Highlights of Japan – Yamashiro Onsen
Tokyo – Kyoto – Kanazawa – Yamashiro Onsen – Takayama – Tokyo
11 Days 10 Nights
  • Day 1
  • Arrive in Tokyo

Upon arrival in Tokyo, you will be met by your English-speaking driver and transfer to the hotel in Tokyo by private car.

Check in to your hotel.

The rest of the day is free time.

Welcome to Tokyo!

Japan's capital and the world's largest metropolitan area, Tokyo offers a limitless variety of shopping, entertainment, cultural activities and dining. The city's history can be appreciated in districts such as Asakusa, and in its many excellent museums, historical sites, temples and gardens.
  • Day 2
  • Tokyo
Join your guide for a tour of a few of Tokyo’s highlights.

The first place to visit is Tsukiji market. Known as “Tokyo’s Kitchen,” Tsukiji is the largest market of its kind in the world, and supplies millions of Tokyoites with fresh produce of every kind. The market is most famous for fresh fish, with a history dating back 500 years. The market sells over 400 varieties of fish and shellfish, totaling well over 2,000 tons, every day. (Closed on Sundays)

Next stop is Hamarikyu Garden, a large, beautiful garden in central Tokyo. Situated at the mouth of the Sumida River, Hamarikyu features seawater ponds that change level with the tides, and a teahouse on an island where visitors can rest and contemplate the view. The traditional garden is a calm oasis contrasting with the skyscrapers of nearby Shiodome.

Take a boat ride on the Sumida River to Asakusa.

After you get off the boat you’ll continue to Asakusa Kannon Temple, the oldest Buddhist temple in Tokyo, and definitely its most impressive. The main hall was first built in 645 to house a tiny golden statue of Kannon, the goddess of mercy, which two brothers hauled up in their net while fishing in the Sumida River. The statue was enshrined in the main hall, where it remains to this day.

Following Asakusa, proceed to Kappabashi.
This district is the “Kitchen Town” of Tokyo, the place to go for all your kitchenware needs. Here you can find virtually any kind of kitchen and restaurant equipment you can imagine, as well as furniture, displays, design and construction goods, bamboo wares, cooking ingredients, and more. You don’t have to shop there to enjoy the experience, though – you can just walk around and be amazed by the incredible variety and volume of stuff for sale and the energy and bustle of a busy Japanese business district. One highlight you might find interesting is the fake food sellers – this is where they make those plastic sushi you see in display cases in front of sushi restaurants, as well as plastic cakes, pizzas, hot dogs and anything else you can think of. They make great souvenirs.

Your last stop today is Ginza, Tokyo's famous glitzy shopping, dining and entertainment district, which is home to a staggering number of department stores, boutiques, art galleries, restaurants, nightclubs and cafes. Here, you can also find depachika, basement food floors in Tokyo department stores, which sell products including items from famous food brands, bento (box lunches), Japanese sweets from Kyoto, and many other delicious offerings.

Return to the hotel.
  • Day 3
  • Tokyo
In the morning, discover more of Tokyo with your guide.

Visit Omotesando, Harajuku and Aoyama. This area is famous as one of the most sophisticated and fashionable districts in the world. Hundreds of chic and fashionable shops on the main streets and back alleys, unique buildings designed by famous architects, fashionable cafes, and people sporting unique street fashions make this area a showplace of modern Tokyo.

Roppongi is the city's most popular nightlife district, boasting a huge variety of bars, restaurants and nightclubs. Roppongi and the surrounding districts of Azabu, Hiro-o and Akasaka are home to many embassies and a large foreign community. Two recent redevelopment projects, Roppongi Hills and Tokyo Midtown, changed the face of the district and expanded its appeal to a wider range of visitors and residents, with high-end retail, leisure and residential spaces, offices, and luxury hotels. Roppongi is also a cultural center, home of the “Art Triangle Roppongi” – the National Art Center (Japan's largest art museum), Roppongi Hills' Mori Art Museum and Tokyo Midtown's Suntory Museum of Art.

Say “goodbye” to your guide and explore the city on your own. The afternoon is free time.

~Optional activity~
Cooking Class with Michelin Star Chef

You can have the experience of learning Japanese home cooking or Temari sushi (small, ball-shaped sushi) from a Michelin star chef.
  • Day 4
  • Tokyo - Kyoto
Board on the shinkansen bullet train for Kyoto.

Upon arrival, leave your luggage at the ryokan. Discover independently one of the most famous World Heritage Temples in Japan.

