Western Japan Cherry Blossom Private Tour
This Cherry Blossom Private Tour of Western Japan Model Itinerary focuses on the western part of Honshu Island and highlights the magnificent cherry blossom locations. It is a great alternative for people who have already been to common destinations such as Tokyo and Kyoto, and would like to try something different. Locations like Iwakuni, Kinosaki and Amanohashidate are less visited by international tourists but have been traditionally popular places with Japanese people for centuries.
Although we picked the sites for cherry blossom viewing, a similar itinerary would be great all year round. These locations are historically and culturally fascinating and offer a very special holiday.
Naturally this model itinerary can be modified or shortened or extended at either end. Our private tour are very flexible and personal. Please feel free to contact us and discuss your wishes.
Important notes about our model itineraries:
Our model itineraries are developed to show viewers the ideas for an itinerary and price guide. The itineraries can be further customized, and the accommodation and guide time can be adjusted to suit you. The number of people in your group will affect the price, too. We will give you more firm quotation once we develop your personal itinerary.
Day1: Arrival in Tokyo
Welcome to Japan! On arrival at one of Tokyo’s international airports, you will be met by a Journey to the East guide and escorted to your hotel by public transport. Tokyo has many great cherry blossom viewing sites, and the atmosphere here in spring time is very vibrant. If this is your first visit to Tokyo, we recommend you spend a couple of days here. We will make suggestions for places to visit in Tokyo according to your interests and time of your visit.
Day 2: Kamakura
The Western Japan cherry blossom usually blooms in late March at Kamakura which is slightly warmer. So, if your visit is earlier in the season, we recommend you start by visiting Kamakura. Kamakura was a capital of Japan during the feudal era, and there are still over a thousand temples and shrines there. It is only one hour by train from Tokyo, our guide will take you to a couple of the best sites to show you classic examples of flowering cherry trees. On the way back to the station, you can wander through Kamakura’s popular Komachi Street to check out its numerous craft shops and galleries showcasing some beautiful handmade wares. The day can be as slow or active as you like. After catching the train back to Tokyo, our suggestions for dinner tonight include izakaya, a casual pub-style eatery, popular amongst Japanese office workers.
Day 3: Hiroshima
After Tokyo, this itinerary for Cherry Blossom Private Tour of Western Japan focuses on the western part of the main island, Honshu. Hiroshima is a regional city of Japan in the western reach of Honshu. It has a regional airport and a major Japan Rail station where shinkansen stops (4-5 hours from Tokyo by shinkansen). Hiroshima is sometimes visited as a day trip on fast-paced tours, but we think this city deserves more time. Especially during the cherry blossom time, it serves as a great base to visit nearby destinations with gorgeous cherry blossom displays. On your arrival at JR Hiroshima Station, a private guide will meet you and take you on a guided tour. In the cherry blossom season, we definitely recommend Shukkeien Japanese Garden, especially in the evening with the light-up illumination.
Day 4: Iwakuni
The Western Japan Cherry Blossom Tour takes you to Iwakuni. located in Yamaguchi Prefecture, next to Hiroshima Prefecture, however, it is an easy reach from Hiroshima City by a highway coach or train. Kintaikyo Bridge (right and main photo), with its unique five-arched design, spans the Nishiki River. A spectacular sight in any season, the bridge is particularly stunning in early April when over 3,000 cherry blossoms bloom along the banks of the river and in nearby Kikko Park. You can hike or ride the ropeway up to the impressive Iwakuni Castle nearby. Visit the castle museum with samurai armor and artifacts and admire the views across the city from the top floor.
Day 5: Hiroshima
Hiroshima is best known as the site of the 1945 Atomic Bomb attack during World War II, however, the modern Hiroshima is vibrant and very friendly. It is a great place to visit with lots to see and do. Today we suggest a self-guided day in Hiroshima. If you have seen the Atomic Bomb Museum and Peace Memorial Park already, why not visit the Mazda Car Museum and Factory Tour or the traditional sake production town of Saijo?
Day 6: Miyajima
Miyajima is another iconic destination in western Japan. Its UNESCO World Heritage listed Itsukushima Shrine with the torii gate are perhaps one of the most photographed sites of Japan. Miyajima is at its best in cherry blossom and autumn time. Our guide will take you to the best viewing spots for the magnificent natural and man-made beauty of the island. Although Miyajima is an easy day-trip distance from Hiroshima, you have an option of staying on the island overnight. You can enjoy the quieter evening and early morning after the day-trippers disappear. The accommodation styles are mostly Japanese ryokan, but limited western style bedrooms are available.
