Japan Summer ‘Gion Festival’ & Northern Tour
Departs Sunday, 15th July 2018
Join us on a special tour designed with repeat travellers in mind. As experienced visitors to Japan you may want to see something new and we have included new destinations and features that we have found to be popular in recent years. For those of you with nostalgia for the Japan you have previously visited, we are also including Kyoto and its 1,100 year old Gion Matsuri Festival. Take advantage of the best season for enjoying the wonderful wild nature of the unspoiled Northern Mountains, sea and rivers of Hokkaido and enjoy the unique experience of learning about the Northern culture of the Ainu.
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.
Kyoto is the spiritual heart of Japan and is home 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 the cultural centre of Japan and 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.
Hokkaido is Japan’s second largest and the most northern and least developed of the Japanese islands. It was settled by the Ainu, Nivkh and Orok peoples 20,000 years ago. The population remained small (around 60,000) and largely secluded from the rest of Japan until the mid 1800s. Hokkaido has therefore, for much of the last 20,000 years, remained a wilderness area – a frontier territory famous for its natural beauty and as the last refuge of the indigenous Ainu people. Its unspoiled nature and temperate summer climate attracts outdoor adventurers and high snowfall in winter attracts ski enthusiasts.
Arrive Tokyo and check in to hotel. Your evening is free at leisure to explore and rest after your journey.
Note: Airport transfer is not included
Higashiyama district. After dinner, enjoy walking along the main street of Kyoto to absorb the atmosphere of Gion Festival Yoiyama by night. On the night before the festival parade, the famous floats, the “Hoko” that will pass by some distance away on festival day are on display in the streets in the neighbourhood northwest of the parade route.
Enjoy the Parade this morning.. The Gion Festival procession of floats, some of them over 16m in height from the ground to the roof, has its roots in the plagues and illnesses of a thousand years ago.
The next day, visit fabulous Zen gardens. After lunch at a lovely old local restaurant, you will enjoy hands on experiences learning Japanese calligraphy and making your own tea ceremony.
Fly to Memanbetsu in Hokkaido. Upon arrival, transfer to the peaceful rustic Utoro fishing village in Shiretoko. We visit Oshinkoshin Waterfall and Shiretoko Goko lakes before travelling to an Onsen Hot Spring Hotel and checking in for 2 nights. The next day, we travel by chartered bus to the Shiretoko National Park where deer, foxes and squirrels roam free. Afternoon, we enjoy a cruise tour around the Shiretoko peninsula. Dinner at hotel.
We leave the hotel by chartered coach to visit beautiful Lake Mashu and then travel on to Akan National Park and check in for 2 nights. Visit striking emerald Lake Onnetou. Perhaps stroll around the lake or shopping strip where shops are run by native Ainu people (Indigenous Japanese). Enjoy a Volcanic Onsen hot spring bath.
The following day, enjoy a Lake Akan cruise which takes us around the lake and to see “Marimo exhibition and observation centre” on an island in the lake. Afternoon follow the tour leader on a walking tour by the lake. Relax, or perhaps enjoy trout fishing with local fishing expert. Enjoy a dip in a hot spring before dinner at the hotel.
We transfer to Kushiro airport to fly to Haneda and check in at our hotel in Tokyo for 1 night. Enjoy some souvenir hunting or an optional half day activity before a farewell dinner at the hotel.
Today our journey concludes. Enjoy your last day in Japan with some last minute souvenir hunting before heading to Tokyo airport to take your flight home to Australia.
Note: Airport transfer is not included
Arrive home in Australia. Interstate passengers connecting flights.
Dreams Series Tours
Enjoy the cool Autumn ambiance and gentle Spring air as you wander through rustic villages, majestic castles and ancient temples. Wonder at the majesty of Mt Fuji and the beautiful Cherry Blossom trees. Follow the Golden Route and visit places off the beaten track, from the Northern island of Hokkaido to the Southern islands of Okinawa and Kyushu.
Our Dreams Series of tours are fully escorted and offer a deluxe service that’s great value for money.Book Online
Your Japan Summer Festival & Northern Tour package includes:
- Fully escorted tour by experienced English speaking tour escorts
- Luxury hot spring resort and accommodation
- Bullet train ride and 2 x domestic flights
- All transfers and admissions for sightseeing as specified
- Special reserved seats for Gion Festival Parade
- Baggage porterage – one piece/person
- Total of 15 Meals: Daily Breakfast (9) and Dinner (6)
- All tours and admissions specified
Package tour price: $5,500 pp twin share. Single room from $6,480