geisha/geiko), there to serve and talk with us! Learn more about the world of geiko while enjoying Kyoto cuisine. This is a truly exclusive dinner, it’s just our tour group, our guide/interpreter, and the geiko. And yes, we’ll also be having an amazing photo session with the maiko to finish off our trip!
The afternoon is free time to explore more of Kyoto or catch up on souvenir shopping.
Meals: B, L
Day 15 – KYOTO | 25 April 2020 (Sat)
The end of our tour and we will assist you with transfers to Kansai Airport for your flight home.