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Kyoto – Kinosaki – Kobe (5 Days/4 Nights)
The word “Onsen” literally means hot spring, however, nowadays the reference is usually to the inns or resorts dotted around the hot spring areas. There are more than 3000 Onsen resorts all over Japan, and visiting these onsen resorts is one of the most popular holiday activities for the Japanese who love to relax amongst nature, soak up the purifying waters and enjoy the delicious local cuisine.
The beloved town of Kinosaki is one of the top onsen destinations in the Kansai region, dating back to the 8th Century, yet still maintaining a charmingly old-fashioned atmosphere sadly disappearing in an increasingly modern world.
On this fascinating 5 Day/4 Night journey, we would like to introduce you to this traditional Japanese onsen, where locals and visitors alike stroll the tree-lined streets in yukata, visiting numerous public baths, and savouring local delicacies from the multitude of eating establishments offering the regions seasonal produce.
Your tour also takes you on an excursion to the neighbouring town of Izushi for a hands-on experience making their famous soba (buckwheat) noodles.
While we are in the area, we couldn’t bypass a visit to the very majestic Himeji Castle, a much-admired, perfectly preserved, World Heritage listed site, dating back to the 16th Century AD. This national treasure is unlike many other Japanese castles as it was never destroyed in wars, earthquakes or fires, and survives in its original form.
With your local Tour Manager as your expert guide, you’ll arrive in your final destination in plenty of time to freshen up before exploring the delightful but often overlooked port city of Kobe, famous the world over for it’s delicious beef.
Min 2 / Max 6
Welcome to the ancient capital of KYOTO!
Our adventure begins with the all important “Welcome Meeting”, conveniently held at your Kyoto hotel from 5pm (JST). Here you will meet your Tour Manager and fellow travellers, followed by a walking tour around the beautifully historic area of Gion, Kyoto’s most famous geisha district, and learn about the history of geisha culture as you explore old wooden teahouses and exclusive restaurants. You may spot Geikos (geishas), or Maikos (apprentice geishas) with their elaborate dress and make up on their way to their various appointments.
Our first day in Kyoto will end with a superb “Kaiseki” dinner, a highly elaborate and beautifully presented “course-style” meal of seasonal dishes prepared with local ingredients. This special style of cuisine grew out of 16th-century Buddhist tea ceremonies before being introduced to the Emperor’s court right here in Kyoto. The presentation of each dish is truly spectacular, offering a very unique Kyoto experience.
It’s very important that you attend the welcome meeting as we will be collecting important insurance details, proof of Covid-19 vaccination, and next of kin information at this time. If you are going to be late please let your travel agent, hotel reception or your “Two Streets Back” Japan representative know. Ask reception or look for a note in the lobby for more information on where the meeting will take place.
After a nourishing breakfast your Tour Manager will ensure your suitcases have been forwarded before we visit the stunning World Heritage listed Nanzenji Temple.
Although this spectacular temple often escapes the attention of many foreign visitors, it is ranked number one among all Zen temples in Japan. With it’s impressive “samon” gate, European style brick aqueduct, and exsquisite zen garden, it truly deserves the respect and place reserved in every Japanese person’s heart. As a bonus, today’s “Yudofu” vegetarian lunch was originally created by Buddhist monks from this very special temple.
After our historic lunch, let’s all unwind onboard our 2.5 hour train journey to Kinosaki, a charming old onsen town tucked away in a narrow valley on the Sea of Japan coastline.
Tonight you will be staying at an authentic Japanese ryokan, and enjoying a multi course dinner featuring local produce served in your private quarters by the highly trained but welcoming staff for which onsen are famous.
Staying at a Japanese ryokan may be a new experience for a lot of visitors to Japan, but don’t worry, your Tour Manager will be there to explain the various rules and etiquette in detail to make your stay event free.
Before or after dinner, we would highly recommend wearing your traditional yukata and exploring the various baths on offer, visiting the nostalgic game arcades, or simply just soaking up the centuries old atmosphere while strolling along the tree-lined river and chatting with the friendly locals.
After a traditional Japanese breakfast at your ryokan accommodation, we will be taking a short journey to the local town of Izushi. Here we will visit castle ruins , a well-preserved clock tower as well as an extraordinary kabuki theatre. Built in 1901, this is the oldest kabuki theatre in the Kansai region. After being closed in 1964, the building was restored and reopened to the public in 2008.
However, the main attraction for us in this charming town is Soba buckwheat noodles served on a series of small ceramic plates. Here the master will instruct us on the intricacies of making these delicious noodles, before it’s our turn to shine. Afterwards the friendly kitchen staff will take over and cook our efforts while we relax over a mouth-watering lunch in a local restaurant.
In the afternoon, relax and enjoy the mountain scenery while we take a 3 hour train journey to the port city of Kobe. For dinner, we will be heading to Kobe’s vibrant downtown area to try their world-famous beef amongst other local delicacies.
Our day starts with breakfast and an excursion to Himeji, a mere 30 minute train journey from downtown Kobe.
Himeji is famous for its World Heritage listed castle. Built more than 400 years ago, this beautiful landmark is often considered Japan’s most spectacular castle for its imposing size, beauty, and complexity. Marvel at it’s extraordinary workmanship as your Tour Manager guides you through it’s fascinating history and reveals some of it’s closely kept secrets.
Back in Kobe, we will explore the city’s historic China town, developed by Chinese merchant settlers from the time the port was opened to foreigners in the late 19th century. The bustling streets are jammed packed with shops, restaurants, and street food stands offering all sorts of delicious steamed buns, noodles and Chinese fare for lunch.
After strolling Kobe’s busy downtown area, your Tour Manager will accompany you to the more peaceful Nada district, one of Japan’s top sake producing regions. The Nada district has long been famous for its sake due to its high-quality rice and water from the nearby Rokko mountains. You will not only learn about sake production, but also have the rare opportunity of tasting this much sought-after national drink.
In the evening, let’s celebrate the end of our tour with great conversation, delicious food and local sake at one of Kobe’s most famous Izakaya restaurants.
There are no activities planned for today, so you are free to depart the hotel at your leisure.
Check out time is 10am, however if you’re departing later, we are happy to arrange luggage storage for you at the hotel. Your Tour Manager will be delighted to help plan your post-tour itinerary or advise you on your onward journey.
We’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for choosing to spend some of your vacation time with us, we truly hope you enjoy the remainder of your time in Japan, and look forward to welcoming you again when next you visit our country.