Off Beat Japan
12 Nights / 13 Days
GO BEYOND | 13 DAYS | PHYSICAL LEVEL 3
TOKYO – FUJI FIVE LAKES – YUDANAKA –NAGANO – TAKAYAMA – KYOTO – KOYASAN – HIMEJI – OSAKA
On this exhilarating tour, delve deeper into Japan’s rich and facinating past, present and future. Trek at the foot of Mount Fuiji, experience the robot restaurant and stay at a traditional Buddhist lodge. You will also see the classic highlights of Japan.
• Visit the Robot Restaurant • Learn the art of Taiko drumming • H around the base of Mt Fuji • Get up close to the fascinating Snow Monkeys • Relax in a traditional Onsen • Experience the speedy bullet train • Chant with Buddist Monks in Koya-san
Off-Beat Japan Tour Inclusions:
● All accommodation
● Meals as stated on your itinerary
● All sightseeing and entrance fees
● All transportation and transfers
● English speaking National Escort
● Specialist advice from our experienced travel consultants
● Comprehensive travel guides
● Safe and secure with ABTA, ATOL and IATA
The only thing you may have to pay for are International Flights, personal expenditure e.g. drinks, meals not included, optional excursions or shows, insurance of any kind, tipping, early check in or late checkout and other items not specified on the itinerary.
Physical Level 3:
All our tours feature a physical rating to help you select the right holiday for you. To travel on any of our tours requires unaided mobility and the ability to stroll around the sights.
‘Off-Beat Japan’ is rated as a physical level 3 tour. A good level of fitness is required as you need to be comfortable walking for 2-3 hours and covering longer distances. Walking or other activities such as cycling will be at a gentle pace and will involve straightforward terrain.
● Sightseeing will often be for extended periods of time on foot and occasionally at an incline
● Trekking around the base of Mt Fuji will be for approximately 3 hours Of course, our National Escorts will always endeavour to provide the highest level of service and assistance; however, they cannot be expected to cater for customers who are unfit to complete the itinerary. If you require any more information about the pace of the tour, please contact our reservations team who will be happy to answer your questions.
● Off-Beat Japan
Day 1-2 Fly to Tokyo
Fly overnight to Tokyo, the capital of Japan and transfer approximately 1 and a half hours to your hotel. The remainder of your day is at leisure. Please note: Early check in is not included. If your flight arrives in the morning and you wish to arrange this, please speak to your reservations consultant. You will be transferred by shared coach with other passengers who are not part of a Wendy Wu Tour. If you are on a shared bus transfer, you may have to walk for a few minutes to get to your hotel. Transfers will differ depending on group size.
Tokyo – One of the world’s most cutting-edge capital cities, Tokyo is a city of contrasts, famous for its neon-lit landscape, towering skyscrapers, peaceful shrines and lovingly tended gardens. Although long the political and cultural centre of Japan, Tokyo became the official capital when the Meiji Emperor moved it to Tokyo in 1867.
Day 3 Japanese Drumming
Meals: Breakfast $ Begin your tour of Tokyo immersing yourself in the local culture by taking part in a traditional Japanese drumming (Taiko) class, where you will learn how to beat the 'wadaiko' with 'baichi'. Next, visit the Meiji Shrine and continue to the vibrant district of Harajuku before stopping by the famous Shibuya Crossing. Enjoy the rest of the day at leisure to further explore the city on your own.
Taiko – Using large drums, Taiko is an ancient Japanese form of percussion which has become a popular musical art form involving tightly choreographed movements.
Meiji Shrine – Meiji Shrine is a Shinto shrine dedicated to the Emperor Meiji and his wife Empress Shoken. The shrine is located in an evergreen forest within in the busy city and consists of 120,000 trees which were donated by people from all over Japan when the shrine was established.
Harajuku – A district in Shibuya, buzzing Harajuku is the centre of teenage fashion and cosplay culture.