Kiyomizu-dera Temple
This historic temple, one of the most famous in Japan, was established in 778, before Kyoto became the capital of Japan. The current building dates from the early Edo period, the time of Tokugawa Iemitsu.

Kiyomizu-dera’s wooden stage, which extends out from its main hall 13 meters above the ground, is its most famous feature. The view of the city from the stage is spectacular, especially in cherry blossom and maple leaves in the fall. The Hondo, or Main Hall, which has been designated a national treasure, is home to a small statue of the 11-face, 1,000-arm Kannon bodhisattva, famous for its ability to answer prayers. The temple, has other important cultural properties including the Deva gate, west gate, three-story pagoda and bell tower. Kiyomizu-dera was registered as a Unesco World Cultural Heritage site in 1994.

Ninen-zaka (Two-Year Hill) and Sannen-zaka (Three-Year hill).
Close by Kiyomizu-dera, these are two of the prettiest streets in Kyoto and a great place to experience the beauty and serenity of old Kyoto, before the forces of modernity came along with its pavement and power lines. The pedestrian-only streets are lined with pretty traditional shops, restaurants and teahouses, and are a great place for a stroll in a truly lovely place.

Return to the ryokan and check in.
  • Day 5
  • Kyoto
Let’s discover Kyoto with a knowledgeable and English-speaking guide!

Nijo Castle, built in 1603, is another World Heritage Site, and its Ninomaru Palace is designated a National Treasure due to its splendid architecture and magnificent interior. The floorboards of the corridors creak underfoot -- called uguisubari (nightingale floors), they sound like the chirping of nightingales when anyone (such as an assassin) treads upon them.
*Closed on Tuesdays in July, August, December and January.

Kinkakuji Temple
This beautiful and world-famous temple, also known as the Golden Pavilion for its golden exterior, is one of the most beautiful in Kyoto, and has been designated a Unesco World Cultural Heritage Site. It was built at the end of the 14th century as a villa for the shogun, Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, and later became a Zen temple, famous for the practice of zazen, or sitting meditation. Kinkakuji is a symbol of Kyoto, and of Japan.

The magnificent Kyoko-chi Pond on the temple grounds is a lovely sight, with manmade islands and artfully placed rocks, whose shapes change depending on the angle from which they are viewed. The reflection of the temple in the waters of Kyoko-chi is a truly impressive sight.

Following Kinkakuji, visit Ryoanji Temple.
This temple is famous as the site of what is certainly the finest example of kare-sansui, or dry landscape garden, composed of raked gravel and mossy boulders. The effect is sublime. The grounds of the temple, which was established in the 15th century, also feature a beautiful wooded section and a garden that dates from the 12th century.

Kimono Experience
Until about 100 years ago the kimono was the everyday clothing of the Japanese. Today it is mostly worn by women on special occasions. There are also kimono for men. Putting on a kimono is a bit involved, but with the help of a kimono specialist, you will transform into a real Japanese beauty or samurai in minutes.

Gion Shirakawa, Kyoto's famous geisha traditional performer district, Gion is filled with shops, restaurants and ochaya (teahouses) where geiko and maiko entertain. The Gion Shirakawa area runs along the lovely Shirakawa Canal, which is lined by willow trees, expensive restaurants and ochaya, many of which have rooms overlooking the canal. As it is a little off the beaten path, the Shirakawa area is typically quieter than the main Hanami-koji Street.

Return to the ryokan.

~Optional activity~
Exotic Dinner with Geiko and Maiko at a Prestigious Ochaya

Geiko (Kyoto geisha) and maiko (geisha in training) are still symbols of Japan, but they are a rather rare sight these days. However, on this tour you can have geiko and maiko show you Japanese dances and play traditional musical instruments in their traditional costume, and they will sit together with you, serve drinks in the Japanese way, play games and take some photos with you.
  • Day 6
  • Kyoto to Yamashiro Onsen
Take the limited express Thunderbird train from Kyoto to Kaga Onsen. The 1 hour and 45min train ride takes you to the town of Kaga, famous for its natural hot springs. The modern Japanese lifestyle has become increasingly Westernized, and traditional Japan is becoming harder and harder to find in the busy modern world. Ryokan are a perfect place to savor the serene beauty of the traditional Japanese lifestyle.

