Experience both modern and traditional culture in Tokyo, Kyoto, Takayama & Kanazawa during Japan’s cherry blossom season.
The Golden Triangle of Japan lets you travel through time and experience the culture, traditions, and architecture that are uniquely Japanese. This cherry blossom tour also highlights lush gardens and best spots to admire Japan’s flowering cherry trees.
This is our reverse itinerary, meaning it begins in Osaka before following a route through mountainous areas, to the coastal regions of Honshu, and then finishing in Tokyo. You will have the opportunity to experience a genuine green tea ceremony, meet an apprentice geisha (maiko), make sushi, and observe a stunning kimono fashion show. Stay overnight at a ryokan (traditional inn), where you can unwind in a relaxing hot springs (onsen) and dine on gourmet kaiseki cuisine.
Our private guides and drivers will take you to the ancient capital of Nara to visit Todaiji Temple, the largest wooden building in Japan and home to the Great Buddha statue. In Nara Park, you can see over 1,000 Sika deer roam free. Spend two days in the historic city of Kyoto, where you will have exclusive access to the city’s gardens, temples, shrines, and specialty shops. The gardens and temples featured on this itinerary been chosen because of their reputation as the “best places to view cherry blossoms”. Visit Arashiyama, located on the outskirts of Kyoto, famous for its bamboo forest and traditional Zen landscape garden at Tenryuji Temple.
Our travel group will also have the chance to visit the beautiful, but often overlooked by Western tourists, city of Kanazawa. Here, you will visit Kenrokuen Garden, one of Japan’s top three gardens. Then, head to Shirakawa- go & Takayama, located amongst the Japanese Alps. Due to their remote location, these places are beautifully preserved and have developed their own culture that is unique from the rest of Japan.
Enjoy the natural scenery at Mt. Fuji and Hakone. Then, end your trip with a comprehensive tour of Tokyo. Visit Tokyo’s cultural landmarks, fashionable neighborhoods, diverse shopping districts, and best cherry blossom spots on a private guided tour. Learn how to make your own sushi with a professional sushi chef and savor your delicious creations. Explore the city’s most popular sites like the Shibuya Crossing, Asakusa Kannon Temple, Tsukiji Market, Imperial Palace, and Tokyo Tower. This itinerary is designed to see both the modern and innovative, as well as the traditional and unspoiled parts of Japan while taking advantage of the season to enjoy the country’s celebrated cherry blossoms.
Osaka Kansai Airport
Welcome to Osaka! You will be met at the arrival gate by an AJT representative holding an “All Japan Tours” sign.
Hotel Nikko Kansai Airport or similar class
Hotel Elsereine Osaka or similar class (NOTE 1 & 2)
NOTE 1: If you wish to stay in the center of Osaka for the first night instead of Hotel Nikko Kansai Airport, we can arrange for you to stay at Hotel Elsereine Osaka (or similar class). In this case, airport transfer is not included, but we will provide you directions to get to your hotel in advance.
NOTE 2: If you will be flying into Itami Airport (ITM) instead of Kansai International Airport (KIX), we can arrange for you to stay in the center of Osaka (Hotel Elsereine Osaka or similar class) instead of Hotel Nikko Kansai Airport. In this case, airport transfer and meet- and-greet are not included, but we will provide with full instructions to get to the hotel in advance.
NOTE 3: The meet and greet is ONLY available for flights arriving in Terminal 1 after 11:00 AM. For guests arriving in Terminal 2, airport pickup is not included, but and we will provide you with directions to get to your hotel in advance.
NOTE 4: If you wish to stay extra nights before the tour starts, please contact us to book hotel accommodations.
