Japan Gourmet and Autumn Tour
– Platinum Grande 2020
Departs Friday, 8th November 2020
From $13,500 pp, twin share
Single supplement from $3,800 per person
Be captivated by the beautiful autumn colours and Japan’s hidden treasures on our relaxed, Japan Gourmet Autumn Tour in Platinum Grande style and comfort. Experience a traditional Kyoto style Kaiseki multi-course dinner accompanied by a young geisha who will perform a traditional dance exclusively for our group. Stay in the best hotels and enjoy exquisite meals by Michelin star chefs. Experience vibrant Tokyo and tranquil Kyoto, a combination of famous destinations and out of the way places. The best way to experience Japan in style.
A relaxed, luxury tour for discerning travellers.
Platinum Series Tours Include
Chauffer Pick Up
It is difficult to believe that the thronging city of Tokyo, grew from what had been a small, little-known fishing village in 1457 into the largest metropolis in the world with an estimated population of 1,000,000 by 1721. It was the centre of the Shogun regime from the 17th century until Japan was opened up to the west in the late 19th century. No other place in Japan shows the contrast between the historical culture of the samurai period and the modern technical miracle better than bustling Tokyo, with everything from high tech shopping and outrageous fashion districts to the traditional Imperial Palace.
The samurai town of Kanazawa or ‘little Kyoto’ is known for its well-preserved streets and buildings that evoke the ambiance of the Edo Period centuries ago. It has a long history of traditional arts and culture and historical city streets lined with preserved geisha houses that once formed the entertainment district coexist with modernistic buildings. It is home to the beautiful gardens of Kanazawa Castle Park and Kenroku-en Garden, museums, gold leaf workshop and the Nagamachi Samurai District located at the foot of the former Kanazawa Castle.
Kyoto is the spiritual heart of Japan and is home to some 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites including the stunning Golden Pavilion (Kinkakuji) and Nijo Castle. It was the main centre for the evolution of religious and secular architecture and of garden design for almost a thousand years. Famous for its classical Buddhist temples, Imperial palaces, Zen gardens and traditional wooden houses, it is the cultural centre of Japan. With its 2,000 religious places – 1,600 Buddhist temples and 400 Shinto shrines, as well as palaces, gardens and architecture intact – it is also one of the best preserved cities in Japan.
Japan’s second largest city after Tokyo, Osaka with its 42 municipalities has a population of more than 8.8 million – around 7% of all of Japan. With 1400 years of history, this port city has long been a centre of commerce. Situated in the heart of Osaka is Osaka Castle which towers over the city and whose public park grounds cover 60,000 square meters. Osaka is also famous with foodies and many a tasty morsel is to be found among the vivid neon lights of the Dotonbori area.
Hiroshima’s 1500 year history as a trading port and centre of shogunate power has largely been usurped by the devastating atomic bomb dropped on the city during the final months of the 2nd World War. The city, once a centre of Imperial power is now dedicated to teaching humanity about the folly of nuclear war. The poignant Hiroshima Peace museum showing the impact of the bomb on the victims is not to be missed. Not far from Hiroshima city lies Miyajima Island in The Inland Sea, where you can find the Sacred Goddess Miyajima Floating Shrine and the world famous Torii gate.
Day 1.After arriving at Tokyo airport and clearing customs you will be greeted by your driver and transferred to our luxury hotel and check in for 3 nights at the Imperial Hotel Tokyo. Take some time to settle in and perhaps go for a stroll towards nearby Ginza to shake off the cobwebs and take in the local atmosphere.
Day 2. After a relaxing breakfast (your choice of traditional Japanese a la carte, Viking (Japanese and western buffet) or Western a la carte) we start our first full day in Tokyo with a morning sightseeing tour of the city on a chartered coach, through Ginza streets, Imperial Palace and Asakusa Temple where we stroll down the colourful Nakamise shopping street, lined with tiny stalls and thronging with enchanted shoppers and temple visitors. For our first taste of the gourmet delights of Japan, we will enjoy lunch at one of the finest Iron Chef restaurants in Ginza. The rest of the afternoon is free at leisure and we gather again in the evening for a Welcome Cocktail and a light dinner at a private lounge in the hotel overlooking the Imperial Palace at sunset. This is great opportunity to get to know your fellow travellers a little more as you take in the view and chat about the day’s events.
