3-DAY TOUR FROM/TO TOKYO: HIGHLIGHTS OF CENTRAL JAPAN
Every Weds / Apr - Nov
(Day 1) 8:30 - (Day 3) 19:30
JR Ueno Station
3-DAY TOUR FROM/TO TOKYO: HIGHLIGHTS OF CENTRAL JAPAN
- Day 1: Step back in time and explore the Edo Period town of Kawagoe, renowned for its preservation of historic warehouses and merchant buildings; enjoy lunch in the mountain town of Karuizawa and stroll the scenic enclave of Harunire Terrace; and visit Mt Asama – Honshu’s most active volcano – and wander through dramatic Onioshidashi Park, a vast stone garden created during the volcano’s last major eruption
- Day 2: Explore Zenko-ji Temple, Nagano’s near-1400 year old spiritual heart and registered National Treasure; enjoy lunch at one of Nagano’s favorite restaurants – Monzen Terrace Enya – including sake tasting; and visit the world-famous Snow Monkeys of Jigokudani – the only troop of monkeys in the entire world known to bathe in hot springs
- Day 3: Tour the Suntory Hakushu Distillery and sample their acclaimed whiskies; explore the Itchiku Kubota Art Museum, home to one of the Japan’s most beautiful kimono collections; and witness the majesty of M Fuji, Japan’s tallest and most iconic mountain.
- Accommodation: this tour includes accommodation at Hotel Kokusai 21 in Nagano City on Day 1 and Day 2
Starting and ending in Tokyo, this immersive 3-day tours takes you away from the frenzy of the big city and into the mountainous, rural heart of Japan – with visits to the historic Edo Period town of Kawagoe and the popular mountain resort town of Karuizawa before reaching Honshu’s most active volcano Mt Asama on Day 1, followed by a guided exploration of Zenko-ji – one of the oldest and most important Buddhist temples in Japan – and visit to Nagano’s world-famous Snow Monkeys of Jigokudani on Day 2, and culminating in a visit to Hakushu Distillery, Itchiku Kubota Art Museum, and ultimately iconic Mt Fuji on Day 3. Including English-speaking guide, lunch each day, and two nights accommodation in Nagano City, this tour is great way to escape the city and discover the true heart of Japan – a mountainous, majestic, and wild!
Beginning with pickup from JR Ueno Station at 08:30, your English-speaking guide will have you board the tour bus and begin your journey toward Nagano. First stop is Kawagoe, a small pocket of Saitama renowned for its preservation of numerous Edo Period (1603-1867) buildings. As an important trading and strategic town during that time, Kawagoe was replete with merchant buildings and wealth, a character still reflected in the conservation of more than 200 ‘kurazukuri’, traditional warehouses now converted to use as shops, restaurants, and small museums.
Arriving at Kawagoe approximately 10:00, your guide will arrange a meeting time and place and then set you free to explore for yourself, before meeting-up to continue your journey north and into the mountains of Central Japan.
Next stop is the scenic mountain town of Karuizawa. Arriving around 13:00, you’ll head straight to Harunire Terrace for lunch. Located around 1000 meters above sea level, Harunire offers a touch of Tokyo – beautifully designed restaurants, cafes and shops – nestled within the lush, cool mountains of Karuizawa.
Surrounded by elm trees and with a mountain river running alongside the terrace, it’s the perfect place to stop, breathe in the mountain atmosphere, and enjoy lunch before exploring the area for yourself. You will have up to an hour to explore the area which includes several pleasant trails, the famous Stone Church of Karuizawa and Tombo-no-yu hot spring all within easy walking distance.
Meeting-up with your guide around 15:00 it’s time to keep moving, with a short onward journey to nearby Mt Asama – one of Japan’s most active volcanoes. At 2568 meters, this dramatic mountain is actually three volcanoes sitting atop of each other and one of the few mountains in Japan which is forbidden to climb, with its regular activity and particularly treacherous weather posing too serious a threat to would-be climbers.
Arriving at 15:30 the tour includes entry to Onioshidashi Park, a remarkable natural rock garden decorated with huge black lava boulders which were ejected from the volcano during its last major eruption in 1873. While Asama has had many small episodes since then, no event has been so cataclysmic as that eruption which claimed an estimated 1500 lives.
Today we are left with an immense rock garden which dwarfs you as your stroll between the boulders toward Asamayama-Kan’nondo Temple, built in dedication to those who lost their lives in the eruption of 1873. Home to many unique alpine plants, the park is particularly beautiful from May to October, with the immense volcano above being an ever-present reminder of the unimaginable forces at work beneath our feet.