Check in at Beniya Mukayu

Perched on a hill overlooking the city of Kaga, Ishikawa Prefecture, the beautiful Beniya Mukayu ryokan offers a perfect blend of friendly, attentive service and the serene tranquility of nature. Beniya Mukayu makes the most of its natural blessings, using careful landscaping and floor-to-ceiling windows to bring the natural world and indoor spaces together. In its 16 rooms, each of which boasts an open-air hot spring bath, the ryokan embraces a mixture of outside and in, wide-open nature and inner space – you can see, hear and smell the seasons everywhere at Mukayu.

You can then take a tour of the ryokan and environs with the English-speaking staff.

Welcoming tea ceremony by Kazunari Nakamichi, the owner of Beniya Mukayu
A little teahouse is located in the middle of the ryokan’s beautiful Japanese garden. Inside, Nakamichi-san, the owner of Mukayu, invites you to discover the tranquil beauty of the Japanese tea ceremony.
*Subject to the availability of Nakamichi-san.
*Please book in advance at 16:00, 16:30 or 17:00.

Spa treatment at award-winning “Entei Seijutsu-In”
Spa “Entei” carries on a century-long tradition of healing, by using water from the local Yamashiro hot spring and medicinal herbs. Along with full-body massage, reflexology and other massage techniques, the spa also features herbal balls, which are steamed and applied to specific points on the body for a divinely relaxing experience.

Savor the finest Kaga-style kaiseki Japanese haute cuisine created by Chef Yoshinori Kinomoto, served on locally crafted dishes. Certified by Relais Chateaux, Kaiseki Horin cuisine produces original signature dishes of outstanding quality.

  • Day 7
  • On-site and around the vicinity
Complimentary morning Yoga Class
by Sachiko Nakamichi, proprietress of Beniya Mukayu

You may start your day with a yoga class in Horin surrounded by a calm and peaceful atmosphere.
*If Mrs. Nakamichi is not available, there will be a substitute teacher.
*Available every morning.

Unique tailor-made experiences with Mukayu’s English-Speaking Team
These start around noon – Beniya Mukayu’s English-Speaking Team can introduce you to activities on-site with you or take you to local exclusive experiences to discover the real Japan. Duration is around 2-3 hours. All itineraries are tailor-made according to your needs, the season, the weather and your preferences. Guided by Beniya Mukayu’s English-Speaking Team, you can choose from the following options at a price of 18,000–30,000 yen.


Option 1 – Cooking
Mukayu’s kitchen staff and an English-speaking translator will teach you some of the techniques used in the traditional Japanese cuisine. Menus range from maki (roll-up) sushi to miso soup, nigiri sushi and many others, according to your preference.

Option 2 – Calligraphy
Learn how to write a sentence of your choice in kanji Chinese characters (for a good luck charm) and your name in katakana characters.

Option 3 – Kimono-wearing
Learn the essentials of traditional Japanese kimono – how it should be worn and how to use it with authentic Japanese panache. You can also take pictures on the premises or in the vicinity while wearing the kimono, for a nice memory of your trip.

In the vicinity

Option 1 – Yamashiro Onsen
~ Discover the Sacred Land of Yamashiro Onsen ~
This trip offers a unique experience of Japan’s religion and culture. Depending on your interests, the season and the weather, the tour includes some places that are difficult to reach for travelers, and only the locals know, such as Yakuo-in Temple, Hattori Shrine and Kutani Yaki pottery.

You could also wear a kimono to explore the town. You can take pictures around the old town of Yamashiro or at Beniya Mukayu.
Option 2 – Soba Making
~ The ultimate noodle experience: Making soba from scratch ~

A soba (buckwheat) noodle-making class at a local soba restaurant offers a hands-on experience with a Soba Master in creating your own soba lunch from scratch. This fun activity will be a highlight of your trip to Japan!

Option 3 – Maruhachi Tea Factory
~ There’s always time for tea ~

Tea is the most commonly drunk beverage in Japanese culture. Kaga Boucha is famous for its quality and excellent flavor, and it gives us an opportunity to learn more about the “way of tea.” After a tour around the factory while watching the tea-making process, you may explore and discover different tea leaves and stems, and what makes kaga boucha one of the finest teas available. You can play a traditional Japanese guessing game called Chakabuki, in which you taste several types of tea and identify their character. At the end, guests can enjoy a cup of tea with a traditional sweet confectionery.

Option 4 – Tsurugadaki Waterfall
~ Hiking & Picnic and a visit to a traditional home ~

Summer in this region offers the perfect weather to spend time outdoors and enjoy nature. As you hike through the hills and forests, the path leading to the beautiful Tsurugadaki waterfall is extremely picturesque. When you arrive at the waterfall, throw an egg into it! This represents a “gift to the Dragon God.”

