Gardens of Japan
From buzzing fish and seafood markets and ornate, centuries-old palaces to dense bamboo groves and meticulously kept gardens, Japan is home to an array of experiences that will capture your heart. Join us as we explore the country's most awe-inspiring gardens - taking in local culture and mouth-watering flavours as we go.
8 nights from £3539pp
Call us on 01756 706505 (+44 1756 706505) to discuss this holiday
Gardens of Japan 2020-21 Itinerary
Day 1: Osaka
Konnichiwa! Our sensory journey of Japan will begin in the spirited city of Osaka. Tonight, we’ll meet the group and get to know each other better over an included welcome dinner at a local restaurant.
Day 2: Osaka - Himeji - Kurashiki
After breakfast at the hotel, we’ll take a private vehicle to the beautiful Himeji Castle – Japan’s biggest and best-preserved feudal-era castle – where we’ll take some time to stroll the 400-year-old complex and learn more about the building’s fascinating history. Then: we’ll make the short journey to Koraku-en Garden, one of Japan’s most famous landscape gardens. Here, we’ll wander expansive lawns broken up by large, glinting ponds and groves of plum, cherry and maple trees before moving on to Kurashiki – where we’ll have the evening to stroll the historic laneways and lamp-lit canals at our leisure.
Day 3: Kurashiki - Matsue
Once a buzzing centre for rice distribution, Kurashiki’s former merchant history is most evident in the town’s well-preserved canal area. We’ll spend the morning exploring the wooden storehouses-turned-museums and old willow-edged canals before being escorted to the opulent Ohashi House – where we’ll stroll through the house’s tatami floored rooms and elegant sliding doors, and admire the samurai-style architecture reflecting the Ohashi family’s wealth and importance. Later, we’ll move on to the ‘Water City’ of Matsue – and enjoy an included dinner at a local restaurant.
Day 4: Matsue - Izumo - Matsue
After breakfast, our guide will take us to picturesque Matsue Castle – one of only 12 original castles left in Japan. Perched atop a network of pine-lined waterways and charming bridges, the 16th century keep is something to behold! After, we’ll spend the afternoon wandering the beautifully landscaped gardens and carefully curated art collection at the Adachi Museum of Art where we’ll enjoy lunch overlooking the lush pond garden. Later, we’ll make our way to mythological Izumo to pay a visit to the country’s oldest and most sacred Shinto shrine: Izumo Taisha. Back in Matsue, the evening will be yours to spend at your leisure.
Day 5: Matsue - Kyoto
Today we’ll take the bullet train to Japan’s spiritual heart: Kyoto. Our first stop? Nishiki Market, where we’ll spend some time browsing the lively market stalls and sampling delicious sweets, pickles, dried seafood and sushi. Later, we’ll discover Kyoto’s atmospheric dining district of Pontocho. Best explored at night, this narrow pedestrian-only walkway is lined with old wooden façades, glowing lanterns and buzzing restaurants serving up tantalising dishes – from inexpensive yakitori to modern Kyoto cuisine. Take some time to explore at your leisure, keeping your eyes peeled for the occasional geisha making their way between appointments.
Day 6: Kyoto - Arashiyama - Kyoto
Nestled at the base of Kyoto’s western mountains, the tranquil district of Arashiyama is best known for its scenic temples and peaceful bamboo grove. We’ll begin our day with a visit to Gio-Ji Temple, which is known for its mossy gardens, simple thatched hall and tall maple trees. Next, we’ll wander the awe-inspiring gardens of Okochi Mountain Villa – the former estate of famed film actor Okochi Denjiro. Here, we’ll take some time to admire the grand residential architecture and impressive viewpoints before enjoying a complimentary matcha green tea and traditional sweets in this charming setting. We’ll have time to take a serene stroll through Arashiyama’s dense bamboo grove before heading to today’s highlight – the Tenryuji Temple. And later, we’ll make tracks to Higashiyama to partake in a traditional chanoyu tea ceremony. Back in Kyoto, you’ll have some free time to explore the gently sloping lanes and traditional shophouses of the Ninenzaka district.
Day 7: Kyoto - Kanazawa
This morning we’ll travel by express train to the capital of Ishikawa Prefecture: Kanazawa. Here, we’ll meet our guide for a tour of the historic Omicho market – a network of buzzing restaurants and market stalls filled with fresh local seafood and colourful produce. We’ll have some free time to immerse ourselves in the market’s hustle and bustle before moving on to the tranquil Kenrokuen Garden. Drawing inspiration from the six attributes of perfection (seclusion, spaciousness, artificiality, antiquity, abundant water and broad views), it’s easy to see why this Edo period garden is one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan. We’ll round off our day in the Higashi Chaya District, where we’ll stop in at a local store to learn the art of gold leaf decorating.
Day 8: Kanazawa - Tokyo
After breakfast, we’ll ride the bullet train to Tokyo. Upon arrival, we’ll be escorted to Tsukiji Outer Fish Market, the largest fish and seafood market in the world. We’ll have time to browse over 400 shops selling fresh ingredients and cooking utensils before we make tracks to the famous Meiji Shrine and the Imperial Palace – the official residence of Japan’s Imperial Family. We’ll take some time to wander the large grounds, moats and imposing stone walls before returning to our hotel – where we’ll clink glasses over a farewell dinner later tonight.
Day 9: Tokyo
After one last breakfast with the group, our tour will come to a close.
- Stroll the tranquil bamboo groves of Kyoto's famed Arashiyama district
- Visit Kenrokuen Garden: one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan
- Learn how to decorate a unique souvenir with traditional Kanazawa gold leaf
- 8 nights in quality accommodation
- Air-conditioned transportation
- 8 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 4 dinners