- Spot iconic cherry blossoms on the tropical island of Okinawa
- Taste traditional Japanese dishes on a Tokyo street-food tour
- Admire views of volcanic Mount Fuji framed by cherry blossoms
- Tour temples and shrines in the ancient capital, Kamakura
- Visit Tokyo’s blossom-adorned Shinjuku Gyoen and Shiba Park
|Day 1||Arrive in Tokyo, Fly to Naha & City Tour||Naha|
|Day 2||Mount Yaedake & Nakijin Castle Ruins Tour||Nago|
|Day 3||Fly to Tokyo & Izakaya Food Tour||Tokyo|
|Day 4||Cherry Blossom Tour of Tokyo||Tokyo|
|Day 5||Drive to Kamakura via Yokohama & Miura||Kamakura|
|Day 6||Cherry Blossom Tour of Kamakura||Kamakura|
|Day 7||Drive to Fujikawaguchiko via Matsuda||Fujikawaguchiko|
|Day 8||Arakurayama Sengen Park & Mount Fuji Ropeway, Train to Kyoto & Depart|
Day 1: Arrive in Tokyo, Fly to Naha & City Tour
Welcome to Japan! Touchdown in Tokyo and then board another 2.5-hour flight to Naha, the capital of the Okinawa island chain in the south. Settle into your hotel on this tropical island before embarking upon your first Sakura (cherry blossom) tour.
Due to its warmer climate, the cherry blossoms bloom earlier in Okinawa than in other parts of Japan, typically between mid-January and mid-February, when the pink flowers decorate parks, mountains, and fields. Head to Yogi Park, which is one of the best places in Naha to appreciate the beauty of the blossoms and a popular spot for locals to picnic beneath the trees along riverbanks.
UNESCO-listed Shikinaen Garden is your next stop, initially constructed in the late 18th century as a villa for the royal family of the Ryukyu Kingdom. A pond sits in the middle of the garden, with two stone bridges connecting a small islet to both sides of the bank, while a wooden palace with red tiles showcases gorgeous views of the garden. Wander the grounds to admire the blossoms in all their glory.
Day 2: Mount Yaedake & Nakijin Castle Ruins Tour
From Naha, take a bus or a taxi one hour north to the city of Nago, continuing to nearby Mount Yaedake. Here, approximately 7,000 cherry trees line both sides of a winding mountain road, creating a pink tunnel of blooming flowers all the way to the summit in the spring. At the 1,486-foot (453 m) peak, you'll be rewarded with 360-degree views of the surrounding landscape.
Afterward, head farther north to the UNESCO-listed Nakijin Castle Ruins. Set on a mountain slope overlooking the East China Sea, the castle dates back to the 13th century, when it was built to protect the Hokuzan Kingdom from the Chuzan Kingdom. Marvel at the cherry blossom-adorned stone walls and grounds set against the atmospheric castle ruins.
Day 3: Fly to Tokyo & Izakaya Food Tour
Say goodbye to Okinawa today and fly back to Tokyo. After you've settled into your hotel, head out to sample the bustling capital, where modernity competes with centuries-old culture, ranging from skyscrapers to markets, temples, and soothing gardens. Start at Tokyo's Shibuya Station, the world's fourth-busiest transport hub, then prepare to tackle the famous Shibuya Scramble, considered the world's busiest pedestrian crossings, with around 250,000 people using it daily.
This evening, satisfy your Japanese food cravings with a night out in the lively Monzen Nakacho neighborhood. A private tour will allow you to experience this central suburb like a local. Meet the residents and sample street food like croquettes, rice balls, and kakigori (a shaved ice dessert). Enjoy a drink in a Japanese izakaya (pub) and learn about Japanese culture from your guide as you stroll the streets and soak up the atmosphere.
Day 4: Cherry Blossom Tour of Tokyo
Experience Tokyo's cherry blossoms today, starting at Meiji Jingu, a shrine built in 1920 to commemorate Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken. Although located in Tokyo's city center, just a few minutes from the ever-busy Harajuku neighborhood, the shrine's surrounding forest creates a peaceful vibe. If you enter from the Yoyogi Park entrance, you'll pass through an imposing torii (gateway) leading to the main shrine. Visit the Meiji Jingu Museum to see treasures from the shrine's collection.
Next, take a short walk to nearby Shinjuku Gyoen. With spacious lawns, walking paths, well-manicured shrubs, and over 60 different varieties of cherry trees, this garden is one of the best places to witness the blossoms. Early-blooming varieties can be seen here in February and March, followed by other types in March and April. Continue to one of Tokyo's oldest parks, Shiba, which provides striking views of the blossoms against a backdrop of the Tokyo Tower.
