Page 1

Japan UNIQUE

TOURS

Experts in real Japan Travel

Self-Guided Adventures Small Group Tours Cultural Activities Japan Rail Pass Spring 2011 – Winter 2012


Sea of Okhotsk HOKKAIDO

Sapporo

Tohoku

Sea of Japan

HONSHU Kanazawa

Nagano

Nikko

Chugoku Okayama Hiroshima

Haneda Yokohama

Q

Kansai

Q

Matsumoto Kanto Takayama

Kyoto

Osaka

Kamakura Hakone

Nara

Mt Koya

Fukuoka

Pacific Ocean SHIKOKU Nagasaki

Kumamoto

KYUSHU Kagoshima Ibusuki

Yaku Isl.

Amami Ooshima

Okinawa

(TIC) Kansai International Ap.

Japan

Narita

Tokyo

Furano


contents 2 & 3:

Our Story, Tours, Testimonials

4:

Japan Rail Pass

5:

Accommodation

6 & 7:

Festival Highlights

8 & 9:

Sporting Events

10 & 11:

Cultural Activities

12 & 13:

SELF-GUIDED TOURS

14 & 15:

The Golden Route

16 & 17:

Traditional & Tropical Japan

18 & 19:

Kyushu Highlights

20 & 21:

Forgotten Japan

22 & 23:

Gardens & Galleries

24 & 25:

Winter Wonderland

26 & 27:

SMALL GROUP TOURS

28 & 29:

Sakura Spring Tour

30 & 31:

Traditional & Tropical Japan

32 & 33:

Wonders of the West

34 & 35:

Lost in Japan

36 & 37:

The Northern Trail

38 & 39:

Japan Discovered

Page 40:

Useful Information


Japan UNIQUE

TOURS

Our Story Born and raised just miles from Ireland’s capital city of Dublin, Darina first visited Japan in 1998 when on a University exchange programme for one year. After graduating with a BA Hons Degree in Business Studies with Japanese from the University of Ulster, she felt her time was not complete in Japan and so returned hungry and eager to find her first graduate job. Having successfully worked in a sales & marketing role in Tokyo for more than three years, she met her Japanese husband Masaki, who have both since returned to Ireland to set up the head quarters for their niche travel company. Japan Ireland Travel was set up in 2005 and focused mainly on the Irish market going to Japan and Japanese market touring Ireland. The outbound section (i.e. holidays in Japan) was rebranded to Unique Japan Tours in 2011 to appeal to the rest of the world – those seeking authentic Japanese travel experiences using the knowledge and expertise of Japan travel specialists.

Masaki Nakagawa

Darina Nakagawa

vary but can include ticket reservations such as sumo, F1 races, festivals, events and just about any request you have when traveling to Japan!!!

OUR TEAM

Our team is made up of Japan travel experts. We all know and love Japan very much, have travelled the length and breath of the country, and are able to answer just about any questions you may have! Our European headquarters is in Dublin, Ireland with support offices in Kyoto and Tokyo. This means you can travel around Japan with ease knowing that English speaking help is only a phone call away.

When you mix years of research, extensive knowledge on living, working and travelling in Japan, creative and talented bilingual staff, and a strong network of local guides and associates on the ground, you can be assured of getting a holiday of a lifetime to a country that deserves it.

You can meet our team at the Dublin office by arranging an appointment to discuss your options or if you are located outside of Ireland, which is quite likely, send us an email or skype chat and we will respond within hours either by mail or phone!! Profiles of all our team members can be viewed on our website: www. uniquejapantours.com

OUR SERVICES

OUR TOURS

Unique Japan Tours is an independent travel company, registered in Ireland, offering the very best in travel planning for people and businesses going to Japan. Our services range from packaging unique selfguided tailored trips that include attractive accommodation options, local transport e.g. Japan rail pass, cultural activities, local guides and off the beaten track itineraries, to the fully escorted small group tours that cover every corner of Japan. Other services

www.uniquejapantours.com

Unique Japan Tours promise to give you a greater understanding and clearer vision of the culture, the history, and the everyday life in rural and urban Japan, than you would get on your own. We provide you with local contacts, private tours, cultural activities, and a completely customised travel information pack before you go to help you along your journey. Our tours begin and end in Japan allowing you the flexibility of booking your own flights.

telephone: +353 (0)1 678 7008


We can be contacted 6 days a week to meet and discuss your options. Contact us today for genuine expert advice.

Tel: +353 (0)1 678 7008 ”This was by far the best holiday I have ever spent thanks to all your efforts and will definitely be visiting Japan again in the future.” (Ali, UK) “Thank you for putting together an amazing honeymoon in Japan for us. The travel pack made it so simple to get around even though we had no knowledge of the language or any previous exposure to the country.” (Brian & Audrey, Ireland) “The trip you tailor made for us was a perfect introduction to the country, its traditions and people”. (Suzanne, London)

“We feel this was excellent value for money and would have no hesitation in recommending anybody interested in travelling to Japan to ensure that your team organises it for them.” (Helen, Sydney) “Japan is amazing and so different to what we have seen so far. Japanese people are so nice and helpful. The entire itinerary was very well organized and all the maps with directions, train departures, travel tips etc. were very helpful without having the language.” (Sabina & Peter, Poland)

3 fax: 01 6787773 email:sales@uniquejapantours.co.uk email: info@uniquejapantours.com


Japan

Rail Pass Japan’s transport system is one of the best in the world making it a pleasure to travel around. Knowing you can depend on comfort, reliability and punctuality means you can relax. The train is the best way to get around but fares can add up. If you are intending to travel around for one week or more, the Japan Rail Pass is a good idea. Just make sure you are planning enough journeys to justify the cost. If you are unsure, speak to us by telephone or email. We are happy to give you honest advice.

What is the Japan Rail Pass?

A discount ticket offering unlimited travel around Japan for 7, 14 or 21 consecutive day periods on any Japan Rail train (some restrictions apply). It can be used on Japanese Shinkansen (Bullet Train) excluding Nozomi trains. Some JR buses accept the pass and the ferry operating from Hiroshima to Miyajima is also included. There are two types of JAPAN RAIL PASS: Green (for superior-class Green cars), and Ordinary.

Who is eligible?

1. Visitors entering Japan on a tourist visa, under the entry status of “Temporary Visitor” staying for short term (non-Japanese passport). 2. Japanese citizens who have permanent residency in another country. 3. Japanese citizens who are married to a foreign national. Note: The JR Pass cannot be purchased inside Japan. It must be pre purchased before entering.

How much does it cost? Ordinary Duration 7 days 14 days 21 days

Adult 28,300JPY 45,100JPY 57,700JPY

Child (6-11 yrs old) 14,150JPY 22,550JPY 28,850JPY

Green Adult 37,800JPY 61,200JPY 79,600JPY

Child (6-11 yrs old) 18,900JPY 30,600JPY 39,800JPY

An additional 5% booking charge is added to the amount (equivalent on the day) in Euro. The actual cost in Euro is calculated at the time the Exchange Order is issued.

www.uniquejapantours.com

telephone: +353 (0)1 678 7008


‘Our tours aim to give you a taste of the various Japanese services available, from traditional to modern style lodgings. We combine each trip with authentic ryokans, rural lodges, temple lodges, standard and superior western style hotels – depending on your preference and budget!’.

Accommodation

options

Western Hotels

Hotels in Japan are generally of very high standard. Instead of Europe’s star rating system, they are categorised from first class hotels to business hotels. First Class Hotels have everything you desire from secretarial and interpreter services to shopping malls and beauty salons. Compare them to their European equivalent and you’d probably award them 6 stars. Superior Hotels are the equivalent to a European four and sometimes five star with great service and well-equipped rooms. Our superior packages include the best of superior hotels. Each hotel has a choice of restaurants, bars and shops, as well as a business centre, with all the 5 star trimmings you’d expect. Standard Hotels are a step down from superior hotels in terms of facilities and room size, but are ideal for tourist and business travel. Business Hotels work the opposite to business class on airlines. Small, simple, basic bedrooms with fewer facilities, smaller beds, a TV, cup of green tea and a bathroom unit. Little or no English is spoken by staff therefore we do not recommend these for the tourists.

Ryokan

No trip to Japan is complete without at least one night in a traditional ryokan. The decor is typical Japanese; sleep on a futon on the rice straw flooring (tatami), eat traditional food (kaiseki) and, in most cases, use their onsen (hot spring) to relax and enjoy the nature that surrounds it. All of our tours include at least one night in a Japanese style ryokan.

Minshiku

Minshiku’s tend to be a family home that welcomes guests. They tend to be in remote areas, are a cheaper option than a Ryokan and remember, owners probably don’t speak English. Again, it’s a futon on the floor with a Japanese style breakfast. Some offer dinner, occasionally with the whole family.

5 email: info@uniquejapantours.com


Festival

Highlights

Japanese people love festivals, matsuri. Some of our tours include the chance to experience a local matsuri, that should not be missed!

Takayama Spring/Autumn Festivals April 14/15 & Oct 9/10

Ranked as one of Japans three most beautiful festivals, the Takayama festival highlights include a parade of magnificently carved giant wooden floats, ancient puppets, and colourful costumes. Tours featuring Takayama Festival include: Sakura Spring (page 28) Traditional & Tropical Japan (page 30) Japan Discovered (page 38)

Awa Odori Dance Festival

Gion Matsuri Festival

‘Awa’ is the former name for Tokushima prefecture and ‘Odori’ means to dance. During Obon season, over one million people come to Tokushima, to watch the most famous of many dance festivals in Japan. Dressed in their summer kimono and costumes, the men and women perform their street dances to the lyrics of the ‘fools’ dance: “Fools dance and fools watch, if both are fools, you might as well dance”!!

The Gion Matsuri, familiarly known as ‘Gion-san,’ is a festival held at Yasaka-jinja Shrine, and the highlight is the splendid pageant of some 30 floats called yamaboko proceeding along the main streets of Kyoto on the 17th of July every year.

August 12-15

July 1-29th – (Main July 17th)

Tours featuring Gion Matsuri Festival include: The Northern Trail (page 36) Japan Discovered (page 38)

Tours featuring Awa Odori Festival include: Lost in Japan (page 34)

www.uniquejapantours.com

telephone: +353 (0)1 678 7008


Asakusa Sanja Festival 3rd Sunday in May and preceding Fri & Sat

Kurama Fire Festival Kyoto Oct 22nd

One of Tokyo’s most symbolic and largest festivals of portable shrines held in the old Asakusa district every year. Tours featuring Asakusa Sanja Festival include: Traditional & Tropical Japan (page 30)

This is one of Kyoto’s most spectacular festivals said to reenact the scene of the enshrined deity greeted after traveling from the Imperial Palace to Kurama-no-Sato village, at the end of the Heian Period. Watch fires are lit at the entrances of local houses. At 6pm the town is lit up with torches carried by children and locals wearing straw warrior sandals and costumes. Tours featuring Kurama Fire Festival include: Japan Discovered Oct 19 (page 38)

Earth Celebration on Sado Island August 19-21, 2011

Once a year in the quiet port town of Ogi, people gather from all over the world to transform Sado Island into a bustling international arts festival, Earth Celebration. The world renowned Japanese Taiko drummers, Kodo, are home to Sado Isalnd and invite musicians and performers from all around the globe to perform at this energetic festival. Tours featuring Earth Celebration Festival includes: The Northern Trail (page 36)

7

fax: 01 6787773 email:sales@uniquejapantours.co.uk email: info@uniquejapantours.com


Sporting

Events

SUMO Sumo wrestling, considered by many as Japan’s national sport, was once a form of ritual, dedicated to the Gods with prayers for a bountiful harvest. There are six Grand Tournaments a year, three in Tokyo, one in Osaka, Nagoya and Kyushu. A tournament lasts for fifteen days, each competitor or rikishi fighting once every day with a different opponent. The winner of the tournament (rikishi with the best record of wins over losses) is awarded the Emperor’s Cup on the final day of the last match. Some of our tours include the chance to watch a live Sumo match. See tours: Traditional & Tropical Japan (page 30) The Northern Trail (page 36) Japan Discovered (page 38)

GRAND SUMO TOURNAMENT 2011/2012 SCHEDULE:

Tournament January March May July

Location Tokyo, Kokugikan Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium Tokyo Kokugikan Aichi Prefecture Gymnasiun

First Day 2011 & 2012 Jan 9, 2011 / Jan 8, 2012 Mar 13, 2011 / Mar 11, 2012 May 8, 2011 / May 6, 2012 Jul 10, 2011 / Jul 8, 2012

Last Day 2011 & 2012 Jan 23, 2011 / Jan 22, 2012 Mar 27, 2011 / Mar 25, 2012 May 22, 2011 / May 20, 2012 Jul 24, 2011 / Jul 22, 2012

September November

Tokyo, Kokugikan Fukuoka Kokusai Centre

Sep 11, 2011 / Sep 9, 2012 Nov 13, 2011 / Nov 11, 2012

Sep 25, 2011 / Sep 23, 2012 Nov 27, 2011 / Nov 25, 2012

If you are not interested in seeing a live match but would like to watch the Sumo in training, we can arrange this as part of your self guided tour instead.

www.uniquejapantours.com

telephone: +353 (0)1 678 7008


MOTOR SPORTS

Some of the worlds most prestigious motor sport competitions are held in Japan annually.

