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Tokyo – Mt. Fuji – Hakone – Kyoto
Tokyo – Mt. Fuji – Hakone – Kyoto
Arrive in Tokyo, Japan’s pulsating capital, located on eastern Honshu Island. After your airport transfer and hotel check-in, the day is free at leisure to explore this vibrant megacity. Formerly known as Edo, Tokyo has been Japan’s political centre for four centuries and its capital, since 1869. First-time visitors to fast-paced Tokyo should prepare for a uniquely energising and stimulating experience like nowhere else on the planet. With its iconic sights, quirky sub-cultures, neon-lit crowded streets and high-rises, juxtapositioned with ancient shrines and wooden buildings, Japan’s capital is an exhilarating assault on all the senses.
Tokyo Skyline at dawn
Ascend Tokyo Tower, Japan’s second-tallest structure and beloved city icon. Built in 1958, this distinctive communications and observation tower frequently appears in Japanese media culture. Marvel at breathtaking panoramic views of Greater Tokyo from the observation decks. Later, stop at Tokyo’s most revered Shinto shrine, Meiji Jingū, dedicated to modern-era Japan’s first emperor and embedded in a tranquil urban forest. Stroll down Omotesando, a tree-lined, upscale boulevard famed as Tokyo’s hub of high-end fashion. Following a health-conscious lunch, stroll across Shibuya Crossing, Tokyo’s landmark intersection and world’s largest pedestrian crossing. Later, indulge in blissful pampering at The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, one of the capital’s finest spas within an acclaimed five-star hotel. Relax and rejuvenate with bespoke treatments, while admiring Tokyo’s cityscape from a luxurious spa suite on the 37th floor.
Tokyo’s most revered Shinto shrine, Meiji Jingū, dedicated to Japan’s first emperor
Rejuvenate with bespoke beauty treatments The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo
Visit Asakusa, Tokyo’s oldest district and main attraction, Sensō-ji, the capital’s most revered Buddhist temple, accessed by walking through iconic Kaminarimon (‘Thunder Gate’), originally built over 1,000 years ago, then Nakamise Shopping Street, lined with shops selling traditional crafts and snacks. Stop at the Imperial Palace, official residence of Japan’s royal family. Then head to Old Nihonbashi, one of Japan’s most historic districts and an authentic, traditional tea ceremony room. Here, instructed by a master calligrapher, learn the art of Japanese calligraphy, recognised in Japan as a ‘supreme art form.’ Clear your mind of thoughts and emotions – ‘Mushin,’ based on Zen Buddhist principles – while practicing calligraphy using a traditional brush and ink. Then experience a private tea ceremony and ‘Way of the Tea,’ an age-old Japanese cultural activity and meditative Zen ritual. Within a traditional tatami-style room, observe a tea master ceremoniously prepare Matcha tea using symbolic utensils.
Learn the ancient art of Japanese Calligraphy
Travel to Mount Fuji, Japan’s highest mountain and one of its most iconic images. This snow-capped, active volcano is believed to contain the strongest mystical energy forces in Japan. Drive along a scenic highway to Mount Fuji’s Subaru Fifth Station and enjoy commanding views of the summit, then hike along a hiking trail. Drive down to the foot of Mount Fuji and visit a unique Kimono Museum, founded by acclaimed artist, Kubota Icchiku. Stop at Oshino Hakkai, a series of eight ponds fed by melting snow. Revered by locals, this crystal-clear spring water is ranked as some of Japan’s purest. Admire the charming thatch-roofed farmhouses of Oshina Village. Travel onwards to Hakone, one of Japan’s best destinations for thermal hot springs (onsens), an age-old, Japanese bathing ritual that contributes to well-being. At your traditional ryokan, enjoy a full-course Kaiseki dinner and private hot spring bath in your guestroom.
Swans swim in Lake Yamanaka in at dawn in front of Mount Fuji, Japan
A traditional Ryokan, at one of Japan’s best destinations for hot springs
Board the bullet train for Kyoto. Meet your guide, then embark on a Kyoto tour by private car. This former imperial capital is regarded as Japan’s spiritual, cultural and historical heart and centre of Zen Buddhism. Visit Sanjusangendo, a 12th century Buddhist temple, housing 1,000 magnificent wooden statues, then Nijo Castle, an elaborate, former shogun residence. Stroll through historic Gion and its well-preserved streets lined with traditional wooden houses, craft shops and ancient temples. Kyoto is considered Japan’s birthplace of geisha culture and Gion, its best-known geisha enclave. Later, head to 13th century Kenninji Temple, one of Kyoto’s greatest Zen temples. Within Ryosokuin sub-temple, practice Zen meditation, privately conducted by a Buddhist monk overlooking tranquil Japanese gardens. Learn more about Zen Buddhist philosophy from the monks’ preaching’s.
Japanese Geisha at looking out over the gardens in autumn at Kenninji Temple in Kyoto
Start at Kinkakuji Temple. Originally constructed in 1397 as a shogun’s retirement pavilion, this Zen temple is known as The Golden Pavilion, as its upper stories are gilded with pure gold leaf. Then visit Ryoanji, another Zen Temple and home to Japan’s most iconic rock garden, where 15 multi-sized stones carefully arranged in a dry landscape format are open to individual interpretation. Later, head to Kyoto’s mountainous outskirts and scenic Arashiyama District. Take a rickshaw ride through a famous bamboo grove, immersing yourself in a towering tunnel of emerald-green forest. Stop at Tenryuji, one of Japan’s most important Zen temples, where a traditional vegetarian lunch is prepared by resident monks. Afterwards, head to Mount Ogura’s foothills and Ōkōchi Sansō Villa, former residence of Japanese period film star, Ōkōchi Denjirō. Admire the traditional home, tea house and Buddhist halls amidst carefully cultivated gardens.
Take a Rickshaw through the Bamboo forest of Arashiyama
Kinkakuji Temple, also known as The Golden Pavilion, Kyoto
Free at leisure until the private transfer from the hotel to Osaka’s Kansai International Airport for your onward flight.