Home > Suggested Itineraries > Golden Route > Round-trip tour of the world heritage sites of Kyoto, Nara and Shirakawa-go

Round-trip tour of the world heritage sites of Kyoto, Nara and Shirakawa-go

4 nights, 5 days

Round-trip tour of the world heritage sites of Kyoto, Nara and Shirakawa-go

Be sure to enjoy the mountain and rural scenery en route to your destination. This is a particularly appropriate trip for experiencing Japanese culture and the beauty of nature.

1st day
Sightseeing in Osaka City
Get off at JR Osaka-jo koen Station.
Osaka-jo Castle
See the Tenshukaku (castle keep) of Osaka-jo Castle. The inside of the castle has been made into a museum and there is even a corner where you can try on the costume of a warlord. A panoramic view of Osaka City can be seen from the observation deck on the 8th floor. (Approx. 1 hour)

Walk in the park, home to many historic spots.

Osaka Castle harbor
Take a 60-minute cruise on the "Aqua Liner" waterbus from the Osaka Castle harbor.
As the boat goes under the low bridges the boat roof is lowered.
Osaka is a "water city" where people and culture have interacted and developed by virtue of its waterfront since long ago. The "Aqua Liner" is also a symbol of Osaka that aims to revive the water city. In the scenery observed from the Okawa River running through the center of the city, modern buildings and trees make a beautiful harmony, so it is also recommended that you try a trip on an event boat with which you can enjoy cherry blossoms in spring and illuminations in the Christmas season.
Lunch cruise (11:30) and afternoon cruise (15:30) offering first-class hotel menus. You will need to make a reservation.

Return to the Osaka Castle harbor.

Go to Tsuruhashi Station from JR Osaka-jo koen Station, and change to the subway, taking the Sennichi-mae Line to Nipponbashi Station (15 minutes).

"Nipponbashi Electric Town"and "Sennichi-mae Doguya-suji"
How about picking up some electrical goods at "Nipponbashi Electric Town" or plastic display food and unusual kitchen utensils at one of the shops on "Sennichi-mae Doguya-suji" street?

Go to Cosmo Square in the bay area by subway on the Yotsuhashi Line or Chuo Line from Nanba Station (25 minutes).

"ATC Asia and Pacific Trade Center" and the "Wine Museum"
This area is filled with interesting spots including the "ATC Asia and Pacific Trade Center" and the "Wine Museum". When the sun goes down, enjoy the night view from the 55th floor of the "WTC Cosmo Tower".

2nd day
Sightseeing in Nara
Go to Tsuruhashi Station from JR Osaka Station, change to the Kintetsu Nara Line to go to Kintetsu Nara Station (approx. 1 hour).
Kofuku-ji Temple
Walk about 5 minutes and see the Kofuku-ji Temple world heritage site where the scenery of Nara and Japan is beautifully represented. The five-story pagoda reflected in the pond is truly striking.
In the Kokuhokan, there are many must-see precious Buddhist statues and sculptures including the Asura statue with 3 faces and 6 arms created about 1,300 years ago. (1-hour tour)

Nara Park
Take a walk in Nara Park for 20 minutes or so. The deer here are very well cared for as they are believed to be messengers of God.

Kasuga-taisha Shrine
Visit the Kasuga-taisha Shrine world heritage site for a great sense of ancient Japan. Its main hall, Honden, is very colorful and there are 300 varieties of plants in the garden - you can enjoy the beauty of each season whatever time of year you visit. (1-hour tour)

Todai-ji Temple
After walking for another 15 minutes you arrive at the Todai-ji Temple world heritage site, which is considered the pinnacle of Buddhist culture. It houses the Great Buddha that surprises everyone with its sheer size and other outstanding Buddha statues, so you will not be able to take everything in no matter how much time you have. In front of the temple gates are some souvenir shops with a very lively atmosphere. (1.5 hour tour)

Nara National Museum
Walk for 10 minutes to the"Nara National Museum" where many Buddhist art masterpieces are exhibited. The best collection of museum goods is found here. You can also take a short break at the museum's restaurant. (1-hour tour)

Gangou-ji temple
Walk for about 20 minutes in the park to the Gangou-ji (Gokuraku-bo) Temple world heritage site. The oldest temple in Japan was moved and reconstructed at this location.