The Japanese Formula One Grand Prix is held in October over

one weekend at Suzuka Circuit in Mie Prefecture. This attracts thousands of both domestic and overseas spectators every year so we recommend booking your tickets early to get the best seats at the best price. Join Our Tour: Wonders of the West (page 32)

The Japanese Motorcycle Grand Prix (Moto GP)

is held in Tochigi Prefecture in September which also draws huge numbers to the nearby towns and cities. Accommodation and tickets are limited so we recommend to book early. We can arrange tickets for any motor sport event in Japan.

MARTIAL ARTS

There are many types of Japanese martial arts, some of the more popular ones include: Karate, Judo, Aikido, Katana (swordsmanship), Kendo and so on. With our local knowledge and network of contacts, we can arrange either training sessions or the chance to watch the masters and their students at work. You may be visiting Japan for an international tournament, in which case we can assist you in finding the best accommodation and perhaps introducing some local guides to get more out of your trip to Japan.

HORSERACING

is a surprisingly very popular sport in Japan. They usually hold meetings on Saturdays and Sundays all year round. Tracks are located all across Japan; Tokyo, Nagoya, Kanazawa, Kawasaki, Sapporo and so on. The biggest race, The Japan Cup takes place each November in Tokyo. If you would like to go racing in Japan, don’t forget to ask your travel consultant. It will most likely be possible no matter what date you travel! For a full list of festivals and events throughout the year, visit our website: www.uniquejapantours.com

SKIING/SNOWBOARDING Some of Japan’s best assets are found in the blanket covered mountains in the central highlands of Nagano and northern regions of Hokkaido. Generally, where there are mountains there are hot springs. A soak in one of these overlooking the snow peaked hills in the distance make the apre-ski experience a truly unique one. There are hundreds of ski areas in Japan but we have some preferred choices from beginner to advanced levels. Gear (both wear and skis/ boards) can be rented when you get there, so don’t worry about bringing these with you. If you are traveling to Japan between December and April and would like to experience a few days on the slopes, we highly recommend trying out some of these world class resorts. Ask your travel consultant or visit our website: www.uniquejapantours.com See our Self Guided Tour option, Winter Wonderland featuring Hokkaido on page 24 for an independent ‘Ski and See Japan’ travel option.

9 fax: 01 6787773 email:sales@uniquejapantours.co.uk email: info@uniquejapantours.com


Cultural

Experiences Unique Japan Tours offers more than just your bednight and internal transfers. Here are just a few examples of some popular (English speaking) cultural experiences we can arrange for you.

Authentic Tea Ceremony

You will go to the local tea house met by the tea master who will first perform the ceremony explaining the principles behind this art. This is then followed by each participant drinking the bitter tea served with a Japanese sweet that compliments this taste very well. Duration 1 hour Min: 1 person Max: 8 people Location: Kyoto

Calligraphy

Japanese calligraphy has long been practiced by artistocrats, Samurai and Buddhist monks as a means of artistic expression and discipline training. You will practice these techniques by a professional, and bring your masterpieces home. Duration: 1 hour Min: 1 person Max: 16 people Location: Kyoto

Maiko Private Dinner Party & Gion Walking Tour

Japanese Samurai Sword Fighting

Dress up like Maiko or Samurai

Cooking Class at English speaking instructors home

The evening involves a walking tour around the Gion & Pontouchou district by a local expert who will introduce you to the geisha world of Kyoto. This is followed by a shabushabu dinner and a guest appearance by a local Maiko (Geisha in training). Duration: 3.25 hours Min: 1 person Max: 16 people Location: Kyoto

You will travel on your own to the studio (details will be provided). You will be dressed and made up like a Maiko (for ladies) or Samurai (for gents). Pictures can be taken using your own camera. Duration: 2 hours Min: 1 person Max: 6 people Location: Kyoto or Tokyo

Learn Samurai sword fighting techniques, using wooden swords, from Japanese period movie actors. Duration: 90 minutes Min: 1 person Max: 12 people Location: Kyoto

Your instructor will help you prepare a complete home-cooked Japanese meal, explaining the ingredients and techniques being used, that you will eat afterwards. Duration: 3.5 hours Min: 1 person Max: 5 people Location: Kyoto

To see the full list of our cultural experiences (including prices), contact us directly or visit www.uniquejapantours.com

www.uniquejapantours.com

telephone: +353 (0)1 678 7008


Cruise Tokyo Bay Yakatabune Style

Board a yakata-bune party boat for dinner (sushi & tempura) & All-you-can-drink choice for 2 hours. Does not operate daily. Duration: 3.5 hours Min: 1 person Max: 20 people Location: Tokyo

11 fax: 01 6787773 email:sales@uniquejapantours.co.uk email: info@uniquejapantours.com


Self Guided

Tours

If you are looking for a flexible itinerary that has some structure to it then our Self Guided Tours may suit you. Why book your Self Guided Tour with us?

Based on previous requests, all tried and tested by our research team, we have put together a set of six recommended plans. Each tour can be tailored further if something is not right for you. They cover a mix of top world heritage sites, seasonal excursions, cultural acitivites, and authentic performances, giving you a truly unique Japan experience. Before making your decision, we recommend speaking to us first. We are packed with ideas, ready to share with you.

Getting the balance right

Our itineraries are tailored for the ‘Western’ traveler so unlike many Japanese or Asian itineraries, there is a good balance of free time and time on tour or with a local guide. We understand achieving the right balance is key to making every day better than the next.

Saving time & money

For most people, this is a once-in-a-lifetime trip. By giving you invaluable advice on how best to plan it at the initial stage, followed by smooth, easy to follow itineraries for when you land, has already saved you time! Our aim is to save you time on the ground by giving you step by step instructions on where to go and how to get there. We provide plans to suit your budget so no matter how big or small this is, speak to us first.

Travel like a local

In some places, where we feel is worth it, we provide local guides to show you around either using public transport or by private car. Having this local assistance is a great way to learn more about the culture, the area, and indeed the lifestyle of Japanese people – something our clients find hugely beneficial. Private guides can add to the cost but certainly add to the overall experience.

www.uniquejapantours.com

Traditional & Western Style Accommodation

If this is your first time to Japan we realise it’s difficult to imagine what to expect. To dive straight into Japanese culture (sleeping on the floor, eating Japanese food for breakfast, lunch and dinner, hearing nothing but Japanese language), can often be a challenge for people. So, we try to introduce each element bit by bit, not over doing it on any one important piece. For this reason, most nights are spent in Western style hotels where food is more familiar, staff speak English, and beds are more comfortable. However, we always include at least two nights in a traditional style hotel (ryokan) where you can experience eating real Japanese food, soaking in the natural hot springs (onsen), and sleeping on the rice matted floor (tatami) on your futon, adding the traditional aspect to your stay.

telephone: +353 (0)1 678 7008


Standard on all Self-Guided tours are:

Airport meet/greet on arrival. Accommodation in well located hotels/ryokans/inns. Breakfast daily and some meals. Someone local to show you around. Something cultural – e.g. tea ceremony, Geisha walking tour, etc. Internal transfers using Japan Rail Pass or the best option for your plan.

Essential Unique Japan Tours Travel Info Pack that includes: Local maps. Detailed itinerary. Optional tours/ideas. Travel tips. Emergency contact. A few special surprises!

13 fax: 01 6787773 email:sales@uniquejapantours.co.uk email: info@uniquejapantours.com


9 Nights

The Golden Route A popular route for first time visitors, The Golden Route will give you a well balanced understanding of Japanese history, culture and everyday lifestyle. Until 1868 the capital city, or the city where the emporer took residence, was in Kyoto. Following the Meiji Restoration in 1868, the Emporer was moved to Edo, which then became known as Tokyo.

Tokyo – a helping hand

To imagine the sheer size of Tokyo, it is best to picture one giant city named Tokyo, which has many smaller cities named Shinjuku, Shibuya, Ginza, Ueno, Harajuku and so on, spread out over 240 square miles. Each city and suberb is accessed by a highly advanced and reliabe rail network. The most significant observation when visiting Tokyo is how efficient, clean and successfully automatic the society on a whole works, despite having a population of over 30 million people. Spend your first day adjusting to the time difference, and enjoy the random spectacles almost everywhere you look! You will travel around Tokyo like a local and better still, with a local! On Day 2 our local guide will give you a complete run down on how to get around and basic ‘things to know before you go’ info, giving you the kick start needed to make this trip a successful one. We will recommend places to see but if you have your own ideas, be sure to tell us or your guide. You can pay the entrance fees and lunch on the spot, allowing for flexibility on the day.

Mt Fuji here we come!

After two exciting days in Tokyo, you will move west to Hakone, famous for its hot springs and views of Mt Fuji. Tonight will be spent Japanese style in a traditional hotel known as a ryokan. Don’t be surprised if your room has no bed – traditionally, Japanese people sleep on futons, laid nicely on tatami mats (rice straw mats). You will be provided with a 2 day pass that allows free entrance into most of the sights nearby. This popular Hakone day trip involves riding the switchback train, funicular, ropeway (gondala), and pirate cruise on Lake Ashi. All can be done within the space of a few hours so the rest of your time you can spend relaxing in the hot spring or taking a leisurely walk nearby. Enjoy traditional Japanese dinner at your ryokan. If you arrive during the climbing season (July 1 – August 31), we can arrange for you to climb the 3,776m summit in which case you will stay in Kawaguchiko, not Hakone.

www.uniquejapantours.com

Next stop Kyoto, the culture capital

When you feel ready to leave Hakone the following day, take the famous shinkansen (bullet train) to Kyoto. Kyoto is home to almost two thousand magnificent temples and shrines, some of which include Kinkakuji, Kiyomizu Temple, and Nijo Castle. Your time in Kyoto will be spent learning about Japan’s Samurai days with a local guide, drinking machya (green powdered tea) at a tea ceremony in a machiya (tea house), walking the picturesque streets of Gion and Pontouchou waiting to spot the white faced Maiko and elegant Geisha on their way to their appointments.

