Live on Tour: Japan Uncovered

Our first Japan tour since the pandemic has just landed, and we thrilled to take you on a live journey with the group. Following the Japan Uncovered tour, we will be sharing all the wonderful experiences and insightful tips on this blog daily. 

After a smooth arrival, with hardly any queues, a speedy ticket and covid checking service, the group were soon out on the quiet streets of Japan exploring the wonders of Osaka on their first day. Thanks to our fabulous and informative ‘How To’ guides to fill in the visa application, our group were able to get ahead of the line with their pre-arrival pack.

Here are just a few pictures of how quiet Japan truly is. The group practically had the park and Todaji Temple to themselves! All in all, we cannot wait to hear more about their tour throughout the week.

Day 1: Nara and Osaka

Upon arrival to the marvellous city of Osaka, the group spent some time wondering down the exciting streets, savouring some of the quirky street food that gives Osaka its title as ‘Japans Kitchen!’ The group headed out to Nara, Japans first capital, where they explored the quiet Nara Park and Todaji Temple, and met some of the local residents, the famous deers.

The day ended with a visit to Himeji Castle and a cruise along Yodogawa River. A rather exciting day it looks like!

Day 2: Himeji

Today, the group left for Hiroshima, stopping at the stunning Himeji Castle. The hilltop castle is a beautiful example of 17th Century Japanese architecture, and stands the ‘best preserved castle in Japan’ thanks to the pristine white walls and incredible intricacy.

From the castle, the group had time to explore the Koko-en, a traditional-style garden. We can’t believe how quiet it is… it looks like the group had the castle and garden to themselves! After arriving in Hiroshima, the group enjoyed some rest and recovery before their next big day tomorrow.

Day 3: Hiroshima

A very moving but interesting day from the group in Japan!
En route to Hiroshima, the groups national escort, Sakai, gave them an insight into Origami. They were taught how to make a paper crane! After arriving in Hiroshima and settle in, the group started the day with a visit to the children’s memorial in Hiroshima, built to commemorate the thousands of innocent children who died at the atomic bombing, including Sadako Sasaki, who consoled herself by making those paper cranes. What a thoughtful experience from Sakai!
The rest of the day consisted of hopping on a short ferry ride over to Myajima Island, where the group witnessed a fascinating Shinto ceremony in the shrines, they also met the friendly local deer and had a stroll along a traditional shopping street! Another fantastic and empty day in Japan for the books.

Day 4: Bullet Train to Kyoto

This morning, the group headed out early to enjoy a quintessential Japan experience – the famous bullet train! Taking them all the way from Hiroshima to Kyoto, our group sat in comfort watching the scenery whizz by as they travelled at speeds of up to 320km per hour.

On arrival in Kyoto, the group sat down to a traditional test bento box lunch before soaking up the atmosphere of Ryoanji Temple, home to the most famous zen garden in Japan. A garden which once saw over a million visitors a year, our group were lucky enough to have the place entirely to themselves fully enjoying the tranquility of their surroundings, which is exactly what they were designed for! The day was topped off with another of Japan’s icons – the breathtaking Kinkakuji Temple, also known as the Golden Pavilion.

Day 5: Kyoto

It’s been a great day of exploring as the group set out this morning to discover Kyoto. Starting at Fushimi Inari Shrine, the group wondered the sacred grounds soaking up the serenity of the surroundings. The visit was followed by a fantastic traditional tea ceremony, and a visit to Kiyomizu Temple. 

We had a wonderful wedding anniversary today, and what a perfect place to celebrate. The temple houses the Jinshu Shrine, dedicated to the deity of love! The streets of Kyoto look absolutely enchanting, especially with fewer crowds around!

Day 6: Kyoto to Kanazawa

After setting off for Kanazawa, the group arrived at what is dubbed Little Kyoto because of its beautifully preserved historic district. The group spent the morning wondering around the extensive grounds of Kenrokuen garden, one of Japan’s three great gardens. Over 400 years old, this landscape garden was originally the private garden of Kanazawa Castle. Now, the public can enjoy the gorgeous rivers, tranquil lakes, tea houses and ancient trees. 

The group then took a step next door to one of Japan’s most popular art museums, exhibiting works of acclaimed contemporary artists from Japan and all over the world! The circular building has no facade or main entrance in order to discourage its patrons from entering the museum. Here’s some awesome pics from the group today! 

Day 7: Kanazawa and Shirakawago

This morning the group headed out to the samurai house in Kanazawa, surrounded by a beautiful garden. As the only people there, the group were able to soak up the peace and quiet of the garden before continuing into the mountains to find the hidden heritage village of Shirakawago. An area of stunning scenery, thickly forested mountain slopes, rushing river and pretty villages, it’s fair to say the group were in awe of Shirakawago’s natural beauty.