Nearby is the "Naramachi Koshi-no-ie", which is a reproduction of a traditional townhouse.
Experience the atmosphere of life from long ago and then make your way back to the hotel.

Stay the night in Nara.

*Photo (C) Nara City Tourist Association
Photographer:Tatehiko Yano

3rd day
Sightseeing in Kyoto
Go to Kintetsu Kyoto Station from Kintetsu Nara Station (approx. 1 hour).
Nijo-jo Castle
Sightseeing in Kyoto City (Nijo-jo Castle, Old Imperial Palace, Kinkaku-ji Temple, Kiyomizu-dera Temple, Heian-jingu Shrine, Sanjusangen-do Temple, Gion) - Stay the night in Kyoto.

Take a city bus to Nijo-jo Castle, a world heritage site built in 1602 (tour lasts 1 hour). It is lit up at night, which gives a different impression of the grandeur of the castle.

Kinkaku-ji Temple
Go to another world heritage site, the Kinkaku-ji Temple, on a No. 12 city bus. Be sure not to miss the incredible gardens and beautiful shape of the temple reflected in the pond. Souvenirs are also available inside.

Yasaka-jinja Shrine
Take a bus going towards Sanjo-keihan and get off at the Shijo-keihan bus stop. Walk along the stone pavement towards the Yasaka-jinja Shrine. This shrine becomes a hub of activity during the Gion Festival held in summer.

Maruyama Park and Chion-in Temple
Walk through Maruyama Park and visit the Chion-in Temple. There is plenty to see in this temple including one of the largest temple gates in the world, as well as gardens and a bell.
Then, walk up the Ninen-zaka slope and the Sannen-zaka slope while enjoying the view of the Yasaka-no-to pagoda.

Kiyomizu-dera Temple
Tour the Kiyomizu-dera Temple world heritage site. The view from the main hall built on the cliffs is exquisite.

Shijokawara-machi town
Stroll to Shijokawara-machi town. Visit the Nishiki-koji market, which is known as the kitchen of Kyoto, or shop at the first-class department stores in this area.
At night, enjoy dinner at a traditional townhouse called "machiya" converted to a restaurant.

Stay the night in Kyoto.

Photographer:Kenzo Yokoyama
Diversion is forbidden.

4th day
Arrival at Shirakawa-go
Departure from Kyoto - Arrival at JR Kanazawa Station by JR special express Thunder Bird (2 hours 10 minutes).
Go to the world heritage site, Shirakawa-go by bus (1 hour 30 minutes).

Gassho-style house
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.

"Jin Homura Museum of Art" and "Doburoku-matsuri-no-yakata"
Take time to see the "Jin Homura Museum of Art", the painter known internationally for his distinctive works based on red, blue and yellow, Homura's studio housed in a folk dwelling, and the "Doburoku-matsuri-no-yakata" that reproduces the atmosphere of a traditional festival.

The beauty of these folk dwellings lit up at night is indescribable.
Some of the Gassho-style folk houses also offer accommodation.

*Photo (C) Shirakwa Village Office

5th day
Sightseeing in Hida Takayama and Nagoya
Go to Hida Takayama from Shirakawa-go by bus (50 minutes).
In the winter, the bus travels along a snowy mountain road through a valley.
"Hida Folk Village" and "Festa Forest"
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.

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.

Go to JR Nagoya Station from JR Takayama Station on the special Wide View Hida express (2 hours).

Nagoya and Sakae
A short distance from JR Nagoya Station is "Noritake-no-mori", where old Noritake ceramics are exhibited. You can observe the interesting manufacturing process, and also do some shopping or enjoy a bite to eat.

In Sakae, the central area, there are many first-class department stores, and the TV tower that is lit up at night and Odori Park are very romantic. Nearby is the "Ran-no-yakata" where bright orchid flowers are in bloom throughout the year. It is open till 20:00 every day except regular closing days.

Stay the night in Nagoya.

In case of returning to Osaka, it takes about 1 hour by JR Tokaido Shinkansen.