Nara (Todai-ji Temple / Nara Deer Park), Kyoto (Fushimi Inari Shrine / Green Tea Ceremony with Maiko Interaction)
After breakfast, we will make our way to Nara to visit the Todaiji Temple, one of Japan’s most historically significant temples. Its main hall is the largest wooden building in Japan, and it also houses one of the largest bronze statues of Buddha at 16.3 meters high. Outside the temple grounds is the Nara Deer Park, filled with over 1,000 Sika deer. Our tour will continue to the Fushimi Inari Shrine, famous for its 4km long tunnel of vermillion colored torii gates, which was also featured in the film “Memoirs of a Geisha”. Lastly, you will have the chance to experience a traditional green tea ceremony. There will also be a meet-and-greet with a maiko, who is simply an apprentice geisha. Photo-taking opportunities will be available as well.
Breakfast / Lunch
Grand Prince Hotel Kyoto or similar class
Kyoto (Arashiyama – Tenryuji Temple Zen Garden – Sagano Bamboo Forest / Golden Pavilion / Nishijin Kimono Show / Kiyomizu Temple / Maruyama Park / Gion Geisha District)
We will spend the day touring Kyoto, which once served as Japan’s capital from 794 until 1868. It is considered Japan’s cultural center, even being spared from the bombings of WWII due to its historically priceless structures. Our group will first visit Arashiyama, a scenic area particularly popular during the spring and autumn seasons. Visit a traditional Zen garden at Tenryuji Temple before enjoying a stroll through the Sagano Bamboo Forest. Continue to the Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavilion), distinguished for its two top floors completely covered with 18 carat gold leaf. It was originally built as a retirment villa by shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu in 1397. Then, our group will get experience an elegant kimono fashion show and learn how they are made at the Nishijin Textile Center. Our next attraction is the famous Kiyomizu Temple, best known for its wooden stage that extends from its main hall, 13 meters above the hillside below. The stage affords visitors a nice view of numerous cherry and maple trees below, as well as a beautiful scene of Kyoto in the distance. From Kiyomizu Temple, we will head to Maruyama Park, which is one of the most popular places for cherry blossom viewing (hanami) in Kyoto. Our last destination for the day will be Gion, the city’s most famous geisha district. It is filled with exclusive ochaya (teahouses) where maiko and geisha entertain, and is also recognized for its traditional wooden machiya merchant houses.
Breakfast / Dinner
Grand Prince Hotel Kyoto or similar class
Shinkansen Bullet Train Ride from Kyoto to Maibara, Kanazawa (Kenrokuen Garden), Shirakawa-go (Shiroyama Viewpoint – Gassho-zukuri Minkaen)
Today, you will get to experience a Shinkansen bullet train ride from Kyoto to Maibara, which can reach speeds of up to 300 km/hr. Afterwards, transfer to Kanazawa to visit Kenrokuen Garden, one of three most beautiful strolling gardens of Japan. Here, you’ll find the oldest fountain in Japan and Kotoji-toro, the two-legged stone lantern and iconic symbol of Kanazawa. Then, we will we cross mountains by private coach to the World Heritage site of Shirakawa-go. Shirakawa-go is home to the Gassho-zukuri (“praying hands”) farmhouses. We will go to the Shiroyama Viewpoint to see splendid views of the Ogimachi Village. Next, the Gassho-zukuri Minkaen, which is an open air museum of farmhouses and other structures. We will continue to Takayama, a city located amongst the Japanese Alps and sometimes referred as “Little Kyoto” for its preserved historical structures and environment. Due to it’s remote position in the mountains, it has maintained a very unique and traditional atmosphere. Tonight, we will stay at the Ryokan, where you can enjoy a soothing soak in the onsen and try a traditional Japanese Kaiseki banquet dinner.
Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner
Okada Ryokan or similar class
Takayama (Morning Market / Takayama Jinya / Old Town), Matsumoto (Matsumoto Castle)
After enjoying a Japanese breakfast at the ryokan, we will continue sightseeing in Takayama. Browse through the market stalls at the Morning market for local crafts and fresh produce. Next, visit Takayama Jinya, a former local government office that now serves as a public museum. It features an interesting interrogation room and official documents of past feudal lords. Proceed to Takayama’s beautifully preserved Old Town, which highlights many buildings and whole streets of houses dating from the Edo Period (1600- 1868). In the afternoon, our group will visit the Matsumoto Castle, also known as “Crow Castle” because of its black exterior. Inside, we can see the best examples of a wooden constructed, traditional Japanese-style castle. It is classified as a “hirajiro”, meaning it is a castle built on plains rather than on a hill or mountain.
Breakfast / Dinner
Yatsugatake Royal Hotel or similar class
Mt Fuji, Hakone (Hakone Ropeway / Owakudani), Tokyo (Shibuya – Shibuya Crossing – Hachiko Statue)
Today, we will travel to Mt. Fuji on our private luxury coach. If the weather is in our favor, we will stop by the Mt. Fuji 5th Station for a grand view of Japan’s famous mountain. Enjoy an extensive tour of Hakone by taking a 20 minute ropeway ride from Togendai to Owakudani. Owakudani is known for its active volcanic zone that was created from the eruption of Mount Hakone some 3,000 years ago. Here, you can experience its hot springs and bubbling pools, where volcanic gases still linger. From there, we will travel to Tokyo and spend time in Shibuya. There, you will get to see the famed Shibuya Crossing in action and cross the street with the crowd. You will also be able to take photos with the Hachiko Statue, a monument dedicated to Japan’s most loyal dog, which continued for nine years after his owner’s death.
Breakfast / Lunch
Tobu Hotel Levant Tokyo or similar class
Tokyo (Asakusa Sensoji Temple / Ueno Park / Sushi Making Experience / Tsukiji Outer Market / Imperial Palace / Tokyo Tower)
After breakfast, you will be taken to the Asakusa Kannon Temple, the most colorful temple in Tokyo that holds Japan’s largest paper lantern. You will also be able to explore the Nakamise Market, which is located right after the temple’s “thunder gate” (Kaminarimon). It is an Edo- style shopping street full of traditional snacks and souvenirs. Then, make your way to Ueno Park, an excellent cherry blossom spot with more than 1,000 cherry trees. Afterwards, you will have the chance to participate in a delicious sushi making experience with a professional sushi chef. Whatever you prepare, you will get to eat! Our next attraction will be the Tsukiji Outer Market, which is lined with a plethora of food stands and shops. Our group will continue to the Imperial Palace, the current residence of Japan’s Imperial Family and former grounds of the Edo Castle. It is surrounded by moats and stone fortifications, located in the heart of Tokyo. From there, we will reach our final stop of the day, the Tokyo Tower. At 333 meters high, Tokyo Tower is 13 meters taller than its model, the Eiffel Tower. Visitors can go up 150 meters to the main observatory deck and get a panoramic view of the city.
Note: For Sushi Making Experience, if you are vegetarian, on gluten-free diets, have seafood allergy, or don’t eat raw fish, please contact us for other ingredient options.
Breakfast / Lunch
Hotel Mystays Premier Narita or similar class
Tobu Hotel Levant Tokyo or similar class (NOTE 5 & 6)
NOTE 5: If you wish to stay in the center of Tokyo for the last night instead of Hotel Mystays Premier Narita, we can arrange for you to stay at Tobu Hotel Levant Tokyo (or similar class). In this case, airport transfer is not included, but we will provide full instructions for you to get to the airport in advance.
NOTE 6: If you will be flying out from Haneda Airport (HND) instead of Narita Airport (NRT), we can arrange for you to stay at Tobu Hotel Levant Tokyo (or similar class) instead of Hotel Mystays Premier Narita. In this case, airport transfer is not included but we will provide full instructions for you to get to the airport in advance.
After breakfast, our tour officially ends. Checkout time is 11 am and Narita Airport can be reached by hotel shuttle bus.
NOTE 7: If you would like to stay longer in Japan, please contact us to book hotel accommodations.