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Traveling back in time for six days to see the history of Japan

5nights,6days Departure from Tokyo

There are places in Japan where Japan's natural beauty is still retained. There are nature-rich villages where farmers lived, vibrant towns where people spent their daily lives, castles where you can feel the presence of the samurais who were there long ago, and shrines and temples that people of faith attended. Spend six days discovering traces of old Japanese history and culture.

  • 5nights,6days

Hida Takayama

[Traveling]

Tokyo -- <JR Tokaido Shinkansen> -- Nagoya Station -- <JR Takayama Main Line Limited Express 145 mins.> -- Takayama -- 10 mins. by bus -- [Hida Folk Village] -- <10 mins. by bus> -- [Festa Forest] -- [Chanoyu-no-mori] -- <10 mins. by bus> -- Takayama

Hida Folk Village

Takayama is a city that looks out over the mountains of the Japan Alps and still has old town streets. Visit the "Hida Folk Village" on the circular bus route inside the city and see the precious folk dwellings carefully preserved in the gassho-style.

Festa Forest

Take the bus again to get to "Festa Forest", the first underground dome in Japan where you can enjoy beautifully decorated "yatai" floats and the largest drum in the world. There is also a display of highly intricate clockwork dolls. In the adjacent "Chanoyu-no-mori", national treasure-class ceramics are on exhibit. You can drink tea from a cup made by a master craftsman.

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1st Day

Shirakawa-go

[Traveling]

Takayama -- <10 mins. by walk> -- [Jinya-mae Morning Market] -- <10 mins. by walk> -- Takayama Station -- <50 mins. by bus> -- [Shirakawa-go]

Hida Takayama

This town commands a view of the mountains of Hida, known as the "Japan Alps", and is called "little Kyoto in Hida" since it has many temples and shrines, as well as wooden houses, craft shops, and sake breweries. Let's first travel by rickshaw around the area where traditional wooden buildings are concentrated.

Jinya Asaichi Morning Market

At this market, fresh vegetables, fruit, flowers and craft articles are sold by local people. After shopping, let's take a stroll through the old town streets.
"Takayama Jinya", a restored local agency from the Edo period, is something that you must see. Around 60 similar facilities existed throughout Japan in the Edo period (1603-1867); however, this is the only one that still looks today as it did back in those days.

Shirakawa-go

You will see a village of gassho-style houses such as the "Wada House", a 300-year-old traditional folk dwelling. The panorama of 113 such houses viewed from the observation deck of Hagimachi Town is splendid. Let's experience Japanese life as it was so long ago in the Minkaen or Gassho-style hamlet. The village of Gassho-style houses with sloped roofs in Shirakawa-go is a registered World Heritage site.

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2nd Day

Kanazawa

[Traveling]

Shirakawa-go -- <90 mins. by bus> -- Kanazawa -- <15 mins. by bus> -- Kenrokuen Shita -- [Kenrokuen Garden] -- 7 mins. by walk -- [21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa] -- <10 mins. by walk> -- [Kanazawa Castle] -- -<15 mins. by walk> -- [Nagamachi Bukeyashiki-ato] -- <3 mins. by walk> -- [f] -- <20 mins. by walk> -- Kanazawa

Kenrokuen Garden

After checking out, you can take a walk in the Kenrokuen Garden, one of the three most beautiful gardens in Japan. The landscaping of these expansive Japanese-style gardens started at the beginning of the 17th century. Kenrokuen Garden presents the beauty of the four distinctive seasons including the cherry blossoms of spring and the red maple leaves of autumn. The Yukitsuri method of supporting the branches with rope to keep them from breaking due to the heavy snow is a winter tradition.

21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa

We also recommend a visit to the nearby "21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa", which attracts artists from all over the world. The building itself is worth seeing for its architectural merit.

Kanazawa Castle

The Kanazawa Castle, located next to the Kenrokuen Garden, is a reconstruction of the original that was built in the latter half of the 16th century. It is one of the largest and greatest wooden castles built since the 19th century. A park surrounds the castle, offering wonderful scenery in the cherry blossom season as well as in the snows of winter. The castle is sometimes lit up at night depending on the season, so it would be worth an evening visit, too.

Nagamachi Bukeyashiki-ato (ruins of old samurai residences)

As you walk among the clay walls, artificial ditches and gates, you half-expect samurai to suddenly appear. Some residences are open to the public.

Nagamachi Yuzen Kan

You could also pop into the Nagamachi Yuzen Kan where there are demonstrations on a type of dyeing called Kaga Yuzen and exhibitions of ceramics and antiques. Kaga Yuzen is
a dyeing method that was developed in Kanazawa in the late seventeenth century. It is characterized by its realistic painterly images.