On Day 3, This morning we travel to Mount Fuji and Hakone National Park. It is difficult to really get a feel for the colossal mountain from pictures alone. Today (weather permitting) you will see Mt. Fuji from far enough away to appreciate its amazing symmetry and close enough to experience the awe its presence has instilled in the Japanese people and begin to understand its place in their culture. On our way to view the mountain from another vantage point, we will take a cruise across Lake Ashi in the Hakone National park and then board the ropeway (gondola) up the side of Mt Komagatake. After some time at the upper gondola station we return to the lakeside for lunch at a local restaurant, then transfer back to Tokyo.
Accommodation:3 nights, The Imperial Hotel Tokyo or similar
This morning we travel to Kiso Valley with its quaint historical post town of Tsumago, seldom visited by group tours where cars are banned and signs of modernity such as power lines are hidden to maintain the old style ambience. Kiso is surrounded by some of Japan’s highest mountains, the Ontake mountain range to the west and the Central Alps to the east. Steep mountains and clear streams have been fostering Japanese cypress production for over 300 years. Prior to the Edo period, Kiso Valley prospered as a key junction for transportation and as a production area of Japanese cypress, the main building material for shrines and temples. Traditions and cultures in the Kiso Valley post towns have remained unchanged for centuries. After exploring the towns of Magome and Tsumago, we head for Kyoto, the ancient capital of Japan. Enjoy the evening at leisure. You might like to stroll to the nearby downtown area or Gion Geisha district with your tour manager.
Accommodation: 3 nights at The Kyoto Hotel Okura or similar
Kyoto is the spiritual heart of Japan and is home to many UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It was the main centre for the evolution of religious and secular architecture and of garden design for almost a thousand years. During our stay in Kyoto we will get to experience this first hand, beginning today with a morning sightseeing tour visiting two of its most famous UNESCO world heritage sites, the Golden Pavilion (Kinkakuji) and Nijo Castle. Kinkakuji is a beautiful Zen temple whose top two storeys are completely covered in gold leaf. Nijo castle, built in 1603, is one of the best surviving examples of feudal Japan’s castle palace architecture. This evening, we enjoy a sumptuous dinner at a traditional Japanese restaurant, the winner of multiple Michelin awards. During dinner we will be accompanied by a Geisha, who will perform a special traditional dance for us and with whom we can chat. Quite a unique experience.
Accommodation: Kyoto Hotel Okura or similar
We begin Day 6 with a stroll up to the famous Kiyomizu temple, nestled in a mountain on the east of the city and overlooking the town below. Part of the fun of visiting Kiyomizu temple is the approach to the temple along the steep and busy lanes of Kyoto’s old Atmospheric Higashiyama district as you share the narrow lanes with pilgrims and local Japanese. Enjoy a special lunch at fine dining restaurant as you share what you have seen and done this morning. This afternoon, we visit the south-west Sagano Arashiyama district, well known to the Japanese traveller but little visited by Western tourists. The area provides a taste of the Kyoto countryside and we will visit a private garden and a bamboo forest walkway, and will get to browse through specialty handcraft shops including pottery, Japanese rice paper, bamboo craft and handmade clay bell shops.
Accommodation: Kyoto Hotel Okura or similar
On Day 7 we visit Fushimi Inari Taisha by local trains and explore the magical, seemingly unending path of over 10,000 vibrant orange torii gates wending their way through the hills behind Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine. In the afternoon, we travel back to downtown Kyoto to experience the sights, sounds and smells of historic Nishiki arcade, home of the provedores to Kyoto’s leading restaurants. Late this afternoon, you will check in at one of the highest quality and most famous traditional Japanese Ryokans (Inns) in Japan. Enjoy the experience of a lifetime with traditional Japanese hospitality. All rooms are individually and exquisitely decorated. A gourmet dinner is prepared by expert chefs and served in your own private room.
Accommodation: Ryokan Hiiragiya or similar
After a leisurely morning on Day 8 we catch a Bullet Train to Hiroshima and then travel on to Kintaikyo, little visited by western tourists, to visit the Kintaikyo Bridge famously immortalized in Ukiyoe paintings. We will catch a gondola to the mountaintop Iwakuni Castle from which we can also get a bird’s eye view of the valley. Mid afternoon we return to Hiroshima, for a guided tour of the Peace Memorial Park and visit the poignant Hiroshima Peace Museum. The museum is dedicated to those who lost their lives or loved ones and has displays on life before and after the atomic bomb. We check in at the Sheraton Hotel in Hiroshima for 2 nights. This evening no group dinner is organised, but why not enjoy quiet drinks and nibbles at your own pace in the executive lounge.
