Onsen, Soba & Castles

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Onsen, Soba & Castles

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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 Japanese, who want to relax amongst nature, soak up the purifying waters and enjoy the delicious local cuisine. Kinosaki is one of the top Onsen destinations in Kansai region, and dates back to the 8th century, yet still reserves itself as a charmingly old-fashioned onsen town. On this 5 x Day/4 x 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 savoring local delicacies from the multitude of eating establishments offering the regions seasonal produce. Our tour also takes you on an excursion to the neighboring 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 World Heritage listed, 400-year-old castle. 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.

Start

Kyoto

Finish

Kobe

Ages

Min. 20

Group size

Min. 2, Max. 6

Included

  • Tour manager: English/Japanese speaking tour manager
  • Accommodation: 1 x night in a traditional Japanese Inn & 3 x nights in western style hotels (3-4 Star)
  • Meals: Daily breakfast & dinner plus 2 x lunches (including 1 x Soba noodle making class)
  • Transport: All transport as indicated in the itinerary
  • Entrance fees: As indicated in the itinerary
  • One luggage transfer from Kyoto to Kobe (one item per person)

Not Included

  • International & domestic flights
  • Airport transfers
  • Travel insurance
  • Alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks
  • Personal expenses
Highlights
  • This 4-night/5-day journey will introduce you to the unique experiences of Japanese Onsen (hot spring) town, as well as local food and history of the Kansai region in a short amount of time.
  • Visit World Heritage listed sites in Kyoto and Himeji
  • Experience unique local food and sake, including a buckwheat noodle (Soba) making class.
  • Explore the narrow alleyways and back streets to soak up the distinctive atmosphere of each destination.
  • Travel on the renowned “Shinkansen” bullet train.
  • All of our tours at “Two Streets Back” have a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 6 passengers, therefore you will receive much more attention from our friendly tour manager, and have access to smaller sites and eating venues that reflect the true local character of our destinations often not available to bigger tour groups
Gallery
Itinerary

Day 1Kyoto

Your adventure begins with the all-important “Welcome Meeting” at 5pm. Here you will meet your tour manager and fellow travelers, followed by a Night walking tour of the world-famous Gion “geisha” district before making our way to the stunning Higashiyama area, lined with centuries old temples and shrines sitting amongst Kyoto’s original townhouses. 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 the 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.

Accommodation

  • Hotel (Kyoto)

 Meal

  • Dinner (Kyoto’s signature “Kaiseki” cuisine) (Kyoto)

 Activities

  • Welcome Meeting & Dinner
  • Kyoto Gion & Higashiyama night walk

Special Information

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.

Day 2Kyoto - Kinosaki

After a filling breakfast we will ensure your suitcases are forwarded on to Kobe before we visit the World Heritage listed Nanzenji Temple. Although this spectacular temple often escapes the attention of many foreign visitors, it is often ranked as the number one Zen temple in all of Japan. With its impressive “samon” gate, European style brick aqueduct, and stunning zen gardens, it truly is no wonder it commands a place in every Japanese person’s heart. As a bonus, we feast on a delicious “Yudofu” vegetarian lunch, originally created by the 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 by attentive staff. Staying at a ryokan might be a new experience for a lot of visitors to Japan, however, your tour manager will 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.

Accommodation

  • Ryokan (traditional Japanese style inn) (Kinosaki)

Meal

  • Breakfast (Kyoto)
  • Lunch (“Yudofu”) (Kyoto)
  • Dinner (at your ryokan) (Kinosaki)

 Activities

  • Nanzenji Temple
  • Kinosaki town walk

 

Day 3 Kinosaki – Kobe

After a traditional Japanese breakfast at your ryokan accommodation, we will be making our way to the local castle town of Izushi, visiting the castle ruins, the well-preserved clock tower as well as an original old kabuki theatre. However, the main attraction of this charming town is Soba buckwheat noodles served on a series of small plates. Here the master will instruct us on the intricacies of making these delicious noodles before cooking and eating our efforts 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 local beef.

Accommodation

  • Hotel (Kobe)

 Meal

  • Breakfast (Japanese style breakfast at ryokan)(Kinosaki)
  • Lunch (“Soba” – buckwheat noodles making class) (Izushi)
  • Dinner (“Yakiniku” – grilled Kobe beef) (Kobe) 

Activities

  • Izushi castle town walk
  • Soba noodle making class

Day 4Kobe

Our second day in Kobe starts with an excursion to Himeji, a short 30-minute train journey from Kobe. Himeji is famous for its World Heritage listed castle, which was built more than 400 years ago, and is often considered Japan’s most spectacular castle for its imposing size, beauty, and complexity. 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 late 19th century. The bustling streets are jam packed with shops, restaurants, and street food stands offering all sorts of delicious steambuns, noodles and Chinese fare for lunch. After strolling Kobe’s busy downtown area, your tour manager will take you to Kobe’s 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 adventure with good conversation, local sake, and a delicious meal at a local Kobe izakaya.

Accommodation

  • Hotel (Kobe) 

Meal

  • Breakfast (Kobe)
  • Dinner (at local Izakaya) (Kobe)

Activities

  • Himeji castle
  • Kobe China town walk
  • Sake brewery visit and sake tasting (Kobe’s Nada district)

Day 5Kobe

There are no activities planned for today, and you can depart the hotel at any time. Check out time is 10am, however if you wish to depart later, we can arrange luggage storage for you at the hotel. Your tour manager would be delighted to help plan your post-tour itinerary or advise you on your onward journey.

Meal

  • Breakfast (Osaka)
Map