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Tour of the world heritage sites of "Shirakawa-go" and Kyoto

6 nights, 7 days (1 week)

Tour of the world heritage sites of "Shirakawa-go" and Kyoto

This is a luxurious itinerary in which you can fully enjoy the world heritage sites of Shirakawa-go and the streets of Kyoto beginning with the exciting metropolis of Tokyo.

1st day (stay the night in Tokyo)
In the morning: Tour of Tsukiji Jou-gai Shijo
5-minute walk from Tsukiji Station on the Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line or from Tsukiji Shijou Station on the Toei Oedo Line
Tsukiji Market represents the typical wholesale market of Japan, running 24 hours a day. The general consumer is not allowed to shop there, but you are welcome to visit. On the other hand, there are 300 shops in the Jou-gai or Off-market, where anyone can not only buy but also dine on sashimi, sushi or tempura made with fresh ingredients on the spot. Most of the shops are open from early morning till around noon. Note that shops are closed on Sundays and national holidays.

Go to Ryogoku Station from Tsukiji Shijo Station on the Toei Oedo Line (12 minutes). The Oedo Line is a new subway in Tokyo that opened in 2000.

Tour of "Edo-Tokyo Museum" in Ryogoku
In this very spacious museum, you can explore the history and folklore of Tokyo from the Edo period till the present day.

Ryogoku Kokugikan, the venue for the famous Grand Sumo Tournament, is located here.

Of the 6 tournaments held each year, the January, May and September tournaments take place at the Kokugikan venue. A visit to the "Sumo Museum" on the 1st floor is highly recommended.

There are many sumo practice stables around Kokugikan, so there is a chance that you might see sumo wrestlers out and about. There are also many restaurants where you can try the sumo wrestler's staple meal called "chanko", which is a one-pot stew made with broth, meat, fish and vegetables. Sumo wrestlers consume many helpings of chanko in order to put on weight and build up strength.

Go to Asakusabashi Station from JR Ryogoku Station and change to the Toei Asakusa Line for Asakusa (10 minutes).

Walking tour of the Sensoji Temple
It is believed that the Sensoji Temple was built in 628, making it the oldest temple in Tokyo. After passing through the Kaminarimon Gate, you will see many shops selling souvenirs. If you haven't had your lunch yet, how about trying tempura or sukiyaki at one of the long-established restaurants nearby?

Go to Akihabara Station from the Tsukuba Express Asakusa Station (5 minutes).

Shopping for electrical products or animation goods in the Akihabara electronics quarter
Go to JR Tokyo Station, Marunouchi exit from JR Akihabara Station (3 minutes).

Round-trip tour of the Imperial Palace by double-decker bus
Enjoy a round-trip tour of the Imperial Palace, Ginza and Marunouchi on the double-decker open-top bus "Sky Bus Tokyo", which departs at 18:00 (45-minute trip). If you have extra time, why not enjoy the night view on the "Rainbow Bridge/Odaiba Trip" (2-hour round trip). Tour commentary is available in English, Korean and Chinese.

Night in Roppongi
Tokyo is known as a city that never sleeps, and there are many discos and bars for foreign visitors, particularly in Roppongi. On the 53rd floor of the huge "Roppongi Hills Mori Tower" is the Mori Art Museum, open till 10:00 p.m. except for Tuesday and on the 52nd floor is the observation deck, Tokyo City View open till 1:00 a.m. There is also a movie theater that stays open till late at night on weekends in Roppongi Hills, so you can relax and enjoy a movie after dinner.

2nd day (stay the night in Takayama)
"Hida Folk Village" and "Festa Forest"
Go to Nagoya from JR Tokyo Station on the Tokaido Shinkansen. You can see Mt. Fuji on the way. Change to the special "Wide View Hida" express with large windows on the JR Takayama Honsen. Peaceful scenery rolls by outside the train window and the mountains grow closer and closer. Your destination is Takayama Station. (Approx. 4 hours)
Go to "Hida Folk Village" on the circular bus route inside the city. There you will see the precious collection of traditional dwellings preserved in the gassho-style.

