Arrive in Tokyo at any time today. There are no planned activities so check into our hotel and enjoy the city. At time of check in on Day 1 you will receive a note from your G Adventures CEO (Chief Experience Officer) advising you of exact details of group meeting which will be held in early evening. (Meeting normally starts between 6-7pm, and will last about one hour.) Tokyo, the capital of Japan, is one of the most modern cities in the world. It seems that every person on the streets has the latest version of everything. Ginza, is full of department stores selling the latest fashions, Akihabara is the place to try the latest new gadgets before they become available in the West and Shinjuku is the fast paced nightlife area. However, if you look under the glossy surface, Tokyo is still very traditional. Ladies still wear kimonos around town, people go to temples like Senso-ji to say a few prayers on their way to work and couples get married in their traditional wedding gowns in the beautiful grounds around the Meiji Shrine. In spring, couples, families and friends sit beneath trees sipping sake and admiring the cherry blossoms. Catch a performance of the traditional Kabuki plays in the park or, if you are fortunate enough, see the Sumo wrestlers throw each other out of the ring during one of the few ‘Bashos’ held each year. The trip itinerary does not include much time in Tokyo, so if your aim is to explore Tokyo in depth, please factor that into your personal travel time allotment.
Take an early morning visit to the Tsukiji fish market and watch the theatrical bidding at the tuna auction! Afterwards take the bullet train for the first time. Transfer at Nagoya and journey into the Japan Alps and arrive in Takayama in the afternoon, far from the modern life of Tokyo. It is an approx. 2 hr bullet train journey to Nagoya and approx 2 hr train journey to Takayama Nestled in the Japan Alps, Takayama earned the nickname of ‘Little Kyoto’ because of its skilled craftspeople who built houses and temples for the Emperors in Kyoto. Takayama is home to many old wooden houses which are unique in their design as they were built to withstand the harshness of the climate and terrain here. Takayama has something for everyone: visit the ‘Praying Hand’ houses at the Hida Folk Village, watch the Festival Floats at Yatai Kaikan or simply walk around the houses and stop for a cup of sake at one of the local breweries. Plus there is the lovely forest walk past numerous small temples for those who want a little more excercise. Take a full day to explore this beautiful landscape. Discover traces of a feudal past in the thatched houses and rice fields. An optional bike ride takes you well beyond the town centre.
A short train ride to takes us to Kanazawa. In the 17th century this beautifully preserved castle town was Japan's wealthiest, and it became a thriving center for Culture and Arts. As we stroll through the Nagamachi Samurai district and Higashi Geisha district we are transported to a time when samurai were sworn to protect their lord, and geisha were on hand to entertain and amuse. In the Teramachi Temple district we visit the famous Ninja Temple. Designed as a hideout in case of attack, it contains hidden doorways, passages and escape routes. But the highlight of any visit to Kanazawa is Keroku-en garden. Ranked one of the top three in Japan, it's breathtaking beauty shines through in any season. A visit to the massive Kanazawa castle next door is also a must do. Kanazawa is also home to many interesting museums as well as a bustling seafood market. We will also have the chance to partake in a hands-on experience in one of Kanazawa's many famous crafts, including lacquer ware and pottery, and silk dyeing and gold leaf. Or, you can take a tour through one of the local sake breweries if that is more your thing!
This morning we will travel by train to Hiroshima. Perhaps more than any city in the world, Hiroshima is famous for one moment in history. On 6 August 1945, it became the first target of an atomic bomb. Hiroshima has risen phoenix-like from the ashes, and rebuilt itself as one of Japan's most laid back, vibrant cities full of wide boulevards and Art Museums. The large Peace Park in the centre of the city is an extremely moving place dotted with memorials of those known to have been killed in the explosion and those that died as a result. At the top of the park are the remnants of Gembaku Dome. It was directly above this building that the bomb exploded, decimating all but the Dome immediately below. A burning flame waits in the park to be extinguished when all nuclear weapons in the world have been destroyed. A tram ride through the city takes you to the Peace Park. In the afternoon, we will take a short ferry ride to Miyajima Island, a famous wooded island located in the Inland Sea, not far from the coast near Hiroshima. Here you will find perhaps the most photographed site in Japan - The Floating Torii Gate. Designated as one of Japan's '3 Most Beautiful Views', the shrine itself dates back to the 6th century and is designed in a pier like structure. Mere 'commoners' were not allowed to set foot on this holy place. You will have time to explore the island and its many shrines and temples, sample local goodies like maple leaf shaped cakes, and have the option to hike up to the peak of the island, Mt. Misen, to see spectacular views of the surrounding islands.
