Japanese Winter Wonderland
|Resort:||Japanese Winter Wonderland|
Japanese Winter Wonderland shines a light on some of the countrys lesser-visited treasures. Youll tour Tokyo National Museum and Nishiki Market in Kyoto, and stay in an authentic ryokan surrounded by footprint-free snowy landscapes – a real highlight. After a trip to see the onsen-bathing snow monkeys in Yudanaka, a bullet train will whisk you through spectacular scenery to Hokkaido, where historic Hakodate and Sapporo Snow Festival (home to sculptures the size of houses) await you.
Day 1 UK – In flight
Titans VIP door-to-door travel service collects you from home for your flight to Osaka.
Day 2 Tokyo – Osaka – Kyoto
We touch down in Japans capital, Tokyo. Well be back to explore its skyscrapers and temples later on in our tour, but for now we take a connecting flight to Osaka and transfer to Kyoto and check into our hotel. The rest of the day is yours to relax.
Day 3 Kyoto
Surrounded on three sides by snow-covered mountains, Kyoto is Japans ancient capital. Hidden within its maze of winding old streets is a collection of some 1,500 religious temples and shrines, geisha scurrying to tea ceremonies and dinky bars serving steaming bowls of ramen. Our tour takes us to Nijo Castle and the Nishijin Textile Centre, where well watch a short fashion show of Maikos (apprentice geishas) in traditional dress. Well also stroll over to the Nishiki Market; a long, narrow street lined by more than 100 shops and restaurants. Known as Kyotos Kitchen, the stalls all specialise in food that are typical to Kyoto, like dried seafood, sushi, pickles and sweets.
Day 4 Nagano – Yudanaka
Japan holds a world record that impresses train spotters and speed addicts alike. Some of the worlds fastest trains whizz through the countryside at speeds of 198mph and today, youll experience this engineering marvel for yourself. Step aboard for our journey from Kyoto to Nagoya, from where well connect to Nagano. On arrival, well enjoy a sightseeing tour that takes in the Zenkoji Temple, one of the most important and popular temples in Japan. Youll have some free time for lunch; Nakamise is one of Japans oldest shopping streets, where you can find traditional snacks and souvenirs. Our final stop of the day is Yudanaka where we check into our hotel; a traditional Japanese Ryokan surrounded by spectacular – and often snow-covered – mountain scenery. Known as the worlds oldest hotels, some inns have been around since the 7th century when they were built for nomadic samurai traders. Think rice-straw tatami matting flooring, low tables and fusuma screens as doors. This promises to be a very special experience.
Day 5 Yudanaka – Tokyo
Well appreciate the snow-smothered landscapes today as we take a walk to the Jigokudani Monkey Park, where wild Japanese macaques (snow monkeys) live, completely unrestricted by fences. Keep your camera at the ready to snap away at families of monkeys warming up in hot springs. Late morning, we depart for the neon lights and skyscrapers of Tokyo.
Day 6 Tokyo
Arriving in Tokyo is undoubtedly a surreal experience. This is a city that is always on the move; it dazzles with shiny new things, whilst keeping one foot firmly rooted in its traditions and culture. Well spend the whole day today learning all about this fascinating city. Well take in the Tokyo National Museum and colourful Ameyoko Shopping Streets and enjoy a short walking tour of Yanaka; one of the few districts in Tokyo that still holds the citys traditional rustic charm. Well also take in the view of the whole city from the top of the Skytree, a 634m-tall communications tower (and one of the worlds tallest structures).
Day 7 Tokyo
Today is free for you to explore Tokyo, with many sights to choose from and innumerable shrines to find, including the exquisite Senso-ji Temple. There are also a number of excellent theatres, including the historic Kabuzi-za, where you may see a traditional, highly skilled Kabuki performance. For a different experience that will leave you in no doubt that youre in Tokyo, head to the intersection in front of Shibuya Station, famously known for the scramble of hundreds of pedestrians simultaneously crossing the road in all directions. Or for a moment away from the city bustle, Ueno Park is the citys largest green space.
Day 8 Hakodate
We take to the bullet train once again today – this time all the way up to Hokkaido, Japans northernmost island, travelling to Hakodate. Once we arrive and settle in at our hotel, we will spend some time at leisure until this evening, when we ascend Mount Hakodate by coach. The views from here are simply incredible – especially at night, when the city lights stretch for miles in front of you.
Day 9 Hakodate
We have a busy morning ahead of us today and well start it off with some early morning seafood at the renowned Hakodate morning market. Here, 300 stalls prepare and serve all manner of fresh fish dishes; giant squid flattened into pancakes, crab grilling over hot coals and dried scallops al to the sound of sing-song call of vendors. We ascend Goryokaku Tower for fabulous views across the city, and head to the Bay Area, where red brick warehouses stand as symbols of the shipping industry that thrived here as Japan opened up to international commerce. Well also visit Motomachi, an area that also flourished with the influx of trade and the influence of western culture is apparent in the old consulate buildings and pretty, foreign churches.
Day 10 Hakodate – Sapporo
Our day starts with a visit to Onuma Quasi National Park, a beautiful area that includes serene lakes marked by small islands and the majestic snow-smothered dormant volcano, Mount Komagatake. We also visit Noboribetsu Jigokudani (Hell Valley), a small town surrounded by countless onsen (hot springs), before arriving in Sapporo. After checking into our hotel, well head out to explore the Otaru Snow Light Path Festival. This festival of flickering lights and glowing snow statues lights up the port town every winter; the canal is particularly charming, dotted with lanterns along its whole length.
Day 11 Sapporo
The Sapporo Snow Festival is the most famous of the Japanese winter festivals. It started in 1950 with just six statues carved from snow by school students. Today it is an incredible display of around 250 imaginative snow and ice sculptures of giant proportions illuminated by candles and coloured bulbs. Wander the collection and watch some of the works in progress, enjoy a local tipple at the ice bar and perhaps even glide down the giant snow slide. A day you wont soon forget.
Day 12 Sapporo – Tokyo – UK
Transfer to the airport and your return flight to the UK. Upon arrival your Titan vehicle will be waiting for the journey home.