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Shoguns and Samurai

Map to Shoguns and Samurai Tour

Central Japan is a region of tall mountain ranges and fast-flowing rivers. It wasn’t until recently that roads reached the remoter villages, and today many remain remarkably well-preserved, and evocative of centuries past. Our journey takes us through Japanese history from modern Tokyo, known as Edo during Japan’s period of rule by the Shoguns, to end near Kyoto, Japan’s capital for 400 years and the repository of much of the countries cultural heritage. From Tokyo we head first to Yudanaka Onsen hot spring where the famous “snow monkeys” come to enjoy the natural hot spring baths just like humans. In feudal times people traveling from Kyoto to Tokyo would use the Nakasendo way – the road through the central mountains – one of a network of ancient highways. We will visit one of the best preserved sections in the Kiso Valley, where the lovely villages of Tsumago and Magome have been immaculately restored.

Itinerary Details:

Day 1 – Tokyo
Meet at Narita International Airport and transfer to Tokyo. In the evening there will be a welcome dinner at a city restaurant.
Accommodation: Hotel (4*)

Day 2 – Tokyo
Our first full day in Japan will be spent on a walking tour of Tokyo, visiting the elegant Ginza shopping district and the grand Meiji shrine. In the evening your tour leader will be on hand to help you with ordering dinner.
Accommodation: Hotel (4*)

Day 3 – Obuse & Yudanaka Hot Spring
Transfer to Obuse in Nagano Prefecture north-west of Tokyo. Visit the Hokusai-kan, woodblock print museum and Masuichi-Ichimura Saké Brewery. By road to Yudanaka Onsen, a hot spring village famous for its ‘snow monkeys’. N.B. Please note that there is a 25-minute walk along a level path to the 'snow monkey' hot spring.
Accommodation: Ryokan (Japanese inn)

Day 4 – Narai
Travel to the Kiso valley and the small town of Narai, an atmospheric example of a post-town on the ancient Nakasendo trail between Kyoto and Tokyo. Our accommodation will be an Edo-period house converted into a minshuku.
Accommodation: Minshuku (family run Japanese inn)

Day 5 – Magome
Continue to Tsumago, another of the post-towns on the former Nakasendo trail. Visit the folk museum, with exhibits on the old Nakasendo trail and the village. Travel by local bus to Magome, in time to check in to our minshuku, a lovely family-run inn with an antique irori (sunken Japanese hearth) and a bath made of hinoki (Japanese cypress) wood.
Accommodation: Minshuku (family run Japanese inn)

Day 6 & 7 - Takayama
Transfer to Takayama in Gifu Prefecture. Explore the San-machi area with its rows of old merchant’s houses, some open as museums. In the evening we will try the local Hida beef, and perhaps some locally-brewed saké.
Accommodation: Ryokan (Japanese inn)

Day 8 Shirakawa-go
North-west of Takayama is the village of Ogimachi, within the Shirakawa-go area of the Sho-kawa valley. The village is home to a large number of gassho-zukuri houses, and has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1995. These large wooden houses have steep thatched roofs, designed to withstand heavy snow, and the term gassho-zukkuri refers to the shape of praying hands formed by the roofs. Inside, the houses could accommodate large extended families of up to sixty people. Our accommodation here will be in one of these traditional houses, and dinner will be served around the irori (sunken hearth).
Accommodation: Minshuku (family run Japanese inn)

Day 9 & 10 – Kyoto
We will leave the mountains today, traveling by bus to Takayama, and then by train to Kyoto. We will spend two days exploring Kyoto and its many temples, including a walk through Gion, the traditional geisha quarters. There will be a half-day free, so you can catch up on sending postcards, shop for souvenirs, take some time to do some more exploring.
Accommodation: Hotel (4*)

Day 11 - Nara - Day Trip from Kyoto
The ancient city of Nara , which preceded Kyoto as Japan ’s capital from 710 to 784, is one hour south of Kyoto by train. We will visit the old merchant district of Nara-machi with its narrow streets, shops, cafes and restaurants. Next we will visit Todai-ji temple, with its bronze statue of Buddha , said to be the largest wooden structure in the world. Return to Kyoto city Centrex hotel.
Accommodation: Hotel (4*)

