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Japan Art & Gardens: Kyoto, Naoshima, Okayama & More

Duration
12 Days
Prices:
On request

FIRST-CLASS | PRIVATE-GUIDED: Discover modern art, Japanese traditions, and manicured gardens on this unique tour across Japan. Journey by rail across the country from Kyoto to Tokyo, stay on the contemporary art island of Naoshima, try on a kimono, meet a maiko, and admire some of the world’s most celebrated artworks.


This 12-day Japanese vacation takes you to Kyoto, Naoshima, Okayama, and Tokyo to explore art museums, geisha districts, and ancient temples. It features first-class accommodations, mostly private tours, and a 7-day JR Rail Pass.

Your journey begins in Kyoto, often considered the most beautiful city in Japan and its former imperial capital. Explore the highlights of the city with a private tour that takes you from Kinkaku-ji, known as the Golden Pavilion, to Nijo Castle and into the Higashiyama district to discover the peaceful temple grounds and hidden waterfall of Kiyomizu-dera. Another day, explore Kyoto’s famous bamboo grove in Arashiyama, where towering bamboo stilts grow as far as the eye can see. Then see the Zen Garden of Tenryu-ji and perhaps visit the hillside Monkey Park, where Japanese macaques roam freely, before enjoying dinner and a maiko (apprentice geisha) performance that evening.

Activate your JR Rail Pass and ride the rails to the Okayama, where you’ll connect by ferry to the island of Naoshima, known for its elaborate art installations set up by the Benesse Corporation, including Yayoi Kusama’s famous pumpkin. Explore the island in a private car to visit some of its most celebrated art installations, including the port town of Honmura and the Chichu Art Museum designed by Ando Tadao. You’ll have the following morning to explore at leisure before you catch the ferry back to Uno and connect to Okayama. Based in Okayama, you’ll have a day to ride to nearby Kurashiki to explore at leisure. Stroll through the canal-lined streets and over the stone bridges of the Bikan Historical Quarter, see the collection of western art at the Ohara Museum, and enjoy lunch at a ryokan before hitting up the Design Market or Kurashiki Museum of Folk Crafts in the afternoon. Back in Okayama, visit Koraku-en, known as one of the three most beautiful gardens in Japan, before riding the bullet train to Osaka and connecting northwest to the coastal mountain city of Kanazawa.

Kanazawa was largely untouched during World War II, meaning its medieval districts are well preserved. Learn about the Japanese tradition of kimono making and get fitted for a kimono yourself at the Kaya Yuzen Kimono Centre. Then head in your new outfit to Kenroku-en or Higashi Chaya District for a photoshoot. Later, head to Gyokus-en, one of the city’s celebrated gardens, for a matcha green tea ceremony. The next day, return to Kenroku-en to see one of Japan's most beautiful gardens. You’ll also explore the preserved wooden homes of the Higashi Chaya District and Nagamachi District, where you’ll visit the Nomura Samurai House.

Ride the train to Tokyo, the Japanese capital and one of the largest cities on the planet. You’ll delve into the city’s history with a trip to Senso-ji, its largest and most cherished Buddhist temple. Do some street shopping along bustling Nakamise Street before swinging by the Imperial Palace East Gardens to enjoy a peaceful respite in the centre of the city. Spend the afternoon in the high-end shopping district of Ginza before visiting the Mori Art Museum in the evening. You’ll have another day at leisure in Tokyo to visit the Digital Art Museum in Odaiba or wander some of the city’s most eclectic districts, including Shinjuku or Akihabara Electric Town, where all things anime and manga reign.

At the end of your stay, you’ll connect to Haneda Airport for onward travels.

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Duration
12 Days
Prices:
On request

Itinerary View Trip Map

Day 1

Arrive Kyoto

On arrival at Osaka's Itami Airport you will be met by Goway's local representative and assisted to your transfer to your hotel in Kyoto. The balance of the day is at leisure to explore Japan's former capital.

Your trip includes a 7 Day Japan Rail Pass. This can be activated at your convenience at any JR Railway Staion. 