Not to be missed Miyajima Island

Always a highlight for Golden Route adventurers is the quintessentially Japaneselike Miyajima Island. This tiny island is just a short distance from Hiroshima, very easy to get to, and really worth the journey. We recommend staying at a traditional ryokan to experience its unique ambience to the full. Also worth a few hours is the Hiroshima Peacepark and Memorial Museum that can be done before or after your stay on the island.

telephone: +353 (0)1 678 7008


1

U

5

▼ ▼

4

2

Tokyo

Hiroshima

3

Matsumoto Hakone

Kyoto

Optional

U

Takayama

Price inclusions: Narita Airport Meet & Greet on arrival. Airport Transfer Ticket (arr). 9 nights accommodation at selected hotels. Meals: Breakfast daily & 2 dinners. Tokyo Subway Card. 7 day Japan Rail Pass. Tokyo & Kyoto full day private guide. Kyoto authentic tea ceremony. Hakone Free Pass (no charge into most sights in Hakone National Park Area). Unique Japan Tours Essential Travel Pack

OPTIONAL ADD-ON Takayama & Matsumoto (2 or 3 nights) Before arriving back to Tokyo at the end of this trip, you can de-tour up to Takayama, most famous for its old merchant houses and picturesque streets and ambience. The drive from Takayama to Matsumoto is spectacular, all year round. Matsumoto is home to a feudal castle that has been restored to its former glory yet has maintained its original structure inside and out. If you chose not to visit Matsumoto you can go straight from Takayama back to Tokyo using your Japan rail pass.

No. of Nights

STANDARD HOTELS

(2) Tokyo: (1) Hakone: (3) Kyoto: (1) Miyajima:

Shinjuku Washington Hotel Hakone Ichinoyu Ryokan Hotel Sunroute Kinsuikan Ryokan

(2) Tokyo:

SUPERIOR HOTELS

Keio Plaza Hotel Nanpuso Ryokan Hotel Granvia Kyoto Kinsuikan Ryokan (Seaview Room) Shinjuku Washington Hotel Keio Plaza Hotel

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS:

Tokyo – Ginza, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Odaiba, Rainbow Bridge, Meiji Jingu, Asakusa Kannon Temple, Tsukuji fish market, museums, contemporary art and infrastructure etc. Mt Fuji/Hakone – Spectacular views of Mt Fuji, Owakudani, Sounzan, Hakone Yuumoto Town, Hot Springs at your ryokan; Kyoto – world heritage temples & shrines, geisha walking tour, tea ceremony, zen gardens, quaint streets, tea houses and traditinal atmosphere; Miyajima Island – World heritage Itsukushima Shrine (floating shrine), Hiroshima A-bomb dome & peace park

The Golden Route Prices from €1,869 per person sharing. Full and up-to-date price list can be seen on our website: www.uniquejapantours.com Available all year round. Prices may vary depending on season and exchange rate fluctuations. Hotels are subject to availability at time of booking. See inside back page to view seasonal changes and price terms.

15 fax: 01 6787773 email:sales@uniquejapantours.co.uk email: info@uniquejapantours.com


13 Nights

Traditional & Tropical Japan (Ideal for Honeymoon Holidays) This tour is a particular favourite with couples, especially honeymooners!! Experience the traditional Japan as well as the bright lights and subtropical islands in the south pacific region. Many of us forget that Japan is home to hundreds of tiny islands that offer a uniquely contrasting experience than the mainland. Amami Ooshima is one of our most loved islands among the Ryukyu collection in the south pacific. You’ll see why when you get there!

Cool Tokyo

This tour begins and ends in the vibrant capital as with most of our tours. Our local guide will meet you on your second day to show you around and give you the basic knowledge needed to make your trip run smoothly. She is there to answer the thousands of questions you will have and to explain the highly advanced transport system.

Relax at Kamiyada Onsen

After two overwhelming nights in Tokyo get ready to experience the real Japan. Kamesei Ryokan is located in the ToguraKamiyamada Onsen spa town. The origin of the hot springs dates back over one hundred years. This spa has flourished as a place of lodging on the pilgrimage route to Zenkoji Temple in Nagano. In the evening, guests are encouraged to slip on a pair of wooden geta sandals and wander the old streets lined with souvenir shops, bars, karaoke clubs and ramen stands. If your budget allows, we can reserve a private session with a local Geisha during one of your evening meals.

Nostalgic Takayama

Continuing further into the mountaineous region via Nagano and Matsumoto also stopping at the snow monkeys in Yudanaka onsen village, you will eventually arrive in the nostalgic town of Takayama. Enjoy the morning markets, the folk museum, the old merchant streets, and if you feel up to it, take a day trip out to the world heritage Shirakawago by local bus where you can visit the old farm-house villages

The Kyoto Experience

Your next three nights will be in the ancient capital Kyoto. Your time here will be spent visiting the world heritage temples, gardens, and shrines; walking the old atmospheric Gion district with a local guide; sipping machya (green powdered tea) in a local machiya (tea house); listening to the tales of ancient tea drinking; and enjoying the uniquely Kyoto ambience. If you fancy taking a day trip to Hiroshima & the world heritage Miyajima Island, your rail pass will cover this journey.

www.uniquejapantours.com

Tropical Amami Ooshima

At this stage of your trip, you might be feeling a bit weary and thus, appreciate the tropical palm trees of Amami Ooshima even more. With a mild sub tropical climate all year round, Amami is also home to unusual flora and fauna, crystal clear waters, rare black rabbits, and the very expensive Ooshima Tsumugi (silk used to make kimono’s). Your hotel is located in front of the glowing pacific, which not only offers the freshest of food, but also (what feels like) your own private beach. A local driver/guide will drive you through scenic mountain and coastal courses on one of the days. You will enjoy canoeing on the forested mangrove lake and take a boat trip out to see the millions of colourful tropical fish from a glass bottom boat. If you prefer to rent-a-car and do your own thing, we can arrange this too. Scuba diving and all other water sports can also be arranged.

telephone: +353 (0)1 678 7008


Snow Monkey day trip

2

3

U

Matsumoto Takayama

Kyoto 4

Tokyo 1

6

Q

Optional day trip to Hiroshima U

Price inclusions:

Q

Q

Narita Airport Meet & Greet on arrival.

5 Amami-Oshima Island

Airport Transfer Tickets (arr/dep dates). 13 nights accommodation at selected hotels. Meals: Breakfast daily & 4 dinners. Tokyo Subway Card. 7 day Japan Rail Pass. Internal flights using Yokoso Japan Airpass (some restrictions apply). Tokyo & Kyoto full day private guide service. Kyoto authentic tea ceremony. Adventure day trip with local driver/guide on Amami Ooshima includes entrance fees. Unique Japan Tours Essential Travel Pack.

No. of Nights

STANDARD HOTELS

(2) Tokyo: Shinjuku Washington (2) Kamiyada Onsen: Kamesei Ryokan (2) Takayama: Ouan Hotel (3) Kyoto: Hotel Sunroute (3) Amami Ooshima: Bashayama Beach Resort (1) Tokyo: Shinagawa Prince Hotel (North Wing)

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS:

SUPERIOR HOTELS

Keio Plaza Hotel Kamesei Ryokan Hotel Associa Hotel Granvia Kyoto Bashayama Beach Resort Shinagawa Prince (Main Wing)

Tokyo & Kyoto – Authentic tea ceremony, local guides, world heritage temples in Kyoto, super modern architecture, style, fashion, and people of Tokyo Kamiyamada Onsen – Overnight in traditional ryokan, sleeping on the floor, eating fresh local cuisine, soaking in natural hot springs Nagano – Trip to snow monkey park, Zenkoji temple, Matsumoto Castle Takayama – Morning market, old merchant houses/streets, samurai house, sake distilliaries, local food (Hida beef), Shirakawago gassho zukkuri style houses (old farm houses) Amami Ooshima – tropical island, crystal clear waters, water sports, scenic drives, mangrove lake canoe ride, glass bottom boat, ocean view hotel

Traditional & Tropical Japan Prices from €2,620 per person sharing. Full and up-to-date price list can be seen on our website www.uniquejapantours.com Available all year round. Prices may vary depending on season and exchange rate fluctuations. Hotels are subject to availability at time of booking. See inside back page to view seasonal changes and price terms.

fax: 01 6787773 email:sales@uniquejapantours.co.uk email: info@uniquejapantours.com

17


13 Nights

Kyushu Highlights Begin your adventure in Kyoto, Japan’s ancient capital famous for its abundance of world heritage temples, shrines, and gardens, traditional tea houses and elegant geisha. Ideally it’s best to fly into Kansai International Airport however, if you land in Tokyo, you can hop on the bullet train (using your Japan rail pass), or alternatively spend your first night in Tokyo to get over your jet lag (if any).

The Kyushu Experience

Located southwest of Kyoto, Kyushu is a historically symbollic region of Japan. Being the most westerly island, its close proximity to mainland China and the rest of the world made access to ports easier than the larger Honshu. From the cosmopolitan city of Fukuoka, to the miles of open paddy fields and clear coastlines, Kyushu is a breath of fresh air that deserves to be discovered and explored. The Kyushu experience begins in Fukuoka, Kyushu’s largest city. Enjoy one night tasting local cuisine at the busy riverside yatai (food stalls) or sampling a night out in the Tenjin district before making your way across to Nagasaki, the next day.

Gateway to the West – Nagasaki Sadly Nagasaki is associated with the atomic bomb that brought World War II to an horrific end. It is ironic that although it was the victim of tragedy caused by Western technology, it was one of the first regions in Japan to open up to the outside world. It started with the ‘Christian Century’ (15491650), and the arrival of a Chinese ship in

1543, with it came a group of Portuguese adventurers, weapons and guns. The first visitors soon followed by the missionary St Francis Xavier in 1560. From this time onwards, Japan’s interest in the outside world grew stronger and stronger. Today Nagasaki is a vibrant city home to over half a million people, steep hills and deep waterways.

Bubbling Unzen

On Day 7 you will start making your way to Kumamoto by local bus, stopping in Unzen, on the Shimabara Peninsula, for one night. Unzen is famous for its volcanic activity, bubbling jigoku (boiling mineral hot springs) and is home to Japans first National Park (1934). Enjoy forest walks, a visit to the jigoku, and an overnight stay at an onsen (hot spring hotel), dining and sleeping Japanese style for the night!

Active Mt. Aso

The next day catch a ferry to Kumamoto, a city famous for its castle and garden. On your second day you will be brought into the hills of the Aso National Park to view the gigantic volcanic caldera at Mt. Aso. Mt Aso remains the largest active caldera in the world.

www.uniquejapantours.com

Sand Baths at Ibusuki

Kagoshima, Japans southern gateway, is renowned for its abundance of hot springs and symbolic and active Mt Sakurajima. You can enjoy touring the city on an antique style sightseeing bus, before making your way to the hot spring resort of Ibusuki. Mild temperatures all year round, Ibusuki is better known for the refreshing natural steam sandbaths. The Kyushu adventure will end back in the capital of Tokyo. To save you time you will fly into Haneda Airport from Kagoshima. Three nights in the captial to end your tour with the bang it deserves!!

telephone: +353 (0)1 678 7008


6 Tokyo

Kyoto 1 via Hiroshima ▼

Q

2 Fukuoka ▼

Unzen Onsen

Day trip to Mt Aso

5

4

U

3

Kumamoto

Ibusuki (via Kagoshima) Yakushima Island (optional)

Q

Price inclusions: Kansai Airport Meet & Greet on arrival. Airport Transfer Tickets (arr/dep dates). 13 nights accommodation at selected hotels. Meals: Breakfast daily & 3 dinners. Tokyo Subway Card. 7 day Japan Rail Pass. Ferry transfers (Shimabara – Kumamoto). Internal flight using Yokoso Japan Airpass (some restrictions may apply). Tokyo & Kyoto full day private guide service. Kyoto authentic tea ceremony. Adventure day trip to Mt Aso with local English speaker. Unique Japan Tours Essential Travel Pack.

OPTIONAL ADD-ON

Yakushima Island 3 nights at local Minshiku If your time and budget allows, we recommend adding three nights on Yakushima Island to this plan. Rent-a-car is the easiest option while on the island however public buses can also take you around. The island is quite mountainous and in 1994, the huge Cedar trees gowing in the mountains were designated as a World Heritage (Natural Property). Lots of trekking opportunities exist from basic mountain and coastal walks to the more adventurous paths. Or, if you’re not a walker, then just chill by the sea or with the friendly locals.

