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Colours of Northern Japan

1 country
1 UNESCO World Heritage-listed site
Special departure: Experience the magic of Cherry Blossom (Mar / Apr) or witness stunning Autumn Colours (Oct / Nov)
Spring Cherry Blossom & Autumn Colours
Experience the magic of Japan's Cherry Blossom (Mar / Apr departures) or witness stunning Autumn Colours as they sweep the country (Oct / Nov departures).Hurry, book now! Seats are limited!
A beautiful journey through Northern Honshu and Hokkaido, taking in the incredible natural colours of the forests, gardens and hidden temples. Ride the bullet train, soak in a natural onsen and stroll through the beautifully preserved streets of historic villages.Changing SceneryFrom the bustling city and bright lights of Tokyo venture north into Japan's breathtaking Tohoku region by bullet train. Experience the unique local cuisine at a traditional dinner and discover incredible Matsushima Bay, ranked as one of Japan's most scenic views for centuries, dotted with hundreds of tiny pine-clad islets. Traditions & FolkloreDelve into a treasure trove of culture and folklore in the garden city of Tono and take part in the local 'Wanko Soba' tradition over dinner. Learn about the rich history of wealthy samurai in Kakunodate. Discover the fascinating legend of Namahage and its yearly festival in the city of Oga and wander the grounds of the beautiful Hirosaki Castle.The North IslandVenture further north by bullet train to the northernmost island of Hokkaido. Explore the cities of Hakodate and Sapporo. Discover the history of Japanese beer-making at the famous Sapporo brewery and the Hokkaido Shrine.

Inclusions

Travel

  • Return economy-class flights from Australia to Japan. Taxes included
  • Airport transfers on the first and last day of tour (if using group tour flights only)
  • 3 rail journeys in Japan
  • All touring in air-conditioned vehicles
  • Tipping is not part of the Japanese culture, so tips are not expected

Accommodation & Meals

  • 13 nights in good quality hotels (3-4 star)
  • 2 nights in a traditional Ryokan guesthouse including a typical Japanese onsen (hot springs) bath followed by a traditional Japanese dinner
  • 15 breakfasts, 3 lunches and 7 dinners, including group welcome and farewell dinners

Tour Guides

  • English-speaking locally based national guide throughout

Sightseeing

Modern and traditional Tokyo

  • Explore the grounds of the Imperial Palace, situated on the former site of Edo Castle.
  • Tour the Meiji Jingu Shrine, dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his consort, Empress Shoken.
  • Stop at the famous Shibuya Crossing, the busiest intersection in Japan and the meeting point of 5 roads in the most populous city in the world.
  • Admire the bright lights of Tokyo from a yakatabune dinner cruise around Tokyo Bay.

Stunning nature of Tohoku

  • Explore the largest city of the Tohoku region, Sendai, including the Sendai City Museum and Aobajo Honmaru Kaikan.
  • Try the local delicacy of gyutan (beef tongue) at a special dinner in Sendai.
  • Visit the Matsushima City Earthquake Memorial Museum and explore the Tsunami-devastated area caused by the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake & Tsunami.
  • Walk through Entsu-in, a famous Buddhist temple built in 1646 in mourning of the son of the ruling local feudal lord, Date Terumune, who met an untimely death at the age of 19.
  • Cruise on stunning Matsushima Bay, considered to be one of Japan's three most scenic views for centuries. The bay is dotted by some 260 tiny pine-covered islets.
  • Travel to Morioka and visit Chusonji Temple, established in 850 as a temple of the Tendai sect of Buddhism. Then admire neighbouring Konjikido Hall, which dates back to 1124 and is completely covered in gold.
  • Enjoy a scenic boat trip along the Geibi Gorge, surrounded by impressive waterfalls, rock formations and limestone caves. These unique boatmen sing local folk songs as they guide you through the gorge. Scenic all year round, it is particularly spectacular during Autumn.
  • Explore the garden city of Tono, including the Tono Municipal Museum and the Furusato Village where you will learn about the performing arts, folk beliefs, farm life and culture of Tono's people.
  • Tour the Morioka Castle Ruins Park with its beautiful stone walls, a hidden gem of the Tohoku region.
  • Enjoy a Wanko Soba meal, consisting of soba noodles in small bowls, unique to the Morioka Region.
  • Visit the Kakunodate Aoyagi Samurai Manor Museum and learn how the middle and wealthy-class samurai families once lived.
  • Discover the legend and tradition of the Namahage culture, visiting the Nanahage Museum, Shinzan Folklore Museum and the Shinzan Shrine.
  • Spend 2 nights in a traditional Japanese Ryokan in Oga with hot spring bath and sauna. Enjoy a traditional Japanese dinner on both nights.
  • Travel to Lake Towada, a dual crater lake formed by the caving in of a volcano mouth and volcano eruption. The scenery during Autumn here is breathtaking.
  • Stop at Oirase Gorge in the Aomori Prefecture, considered by many to be one of the most beautiful river valleys in Japan. The crystal-clear river runs mostly parallel to the road through a beautiful deciduous forest.
  • Walk through the Hirosaki Castle Gardens, considered one of the best spots in Japan to witness Cherry Blossom and Autumn Colours. Hirosaki Castle was built in 1611 by the Tsugaru Clan with a 3 story tower, fortified moats, castle gates and some corner turrets.
  • Experience the unique Nebuta Wa Rasse Museum dedicated to the Nebuta Matsuri festival held annually.
  • Take in the magnificent panoramic views of Goryokaku Tower and the surrounding area. Also considered one of the premier spots in Japan for viewing Cherry Blossom and Autumn Colours.

