Autumn Leaf Colors in Japan - November 2018 Tours

Arashiyama autumn leaves Meji Mura Kyoto Gion

Autumn Leaf Colors in Japan - November 2018

We have designed our November tours to take in the beautiful autumn leaf colors offered during the Japanese leaf viewing season.  Many of the cherry trees that provided beautiful views during spring provide orange hues while the Japanese maple can provide beautiful red leaves as well as brilliant yellow and browns.  With the cooling Japan weather we have included a range of famous, historic and culturally significant sights to showcase the variety and beauty of the country.  From the metropolis of Tokyo to the Japanese Alps, these tours of Japan allow you to experience a wide variety of what Japan has to offer and there is the flexibility to add days on at either end or to overlap tour dates.

If you are interested in a visit to Japan in November, consider joining one of our Japan autumn tours.  You can use the contact us form or email us at admin@japancustomtours.co.nz

Joining a tour:  We will normally be available to meet you at the airport and travel with you into Tokyo. If not, we will provide you with detailed instructions on how to do this.  We have included a tour start date of Saturday 18th November, but we can generally cater for guests arriving a few days earlier or later and can adjust the schedule and pricing for you accordingly.

Departing a tour:  Activities on a day where you are departing a tour will be adjusted to take into account travel time to the airport.  We will assist you with your departure as required.

Early November Schedule

Saturday 27th October Tokyo: We meet you at Narita airport and transfer to Tokyo.  Options for the day depend on your time of arrival but for the first day we keep the tour fairly low-key including things like dinner at a local restaurant, seeing some of the city (afternoon and/or evening) or just sleep if you are jetlagged.

Sunday 28th October Tokyo: For the start of the day we head across to the Asakusa district to visit the oldest temple in Tokyo, Senso-ji. Starting at the Kaminarimon (Thunder gate) we make our way along Nakamise Street, where for the past few centuries, stalls and shops sell souvenirs to visitors to the temple. The temple complex also features the Hozomon gate and a five story pagoda. The 634 meter tall Skytree is also clearly visible from locations around Asakusa.

Our next destination is the expansive Ueno Park. Ueno Park contains several museums (including Tokyo National Museum), Tokyo Zoo (the main attraction of which is a giant panda), and the beautiful Tōshō-gū shine that enshrines the first Shōgun of the Tokugawa Shogunate. Finishing our visit in Ueno we include a walk through the Ameya-Yokochō shopping district of stalls and small shops located including many under the railway tracks.

Monday 29th October Tokyo to Aomori: Utilising the high-speed shinkansen we head to the northern part of Honshu (the main island of Japan) for the seasonal autumn colours.  There will be time during the afternoon to see Wa Rasse, a museum celebrating the summer Nebuta festival, or the floating car ferry museum in the port area.

Tuesday 30th October Friday Aomori: With a full day available we journey to the nearby city of Hirosaki to visit the nearby town of Hirosaki, famous for its castle and park.  The main feature of the  town is the castle park with 2600 cherry trees (for the fall colours) and the botanic gardens.

Back in Aomori, there is an option to see some of the early history of Japan at the Sannai Maruyama site covering a village from the Jomon period (13,000BC to 300BC). A trip to the Sannai site can be combined with the Aomori Art Museum across the street.

Wednesday 31st October Nikko: Taking the shinkansen to Utsunomia and the then the local line to Nikko arrive mid-day. After lunch at a local restaurant and an opportunity to sample yuba (a local speciality) head to the scenic Lake Chuzenji and Kegon Falls.

Thursday 1st November Nikko to Togura/Nagano: The morning is reserved for visits to the famous world heritage sites including the lavishly decorated Toshugu shrine and Iemitsu mausoleum.

In the afternoon take the train across to Nagano prefecture for a stay at a traditional Japanese inn. Including onsen (mineral spring baths) and local foods prepared on-site this is an opportunity to sample a smaller/rural location in Japan. There is a small castle (fort) on the hill behind the ryokan that gives great views across the valley and mountains around the area. We arrange Geisha entertainment during the evening meal (music and dancing performance).

Friday 2nd November Togura/Nagano: Several options (including relaxing) are available. Explore the local town, the city of Nagano. Most of our tours include a day trip to visit the famous "snow monkeys" at Jigokudani Monkey Park.