No. of Nights

STANDARD HOTELS

SUPERIOR HOTELS

(3) Kyoto: (2) Fukuoka: (1) Unzen Onsen: (2) Kumamoto: (2) Kagoshima/Ibusuki: (3) Tokyo:

Hotel Sunroute The B Hakata Kyushu Hotel Apa Hotel Medipolis Ibusuki Shinagawa Prince Hotel (North Wing)

Hotel Granvia Kyoto Grand Hyatt Fukuoka Kyushu Hotel Hotel Nikko Kumamoto Ibusuki Hakusuikan Shinagawa Prince (Main Wing)

Tour Highlights:

Kyoto: World Heritage temples and shrines (incl. Nara), bamboo forest, zen gardens, geisha district, local markets, authentic tea ceremony & old world charm Tokyo: Tsukuji morning fish market, Sumo stadium, Ginza, traditionalAsakusa/Ueno, Edo museum, hip-Harajuku, neon lit-Shinjuku & Shibuya Kyushu: Hiroshima Peace Park and Museum, Miyajima Island, local food stalls, seaside Momoshi area, canals, overnight at traditional ryokan (kaiseki cuisine & hot spring baths), mountain walks, roaring streets of sulpher steam, rural Japan at its best, therapeutic sand baths, ryokan resort Ibusuki, port town Kagaoshima, volcanic Mt Aso, castle town Kumamoto

Kyushu Highlights Prices from €2,755 per person sharing. Full and up-to-date price list can be seen on our website www.uniquejapantours.com Available all year round. Prices may vary depending on season and exchange rate fluctuations. Hotels are subject to availability at time of booking. See inside back page to view seasonal changes and price terms.

fax: 01 6787773 email:sales@uniquejapantours.co.uk email: info@uniquejapantours.com

19


13 Nights

Forgotten Japan Upon arrival into the metropolitan city of Tokyo, you may find it difficult to imagine the old Japan once associated with samurai’s and geisha’s. Forgotten Japan captures the Japan everybody wants to see; the ancient post routes linking villages to towns; the four hundred year old thatched roof farm houses; the tea houses and geisha streets; the castle towns and samurai houses; not forgetting to include the city that never sleeps, Tokyo. This tour is sure to remind you of the Japan that once was.

Traditional Tsumago

Once a post town on the old Nakasendo highway linking Kyoto to Matsumoto, Tsumago has maintained much of its old Edo Period charm. A stay in Tsumago will bring you back in time to experience old Japan; a world miles apart from the modern Japanese cities that are so plentiful today. Tsumago is situated in the picturesque valley of Kiso. The hike along the old post route between Tsumago and Magome is highly recommended on your free day. Two nights in a traditional minshiku (Japanese style guesthouse) with meals included will add to your Forgotten Japan adventure.

Samurai’s & Swords in Matsumoto & Takayama

From Tsumago you will follow in the footsteps of the Edo trail and make your way up to Matsumoto, an alpine city surrounded on all sides by the towering peaks of the Japan Alps. This small city is most famous for its original castle, one of the few remaining. Capture a sense of ancient Japan by seeing how the samurai used to live and fight.

From here you will travel by bus on one of Japan’s most scenic routes to the picturesque town of Takayama. Established in the 16th century as the castle town of the Kanomori family it is now famous for its narrow streets containing well preserved inns, tea houses, merchant houses, and sake distilliaries – all very characteristic of the Edo period (16031868). Visit the morning market where locals buy their daily groceries, fresh flowers, and local crafts, the old Government buildings preserved to their former glory (Takayama Jinya), and the numerous museums and temples scattered within walking distance of each other around the town. Two nights in this nostalgic haven will give you a feel for a way of life that really has all but disappeared from modern Japan.

Back to Basics in Gokayama

Nestled along the deep gorge of Sho River, 33 gassho zukkuri (thatched roof style farm houses) have been preserved in the historic villages of Gokayama including Tairo and Ainokura. Covered with blankets of snow in the Winter, these villages have preserved most of their 400 year old charm. Once you enter the farm houses you will start to understand how people actually lived back then. Our local guide, Masako, will

www.uniquejapantours.com

show you around this area taking you on a cultural journey as well as a step back in time. Washi paper making at a local factory, eating local soba (buckwheat) noodles, enjoying the local farmers perform the traditional dance will make this day a highlight!

The ‘Little Kyoto’ Kanazawa

Parts of this lovely town remind us of a smaller Kyoto – the geisha district, the tea houses, the samurai houses. What it does have, over Kyoto, is one of Japan’s top three favoured gardens, Kenrokuen Garden. The perfect way to spend an afternoon strolling among the pretty ponds and beautiful bonsai’s. Located next to the garden is the 21st Century Modern Art Museum, also a major attraction for art lovers to this quaint town.

Authentic Kyoto

Kyoto is one of the most culturally rich cities in Asia. We recommend staying at least three nights to get a sense of the Kyoto charm, one that you may not see at first glance, but will gradually get a sense of when strolling the tiny back streets of Gion and visiting the impressive temples and shrines. You will be assisted by a local guide

telephone: +353 (0)1 678 7008


5 Kanazawa

Tokyo 1

7

▼ ▼

Takayama Tsumago 2 ▼

3 Matsumoto

Kyoto 6

via Gokayanna

4

Price inclusions: Narita Airport Meet & Greet on arrival. 13 nights accommodation at selected hotels. Meals: Breakfast daily & 2 dinners. Tokyo Subway Card. 14 day Japan Rail Pass. Matsumoto to Takayama Highway Bus Ticket. Takayama to Shirakawago Highway Bus Ticket. Kyoto authentic tea ceremony. Tokyo, Kyoto & Gokayama Full Day Private Guide Service. Unique Japan Tours Essential Travel Pack. OPTIONAL ADD ON: Tropical Amami Ooshima (3 nights) From Kyoto, why not fly down to Amami Ooshima and spend three nights relaxing by a beach and touring this magnificent tropical island before returning to Tokyo by air. For more details on Amami Ooshima see page 16.

who will take you around ‘like a local’ teaching you the history of this ancient capital and informing you of how people live now in this timeless city.

Or, if you prefer to go to Okinawa, the more famous of the Ryukyu islands, this can also be arranged.

After ten incredible days traveling through a Forgotten Japan, you will be ready to hit the high streets of contrasting Tokyo for two final nights before making your way home. No. of Nights

STANDARD HOTELS

(2) Tokyo: Shinjuku Washington Hotel (2) Tsumago: Hotel Kisoji (1) Matsumoto: Tokyu Inn (2) Takayama: Hotel Ouan (1) Kanazawa: Hotel Kanazawa (3) Kyoto: Kyoto Sunroute

(2) Tokyo:

Shinagawa Prince Hotel (North Wing)

Tour Highlights:

SUPERIOR HOTELS

Keio Plaza Hotel Hotel Kisoji Buena Vista Hotel Hotel Ouan Hotel Nikko Kyoto Hotel Granvia Shinagawa Prince (Main Wing)

Tokyo: Fashion capital Ginza, Imperial Palace gardens, ultra-modern Roppongi Hills (Observatory Tower & museum), parks, busy street crossing at Shibuya Kyoto: World Heritage temples and shrines (incl. Nara), bamboo forest, zen gardens, geisha district, local markets, authentic tea ceremony & old world charm Kiso Valley, Takayama, etc.: ancient post route from Tsumago to Magome, Matsumoto castle, old merchant houses, Takayama Jinya (old government building), morning market, local Hida beef cuisine, washipaper making, learn how to make soba noodles, 400 year old farmhouses, local dance by Toyama farmer, Kenrokuen Garden (top 3 gardens in Japan), Higashi chaya district (samurai/geisha houses), scenic mountain drives.

Forgotten Japan Prices from €2,695 per person sharing. Full and up-to-date price list can be seen on our website www.uniquejapantours.com Available all year round. Prices may vary depending on season and exchange rate fluctuations. Hotels are subject to availability at time of booking. See inside back page to view seasonal changes and price terms.

fax: 01 6787773 email:sales@uniquejapantours.co.uk email: info@uniquejapantours.com

21


12 Nights

Gardens & Galleries You don’t have to be a plant or art lover to enjoy this tour. Although we focus on sending you to Japan’s finest gardens and galleries, you will also explore the traditional and cultural side of Japan that everybody wants to see when they make it this far. This tour offers the perfect balance if you enjoy scenic walks, colourful gardens, contemporary and traditional work of art designs and rich culture and comforts.

Japan’s Top Three Gardens Kairakuen in Ibaraki While staying in Tokyo, you will be met by one of our local guides who will take you on a trip out to the Bonsai Mura (village) located in Saitama prefecture. This village was first established by a group of professional gardeners and bonsai enthusiasts after the Great Kanto Earthquake (1923), and is now home to six bonsai gardens that can be viewed at your leisure, for free. Following a morning of bonsai viewing, you will move onto Ibaraki prefecture for a stroll around Kairakuen Garden, the first of your top three garden excursions of Japan. Kairakuen is home to over three thousand plum trees. While worth a visit all year round, it is particularly attractive during The Mito Plum Matsuri (festival) held annually from February 20 to March 31. Korakuen in Okayama After three nights in the capital, you will move west to the traditional canal town of Kurashiki. This historical town located in Okayama prefecture acts as the perfect base for viewing other important areas

such as Korakuen Garden, (the second on your list of top three gardens), the Seto Ohashi Bridge, one of the largest rail and road bridges in the world, linking Honshu and Shikoku, and the Ohara Museum of Art, who collects both modern and contemporary art from the West and Japan including artists who served the Japanese Folk Art Movement. Korakuen, completed in 1700, retains much of its original appearance from the Edo Period. Before moving north to Kanazawa, where you will visit the last of your top three gardens, you will stop in Kyoto for three nights, stay in a traditional ryokan, experience culture, tea houses, geisha viewing, temples and gardens, and authentic Kyoto ambience. If you would like to see Hiroshima you can take the shinkansen using your Japan Rail Pass. Kenrokuen in Kanazuma Classified as one of the three most beautiful gardens in Japan, Kenrokuen Garden was originally built as the outer garden of Kanazawa Castle. Although the castle no longer remains, the garden was maintained

www.uniquejapantours.com

and manicured over a period of two centuries by the Maeda family. Opened to the public in 1871 it is now one of the most visited gardens in Japan by tourists and Japanese alike.

Japan’s Art Island Naoshima

Naoshima is a tiny island (population 3,400) situated in the Seto Inland Sea, between Honshu and Shikoku. You will find many interesting places and projects on the island including the Bennesse House, designed by Japanese architect Tadao Ando, and the Art House Project, where artists renovate old Japanese houses and the space inside into a new ‘work of art’. Ando also designed the über cool Chichu Art Museum, a unique modern art museum built into a hillside overlooking the coast, home to designs by Walkter De Maria, James Turrell and many other world renowned artists.

telephone: +353 (0)1 678 7008


▼ ▼ ▼

3

Mito

Optional day trip

6 Tokyo 1

4 ▼

Okayama 2

U

Kyoto

Omiya

U

5 Kanazawa

Naoshima

Price inclusions: Narita Airport Meet & Greet on arrival. Airport Transfer Tickets (arr/dep dates). 12 nights accommodation at selected hotels. Meals: Breakfast daily & 3 dinners. Tokyo Subway Card. 14 day Japan Rail Pass. Kairakuen & Bonsai Mura full day guide service. Return ferry tickets to Naoshima Island including guide. Tokyo & Kyoto full day private guide service. Kyoto authentic tea ceremony. Unique Japan Tours Essential Travel Pack. No. of Nights (3) Tokyo: (2) Kurashiki:

STANDARD HOTELS Shinjuku Washington Hotel Kurashiki Kokusai Hotel

(1) Naoshima: (3) Kyoto: (1) Kanazawa: (2) Tokyo:

Local Minshiku (JP) Kyoto Gion Shinmonso (JP) Hotel Kanazawa Shinagawa Prince Hotel (North Wing)

Tour Highlights:

SUPERIOR HOTELS Keio Plaza Hotel Kurashiki Kokusai Hotel (superior) Local Minshiku (JP) Kyoto Gion Shinmonso (JP) Hotel Nikko Shinagawa Prince (Main Wing)

Tokyo: learn about Bonsai’s and Japanese style gardens with local expert guide, Kairakuen Garden, traditional & contemporary museums, Tsukuji fish market, Meiji shrine at Yoyogi park Okayama & Naoshima: Kurashiki canal town, Ohara Museum, Korakuen in Okayama, Seto Bridge, Bennesse Museum, Art House Project & Chichu Art Museum on Naoshima island, ferry ride, local transport & guide, Kanazawa: 21st century Contemporary Art museum, Kenrokuen garden, geisha and samurai streets Kyoto: Miho Museum, Ohara area, Bamboo forest grove, Zen gardens, authentic tea ceremony at local tea house, ancient temples and shrines

Gardens & Galleries Prices from €2,700 per person sharing. Full and up-to-date price list can be seen on our website www.uniquejapantours.com Available all year round. Prices may vary depending on season and exchange rate fluctuations. Hotels are subject to availability at time of booking. See inside back page to view seasonal changes and price terms.

