In this 6 days and 5 nights tour, you will be visiting the cities of Kyoto, Uji, Nara, Kobe, Himeji and Osaka. This trip is a good mix of planned activities of sightseeing and free time for you to explore the cities as you wish. Certain days will be relaxing and some days will be full of fun-filled activities.
Day 1: Arrival in Kyoto
When you arrive at the Kansai International Airport, our representative will be present to receive you and help you to the shuttle van that will drop you to your hotel, which will be approximately 2 hours away. The rest of the day is self-guided and you are free to do what you wish. You will spend the night at your hotel.
Day 2: Kyoto, Day Trips to Uji and Nara
In the morning, your guide will meet you at your hotel and take you to the city of Uji that lies between the two ancient capitals of Nara and Kyoto. Uji is home to many ancient Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples. You will first visit the Byodo-in Temple, a beautiful Buddhist temple, originally built as a villa, in 998. Its main building is the Phoenix Hall, which has an image of Amida Buddha and statues of the Chinese phoenix Hoo on its roof. Phoenix Hall is so culturally significant that it is depicted on the back of the 10-yen coin.
Uji is an important production and distribution center of superior quality green tea, so your tour will be incomplete without visiting at least one ochaya i.e. tea house. The Taiho-an tea house is near the temple. Here you can sample some green tea and see a Japanese tea ceremony in session.
From Uji, you will catch a train to Ikaruga, Nara. Nara was the imperial capital of Japan for about 84 years, in the 8th century. The 8 temples, shrines and ruins of Nara collectively form a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
You will see the Horyu-ji Temple, whose pagoda is believed to be one of the oldest wooden buildings existing in the world. There is beautiful artwork in the temple from the sixth and seventh centuries.
At the end of your tour, your guide will drop you back to your hotel, where you will spend the night.
Day 3: Kyoto–Kobe
Today is a self-guided day.
As you will be leaving Kyoto today, we recommend a morning walk in the Higashiyama and Yoshida districts. Once you check out of your hotel, you will take a train to Kobe. It is just an hour away and it is a long and narrow city sandwiched between the mountains and the sea.
You will check in to your hotel and you are free to do what you want for the rest of the day. You will spend the night in your hotel.
Day 4:Himeji and Kobe
In the morning, your guide will meet you at your hotel and take you by train to the city of Himeji, famous for its hilltop Himeji Castle. The castle is just 10 minutes away by bus. This white beauty is a paragon of Japanese castle architecture. It is the largest and most visited castle in Japan and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Next, you will go to the Koko-en Garden close by. This pretty 3.5 hectare garden actually is made up of nine different smaller gardens.
After some time, you will travel back to Kobe, to see the famous Ikuta Shrine, possibly the oldest shrine in Japan. It is a Shinto shrine that is believed to have been built in the early third century. Plays that retell the story of the Genpei war (some battles of which took place here) are performed here regularly. Kitano-cho, a historical district in Kobe, is nearby. Here one can see numerous foreign residences from the late Meiji and early Taisho periods of Japanese history.
Next, you will take a train to the longest suspension bridge in Japan: Akashi Kaikyo Bridge. It links the city of Kobe,Honshu to Iwaya on Awaji Island and apparently cost 500 billion yen to build! You can get some great views from the Maiko Marine Promenade -- an excursion-style promenade on the Kobe side of the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge.
After all this sightseeing, you will call it a day and spend the night at your hotel.
Day 5: Kobe – Osaka
Today you will leave Kobe and head to Osaka, one of the largest cities of Japan. Historically, Osaka was a merchant city and today it is an economic powerhouse. Its name means 'large hill or large slope' but it is also called the nation's kitchen.
After settling your luggage at your hotel, you will meet your guide at the JR Fukushima Station and start your cycling tour of Osaka, which will be 3 hours long.
You will see the charming waterfront Nakanoshima Park and the Kema-Sakuranomiya Park, renowned for its cherry blossoms during the season. The flowers are so beautiful that the Japanese have a custom of enjoying the ephemeral beauty of flowers, called hanami. You will cycle by the Japan Mint, close to which is another street favoured for hanami. You will then visit the much awaited Osaka Castle, one of the most famous tourist spots in Osaka. Originally built in 1583, it was rebuilt many times and finally, in 1997, it was majorly refurbished. On the inside, it is completely modern and even has an elevator. There is a museum too from where you can learn about the history of the place. You will continue cycling through the Utsubo Park which has an alluring rose garden and where the rose festival and many flower and sculpture exhibitions are held. You will then head over to the finishing point: Fukushima Station.
After the cycling tour, you are free to do what you want. You will spend the night at your hotel.
Day 6: Departure from Osaka
Today you will be transferred by train to the Kansai International Airport. Before that, you are free to do what you please.