Japan has one of the most extensive, comfortable and modern rail systems in the world. The Japan Rail Pass offers foreign visitors the opportunity to travel on the extraordinary network of the JR Group at an economical price. The JR Pass allows travel on most JR trains, including Shinkansen bullet trains, limited express, express, rapid and local trains, as well as some local JR buses and the ferry to Miyajima island (near Hiroshima).

 

Duration3 Nights
Accommodation

Cross Hotel Kyoto

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Location View map
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    Cross Hotel Kyoto



    Cross Hotel Kyoto is adjacent to Kawaramachi and Kiyamachi streets in the heart of shopping and gourmet district, yet guests will find a variety of must see heritage sites within walking distance. Nearest train stations of Keihan Line, Subway Tozai Line and Hankyu Line are …

    Cross Hotel Kyoto is adjacent to Kawaramachi and Kiyamachi streets in the heart of shopping and gourmet district, yet guests will find a variety of must see heritage sites within walking distance.
    Nearest train stations of Keihan Line, Subway Tozai Line and Hankyu Line are no more than ten-minute walk away from the hotel.
    This property is a great travel hub to explore the beauty of this ancient capital of Japan.

    Facilities

    • Bar
    • Concierge
    • Free WiFi
    • Laundry Service
    • Restaurant

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Day 2

Kyoto Highlights

Following breakfast meet your guide in the morning in the lobby of your hotel and then begin your walking tour using public transit (subway and bus). Your first stop is the renowned Kinkakuji temple, better known as the Golden Pavilion, one of Kyoto's UNESCO World Heritage sites. Walk through the temple grounds to admire the gold leaf decorated temple and visit the teahouse for a matcha green tea tasting and Japanese sweet. Afterwards, choose to visit either Nijo Castle, one of the best examples of castle palace architecture from Japan's feudal era or Kyoto's Imperial Palace, the once residence of Japan's Imperial family. Your guide will then escort you to a restaurant for lunch as you will have surely worked up an appetite from all the morning explorations. The type of cuisine you have for lunch will depend on your preferences, but your guide will be able to make some recommendations. After lunch, travel to the Southern Higashiyama district to visit another one of Kyoto's most famous sites, Kiyomizu-dera temple, located on a hillside overlooking the city and also a UNESCO site. Explore the temple grounds and see Otowa Waterfall. Then you may decide to explore the souvenir shops in Higashiyama (time permitting). Your guide will escort you back to your hotel at the end of the tour or you may choose to end the tour in the Gion district, the historical geisha district of Kyoto.

Meal Plan Breakfast
Day 3

Kyoto Arashiyama & Maiko dinner

After breakfast meet your private guide at your hotel and then travel together to the Arashiyama area, where Kyoto's renowned bamboo forest is located. Walk along the pathway through the bamboo forest to admire the groves and capture the perfect photo. Then visit Tenryuji temple, one of Kyoto's main zen temples and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Walk through the temple grounds and see the zen garden. Afterwards, discuss with your guide to decide what to see and do next, since Arashiyama offers a lot of options. Choose to shop along Saga-Toriimoto Preserved Street, visit lesser known temples or go to Monkey park. At the end of the tour your guide will escort you back to your hotel.

This evening, enjoy a delicious dinner of Kyoto specialties while being entertained by a maiko (apprentice geisha). The maiko will perform traditional dances and play games with several participants, and you'll have the chance to take some photos with the maiko. A senjafuda (a maiko's business card) will be given to each participant.

Meal Plan Breakfast and Dinner
Day 4

Kyoto to Naoshima Island

Naoshima is an island in the Seto Inland Sea that is known for its modern art museums, architecture and sculptures. Part of Kagawa Prefecture, the island with its Mediterranean atmosphere, sandy beaches and sunny weather, combined with a laid-back rural feel is a relaxing getaway from Japan's large urban areas.

Much of Naoshima's art was installed by the Benesse Corporation, which oversees art museums, installations and sculptures both on Naoshima and on neighboring islands. Benesse's museums were designed by the well-known Japanese architect Ando Tadao and include the Chichu Art Museum, Lee Ufan Museum and all the buildings of the Benesse House. In addition, Naoshima's municipal buildings and schools were designed by the modern architect Ishii Kazuhiro.

