Join us for a twelve day ‘immersion’ in the very best of Japan AND two concerts in Tokyo with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Maestro Domingo Hindoyan and renowned pianist Nobuyuki Tsujii. Our visit starts with 6 nights in the magical city of Kyoto at the 4* deluxe Kyoto Brighton Hotel followed by 5 nights at the 5* Hilton in Tokyo. During our time in Kyoto we will make a day visit to Hiroshima and between Kyoto & Tokyo we will take the Hakone ‘circuit’ – a linked series of rack railway, funicular, cable cars and ferry boat to (hopefully) get a wonderful view of Mt Fuji and the southern lake district.
To travel to Japan in late spring is a very special time of year – we may be just a little late for the peak of the sakura (but that actually makes getting around a lot easier!) but we will still have the chance to see beautiful spring blossoms, mosses and foliage as we explore this magical place.
We start in Kyoto – the ancient former capital for more than 1,000 years, an astonishing city with a 21st century bustling metropolis at its heart while flanked by the two bluffs – each with its own 3,000ft peak - Arashiyama to the west and Higashiyama to the east. Both areas contain an astonishing array of temples, and beautiful gardens.
During our stay we will visit the Golden Pavilion of Kinkaku-Ji, the Silver Pavilion and serene garden of Ginkaku-Ji, the iconic zen garden of Ryōan-ji, the huge temple complex of Kiyomizu-dera as well as the astonishing 10,000 torii gates of the Fushimi Inari Shrine. In Arashiyama, we visit the temple and garden of Tenryu-Ji, walk the magnificent bamboo grove and visit the garden of the Ōkōchi Sansō Villa, once the home of a famed mid-century Japanese film star. We will also include a visit to the Imperial Palace Garden.
During our stay in Kyoto we will spend a day visiting Hiroshima (90 minutes each way by Bullet Train) visiting the Peace Memorial Museum
On May 11th we send our suitcases by the terrific ‘Black Cat’ baggage service from our Kyoto hotel to our Tokyo hotel while we board our Shinkansen for a two-hour ride to Odawara and the Hakone region on the south side of Mount Fuji. We will spend around 7 hours making the Hakone circuit before joining the famous ‘Romancecar’ Train directly to the western Tokyo Terminal of Shinjuku and our hotel for the next five nights.
Over the coming days we get to know Tokyo old and new with visits to the Meiji Shrine, Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, the observation deck of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, the world’s busiest zebra crossing at Shibuya, the iconic Cat Street of Harajuku, the musical instrument streets of Ochanomizu and the spectacular pagoda and street market of Sensō-ji before joining a trip by boat down the Sumida River to Hamarikyu Garden. We will also have time to visit the glitzy shopping 'temples' of Ginza and Omatosando Hills.
Our two concerts with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic at world renowned Suntory Hall feature two distinct programmes:
Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op.18
Shostakovich Symphony No. 5 in D Minor, op.47
Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor, Op.30
Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 5 in E Minor, op.64
We also hope to include a performance with the Kyoto Symphony Orchestra once their 2024 programme is announced.
Included meals: As well as a substantial buffet breakfast each morning, we include two lunches and 8 dinners. Our dinners will include 2 extensive buffet dinners in each of Tokyo & Kyoto and 4 Japanese speciality dinners (tempura, Okonomiyaki, sushi, sashimi, fusion etc) including a special dinner in Tokyo with some of the musicians from the orchestra.
Stamina and fitness: As you will see, in order to include as many aspects of this wonderful country as possible the programme is quite active with a few km of walking each day. Much of it is fairly flat but there are areas where, in order to fully enjoy the view, some gradual steps are required. Each of the major shrine complexes require some walking to reach them from where our vehicles can drop off. None of this is worse than, for example, our visits to Venice but it’s just to keep in mind that a reasonable level of fitness and mobility is required to fully participate in the tour.
Flights: demand for air travel to and from Japan is at an all-time high for 2024. At the moment, Business class deals from the UK are expensive (£4500 and up) whilst starting from Amsterdam, for example they are half the cost (around £2200 round trip) but it does mean you then need to get to and from the EU departure city.
We are including flights with the 5* award winning Etihad, from Manchester or Heathrow via Abu Dhabi with pre-reserved economy seating as shown below. Etihad also have an ‘Economy Space’ product which has 5” more legroom and is at the front of the economy cabin with a total supplement of £150 for the entire journey.
Departure from London Heathrow
If you prefer to make your own arrangements to arrive in Kyoto (either using airline points or one of the lower cost European departure options) then you can deduct £1350 per person from the tour cost. If you choose this option you will be responsible for getting yourself to the hotel on the afternoon of our arrival day (6th May). We will be happy to let you have details of transfer services from Kansai Airport to the hotel but these costs will be for your own account.
Sunday 5th May
Manchester – Abu Dhabi 09:05 – 19:05 7 hours
Heathrow - Abu Dhabi 09:30 – 19:35 7 hours 5mins
Abu Dhabi – Osaka Kansai 21:40 – 11:55 (6th) 9 hrs 15 mins
Friday 17th May
Tokyo Narita – Abu Dhabi 17:10 – 23:40 11hrs 10 mins
Saturday 18th May
Abu Dhabi – Heathrow 02:05 – 06:45 7 hrs 40 mins
Abu Dhabi – Manchester 02:35 – 07:20 7 hrs 45 mins
The tour is escorted from arrival at Kansai Airport to departure Narita by Ken Grundy along with specialist local guides in Kyoto and Tokyo.
Deposit £1,000 per person
Full Balance is due by 1st March, 2024