Just let us know what destinations you like or what kinds of sights or activities you enjoy. We will create a custom tour for you.
These are preset tours that allow you to experience the best of a country with the freedom to go at your pace and visit sights that are interesting to you.
Our Private Tours are designed to give you the convenience of a group tour with the freedom and privacy of independent travel.
These tours are fully guided with set dates for up to 12 travelers.
This tour is full of unique experiences in beautiful rural Japan. We first stay for 3 nights in Asuka, capital of Japan before Kyoto and Nara, where we engage with local people to plant or harvest rice, the staple diet of the nation and regarded as a blessing from Japanese Shinto deities; we learn the spirit and practicalities of wadaiko (Japanese taiko drumming) from a wadaiko team who have toured worldwide; and we and learn to cook local food with members of the local community. In Kobe we learn kayabuki (Japanese traditional roof-thatching) from a young kayabuki craftman who is passionate about preserving and promoting kayabuki traditions in modern Japan. After spending a peaceful time in the lovely castle town Sasayama, we transfer to the Hozu River and enjoy the 2-hour boat ride to the Arashiyama area of Kyoto, famous for its beautiful bamoboo grove. Next day in Kyoto we visit Fushimi Inari Grand Shrine with its avenues of thousands of vermillion Torii gates; we then visit a traditional paper lantern studio to make our own mini lantern to bring back home. You can choose your favourite paper to make your own unique lantern!
September 28 to October 7, 2017 May 17 to May 26, 2018 September 27 to October 6, 2018
Contact for per person prices.
Tour price includes all transportation between destinations, accommodation, entrance fees, full-time services of tour leader. Contact for single supplement.
Full time services of Japanese/English speaking tour leader.
Stay in small, family-run inns in the farming community of AsukaSee beautiful terraced rice fields and participate in planting or harvesting Learn to cook regional food with members of the local communityJoin a traditional Japanese drumming troupe Hands-on experience of traditional Japanese roof-thatchingVisit the charming castle town of Sasayama
Participants should be at least 12 years old. Everyone younger than 20 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
Meet your tour guide and other group members in the lobby of the tour hotel in central Osaka. There will be a Welcome Dinner at a local city restaurant.
We travel to Asuka by the private Kintetsu Railway and visit three important sites on foot and by local bus. We divide into smaller groups to stay in charming, small Minshuku (Family-run guesthouse) in Asuka. Our Minshuku are traditional Japanese homes with tatami-mat rooms and futons for sleeping, with delicious dinners and breakfasts prepared by our hosts.
We meet after breakfast and spend three hours planting rice (in springtime) or harvesting rice (in autumn/fall). Rice growing has enormous significance in Japanese society. It is great fun and highly educational to plant or havest rice with your own hands. After lunch we spend more time exploring the landscapes of Asuka, including the magnificent sets of terraced rice fields on the outskirts of the town. These terraces are a rare and special sight!
Spend the morning cooking food for lunch with members of the local community, using the freshest, seasonal, local ingredients. The food we cook will nourish the body; learning from and interacting with the local residents will nourish the heart, too. In the afternoon, we learn Wadaiko (Japanese drumming) with a local group which has given more than 1500 live performances in 38 countries around the world.
This morning we travel by train to to Kobe. We arrive at lunchtime to explore Japan's sixth-largest city, designated a UNESCO City of Design in 2008 and still part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network. Kobe is one of five Japanese port cities which opened to the west at the end of the 19th century. We visit Nunobiki Waterfall and wander in the elegant Kitano area. There will be free time later in the afternoon to explore further.
Today we visit northern Kobe and try our hand at Kayabuki (Japanese traditional roof-thatching using pampass grass, reeds and other materials). We meet a young Kayabuki craftsman who has dedicated himself to preserving kayabuki buildings and educating younger generations. We then transfer by train to Sasayama, an ancient castle town which flourished as a transportation hub linking western Japan with Kyoto.
Noteworthy sights in Sasayama include the area of Sasayama Castle, the former samurai house area and the former merchants' house area. We will explore the town on foot and visit the museum of Old Tamba Pottery, one of Japan's six ancient pottery styles. There will be free time to wander the town.
This morning we travel to Kameoka, then enjoy a scenic two-hour boat ride along the Hozu River down to Arashiyama in Kyoto. Arashiyama is a pleasant district in western Kyoto famous for its bamboo groves. In historical times, court nobles favoured this place to enjoy its natural setting. In Arashiyama, we visit Tenryu-ji Temple (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and walk through the atmospheric bamboo forest.
This morning we visit Fushimi Inari Grand Shrine and walk through the beautiful vermilion gates which line the paths on Mount Inari. We continue to a traditional Japanese paper lantern studio and try our hand at making a small paper lantern to carry home as a souvenir. There will be a free time in the afternoon and a Farewell Dinner at a local restaurant in the evening.
Our tour ends after breakfast at the hotel in Kyoto. Your guide will offer advice on your journey to the airport for your homeward flight, or on onward travel in Japan if you are extending your stay.