Pretour

We organise a pre-tour with our own dedicaded Japanese (who speaks English of course) Guide. During these 8 days, you will see the highlights that Japan has to offer. You will be submerged in the Japanese culture and history but also the high-tech that Japan offers. 

See below for the whole program

Program

Saturday 24 october 2020: Brussels – Tokyo

Flight to Tokyo (over night). Meal on board of the flight.

 

Sunday 25 october 2020: Tokyo

Arrival at Narita airport Tokyo. After customs & passport control: greeting by our English-speaking Japanese private guide. Transfer by private bus to Hotel Keihan Tsukiji Ginza Grande 3*+. Check-in and the rest of the evening free for a possible first exploration of the neighborhood

 

Monday 26 october 2020: Tokyo

full day of exploring the Japanese capital. We visit the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office. On the top floor of this 243 m high twin tower is an observation deck from which you get a beautiful panorama of the impressive skyline of the gigantic metropolis. Then on to the Senso-ji, better known as the Asakusa Kannon Temple, one of Tokyo's most colorful and popular Buddhist temples, whose origins date back to 628.

IN the afternoon: visit to the Meiji Jingu shrine, a Shinto shrine that was founded in honor of the spirits of the Meiji emperors. It is located in a small dense forest in the middle of the city. The entrance is formed by a typical torii, which can be found everywhere in Japan in Shinto shrines.

Finally we visit the imperial palace from the outside. The palace is a closed complex within a vast park in the middle of the city, walled and surrounded by a wide moat. Before Tokyo became the capital, it served as the castle of the shoguns, the local rulers in the Edo era (1603-1868).

Back to the hotel and free evening. Stay at the Keihan Tsukiji Ginza Grande hotel.

 

Tuedsay 27 october 2020: Tokyo – Mount Fuji – Hakone

Early breakfast buffet at the hotel. Your large luggage will be sent directly to Kyoto by courier. Provide light hand luggage for 1 night in Hakone.

We take a private bus to the region around Mount Fuji and Hakone. The mountain area south of Tokyo is known for its volcanoes and its beautiful nature that together form the vast Fuji National Park. The best known volcano is Mt Fuji, which enjoys an almost divine status in Japan because of its regular conical shape and its snow cover that covers the top most of the year.

Our trip continues to the idyllic Ashi Lake in Hakone, formed after a volcano eruption thousands of years ago. Boat trip on the lake surrounded by mighty mountains and wooded hills.

After the noon: a breathtaking ride by cable car over the steaming Owakudani Valley where the hot sulfur steam rises from the cracked earth. A spectacular ride that shows that the volcanic activity is far from dead. (In case of volcanic activity the cable car is closed to the public)

Evening Check-in at the Hotel Izu Nagaoka 3 * +, a traditional ryokan set in a large Japanese garden. The ryokan has several "onsen", typical Japanese hot water baths, fed by natural springs, both inside and outside. Medicinal properties are attributed to the sulfurous water.

Subsequently Traditional kaiseki dinner in the ryokan. Kaiseki is considered the most complete Japanese dish consisting of many small dishes. A feast for the eyes ... and for the palate! Afterwards you can visit the onsen in your yukata (cotton kimono, available in your room) and briefly immerse yourself in the hot bath, your best guarantee for a good night's sleep. http://izu3800.jp/lang/engish/   

 

Wednesday 28 october 2020: Hakone–Odawara–Osaka–Kyoto

Today we are going to use the Japan Railpass for the first time, a super-fast and comfortable way to cover large distances in relatively short travel times.

After breakfast we are taken by private bus to Odawara where we take the legendary "shinkansen" flash train to Osaka (10:08-12:26). O-bento (Japanese lunch box) on board.

Exploring hiking visit in Osaka in the Umeda neighborhood of the metropolis, economic heart of Japan. Visit to the observation deck on the top floor of the iconic "Umeda Sky Building", a spectacular example of modern architecture. The deck on the 39th floor is called the "floating garden observatory". The panoramic view of the city, the harbor, the sea and the hills in the interior is simply breathtaking.

We travel further with the super fast express train to Kyoto (18:12-18:39). Upon arrival, walk to Hotel Elcient 3*+, located 2 minutes from the station. https://www.elcient.com/kyoto/en/

 

Thursday 29 october 2020: Kyoto

After the breakfast buffet at the hotel, a full day excursion with private bus is planned in Kyoto, Japan's cultural capital with a loaded ancient culture and history. Visit to the Imperial Palace (which can only be visited with the prior permission of the “Imperial Household”).

Then a visit to the Nijo castle from 1603 that consists of two defense belts, both surrounded by a canal. It includes the ruins of Honmaru Palace and Ninomaru Palace, with various outbuildings and gardens.

In the afternoon visit to the Kinkaku-ji temple, better known as the Golden Pavilion, which is mirrored in all its idyllic splendor in the pond of the sublime park, known for its centuries-old trees and its moss parties. An extremely rewarding subject for poets, painters and photographers. Then by bus to the Kiyomizu-dera or "temple of pure water", beautifully situated at the foot of a hill overlooking the city.