Saturday 3rd November: Togura to Kanazawa: Travel via local train and then shinkansen to Kanazawa (''Little Kyoto''). After arrival the afternoon has sufficient time to visit the Omi-cho market, a smaller, friendlier version of the Tokyo Tsujiki fish market and a great location for a fresh sashimi breakfast. The day is set aside to visit the famous Kenrokuen Garden and Kanazawa castle. Additional options include the 21st Museum of Contemporary art or some of the local temples.

Sunday 4th November: Kanazawa to Takayama: Travel by Shinkansen to Toyama and then local train into the Japanese Alps to the onsen (hot spring) mountain town of Takayama. Explore the town's historic buildings and shops on foot. The local specialty is Hida beef, very good quality and we recommend enjoying it at one of the local bbq restaurants.

Monday 5th November Kanazawa: A free morning to explore the town, check the local markets or visit one of the different museums or temples scattered around the town. After lunch head to the world heritage site of Shirakawa-go (a half day bus trip) with its unique steep thatched-roofed houses. The Hida Folk village provides a different range of historic buildings and could be included in the morning activities.

Tuesday 6th November Takayama to Hiroshima Completing the scenic journey through the mountains to Nagoya and then the shinkansen to Hiroshima. The afternoon is available to visit the Peace Park and Museum in Hiroshima city.

Wednesday 7th November Hiroshima: A full day in Hiroshima allows time to visit and explore Miyajima Island and Itsukushima Shrine are the location of the famous "floating" torii gate, accessed by a short local train and ferry ride. Depending on fitness and inclination we can use the ropeway and head to the top of Mount Misen. The walk back down the mountain provides some good viewing and vantage points. (We have also been including a visit to the Kintai Bridge area at Iwakuni as part of our recent tours to the area, the activities for the day will depend on guest preferences.)

Thursday 8th November Hiroshima to Kyoto: The trip from Hiroshima takes around two hours with an arrival into Kyoto around mid-day. We begin our sightseeing at Inari Fushimi Shinto shrine (famous for its 10,000 vermillion torii gates). Given time/inclination we can visit one of the other nearby attractions in the eastern side of the city such as Sanjusangendo that has 1,000 hand carved statues, or the Kyoto National Museum.

Friday 9th November Kyoto: Start the day by visiting the 'golden pavilion' Kinkaku-ji, travel to the north east of the city and then Nijo Castle before heading to the Heian Shrine and gardens. During the afternoon head to the Arashiyama district, to view the autumn leaves during the evening and enjoy the view across the Katsura River. Also enjoy the nearby Sagano bamboo grove.

Saturday 10th November Kyoto: Day trip to the World Heritage Site at Nara. At Nara there is both Todai-ji temple (with the world's largest bronze Buddha), and Kagusa Shinto shrine. There are sacred deer roaming the park and excellent souvenir shops on the walk to Todai-ji.

Sunday 11th November Kyoto to Tokyo: Transfer back to Tokyo and Narita (or Osaka/Kansai, the actual transfer details will depends on the departure airport).  

Late November Autumn Leaf Viewing Tour (Two places remaining)

Saturday 17th November Tokyo:  We meet you at the airport (Narita or Haneda) and transfer to your hotel in Tokyo.  Options for the day depend on your time of arrival but for the first day we keep the tour fairly low-key including things like dinner at a local restaurant, seeing some of the city (afternoon and/or evening) or just sleep if you are jetlagged.

Sunday 18th November Tokyo: Visit Asukusa Kaminarimon (thunder gate), Hozomon and pagoda.  An array of stalls lines the entrance to this shrine (Nakamise Street) providing a wide range of souvenirs and snacks on the approach to Sensoji Temple.  We can arrange a kimono photo shoot or an introductory samurai lesson for the adventurous.  In the afternoon visit one or more of the famous neighbourhood areas of Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ginza.  An option for Shinjuku includes a visit to the Robot Restaurant, (more a cabaret show) before selecting something delicious for dinner.

Monday 19th November Tokyo to Takayama: Travel by Shinkansen and then local train to the onsen (hot spring) mountain town of Takayama. Use the afternoon for a relaxing onsen bath or explore some of this old-style mountain town. 

Tuesday 20th November Takayama: During the morning explore the town's historic buildings, morning market and shops on foot and/or visit the festival floats exhibition hall.  The afternoon is reserved for a 1/2 day bus tour that visits the World Heritage Site of Shirakawa-go with its old traditional "A frame" farmhouses.  Dinner time is an ideal opportunity to sample the famous Hida Beef.