Day 4 Discover Tokyo
Tokyo is the ultimate 24-hour city, but look behind its high-tech frontage and you’ll find plenty of tranquil backstreets and old temples to explore. Embark on a Tokyo city tour, starting with a stroll through the Imperial Palace East Garden and a visit to the 2nd observatory of the Tokyo Skytree for panoramic views over the city. Continue to the district of Asakusa, stopping at Sensoji Temple and strolling along Nakamise shopping street. In the afternoon, explore the Tokyo National Museum and enjoy the rest of the day at leisure. You will spend 3-4 hours on foot today.
Sumo: Tickets to a Sumo tournament are included in the afternoon to some of our departures travelling in May and September. The ritual involved in the performance is just as fascinating to watch as the sport itself. Please note that the tickets are subject to availability.
Imperial Palace East Garden – The Imperial Palace East Gardens are part of the inner palace area. They are the former site of Edo Castle's innermost circles of defense.
Tokyo Skytree – The tallest structure in Japan and the tallest tower in the world; Tokyo Skytree is predominantly a television and radio broadcast tower and is earthquake resistant.
Sensoji Temple – An ancient Buddhist Temple and the oldest in Tokyo, the Sensoji temple was originally founded in the 7th century. The temple adorns an image of the Buddhist Goddess Kannon, who was said to have been rescued by two fishermen from the Sumida Riv er in Tokyo.
Tokyo National Museum
● Located in Ueno Park, the Tokyo National Museum is Japan’s oldest museum. Here you'll find the world's largest collection of Japanese art, including ancient pottery, Buddhist sculptures, samurai swords, colourful woodblock prints, eloquent kimonos and much, much more.
Day 5 Mount Fuji
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
This morning, transfer 2 and a half hours to Mt Fuji and the Fuji Five Lakes area to take a 3-hour easy walk around the base of this iconic mountain, through alpine forest. Take a short transfer to your hotel and check in for your overnight stay. For May departures only: A visit to the Fuji Shibazakura Festival has been included. This is the best time of the year and one of the most scenic places in Japan to see the pink moss phlox in full bloom. Please note, the flowers’ bloom is weather dependant.In the Fuji Five Lakes area we use a selection of hotels, some of which are more traditional in style. The rooms in these hotels typically feature Japanese elements. You may sleep on a futon with the mattress lying directly on a tatami mat floor and experience the Japanese culture. Overnight accommodation: stay overnight in a ryoken with onsen facilities. Here you will find a futon placed on top of a tatami mat.
Mount Fuji – At 3,776m, Mount Fuji is the highest of Japan's mountains and an iconic symbol of the country. Mount Fuji is notoriously shy and is often enveloped by clouds.
Fuji Five Lakes – Formed by previous Mount Fuji eruptions, the Fuji Five Lakes is a region at the base of Mount Fuji made up of five beautiful lakes.
Day 6 Snow Monkeys
Travel to Matsumoto, a journey of 3 and a half hours, and explore the magnificent Matsumoto Castle. Continue to Nagano, stopping in Yudanaka to visit the resident Japanese Snow Monkeys at Jigokudani Yaen-Koen (Monkey Park). You will walk around 30 minutes through the forested valley along paths, occasionally on an incline, from the bus park to the main pool where the monkeys bathe. Accustomed to humans, the monkeys can be observed from very close and they almost completely ignore their human guests.
Matsumoto Castle – Known as the ‘Crow Castle’ due to its dark black exterior, the Matsumoto Castle dates back to the 16th century and is the oldest wooden castle in Japan.
Nagano – The host city of the 1998 Winter Olympics, Nagano is the main access point for the Japanese Alps.
Jigokudani Yaen-Koen – Home to Japanese Macaques, also known as Snow Monkeys, Jigokudani literally means ‘hell’s valley’. It is named this because of the steam and boiling water that bubbles out of small crevices in the ground. It is in the baths of this hot water that the resident Japanese Macaques like to soak. The monkeys live in large social groups, and it can be quite entertaining to watch their interactions.
