Japan Discovery 2021

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Japan Discovery 2021

Discover ancient and modern worlds

Highlights of ancient & modern Japan

This specialised tour takes in the best of Japanese culture, ancient and modern: gardens, landscapes, small villages and modern cities. We visit major centres like Tokyo, Kyoto and Hiroshima and smaller towns like Takayama. Indulge all your senses with this first class tour.

Tour at a Glance

Confirmed Price

$10,870 per person, share twin
$2,880 single supplement

Tour Dates:

12  – 27 May, 2021

Tour Leader:

Helen Tait

Escorted from New Zealand


$750 per person


– All airfares & taxes (Flying Air New Zealand)
– 14 breakfasts, 3 lunches and 5 dinners
– Accommodation in 3-star & 4-star hotels
– All transportation and transfers by train and coach.
– Group tipping
– Services of English-speaking guides
– Assistance of your Tour Leader, Mandy Page


– Land Only price on application
– Extending your stay – before or after Tour Dates


– Group Size: 20 travellers (max)


Tour Itinerary

May 2021


This morning we depart Auckland aboard our Air New Zealand flight to Tokyo. We’ll arrive late this afternoon and transfer to our hotel.

Thu 13TOKYO (B,L)

We start our sightseeing tour of Tokyo joining the locals to travel by subway to enjoy a panoramic view of Japan’s capital from Tokyo Skytree’s observation deck. The next stop is a short walk to Asakusa Kannon Temple, the oldest and most popular Buddhist temple in Tokyo, where we will have an introduction to Shinto custom and beliefs, and can wander through an extensive market. After a traditional Japanese lunch we cruise on the Sumida River and then stroll in Hamarikyu Garden. For those with energy left at the end of the afternoon, we will also spend time in Shibuya.

Fri 14TOKYO (B)

Today is at leisure. There is so much to do in Tokyo you will find plenty to capture your attention. You may like to join Mandy when she goes to Meiji-jingu (Tokyo’s grandest Shinto shrine), and the nearby strolling garden (Meiji-jingu Gyoen).


This morning we make a short trip on the Yamanote Line from Shibuya to Shinagawa. From here we take a Bullet train to Nagoya, and then change to an Express train to Takayama. On arrival at Takayama station we walk to our hotel and check in. This evening dinner is at our hotel.


Today we walk through the local market, where friendly stall-holders will offer tempting tastes of local specialities. Our walk then takes us to a hill behind the town to a beautiful row of temples and shrines, where we can linger to take photographs or just soak up the beautiful scenery; before heading on to the Exhibition Hall where some of the spectacular floats for the city’s famous twice yearly festival are housed, then by way of a street of preserved heritage buildings which house interesting restaurants, sake houses and shops. Dinner is at our hotel this evening.


Today we travel by private coach with an English speaking guide to Kanazawa. On the way we visit Ogimachi Village and go to the Japanese Paper Village of Gokayama, where we can make our own paper. After exploring Ainokura Village we have lunch and then travel on to our hotel in Kanazawa.


This morning our sightseeing starts with a visit to the Samurai residential area and the Higashi tea house district. We then go to a Gold leaf workshop where we get to decorate chopsticks. At the centre of Kanazawa lies Kenroku-en, one of the three most famous gardens in Japan. During our visit here we have lunch and then have a Tea Ceremony at Kanazawa Castle Park. We also visit the Kutaniyaki Pottery Kiln and do some porcelain painting.


This morning we take the train to Kyoto. On arrival at Kyoto Station we go by local train to Arashiyama. Here we walk through the Bamboo Grove: its like being in another world. Then we take the train back to Kyoto Station and walk to our nearby hotel.

Thu 20KYOTO (B)

A walk today takes us past a number of Kyoto’s highlight sights. We will catch a local bus to our starting point at Kiyomizu Temple, with its dramatic hillside setting; then stroll down past shops on the Ninenzaka and Sannenzaka Slope, on our way to Nanzenji Park, and on to the Heian Shrine, and its beautiful garden, before we head for the Philosophers Walk” to the Silver Pavilion.

Fri 21KYOTO (B,D)

This morning we enjoy Calligraphy and Origami lessons from charming and talented teachers. In the afternoon we visit the Imperial Palace, and the magnificent Golden Pavilion, and this evening go out to a restaurant for dinner. Here our group is privately entertained by Geisha dancing and an instrumentalist.


This morning we travel by train to Okayama, where we visit another of Japan’s famous gardens. Koraku-en is a beautiful landscape garden located just outside Okayama Castle, which can be seen from the garden as “borrowed scenery”. The local feudal lord ordered the construction of Koraku-en in 1687 as a place of entertainment for the ruling family and a location for receiving important guests. It is a spacious garden that incorporates the typical features of a Japanese landscape garden, including a large pond, streams, walking paths and a hill that serves as a lookout point, but also has the unusual feature of spacious lawns. Also found in the garden are groves of plum, cherry and maple trees, tea and rice fields, an archery range and a crane aviary. We then travel on by train to Hiroshima.


This morning we walk through the Hiroshima Peace Park, a 120ha. open space with trees, lawns, and walking paths in stark contrast to the surrounding city area. We will visit the park’s main facility, the Peace Memorial Museum, which surveys the history of Hiroshima and the development of the nuclear weapon. Its main focus though is on the events of August 6, 1945. We will also visit the A Bomb Dome and other UNESCO World Heritage memorials on the site. This afternoon is at leisure and this evening we head into town on one of the city’s vintage trams, to try a local speciality meal of Okonomiyaki (Japanese pancakes).


We join Japanese visitors travelling by local train and ferry for a visit to picturesque Miyajima Island. There we will start by visiting the Itsukushima shrine, built in the 12th century, and its torii gate, unique for being built over water, seemingly floating in the sea during high tide. The shrine complex consists of multiple buildings, including a prayer hall, a main hall and a Noh theatre stage, which are connected by boardwalks and supported by pillars above the sea. From the shrine we will head up to the start of the cableway to go up Mt Misen, the island’s highest peak, for an expansive view over the Inland Sea.


We take a Bullet Train to Osaka, where we change trains and take another Bullet Train to Tokyo. We look out for Mt Fuji on the left side of the train. This evening we have a sumptuous Japanese meal on a cruise to take in the lights and sights of the Sumida River and Tokyo Bay.


This morning is at leisure to revisit a favourite place or to see something new. This afternoon we transfer to Narita Airport and early this evening depart for Auckland on our Air New Zealand jet.

Thu 27... HOME

We arrive home with wonderful memories of amazing sights and experiences.

Your Tour Leader

Helen Tait

Helen’s passion for travel started when she was selected as a teenager to be a New Zealand delegate to a UNESCO international youth congress. She worked in Japan in her early 20s, then on to Europe, and has travelled ever since as widely and often as possible, for both work and pleasure. Her trips have taken her to more than 60 countries – through Europe, Scandinavia, Russia, Asia, North and South America, Africa and the Pacific.

She was excellent. Went beyond the call of duty in paying attention for every individual.

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