Finally, visit Senso-ji, one of Tokyo's most significant Buddhist temples that dates back to the 7th century. Slip past the giant lanterns at the outer gate to stroll along the buzzing Nakamise-dori, a street lined with shops selling souvenirs, snacks, and sweets. Then, you'll arrive at the second gate, Hozomon, which leads to the temple's main hall and a five-story pagoda. Here, you can pray to the Kannon (the goddess of mercy) enshrined in the main hall, pick up an omikuji (fortune), and get a temple seal stamp.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 5: Drive to Kamakura via Yokohama & Miura
This morning, you'll take a private car to Japan's second-biggest city, Yokohama, which lies just southwest of Tokyo. For supreme cherry blossom views, start with a trip to Mitsuike Park, which features tranquil ponds, scenic walking trails, and vivid hues of pink in spring and red in autumn. Mitsuike's 1,600 cherry trees, made up of 70 varieties, have earned it a place on the "Top 100 Cherry Blossom Spots in Japan" list. Sankeien Garden is your next stop, home to tranquil rivers and ponds, bamboo groves, and historic buildings, 10 of which are designated as important national cultural properties.
Continue 45 minutes down the coast to Miura, a small city located on the peninsula. Here, you'll find the deep-pink kawazu-zakura (an early-blooming variety of cherry blossom) in full flourish every February. From Miura-kagan Station to Komatsugaike Park, more than 1,000 kawazu-zakura line both sides of the railroad, creating a pink canopy of soft petals that contrasts with yellow rapeseed flowers. Afterward, head north to the seaside city of Kamakura, your final stop for the night. Kamakura was a political center in medieval Japan, and its grand temples and shrines still reflect the city's former wealth and importance.
Day 6: Cherry Blossom Tour of Kamakura
This morning, start your tour of Kamakura at Kotokuin Buddhist temple, home to a 37-foot (11 m) tall Giant Buddha statue. Next, proceed to nearby Hasedera, a temple belonging to the Jodo sect of Japanese Buddhism and famed for its 11-headed gilded wooden statue of Kannon. Hasedera also displays colorful seasonal flora: hydrangeas in summer, autumn leaves in fall, and the kanhi-zakura (a dark-pink cherry blossom variety with bell-shaped flowers) in early spring.
Continue to the 11th-century Tsurugaoka Hachimangu, a shrine dedicated to Hachiman, the guardian deity of samurai. Descend a flight of stairs leading through the city center to the Main Hall, which houses a small museum surrounded by cherry blossom trees. Afterward, head to Hokoku-ji, a temple hidden in the eastern hills of Kamakura. A beautiful bamboo forest lies behind the temple's main hall, where you can walk to a traditional teahouse for a cup of matcha green tea accompanied by Japanese sweets.
Day 7: Drive to Fujikawaguchiko via Matsuda
Today, your driver will head toward volcanic Mount Fuji, Japan's tallest peak, making scenic stops along the way. Your first is Nishihirabatake Park in Matsuda, Kanazawa Prefecture. The park sits on a mountain slope and is one of the best places to capture views of near-symmetrical Mount Fuji framed by delicate pink cherry blossoms. Inside the park, you'll also find Oyamazumi Shrine, a herb garden with various flowers such as rapeseed and tulips, and a few small museums. From here, you can enjoy sweeping views of Sagami Bay and Mount Fuji.
Continue to Fujikawaguchiko, a resort town on the shores of Lake Kawaguchi, which is one of the Fuji Five Lakes. Visit Iyashi no Sato, a historic village and open-air museum featuring thatched-roof architecture housing various shops, restaurants, museums, and galleries. Browse the village to get an insight into traditional crafts such as pottery, incense, and weaving. At sunset, head to the shores of Lake Kawaguchi to watch the sunset with Mount Fuji as a backdrop, then feast on hoto: a hearty bowl of savory broth, noodles, and fresh veggies.
Day 8: Arakurayama Sengen Park & Mount Fuji Ropeway, Train to Kyoto & Depart
Spend your last morning in Japan at Arakurayama Sengen Park, where you can soak up views of a pagoda surrounded by cherry trees with Mount Fuji in the distance. Afterward, head to the eastern bank of Lake Kawaguchi to ride the Mount Fuji Panoramic Ropeway. As the glass-windowed cabin ascends 1,312 feet (400 m) to an observation point near the peak of Mount Tenjo, you can enjoy a bird's-eye view of Fujikawaguchiko and mighty Mount Fuji. Afterward, catch a train to Kyoto in time for your onward flight, a journey of around 2.5 hours. Sayonara and mata ne!