- Follow a local guide to the best cherry blossom viewpoints in Japan
- Walk through a peaceful bamboo grove in Arashiyama
- Marvel at cherry blossoms illuminated after dark outside Odawara Castle
- Sample traditional sweets and snacks on a street food tour of Osaka
- Take unforgettable photos of Mount Fuji framed by cherry blossoms
|Day 1||Arrive in Osaka||Osaka|
|Day 2||Sightsee & Sample Street Food||Osaka|
|Day 3||Explore Beautiful Kyoto||Kyoto|
|Day 4||Forest-Bathe in Arashiyama||Kyoto|
|Day 5||See Cherry Blossoms Illuminated at Night at Odawara Castle||Hakone|
|Day 6||See Mount Fuji & Cherry Blossoms Around Tokyo||Tokyo|
|Day 7||Depart Japan - End of Trip|
Day 1: Arrive in Osaka
Welcome to Japan! Your trip begins in Osaka. You'll have the day to explore the city at your own pace. The superb Osaka Castle is a must-see, along with Shitennoji Temple, a center of spiritual life for the people of Osaka. But the city's modern attractions are just as worthwhile, including bustling markets, the colorful district of Dotombori, the landmark Tsutenkaku Tower, the futuristic aquarium, and Abeno Harukas, currently the tallest building in Japan. Foodies won't want to miss a visit to the Cup Noodles Museum Osaka Ikeda, dedicated to the art of instant ramen. Go out for modern or traditional Japanese cuisine in the evening before resting at your hotel in Osaka, where you'll spend tonight and the following night.
Day 2: Sightsee & Sample Street Food
Get an early start today and keep your eyes open for pale pink cherry blossoms as you make your way around the city. Today, in addition to spotting blooming trees, you'll experience Osaka's culinary delights on a street food tour. Enjoy being tantalized with mouthwatering smells and tastes as you traverse the city streets, sampling the specialties of the Kansai area. Savor the best rice wine in the region at a nearby sake brewery, then tour and taste at the nearby whiskey distillery. Finish your adventure in the trendy Dotonbori district. Full of fantastic restaurants, clubs, and karaoke bars, it's the city's go-to area for a lively night out.
Day 3: Explore Beautiful Kyoto
Today you'll move on to Kyoto, the former capital of Japan. While here, a visit to what is arguably the most famous shrine in Japan – Fushimi Inari – is an absolute must. Featured in the movie Memoirs of a Geisha, this shrine has more than 10,000 picturesque red torii gates. They were all donated by Japanese individuals and businesses as a sign of appreciation to the god Inari for blessings received.
Your visit to Inari perfectly sets the tone for your next stop: a traditional Japanese arts show. As well as offering a chance to see a performance by a maiko (geisha in training), this hourlong theatrical experience also introduces you to various skilled artists, including ikebana (flower arrangers), puppeteers, koto (Japanese harp players), and court musicians. In the evening, talk a walk through the bustling streets of Pontocho. Right next to the Kamogawa River, this area is home to a wide range of restaurants and bars. If you prefer, you can also request a private dinner or tea ceremony with a geisha. Enjoy views of cherry blossoms at night as you walk back to your hotel!
Day 4: Forest-Bathe in Arashiyama
Travel today to the tranquil area of Arashiyama. You will start your day with a ride on an open-air train that offers amazing views of the river and the surrounding forest. (Note: This train does not operate in the winter months.) You’ll then venture down the Hozugawa River on a traditional Japanese boat. This activity is often the highlight of the trip, and depending on the season, you’ll be floating past white and pink cherry blossoms (in March), the deep green leaves of a warm summer (in July), or the brilliant and fiery colors of autumn trees (in November).
Then you will embark on a tour of some of the area's well-known sites. Tenryuji Temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and houses one of the most picturesque and ancient landscape gardens in the entire country. Behind it, you will find its world-famous bamboo grove, which transports visitors into another realm — or at least appears to. Also in the area, you will find the Nonomiya shrine and the Iwatayama Monkey Park where macaques roam freely. If you're up for a walk, there's a lovely temple that houses hundreds of statues. If you look closely, you'll find some of these Buddhist statues sporting glasses and carrying cellphones, a reflection of how modern life has also affected spiritual practices.
Day 5: See Cherry Blossoms Illuminated at Night at Odawara Castle
You'll take a train to Hakone this morning, located west of Tokyo inside Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park. This is a quiet and relaxing getaway known for its onsen, resorts or traditional inns built around the region's naturally occurring hot springs. If you're weary from travel, you can go for a dip in the thermal waters on arrival. Or go out for a walk around Lake Ashi — a boat tour can be arranged on request — and look for Mount Fuji in the distance. Be sure to visit nearby Odawara Castle, featuring over 300 cherry blossom trees that are illuminated by paper lanterns throughout the evening.
Day 6: See Mount Fuji & Cherry Blossoms Around Tokyo
Enjoy a day of cherry blossom viewing in and around Tokyo with a private guide. Head to Shiogama Shrine and Chureito Pagoda to snap classic photos of Mount Fuji framed with cherry blossoms. Maizuru Castle Park offers hundreds of cherry trees, and Fuefukigawa Fruit Park is a wonderful place to take children. Don't miss Yamataka Jindai Sakura, the oldest cherry tree in Japan — it's believed to be 2,000 years old!
Day 7: Depart Japan - End of Trip
Today the adventure comes to an end. Remember to come back to Japan in spring! Safe travels!
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