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 Kaga City in Ishikawa prefecture, which famous for its natural hot springs. 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 Yamashiro Onsen, Ishikawa Prefecture, the beautiful Beniya Mukayu ryokan offers a perfect blend of friendly, attentive service and the serene tranquility of nature. 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.

Beniya Mukayu’s English speaking staff will take you on a short tour of the facilities.

Welcome tea ceremony
by Kazunari Nakamichi, the owner of Beniya Mukayu

Japanese culture is highlighted through the tea ceremony. In Mukayu the tea ceremony is offered to the guests by the owner himself, Mr. Nakamichi, in the library. Enjoy a bowl of matcha tea and the conversation with the owner.

*Subject to availability of Mr. Nakamichi

Strolling around Yamashiro Onsen
Yamashiro Onsen is a small and cozy town with a clear hot spring very close to the town centre. You can walk around Yamashiro Onsen in approximately one hour, exploring the Kosoyu (Ancient Communal Bathhouse), the Yakuoin Temple and the Hattori Shrine, Iroha Sohan – the temporary residence for the legendary artist Rosanjin (1883-1959) - and Suda Seika porcelain shop.

Spa treatment at award-winning Spa Entei
Beniya Mukayu’s Spa Entei carries on a century-long tradition of healing, by using water from the local Yamashiro hot spring and medicinal herbs. Along with the signature Yakushiyama (Healing Buddha Mountain) treatments, reflexology and other massage techniques, the Spa Entei also features herbal balls, which are steamed and applied to specific points on the body for a divinely relaxing experience.

Spa Entei is open every day from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Beniya Mukayu’s Gourmet Food
Based upon Mukayu’s philosophy, the Kaga-style kaiseki cuisine, one of the most respected in Japan, is a perfect showcase of the freshest, high-quality ingredients enhancing their natural flavors and carefully crafting each plate.
Committed to seasonality and respect of the unique regional food culture, dishes are presented on local kutani pottery and lacquerware to fulfil a truly Japanese dining experience.

  • Day 7
  • Unique Tailor-made Experiences
Enjoy Beniya Mukayu’s unique tailor-made experiences. These experiences will connect you to local food culture and traditions, and they will deepen your understanding of Kaga’s natural ingredients as well as traditional arts and crafts.
Duration varies from a minimum of 90 minutes to a maximum of 3 hours. All unique experiences are guided by English speaking staff or include instructions in English, and they are tailor-made according to your needs, the season, weather and preferences.

Option 1: Chashaku (tea spoon) Making Experience — Craft a Unique Tool for Enriching Your Tea Time
Option 2: Maruhachi Tea Factory Tour — Enjoy Chakabuki Tea Guessing Game
Option 3: Japanese Natural Lacquer URUSHI Experience — Discover the Traditional Art
Option 4: Kinrande Experience — The Tradition in Your Hands
Option 5: Ozuchi Mountain Hiking — Back to Nature

Chashaku (tea spoon) Making Experience — Craft a Unique Tool for Enriching Your Tea Time

Chashaku, the bamboo scoop used in Japanese tea ceremony was originally whittled down by the tea masters themselves. Choose the appropriate bamboo for both the chashaku and its case (tomo-dutsu), then shape the essential parts of the chashaku using a small knife. Finally, write the name of chashaku and your name on the case with a brush and enjoy making tea with your own chashaku.

At Beniya Mukayu
1.5 hours
¥16,500 per person

Maruhachi Tea Factory Tour – Enjoy Chakabuki Tea Guessing Game

Tea is the most popular beverage in Japanese culture. Kaga Boucha tea is famous for its quality and excellent flavor. After touring the factory while watching the tea roasting process, you will learn about different tea leaves and stems to understand what makes Kaga Boucha one of the finest Japanese roasted green tea. Play a traditional guessing game called Cha-ka-Buki, in which you will taste several types of tea and identify them! At the end, you can enjoy a cup of tea with traditional sweets.

*Factory tour is available on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday between 10:00 and 12:00. Please note that a video will be available on the other days. The factory is closed on Wednesdays.

1.5 hours
¥6,600 per person

Japanese Natural Lacquer URUSHI Experience – Discover The Traditional Art

Urushi lacquer is made using natural extracted sap and it has been used and appreciated since ancient times. You will paint a Japanese traditional fan ‘Uchiwa’ with colorful urushi paints using a paintbrush, you will be guided by Yukiko Futakuchi and Yuki Mori who studied under Tomizo Saratani that is a world renowned urushi artist. Create your own original fan and bring it as a memory of Japanese culture.

*During this experience you will use urushi lacquer that naturally contains urushiol. Please be aware that in some cases urushiol may cause an allergic skin rash on contact.

At the artists’ studio
3 hours
¥22,000 per person

Kinrande Experience – The Tradition in Your Hands at Kinzan Kutaniyaki kiln

Gold and colour: learn how to master them in creating unique Kutaniyaki porcelain at one of the kilns that has excelled in this art, Kinzangama Kiln, founded and run by the Yoshita family since 1906. Meet the artists and artisans that design and realize stunning tableware, look at their techniques and learn how to apply gold leaf to colourful Kutaniyaki porcelain objects using professional tools. Let traditional techniques and patterns fuel your creativity while making your own piece, and feel the tradition being alive in your hands.

2.5 hours (including lunch & transfer time, one way 30 min by taxi)
¥16,500 per person
*The price for the international guests includes a special brochure in English.

Ozuchi Mountain Hiking – Back to Nature

Join the mountain master Noboru Nimaida to explore Ozuchi, a hidden gem on the mountain. There are traditional old Japanese houses made out of clay. Stop by at the nearest cold spring water to refresh your body. Follow the manmade path or more adventurous off-track path to discover the enchanting mountain. Admire the nature while having a picnic at your favourite spot or at the traditional kitchen of the mountain master and enjoy a special lunch box prepared by Beniya Mukayu’s chef.

*Available in April, May, June, July, September and October.

4 hours (including lunch & transfer time, one way 25 min by taxi)
¥17,600 per person
  • Day 8
  • Day trip to Kanazawa
Take a day trip to Kanazawa by either express train or car.

Beniya Mukayu’s favourite picks for food lovers:

Omicho Market
Kanazawa is very famous for its fresh, high-quality seafood. Omicho is the largest fresh food market in Kanazawa. There, you can also find many restaurants selling delicious seafood rice bowls, sashimi and sushi, all prepared with several kinds of seasonal fish caught in Ishikawa prefecture.

Fukumitsuya Sake Brewery
Head to Fukumitsuya Sake Brewery – the oldest sake brewery in Kanazawa, founded in 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.

Yamato Soy Sauce and Miso Brewery
Soy sauce and miso are both essential ingredients in Japanese cuisine. Yamato Soy Sauce and Miso Company is well known for its high quality 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.

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 Kanazawa Castle, Kenrokuen Garden, Higashi Chaya (Geisha District), Nagamachi (Samurai District), the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, and D.T. Suzuki Museum.

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

Higashi Chaya District is the area where you can find the wooden Geisha houses lining either side of the street. “Chaya” means teahouse and Geisha are traditional female entertainers 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 has a 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.

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.

D.T. Suzuki Museum is a small and beautiful museum designed by Yoshio Taniguchi. It is an ideal place for visitors to deepen their understanding of the ideas and achievements of Daisetz Suzuki, a prominent Buddhist philosopher best known as D.T. Suzuki.

Return to Beniya Mukayu.

  • Day 9
  • Departure from Yamashiro Onsen
Check out from Beniya Mukayu.

You will first visit Shirakawa-Go & Gokayama by car.

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.

  • 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.