Kaga cuisine

Let's try the unique local Japanese food called "Kaga cuisine". Kanazawa faces the Japan Sea and offers tasty seafood such as shrimp and crab. The sushi called "oshizushi", which is different from the sushi found in Tokyo, and colorful confectionaries are also characteristic of the area.

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3rd Day

Kyoto

[Traveling]

Kanazawa -- <10 mins. by bus> -- [Higashi Chaya-machi] -- <10 mins. by bus> -- Kanazawa -- <JR Limited Express Thunderbird 135 mins.> -- Kyoto -- <30 mins. by bus> -- [Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art] -- <13 mins. by bus> -- [Kyoto Gion Yasaka Hall]

Higashi Chaya-machi

Check out. Buy some souvenirs at "Higashi Chaya-machi", a shopping district since the Edo period, or at the shopping area in Owari-cho town, and then go to JR Kanazawa Station. Confectionaries or stunning craft products covered with gold leaf are specialties here.

Museum of Kyoto

Learn about the history and culture of Kyoto at the "Museum of Kyoto" (2-minute walk from the Sakaimachi Oike bus stop on the city bus route). The annex is a building of the former Kyoto branch of the Bank of Japan, which is an important national cultural property.

Kyoto Gion Yasaka Hall

At night, experience the classic performing arts at Gion Corner in the Kyoto Gion Yasaka Hall. Performances of 7 art forms including tea ceremony, flower arrangement, koto, gagaku (ancient court music), bunraku puppet plays, kyogen (traditional short comedic drama) and mai (traditional dance) are given in a condensed form.

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4rh Day

Kyoto

[Traveling]

Hankyu Kawaramachi -- <30 mins. by walk->-Maruyama Park -- [Yasaka-jinja Shrine] -- <5 mins. by walk> -- [Kodai-ji Temple] -- <5 mins. by walk> -- [Kiyomizu-dera Temple] -- Gojozaka -- <25 mins. by bus> -- Ginkakuji-mae -- <8 mins. by walk> -- [Ginkaku-ji Temple] -- <by walk> -- [Tetsugaku-no-michi (Philosopher's Walk)] -- [Otoyo-jinja Shrine] -- [Nanzen-ji Temple] -- <5 mins. by walk> -- [Heian-jingu Shrine] -- <10 mins. by bus> -- Kawara Machi -- [Shijo Kawara Machi] -- <8 mins. by walk> -- [Nishiki Koji Street]

Yasaka-jinja Shrine

Enjoy areas of green verdure such as the Maruyama Park and head to the nearby Yasaka-jinja Shrine. Yasaka-jinja Shrine is a very old shrine that is said to have been built in 656, and is affectionately referred to as "Gion-san" by the local people. This shrine becomes a hub of activity during the Gion Festival.

Kodai-ji Temple

The Kodai-ji Temple has a tea ceremony room designed by the famous tea master Sen-no Rikyu and a wonderful garden resplendent with flowers. It is lit up in spring and autumn, so it is well worth an evening visit, too.

Kiyomizu-dera Temple

The temple precinct covers about 130,000 square meters and the view from the hondo (main hall) standing on the cliffs is breath-taking.
There are many souvenir shops and restaurants around the temple, so it's a good idea to plan on having lunch there.

Ginkaku-ji Temple

A temple built as a villa by the fifteenth-century Shogun of the Muromachi Shogunate Yoshimasa Ashikaga. It is known for its simple beauty that reflects Lord Yoshimasa's sense of aesthetics. The moss garden is also a wonderful sight.

Tetsugaku-no-michi

Take a leisurely walk along "Tetsugaku-no-michi" next to the canal, which is particularly beautiful during the cherry blossom and autumn seasons.

Ootoyo-jinjya Shrine

On this street stand the quiet "Honen-in Temple" and the "Ootoyo-jinja Shrine" where mice are considered to be messengers of God.

Nanzen-ji Temple

This is a Zen Buddhist temple where you can see the beautiful "fusuma-e" paintings on sliding-door panels painted by artists of the Kano school. The extensive gardens are particularly splendid during the season of red leaves.

Heian-jingu Shrine

You can get to the Heian-jingu Shrine with its impressive red shrine pavilion. Cherry blossoms can be seen everywhere you go on the spacious grounds, where three hundred cherry trees of twenty different species are planted. Among them, the Yaebenishidare blossoms are particularly beautiful. The area around the shrine has been made into a park, which is home to the "Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art" and the "National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto".

Shijokawara-machi

The most popular entertainment district in Kyoto. There are many first-class department stores in Kawara-machi town.

Nishiki-koji Street

A walk down Nishiki-koji Street, known as the kitchen of Kyoto, 400m shopping street where there are many shops specializing in foodstuff, or Shinkyogoku Street where many souvenir shops stand side by side, is also recommended.

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5rh Day
[Traveling]

Kyoto -- <JR Tokaido Shinkansen (140 mins.)> -- Tokyo

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6th Day