23 fax: 01 6787773 email:sales@uniquejapantours.co.uk email: info@uniquejapantours.com


13 Nights

Winter Wonderland

featuring Hokkaido

Winter Sports Heaven in Hokkaido

Japan is not a country many of us associate with snow or world class ski resorts. Hokkaido, the most northerly island of the big four (Honshu, Kyushu, Shikoku, Hokkaido), is blanketed with snow for almost six months of the year (Nov-May). It is home to some of the worlds most impressive ski resorts including Niseko, Furano, and Rusustu. Depending on the people you are traveling with will depend on which resort we chose for you. Rusutsu is a fantastic family friendly resort that caters for small children and beginner skiers/boarders while not forgetting about the adults either. Niseko and Furano are much larger resorts that suit a group of friends looking for lots of choice, long runs, snow parks and great fun!! No matter which resort you chose, you can be almost guaranteed powder snow and lots of it!! And don’t forget about the hot springs that you will soak in after a tough day on the mountains – what better way to cure tired and weary legs. Mix this with traditional Japanese pubs, great food,

lively bars, and affordable and comfortable accommodation – Hokkaido offers a ski holiday with a difference – one that no European or American resort will match!

Some culture in Kyoto, Kanazawa & Takayama

We realise Japan is a big holiday for most. It may be difficult to return anytime soon so for this reason we believe it is important to see some of Japan’s best cultural assets – Kyoto, the favourite must see by most travelers. Kanazawa and Takayama offer a slightly different ambience while you can enjoy spending a night at a traditional ryokan in Takayama. You will eventually make your way back to Tokyo using the Japan Rail Pass we will supply you with. If you have more time, we recommend adding one or two more nights in Tokyo at the end of your trip. Or, if you are pushed for time, we can remove Kanazawa & Takayama altogether, making it 11 nights in total. Remember, we are here to suit your schedule and budget so just ask if unsure.

www.uniquejapantours.com

Date for your Diary!

SAPPORO SNOW FESTIVAL (February held annually) The Sapporo Snow Festival is one of Japans largest Winter events held annually and lasts for seven days in early February. Every winter, over two million people flock to Sapporo to see the hundreds of beautiful snow statues and ice sculptures carved along the streets. For these seven days, Sapporo is transformed into a winter dreamland of crystal-like ice and white snow making this a magical holiday for couples, families, and groups of friends looking for an alternative and cultured ski holiday option.

telephone: +353 (0)1 678 7008


Sapporo

Niseko Rusutsu

2

Furano

3 Kanazawa

4

U U

Kyoto

Gokayama Shirakawa Takayama U

5

1 Tokyo

Price inclusions: Narita Airport Meet & Greet on arrival. Airport Transfer Ticket (arr). 13 nights accommodation at selected hotels. Meals: Breakfast daily & 2 dinners. Tokyo Subway Card. 7 day Japan Rail Pass. Internal flights using Yokoso Japan Airpass (some restrictions may apply). No. of Nights (2) Tokyo: (1) Sapporo: (4) Rusutsu/Furano/Niseko: (1) Kanazawa: (1) Takayama: (2) Kyoto: (2) Tokyo:

STANDARD HOTELS Shinagawa Prince Hokke Club Sapporo Choice of hotels available Hotel Kanazawa Takayama Ryokan Hotel Sunroute Shinagawa Prince (North Wing)

SUPERIOR HOTELS Shinagawa Prince ANA Hotel Sapporo Choice of hotels available Hotel Nikko Takayama Ryokan Hotel Granvia Kyoto Shinagawa Prince (Main Wing)

Sapporo to Ski Resorts return Bus Transfers. 3 day lift pass at your chosen ski resort. Kyoto Geisha walking tour including tea ceremony and Shabu-Shabu dinner. Unique Japan Tours Essential Travel Pack.

Tip: You can rent either skis or snowboards at each resort locally (approx. ¥3,000 per day/per set). Full sets of wear are also available to rent however, as temperatures will be low in most parts of Japan in the Winter months (Dec-Feb/Mar), we recommend bringing your own winter jacket that can be worn on the slopes as well.

Winter Wonderland Tour Highlights

Tokyo: Tsukuji morning fish market, Sumo stadium, Ginza, traditionalAsakusa/Ueno, Edo museum, hip-Harajuku, neon lit-Shinjuku & Shibuya Kyoto: World Heritage temples and shrines (incl. Nara), bamboo forest, zen gardens, geisha district, local markets, authentic tea ceremony & old world charm Hokkaido: Sapporo Distilliary, Susukino entertainment district, local cuisine (crab& ramen), snow festival, world class ski resorts (choice), magnificent mountain journeys, otaru canal town, wildlife, national parks, Noboribetsu bear park, Ainu settlement Kanazawa: 21st century Contemporary Art museum, Kenrokuen garden, geisha and samurai streets Takayama: morning markets, old merchant houses, samurai buildings, local Hida beef cuisine

Prices from €2,600 per person sharing. Full and up-to-date price list can be seen on our website www.uniquejapantours.com Available betweeen December and April. We recommend to check with us before booking your international flights. Prices may vary depending on season and exchange rate fluctuations. Hotels are subject to availability at time of booking. See inside back page to view seasonal changes and price terms.

fax: 01 6787773 email:sales@uniquejapantours.co.uk email: info@uniquejapantours.com

25


Small Group

Tours

We plan and operate exclusive Unique Japan Tours that include many of the country’s highlights while also featuring some of our own favourite towns, villages and unique attractions we want to share with people. The word ‘Tour’ to many can imply a large group of people battling to get the front seat. Our profile of customers have been positively varied with ages ranging from 18 to 65 years old. Most of our members are well travelled adventurers who have seen many parts of the world but are seeking a new experience with professionals to lead them.

www.uniquejapantours.com

telephone: +353 (0)1 678 7008


Testimonial

“For anyone who wants to not just see Japan, but to feel it as well, I couldn’t recommend any other Japan specialist. So much so that we are already planning our next trip!”

What makes our Small Group Tours Unique?

Free Time – we try not to over do it on sightseeing so we offer options for free time to those who prefer it!

High Standards – our tours are based on quality, not quantity. The average group size is 10-12 with a maximum capacity of 16 on any tour.

What to expect?

Flexibility – each tour begins and ends in Japan giving you flexibility for onward journeys. All-Inclusive – prices include entrance fees, internal transport, accommodation, day trips, full time English speaking tour leader, local guides, and many meals. Accommodation – varies from standard and superior city centre hotels to temple lodges in the mountains to traditional Japanese style ryokan’s in the old picturesque towns and hot spring villages (not to be missed)!! Tour Leader – all of our tour leaders are passionate about Japan and have lived there at some stage. They speak the language, love the adventure, and are eager to teach you about the lifestyle, foods, people and so on. Your hands-on leader will be there 24/7 from start to finish.

English Speaking Our tours are conducted through English. Most of our members come from English speaking countries but if you are from a non-native country and feel your level is good enough to read an English itinerary and listen to easy English instructions, we are happy to bring you. Plenty of walking No matter which tour you chose, expect to walk a lot. Whether it’s from the train station to hotel or temple to tea house, comfortable shoes are always recommended. You will be required to carry your own bags so traveling light is highly recommended. Local Guides Local guides in some towns and cities are used to give you the local insight, historical and up to date!

Local Payment & Spending Money You will not be required to make any local payments on any of our small group tours. Included in all itineraries are entrance fees, activities (cultural), transport, and some meals. Spending money will be needed for any meals not included in itinerary, all drinks, transport used outside of itinerary e.g. subways or taxi’s and any personal items purchased. Tour Price Due to the fluctuating exchange rate of late, we have decided to omit tour prices from this brochure. To find out the price of our tours, visit our website, contact us directly or via your Travel Agent. Unique Japan Tours Travel Pack Approximately two weeks before your tour, you will be sent a detailed travel info pack that will include the final itinerary, contact details, local maps, and your rail pass (if applicable).

Local Restaurants Your tour leader will be happy to take you to places the locals eat for lunches and dinners.

Local Transport – varies from private coaches to public trains including the infamous shinkansen (high speed bullet train) using the Japan rail pass.

fax: 01 6787773 email:sales@uniquejapantours.co.uk email: info@uniquejapantours.com

27


13 Nights/14 days

Sakura Spring

S

akura Spring takes you on a cultural and colourful journey through Japans must see cities and towns at one of the best seasons to travel – cherry blossom (sakura) season. Sakura, Japans unofficial national flower, is celebrated nationwide during its short two-week window for blooming. Office workers, families and friends gather in parks or any open space under the sakura tree, for a picnic party called hanami. To most foreigners, this seems like an excuse to take time off work and be merry, but to the Japanese it is almost like an annual ritual they look forward to as soon as the Winter starts to disappear.

Matsumoto & Takayama

Tour Highlights:

Tokyo

Tokyo, the capital city of Japan, is one of the worlds most populated metropolitan centres. Unlike other cities, visitors to Tokyo can expect the safest streets, the cleanest taxi’s, most timely trains and usually most polite bunch of people, neatly packed into hugely densely populated areas. Your first day will begin in the evening with a walking tour of the Shinjuku district, best seen at night. Day two will be met by a local guide who will explain in detail the story behind Tokyo’s transformation from the Edo ero to the modern sky scrapers that tower the city today, while visiting some of its highlights including the worlds largest fish market at Tsukuji.

Connected by an express train line we will start our journey towards the Japanese Alps stopping in the castle town of Matsumoto for one night. There are few castles with original structures remaining but thankfully, this is one of them. After visiting the castle, enjoy free time to wonder the old streets lined with antique stalls and craft shops, particularly pretty during this sakura season. The next day we will take the bus along the winding road through super long tunnels, forested mountains, and river valleys, sure to take your breath away, arriving in Takayama approximately two and half hours later. This small city has preserved much of its charm from the forgotten samurai days with old streets, shops, sake breweries and morning markets that attract the locals nice and

www.uniquejapantours.com

early to prepare for their daily dishes. We will spend two nights in this quaint town. Join our April tour to take part in the hugely popular Takayama Spring festival.

Kanazawa & Kyoto

Also known as little Kyoto, Kanazawa appears to be a modern 21st century city with an impressive station to welcome you. When you walk the old streets, as we will, you will find a forgotten past in the Higashi Chaya district where samurai’s and geisha once resided. Kenrokuen Garden, one of Japans top three gardens, and the 21st Century Contemporary Art Museum offer complete contrasts but are definitely worth the visit while visiting Kanazawa.

telephone: +353 (0)1 678 7008


Kanazawa (via Gokayama) 4

Matsumoto

Hiroshima 6 & Miyajima Island

Kyoto 5

2

Tokyo 1 8

Takayama

3

7 Hakone

What’s included Met on arrival at Narita Airport by an English speaking representative. Airport transfers on arrival and departure dates. 13 nights stay in Western hotels (11 nights) and traditional Ryokans (2 nights). Breakfast daily & 4 dinners. All transfers between destinations using local trains, shinkansen, subways, private vehicles, cable car, and ferry. All activities and entrance fees as per itinerary. English-speaking tour leader throughout with local guides in places. Taxes including service charges. Unique Japan Tours travel pack.