Take the bus to "Festa Forest", the first underground dome in Japan. You can enjoy beautifully decorated floats called "yatai" and the largest drum in the world. There is also a display of highly intricate clockwork dolls.

After visiting these places, check in at a hotel. (Stay the night in Takayama)

3rd day (stay the night in Kanazawa)
Asaichi or 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; however, this is the only one that still looks today as it did back in those days (10-minute walk from Takayama Station).

Go to Shirakawa-go by bus (about 50minutes).

Arrival at Shirakawa-go
Here, 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.

You can even stay at a folk house in Shirakawa-go, if you like.

If you don't want to stay overnight, go to Kanazawa Station by bus (1 hour 30 minutes), and check in at a hotel in Kanazawa City, also known as the Kyoto of the north.

4th day (stay the night in Kanazawa)
In the morning: "Kenrokuen Garden" and "21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa"

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. If you have time to spare, 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)
About 20 minutes walk from the park are the ruins of the residences of middle- and low-class samurais. They are about 5 minutes walk from the Korinbo bus stop, if you take a bus from Kanazawa Station.
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. 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.

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.

*Photo (C) 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa.
*Photo (C) City of Kanazawa

5th day (stay the night in Kyoto)
Buy some souvenirs at Higashi Chaya-machi or Owari-cho town and head to Kanazawa Station.

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.

Go to JR Kanazawa Station by bus (10 minutes). Go to Kyoto by JR special express Thunder Bird (2 hours 10 minutes).

In the afternoon: Arrival at JR Kyoto Station. Check in at a hotel.
Learn about the history and culture of Kyoto at the "Museum of Kyoto" (2-minute walk from the Sakaimachi Horiike 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. The last admission is 19:00.

At night, experience the classic performing arts at Gion Corner (In the period from March 1 to November 30, a show is held twice a day everyday. However, please note that the show is held only once a day on an irregular basis in the period from December to February) in the Yasaka-kaikan Hall (from the Gion bus stop on the city bus route). 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.

Stay the night in Kyoto

*Photo (C) City of Kanazawa
*Photo (C) The Museum of Kyoto

6th day
Sightseeing in Kyoto city (walking tour based around Higashiyama)

In the morning: Start from Hankyu Kawaramachi Station, cross the Kamogawa River, and pass Gion and the antique shops on Shin-monzen dori to arrive at the Chionin-Temple. About. 30-minute walk.
Enjoy areas of green verdure such as the Maruyama Park and head to the nearby Yasaka-jinja Shrine. This shrine becomes a hub of activity during the Gion Festival.

Kodai-ji Temple
The Kodai-ji Temple, a 5-minute walk from the Yasaka-jinja Shrine, 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.
You can also enjoy a jinrikisha or rickshaw ride around this temple.

Kiyomizu-dera Temple
After walking for about 5 minutes, you can see the 46-m-high "Yasaka-no-to" pagoda. Make your way to the "Kiyomizu-dera Temple" world heritage site while enjoying the scenery on the slopes. 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.

In the afternoon: Take the No. 100 city bus from the Gojozaka bus stop and get off at the Ginkakuji-mae bus stop (approx. 25 minutes). It's an 8-minute walk to the "Ginkaku-ji Temple" world heritage site from the bus stop.

Ginkaku-ji Temple
This is a serenely beautiful Zen Buddhist temple, and the garden with its pond and many carefully tended trees and rocks is a must-see.

Take a leisurely walk along "Tetsugaku-no-michi" next to the canal, which is particularly beautiful during the cherry blossom and autumn seasons. On this street stand the quiet "Honen-in Temple" and the "Ootoyo-jinja Shrine" where mice are considered to be messengers of God. Feel free to take as many detours as time allows.

Arrive at the Nanzen-ji Temple within a little over an hour.
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 in about 5 minutes. 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".

You are very close to the Higashiyama subway station on the Tozai Line. It is about 10 minutes to the starting point of the tour, Shijokawara-machi town, by city bus.

There are many first-class department stores in Kawara-machi town. 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.

Stay the night in Kyoto

7th day

Go to Tokyo Station from JR Kyoto Station on the Tokaido Shinkansen (approx. 3 hours).