Highlights of the north

  • Ascend Mount Hakodate via the Hakodate Ropeway, the most heavily used aerial cable car in Japan. Witness the amazing views of Hakodate and its harbour.
  • Spend a full day exploring Hakodate including Hakodate Jomon Culture Centre, Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse.
  • Learn about the history of beer making in Japan including some unique tastings on a visit to the famous Sapporo Beer Museum.
  • Visiting Hokkaido is not complete without a stop at the Hokkaido Shrine, built in 1869. This important shrine was dedicated to Shinto deities offering spiritual uplifting to the pioneers of the area.
  • Visit the Otaru Canal, a central part of the city's busy port in the first half of the 20th century. Stop at the Kitaichi Glass Sangokan, a historical stone-on-wood frame building dating back to 1891.
Tour Provider Bunnik Tours
Number of Days
18
Price From
AUD $10,795
Start Location
Japan
End Location
Japan
Age Range
Avg. 50+
Group Size
9 to 20
Tour Style
Comfort
Tour Themes
Festival, Rail, Slow paced, Small Marine/Cruise
Physical Rating
Moderate
Incudes Flights
Yes
Tour departure dates
StartEndAvailabilityPrice
23 Apr 201910 May 2019AvailableAUD $10,590
30 Apr 201917 May 2019Guaranteed DepartureAUD $10,590
07 May 201924 May 2019AvailableAUD $10,590
08 Oct 201925 Oct 2019AvailableAUD $10,590
15 Oct 201901 Nov 2019AvailableAUD $10,590
22 Oct 201908 Nov 2019AvailableAUD $10,590
05 Nov 201922 Nov 2019AvailableAUD $10,590
ItineraryExpand
Itinerary from April 2019

Abbreviation: [B,L,D] Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 1. Depart Australia

Day 2. Arrive in Tokyo

Welcome to Tokyo, Japan's dazzling, ultra-modern capital city.

Day 3. Tokyo

We begin the day at the grounds of the Imperial Palace, residence of Japan's Imperial Family, and situated on the former site of Edo Castle. We'll also visit the Meiji Shrine, an oasis in the heart of the bustling Shibuya district, dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji. This afternoon we'll experience the neon lights and hustle and bustle of Shibuya before admiring the city lights on a dinner cruise around Tokyo Bay in a typical Japanese-style houseboat from the Heian Era, known as a yakatabune. [B,D]

Day 4. Tokyo - Sendai

This morning we transfer to the station to board the bullet train to Sendai. Here we'll visit the Sendai City Museum, which houses a reproduction model and digital display so you can imagine it as it stood in its heyday. [B,D]

Special Experience: Experience the local cuisine at a special dinner where we'll try the delicacy of gyutan (beef tongue).

Day 5. Matsushima Excursion

We spend the day discovering Matsushima and its iconic bay, ranked one of Japan's most scenic views for centuries. Hit by the earthquake and tsunami of 2011, we'll visit the City Earthquake Memorial Museum and the area devastated by the tsunami. We'll also visit the Entsu-in Temple. After some free time for lunch, we'll enjoy a cruise on the stunning bay, dotted with some 260 pine islets. [B]

Day 6. Sendai - Morioka

Today we explore the Iwate Prefecture at the easternmost point of the island of Honshu. We'll visit the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Buddhist temple of Chuson-ji, founded in 850 according to the Tendai sect, and Konjikido Hall. [B]

Special Experience: Admire the impressive waterfalls, rock formations and limestone caves on a scenic cruise along the Geibikei Gorge. Enjoy local folk songs sung by the boatmen as they guide us through the spectacular gorge.