We continue on to Kyoto, the former Imperial Capital and home of the country's most treasured remnants of Japanese imperial life. As the Imperial capital, Kyoto is an essential part of any visit to Japan. Kyoto has some of the most magnificent temples in Japan which date back centuries. There are said to be 2,000 temples, shrines, palaces, museums and traditional gardens in Kyoto. Use your time to wander past huge wooden structures and multi-storied pagodas, all linked with famous walkways. Marvel at the huge temples of the Hongan-ji sect or the beautiful Golden Pavilion. Take time out to enjoy the Zen gardens of Ryoan-ji and the Silver Pavilion, take a leisurely stroll down the lovely Philosopher’s path to Nanzen-ji, or just walk around Gion and perhaps catch a glimpse of a Geisha going from teahouse to teahouse. Discover, for a full day, the Zen gardens, huge wooden temples, pagodas and shrines.
On day 11, you leave Kyoto and travel to Kawaguchiko arriving mid afternoon. Take the rest of the afternoon to visit the Onsen Spa before dinner. (included) The itinerary varies for the next day, as it depends on the climbing season: From July 1 - August 27 - Groups will spend 1 night in Kawaguchiko and 1 night on Mt Fuji in simple guesthouse accommodation. From May 1-Jun 30/Aug 28-Nov 1 - Groups will spend spend 2 nights in Kawaguchiko and drive to Station 5 and hike down the mountain. (not up!) From Nov 2 - April 30 - It is not possible to climb Mt. Fuji as buses do not run up the mountain. Trips will spend 2 days in Kawaguchiko and do activities around the 5 lake region. Please note that climbing season is subject to weather conditions. If you are scheduled to climb Mt. Fuji in early July or late August please note that this is subject to change. When it is possible to climb, we begin our walk up to the summit and overnight at station 8. It is said that a wise man climbs Mt. Fuji once; only a fool climbs it twice! At 3,776m, Fuji-San is by far the highest mountain in Japan, but what makes it unique and so beautiful, is its perfect volcanic cone shape. From July 1st to August 27 we can trek to the top of the summit. During the off season we can do an alternate day trek in the 5 Lakes region where the views of Mt. Fuji leave you breathless. It is not that the climb to the top of Fuji is difficult - every year pilgrims, families and school groups all make the ascent. The B grading of this trek is because the rapid ascent to altitude can affect some people, and the pre-dawn start means that we encounter some rough patches with only torchlight to guide us. It is also inexorably upwards. There are several routes to the summit, each a well-designated path. The mountain is divided into 10 stations and like most people we begin our ascent at one of the 5th stations. Fujinomiya, at an altitude of 2,380m, is our preferred 5th station start point, and the 1,396m to the summit takes 5-6 hours in total. We choose to break the climb by stopping overnight at the 8th station. Accommodation on the mountain is a basic dormitory style hut with few facilities. Please note: The summit of Mt. Fuji is at a high altitude, it is recommended that oxygen should be carried by all passengers. As it can be cold at the summit as you are there before sunrise, we recommend that you wear warm layers and bring a waterproof/windproof jacket, fleece and thermals.
During the climbing season, wake up early morning and climb to the top for sunrise. Climb down and pick up your bags. Drive back to Kawaguchiko and travel by train to Tokyo. Otherwise, we climb down from Station 5 of Mt. Fuji and then return to city life in dazzling Tokyo. Today you can take in some more sights, visit more museums and gardens, do some shopping, and otherwise have some free time exploring Tokyo until we meet in the evening for our last night dinner.
There are no planned activities today and you are free to depart at any time.