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Audley Travel specialist Jo

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Tour highlights

  • Hot spring bathing in rural inns.

  • Climbing the beautiful peaks of Dewa Sanzan.

  • Driving through spectacular mountainous scenery.

  • Watching a local summer festival.

  • Looking out over Matsushima Bay for sunrise.

Price includes

  • Scheduled international flights
  • Fully insured vehicle hire
  • All accommodation

Itinerary idea in detail

Includes international flights from Ireland.

  • Today you begin your journey by boarding your international outbound flight to Tokyo.

  • After passing through customs and luggage collection, you're met by an airport guide who will give you your trip documents and direct you to the shared shuttle service which takes you to your hotel. After checking in, spend the rest of the day at leisure, resting and relaxing after your flight. If you do feel like starting exploring, you may wish to walk around the Imperial Gardens.

  • Your guide will meet you today in the hotel lobby to run through your trip and offer any local advice to you so you can enjoy the country with confidence. In the first section the guide will explain your itinerary in more detail and answer any questions you might have. This can take up to two hours so afterwards head out with your guide to see some of the highlights of the city. Perhaps start with taking a cruise up from the Hamarikyu gardens up to the old district of Asakusa to see the beautiful Sensoji temple.

  • Leave Tokyo by high-speed bullet train this morning and head north to the intricate shrines and lakeside scenery of the old city of Nikko in the mountains just north of Tokyo.

  • Explore the temples, Lake Chuzenji or go walking in the hills around the town.

  • Continue by bullet train today to Sendai then local train to Matsushima, one of Japan's top three most scenic spots. Take a boat trip out to the bay this afternoon.

  • Take the train north to Hachinohe, where you pick up your hire car for the journey to Lake Towada. This is a very scenic drive, taking you through the Oirase Gorge.

  • Explore the lake area on foot or by hire car. There are lots of hot springs to enjoy if you feel like enjoying the scenery and relaxing.

  • Drive south to Nyuto Onsen, one of the best known hot springs in northern Japan. Spend the evening relaxing in one of the outdoor baths, some of which are mixed sex - this is rural Japan so modesty goes out of the window here!

  • After a leisurely morning continue your drive through the scenic backbone of Japan to Kakunodate, a town known for its samurai history. Some samurai houses have been restored to their feudal era glory and you even spend the night in a converted samurai residence.

  • Explore the town at your leisure today. You may like to drive out to Lake Tazawa too, which although a little touristy, has some lovely views and you can stroll along the sandy shore to take them in.

  • Leave Kakunodate early this morning for the relatively long but atmospheric drive to the secluded, holy mountain trio known collectively as Dewa Sanzan. You overnight in basic but charming temple lodgings.

  • This morning climb the stone steps to the summit of the smallest peak, Mt Haguro. Walk or take the bus back to Haguro for the evening.

  • Drive to the midway point of Mt Gassan and then climb to the top to visit the shrine and take in the views, an ascent of around two hours. Treat your aching limbs to a dip in the temple's communal bath this evening.

  • Drop off your car in Tsuruoka and then take local and bullet line trains to Tokyo.

  • Return to the airport by shuttle bus and fly back home. Your return flight will arrive the same day.

Accommodation options

While the itinerary price reflects the suggested accommodation, Audley trips are 100% tailor-made, and a specialist can help you select the option best suited to your tastes and budget.

When to go

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
July is one of the best times to visit
Place Daily max temperature (°C) Monthly rainfall (mm)
Tokyo
 
Nikko
 
Matsushima
 
Towadako & Hirosaki
 
Nyuto Onsen
 
Kakunodate
 
Dewa-sanzan
 
Audley Travel specialist Jo

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