Explore Japan on foot
Discover the rich culture of Japan
Bike around the country
Japan is a land of vast cultural diversity with ultra-modern cities, Buddhist mountain sanctuaries, hidden hot springs, feudal castles and cultural arts. Rediscover Tours' Ancient Japan Tour will take you from Osaka to Mt Koya. From Takarazuka you will reach the rural village of Shirakawa-go and the quiet old streets of Takayama before giving you time to wander the streets and alleyways of ancient capital of Kyoto.
Our Ancient Japan Tour is a 8 day independent tour that will give you a chance to visit the playgrounds of Ancient Japan as well as modern Japan. Since this is an independent tour you will not have to worry about visiting places you have no interest in or sightseeing at a pace that is not right for you. Your Japan Travel Expert can also make adjustments to the itinerary to better fit your style. Just let them know and they will do everything they can to make your Japanese experience perfect.
We hope the above has piqued your interest in this tour. If you have any questions or wish to sign up for a tour please Contact Us or call at +1-248-747-4048.
Sample Accommodations (may vary but will be of similar quality)
Osaka: Swissotel Nankai
Mt Koya: Shojoshin-in
Takarazuka: Koyokan Bettei Azale
Takayama: Best Western Hotel Takayama
Kyoto: Hotel Kanra Kyoto
As with all of our Independent tours, changes can be made to this tour depending on your requirements.
Open Dates - Independent Tour Private Guide can be added in any destination. We can also add activities like a tea ceremony, cooking class, dressing up like a Geisha and many more. Please ask your Japan Travel Expert.
From US$ 4,000 per guest (based on double occupancy for 2 travelers)
7 nights, 8 days
You will be met at Kansai International Airport who will validate your JR Rail Pass, make seat reservations and take you to your hotel by public transportation (shared and private shuttles can also be arranged). Your tour includes a tour organizer which will guide you though Japan but if you need help our Japan office is just a phone call away.
Buddhist Temple Lodging, Old Town of Takayama, UNESCO World Heritage SIte of Shirakawa-go
Train (Shinkansen bullet train, limited express and local trains), cable car and on foot.
Everyone younger than 20 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
After a long flight to Japan you will be met at Kansai International Airport and taken to Osaka. Your airport pick up will validate your 7 day JR Rail Pass ordinary class, make seat reservations for you and hand you other transportation tickets. They will also check you into your hotel and answer any of your questions.
Today you will head to the holy temple complex of Mt Koya located on a mountain top, surrounded by cedar trees and mountain peaks. It is the center of Shingon Buddhism and one of the most important spiritual centers in Japan, with over one hundred temples. One of the highlights of visiting Koyasan is walking through the Okunoin Cemetery. This cemetery lies in the middle of a forest of majestic cedar trees, and the roughly 200,000 graves contain some of the most famous figures in Japanese history. At night the roughly 1 mile path through the cemetery is lit by overhead lights and stone lanterns, and it makes for a wonderful evening stroll. All meals will be vegetarian shojin ryori which is the same that the monks eat. Transportation from Namba Station in Osaka to Koyasan (Mt Koya) Station takes about 1 hour and 55 minutes.
In the morning you will observe the Buddhist Monks perform their morning prayers and then have breakfast at your temple. You will stop for lunch in Osaka and will then continue on to Takarazuka and then to Takedao Hot Spring. This area is blessed with beautiful natural scenery as it is located in a small river valley covered by cedars trees. From the Takedao Onsen there is a charming hiking course that was once used as a railway. In the evening your ryokan will serve you dinner and then it is time to relax in your ryokan's hot spring baths. It is a great way to end your day. The train from Koyasan Station to Takedao Stations takes about 4 hours and 15 minutes.
You will have breakfast at your ryokan before heading out to Shirakawa-go. This town was cut off from the rest of Japan due to its remote location in the mountains. The steep thatched roofs distinctive of this area were designed to protect the homes from heavy snow. In the center of the home is a sunken hearth, called an irori, which was used to cook food and heat the house. Instead of a chimney the villagers would put a large plank of wood over the fire which would catch any rogue sparks and distributed smoke throughout the house. The smoke is necessary for the roof as it would act as a bug repellent and waterproofing. Without the smoke from the hearth the roof would leak and be filled with bugs. Besides keeping snow off the home the steep roof also provided a second floor where the owner could raise silkworms as a cash crop for the artisan of Takayama. You will be staying in one of these thatched roof farmhouses minshukus and the owners will serve dinner to all their guests around the sunken hearth. Please keep in mind that your minshuku was originally intended for a family to live and is over 100 years old. The doors are paper and noise will travel. They could sound proof the rooms and add attached bathrooms but that would destroy the atmosphere and aesthetic of the house making it that much less interesting.
After breakfast at your minshuku inn in Shirakawa-go you will head out to the old town of Takayama. During the Edo Period (1603-1867) Takayama thrived thanks to timber resources which attracted artisans and craftsmen. Many of the merchants homes survived and are now open to the public as museums and galleries. After a long day of touring you will be treated to a wonderful dinner at your ryokan (Japanese inn). Once you are full it is recommended that you go for a walk while the town is quite and peaceful. You might want to wear the ryokan's Yukata robe and geta saddles to really get into the spirit. The bus from Shirakawago to Takayama Station takes about 50 minutes as it winds it way though the Hida Mountains.
In the morning you will head to the Takayama morning market. Here you will find many items that Japanese use in their daily lives but that non-Japanese have never seen. It is a fun way to see connect with the culture. For lunch we recommend soba noodles that Takayama is famous for. If you want something different you can head to Hida Furukawa and take a cycling tour of the country side (not available in the winter) or wander around this quaint and undiscovered town.
Today you will leave Takayama and head to Kyoto, the former imperial capital of Japan. Today, it is in this city that the traditional Japanese ‘high arts’ flourished. Tea ceremony, calligraphy, poetry, philosophy or religion, Kyoto is the number one place to visit. Numerous temples and shrines are located throughout the city and walking along canals, next to traditional wooden houses and through the small streets really gives you an idea of the ancient Japanese imperial culture. Kyoto is also famous for its crafts: textile, kimono and pottery. Although there is very much to see and do in Kyoto, even a short-time visitor can soon get an appreciation of what this ancient capital has to offer. The train from Takayama Station to Kyoto Station will take approximately 3 hours and 15 minutes. If you have a few more days then your Japan travel expert can recommend and itinerary for you. More than likely they will recommend a few more days in Kyoto. You also might consider visiting Hiroshima, Miyajima, Tokyo or a number of other Japanese destinations. Please talk to your Japan travel expert for ideas.
Today will be your last day in Japan and your last chance for sightseeing and shopping. Please make sure you arrive at Kansai Airport or Itami Airport at least 2 hours before your scheduled flight. Your tour organizer will have exact directions to the airport.