- A machiya (traditional wooden townhouse) in Kyoto, a temple in Mount Koya, a ryokan (traditional inn) in Kinosaki: accommodation reflecting intriguing Japanese culture
- The sea, onsen (hot spring baths) and fishing villages: Japan at the water's edge
- Walking Kyoto and Osaka in the footsteps of expats
- Local Concierge, Japan Rail pass, all our usual additional services
Contact one of our Japan specialists + 44 (0) 20 3958 6120
ANOTHER TRIP TO JAPAN
As far as the logistics, you'll travel by train - the best option for both time and comfort. Not to mention the support our local Concierge, who can be reached at any time during your trip.
YOUR PLACE IN KYOTOOver 12 centuries old, machiya are an integral part of Kyoto's traditional urban landscape. These wooden dwellings, which were once the homes of tradesmen and craftsmen, are usually spread across two floors, and were divided into living space and a workshop or warehouse area. Most of them have a small garden inside. While the number of machiyas is declining as a result of the urbanisation of the city, some have been restored in a traditional manner and converted into private guesthouses. An alternative to typical hotels, they offer great freedom and a unique atmosphere. The houses can accommodate four to eight people, and are scattered throughout the city.
FOLLOW THE LOCALSDuring your stay, we've already planned two half-days with local expats, our men on the ground, to give you a better sense of the place. Passionate about Japan, they will accompany you on a walk to discover the must-see sites and the hidden treasures, to share a slice of life, to discuss daily life in Japan and offer a wealth of travel tips. Informal. fuss-free encounters and relaxed walks - nothing is planned in advance, they adapt and improvise according to everyone's individual tastes.
Flight to Osaka
Overnight flight, arriving the next day.
Osaka - Kyoto
From Osaka Airport, a train to Kyoto. Five-night stay in your own private machiya. Machiya, the former homes of tradesmen and craftsmen, are an integral part of Kyoto's traditional urban landscape. They are divided into living space and a workshop area. While the number of machiyas is declining as a result of the urbanisation of the city, some have been restored in a traditional manner and converted into private guesthouses: an alternative to the classic hotel, offering beautiful freedom and a unique atmosphere.
In the itinerary - Discover Kyoto with an expat. They will take you around Kyoto for an informal walk without a set itinerary. It's an opportunity to share experiences, to discuss everyday life, society, the arts, gastronomy... Go at your own pace, nothing is planned in advance.
What to see, what to do - At dawn, journey along the Philosophers' Path - visit Ginkakuji, the Silver Pavilion - get lost in the Buddhist garden paradise of Kinkakuji, the Gold Pavilion - stroll through the former residential districts and admire the simple architecture of the machiya (wooden townhouses) of the Gion district - stroll through the Shinto Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine; its hundreds of vermillion torii (elegant wooden gateways) lining your path - shop for tea at Ippo-cho and tofu at Iriyama-Tofu - take part in a tea ceremony - take an afternoon detour through the Nishiki market, nicknamed 'Kyoto's kitchen', past eel and octopus stalls - eat steaming tempura: a great show - attend an Ikebana flower ceremony - lunch at the Kawamichi-ya soba restaurant - meditate in the mineral garden of the Ryoan-ji Temple - visit the Hosomi Art Museum for shinto and Buddhist art, and the Nomura Museum for its beautiful ceramics.
Optional - A Japanese cooking class at a traditional arts centre - a day trip to Nara, the former imperial capital, one of the cradles of Japanese civilisation.
Kyoto - Mount Koya
Train to Gokurakubashi and funicular to the Fudo-In temple. The peaks of Mount Koya, covered in a dark forest of cedar, maple and cypress trees. Here, one hundred monasteries perpetuate the teaching of Kobo Daishi, founder of the Shingon Buddhist school, based on the principles of renunciation of ego and acceptance of the world as it is. The day allows you to connect with the spirituality that underlies the sacredness of nature inherited from Shinto Buddhism. Stroll from one sanctuary to another on the forest roads, between cedars, azaleas and rhododendrons ... One pleasure of Mount Koya is to stay in a temple hostel - it's an opportunity to enjoy the succulent shojin vegetarian cuisine.
Mt. Koya - Osaka
Train to Osaka and two-night stay at the Cross Hotel, not far from the train station, in a lively part of town. The hotel is all about the clean lines found in the rooms, lounges and restaurant. Behind the international and contemporary design with white as the dominating colour, Japan's aesthetic and practical tradition are visible in small touches. The service is attentive and considerate.
Osaka is warm, contemporary, epicurean and hectic all at the same time. An ancient merchant city that enjoys eating, having fun and enjoying life, but has not forgotten its historic sites.
In the itinerary - Discover Osaka with an expat. Osaka is a warm, vibrant, epicurean city. Lorenzo is in love with the city, where he's lived for years. Your guide will take you for an informal walk without a set itinerary. You will have the opportunity to share experiences, to discuss everyday life, society, the arts, gastronomy...
What to see, what to do - Visit the castle - stroll around the popular Tsutenkaku district - watch a performance at the Bunraku Puppet Theatre - saunter along Dotonbori Street in the evening.
OSAKA - AMANOHASHIDATE
Train to Amanohashidate and two-night stay at the Monjuso ryokan, a traditional inn surrounded by a beautiful Japanese garden. Sliding doors of wood and paper, the smell of tatami mats of freshly braided rice straw, rooms with views of the river. Indoor and outdoor onsen baths. Enjoy the subtle pleasures of traditional kaiseki dishes, part of the multi-course dinners laid on by traditional ryokans.