Then continue your trip to Ozuchi, a hidden gem in the mountains. There are many traditional old Japanese houses here, made out of clay. Stop by the nearest cool spring to refresh your body in the healing waters, then have a picnic in your favorite spot and enjoy a special bento lunch box prepared by Beniya Mukayu’s chef.
*Available in June, July and September only.

Option 5 – Strolling around Yamanaka Onsen (Kaga)
~ Admire the beauty of nature along the river ~

Yamanaka is one of the four onsen hot spring towns in Kaga. The tour starts with the famous Kurotani-bashi, a beautiful stone bridge, then continues along the riverside for a chance to admire the beautiful surrounding nature. Take a walk in the onsen district at Yuge Street, where you can buy local souvenirs and the area’s famous lacquer ware.

Option 6 – Grape picking and MooMoo Makiba Ranch
September is harvest time for grapes. Japanese grapes are one of the most popular fruits here in the city of Kaga. Grape picking is a unique activity, which allows you to pick as many grapes as they like in a greenhouse. Pick, eat and keep eating until the time’s up!

But spare some room in your stomach – because we will be heading to MooMoo Makiba ranch! Get to know farm animals such as cows and ponies and feed them by hand. End your afternoon with a milk tasting, fresh gelato ice cream and yogurt along with varieties of cake at MooMoo Café.
*Available only in September

Option 7 – Daisho Town Tour with Gondola Outing on the Daishoji River
~ Spectacular sakura in a traditional setting ~

Daishoji is a samurai castle town that dates back to the 17th to 19th centuries. In the spring, you can admire the sakura cherry blossoms along the banks of the Daishoji River, and later enjoy a gondola outing on the river.
*Available during sakura cherry blossom season only

Option 8 – Jokigen Sake Brewery Tour
~ The art of drinking ~

Head to Jokigen Sake Brewery, founded in 1819 in the historical city of Kaga, with majestic Mount Hakusan soaring in the distance. Jokigen brewery is eager to welcome Beniya Mukayu’s guests with a tour of the site and sake tasting afterwards. At Jokigen, there is a historical well, known as the “Well of White Water,” that has been in use since ancient times. Learn the art of drinking from the local expert!

  • Day 8
  • Day trip to Kanazawa
Take a day trip to Kanazawa by either express train or private car with optional English speaking guide.

During the Edo period (1603-1868), Kanazawa was the seat of the Maeda clan, the second most powerful feudal clan after the Tokugawa. As a result, Kanazawa became a place of great cultural achievement, to rival Kyoto and Edo (now Tokyo).

Today, Kanazawa is still an important city and the capital of Ishikawa Prefecture. The city boasts many historical attractions, such as restored residences and districts, as well as modern museums.

~ Unique Tailor-Made Experiences Organized by Beniya Mukayu (optional) ~
These unique activities are usually not available to tourists. Beniya Mukayu has tied up with local businesses to create a special program so that you can have a unique and memorable experience.
*Advance booking is required – 2 hours excluding lunch and transportation.
*Prices start at 5,000 yen per person.
Option 1 – Sake Tasting Workshop at Fukumitsuya Sake Brewery & Sushi Lunch
Head to Fukumitsuya Sake Brewery – the oldest sake brewery in Kanazawa, dating from 1625. This brewery boasts the highest level of craftsmanship and a family secret recipe. You will have a chance to see the fermentation techniques used in sake brewing and peek behind the secret door to see what makes the Fukumitsuya Sake Brewery so special. Join the sake tasting opportunity and learn how to read a sake label, the different grades of sake, and the proper way to drink it. Receive a surprise gift from Fukumitsuya Sake Brewery and then head over to the famous Sentori Sushi restaurant, where you can enjoy lunch with Fukumitsuya Sake.

Option 2 – Yamato Soy Sauce and Miso Brewery & Sushi Lunch
Soy sauce and miso are both essential ingredients in Japanese cuisine. Yamato Soy Sauce and Miso Company is well known for its high quality soy sauce products, which are pure and natural, and are used in three Michelin Star restaurants. After the tour around the facilities and experiencing the flavor and aroma of miso and soy sauce, you can take part in the final process of making soy sauce. At the end of the workshop, you can label and sign your own small soy sauce bottle. Before leaving, try some soy sauce ice cream! Finally, we will head over to the nearby Hosho Sushi restaurant, where you can enjoy your soy sauce creation, along with delicious sushi for lunch.

