Half Day Arashiyama Tour
Head to the Arashiyama district, a pleasant area in the western outskirts of Kyoto. Arashiyama has been a popular destination since the Heian period (794-1185), when nobles would relax in its natural settings. Take a walk through the famous bamboo groves, which are particularly attractive when a light wind makes the tall bamboo stalks sway gently back and forth. The bamboo has been used at local workshops for centuries to create various products, such as baskets, cups, boxes and mats. Visit Nonomiya Shrine, a Shinto shrine where unmarried imperial princesses would stay for a year or more to purify themselves in ancient times. Then, enjoy some matcha tea and a light snack at Okochi Mountain Villa, the former villa of the popular samurai film star Okochi Denjiro (1896-1962).
Finally, stop by Tenryu-ji, which is ranked among Kyoto’s five great Zen temples and the largest and most impressive temple in Arashiyama. Founded in 1339 at the beginning of the Muromachi Period (1338-1573), the temple is one of Kyoto’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. In addition to its temple buildings, there are attractive gardens with walking paths.
Full Day Kyoto Tour
Discover Kyoto on this day tour, with an experienced guide by your side. Visit Kinkaku-ji Temple, one of the country’s most visited sites. A far cry from Buddhist austerity, it is covered in real gold leaf, photogenically stunning at any time of year, no matter the weather. The story of the warlord who had this pavilion built will surely capture your mind, too.
Next, stop by Ryoan-ji Temple, which was built on the grounds of a villa of the Fujiwara clan in the Heian period (794-1185). The temple is home to one of the most famous zen rock gardens in Japan. Finally, visit Kitano-Temanngu, a remarkable shrine to scholarship built to appease the spirit of an angry ghost, before stopping for lunch at a local restaurant (not included).
After lunch, continue to explore Kyoto along the Philosopher’s Path, a pleasant stone path through the northern part of Kyoto’s Higashiyama district. The path follows a canal which is lined by hundreds of cherry trees. Approximately two kilometers long, the path begins around Ginkaku-ji Temple and ends in the neighborhood of Nanzen-ji. (Note: The walk is around 2-km and not suitable for those with reduced mobility)
Half day Osaka Tour
Start your day visiting the magnificent Osaka Castle. The castle is one of Japan’s most famous and played a major role in the unification of Japan during the 16th century. It has been completely rebuilt, faithful to its original appearance, after its destruction during World War II. The inside is a modern, functional space serving as a museum showcasing the history of Osaka. Later, walk through Dotonbori, a popular shopping and entertainment district, which is also known as a food destination. At night, it is lit up by hundreds of neon signs, including the famous Glico Running Man sign.
Half Day Miyajima Highlights Tour
Take a short ferry ride to Miyajima, a small, sacred island located in the Seto Inland Sea. Miyajima has been a sacred place for Shintoism since the earliest times. Here you will find one of the most photographed sites in Japan – the torii gate which appears to be floating in the sea during high tide. Designated as one of Japan’s ‘3 Most Beautiful Views’, the shrine it belongs to dates back to the 6th century with the present structure dating back to the 12th century. Commoners were originally not allowed to set foot in this holy place, and even now it is forbidden to give birth or die on the island! You will have time to explore the island and its many shrines and temples, including the famous Itsukushima Shrine, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and sample local goodies before heading back to the mainland.
Geisha Cultural Experience
Get a rare peek into the world of Kyoto’s mysterious geisha districts, also known as ‘the flower and willow world’, and enjoy a traditional multi-course dinner. You will see a maiko perform dances to live music played by a senior geisha shamisen player. You will also get the chance to partake in a traditional geisha game, ask questions, and listen to their stories. Your translator is an expert in Kyoto geisha culture and will help you every step of the way. This is a unique chance to experience this refined form of entertainment, a mysterious world that even most Japanese find impenetrable.
Full Day Tokyo Highlights Private Tour
Take a full-day tour of this fascinating city with a local guide. First up is Asakusa, Tokyo’s old town where you can soak in the atmosphere of traditional Tokyo. Visit Sensoji, Tokyo’s oldest temple and wander down Nakamise, a shopping street that has been providing temple visitors with a variety of traditional, local snacks and tourist souvenirs for centuries.
Next, travel down the Sumidagawa River on Tokyo’s Water Bus, a unique means of transportation. After enjoying Tokyo’s bridges and skyline from the water, visit Hamarikyu Garden, an Edo-period Japanese garden surrounded by the Shiodome district’s futuristic skyscrapers, a great example of how Japan is the land of contrasts. Here, you will stop for a cup of steaming matcha and Japanese sweets in a tea house on a small island in the park’s lake.
Later, enjoy a visit to Meiji Shrine, a shrine dedicated to the deified spirit of Emperor Meiji and a popular place for traditional Japanese weddings. Finally, as the sunlight fades, take a walk down the flashy Omotesando shopping street, a broad tree-lined avenue home to flagship stores of some of the world’s top fashion brands as well as some fantastic modern architecture.