Kyoto, Japans ancient capital, is home to almost 2,000 temples and shrines that are spread out evenly among the old and new. Three days and nights will hopefully give you a greater understanding of how important Kyoto was, pre-Edo period, where a local guide will tell us the tales that piece the historical trails together. We will visit the must see world heritage buildings, local markets, Geisha district, bamboo forests, as well as perform an authentic tea ceremony at a local tea house.

Miyajima Island & Hiroshima

To the west of Honshu lies the historical Hiroshima city, a victim of the tragic WWII A-bomb. Today, Hiroshima is a fresh faced modern city that deserves to be visited once, especially to the A-bomb dome and peace memorial park. If you prefer to leave this out, that’s up to you. There are plenty of other attractions to see which your tour leader will assist you with. In the afternoon, we will move across to the world heritage and picture perfect Miyajima Island where we will overnight in a traditional ryokan.

Sakura Spring Departure Dates:

2011: Mar 26 & Apr 10* 2012: See website or contact us directly *Features: Takayama Spring Festival

Hakone

Before finishing our tour in the capital we will make a one night stop in Hakone where, weather permitting, you will get the perfect shot of the majestic Mt Fuji. One last night in a ryokan where hot springs and traditional cuisine are what they do best!

fax: 01 6787773 email:sales@uniquejapantours.co.uk email: info@uniquejapantours.com

29


13 Nights/14 days

Traditional & Tropical Japan

A

tour with many contrasts, Traditional & Tropical Japan includes the bright lights and busy streets of Tokyo, the ancient paths and hidden tea houses of Kyoto, the old streets and atmospheric walks in Takayama, the world heritage and not to be missed Miyajima Island & Hiroshima before ending the tour on the tropical Island of Amami. Amami is home to subtropical forests, rare and distinct plants and flowers, and a way of life that is seen nowhere else throughout any other tour.

Tour Highlights:

Tokyo

Matsumoto & Takayama

The tour begins and ends in Tokyo. We will base ourselves in the cosmopolitan area of Shinjuku. This city (within Tokyo city) is divided into two sides, east and west. To the east you will find the shops, bars, restaurants and typical Tokyo atmosphere – neon lights, bars, café’s, department stores etc. To the west is the more conservative, business district where you will feel you have landed in the true concrete jungle with giant skyscrapers towering over you no matter which way you walk.

After a busy two-day start in the capital we will move north to the castle and valley town of Matsumoto. This quiet city is a quaint contrast to the very populated and busy Tokyo. The journey from Matsumoto to Takayama by highway bus is one not to miss. Stunning views make this journey a highlight in itself. We will spend two nights in the old merchant town of Takayama where you will visit the early morning market, Takayama old government building, and the storehouse where the annual festival floats are put on display. If you join the Autumn tour, you’re in luck!! We will be situated right in the heart of this famous festival, watching the magnificently carved floats and colourful costumes parade the streets.

www.uniquejapantours.com

Kyoto & Nara

Kyoto and Nara will certainly bring out the ‘Traditional’ aspect of this tour. It is here we will learn about Japans historical journey from pre-Edo times to current day Japan by our local guide. She will walk you through the old streets of Gion explaining all about the mysterious Geisha world. If you fancy it, you can join the optional Meet-a-Geisha tour that includes a dinner and chat with a real Geisha from Kyoto. This once in a lifetime experience is well worth paying that little bit extra. We have included a tea ceremony at a local tea-house, where you will learn of Kyoto’s Samurai days.

telephone: +353 (0)1 678 7008


(optional Hakone day trip)

1 7

4 Kyoto

5

Tokyo

Hiroshima & Miyajima Island

2

Matsumoto

Takayama 3

Q ▼

Q ▼

Amami Ooshima

6

What’s included Met on arrival at Narita Airport by an English speaking representative. Airport transfers on arrival and departure dates. 13 nights stay in Western hotels (8 nights), Ryokan (2 nights), beach resort (3 nights). Breakfast daily & 4 dinners. All transfers between destinations using local trains, shinkansen, subways, private vehicles, cable car, internal flight and ferry. All activities and entrance fees as per itinerary. English-speaking tour leader throughout with local guides in places. Taxes including service charges. Unique Japan Tours travel pack.

Miyajima Island & Hiroshima

Included on most of our tours is a trip to the world heritage Miyajima Island and Hiroshima city where we will spend the day touring both areas. With thanks to the super speedy shinkansen (bullet trains) we can do this as a day trip from Kyoto using the Japan rail pass. If you prefer to stay in Kyoto to do your own thing, inform your tour leader beforehand.

Amami Ooshima

Traditional & Tropical Japan Departure Dates:

2011: May 03* & Oct 06** 2012: See website or contact us directly

Before ending our tour in Tokyo we want to show you one of our absolute favourite places in Japan – the tropical Amami Ooshima, located approx. 170 miles south of the mainland and accessed by air. We will base ourselves at the beach resort of Bashyayama with rooms overlooking the crystal clear waters. You will find it difficult to get English information on this island due to the fact that it is still not on any tourist trail. So, expect to be the only foreigner here creating interesting conversations for the locals!! The people, scenery, way of life, and sub tropical climate make a trip to this island one you will never forget!!

*Features: Tokyo Grand Sumo Tournament (additional charge/optional) & Asakusa Sanja Festival **Features: Takayama Autumn Festival

Optional:

‘Meet-a-Maiko’ Evening Tour in Kyoto

fax: 01 6787773 email:sales@uniquejapantours.co.uk email: info@uniquejapantours.com

31


13 Nights/14 days

Wonders of the West

featuring Kyushu & Yakushima Island

W

estern Japan, including Kyushu, is what the Lonely Planet describes as Japan’s ‘genuine article’, with a culture inspired by nature; mountains, seascapes, forests, deserts, and the infamous natural hot springs. Wonders of the West captures most of this as soon as you leave the mainland and travel down to Kyushu, particularly the world heritage stunningly scenic Yakushima Island and the remote hot spring town of Unzen. A combination of magical scenery, authentic accommodation, ancient treasures and world heritage sites make this a tour you will not forget.

Kyoto

Tour Highlights:

Koyasan (Mt. Koya)

A spiritual centre for Shingon Esoteric Buddhism, Koyasan is a fantastic starting point for learning the in’s and out’s of Japanese religion. Our local guide Noriko will teach you all about it while walking you through the main sites. We will stay overnight in a temple, traditionally used as lodges for the pilgrims that walked 1400km through Shikoku, to reach this sacred site.

Unzen Onsen

Kyoto, recently voted the most popular place to visit in Japan, deserves at least three nights stay. We will base ourselves in a city centre hotel making it easy to navigate the city, as a group and on your own. One day will be spent with our local guide who will give you an overview of the historical importance Kyoto has played on the development of Japan today. We will perform an authentic tea ceremony at a local machiya (tea house) and listen to the mysterious tales of the Geisha world that still exists very prominently in Kyoto today.

www.uniquejapantours.com

Before reaching the remote volcanic town we will pass through Hiroshima and Fukuoka taking in the main sights of both cities. Unzen, located along the Shimabara Peninsula, is famous for its volcanic activity, bubbling jigoku (boiling pools of mineral hot springs), and is home to Japans first national park (1934). We will experience bathing in our own onsen at one of the luxurious ryokans while enjoying walks along the steaming trails nearby the bubbling springs.

telephone: +353 (0)1 678 7008


Tokyo 8 Kyoto 3

▼ ▼

2

Fukuoka 4

Koyasan

Q

1 Osaka

(Via Hiroshima & Miyajima) ▼

Q

U

Unzen Onsen 5 Kumamoto 6

Day trip to Mt Aso ▼

7 Yakushima Island

What’s included Met on arrival at Kansai International Airport by an English speaking representative. Airport transfers on arrival and departure dates. 13 nights stay in Western hotels (9 nights), Temple Lodge (1 night), Ryokan (1 night), Minshiku (2 nights). Breakfast daily & 4 dinners. All transfers between destinations using local trains, shinkansen, subways, private vehicles, cable car, internal flight, and ferry. All activities and entrance fees as per itinerary. English-speaking tour leader throughout with local guides in places. Taxes including service charges. Unique Japan Tours travel pack.

Kumamoto & Mt Aso

The next day we will catch a ferry to the castle town of Kumamoto. A visit to the castle is a must but on our second day, we will venture towards the gigantic volcano caldera at Mt Aso. Mt Aso remains the largest active caldera in the world. The last major blast was in 1993 but the summit is frequently declared off limits due to toxic gas emissions, particularly on windy days.

Yakushima Island

Wonders of the West Departure Dates:

2011: May 29 & Oct 10*

Designated as a Unesco World Heritage site in 1993, Yakushima is one of Japans most worthwhile places to visit - if you can make it down that far! We will spend 2 nights in a local minshiku where free time is a must for some self-exploration. We will spend one day touring the island by private bus around with a local guide. Light trekking up to see the famous cedar trees will be a part of this day trip so bring good walking shoes. To make it back on time an internal flight back to Tokyo is arranged, saving you time for some last minute shopping in the capital.

2012: See website or contact us directly

*Optional:

Grand Prix Formula One race at Suzuka circuit (Oct 7-9th)

fax: 01 6787773 email:sales@uniquejapantours.co.uk email: info@uniquejapantours.com

33


12 Nights/13 days

Lost in Japan

featuring Awa Odori Festival, Shikoku

A

s the name suggests, this tour takes you into the hidden or lost Japan that should not be missed if you want to experience a different, less crowded, but equally rewarding Japan than the regular tourist trails offer. We cover the must see cities of Osaka, Tokyo and Kyoto, adding our own off the beaten track trail to your itinerary including Koyasan and Shikoku Island.

Tour Highlights:

Osaka

Japans second largest city and central hub for touring West Japan, Osaka is a vibrant modern city that deserves more than one night. If you have time we recommend arriving at least one day earlier to take part in some pre-tour self-guided sightseeing. The tour will commence in the evening on the first day. Your tour leader will take you to downtown Osaka for an introduction to Osaka’s favourite cuisine – Okonomiyaki (Japanese savoury pancake).

Koyasan

The adventure begins when we set out for Koyasan (Mt. Koya), home to the mausoleum of Buddhist saint Kobo Daishi. We will reach the summit by mountain tram, 1,000m above sea level, and met on arrival by our friendly local guide, Noriko. Noriko will give you a walking/talking

tour explaining some interesting facts about Japans two main religions –Shinto & Buddhism. Understanding these basic foundations will in turn give you a better insight into Japanese culture and lifestyle adding to the overall experience in Japan. You will spend tonight on the floor (sleeping on a futon) at a local temple lodge or shokubo – eating the local vegetarian cuisine served by the monks themselves.

Tokushima / Awa Dance Festival

We will sail across to Shikoku Island by ferry the next morning. We have set this tour to coincide with the annual Awa Odori (dance) festival, the most famous and largest ‘bon’ festival in Japan. We will spend the day doing local sightseeing while in the evening enjoy watching the locals

www.uniquejapantours.com

dress up in their Summer kimono’s dancing the streets to the theme song ‘Yoshikono’ accompanied by shamisen (three string guitar), taiko (drums) and fue (flute).