In the afternoon you can continue sightseeing in Kanazawa.

Here are some suggestions:

Kenrokuen Garden is known as one of Japan’s three greatest landscape gardens. Next to Kenrouken Garden is Kanazawa Samurai Castle Park, one of the great symbols of the city’s traditional culture and legacy.

The 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art is an impressive museum focusing on works produced since 1980 that “propose new values.” The museum’s collection includes works by such artists as Francis Alys, Matthew Barney, Tony Cragg, Olafur Eliasson, James Turrell, Yayoi Kusama and many more.

Higashi Chaya District is the area where you can find wooden geisha houses lining either side of the street. “Chaya” means teahouse, and geisha are traditional female performers who were once numerous, entertaining guests in this area.

Nagamachi was a samurai district at the foot of the former Kanazawa Castle, where samurai and their families lived during the Edo period.

Myoryuji Temple is popularly known as the Ninja Temple. From the outside, it looks like a simple temple with two floors, but once you enter the temple, you find that in fact it has four floors and seven tiers. The temple boasts complex architecture, with 23 chambers and 29 staircases. There are a total of 29 different contrivances to fool intruders, such as hidden chambers and stairs, unexpected and reversible trapdoors and floors, escape pits, and more.

Return to Beniya Mukayu.

  • Day 9
  • Yamashiro Onsen – Takayama
Check out from Beniya Mukayu.

You will first visit Shirakawa-Go & Gokayama by private car with an optional English speaking guide.

Shirakawa-go and neighboring Gokayama village were declared a Unesco World Heritage site in 1995. They are famous for their traditional gassho-zukuri farmhouses, some of which are more than 250 years old.

Gassho-zukuri means “constructed like hands in prayer,” as the farmhouses’ steep thatched roofs resemble the hands of Buddhist monks pressed together in prayer. The architectural style is designed to withstand the large amounts of heavy snow the area experiences in winter. The roofs are made without nails, and provide a large attic space used for cultivating silkworms.

Continue on to Takayama, Gifu Prefecture. Set in the mountainous Hida region, Takayama has retained a traditional touch like few other Japanese cities, especially in its beautifully preserved old town. The town gained prominence in the 17th century when the Kanamori clan built Takayama castle, and it has been an important regional center ever since, though its isolation in the mountains of Gifu allowed it to develop its own unique culture. All that history means that today, Takayama has a lot of fun and fascinating things to do.

Check in at Wanosato

After dinner, guests are invited to sit by an open built-in hearth called irori after dinner, where you can enjoy the unique drinks that are offered in the evening sip by indulgent sip.

  • Day 10
  • Takayama
After breakfast you may take the shuttle to Takayama station.
*The shuttle bus departs at 9:00, 10:00 and 11:00.

Takayama Jinya used to be as a public office for 270 years, from 1695 to 1969. It was fully restored to revive the Edo period atmosphere, and now pine trees and gravel lanes contrast pleasantly with the beautiful white walls.

Sanmachi Old Town Street, this pretty street in the old town is situated on the east bank of the Miyagawa river in Takayama, is famous for its historical shops and merchants’ homes with their distinctive latticed bay windows and linked eaves that date from the Edo period (17th to 19th centuries). Visitors can fully enjoy the quiet, idyllic atmosphere.

Takayama hosts a famous yearly festival and the floats are quite ornate. The Takayama Yatai Kaikan (Takayama Festival Float Exhibition Hall). This is the hall where the festival floats are stored.

The Hida Folk Village is a famous and lovely open-air museum that features traditional mountain farmhouses. Artisans work in many of the buildings, and you can buy their crafts and try your hand at the traditional crafts.

Higashiyama Walking Course
A great way to see the sights in Takayama is to stroll the Higashiyama Walking Course, a lovely route through the temple town, numerous spot showing the traditional rural lifestyle and Shiroyama Park the site of the former Takayama Castle. The walk takes about 2 hours, and is well worth the effort.

Return to the ryokan.

*The shuttle bus departs from Takayama station at 14:10, 15:10, 16:10 and 17:10
  • Day 11
  • Return to Tokyo
Check out from Wanosato.

Take the shuttle bus to Takayama station.

Before heading to the station, you may visit the Takayama morning market and look for souvenirs. Communicating with the friendly locals, you can enjoy shopping for local crafts and farm products such as vegetables, pickles and flowers.

Then you return to Tokyo from Takayama station. It takes about 4 hours and 30 minutes.