Japan Cities, Mountains & Art: Itinerary Details

Miho Museum Tunnel

Miho Museum

Japan Cities, Mountains & Art (12 Days)

Day 1: Welcome to Tokyo! Meet-and-greet on arrival and private transfer to your hotel, Andaz Tokyo.
Day 2: Private morning tour of Tsukiji Fish Market. Afternoon to explore as you please.
Day 3: A full day free to explore Tokyo independently.
Day 4: Board the world-famous shinkansen (bullet train) to Nagano. Optional visit to magnificent Zenko-ji Temple. Afternoon free to enjoy your traditional ryokan, Jinpyokaku, with onsen (hot springs). Multi-course kaiseki dinner this evening.
Day 5: Morning visit to see the Snow Monkeys. Continue to Hakuba and settle into your ski resort.
Day 6: A full day to enjoy the world-class slopes with your Hakuba Ski Pass.
Day 7: Travel to the ancient capital, Kyoto. Check into your beautifully-restored traditional machiya townhouse.
Day 8: Private orientation tour of the ancient capital, Kyoto, visiting Kiyomizu-dera Temple, the Higashiyama District & Nishiki Market. Afternoon to explore as you please.
Day 9: Day trip to the stunning Miho Museum, designed by I.M. Pei.
Day 10: Travel to the art island, Naoshima. Afternoon free to explore the island’s art and architecture. Overnight at Benesse House.
Day 11: Return journey to Tokyo. Enjoy your final evening in Tokyo.
Day 12: Morning at leisure. Private transfer to the airport for your international departure. If your flight departs from Osaka we can adjust the itinerary accordingly (additional costs may apply).


Day 1: Arrive in Tokyo

Welcome to Japan! On arrival in Tokyo you’ll be met by our representative and transferred in style by private car to your hotel.

In Tokyo you’ll stay at Andaz Tokyo. Tokyo’s most stylish new luxury hotel, Andaz maintains a boutique feel while offering all the best amenities. Enjoy free soft drinks all day in the comfortable Andaz Lounge (and from your room’s mini-bar), and a complimentary happy hour in the evenings.

Your Hotel in Tokyo: Andaz Tokyo (Including Breakfast)

Shinjuku Tokyo Japan Panoramic Cityscape

Cityscape in Shinjuku, Tokyo

Day 2: Private culinary tour & free time in Tokyo

Your trip will get off to an incredible start with a private tour of Tokyo’s famous Tsukiji Fish Market.

After the tour, your guide will show you around the nearby Ginza area before leaving you with free time to enjoy the rest of the day exploring Tokyo.

The Tokyo metropolis is composed of countless districts, each with its own history, character and highlights. While it’s not possible to see everything (whether you have a few days or even a few months!), we will recommend our favorite spots to ensure you get a great introduction to this incredible city.

tsukiji fish market tokyo japan

Tokyo’s Tsukiji Fish Market

Day 3: Free day in Tokyo

Today you’ll have a full day to explore Tokyo, and you will need it!

Tokyo is one of the world’s most fascinating cities, and just wandering the streets of this megalopolis is a fascinating experience with new sights, sounds and tastes to be had around every corner.

You’ll find everything in Tokyo – history, food, art, architecture, gardens, fashion and more – which is what makes it endlessly fascinating to explore.

Hozomon Gate Sensoji Temple Asakusa Tokyo Japan

Senso-ji Temple, Asakusa, Tokyo

Day 4: Bullet train to Nagano & ryokan stay with onsen (hot springs)

You’ll have one final morning to explore Tokyo before heading to the Japan Alps via Nagano city. First you will board the comfortable shinkansen (bullet train) bound for the city of Nagano.

At Nagano you will change to a local train, however we recommend leaving the station for a 1-2 hour detour to visit the famous Zenkoji Temple. Zenkoji is one of Japan’s most important temples, with a history of 1,400 years. The city of Nagano developed around Zenkoji, and the streets leading up to the temple are filled with charming shops.

Japan Shinkansen Bullet Train

Japan’s world-famous shinkansen (bullet train) (Photo Credit: Kossy@FINEDAYS via Compfight cc)

From Nagano you will take a local train 45 minutes deeper into the mountains, where you will be met and transferred to your accommodations.

You’ll spend a magical night in the ryokan town of Yudanaka Onsen. Yudanaka Onsen is a lovely hot springs resort town located deep in the northern Japanese Alps. Famous for its proliferation of natural onsen (hot spring) baths, Yudanaka attracts visitors throughout the year.

In Yudanaka Onsen you’ll stay at Jinpyokaku, a charming traditional ryokan located close to the famous Jigokudani Snow Monkey park. The highlights of your stay here will be the rejuvenating hot springs bath and the multi-course kaiseki meal featuring local specialties and fresh local ingredients.

Your Ryokan in Yudanaka Onsen: Jinpyokaku (Including Breakfast & Dinner)

japanese onsen hot spring rotenburo open air bath

Japanese onsen (hot springs)

Day 5: Snow Monkeys & travel to Hakuba ski resort

This morning you’ll visit the Snow Monkey Park in Jigokudani. Jigokudani literally means “Hell’s Valley” – so named for the steam and boiling water that bubble out of small crevices in the frozen ground – and it is in the baths of this boiling water that the resident Japanese Macaques like to soak.