Day 7. Morioka

This morning we'll discover the garden city of Tono, known as a treasure trove of Japanese folklore, thanks to its legends of spirits, animals and supernatural creatures. Our sightseeing includes the Municipal Museum and Tono Furusato Mura, a recreation of a traditional farming village. This afternoon we'll explore the Morioka Castle Ruins Park. [B,D]

Special Experience: Take part in the local Wanko Soba tradition for dinner tonight. These soba noodles originated in Morioka and Hanamaki; by tradition you quickly eat small servings from small bowls, which are repeatedly refilled.

Day 8. Morioka - Oga

We depart for Tezukurimura this morning and tour the Japanese Cultural Arts and Crafts mall, where we'll take part in an indigo-dyeing experience. [B,L,D]

Special Experience: Explore the Kakunodate Aoyagi Samurai Manor open-air museum and discover the rich history and way of life of samurai and their wealthy families.

Day 9. Oga

Learn about the fascinating legend of Namahage and the tradition of its yearly festival this morning at the Museum. We'll then tour the Shinzan Folklore Museum and Shrine. The afternoon is free for you to enjoy the natural onsen (hot springs) and facilities of our ryokan accommodation. [B,L,D]

Day 10. Oga - Hirosaki

Sit back and enjoy the scenic drive this morning to Hirosaki. After stopping for lunch, we'll discover majestic Lake Towada, the largest crater lake on the island of Honshu. The water here is so clear that you can peer down more than 10 metres into it. We'll also visit Oirase Gorge, one of the most beautiful river areas in Japan. [B,L]

Day 11. Hirosaki - Aomori

Special Experience: Wander through the stunning Hirosaki Castle Gardens, one of the best places in Japan to witness the breathtaking cherry blossoms and autumn colours.

This afternoon we'll continue to Aomori via the Nebuta Museum Wa Rasse which offers a glimpse into the spectacular Nebuta Festival held each year in August. [B,D]

Day 12. Aomori - Hakodate

We board the bullet train for Hakodate on Japan's northernmost island of Hokkaido. We'll see the famous star-shaped fort known as Goryokaku and visit the tower observatory for panoramic views. This afternoon we'll take the Hakodateyama Ropeway to the top of Mt Hakodate and enjoy the views of the city and surrounds. [B]

Day 13. Hakodate

Today we discover the city of Hakodate, starting with the Jomon Culture Centre, which provides insight into the distinctive Japanese culture that has lasted for more than 10,000 years. We'll also visit the Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse, the first commercial warehouse in this important port city. Enjoy some time at leisure before we tour the historic Motomachi District. [B]

Day 14. Hakodate - Sapporo

This morning we take the train north to Sapporo, famous for its ramen and beer. Enjoy an afternoon at leisure to explore. [B]

Day 15. Sapporo

We spend the morning in the port city of Otaru on Ishikari Bay, and explore its beautifully preserved canal area. Otaru is also famous for its glass and we'll visit the original Kitaichi Glass Sangokan in a converted fishery warehouse. As well as a place to shop for souvenirs, it is also famous for a grand hall lit with one-of-a-kind oil lamps. [B]

Day 16. Sapporo

Today we'll visit Hokkaido Shrine, which enshrines three pioneering gods.

Special Experience: Discover the history of beer making in Japan and the famous Sapporo brewery at the Sapporo Beer Museum, and enjoy a tasting of 'Fukkoku Sapporo Bakushu' - a unique beer brewed according to traditional methods dating from 1881.

This evening we'll enjoy a group farewell dinner. [B,D]

Day 17. Depart Sapporo

Today we begin our journey home. [B]

Day 18. Arrive Australia

Level of fitness: This tour features 2+ hours of walking, often across uneven ground and in areas of high altitude or heat and humidity on 1 or more days.

Itinerary until March 2019

Abbreviation: [B,L,D] Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 1. Depart Australia

Day 2. Arrive in Tokyo

Welcome to Tokyo, Japan's dazzling capital city. Our first visit is to Miraikan, the fascinating National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation.

Day 3. Tokyo

We begin the day at the grounds of the Imperial Palace, residence of Japan's Imperial Family, and situated on the former site of Edo Castle. We'll also visit the Meiji Shrine, an oasis in the heart of the bustling Shibuya district, dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji. This afternoon we'll experience the neon lights and hustle and bustle of Shibuya. Tonight admire the city lights on a dinner cruise around Tokyo Bay in a typical Japanese-style houseboat from the Heian Era, known as a yakatabune. [B,D]

Day 4. Tokyo - Sendai

This morning we transfer to the station to board the bullet train to Sendai. Here we'll visit the Sendai City Museum and the remains of Sendai Castle, built on the natural fortress of Mount Aoba. The museum houses a reproduction model and digital display so you can imagine it as it stood in its heyday. [B,D]

Special Experience: Experience the local cuisine at a special dinner where we'll try the delicacy of gyutan (beef tongue).