This morning make the 150 minute journey by train to Okayama with your guide (pick up at your Kyoto, Osaka or Hiroshima hotel). You will be met in Okayama by a car that will take you to Uno port, where you will ride the ferry to Naoshima. You can spend the day exploring the island by private car.

Honmura, a small port town on Naoshima's eastern coast, is home to the Art House Project, a collection of abandoned houses, workshops, a temple and a shrine that have been converted into art installations and venues for contemporary art by artists and architects from Japan and abroad. The art houses are scattered throughout town, and most of them are unassuming from the street, blending into the surrounding traditional Japanese neighborhood. The interior of each, however, has been converted into whatever suits the artist's artistic vision.

The Chichu Art Museum is a unique modern art museum built into a hillside overlooking the southern coast of Naoshima. The museum building, designed by Ando Tadao and itself a work of art, is mostly located underground and solely utilizes natural light to illuminate the artwork. This creates a viewing experience that is heavily influenced by the surrounding natural environment.

There are many other smaller art installations and museums which your guide will be happy to show you. Tonight, have dinner at Benesse House's renowned French restaurant.

Meal Plan Breakfast
Duration1 Night
Accommodation

Benesse House Naoshima

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    Benesse House Naoshima


    Benesse House is a facility incorporating a museum and a hotel, based on the concept of a coexistence among nature, architecture, and art. The complex, entirely designed by Tadao Ando, is made up of four buildings, centered on the Museum, which opened in 1992, with …

    Benesse House is a facility incorporating a museum and a hotel, based on the concept of a coexistence among nature, architecture, and art. The complex, entirely designed by Tadao Ando, is made up of four buildings, centered on the Museum, which opened in 1992, with additional lodging facilities in the buildings known as Oval (opened in 1995), Park, and Beach (both of which opened in 2006).

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Day 5

Naoshima Island to Okayama

In the morning you have time to continue exploring the island with your guide by local transport. Please note however that as there is no set plan for the day, entrance fees and meals are not included. You will be then escorted by ferry back to Uno and by car to Okayama to drop off at your hotel. 

Meal Plan Breakfast
Duration2 Nights
Accommodation

Hotel Granvia Okayama

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Location View map
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    Hotel Granvia Okayama



    Directly connected to JR Okayama Station, The Granvia Okayama is a 15-minute train ride from Kurashiki. It offers restaurants with 19th-floor views, an indoor pool with a sauna, as well as rooms with free WiFi and free wired internet. Each air-conditioned room at Hotel Granvia …

    Directly connected to JR Okayama Station, The Granvia Okayama is a 15-minute train ride from Kurashiki. It offers restaurants with 19th-floor views, an indoor pool with a sauna, as well as rooms with free WiFi and free wired internet. Each air-conditioned room at Hotel Granvia Okayama is equipped with bath and shower facilities, a flat-screen TV and a hairdryer. All rooms are also fitted with an electric kettle. The hotel is a 5-minute drive from Koraku-en Garden and Okayama Castle. An hour's train ride takes guests to Shikoku Island. Kibitsu Shrine is a 20-minute drive away. French cuisine is served at Prix d'Or Restaurant, featuring panoramic views. Kibizen Restaurant offers seasonal Japanese foods. Chinese dishes and teppan-yaki are also available. Sky Lounge Applause offers beautiful views from floor-to-ceiling windows.

    Facilities

    • Bar(s)
    • Gym/Fitness Centre
    • Lounge(s)
    • Pool (s)
    • Restaurant(s)
    • Sauna
    • Spa(Hot-tub)/Jacuzzi
    • Wheelchair Accessible Rooms

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Day 6

Okayama to Kurashiki's historical quarter

Today is at leisure to explore nearby Kurashiki. Use your rail pass to take the train from Okayama to Kurashiki (approx. 20 minutes) and then walk to Kurashiki’s Bikan Historical Quarter. Explore the historical quarter at your own pace walking along the canal lined streets, stone bridges and weeping willow trees. The town is very picturesque. We suggest you visit the Ohara Museum, the first museum of Western art in Japan (closed on Mondays). Picasso, El Greco, Gauguin, Modigliani, Rodin, Pollock and Kandisky all have masterpieces there, a very impressive collection. After the museum visit, stroll down the street to Ryokan Kurashiki for a scrumptious Japanese lunch overlooking the ryokan’s small garden. After lunch you can choose to visit the Kurashiki Museum of Folk Crafts to see the various displays of ceramics, textiles, woodwork, lacquerware, bamboo, Japanese paper and other types of material. Or, spend the rest of the day exploring the boutique shops, including the Design Market where you will find a Japanese-made denim shop, Kursahiki is well known for its denim production in Japan. You may also choose to take a rickshaw ride or a sampan ride along the canals before returning to Okayama.