At 17:00 your guide will collect you, have you board the tour bus and begin your journey toward Nagano City where the tour is scheduled to end at 19:00 with drop-off at your accommodation – Hotel Kokusai 21.
As one of Nagano City’s most established and international hotels, Hotel Kokusai 21 is conveniently located within easy walking distance of the city’s restaurants and entertainment area, and prides itself on its many in-house services and English-speaking staff.
You will be dropped at the hotel at the end of Day 1 (and collected from the lobby on the morning of both Day 2 and Day 3). Including buffet breakfast on Day 2 and Day 3, and Western-style bedding and amenities in all rooms, Hotel Kokusai 21 is the perfectly positioned to give you the most comfortable stay while in Nagano and from where to explore the city at night!
Having enjoyed breakfast at your hotel, your guide will meet you in the lobby at 9:10 and from there head to Zenko-ji. As a registered National Treasure, the temple is the most important cultural site in Nagano and one of the oldest and most important Buddhist temples in the entire country! A place of true historic importance, full of legends and myths, you will be guided around the temple before (time permitting) your guide will give you the opportunity to explore the surrounding precinct of smaller temples, shops, and food by yourself.
It`s then time for lunch! Depending on the time of year we use different restaurants, each serving cuisine highlighting the best of Nagano`s renowned food culture. From delicious and warming beef, chicken, or vegetarian hot pot in the winter months, to mixed sushi plates and Nagano-style chicken or seasonal grilled vegetables through spring, summer, and autumn, your guide will assure you are well fed and ready to indulge in ‘sake’.
Home to a huge number of breweries, Nagano is synonymous with sake and no visit to the region is complete without delving into Japan’s most famous beverage. Dip you toes into this seductive world as your guide explains the process, terminology, and appreciation of Nagano’s acclaimed sake (non-alcoholic options also available).
Well-fed and warmed by sake it`s time to head-out of Nagano, as you are transported to the Snow Monkey Park. Your guide will take you along the forest trail which leads to the park and into Jigokudani . Home to the only troop of monkeys in the entire world known to bathe in hot springs, there are no barriers separating you from the wild monkeys, making this a unique and memorable experience.
Your guide will introduce these truly curious creatures and provide you time to enjoy the unique experience of observing them in close proximity. Your guide will then accompany back along the trail and soon have you heading back toward Nagano, the perfect time to sit back, relax, and look through all those monkey photos before the tour returns to JR Nagano Station and concludes at approximately 17:30.
The final day begins a little earlier than the last, with pickup at your hotel at 8:20. Central Japan is known for its many mountain ranges, and as you head south you will see peaks rising either side of the valley, building anticipation for your ultimate destination, Mt Fuji.
At approximately 10:45 you will arrive at the Suntory Hakushu Distillery, located in the picturesque Hakushu. Japan is now well-established as one of the world’s premier whisky producers, with the Hakushu Distillery among the best. Blessed with an abundance of underground water, the mineral balance and sharpness in taste lends itself to the production of an acclaimed and wide variety of whiskeys at the distillery.
You are free to tour the distillery and on-site museum – with English audio included in the tour* – followed by a tasting. For guests less interested in whiskey, Hakushu has been chosen for its beautiful location and surrounding walking trails. Known for an abundance of birds and other wildlife, these easy paths are ideal to wander through and really soak in the pristine atmosphere of the region, before joining your guide and other guests for lunch – a seasonal Japanese menu – at the on-site restaurant.
It’s then time to continue your journey. Heading south you will soon have your first view of Mt Fuji, as the stunning slopes of the mountain come into view. While the classic appearance of the volcano is known throughout the world, its size and unquestionable beauty takes visitors by surprise, an effect which only grows stronger as draw nearer.
Around 14:00 the tour will arrive at the Itchiku Kubota Art Museum. Established in 1994, the museum was positioned to afford visitors a spectacular view of Mt Fuji and houses the permanent collection of dyeing artist Itchiku Kubota – including his Fuji-inspired series, ‘Symphony of Light’ – and one of Japan’s most stunning kimono collections.
This is Japan at its best, with the pyramid-shaped main building – constructed with wooden beams over 1000 years old – and Gaudi-esque New Wing imbuing the location with a sense of the serene and surreal.
