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Experience the beauty of Japanese nature and culture on four islands

Join us for a 26 day tour of Japan to view cherry blossoms on the Japanese islands of Kyushu, Shikoku, Honshu and Hokkaido.

Enjoy six nights in excellent hot spring resorts in beautiful ryokans in Kyushu, Aomori (Honshu) and Hokkaido. Even if you’ve been to Japan before, you’ll visit different locations and have a deeper cultural experience. Enjoy range of accommodations from modern city hotels, convenient business hotels and more traditional ryokan with wonderful onsen experiences. The tour is led by Japanese speaking expert Takako Ishige and Owen Johnstone-Donnet, who have designed and organised the tour.


Date : Friday 27 March – Tuesday 21 April 2015

* The tour in 2015 has finished.

   Join our 'Cherry Blossoms 2016 TOUR - JAPAN BY RAIL -


 Date: Sun 27 Mar - Wed 20 Apr 2016

Day 1

Australia to Japan

An overnight flight with Qantas to Tokyo’s Narita Airport.  You can also depart tomorrow for a daylight flight from Sydney to Tokyo’s Narita Airport with Japan Airlines.

Day 2

 Arrival in Japan or a daylight flight to Japan

A morning arrival in Tokyo and transfer to our accommodation opposite Tokyo’s Shinagawa Railway Station. (We have arranged for rooms to be available for early check-in to enable you to freshen up or relax before some free time for sightseeing.) Those arriving on the daylight flight from Sydney are met at Narita Airport and we transfer to Shinagawa. Overnight Tokyo.

Day 3

Kairakuen Garden and Odaiba (Tokyo Bay)

Visit one of the three ‘best’ gardens in Japan - Mito’s Kairakuen Garden at this time of the year boasts beautiful plum blossoms. Return to Tokyo in the afternoon, visit the vibrant area of Odaiba on Tokyo Harbour, then join the group for dinner. Overnight Tokyo. (B/D)

Day 4

Tokyo sightseeing

We’ll visit the best locations for cherry blossom viewing. Overnight Tokyo. (B)

Day 5

Tsukiji Fish Market (option) and to Kumamoto, Kyushu

For the early risers there is the option to visit the famous Tsukiji Market.  We then make the 1,300km journey from Tokyo to Kumamoto in just over six hours on the Tokaido Shinkansen. On arrival visit Kumamoto Castle - one of the most impressive castles in Japan. With about 1000 cherry trees planted around the castle, in the evening the cherry blossoms are illuminated. Overnight Kumamoto. (B)

Day 6

Aso Crater  - Tateno to Takamori by Minami-Aso Railway

Today we visit the scenic countryside around Aso crater, with an enjoyable ride on two special trains that climb into and through the crater itself. Return to Kumamoto for the night and enjoy a group dinner together. (B/D)

Day 7

Nagasaki or Arita

Today you have the choice of a visit to Nagasaki, a city of exotic sentiment and beautiful natural environment, or to Arita,  to view this fine ceramic and porcelain centre of Japan. Overnight Kumamoto. (B)

Day 8

to Kagoshima  

We journey south to Kagoshima, a city often compared with its Italian sister city Naples. Visit the Satsuma Kiriko museum, the Shoko-Shuseikan Museum and the beautiful Senganen Garden with views over Sakurajima Bay. Board a ferry to Sakurajima for sunset views over the bay and city. Overnight Kagoshima. (B)

Day 9

Kirishima Mountain National Park by tourist and steam trains

A day exploring the mountains, rivers and cherry blossoms around Kagoshima and Hitoyoshi – enjoying Kirishima’s rich greenery. A key attraction of these journeys is not only the spectacular scenery, but the interesting stops en route where you can alight briefly from the train to meet locals on the stations with local produce to taste and for sale. Ride behind restored steam train ‘SL Hitoyoshi’ along the Kuma River as it runs through old brick tunnels and across iron bridges dating back to the Meiji Era. Overnight Kagoshima. (B)

Day 10

Kagoshima sightseeing, Ibusuki  Ryokan and sand bath

Explore Kagoshima, then travel to Ibusuki - a famous onsen town known for its hot sand baths. Experience an excellent ryokan, with our meal tonight a taste of the surrounding local foods. Overnight Ibusuki. (B/D)

Day 11

Ibusuki, Chiran and Satsuma Peninsula

Visit Chiran, noted for its traditional samurai houses and gardens. Then to the kamikaze pilots memorial museum, before the Cape Nagasakibana Flower Park Kagoshima. Dinner is included and overnight Ibusuki. (B/D)

Day 12

 To Okayama and Korakuen

Head to Okayama, then visit Korakuen – one of the ‘three best gardens in Japan.’ Located just beside Okayama Castle (O) which can be seen from the garden as "borrowed scenery". Overnight Okayama – where we have four nights. (B)

Day 13

Himeji Castle, Kurashiki Historical Quarter and  Bizen-yaki

Visit Himeji Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Japanese National Treasure, which has just emerged from a five year restoration programme. Then to the Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter that retains to this day what once served as warehouses or residences of the then wealthy merchants. Visit the home of Bizen-yaki - the old-fashioned art of hand-kneaded ceramic making - dating back more than 1,000 years. Return to Okayama for dinner and overnight. (B)

Day 14


Visit Hiroshima’s Peace Park and atomic bomb site. Watch a short video presentation by one of the survivors of the day.  Then to Miyajima Island to see this stand out attraction – with its famed red Tori Gate floating on the inland sea. Or visit the Mazda Museum, passing through an actual vehicle assembly line, where you can see a variety of different car models being produced. Overnight Okayama. (B)

