Small group, countryside tours of Japan


Like A Mountain Priest

Japanese countryside tours

click here for map of trip     click here for map of Japan
datevisits of interestaccommodation
Day 1 Osaka Osaka / hotel
Day 2 Koyasan (Okunoin Cemetery, Temple complx) Temple lodge
Day 3 Nara Park, Kofukuji Temple,
Great Buddha, Gion Geisha quarters
Kyoto / Hotel
Day 4 Golden Pavillion, Kiyomizu Temple, Higashiyama District Kyoto / hotel
Day 5 Bamboo Grove & Rickshaw Kyoto / hotel
Day 6 Hikone Castle, Countryside Kita-ohmi / ryokan
Day 7 Kanazawa (Food Market, Samurai Houses) Kanazawa / Hotel
Day 8 Kanazawa (Kenrokuen Garden, Geisha Quarters) Kanazawa / hotel
Day 9 Snow Monkeys Onsen / ryokan
(deep in the mountains)
Day 10 Tokyo Tokyo / hotel
Day 11 Tour ends  

Note: The tour starts in Osaka (Kyoto) and ends in Tokyo and the proximate int'l airport to Osaka (Kyoto) is Kansai International Airport.

It is best if you can fly into Japan via Kansai airport and then depart via Narita (Tokyo) airport.
Using this route (or the reverse) will save you half a day of travel and potentially significant savings on train or air fair.


The tour starts in Namba (Osaka) and ends in Tokyo. The duration is 11 nights and 12 days. This is not a walking tour, so the tour itself is not strenuous. If you have moderate fitness, you will be able to enjoy the tour to the fullest. The tour is not rushed. You stay in Kyoto for three days and in Kanazawa for two days.
The draw of this tour is that we visit places almost no visitors from outside Japan have ever ventured into. On Day 2 the tour goes to Koyasan monastery where everything is dictated by Buddhism. But rest assured that the temple lodging is just as comfortable as that of a ryokan of good standings.

On Day 6 after Kyoto the tour explores a region called Kita-Ohmi in northern Shiga prefecture. This district, hugging along Biwa Lake, used be florishing on Buddhism, influenced largely by major sects of Buddhism in Kyoto. There used be a lot of cultural and commercial interactions between the two regions. So, there is a flavor of ancient Kyoto or Nara when the Buddhism was sponsored by the imperial court.
On Day 10 we explore the Hell Valley inhabited by the snow monkeys. The place is nestled deep in the mountains and we walk in the pristine forests. The ryokan is tucked into a small hamlet. You soak way the day's fatigue in the onsen baths.

Day by Day Tour Itinerary

Day 1

We meet at the hotel lobby to explore one of the downtown areas in Osaka called Dotonbori. It boasts the largest shopping mall in Japan and along the canal there are a plethora of restaurants of all kinds. We enjoy a leisurely stroll while taking a bite of takoyaki, a pancake stuffed with minced octopus.

Day 2

We take a train for Koyasan in the morning, keeping ourselves entertained by changing sceneries out of the window. When we get close to Koyasan, deep forests of cedar trees come into view. We visit Okunoin cemetery with over 200,000 grave stones (stupas) are laid out, most of which belong to warlords, imperial family members of the bygone days. In the evening we savor monastery dishes (vegetarian of course).

Day 3

Today we take an express train for Nara. The city was the capital of Japan in the 700s when the Japanese Buddhism was in full swings. There are a countless number of temples of historical significance. We visit Kofukuji Temple and Todaiji Temple with the image of great Buddha housed inside. Nara Park connects the two temples and there are 1,200 deer roaming freely in it and it is truly an exhilarating experience to feed them with rice crackers sold at the roadside stalls. We continue on to Kyoto and in the evening we explore Gion Geisha quarters.

Day 4

In the morning we visit Golden Pavilion
In the evening we explore Kiyomizu district nestled at the foot of Higashiyama mountains. It is one of the oldest temples in Kyoto dating back to the 700s. The temple looks out over the city of Kyoto down below and the view is just awe-inspiring. we walk down the temple approach lined with both sides with various shops selling such wares as pottery local to the area, kimonos, etc.

Day 5

All day left free for your own activities.

  • duration
    10 nights/11 days

  • price
    USD 4200 per person

  • group size
    maximum 6 clients
    mimimum 4 clients

  • what's included
    -baggage forwarding
    -all 10 breakfasts
    -3 dinners
    -all domestic transport
    -entrance fees

  • What's not Included
    -international flights
    -taxi for personal use
    -drinks (during meals)
    -airport transfer at the end of the tour

Day 6

Today we push on north to Hikone, a pleasant regional city that developed out of castle town. The edifice is designated as national treasure dating from early 1600s. We take a walk on the lovely garden laid out by the lord modeled on stroll type of gardening. We further head on north a little and come into a village nestleds in a bucolic environment. We explore this lovely community, the origin of which derived from a buddhist temple long ago.

Japanese countryside tours

Day 7

Today we transfer to Kanazawa, the capital of Ishikawa Prefecture. The city boasts a host of cultural properties including Kenrokuen Garden, the former site of Geisha quarters, samurai houses, etc. Since the city came out unscathed from the destruction of the war it still retains a distinct flavor of old Japan. We visit Ohmi-cho food market with a array of sea food displayed on the roadside stalls. We enjoy browsing around the neighborhood.

Day 8

Mornig tour of Kanazawa visiting Kenrokuen Garden and Higashi-chaya Geisha quarters.

Day 9

n the morning we take a bullt train for Nagano, a site for 1998 winter Olympics. We then change to an express train for the Snow Monkeys. Both the park and the today's ryokan are located in the thick forests and we enjoy walking on a mountain trail. In the evenig we have exquisite Japanese cuisine in a private room after taking a good soak in the onsen baths.


Day 10

Today we move to Tokyo, the last leg of the trip by a bullet train. The rest of the day is left free for your activities in Tokyo.

Day 11

The tour ends. Sayonara! Looking forward to seeing you soon!


Japanese countryside tours

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