Meal Plan Breakfast
Day 7

Okayama Highlights and onto Kanazawa

This morning visit Okayama’s main attraction: Korakuen Garden, regarded as one of the top three landscape gardens in Japan. You can easily spend a few hours strolling around the ponds, streams and walking paths.

In the afternoon make your own way by bullet train from Okayama to Osaka and then connect trains to continue to Kanazawa (approx. 3 hour journey).

Meal Plan Breakfast
Duration2 Nights
Accommodation

Mitsui Garden Hotel Kanazawa

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Location View map
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    Mitsui Garden Hotel Kanazawa



    Mitsui Garden Hotel Kanazawa is set in Kanazawa, within 300 meters of Ozaki Shrine and 300 meters of Omicho Market. Among the facilities of this property are a restaurant, a 24-hour front desk and luggage storage space, along with free WiFi. The property is close …

    Mitsui Garden Hotel Kanazawa is set in Kanazawa, within 300 meters of Ozaki Shrine and 300 meters of Omicho Market. Among the facilities of this property are a restaurant, a 24-hour front desk and luggage storage space, along with free WiFi. The property is close to popular attractions like Meitetsu M'za, Oyama Shrine and Nagamachi Bukeyashiki District. At the hotel, the rooms are equipped with a wardrobe and a flat-screen TV. All guest rooms at Mitsui Garden Hotel Kanazawa feature air conditioning and a desk. Guests at the accommodation can enjoy a buffet breakfast. Popular points of interest near Mitsui Garden Hotel Kanazawa include Kanazawa Castle, Kenrokuen Garden and Myoryuji - Ninja Temple. The nearest airport is Komatsu Airport, 40 km from the hotel.

    Facilities

    • Internet Access
    • Laundry Service
    • Parking
    • Public Large Bath
    • Restaurant
    • Security

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Day 8

Kanazawa: Kimonos and Matcha Green Tea

Meet your guide in the lobby of your hotel in Kanazawa  and then begin your walking tour using public bus transit. First, visit the Kaga Yuzen Kimono Center to learn about the process of kimono dying and the history of kimono making in Kanazawa. Then, you will have the very special experience of dressing in a kimono! Once dressed, choose to visit either Kenrokuen Garden or the Higashi Chaya district for photo taking. Return to the center afterwards to return your kimono. Your next visit is Gyokusen-en Garden, where you will partake in a traditional matcha green tea ceremony and learn about the tradition and etiquette of drinking green tea in Japan. If time permits, you can discuss with your guide what you would like to see and do next in Kanazawa.

Meal Plan Breakfast
Day 9

Kanazawa Highlights and onto Tokyo

Following breakfast your guide in the lobby of your hotel in Kanazawa and then begin your walking tour using public bus transit. Your first stop is Kanazawa's star attraction, Kenrokuen garden which is regarded as one of the three most beautiful gardens in Japan. Walk through the garden grounds and enjoy the flora and fauna which changes depending on the season. Continue your tour to the Higashi Chaya district, the historical geisha district where you will learn about geisha lifestyles and have the opportunity to visit a gold leaf store, a specialty of Kanazawa. Your last stop today is the Nagamachi district, where samurai and their families used to reside. While there visit the Nomura Samurai House. Your guide will escort you back to your hotel or the train station at the end of the tour.

This afternoon take the bullet train from Kanazawa to Tokyo (approx. 3 hours) and then make your own way to your hotel in Tokyo.