Wednesday 21st November Takayama to Kyoto: Taking the WideView Hida train down the scenic Kiso valley to Nagano and then a short shinkansen ride to the historic previous capital of Japan. In the afternoon enjoy sightseeing at Inari Fushimi Shinto shrine (10,000 torii gates).  

Thursday 22nd November Kyoto: Visit the beautiful Arashiyama district for viewing the autumn leaves and enjoy the view across the Katsura River and the nearby Sagano bamboo grove.  After spending time in Arashiyama, head to the "Golden Pavilion" Kinkaku-ji in the north-west of the city.  Returning to the centre of Kyoto exploring the 400 year old covered Nishiki Market.

Friday 23rd November Kyoto: Start the day at Nijo Castle before heading to the Heian Shrine and gardens.  During the evening visit Kodai-ji temple for the autumn leaf illumination.  The temple complex includes a Zen garden, bamboo forest and interesting artisan shops.

Saturday 24th November Kyoto to Hiroshima:  Heading south from Kyoto, take the shinkansen to Hiroshima.  The afternoon is available to visit the Peace Park and Museum in Hiroshima city and the rebuilt Hiroshima Castle (the castle includes a samurai museum).

Sunday 25th November Hiroshima: A full day in Hiroshima allows time to visit and explore Miyajima Island and Itsukushima Shrine are the location of the famous "floating" torii gate, accessed by a short local train and ferry ride. Depending on fitness and inclination we can use the ropeway and head to the top of Mount Misen.  The walk back down the mountain provides some good viewing and vantage points.   

Monday 26th November Hiroshima to Osaka: Head to Osaka the second largest city of Japan.  From the hotel it is a short walk across the moat bridge to visit the castle and grounds.  During the evening head to the Dotonbori district.

Tuesday 27th November Osaka: Day trip to the world heritage site at Nara.  At Nara there are both Todai-ji temple (with the world's largest bronze Buddha), and Kagusa Shinto shrine.  Sacred deer roam the park and temple/shrine areas.

Wednesday 28th November Osaka to Kanazawa: Completing the trip across the main island take the "Thunderbird" express train to Kanazawa.  Visit the famous Kenrokuen Garden and Kanazawa castle.  Enjoy local cuisine including fresh sushi and sashimi at the Omicho food market.

Thursday 29th November December Kanazawa to Togura: Departing from Kanazawa head back into the Japanese Alps to Nagano transfer to a local train bound for Togura (30 minutes) and check in at Ryokan Kamesei. Have a private soak in the ryokan's hot spring baths or explore the neighbourhood before enjoying an especially prepared traditional ryokan dinner. During dinner we can arrange geisha entertainment of traditional music and dance.  The ryokan accommodations include breakfast and dinner.

Friday 30th November Togura: After breakfast (provided), head to Nagano station and take the bus to Jigokudani Monkey Park. Depending on the weather it could be cold (maybe snow). There is a walk of approximately 2km to the "snow monkeys".  For those not wanting to see the monkeys, we can visit the Togakushi Shrine in the forest to the north-west of Nagano with its impressive tree lined approach.  There is a local cycling tour around Togura and Chikuma for those that want to stay close to the ryokan.  After a day of activity, a soak in the onsen provides a relaxing option. 

Saturday 1st December Togura to Tokyo: Transfer back to Tokyo by shinkansen.  A visit to Harajuku and the Meiji Shrine, an important focal point of the city commemorating the Emperor and a significant change in the structure of Japan.  The nearby Takeshita Dori provides an experience in the local youth culture of the city and the adjacent Omotesando shopping area provides some higher-end brands.  Also in this area is Yoyogi Park, a popular place on Sundays for people to spend time and provide entertainment.

Sunday 2nd December Tokyo: Last day in Tokyo and transfers back to Narita or Haneda.

Price Inclusions/exclusions

The tour the price for a fifteen day tour (accommodation for fourteen nights) is JPY595,000 per person share twin/double

For solo travellers (one person, without a shared room), the cost of accommodation is unable to be shared, but we have a policy to limit the extra cost and have priced our tour for a single person at JPY695,000. 

Prices include rail transfers from Narita to Tokyo and 14 day rail pass, castle/temple/shine entrance fees and tour fees.  Accommodation is selected to average 4-star or higher and will normally include breakfast.   

Bookings and Inquiries

If you are interested in joining this tour, please contact us or email us directly at admin@japancustomtours.co.nz.


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