Day 7 Japanese Alps $ Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
This morning, travel 2 hours to Hotaka to ride the Shin-Hotaka Ropeway into the Japanese Alps. You will reach the observation platform at 2,156 metres high to get stunning views of the surrounding mountains. Drive 1 and a half hours to Takayama, where you will have some free time to explore Kamisannomachi Street and sample the street food on offer (at your own expense). This evening, enjoy dinner in your ryokan. Please note the ropeway may be closed due to strong winds, if this is the case, you will continue directly to Takayama where alternative sightseeing will be arranged. Overnight accommodation: stay overnight in a ryoken with onsen facilities. Here you will find a futon placed on top of a tatami mat.
Takayama – Boasting one of Japan’s most atmospheric townscapes, the layout of Takayama dates back to the 17th century and is home to much Meiji architecture.
Day 8: Bullet Train to Kyoto
Today, take the bullet train to Kyoto. The journey consists of two trains, first the Limited express, which takes around 2 hours and 20 minutes to Nagoya, before changing to the Shinkansen bullet train for a 40-minute journey to Kyoto. On arrival this afternoon, visit the Fushimi Inari Shrine and Kiyomizu Temple. Next, take a stroll around the old neighbourhoods of Higashiyama and Gion, the geisha district with a stop at Gion Corner. Please note: Your luggage will be transferred separately and will not arrive until the following day, so you will need to pack a separate overnight bag for your first night in Kyoto.
Kyoto – Kyoto was the ancient capital of Japan for approximately 1,000 years until 1867 when it was moved to Tokyo. Many national treasures can be found in Kyoto and in nearby Nara, including old shrines and temples, screen paintings, beautiful gardens, and statues of Buddha.
Fushimi Inari Taisha – Famous for its brilliant red traditional torii gates, Fushimi Inari shrine sits at the base of the mountain also called Inari and is the head shrine for 40,000 Inari shrines throughout the country.
Kiyomizu Temple – Meaning ‘Pure Water Temple’, Kiyomizu is one of the most celebrated temples of Japan and houses the Jishu Shrine dedicated to the deity of love. A highlight is the Hondo’s veranda which is perched over the hillside, offering spectacular woodland vistas.
Day 9 Japanese Tea Ceremony
This morning, take a half day tour of the city starting at Kinkakuji Temple, known as the ‘Golden Pavilion’, and Japan’s most famous classical garden – Ryoanji. Continue to the Arashiyama district where you will have some free time to explore the Bamboo forest as well as enjoying a rickshaw ride. Later, witness the rituals involved in the preparation and pouring of matcha tea in a traditional tea ceremony.
Kinkakuji Temple – Kinkakuji Temple is a Buddhist temple and is an excellent example of Japanese garden design. The structure is a brilliant golden hue colour and is very minimalistic.
Ryoanji Temple – Ryoanji Temple is a Zen temple renowned for its garden, which features a dry, sand landscape with large rocks and smooth pebbles.
Arashiyama – Famed for its Bamboo grove, Arashiyama is a district of Kyoto filled with temples and shrines.
Day 10 Kyoto Culture & Koya-san
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
This morning, explore the craft of Kimono creation at Nishijin Textile Centre, then continue your tour learning the art of Origami. This afternoon, travel by road to Koya-san for your overnight stay in a 13th century temple in a traditional tatami room. The journey is approximately 3 hours. The temple where you will lodge tonight is staffed by monks who generally do not speak English. Accommodation is traditional and basic; single mattresses known as futons will be laid on traditional tatami mats, tatami mat floors are not hard and, mattresses are designed for comfortable sleep. The doors to rooms are made from rice paper so noise will travel, and they cannot be locked. Rooms are individually heated but hallways are not. There will be shared bathrooms with shower and toilet facilities. Please note that the showers are open-plan with no screens. In the morning there is no hot water for showering or use of the public bath. The evening meal is a Buddhist vegetarian dinner, known as Shojin Ryori and is served promptly at 18:00. The evening is free for quiet reflection in your room, please note there are no TVs on the premises.