Iya Valley

After two nights of celebrating and dancing with the locals we will continue on our journey through the stunning Iya Valley, crossing the famous vine ropeway, cruising down the crystal clear waterways, and stopping in the forgotten town of Kotohira to visit Kompira-san, one of Shikoku’s most famous attractions. We will arrive in Takamatsu that evening where you will have free time to take in the smaller city atmosphere on your own.

telephone: +353 (0)1 678 7008


Osaka

3

5

Dogo Onsen

4

(via Iya Valley & Kotohira) 1 ▼

Hiroshima & Miyajima Island

Kyoto 6

Takamatsu

7 Tokyo

2 Mt. Koya

Tokushima

What’s included Met on arrival at Kansai International Airport by an English speaking representative. Airport transfers on arrival and departure dates. 12 nights stay in western hotels (9 nights), temple lodge (1 night), ryokan (2 nights). Breakfast daily & 4 dinners. All transfers between destinations using local trains, shinkansen, subways, private vehicles, cable car, and ferry. All activities and entrance fees as per itinerary. English-speaking tour leader throughout with local guides in places. Taxes including service charges. Unique Japan Tours travel pack.

Dogo Onsen & Matsuyama

Matsuyama, Shikoku’s largest city, is home to one of Japans finest feudal castles, as well as Japan’s oldest onsen village – Dogo Onsen. The main onsen building was built in 1894 and was designated an important cultural site in 1994. There are plenty of other things to do in this area if you are not a fan of hot springs. Matsuyama itself is a small city with an historic tram to take you around. A visit to the castle is a must and if you are a Samurai fan, you can even have the chance to dress up in a suit of armour (free of charge)!!

Kyoto

Included in all our tours is a three night stop in Kyoto, Japan’s ancient and most cultured capital. Instead of bringing you to the famous sights, which we feel you can do on your own, our local guide will take you off the beaten track to the bamboo forests, the philosophers walk and other places that are more challenging to find. You will have a full free day to explore on your own the more common (and as a result crowded) places such as the Golden Pavillion, Kiyomizu Temple and so on. If you would like to see Hiroshima and the world heritage Miyajima Island, you have time to visit here on another day using your Japan rail pass.

Tokyo

Lost in Japan Departure Dates: 2011: Aug 10*

We always like to end our tours with a bang and what better place to do it than in the metropolitan city of Tokyo. From having trekked across lost Japan in Shikoku all the way to Tokyo you will feel ready to let your hair down and enjoy some of what Tokyo has to offer. Our local guide will take you on a trip around the city taking in her recommendations for that day. If you feel you would like to see more of Tokyo we recommend extending your plan with one or two nights of post tour accommodation. Ask your tour consultant to arrange this.

2012: See website or contact us directly

Features:

Awa Odori Tokushima Summer Festival

fax: 01 6787773 email:sales@uniquejapantours.co.uk email: info@uniquejapantours.com

35


13 Nights/14 days

The Northern Trail Testimonial

“It was a very well organised trip. Although we crammed a lot into the two weeks, it gave us an excellent flavour of so many different aspects of Japan.”

T

o avoid the humidity and higher temperatures in the south, we have chosen to venture north for a cooler summer tour option. One way the Japanese enjoy spending their summers is by throwing lots of interesting festivals. So what better way to immerse yourself into Japanese culture and traditions than by joining in on the fun. For both tour dates you can chose from the energetic beats of Taiko drums at Sado Islands ‘Earth Festival’ or the outstanding wooden-carved floats and colourful costumes at Kyoto’s annual ‘Gion Festival’ as well as an evening of watching Sumo wrestling live in Nagoya’s stadium. Whichever tour you chose, you can be sure of excitement and once in a lifetime experiences! Tour Highlights:

Niigata & Sado Island

Tokyo

The Northern Trail begins and ends in Tokyo where you will be given a brief over view of the cities highlights plus some free time for self-exploration at the end.

Nikko & Kinugawa Onsen

Nikko, once a training centre for Buddhist monks, is now home to the mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the warrior who established the shogunate that ruled Japan for more than 250 years before coming to an end in 1868, the time of the Meiji Restoration. Just a short distance from Nikko is the hot spring town of Kinugawa where you will spend one night soaking in the springs and sampling a kaiseki dinner at a luxurious ryokan.

Famous for having the purest water in Japan, Niigata’s rice and sake are among the most sought after across the nation. Here we will visit a local sake brewery and samurai house bringing you back to Japan’s feudal days. Just a few hours by ferry brings us to Sado Island – Japans sixth largest island. We will spend two nights here at a local minshiku where we can meet the locals and see how the islanders live. **August tour includes tickets to Earth Festival, a three day music festival featuring the world famous Kodo Drummers.

www.uniquejapantours.com

Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route

From Sado we will move back to the mainland into the deep mountain gorges between Toyama and Nagano known as the Kurobe Alpine Route, taking in the stunning scenery using the various transport modes for this trip. We will overnight in Tateyama in a mountain lodge. Along this adventure we will take in the worlds highest, most impressive Kurobe Dam which stands at 186m tall, as well as plenty of photo opportunities along the way.

telephone: +353 (0)1 678 7008


Sado Island 4

3 Niigata

▼ ▼

▼ Kinugawa Onsen (via Nikko) 2 Tateyama 5 (Kurobe Alpine Route) Tokyo Matsumoto 6 ▼

Kyoto 7

1 8

What’s included Met on arrival at Narita Airport by an English speaking representative. Airport transfers on arrival and departure dates. 13 nights stay in western hotels (9 nights), ryokan (1 night), minshiku (2 nights), mountain lodge (1 night). Breakfast daily & 4 dinners. All transfers between destinations using local trains, shinkansen, subways, private vehicles, cable car, and ferry. All activities and entrance fees as per itinerary including the Kurobe Alpine Route Pass & Sumo Tournament Tickets (Jul tour only) OR Earth Celebration Tickets (Aug tour only). English-speaking tour leader throughout with local guides in places. Taxes including service charges. Unique Japan Tours travel pack.

Kyoto

No tour to Japan is complete without a few days in the ancient capital Kyoto. We will spend three days/nights exploring the side streets, performing an authentic tea ceremony, glaring at Geisha in downtown Gion, visiting the magnificent temples, with one free day thrown in to do your own thing. Use this free day to visit Hiroshima, Himeiji and Miyajima using your Japan rail pass or spend the day relaxing in the bamboo forest in the Arashiyama area.

The Northern Trail Departure Dates:

2011: Jul 08*, Aug 15** 2012: See website or contact us directly *Gion Festival Kyoto & Sumo Tournament Nagoya **Earth Celebration (3 Day Music Festival)

Optional:

Mt Fuji Climb (additional charge)

37 fax: 01 6787773 email:sales@uniquejapantours.co.uk email: info@uniquejapantours.com


12 Nights/13 days

Japan Discovered

J

apan Discovered is an exciting journey through the glittering cities, the mountainous terrains, the paddy field plains, the spiritual temples, and the deep culture of this ancient nation. If you are a first timer or indeed a return visitor you will see parts of Japan that most would find difficult to do on their own. You will take part in various cultural activities such as, an authentic tea ceremony, soba noodle making and washi paper making, an evening of Geisha entertainment at a remote ryokan, relaxation in the infamous onsens (hot springs), and an overnight stay in a Buddhist Temple. Tour Highlights:

Osaka

Begin your journey in Japan’s second largest city, Osaka. You will have free time to explore the city on your own before meeting your group in the evening on day one. Your tour leader will take you downtown to Dotombori to a local Okonomiyaki (Japanese savory pancake) restaurant, an Osaka special that should not be missed!

Koyasan

places to visit in Kansai. When we reach the summit (1000m above sea level) we are welcomed by our local guide, Noriko, who will take us on a spiritual walk around this mysterious mountain before settling in to an evening of temple life at a local lodge, known as shokubo. Tonight you will be presented with shojin-ryori, the traditional cuisine of shokubo, consisting of vegetarian dishes (no meat, fish, onions or garlic).

Kyoto & Nara

Located just over 2 hours south of Osaka, deep in the mountainous Wakayama region, hides the spiritual centre of Shingon Esoteric Buddhism, Koyasan. Established 1200 years ago by the famous religious scholor Kobo Daishi, this sacred site is considered one of the most rewarding

Three nights are given to the culturally rich and not to miss city of Kyoto taking in the breathtaking temples, gardens, and shrines with a local guide as well as performing an authentic tea ceremony at a local machiya (tea house). Nara, Japan’s first capital, is home to eight world heritage sites, of which we will visit three. If you prefer to opt out

www.uniquejapantours.com

of our day trip to Hiroshima and Miyajima, you will have one free day to do this. You may have had enough of temples at this stage which is why we recommend Miyajima – a picture perfect island surrounded by wild deer, mountain walks, and quintessential Japanese architecture.

Kanazawa

Almost half way into the tour, your tour leader will take you on the train two hours north to Kanazawa, also known as Little Kyoto. Stroll along Higashi Chaya, the former geisha and samurai district, before entering one of Japan’s top three gardens – Kenrokuen.

telephone: +353 (0)1 678 7008


Kamiyamada onsen

Kanazawa 4

6 (via Matsumoto)

5 Takayama

(via Gokayama)

7 Tokyo

(optional Hakone day trip)

3 Kyoto

Osaka 1

(Hiroshima & Miyajima day trip)

(Nara day trip)

2

Koyasan (Mt. Koya)

What’s included Met on arrival at Kansai Airport by an English speaking representative. Airport transfers on arrival and departure dates. 12 nights stay in Western hotels (8 nights), Temple lodge (1 night), Ryokan (3 nights) Breakfast daily, 1 lunch, 4 dinners All transfers between destinations using local trains, Shinkansen, subways, private vehicles, cable car, and ferry. All activities and entrance fees as per itinerary. English-speaking tour leader throughout with local guides in places. Taxes including service charges. Unique Japan Tours travel pack.

Gokayama & Takayama

Between Kanazawa and Takayama lies the remote, less visited world heritage area known as Gokayama. Famous for their rustic farmhouses (gassho zukkuri) found in very few places in Japan, it is here you will learn how to make soba (buck wheat) noodles, washi paper, and enjoy a local farmer perform the traditional Toyama dance. Two nights will be spent in Takayama where you can enjoy free time strolling the old merchant streets, visit Takayama Jinya, and if you join our April tour, take part in their annual Spring Festival. Your tour leader will take you out to a local hida beef restaurant on one evening, very famous in this region.

Matsumoto & Kamiyamada Onsen

Drive through one of Japan’s most spectacular routes taking in views of colourful mountain passes and flushing dams and rivers, before arriving at the castle town of Matsumoto. We will spend a few hours at Matsumoto castle before continuing on to a small onsen village in Kamiyamada, a short distance from Nagano city. Your last night before heading to the capital will be a relaxing one where you will be entertained by Geisha, over dinner and drinks at a local ryokan.

Tokyo

Before heading back to Tokyo you will get up close and personal with the wild monkeys at Jikokudani hot spring. Arriving to Tokyo in the early evening, your tour leader will show you the night-sights. One full day exploring with a local guide added with an optional day trip to Mt Fuji/Hakone or more of Tokyo before your tour sadly comes to an end.

