Central Japan holiday, small group
Description of Central Japan holiday, small group
Explore mountainous central Japan, discovering the ancient shrines, tranquil landscapes and holy pilgrimage routes in the land of the Samurai. We will visit remote villages that were hidden to the wider world for centuries, and discover how modern life and ancient traditions live hand in hand.
This 13 day holiday begins in Japan’s capital, Tokyo, before heading inland to the Shirakawa-go area, with its beautiful merchant houses and strong arts and crafts tradition. In Kanazawa, discover former samurai homes and the exquisite Kenrokuen Garden, considered one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan. Move on to Kyoto, the former capital of Japan, filled with beautiful temples, parks and gardens, and visit nearby Nara, too, another ancient city, with many beautiful 8th century temples and shrines. Then enjoy the sacred landscapes of the Kii Peninsula, around Mount Koya and along the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage route.
We will be staying in authentic accommodation, including beautiful inns (ryokans) and temple lodgings. Throughout this memorable holiday into the heart of Samurai Japan, we’ll meet geishas and priests, admire exquisite Japanese gardens, soak in hot springs and visit teahouses. Japan is such a fascinating country, and this holiday provides a rich insight into its beautiful landscapes and architecture; its culture, customs and cuisine.
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PlanetWe have a strict environmental policy to make sure that the environments we visit are not damaged in any way. Our “Leave No Trace” ethic is applied to each one of our trips, and as a responsible tour operator, it is something we are careful and steadfast about promoting. Each one of our guides are trained to uphold, promote and put into practice such responsible behaviour, especially in wilderness areas or whilst traveling to UNESCO heritage sites, which this Japan trip does do. We attempt to reduce plastic bottle use wherever possible by promoting use of reusable bottles. We understand this is not always possible in countries where tap water is not safe to drink.
By keeping the group size to a maximum of 12, we can also minimise the human impact on the fragile sites and ecosystems we visit.
On this particular trip, we travel by train. Japan has an excellent railway system and promoting the use of more environmentally friendly means of transport not only contributes to the upkeep of such transport but also reduces greenhouse emissions to the country you we are visiting. We will embark on train journeys from Tokyo to Takayama (Day 2), Kanazawa to Kyoto (Day 6) and Kumano Kodo to Osaka (Day 12). We will use a variety of bullet and local trains, in addition to private minibuses and local buses, as well as the occasional taxi. Using local transport systems also contributes to the economy of Japan.
We are promoting the natural beauty and ancient heritage of Japan through visiting many UNESCO World Heritage Sites including Ogimachi Village, Kamo shrines, Nijo Castle and Kumano Kodo Trail. UNESCO Sites are chosen by the UNESCO committee and must "bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to civilisation", "an important interchange of human values" or be outstanding examples of major stages of Earth's history or ecological and biological processes in evolution. Visiting such sites helps sustain the ancient traditions and natural ecosystems of Japan.
PeopleResponsible travel and sustainable tourism are fundamental ideas that we have been committed to since our conception. It is part of our core sets of beliefs that these words are not simply scattered nonchalantly into our literature and on our website but moreover that they are central to each and every trip. Our adventures are therefore carefully curated celebrating all that is local from the people, to the culture. We believe that a successful trip delivers a unique and authentic journey for our clients, but furthermore benefits the people whose land we have the privilege of encountering.
On each Group tour we use local ground handlers. This means that all operational costs go directly into the local economy and help improve employment opportunities in remote regions. Such support can also be seen in our incorporation of homestays, locally owned hotels, family run restaurants and the services of local guides and drivers into our itineraries, which ensures that the money you spend with us goes directly into the local economy and local community.
On this trip, we will stay in a traditional Japanese “Ryoken” or inn. Ryoken’s maintain the traditional way of Japanese living and are normally located in beautiful natural locations near hot springs. The architecture is beautiful with wooden buildings, sliding doors and pointed roofs. Many have gorgeous gardens and the interior houses tatami (reed) mats and low tables. Guests must follow the traditional procedures including wearing slippers indoors, dressing in a kimono and gender segregated onsens.
We also include a number of things on the itinerary which ensure guests immerse themselves in Japanese culture and help give back to the community. For example, we will stay at the Fujiya Ryoken, famous for its seasonal and local food, including Daito, a sweet local fish; we will visit the Gion district to witness the apprentice geisha practise traditional arts of Japanese dance and music; we stay in a Shukubo or Pilgrims’ Lodgings with monks, dine on Buddhist vegetarian food, and witness their morning prayers and explore the vast Okuna-in cemetery. On Day 11 of this Group Tour, we will be guided by a Yamabushi guide, an ascetic priest of the Shugendo faith who will explain the history of the UNESCO Kumano Kodo Trail.