Day 1 (Tokyo)
Welcome to Japan! After touching down in the biggest city in the world, you will meet your Kichi representative who will guide you to your accommodations. After making sure you are settled in, they will explain your travel pack, arrange your rail passes and orientate you to your trip. Once you’re equipped and comfortable with travelpack in hand, you’ll head into the city center to enjoy a spring-themed high-tea overlooking the expanse of the city. All of the delicious delicacies on offer will represent the flavors of one of Japan’s most beautiful seasons – a perfect introduction to your spring adventure. The evening will be free for you to explore the restaurant-alleyways surrounding your hotel, or take some time to relax and recover after a long flight.
Day 2 (Tokyo)
Your day starts with a walking tour of some of the city’s most famous sites. After meeting your guide at your hotel, embark on an exploration of the expansive and beautiful Imperial Palace Gardens. Right at the center of the city and surrounding the Imperial Palace, you could almost call it the heart of Tokyo. You’ll then take to the skies for a view of the city from above at Skytree. At 634m this is Tokyo’s tallest tower and offers unparalleled views of the city. A short walk will take you to Asakusa which is home to Tokyo’s oldest temple, Sensoji. Its surrounding alleys are also a fantastic stop for lunch. Your next stop is a sake tasting center which boasts over 80 different kinds of sake, shochu and awamori. Treat your tastebuds as you enjoy comparing the flavors of Japan’s many prefectures. As the sun falls, head to one of the city's stunning cherry blossom illuminations - a magical end to a fantastic day.
Day 3 (Kamakura)
Today you’ll travel outside of Tokyo to the beachside town of Kamakura. Previously the political capital of the country, it is now a haven and welcome get-away from busy city life. Your time here begins with a strawberry picking experience at one of the town’s farms, the sweet juices the perfect complement to a warm spring day. A short train ride will take you to the nearby island of Enoshima where you’ll visit its several shrines dedicated to the island’s goddess, Benten; take in the sun and seawater from one of its pristine beaches; and finish the day relaxing in a hotspring bath complete with a few of Mt Fuji in the distance!
Day 4 + 5 (Takayama)
As your morning begins, hop on the bullet train from Tokyo to Takayama. This secluded mountain town is extremely picturesque and well preserved, and is a great way to experience some really deep aspects of Japanese culture. The nearby farm village of Hida will take you back in time to what life was like centuries ago as you also try your hand at a few traditional Japanese crafts. Your time here will also coincide with one of Japan’s three biggest festivals and an intangible cultural asset, the Takayama Matsuri. During this vibrant celebration the streets are taken over with parades of extravagant mikoshi floats painstakingly crafted by the town’s residents, karakuri performances and mouth-watering festival food. See a lighter side of Japanese culture as you enjoy this one-of-a-kind celebration.
Day 6 (Kyoto)
Today another bullet train will take you to Kyoto. This former capital is bursting with history, and a lot more traditional than Tokyo. Things here move at a much slower pace and the people tend to be a lot more laid back. One of the identifying features of Japan and its people are its colorful kimono. Invented in the mid-17th century, the technique responsible for the creation of these brilliant colors was named Kyo-yuzen. The art of painting dye directly onto cloth, Kyo-yuzen allowed artists the freedom to create a variety of effects including blurs and gradients, as well as magnificently fine lines which even stitchwork could not replicate. Being such a complex process, sometimes with up to 26 stages before a product is completed; it was soon replaced by modern textile and pattern printing; however, there are still a few passionate people who practice this age-old tradition. Today you will learn from one of its masters as you create your own Kyo-yuzen products in a short workshop. In the evening discover all there is to know about Kansai cuisine in a guided food tour of the Gion area (food included!). Gion is well known for being the city's geisha district and you many be lucky enough to see some of these poised and high-class ladies making their way through the streets to entertain their patrons. Contrary to popular belief, geisha do not offer any services of an illicit nature, and are at their core entertainers and master communicators who have been trained in a plethora of traditional arts from a young age to keep people engaged - much as a musician or an actor would do at a theatre.
Day 7 (Kyoto)
One of the best ways to see the city is from between two wheels. Today a half-day bike tour will take you to some of Kyoto's more famous sites. Fly through forest paths as you take in the beauty of the Imperial Palace Gardens and learn about the history of the Silver Pavilion and nearby Philosopher's path. After you’ve worked up an appetite, you’ll make your way to the kitchen of one of Kyoto’s foremost sweet-masters as you learn the art of wagashi or Japanese sweet making. Witness and emulate your teacher's meticulous attention to detail as you create your own very own sweets. We give you fair warning though, you may find them too pretty to eat! As the sun goes down, it’s time to enjoy another one of Japan’s cultural pastimes with a karaoke session. Tonight, you will sing your hearts out in a private booth and continue to make more memories you won’t soon forget.
Day 8 (Nara)
This day will be completely dedicated to experiencing hanami or cherry blossom viewing. Japan is beautiful in any season, but spring brings a particularly whimsical atmosphere which has propelled it into the eyes of the world as one of the best places to take in the beauty of these blossoms. Spring is commonly thoughts of as the start of the Japanese new year, with both schools and new jobs often beginning in April. The blooming of the cherry blossoms symbolizes these new beginnings. A short train ride will take you to a nearby mountain covered in thousands of cherry blossom trees. The town itself is also home to several temples and shrines which offer short periods of rest as you make your way through the town and up this natural landmark. The mountain consists of three different levels, all of which bloom at slightly different times. The park at the top is the perfect place for a picnic while you relax and enjoy hanami together.
Day 9 (Kyoto/Osaka)
Nishiki Market is known as Kyoto's kitchen and boasts over a hundred different food stands and stalls. Your guide will take you through the entire area and give you the history before taking you to a workshop area where you can learn to cook some of Kyoto's traditional dishes. You’ll then have a bit of free time to stock up on souvenirs and get in some last-minute shopping before making your way to the airport for your return flight home. Sayonara, until next time!