Day 7: Himeji Castle
The Western Japan Cherry Blossom tour targets Himeji Castle, also known as the White Heron Castle. The Himeji Castle is both a Japanese National Treasure and a World Heritage site. Its status as one of Japan's 12 remaining original castles and one of the best-preserved castles in Japan alone are enough to make it a very worthy place to visit. In spring, it is especially noteworthy with over 1,000 cherry trees blooming in the castle grounds. If you are lucky enough to visit here at full bloom it is certainly an unforgettable sight. Himeji can be easily reached from Hiroshima by shinkansen. After spending a few hours here, we recommend you take trains to the west coast onsen town of Kinosaki tonight.
Day 8: Kinosaki
Out of thousands of onsen towns in Japan, Kinosaki is possibly one of the most famous and popular ones. Kinosaki is a quintessential onsen town and has been loved by many Japanese for centuries including famous writers and artists. Many small ryokans line both sides of the Maruyama River, which is filled with cherry blossoms in spring. Although each ryokan has their own baths (onsen), the town's biggest drawcard is the seven public baths. You will see many people slipped on yukata in the evening and stroll around the town hopping from one bath house to another - a very enjoyable Japanese thing to do! Apart from the onsen baths, the town also has many interesting sightseeing spots. Onsenji Temple up on the hill is the source of the legend about the beginning of the town's onsen. The town also hosts many small art and craft galleries and interesting bars and cafes. It is just a lovely town to wander around. The accommodation choice is mostly Japanese style here.
Day 9: Amanohashidate
Thie Western Japan Cherry Blossom private tour takes you to an unusually memorable site. You will take a local train and transfer to Amanohashidate on the north coast of Kyoto Prefecture. Although it is technically in Kyoto Prefecture, this part of Kyoto is nothing like central Kyoto with its millions of tourists. The town is quiet and naturally spectacular. Amanohashidate is a three-kilometer-long pine-covered sandbar famous for being one of Japan's three best scenic views, along with Matsushima in Miyagi Prefecture and Miyajima in Hiroshima Prefecture. Amanohashidate translates to “bridge to heaven” because it appears to be a pathway connecting heaven and earth when viewed from the mountains that rise above it on either side. You can walk across or take a bike, or a do a bay cruise around the Miyazu Bay. There are a few scenic points with cherry trees (of course!) as well as interesting shrines and temples.
Day 10: Ine
Today we suggest an interesting day trip to the traditional fishing village of Ine. Ine is a small town of about 2,200 people, tucked tightly between the mountains and Ine Bay. Picturesque Ine is famous for its unique funaya (boat houses). These wooden buildings sit right on the water and serve as both dock and home for the fishermen of the village. The boats are housed in the first floor, with the second floor serving as the dwelling area. Around 230 funaya remain today, stretching along five kilometers of the coastline. You can take a boat ride around the bay to see the houses from the water.
Day 11: Kyoto
You can take an express train from Amanohashidate to central Kyoto. If this is your fist visit to Japan and Kyoto, we certainly recommend you spend some time here. Kyoto has so many iconic places to see and traditional culture to enjoy. If you have been to Kyoto before and have seen the major spots, please let us know. We have many 'secret' spots we can share with you for a repeat visit to Kyoto. You can extend your stay at the northern part of Kyoto and explore the area more, or go into the mountains in the middle of Kyoto to discover rural industries of Kyoto such as silk textile and farming. You can discover totally different sides of Kyoto to what you knew.
Day 12: Departure
This is the end of model itinerary for Cherry Blossom Private Tour of Western Japan. Options from here includes flying out of nearby Kansai International Airport, or take the shinkansen back to Tokyo to use one of its international airports. Or perhaps you would like to stay in Japan a bit longer and explore different parts of the country. Whatever it is you decide, we will arrange your whole trip to your satisfaction. Self-guided transfer (private escort option available)
- 11 nights accommodation with daily breakfast
- Meals as specified
- Airport meet & greet and hotel transfer by public transport on arrival
- 14-Day Japan Rail Pass (Ordinary Class)
- Private vehicle on Day 10
- Suica IC card with starter credit
- Locally licensed English speaking tour guides where specified
- International and domestic airfare (unless otherwise stated)
- Entrance fees to attractions
- Travel insurance
- Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages
- Tips and gratuities (not routinely expected in Japan)
- Personal expenses (laundry, internet, telephone, coin lockers etc.)
- Visa (if required)