From the gate of the Snow Monkey Park it is about a 25-minute walk to the pools where the monkeys bathe. They live in large social groups, and it can be quite entertaining to watch their interactions. Accustomed to humans, they can be observed from very close and almost completely ignore their human guests.

Central Japan snow monkeys Nagano Jigokudani

Japan’s famous Snow Monkeys

Afterwards, your driver will meet you at your ryokan for the trip to the fantastic ski area of Hakuba, one of Japan’s finest ski towns, which offers a great mix of slopes and social life.

In Hakuba you’ll stay at Hakuba Sierra Resort Hotel, nestled amongst breathtaking natural surroundings. Hakuba Sierra Hotel boasts both indoor and outdoor hot springs baths, excellent access to the slopes, and remarkably friendly service.

Your Hotel in Hakuba: Hakuba Sierra Resort Hotel (Including Breakfast)

Day 6: Skiing or snowboarding in Hakuba

Today you’ll have a full day to enjoy the slopes with your Hakuba Ski Pass.

In addition to skiing and snowboarding, you can also partake in snowshoeing, nighttime ski walks, classic cross-country in the foothills of Hakuba – or simply enjoy Hakuba’s hot springs and nightlife.

Japan Alps view from Hakuba village Aoni in winter

Day 7: Travel to Kyoto

Today you’ll travel to the ancient capital, Kyoto.

Today’s train trip takes a few hours, so to make the ride most enjoyable make sure to pick up an eki-ben (train station bento lunch box).

Kyoto is one of the most culturally rich cities in Asia, and the world. Home to 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites, over 1,600 Buddhist temples and 400 Shinto shrines, this ancient city showcases the heart and soul of traditional Japan.

In Kyoto you’ll stay at a beautifully-restored traditional machiya townhouse. This is one of the most unique ways to experience Kyoto, in a comfortable yet truly authentic space. The machiya has been lovingly restored, and you will see evidence of excellent local craftsmanship in every detail.

Your Private Residence in Kyoto: Machiya Residence

Sunset from Kiyomizudera Kiyomizu-dera Buddhist temple UNESCO world heritage site Kyoto Japan

Sunset from Kiyomizu-dera Temple, Kyoto

Day 8: Private tour to introduce you to Kyoto

While it’s possible to enjoy Kyoto unguided, a local expert guide will undoubtedly enhance your experience in ways you would never imagine. Having a guide to peel away the layers and help you explore the hidden nooks of the city will make your short time in Kyoto much more powerful and meaningful.

At first glance, Kyoto looks like almost any other Japanese city. But the discerning eye will soon pick out Kyoto’s treasures: sacred shrines tucked in among shopping arcades, time-honored teahouses nestled among modern businesses, and charming geiko scuttling down backstreets heading to evening appointments.

Kyoto’s charm lies in these details, and whether you’re here for three days or three years, the closer you look, the more you’ll discover.

geisha geiko maiko kyoto japan

Maiko (apprentice geisha) in Kyoto

Day 9: Day trip to the Miho Museum

Today you will visit the stunning Miho Museum.

Located a day’s trip from Kyoto – in rural Shigaraki – the Miho Museum was designed by the renowned architect I.M. Pei.

An experience all its own, you’ll find awe-inspiring architecture and world-class artifacts from ancient civilizations. While there be sure to eat lunch at the cafe, the delicious meals are prepared using produce grown on the museum’s grounds.

Miho Museum Tunnel

Day 10: Travel to the art island, Naoshima

Today you’ll make the journey by bullet train – followed by local train and ferry – to the famous art island of Naoshima.

Naoshima – a small island in the Seto Inland Sea – could easily be another pretty, but forgotten island scraping a living from fishing. However, a unique art project pioneered by the Benesse Corporation, has transformed Naoshima into a world-class art destination.

Today, Naoshima is home to a large collection of contemporary art museums, galleries, exhibits and installations, which offer a tour de force of architectural expression integrating art and the natural environment.

Two of the main museums – the Chichu Art Museum and Benesse House – were designed by the world-famous architect Tadao Ando, and feature works by Claude Monet, Walter de Maria, James Turrell, Andy Warhol, Richard Long and Bruce Nauman, among others.

Honmura, a small port town on Naoshima’s eastern coast, is home to the Art House Project, a collection of abandoned houses, workshops, as well as a temple and a shrine that have been converted into art installations and venues for contemporary art by artists and architects from Japan and abroad.

The art houses are scattered throughout town, and most of them are unassuming from the street, blending into the surrounding traditional Japanese neighborhood. The interior of each, however, has been given over to artists to convert into whatever suits their artistic vision.

Your Hotel in Naoshima: Benesse House (Including Breakfast)

Kyushu Japan Naoshima Island Art Yayoi Kusama Pumpkin Sculpture

Yayoi Kusama’s Iconic Pumpkin Sculpture, Naoshima Island, Shikoku

Day 11: Return to Tokyo for final evening

You’ll have part of the morning to enjoy Naoshima, before it’s time to make the return journey to Tokyo.

Enjoy your final evening in Japan!

Ukai-tei Ginza Tokyo Japan

Ukai-tei Ginza

Day 12: Departure from Japan

We hope you have had an amazing journey.

Depending on your flight time, you may have the morning free for final exploration. In good time for your departure flight, you’ll be transferred by private vehicle to the airport.

Come back to Japan soon!

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