After trying their hand at wash paper making, a practice dating over 600 years, the group then kicked back in a modern style ryokan inn, complete with relaxing hot baths with views over the mountains like you can’t image. A marvellous day all in all!

Day 8: Takayama

The group were up early this morning, in preparation of a full day in Takayama, a fabulously preserved 17th century town. It was perfect timing, as the group managed to witness the incredible Takayama floats that are paraded through the town for the spring and autumn festivals! The morning was spent exploring some of the best preserved Eco architecture in Japan.

After a delicious bubbling pot of shabu shabu (beef cooked at the table), the group walked it all off along the historic shops and sake breweries of Kamisannomachi Street. The food in Takayama was definitely the highlight for the group today! We can see why… 

Day 9: Shirakawago to Nagano

This morning, the group headed for Nagano, also recognised as the gateway to the Japanese Alps. After a breathtaking drive through sheer forested slopes, past river gorges and ribbon lakes, and service stations that look nothing like our own, the group arrived in Nagano ready to explore the Matsumoto Castle. 

The castle is the oldest wooden castle in Japan and isa perfect example of traditional Japanese architecture. Lunch consisted of visiting the oldest Miso producers in the country where the owner himself, a 6th generation Ishi family member gave the group a tour! After, the group went on to visit the Daio Wasabi Farm, one of Japan’s largest farms. Wasabi Ice Cream anyone?

Day 10: Snow Monkeys

Today was a very special day for the group, as they met the mischievous yet adorable snow monkeys!
After a lovely walk up the groves of cypress and oak trees, with the cascading river hundreds of feet below, the group arrived at the stunning pools where the macaques bathe in the winter. In the summer, the troop of over 160 monkeys scamper about the valley and lounge around on the paths grooming each other while the youngsters tumble around wrestling.
In the afternoon the group visited Zenkoji Temple, a complex dating back over 1400 years. Some of the group entered the pitch black underground tunnel under the temple and even managed to touch the key to paradise in the temple, which is said to grant enlightenment to anyone who touches it!

Day 11: Mount Fuji

An absolutely stunning day today as the group headed to the beautiful Mount Fuji. It’s well known that Mount Fuji can be notoriously shy, and today was no exception as Fujisan was shrouded in clouds.
After journeying 2,000 meters up to the fifth station of Mount Fuji where the sky was blue, the summit was spotless and the clouds lay spread out below like a fluffy white blanket. It truly is an experience that can only be felt in person. But for now, these amazing pictures will have to do!

Day 12: Hakone National Park

Good evening from Japan!
Today, the group spent a lovely day in Hakone National Park, cruising on Lake Ashi where Mount Fuji was kind enough to stay cloud free, and reward the group with a great view! After seeing the lake’s famous Tori gate, it was then a journey up to the Owakuduni Valley for a close encounter with the incredible steaming fumaroles that dot the volcanic landscape.
The sulphur was somewhat pungent, which may explain why there were no takers to try the local speciality – Steamed Black Egg! Some more fabulous pictures from the group today…

Day 13: Tokyo

As the group begin their return to the UK, they spent the day getting to know the nation’s capital. Starting in the Imperial Palace East Gardens, a tranquil green space in the heart of the buzzing city of 35 million people, the group enjoyed an equally beautiful walk through the woodland surrounding the Meiji Shrine. A popular spot for traditional weddings, the group got to witness the procession of a Shinto wedding through the grounds!

It was then time to experience the bustling part of Tokyo, the Shibuya Crossing – perhaps the world’s busiest pedestrian crossing. The day ended with fantastic tickets to the grand sumo tournament, a fascinating blend of sporting prowess, theatre and ancient tradition that you can surely only find in Japan.  

Day 14: Last Day in Tokyo

A terrific last day in Tokyo today to round off an incredible adventure. After two weeks of beautiful blue skies, the heavens finally opened! But did it dampen any spirits? Not a bit of it. The group wandered amongst the charming historic shops of the Asukusa district before exploring Tokyo’s oldest Buddhist temples, Sensoji. 

Jumping from ancient to modern, the group soared up the Tokyo Skytree, the tallest tower in the world, offering some of the most spectacular views… unlike today when there are no clouds! 

For lunch, the group sampled Chanko Nabe, the staple food sumo wrestlers use to pile on the pounds. Surrounded by images of past grand champions, some of the group may have got a little carried away! 

The final evening consisted of drifting on Tokyo Bay aboard a traditional Yakata boat, dining on fresh seafood and enjoying fabulous views of the Tokyo skyline. A fittingly spectacular end to a truly fabulous fortnight! 

It’s been a wonderful two weeks following the group around Japan. Inspired by the tour? Discover the Japan Uncovered tour and experience all the above and more for yourself!

Japan Uncovered

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17 days from £7190pp

Fully Inclusive of Tour & Flights

Mount Fuji - Hiroshima & Miyajima - Snow Monkeys - Japanese Alps - Neon Tokyo

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