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21 Days of Self Guided Discovery of
Art, Beauty and Tradition
Japan is an amazing destination with its combination of the very new and the respect for tradition. At the Akihabara District of Tokyo, one is bombarded with the bright lights, noise and the most amazing assortment of the latest electrical gadgets that money can buy. And yet, not too far away exquisite small temples and unique Japanese guest houses are tucked away, wonderful hiking trails through the small traditional villages and post towns are waiting to be discovered.
My favorite clients Leah and Bill, both artist and writers had only one pre-requisite for this dream trip; namely to be in Kyoto for one specific week in October to enjoy Fall Arts Festivals happening then. The rest was left to us to create!
We designed a trip with 3 weeks of art, tradition and beauty to be explored at their own pace. Destinations selected are carefully selected that allows ample opportunities to explore leisurely museums, temples, short scenic hikes, contemplation at the sacred Mount Koya and down time in distinctive ryokans, including the iconic Bernesse House in Naoshima Island.
What is included:
A well designed itinerary, self guided with detailed schedules laid out for trains, ferries, etc from one destination to another.
Suggested detailed possible activities, sightseeing, and hikes for each destination, each to be explored at their own pace.
Carefully selected accommodations which included centrally located Western styled hotels, including the amazing Benesse House in Naoshima, traditional Ryokans, and temple stay at Mount Koya.
Japan Rail Pass to allow flexibility and transportation.
Selected dinners @ Ryokans
Phone support of local operators in Japan while in Japan
Day 01 -04 Nara – for 4 days and 3 nights
An hour from Kyoto, established over 1000 years ago, Nara is home to ancient temples (eight of which are listed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site), beautiful gardens and parks.This includes the well known Nara park with its thousand or more free roaming deers.
Suggested self guided visits at own pace to UNESCO World Heritage sites include Todai-ji Temple,Kofuku-ji Temple, Kasuga Taisha Shrine, Kasugayama Primeval Forest, Nara Palace Site, Ganko-ji Temple, Yakushi-ji Temple and Toshoda-ji Temple, many of which are in or near Nara Park.
Hkers will enjoy the Yamanobe No Michi trail, the oldest road in Japan. The full walk is 16km, which can take up to 5 hours. The trail winds its way through ancient shrines, temples, ancient villages with moats. Train stations are located near various trailheads, offering choices for longer or shorter walks.
Meals: daily breakfast, 1 dinner at Ryokan
Accommodation: 2 nights @ Deluxe hotel, 1 night Ryokan
Day 04 – 09 Kyoto – for 5 days and 4 nights
A big block of time is allocated to this historically priceless city which epitomes beauty, culture and history. There is time to visit the major special Fall Arts programs, performances, exhibits, walks, parks, temples and museums.Meals: daily breakfast
Accommodation: 4 nights @ Deluxe Hotel, 1 night @ Ryokan.
Day 09-12 Naoshima Island for 4 days and 3 nights
This small island in Japan’s Seto Inland Sea was one of the many small rural communities in Japan with a declining population (especially of young families) and economy. With the help of Benesse Holdings (of the Berlitz language school fame) Noashima island is home to world famous artworks displayed in a vast array of museums and dotted in public spaces around the island. Abandoned houses in the village have been turned into “Art Houses”
The community of old time residents and new younger ones have thrived with the sustainable tourism that art has brought. The white sandy beaches, sunny weather and laid back ambience simply invites one to slow down, enjoy and appreciate the creativity in all the works exhibited.
Meals; Daily breakfast, 1 Dinner
Accommodation: 2 nights Benesee House, 1 night @ Minshuku. (Family operated Japanese Style Bed and Breakfast)
Day 12- 16 Hiroshima and Osaka (5 Days and 4 nights)
The Peace Memorial and Museum is a testimony to Hiroshima’s sprit of hope and resilience to completely rebuild after it’s total destruction by the Atomic Bomb during the 2nd World War. In addition to major attractions which includes gardens and castles, this vibrant city is also known for its 50 or more carefully crafted sakes breweries and a haven for foodies! One hour’s train ride away, sandwiched between the mountain ranges and the Inland Sea, the Itsukushima Shrine and O-Tori gate which seems to float on water at high tide offers beauty, elegance and tradition.
Meals: Daily breakfast
Accommodation: 3 Nights in Hiroshima and 1 night Osaka @ Deluxe Hotel
Day 16-18 Mount Koya
Mount Koya enriches the senses and soul. This is a temple town steeped in history and tradition dating back nearly 1200 years. Accommodation offered is a unique experience at a shukubo (temple lodgings), dining on Buddhhist vegetarian cosine and waking up to chants of monks in the early morning.
The Okunoin temple complex which includes mausoleum of Kobo Daishi, the founder of Shingon Buddhism and the cemetery with over 200,000 tombstones laid through the centuries and temples and gardens provides time for introspection and peace.
Meals: Breakfast and dinners daily
Accommodation: Shukubo (Temple Lodgings).
Day18- 21 Kyoto and Kurama
Directions are included for a self guided hike from Kurama to Kibune, 2 lovely villages, visiting via the Kurama–dera Temple located on a mountaintop. Both trailheads are easily accessible by trains.
Accommodation: 2 nights deluxe hotel (Kyoto) and 1 night Ryokan (Kurama).