DAY 1: ARRIVE TOKYO
DAY 2 - TOKYO
Begin the morning early alongside a local guide for a visit to Tokyo’s iconic Tsukiji, the world-famous fish market filled with traditional shops and top-quality sushi restaurants. After exploring the market (but before leaving), enjoy a super-fresh sushi breakfast in a local restaurant – the best way to start a trip in Japan!
From Tsukiji, walk to Hamarikyu, a Japanese garden that once served as a private villa of a powerful feudal lord during the Edo period. Its wide collection of seasonal flowers make it one of the most visited gardens in Tokyo, however it's best known for its attractive is a teahouse, Nakajima-no-Ochaya. Have a break in the teahouse and a cup of freshly made green tea while the guide shares interesting facts about chado (tea ceremony).
From the park, take the scenic river cruise to Asakusa, a part of Tokyo’s shitamachi or old town. Asakusa is the city’s oldest Geisha district and also home to Senso-ji, Tokyo’s oldest Buddhist temple. The streets around Senso-ji feature many traditional shops and are a delight to wander through. Around noon, stop by one of the local restaurants for lunch. Although there’s a variety of food to choose from, Asakusa is more known for its best-tasting tempura.
From Asakusa, continue a short walk to Kappabashi, the so-called Kitchenware Town lined with dozens of specialized stores for knives, Japanese tableware, and even food replicas. Last stop is in Ueno’s Ameyoko-cho, a former black market that sprang up after WWII. It is now a bustling shopping alley filled with food stalls that make it a great place to try some local snacks.
DAY 3: TOKYO
DAY 4: TOKYO - TAKAYAMA
DAY 5: TAKAYAMA
DAY 6: TAKAYAMA - KYOTO
Today explore the former imperial capital with a knowledgeable local guide, utilizing Kyoto’s comprehensive bus system to visit some of Kyoto’s World Heritage Sites. Start with a visit to Nijo Castle, an ornamental castle that was originally built to serve as the private villa of a powerful feudal lord. The main building was completed in early 1600s and has since then been known for its Momoyama-style architecture, decorated sliding doors, and “chirping nightingale” floors.
Next in the list is the serene Ryoanji Temple, which is famous for its well-maintained rock garden and known to be the Myoshinji School of the Rinzai Buddhist sect. Within walking distance from Ryoan-ji is the stunning golden pavilion collectively known as Kinkaku-ji Temple. The temple ground is relatively smaller than those in most temples and shrines in Kyoto but what is undoubtedly impressive is the pavilion that is completely covered in handmade gold leaves.
Travel to Kiyomizu-dera, a Buddhist temple situated near Mt. Otowa famous for its wooden veranda standing 13 meters tall and was built without the use of any nails. It offers breathtaking views, especially when the cherry blossoms are in bloom or when the leaves change color in fall. End the tour with a stroll along the busy streets of Higashiyama District, a collection of narrow alleyways lined with local stores, souvenir shops, small eateries, and even pottery centers.
DAY 8: KYOTO
The rest of the morning is free at leisure until the food market tour and cooking class in the afternoon. Meet with a local guide at a designated meeting spot in Nishiki Market and embark on a tour that will truly delight the senses.
The mile-long covered food market of Nishiki is lined with small shops and food stalls that sell fresh produce and local dishes. The guide will introduce a few of these unique ingredients and delicacies before heading to the venue of the cooking class. The instructor will teach the proper way to make rolled sushi, miso soup, and salad with seasonal fruit for dessert. After the class, share a simple yet hearty meal with the teacher and the rest of the group.
DAY 9: KYOTO - KOYASAN
DAY 10: KOYASAN - OSAKA
DAY 11: OSAKA