Japan Discovered Departure Dates: 2011 April 8, May 15, June 19, July 24, August 22, September 25, October 19, November 29

2012: See website or contact us directly

Some dates feature a local Matsuri (festival) Cherry Blossom & Takayama Matsuri (April) Tennjin Matsuri Osaka & Gion Matsuri in Kyoto (July) Giant Lantern Festival (August) Fire Festival Kyoto (October)

Note: We have timed certain departures to coincide with some Japanese festivals. See departure dates for more information.

fax: 01 6787773 email:sales@uniquejapantours.co.uk email: info@uniquejapantours.com

39


useful information We recommend to read this information before planning your trip to Japan. You can find plenty more useful information on our website: www.uniquejapantours.com 1. HOLIDAY SEASONS: New Year Dec 29th – Jan 4th Golden Week Apr 29th – May 5th Obon Festival Aug 9th – Aug 17th If your tour falls on any of these dates, prices may incur a supplement. During these busy seasons, itineraries may alter slightly to avoid crowds in busy areas. You will be informed of this before making payment. 2. OFFICIAL NATIONAL HOLIDAYS: 1. New Years Day January 1st 2. Coming of Age Day January 12th 3. National Foundation Day February 11th 4. Vernal Equinox Day March 20th 5. Showa Day April 29th 6. Constitution Day May 3rd 7. Green Day May 4th 8. Children’s Day May 5th 9. Green Day Substitute Day May 6th 10. Marine Day July 20th 11. Respected-for-the-Aged Day September 21st 12. Declared Official Holiday September 22nd 13. Autumnal Equinox Day September 23rd 14. Health Sports Day October 12th 15. Culture Day November 3rd 16. Labor Thanksgiving Day November 23rd 17. Emperors Birthday December 23rd If your tour falls on any of the days above, prices may incur a slight supplement. 3. FESTIVALS & EVENTS Japanese people love festivals!! Home to hundreds of seasonal festivals all year round from the Snow Festival in Hokkaido in February to the Cherry Blossom Festivals that spread throughout Japan from late March, being a part of any of these festivals wil make your trip to Japan even more special. Eat local foods, meet local people and dance local dances!! Other attractive annual events include: Sumo Tournaments (Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka, Fukuoka) Formula 1 & Moto GP (Nagoya & Mito) Anime & Manga Tokyo Fashion Week Tokyo Motor Show

printed material. Prices are available and up to date on our website. Alternatively you should ask your local travel agent, who will contact us on your behalf. Which ever price you are quoted at time of booking, i.e. first deposit paid, will be the final price of your tour. Prices will be clearly explained before you agree to any tour with us. WHEN TO BOOK: Our Small Group Tours have a maximum number of 16 per group so to avoid disappointment we recommend you book your place as early as possible (recommended 3 – 6 months before tour date). Self-Guided Tours should also be booked at an early stage to ensure we can confirm the best hotels for you. Note: Hotels in popular destinations tend to fill up quickly, particularly during busy and/or festival seasons. How to book: To book any of our tours contact us directly by email, phone, or in person (appointment preferred). As soon as you have chosen your desired tour, a booking deposit is required for each travel member. We will send you a booking form and a copy of the terms and conditions for travel that each tour member must read carefully and sign. If you are making a group booking, one Lead Passenger can sign for all members participating in this group. Your booking and itinerary are confirmed as soon as you receive the ‘Letter of Confirmation’ from us by email or post stating that hotels, tours, and all other services are reserved on our side. Payments can be made by cash, cheque (from Irish bank), all major credit cards (excl. Amex) or bank transfers. If you are making a payment from outside of Japan or Ireland, credit card or international bank transfer are the best options. Consult with one of our staff if you are unsure.

For full lists of what to expect in 2011/2012, visit our website: www.uniquejapantours.com.

Payment Deadlines: Payment for all tours is required 2 months prior to your starting date. In the event a booking is made less than 2 months prior to the departure date, full payment must be made within 7 days of receipt of your Letter of Confirmation. After payment has been made in full, a cancellation policy is put in place. We will highlight this on the terms and conditions before you pay your deposit so you are fully aware of the consequences for canceling.

4. PRICES, BOOKING AND PAYMENT Tour Prices: Due to the unpredictable and fluctuating exchange rates, prices are not included on this

Late Bookings: If you decide to book a tour less than 4 weeks prior to your departure date we cannot guarantee availability or prices stated on our website or

any other printed material. However, in most situations we will be able to confirm your holiday at the price advertised. In this case, full payment will be required as soon as we confirm your place. We will endeavor to accept your booking within 3 – 5 working days. Travel Documents: Upon booking, you will be sent a Letter of Confirmation to confirm your tour inclusions, dates, and acceptance. Your Final Itinerary and Unique Japan Tours Travel Pack will be sent to your postal address (or you are welcome to come into our office to pick up and discuss) 2 to 3 weeks before your travel date. If you require this sooner, please notify us or your booking agent in advance. We require at least one weeks notice to produce all Travel Packs. Some tickets such as Hakone Free Pass or Theatre Tickets may be handed to you or left at your arrival hotel on Day 1 in Japan. In this case, we will inform you in writing of what you should expect to receive. 5. OUR PACKAGES No matter which tour you choose, all inclusions will be highlighted to you before making any payment. Tours listed in this brochure have clearly marked inclusions. For tours not listed in this brochure, you will be sent the full details in writing before making payment. Our tours include: Airport transfers on first and last day Airport meet & greet assistance Hotels as listed in your Letter of Confirmation Transfers as written in itinerary Meals highlighted in itinerary Local guides and/or tours as written in itinerary Unique Japan Tours Essential Travel Pack Our tours do not include: International Flights Transport not included in itinerary (e.g. taxi’s, subways, local buses) Entrance fees not stated in itinerary Meals not clearly stated Drinks of any description Hotel charges (telephone, mini bar etc.) Small Group Tours Single Supplements We aim to provide each single traveler with their own single room on our small group tours at no extra charge. Some ryokans and traditional lodges do not offer single rooms so for this reason, you will be asked to share the room with another single traveler of the same gender. If you are not willing to share a room, there will be a slight supplement added to the tour price to cover these charges.


6. NAMED ACCOMMODATION OR SERVICE In the event that one or more of the hotels are not available at the time of booking, we will offer you an alternative hotel of similar quality. As we do not take payment before hotels are confirmed, you will be informed of any alterations (all subject to your approval) prior to full payment. The same goes for guides, day tours, or any other service we propose. 7. FLIGHTS You are welcome to book your own flight or if you like, we would be happy to send you some quotations. As soon as your flight is confirmed, you must inform your booking agent of both arrival and departure times, airports, flight numbers, and airline. 8. MINIMUM NUMBERS All of our Small Group Tours engage a minimum number of 6. In the unlikely event that this minimum number is not achieved, we may be forced to cancel the tour. In the event of cancellation, you will be given at least 6 weeks notice in writing and offered the following options: 1. Join a different tour 2. Choose a self guided or semi-escorted tour based on a similar itinerary of the tour you have already chosen 3. Agree to pay a supplement that will allow us run the tour with the number of passengers booked, e.g. 4 passengers may pay a supplement to operate the same tour – subject to all passengers approval 4. Receive a full refund If we manage to operate the tour with less than 6 people, slight changes in transport may be made to accommodate this change. You will be notified of any changes before the tour departure date. 9. TRAVEL INSURANCE It is a condition of travel that each tour member obtains their own up to date travel insurance to cover medical or accidental costs. 10. CREDIT CARD / CASH Only Citibank (24 hours / found in major cities only), some 7/11 Convenience Store ATM’s, Post Office ATM’s (normal business hours only) and more recently Shinsei Bank ATM’s will accept foreign credit cards for cash withdrawals . You will need your PIN number. It is advisable to bring as much cash you need as possible - credit cards and Japan are not as advanced as you might think! We recommend to budget between 5,000 – 15,000JPY per day per person (when accommodation and rail pass has been included). If you are taking part in a small group escorted tour, this figure may be less as your activities and places of interest will keep you busy hence less time to spend money. Please consult our travel experts for advice based on your own itinerary. Each itinerary will have different spending money estimations so we recommend you to consult with us if you are in doubt.

11. LUGGAGE Porter service is not included in any of our tours so be prepared to carry your own suitcase. There will be times where we recommend you send your large bags to the next destination using the reliable and reasonable internal courier service, used by most Japanese themselves called Takkyubin. We recommend you only bring ONE light suitcase weighing no more than 15 KG (preferred 12kg). A case with wheels is recommended. Japanese airports are very strict about weight and usually charge ¥3,000 per extra kilo for excess baggage. If you get caught at the airport with a hefty fine on your way out of the country, use the Post Office Service to send by SAL (surface airmail). This takes from 1 week up to 6 weeks to be delivered to Europe. Coin Lockers are found in most train stations. This is a safe and very convenient option if you arrive to your next destination before check in time. Alternatively, most hotels will store your luggage if you arrive or depart before the allowed times. Large lockers are also available for bigger suitcases – but they tend to be in the bigger stations only. Lockers cost between ¥200– ¥400 per day. 12. CLOTHES Check the climate and temperature before you leave and bring clothes to suit the season. Japanese weather is usually predictable so it should not be a problem planning your wardrobe. Japanese people dress very casually day and night – except in the metropolitan cities of Tokyo, Osaka or Nagoya where you won’t know what to expect. Women dress quite modestly but elegantly. Men are well dressed but if work is not involved, a suit is not worn. Unless you are travelling for a special occasion or on business, there is no need for men to bring a suit. Business travelers should bring smart, clean, neat suits with all the trimmings - if you want to impress. 13. TRAVEL ADAPTOR If you plan to carry electronic devices it is advisable to carry a travel adaptor with you. Voltage in Japan is 120W. Make sure your device has a built in transformer or you may burn it out. 14. MOBILE PHONES A common mistake many travellers make is assuming your mobile phone will work in Japan. It is recommended you contact your phone company before going. Note that roaming charges can be extortionate. If you cannot be without, you can rent for a reasonable fee. Download an online booking form here: www.gomobile.co.jp/order_form_in.eph. Enter our AGENT CODE: UniqueJapanTours to receive a discounted price. 15. TIME It is advisable not to go to MacDonald’s 10 minutes before your train leaves - they won’t wait. A common surprise to most travelers in Japan is the punctuality of services, especially the trains. If your train is due to leave at 11.11, you should aim to be at the station for 10.50. This gives you time to find your platform and location to wait to board your train. The bullet train will arrive at 11.11 and leave 10 seconds later so there is really no time for wasting or rushing.

16. LANGUAGE Surprisingly, you will find little or no English once you leave the main cities (Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto). For this reason it is advisable to either carry a pocket phrase book, go on an escorted tour, or consult with us before you leave for Japan. Advance planning will make your trip to Japan a lot more worthwhile and comfortable. 17. JAPAN RAIL PASS Most of our tours include a Japan Rail Pass. It is up to you, the passenger, to ensure that this is not lost. If you loose this, your train journeys must be paid for on the spot. 18. VISA’S Airport Security & Documentation Passengers carrying an EU passport are exempt from obtaining a visa to enter Japan. You are not permitted to carry out work as this is only a tourist visa. Visa’s can be validated for up to 6 months or less. For more information on Visa’s in Japan visit: www.mofa.go.jp/j_info/visit/visa/02. In November 2007, security checks on entering an International Airport in Japan requires passengers to give their finger print and photo, kept on file and processed at the immigration area. You are not required to bring a photo with you. You will receive an immigration card to fill out (usually handed out on the aircraft before landing). This must be filled out and handed in to Immigration on arrival. 19. TIPPING Tipping is not a custom in Japan. You should not leave any spare change in restaurants, taxi’s, or hotels. In the event of doing so, the staff members are likely to chase after you thinking you forgot your money!! Although tipping tour guides is optional, it is not expected. As inbound tourism has grown in Japan over the years, so too have foreign customs including tips to guides. Instead of tipping guides, we recommend to bring a small gift from your country to show your appreciation to him/her. Japanese people love food so something local, e.g. chocolates or sweets, are always welcomed. 20. WHAT NEXT? If you are still unsure about going to Japan and have more questions, please contact us directly. We are available to answer any doubts or queries either in person or over the phone from Monday to Friday (9.00am to 6pm) and on Saturdays from 11am to 3pm (+1GMT). We welcome meeting people in person (where possible) however, if this is not possible, all travel plans can be easily dealt with over the phone and by email. And remember, if you have no ideas, we have lots, and are ready to share with you. Contact us now to find out more.


Unique Japan Tours, 7 Herbert Street. Dublin 2, Ireland Tel: +353 (0)1 6787008 Fax: +353 (0)1 6787773 Email: info@uniquejapantours.com www.uniquejapantours.com

Unique Japan Tours Online Brochure  

Small Group Tours Japan & Self Guided Tours Japan 2011/2012

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you