Day 15

Iwakuni, the inland sea of Japan and Grand Seto Ohashi Bridge

Visit Shin-Iwakuni, and the Kintaikyo Bridge, Iwakuni's most distinguished landmark and a subject of admiration for hundreds of years. Return to Okayama, and journey across the inland sea at sunset. Dinner and overnight Okayama. (B)

Day 16

to Kii-Nagashima via Wakayama and the Kii Peninsula

Journey along the coast of the Kii Peninsula through Wakayama and Shinju to Kii Nagashima. We stay two nights in a lovely ryokan on the water’s edge. A traditional Japanese meal is included tonight. Overnight Kii-Nagashima. (B/D)

Day 17

Kumono  Kodo Centre and the Kumono Kodo trail

After breakfast visit the impressive Kumono Kodo Centre which commemorates the sacred places and pilgrimages in the Kii Mountain Range. After lunch visit one of the sacred pilgrimage routes through the Kumono Kodo forest. Enjoy a traditional Japanese bath overlooking the sea before another fine meal at the ryokan. Overnight at our ryokan in Kii-Nagashima. (B/D)

Day 18

to Toba, Mikimoto Pearl Island, Ama women and to Kyoto

Visit Mikimoto Pearl Island - an excellent museum about these famous Japanese pearls, pearl cultivation and Mikimoto Kokichi - the first person to successfully cultivate pearls in the year 1893. Catch the private Kinetetsu Railway’s luxury resort train ‘Shimokaze’ to Kyoto. Overnight Kyoto. (B)

Day 19


Visit the best cherry blossom viewing locations of the many places in and around Kyoto. Kiyomizudera is one of the most celebrated temples of Japan. Join an inspection of the Nishijin Textile Centre, and see a display of kimono’s in a special presentation. Overnight Kyoto. (B)


Day 20

Kyoto to Sendai, and overnight to Hokkaido

Visit the Arashiyama district, with its bamboo forest,  word heritage listed Tenryuji Temple, and the picturesque bridge that crosses the Hozugawa River. In the early afternoon journey to Tokyo, and then to Sendai, where we join an overnight ferry to Tomakomai in Hokkaido.  Enjoy dinner aboard, and overnight in a private cabin, with ensuite.  Don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy the Grand Bath where you can enjoy watching the ocean while taking a bath. Overnight aboard the ferry. (B)

Day 21

to Jigokudani, Oyunuma Brook and Noboribetsu

Transfer to Noboribetsu Onsen - Hokkaido's   famous hot spring resort. Explore the town and nearby Jigokudani or "Hell Valley" - a spectacular valley which displays hot steam vents, sulphurous streams and other volcanic activity. Enjoy a lovely ryokan, high quality onsen, and traditional Japanese dinner tonight. (B/D)

Day 22

Ainu Culture - Porotokokan

Visit the Shiraoi Ainu Museum - one of the country's best museums about the Ainu, the indigenous people of northern Japan. Return to Noboribetsu and enjoy the town. Dinner and overnight at Noboribetsu. (B/D)

Day 23

to Hakodate, through the Seikan tunnel and to Owani Onsen

Head south to Hakodate for the undersea crossing to Honshu, through the 53.85km Seikan Tunnel – one of the world’s longest undersea tunnels. Transfer to our beautiful resort for the next two nights – the Hoshino property of KAI Tsugaru - a traditional Japanese ryokan. Enjoy a fine onsen experience and great dinner. (B/D)

Day 24

Owani Onsen, Hirosaki and surrounds, and Tsugaru Jyamisen  performance

Visit nearby Hirosaki - the political and cultural capital of the Tsugaru Region. The Neputa Mura or "Neputa Village" is a museum about Hirosaki's famous festival and also introduces the city's other cultural specialties. Walk through the historic quarter, through the castle park and grounds, and then return to our ryokan. After dinner experience a Tsugaru Jyamisen Guitar performance at the ryokan. Overnight Owani Onsen. (B/D)

Day 25

to Tokyo and Narita Airport

Join the Shinkansen to Tokyo, then a short opportunity for last minute shopping, and head for Narita Airport for our overnight flight to Sydney. (B)

Day 26

arrive Australia

A morning arrival back in Australia and the conclusion of our wonderful cherry blossom tour of Japan by rail. (B)

*On some days additional activities will be possible, some at no extra cost, others at additional own cost. Optional additions to the tour (at extra cost) when shown below are followed by (O). Meals included are shown as Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Dinner (D), Supper (S).


* The tour in 2015 has finished.


   Join our 'Cherry Blossoms 2016 TOUR - JAPAN BY RAIL -


 Date: Sun 27 Mar - Wed 20 Apr 2016

Join one of our most popular tours to Japan.


Travel first class on the high speed 'Shinkansen' trains. Enjoy special scenic rail journeys – the steam hauled SL Hitoyoshi, the open-air carriages, the premium luxury express along the Honshu coast as well as coastal ferry journeys, river boat rides and more.

Our tour is fully escorted by our Japanese speaking tour leader Takako Ishige, and Owen Johnstone-Donnet who has planned this tour.


We are proud and passionate about our tours - we make it possible to experience the real Japan, visiting not iconic cities and sights, but also ‘off the beaten track’ small villages, meeting local people.

For booking, any further details or information,


call us on

+61 2 9326 9660

+61 418 585 838

or  email at

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