This journey will immerse you in the culture, atmosphere and philosophy of Japan. Without hustle and bustle, we will visit the most beautiful places in Japan, learn about its history and centuries-old traditions. Our constant companion will be the enchanting cherry blossom, filling up our journey with magic and making it unforgettable.
Departure from Moscow on March 27, 2020. Group of 10-15 people. There are seven spaces left.
On our first day in Tokyo, we will visit the elegant Rikugi Garden, also called Garden of the “Six Poems”, which is already over 300 years old. Picturesque landscapes, beautiful cherry blossoms, complex bridges leading over streams – all this will immerse us in the Genroku era – the era of beauty. Drink a cup of real green Matcha tea while you admire the mirror-smooth surface of a large pond. In the evening, the hot springs help us cope with the jetlag and to rest properly.
In the early morning, we drive to Hakone National Park, a popular destination for the Japanese. Here we visit an open-air museum, where works by the best sculptors in the world are exhibited in a natural environment. This museum has a large collection of works by Henry Moore, Auguste Rodin and a separate museum of works by Picasso (about 300!), furthermore, we can see inventive architectural forms. After this, a cable car will lead us into the valley of steaming volcanic slopes, cross Lake Ashi and, if we’re lucky with the weather, let us have a look at scenic Mt. Fuji’s snow-covered peak.
In the evening, an exquisite dinner awaits us at a ryôkan – a traditional hotel, located directly by hot springs. Ryôkan are famous for their special hospitality: just one night under the watchful eye of the caring hosts, lets you revitalize and will be remembered forever.
After an extensive breakfast (European or Japanese of your choice), we will hike along the shores of the lake, following centuries-old Japanese cedars to the Shinto Shrine, before embarking the high-speed train Shinkansen to the cultural capital of Japan – Kyoto.
In the afternoon, we will visit the ancient district of Geishas – Gion and witness a performance that represents the most important Japanese arts: dance, theater, tea ceremony, etc.
In the morning we drive to the Arashiyama area in western Kyoto, where we stroll along the Katsura River, admiring the cherry blossoms, and visit the “Temple of the Heavenly Dragon” Tenryu-ji with its wonderful garden. It is full of flowering shrubs and even contains a whole grove of Shidare zakura (mourning cherry). The garden overlooks a famous bamboo grove where we take a walk and take a few pictures under the high arches of these gigantic plants.
After lunch, we drive to Daikaku-ji, the former residence of Emperor Saga, who founded the Ikebana School in the early 9th century. Later, this building was handed over to a Buddhist temple. In a secluded pavilion overlooking the Osawa Pond, we will write a Calligraphic Sutra of the Pure Heart.
We will spend this day in the first capital of ancient Japan – Nara, where we visit the oldest wooden building on earth – the Hôryû-ji Temple.
After lunch we will stroll around the streets of the city, accompanied by deer living here for hundreds of years together with the people, to the monumental Todai-ji Temple with its giant Buddha statue inside the building.
On our way back to Kyoto, we visit the Fushimi-Inari Taisha shrine on a mountain surrounded by countless scarlet passageways – Torii: the Japanese symbol of generational continuity.
We will dedicate this day to the cherry blossom: we will see the most beautiful trees in Kyoto, which for centuries have caused Japanese to come to Kyoto to admire the magnificent flowers. In the evening, we drive to the south: to Okayama.
We will spend this day on the sacred island of Miyajima. Illnesses, births and deaths are prohibited here – these are the ancient rules of this sacred place that still exist today.
The huge Torii gates in the ocean which are probably the most famous symbol of Japan, are located here and belong to the graceful Shrine of Itsukushima, which stands on stilts. If we get here at low tide, we are lucky because we receive the blessings and protection of the Japanese gods.
With a cable car, we climb Mt. Misen, from where we can observe impressive images of the continental sea with its many islands.
In the early morning, we will visit the island of Shikoku, the smallest of the four main Japanese islands. The path leads us through the bay of Seto over an 11-kilometer bridge across the sea with its countless small islands.
In Takamatsu we will visit the Ritsurin Garden, where we will take part in hanami – a cherry blossom festival enjoyed by everyone. Here we eat, drink, get to know each other, sing and dance. In the Ritsurin Garden there are not only cherry blossoms, but above all, thousands of pines, whose branches, just like bonsai, have been cut to form an intricate weave. There are also several ponds with carp roaming around and tea houses nestled in the breathtaking scenery.
On our return to Okayama we visit one of the three most famous gardens in Japan, the Kôraku-en, the “Garden of the Last Pleasure”.
In the morning, we drive from Okayama to Himeji to visit the castle of the White Heron, also called Shirasagi-jō, which is the most beautiful castle in Japan. Famous films about samurai were made here, moreover, there are many legends, beautiful gardens, mazes and, of course, cherry blossoms.
In the evening, we reach another ryôkan. This is an unusual place: the hotel was built in 716 and the host family has been welcoming guests for 46 generations. Excellent onsen (hot springs), an exquisite kaiseki dinner menu, antique shops and stores where you can buy the famous pottery of this area (called Kutani-yaki), a garden of moss-covered trees – make this place so special that it leaves a big impression.
We return to Tokyo, looking forward to new impressions: falling cherry blossom leaves, swirling like snow in Shinjuku Gyoen Park, the colourful, ancient Asakusa district, where we can buy souvenirs; and a walk through the district by night, lit by neon lights.
For the morning, a visit to the TeamLab Borderless Museum on the artificial island of Odaiba is planned. 470 artists have created this amazingly magical world of virtual art, where humans become part of fantasy.
The last evening before the departure can be spent by your choice: maybe you want to repeat the experience of the hot springs or go shopping on the “Champs Elysees” of Tokyo, Ometesandô, or rather have dinner at one of the most delicious restaurants “Sushi Zanmai,” whose owner is called the “tuna king”.
On this day, thankful for all the wonderful emotions, we will say goodbye to Japan and drive to the airport.
If you want to extend the magical journey, you can stay in Tokyo for a few more days and pay a visit to Kamakura, the ancient samurai capital located 50 km south of Tokyo. Here you can visit the Great Buddha and Hase-Dera Temple with Jizô statues, and make a detour to the island of Enoshima, where you will be rewarded with a fantastic view of Mt. Fuji.