GEISHAS ARE TRAINED TO SLEEP WITH LITTLE BLOCKS OF WOOD UNDER THEIR NECKS. RICE IS SCATTERED ON THE FLOOR, SO IF THEIR HEADS SLIP OFF THE BLOCKS IT WILL STICK TO THEIR HEAD. EMBARRASSING.
DAY 1-3 – TOKYO
Konnichiwa! Welcome to Japan!
As travellers are arriving from all over the world, there are no activities planned for day 1. You are expected to attend a group meeting in the evening, however – your group leader will leave a notice for you at the hotel detailing the exact time and place. Tokyo is a dynamic, modern hub, the thriving capital of an ancient land. Contradictions are everywhere, as hi-tech gadgetry and neon lights play an integral part in the lives of a population steeped in tradition. As our time in Tokyo is limited, we strongly recommend that you arrive a few days prior to this trip in order to explore the city. Ueno Park, with its many galleries and museums, is a great place to spend a day, the Sensoji Temple is a serene way to pass an afternoon, and the sumo stables are a must-see.
DAY 4-5 – NIKKO
We catch the train to Nikko (approx. 2 hrs).
On our train journey to Nikko, we have a chance to appreciate the spectacular countryside that makes Japan such a fabulous destination. Nikko has been a sacred site since the middle of the 8th century and the shrines and temples dotted throughout the area are inspiring evidence of the city’s glory. A visit to Toshugu Shrine in particular is highly recommended. The mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the warlord who controlled all of Japan and whose shogunate lasted 250 years, the shrine contrasts with the traditional minimalist style commonly used throughout Japan. Instead, every corner of this monument is covered in intricate gold-leaf and lacquerwork, paintings and patterns. Alternatively, you can go up to Chuzenji Lake and Yumoto for hiking and natural hot springs (and even optional skiing if the weather permits!).
Our Ryokan in Nikko has shared facilities and is located within walking distance of the world heritage area.
DAY 6-9 – KYOTO
On the afternoon of day 6 we travel to Kyoto by bullet train (approx. 3 hrs).
In the evening, we head out to Gion, the famous Geisha district. Even today, we can observe the age-old tradition of immaculate geisha girls visiting members of the wealthy elite in small teahouses tucked away down tiny back streets – but only if you know when and where! The Gion Corner is a cultural centre where we can get a taste of Japanese performing arts, anything from flower arranging to a lion dance.
Kyoto was once the imperial capital of Japan and as such, is one of the most beautiful cities in the country. With over 2,000 temples, shrines and gardens, Kyoto is a great place to get ‘lost’ in – so get out, walk the streets and soak up the wonderful atmosphere in your free time. Our last night in Japan is spent in Kyoto, so make sure you do some last-minute shopping or, in true Japanese tradition… go out for karaoke!
There are no activities planned for day 9 and you are able to depart the hotel at any time. Check out time is 10.00am. If you are departing later, you can arrange luggage storage at the hotel.