Optional: traditional colorful tea ceremony in the Kodaji temple (instead of visiting the Kiyomizo-dera temple)

Back to the hotel. Free evening. Stay at the Hotel Elcient.

 

Friday 30 october 2020: Kyoto – Nara – Fushimi – Kyoto

After breakfast, departure by local train to Nara, the former capital before Kyoto. Upon arrival in Nara, departure from the station on foot to Todaji Temple, the largest wooden building in the world, which in turn houses the largest bronze Buddha in Japan (16.2 m high and 500 tons heavy). The origins of the temple date back to the 8th century. The temple is recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

We continue walking to the Kasuga Taisha Shinto shrine, which is located in a vast park. Once through the torii, the silhouette of the main building appears through its striking red-white colors that are so typical of the Shinto religion. The most striking feature of this sanctuary are the hundreds of bronze and stone lanterns, which are set up or hung in the temple, the outbuildings and outside along the entrances and lanes in honor of the spirits of the deceased. (an old tradition derived from animism that forms the basis for later Shintoism.

In the afternoon, on the way back by train to Kyoto, we get off for a visit to the Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine. This impressive Shinto shrine is best known for its galleries, which are formed by the concatenation of thousands of scarlet torii (gates), donated by individuals, families or businesses. These galleries lead to a hill where the most sacred object is visible to everyone at the top (in this case this is a mirror).

Then further back to Kyoto. Stay at the Hotel Elcient.

 

Saturday 31 october 2020: Kyoto – Nagoya – Takayama

Breakfast at the hotel. Your large luggage goes directly to the hotel in Yokohama by courier. Provide hand luggage for 2 nights in Takayama and Kanazawa.

Walk to the station and depart by super express shinkansen to Nagoya (09:33-10:25). Continue by regular express train to Takayama (10:48-13:11). O-bento lunch box in the train.

Upon arrival in Takayama, a quiet traditional town in the Japanese Alps, walking visit to the city, starting with the Yatai Kaikan Hall which contains a collection of the sometimes house-high historical floats with beautiful decorations twice a years in procession in the city during a festival dedicated to them.

Furthermore visit to the Kusabe Mingei-kan, a traditional Japanese house in wood as they were built and decorated in the past.

Finally walk through the Sanmachi-suji district with its many traditional terraced houses, which housed trade and craft businesses, restaurants, guest houses, inns and geisha houses. The district is protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

You will then move into the Takayama Kanko ryokan, a traditional Japanese guesthouse with rooms with rice-paper sliding walls, tatami carpets and futon beds. The bathrooms are common. The Takayama Kanko ryokan has an onsen (traditional hot water bath) both inside and outside. www.takayama-kh.co.jp/english/index.htlm

 

Sunday 01 november 2020: Takayama – Shirakawago – Kanazawa

Departure by private bus to Shirakawago, a small mountain village nestled in the Japanese Alps and known for its typical farmhouse houses, the Gassho-zukuri houses, with their strange structure. The huge thatched roofs must protect against the abundant snow during the harsh winters. The houses offer shelter to the family and their animals, while the upper floor under the high roof is used as a hayloft and workshop.

Besides a gassho-zukuri farmhouse you also visit the ruins of the Ogimachi castle from which you have a unique panoramic view. The whole is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In the afternoon, continue to Kanazawa where you will visit one of the three most beautiful zen gardens in Japan, the Kenrokuen Garden, a castle park of some 11 hectares from the Edo era. Kenroku meets the six requirements of a classical Japanese garden: it is surrounded by mountains, there are hiking trails with a view, the garden is spacious, there are water features such as ponds and streams and there are elements of tradition such as stone lanterns . In the spring it is all blossom-rich here because of the cherry and plum trees. There are also centuries-old pine trees that symbolize a long life. On the shores of the lake is a tea house from 1774.

Finally a walk through the well-preserved samurai neighborhood with the stately Nagamachi samurai residences.

At the end of the day check-in at Hotel ANA Holiday Inn Kanazawa Sky 3 * +. www.holidayinn.com/HolidayInn/Kanazawa

 

Monday 02 november : Kanazawa – Yokohama

Free morning. Suggestion: a visit to the famous Omicho fresh market all over Japan in the immediate vicinity of the hotel, a busy and colorful network of covered streets with around 200 shops and stalls. Most stores specialize in the excellent local seafood that is sought after throughout Japan. Although the market is most exciting during the morning hours, it also gets pretty crowded around noon when tourists and locals come to have lunch in restaurants in the market ... for the fresh seafood

Lovers of modern art can visit the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, where you can admire works by Jan Fabre and Luc Tuymans.

In the afternoon departure with the shinkansen to Tokyo (13:46-16:20) and then the local train to Yokohama (16:47-17:14) ). Transfer to the hotel by metro.

Check-in at Yokohama Rose Hotel, Belgian Delegation Hotel for the Congress. http://en.rosehotelyokohama.com/