Japan is one of the ultimate bucket list destinations. Its culture is highly distinctive and at times baffling: you can buy live crabs from vending machines as well as green kit kats.
On this gay group trip you’ll discover the ultra-modern capital of Tokyo, take a bullet train to Kyoto and explore the temples of Mount Koya. Deeply traditionalist yet at the cutting edge of technology, Japan contains many fascinating contradictions.
You’ll be transferred to your hotel in central Tokyo. In the evening we’ll have cocktails and a welcome meal.
Our Tokyo tour begins at the Imperial Palace and then head to old town, Asakusa. We’ll also visit Tokyo’s oldest temple, Sensoji. At the Meiji Shrine it’s possible to commune with the deified spirit of the Meiji – he began Japan’s rapid industrial revolution.
We’ll visit the suburb of Yanaka and see a glimpse of old-world Japan. Yanaka wasn’t subjected to the fierce Allied bombings and it retains its nostalgic aura.
At the Shitamachi Museum, we’ll explore more of Japan’s history. Our guide will also show us around Ueno Park – a major temple once stood there in the Edo period. We’ll then move onto the Ueno’s Ameyoko-cho market street.
We’ll take the famous bullet train to Japan’s former capital, Kyoto. In the afternoon you can try your hand at Japan’s fine arts, Calligraphy, Flower Arrangement or Origami.
In the evening we’ll explore the nightlife in the Geisha District.
We’ll visit the Golden Pavilion, the former retirement home of the Shogun, now used as a Buddhist temple.
At Nijo Castle we’ll see the Kyoto residence of the founder of the Edo Shogunate. In the evening we’ll explore Nishiki Market, the food district.
In the Arashiyama district, we’ll explore an area that’s been popular since the Heian Period (794-1185). We’ll visit the former home of film star Okochi Denjiro and drink matcha green. We’ll also visit the Tenryuji temple, founded in 1339 – it’s the largest in Arashiyama.
In the afternoon we’ll visit the Fushimi Inari Shrine, a setting in Memoirs of a Geisha.
Today we’ll head to Wakayama Prefecture and visit the holy site of Koya-san. This is the heart of Shingon Buddhism, a form of the religion that was introduced to the area in 805 by Kobo Daishi.
We’ll spend the night at a temple lodging, shukubo. In the evening we’ll eat shojin ryori, a classic Buddhist meal.
In the morning we’ll hear monks chanting. After a classic shojin ryori breakfast, we’ll walk around Koya-san and then take a coach to Osaka, Japan’s third largest city.
Known as Japan’s kitchen, we’ll explore Dotonbori, the food district. If you’re feeling daring you could dine on poisonous puffer fish: fugu.