Day 5. Matsushima Excursion

We spend the day discovering Matsushima and its iconic bay, ranked one of Japan's most scenic views for centuries. Hit by the earthquake and tsunami of 2011, we'll visit the City Earthquake Memorial Museum and the area devastated by the tsunami. We'll also visit the Entsu-in Temple. After some free time for lunch, we'll enjoy a cruise on the stunning bay, dotted with some 260 pine islets. [B]

Day 6. Sendai - Morioka

Today we explore the Iwate Prefecture at the easternmost point of the island of Honshu. We'll visit the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Buddhist temple of Chuson-ji, founded in 850 according to the Tendai sect, and Konjikido Hall. [B]

Special Experience: Admire the impressive waterfalls, rock formations and limestone caves on a scenic cruise along the Geibikei Gorge. Enjoy local folk songs sung by the boatmen as they guide us through the spectacular gorge.

Day 7. Morioka

This morning we'll discover the garden city of Tono, known as a treasure trove of Japanese folklore, thanks to its legends of spirits, animals and supernatural creatures. Our sightseeing includes the Municipal Museum and Tono Furusato Mura, a recreation of a traditional farming village. This afternoon we'll explore the Morioka Castle Ruins Park. [B,D]

Special Experience: Take part in the local Wanko Soba tradition at a typical dinner tonight. These soba noodles originated in Morioka and Hanamaki; by tradition you quickly eat small servings from small bowls, which are repeatedly refilled.

Day 8. Morioka - Oga

We depart for Tezukurimura this morning and tour the Japanese Cultural Arts and Crafts mall, where we'll take part in an indigo-dyeing experience. We'll also visit the Morioka History and Culture Museum. [B,L,D]

Special Experience: Explore the Kakunodate Aoyagi Samurai Manor open-air museum and discover the rich history and way of life of samurai and their wealthy families.

Day 9. Oga

Learn about the fascinating legend of Namahage and the tradition of its yearly festival this morning at the Museum. We'll then tour the Shinzan Folklore Museum and Shrine. The afternoon is free for you to enjoy the natural onsen (hot springs) and facilities of our ryokan accommodation. [B,L,D]

Day 10. Oga - Hirosaki

Sit back and enjoy the scenic drive this morning to Hirosaki. After stopping for lunch, we'll discover majestic Lake Towada, the largest crater lake on the island of Honshu. The water here is so clear that you can peer down more than 10 metres into it. We'll also visit Oirase Gorge, one of the most beautiful river areas in Japan. [B,L]

Day 11. Hirosaki - Aomori

Special Experience: Wander through the stunning Hirosaki Castle Gardens, one of the best places in Japan to witness the breathtaking cherry blossoms and autumn colours.

This afternoon we'll continue to Aomori via the Nebuta Museum Wa Rasse which offers a glimpse into the spectacular Nebuta Festival held each year in August. [B,D]

Day 12. Aomori - Hakodate

We board the bullet train for Hakodate on Japan's northernmost island of Hokkaido. We'll see the famous star-shaped fort known as Goryokaku and visit the tower observatory for panoramic views. This afternoon we'll take the Hakodateyama Ropeway to the top of Mt Hakodate and enjoy the views of the city and surrounds. [B]

Day 13. Hakodate

Today we discover the city of Hakodate, starting with the Jomon Culture Centre which provides insight into the distinctive Japanese culture that has lasted for more than 10,000 years. We'll also visit the Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse, the first commercial warehouse in this important port city. Enjoy some time at leisure before we tour the historic Motomachi District. [B]

Day 14. Hakodate - Sapporo

This morning we take the train north to Sapporo, famous for its ramen and beer.

We'll then visit Hokkaido Shrine, which enshrines three pioneering gods. The afternoon is free for you to enjoy at leisure before tonight's group farewell dinner at a local restaurant.

We'll also have some time to explore the Tanukikoji Shopping Street. [B]

Day 15. Sapporo

We spend the morning in the port city of Otaru on Ishikari Bay, and explore its beautifully preserved canal area. Otaru is also famous for its glass and we'll visit the original Kitaichi Glass Sangokan in a converted fishery warehouse. As well as a place to shop for souvenirs, it is also famous for a grand hall lit with one-of-a-kind oil lamps. [B]

Day 16. Sapporo

Enjoy views overlooking the Ishikari Plains from Sapporo's famous Hitsujigaoka Observation Hill this morning. [B,D]

Special Experience: Discover the history of beer making in Japan and the famous Sapporo brewery at the Sapporo Beer Museum, and enjoy a tasting of 'Fukkoku Sapporo Bakushu' - a unique beer brewed according to traditional methods dating from 1881.

Day 17. Depart Sapporo

Today we begin our journey home. [B]

Day 18. Arrive Australia