Breakfast today (Day 9) is in the Club Lounge and, after another relaxed start we will visit Miyajima Island in The Inland Sea, to enjoy sightseeing around the Sacred Goddess Miyajima Floating Shrine and the world famous Torii gate. The shrine itself is built over the water on pylons, to give the impression of floating on the water. As with many other structures in Japan it has been rebuilt after storm or fire damage many times and in fact this constant renewal is characteristic of the Japanese psyche. The image of the large bright vermillion Torii gate at high tide against the mountain behind is one of the best known in Japan.
Accommodation: 2 nights at The Hiroshima Sheraton Hotel or similar
We travel today, Day 10, to Himeji by Bullet Train and then on to Osaka. We will visit the famous majestic Himeji Castle, considered Japan’s most spectacular. Unlike many other Japanese castles, Himeji Castle was never destroyed in wars or fires and survives in its original form. It is both a national treasure and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We then travel on to Osaka and upon arrival check in for 2 nights at our hotel.This evening for dinner enjoy the “Chef’s Mystery Menu”, where your chef will create fine Japanese style cuisine based on the specialty of the day.
On Day 11 we travel to Mt. Koya. Mt. Koya is a World Heritage Site due to its more than 1,000 year old teaching and meditation traditions. Smooth headed monks in colourful robes, mist covered mountains and wooden temples create a serene, picturesque and spiritual place. After a day in the mountains, we return to Osaka. Dinner this evening will be Kappo style at a local restaurant. You have by now experienced formal artistic stylised Kaiseki banquet at one end of the spectrum and street food at the other. Kappo is somewhere in between and is characterised by the proximity of the diner and the chef who is cutting and cooking the food.
Accommodation: Hotel Nikko Osaka or similar for 2 nights
Mid morning on Day 12 Mid morning we travel by express train from Osaka station to Kanazawa and on the way you will have the opportunity to see everything from cityscapes to rural rice paddies and mountainous landscapes. You might want to pick up one of the famous (and delicious) bento boxes at Osaka Station before boarding the train, so that you can enjoy yet another culinary experience as you whistle past Lake Biwa and on to Kanazawa. Upon arrival in Kanazawa, we begin our exploration of this Samurai town with an afternoon tour which includes the old district of Higashiyama; a Geisha district; the former samurai residential area and one of Japan’s most famous gardens, Kenrokuen garden. It is one of the 3 most beautiful gardens in Japan, drawing its name from its embodiment of all 6 of the attributes of the ideal Japanese Garden. Check in for 2 nights at the Hotel Nikko Kanazawa.
Day 13 Not too far from Kanazawa are the ancient towns and villages of Takayama and Shirakawago. Takayama’s isolation has allowed Edo period streets, lined with tiny shops, museums and eating places, to survive to this day. After spending some time taking in the local sights we will travel on to Shirakawago, a small world heritage listed village, nestled in the mountains beside a pristine mountain river. We stroll around this fascinating village with its famous thatched roofs for a while before heading back to Kanazawa. Tonight enjoy a French dinner on the top floor of the hotel, with a panoramic view of the City of Kanazawa, sophisticated service and with dishes featuring fresh fish and Noto Wagyu Beef selections from the Hokuriku local region.
Accommodation: Hotel Nikko Kanazawa or similar.
We travel back to Tokyo today by the new Hokuriku Bullet Train line, “Gran Class” including a light meal and drinks on the train, arriving in Tokyo around midday.
Upon arrival we transfer to our 5 Star hotel and check in for 1 night. The remainder of the day is free to either relax or explore a bit of Ginza. Your tour coordinator will help you organise your activities. Relax this evening with farewell drinks and a light meal at the Imperial lounge.
Accommodation: Imperial Hotel or similar
Today is our last day in Japan, so you might wish to do some last minute souvenir hunting or an optional half day activity. Late afternoon, we check out from the hotel and leave for Haneda or Narita airport by private transfer service.
Morning arrival in Australia. Interstate passengers connecting flight.
Other Tour Inclusions
Your Japan Gourmet and Autumn Tour Platinum Grande package includes:
- Fully Escorted Tour by Experienced, Licensed staff
- 5-Star Accommodation, first class travel in Japan
- Michelin Star, Iron Chef and exquisite local cuisine experiences
- Same-day luggage delivery service
- First class train travel and “Gran Class” bullet train travel from Kanazawa to Tokyo
- Private airport transfers for all Tokyo arrival and departure flights
- Total Meals: 27 meals, Daily Breakfast (14), Lunch (5), Dinner (8)
- Sightseeing with local tour guides
- All tipping – coach drivers, hotels (and service fees) and restaurants
Exclusions: Airfares, your travel insurance, beverages during meals (except where specified).
Platinum Grande package: $13,500 pp twin share, land only.
Single traveller: $17,300 pp, land only