From the museum, it’s a short journey to your final stop, Arakurayama Sengen Park. Arriving around 15:45, the park is regarded as one of the most advantageous spots to view Mt Fuji and home to Arakura Fuji-Sengen Shrine and pagoda. Positioned halfway up Mt Arakura, this is the perfect location from which to breathe in the beauty of Fuji and a panoramic view of the fabled mountain.
Boarding the tour bus around 17:00, it’s time to relax as you are transported on the final leg of your journey to Tokyo, where the tour concludes at JR Ueno Station at 19:30.
*Use of Suntory Hakushu’s English audio guide requires each guest to have a smart phone with which to connect it.
**Please note that all listed times are estimates of the expected itinerary and can be affected by weather and traffic conditions and peak busy periods.
|Day1 08:30||Meetup with your guide at JR Ueno Station and board the tour bus to begin your journey toward Kawagoe. Arriving around 10:00, you can enjoy exploring the Edo Period town before boarding the tour bus again around 11:30.|
|13:00||Arrive in Karuizawa and enjoy lunch before being given time to explore for yourself before departing for Mt Asama around 15:00. Arriving at Mt Asama around 15:30, where you can wander through Onioshidashi Park before departing around 17:00.|
|19:00||Drop-off at your accommodation where the day's tour concludes.|
|Day2 09:10||Following breakfast, meet your guide in the lobby of your hotel and head toward Zenko-ji, where you will be guided around the precinct followed by (time permitting) 25-30 minutes of free time.|
|12:00||Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant followed by sake tasting. You will depart Nagano around 13:00 and arrive near the monkey park around 14:00, with your guide leading you along the forest trail into the park.|
|14:40||Arrive at the park and enjoy watching the wild macaques bathing in the onsen and going about their lives. Around 15:40 your guide will collect you to head back along the trail before beginning the journey back to Nagano, where the day concludes at JR Nagano Station at 17:30.|
|Day3 8:20||Your guide will collect you from your hotel and begin your journey south toward Mt Fuji. Arriving at the Suntory Hakushu Distillery around 11:00, you will tour the distillery including whisky sampling (or enjoy free-time wandering the surrounding forest trails) followed by lunch at 12:15, and expected departure time of 13:00.|
|14:30||Arrive at the Itchiku Kubota Art Museum and explore the collections or beautiful museum settings, including view of Fuji before departing around 16:00.|
|16:20||Arrive at the Arakurayama Sengen Park and enjoy freetime to take in one of the most renowned panoramic views of Fuji, along with the shrine and pagoda.|
|17:00||Depart the park and begin the final journey toward Tokyo, where the tour is expected to conclude at JR Ueno Station at 19:30.|
- Transportation fee from Tokyo to Nagano and all between activities/attractions
- Onioshidashi Park park entry fee
- Accommdation on Day 1 & 2 (including breakfast on Day 2 & 3)
- Snow Monkey Park entry free
- Suntory Hakushu Distillery entry fee and tour
- Itchiku Kubota Art Museum entry fee
- Lunch on Day 1 & 3
- English-speaking guide
- Dinner on Day 1-3
- Entry to restricted/paid areas of Zenko-ji Temple
- Shinkansen/Bullet train tickets
- Please wear suitable shoes/boots and clothing for hiking through varying terrain. The trail is well-maintained and paved in some areas with other sections being more challenging. The trail is undulating with some steeper climbs however it is suitable for anyone of reasonable fitness.
- Mt Asama can be subject to poor weather at all times of year and cold temperatures including heavy snowfall during winter. Should weather conditions not be suitable, we may switch to a different destination Day 1. Should this change be necessary we will advise you as soon as possible.
- During the winter it is common to see the Snow Monkeys enjoying the hot spring bath, however from spring up to autumn there will be times where the monkeys play or eat in the water, however please note that the monkeys are wild animals and there is no guarantee that there will be monkeys in the bath.
- There are a few days in the year that the monkeys might not come down to the park. In such case we will provide an alternative activity.
- Views of Mt. Fuji can be affected by weather and there are days of low visibility. This is outside of our control and weather on the mountain can change quickly, therefore tours will proceed even if weather/visibility is forecast to be poor.
- This tour does not take guests on to Mt. Fuji. This is intentional and caters to guests who wish to view and photograph the mountain rather than climb it.
- Accommodation in Nagano City is at a full service hotel with rooms including Western-style bedding and private bathrooms.
- The tour application deadline is 2 day before the tour date at 17:00.
MEETING PLACEGoogle Map
JR Ueno Station
To be confirmed at time of booking
Every Weds / Apr - Nov
(Day 1) 8:30 - (Day 3) 19:30
JR Ueno Station