A pine-covered sandbar that cuts across Miyazu Bay; from the heights of Kasamatsu Park, it looks like a bridge suspended in the sky - one of the three most renowned views in all of Japan.
What to see, what to do - Visit the temple Chion-ji - walk the sandbar from one bank to another - enjoy the beautiful white sandy beaches, where Japanese families relax - visit the small fishing village of Ine, between sea and mountains, formerly known for its whaling port; with its funaya, houses on stilts with boathouses on the first floor, an exceptional example of Japanese architecture.
AMANOHASHIDATE - ONSEN KINOSAKI
Train to Kinosaki Onsen and overnight accommodation at the Tajimaja ryokan, whose family atmosphere, particularly warm welcome and traditional cuisine are worth noting. Located between the mountains and the Sea of Japan, Kinosaki-onsen is the ultimate hot spring resort. Walk around a city with a village feel. There are temples, historic houses and willow-lined canals crossed by small bridges. At night, the lanterns that illuminate the city add to the charming atmosphere. Enjoy the Yanagi-yu, Mandara-yu or Kono-yu public baths, or walk along the river on a chilly evening, passing the Japanese bathers in their yukata robes and wooden sandals.
What to see, what to do - Climb the heights of Mt. Daishiyama by cable car: the view is magical, and you can visit the Osen-Ji temple, with its superb statue of a thousand arms - the museum not far from the temple houses well-preserved ancient statues; some are over 1400 years old ... - for curious palates, try a culinary experience: the egg cooked at low temperature in hot spring water - cycle 15 minutes outside the city to Takeno beach, with its fine sand and crystal clear water.
ONSEN KINOSAKI - KOBE
Train to Kobe and overnight accommodation at Oriental Kobe, with its spacious rooms with elegant decor, conveniently located in the heart of the historic district of Kuy-Kyoryuchi, overlooking the beautiful harbour. Kobe is a beautiful provincial town between the sea and the mountains - high above the city, in the Kitano district, the vast western mansions testify to the wealth of the port in the 19th century.
What to see, what to do - Visit Nunobiki, the largest flower park in the country, where you can buy medicinal or aromatic plants - get lost in the Nankinmachi district, the 'Chinatown of Kobe', home to the most notable Chinese community in Japan - taste the famous Kobe beef; its marbled flavour is inimitable: the breeders massage their animals with sake!
KOBE - ONOMICHI
Train to Onomichi and two-night stay at the Cycle Hotel, established in the former maritime warehouse named U2, and which very quickly became a must-see spot in Onomichi. In addition to the hotel, there is a restaurant, a bar, a bakery, a concept store, and bicycle repair shop. As far as decor is concerned, Japanese minimalism is de rigueur, layered with a spirit of post-industrial design. The hotel is located at the start of the Shimanami Akido bike path, which connects the mainland, Honshu, to seven islands in the Seto Sea via a series of impressive bridges. Of course you can rent a bike.
Onomichi is an old-fashioned city, spreading over Honshu and nearby small islands, connected by bridges. At its centre, 25 temples are connected by often steep alleys that snake through the mountain and overlook the bay.
What to see, what to do - Stroll along the literature path, on stones engraved with poems in tribute to the many writers and poets who have stayed in the city - visit Murakami Castle on the island of Innoshima - walk among our feline friends on, neko no hosomichi (the cat alley); Many cats populate this quiet part of the city - visit the Senko-Ji temple, built on stilts - rent a bike for a ride on the Shimanami Akido bike path.
ONOMICHI - TOMONO-URA
Train to Tomono-Ura and overnight accommodation at the seaside Migiwatei Ochi Kochi ryokan, right next to the pier. All rooms have beautiful sea views. Tomono-Ura is the small fishing town which inspired Hayao Miyazaki's film Ponyo on the cliff. It is accessible by bus, and there's a 100% Japanese atmosphere: there are still very few foreign visitors. Small streets lined with traditional houses in the harbour district, panoramic views of the bay and its small islands, the beautiful Sensuijima beach.
TOMONO-URA - OSAKA
Bus and train to Osaka. You'll stay overnight at the Marriott. A property suspended between the 38th and 57th floors, at the top of the country's tallest building, home to the Abeno Hakuras cultural complex. To end your trip, admiring the view from your bed is a dazzling experience!
Osaka - Return flight
Train to the airport to catch your flight home.
A la carte
Introduction to Japanese cuisine
Washoku, a social practice based on know-how and traditions related to food preparation and consumption, as well as respect for natural resources, is inscribed on the UNESCO List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, making Japanese gastronomy one of the very few national cuisines to receive this award. Enjoy a private session at a traditional arts centre to learn the basics.
Outside Kyoto - Nara
A bucolic atmosphere, the oldest buildings in the country and 1,200 free-ranging deer: just some of the reasons why you should visit Nara, the birthplace of Japanese civilisation. The kingdom's first capital is just 40 minutes from Kyoto by train. It was here, at the end of the Silk Road, that Buddhism took root, as evidenced by the great Buddha, the largest bronze statue in the world. One or two days allow you to browse through this stunning living history book, to walk the streets lined with ancestral wooden houses so old you'll wonder how they're still standing, and especially to explore the famous Nara Park, 1500 acres of abundant nature dotted with pagodas and monasteries, populated by adorable deer with their fawns.
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