Day 12 - Mount Koya
From the Nara plain we will travel by train along the scenic Nankai railway line to Mount Koya, a bowl-shaped valley filled with stands of cedar trees 800 metes up in the mountains of the Kii Peninsula.Since the 9th century, when the monk Kukai (also known as Kobo Daishi) founded the first temple and the shingon sect of Buddhism, Mount Koya has been a place of religious devotion and ceremony. Today there are more than 100 monasteries, many of which have shukubo (temple lodgings). We will stay in one of the elegant temples, run by the monks, and dine on shojin-ryori (Buddhist vegetarian cuisine). There will be a guided walk through the vast Okuno-in cemetery, with thousands of graves and memorials to feudal lords and other past luminaries.
Accommodation: Shukubo (temple lodging)

Day 13 - Tokyo
This morning you will have the opportunity to get up early to join in the Buddhist service at the temple. After breakfast we will check-out and return to Tokyo via Osaka.
Accommodation: Hotel (4*)

Day 14 - Tour Ends
Your tour leader will help you transfer to Tokyo's Narita Airport for your flight home.

Tour Accommodation:
We have chosen each accommodation carefully for their comfort, service and personal service. On several nights we use Japanese-style accommodation with shared bathrooms and toilets. These generally have separate male and female bathing areas. Couples or those traveling together will have their own room, while single travelers may be asked to share with another member of the group (same gender only).

Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara : Western style hotels.
Obuse, Narai, Magome, Shirakawa-go Takayama: Japanese inns (ryokan and minshuku)
Mount Koya: Buddhist temple.

Please note that single rooms are normally only available in hotels – where a single room supplement may apply. Single travelers may be asked to share a room (same gender) in Obuse, Narai, Magome, Takayama and Mount Koya.

Cuisine:
To make sure you get the most of your Japan experience, Japan Road tours offer a wide variety of Japanese cuisine to enjoy. You will have the chance to eat local specialties in small Japanese diners and sample some of the more 'refined' Japanese cuisine.

All breakfasts and 10 evening meals are included in the tour price.

Lunches and 3 evening meals in Tokyo, Kyoto and Nara are not included for reasons of choice and convenience, but your tour leader will be available to help with recommendations and ordering.

Tour Guidance:
Full time services of a Japanese and English speaking tour leader.

This 14 day tour begins and ends in Japan.

 


If you have any questions or if you are ready
to make a reservation please Contact Us or call at +1-248-747-4048

American Society of Travel Agents MemberJapan Travel SpecialistJapan Endless Discovery

Tour schedules are subject to change.
If any changes should be made it will be done in the best interest of the travelers.
Japan Roads will at all times aim to offer you the most interesting tour possible.

Dates 2014
March 30 to April 12
May 11 to 24
July 20 to August 2
October 5 to 18
November 2 to 15

The above dates are subject to change

Price 2014
US$4,215
per person.

Tour price includes all transportation between destinations, accommodation, entrance fees, full-time services of tour leader, all breakfasts and 10 evening meals. Single supplement is US$ 560.

Duration
14 days.
Guidance
Full time services of Japanese/English speaking tour leader.
Highlights
Kyoto, Nara, Obuse woodblock print museum, snow monkeys of Yudanaka hot spring, traditional merchants houses of Takayama, Shirakawa-go UNESCO World Heritage Site, Tokyo.
Mode of Travel
Train ('shinkansen' bullet train and local trains) and bus.
Group Size
Minimum 5, maximum 12 participants
Age Restrictions
Participants should be at least 12 years old. Everyone younger than 20 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
Guest Comments
"I believe the Shoguns and Samurai Tour was the best we went on after 5 previous Tour of Japan especially the Minshukus and Ryokans."
P. Fujimoto, Lanai City USA

"We want to commend Mari Ohara in the highest terms possible. She said "Yes, of course!" to every request anyone made and followed through. You couldn't possibly have come up with a better ambassador of Japanese culture than Mari. It was a terrific trip. The food, the variety of sites, the pace: everything was superb. Hats off to everyone involved, and, again, thanks especially to Mari-san for sharing her love of Japan with us."
D. Kirby, Tallahassee, USA

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