Meal Plan Breakfast
Duration3 Nights
Accommodation

Park Hotel Tokyo

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    Park Hotel Tokyo



    The Park Hotel Tokyo is ideally situated in Shiodome, a flourishing new centre of business and culture. They provide a superior level of service to satisfy the needs of their global guests. As a member of the design hotels TM group, the Park Hotel Tokyo …

    The Park Hotel Tokyo is ideally situated in Shiodome, a flourishing new centre of business and culture. They provide a superior level of service to satisfy the needs of their global guests. As a member of the design hotels TM group, the Park Hotel Tokyo offers an extraordinary level of service and coordinated interior designs. The logo of Park Hotel Tokyo, which shows its colour concept throughout the hotel's interior, reflects a feeling of warmth and sophistication. Blue is for clean comfort, Green is for nature, and Red is for warmth, an expression of Park Hotel Tokyo's warm at-home hospitality.

    Facilities

    • Bar(s)
    • Business Centre
    • Concierge
    • Internet Access
    • Parking
    • Reception (24 hrs)
    • Restaurant(s)
    • Room Service

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Day 10

Tokyo Highlights

This morning travel around Tokyo using the cities sophisticated and efficient subway and train lines together with your private guide visiting some of Tokyo`s main sites. Meet you guide in the lobby of your hotel and then walk to the train station to begin your adventure. Start the day with a visit to Sensoji Temple, Tokyo`s oldest Buddhist temple. After visiting the temple grounds take time to stroll along Nakamise shopping street to look for souvenirs or maybe purchase a snack. Then travel to the Imperial Palace East Gardens, a part of the inner palace area. The palace itself is not open to the public as it is the residence of the emperor, but you can walk through the garden grounds to see the moats, remains of Edo castle and gardens. Next, travel to either Ginza or Tsukiji Outer Fish Market. Your guide will either say goodbye so you can continue exploring or escort you back to your hotel.

Tonight we suggest you visit the Mori Art Museum, a contemporary art museum located on the 53rd floor of Roppongi Hills Mori Tower. After visiting the museum, go to the indoor or outdoor observation deck for a nighttime aerial view of Tokyo.

Meal Plan Breakfast
Duration3 Nights
Day 11

Tokyo at leisure

Today is at leisure to continue exploring Tokyo’s vibrant art scene. Choose to visit the Digital Art Museum in Odaiba, the world’s first digital art museum. Or perhaps, visit the lesser known and quirky Art Aquarium, displaying thousands of swimming fish. Tokyo also has a handful of more traditional art museums, you may need to extend your trip by a few nights to fit it all in!

Meal Plan Breakfast
Day 12

Depart Tokyo

After breakfast at the hotel, transfer to Tokyo's Haneda Airport for your onward flight.

Meal Plan Breakfast

Other Information

DEPARTURES:

Daily

*Museums on Naoshima Island and Kurashiki are closed on Mondays. The Maiko dinner is only available on select days. 

PRICE INCLUDES:

  • Shared arrival airport transfer by airport bus from Osaka Itami Airport to Kyoto
  • Shared departure airport transfer by airport bus to Tokyo Haneda Airport
  • 3 nights moderate accommodations in Kyoto
  • 1 night first-class accommodation in Naoshima
  • 2 nights first-class accommodations in Okayama
  • 2 nights first-class accommodations in Kanazawa
  • 3 nights first-class accommodations in Tokyo
  • Private-guided Kyoto, Kanazawa and Tokyo highlights tours 
  • Private-guided Arashiyama tour 
  • Private-guided touring on Naoshima Island 
  • Kimono wearing experience & tea ceremony in Kanazawa
  • Shared group Maiko dinner in Kyoto (max 25 guests)
  • 7-Day Japan Rail Pass (Ordinary class)
  • Breakfast daily (excluding day 1), 1 dinner
    *all sightseeing is by public transportation

PRICE EXCLUDES:

  • Travel insurance
  • International and domestic airfare & airfare taxes
  • Meals & beverages not explicitly listed as included
  • Optional excursions
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Visa fees if applicable
  • Luggage transfers
  • Entrance fees during private tours
  • Activity fees during private tours
  • Transportation during private tours (unless covered by Japan Rail Pass)

TERMS AND CONDITIONS:

Prices are "from" per person based on twin/double share accommodation and for travel in low season. Seasonal surcharges and blackout dates may apply. Limited seat/spaces and all pricing is subject to change and availability. Rates for single or triple travellers are available on request - please inquire.

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17 Oct 2021
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