Koya-san – Known primarily as the centre of the Shingon sub-section of Buddhism, Koya-san sits in the mountains and is the ideal spot to get a glimpse of Japan’s traditional religious life.
Day 11 Morning Prayers
Rise early this morning to join the monks in their daily morning prayers before a traditional breakfast. Take an hour walking tour of Koya-San before visiting Kongobuji Temple. Afterwards, travel by chartered coach to visit Okunoin. This afternoon, continue your journey 2 and a half hours to Osaka this afternoon and check in to your hotel for the next 2 nights.
Kongobuji Temple – Dating back to 16th century, the Kongobuji Temple is the head temple of the Shingon Buddhist sect. The interior of the building is adorned with paintings of cranes and there are sliding doors throughout.
Okunoin Cemetery – Home to Kobo Daishi’s mausoleum (founder of Shingon Buddhism), Okunoin Cemetery isthe largest cemetery in Japan, with over 200,000 tombstones, as many wished to be buried near Kobo Daishi.
Osaka – Osaka is Japan’s third largest city. What Osaka lacks in sightseeing locations, it makes up for with its flamboyance, fun loving people and amazing food.
Day 12 Himeji Castle & Sake Brewery
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Today, drive 2 hours to Himeji to visit the 17th century Himeji Castle. The castle is largely in its original condition, so please use common sense and be mindful of your step when strolling around the castle. You will have to remove your shoes before walking along some of the wooden floors and there are some steep wooden steps to reach certain areas. After the reopening in March 2015, Himeji Castle has welcomed a large number of visitors. As such, they now issue numbered tickets to visitors in order to limit the number of people who can enter the Main Keep, reducing congestion, waiting time, and to protect the cultural properties. Please note that this means that there may be cases where some visitors are not allowed to enter the Main Keep. Continue on to a sake brewery to learn about the brewing process and enjoy some tasters. Travel back to Osaka, stopping at the bright lights of the Dotonbori district, where you will enjoy some free time before taking the coach back to the hotel. In the evening, enjoy a farewell dinner.
Himeji – Himeji is the second largest city of Hyogo Prefecture after Kobe, with approximately half a million inhabitants. It is most famous for its magnificent castle.
Himeji Castle – Widely considered Japan’s most magnificent castle for its imposing size and beauty, the well-preserved Himeji castle is both a national and world heritage listed treasure. Himeji Castle has never been destroyed by war, earthquake or fire and survives to this day as one of the country's twelve original castles.
Sake Brewery – Sake is the national alcohol of Japan; a tour of the brewery offers the chance to learn about the manufacturing processes from the 1950’s to the present day.
Dotonbori district – Historically a theatre district and still a popular entertainment area today the Dotonbori district offer an eccentric and electric atmosphere.
Day 13 Depart Osaka
Transfer around 1 hour to the airport, per your international flight departure. Any time before your flight is at leisure.
Please note: Only breakfast is included today. Late check-out is not included in our Off-Beat Japan tour. If you wish to book a late check-out for your final day in Osaka, please contact our reservations department who can confirm additional pricing and make this arrangement for you, subject to availability at the hotel. Transfers: In the event that your flight departs outside of the majority group departure time, you will be transferred to the airport by a shared coach (not with other Wendy Wu Tours passengers). If you are on a shared coach transfer, you may have to walk for a few minutes to get to the coach.
Extras: Please ask our sales team to price the International Flights
Single Room Supplement
PLEASE INFORM OUR RESERVATIONS TEAM OF ANY ALLERGIES AND/OR SPECIAL DIETARY REQUIREMENTS AT TIME OF BOOKING.
20/03/23 & 27/03/23 & 03/04/23 & 08/05/23 & 11/09/23 and more.