Team Travel Kuramoto


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9 Days
Hokuriku Journey

Itinerary Summary

    Day 1 – Transfer to Matsumoto

    Option 1: Arrival into Narita or Haneda airport.
    Our English-speaking assistant will meet you at the airport arrival lobby and together, you will transfer to Tokyo station by private car. From Tokyo station, you will take the bullet train bound for Matsumoto.

    Option2: You are already in Tokyo. Head to the station and take the bullet train bound for Matsumoto.

    Meet your guide at Matsumoto station and head to your accommodation for check-in before starting the tour

    Today’s tour will start with a visit to Matsumoto Castle. 

    The building is also known as the “Crow Castle” due to its black exterior and is one of the most complete and beautiful among Japan’s original castles. It is a “Hirajiro” – a castle built on plains rather than on a hill or mountain.

    Just across a small bridge on the way to Matsumoto Castle, Nawate Street is a row of small shops with a subtle but recurring frog theme. The banks of the river once echoed with the voices of frogs. Kaeru, the Japanese word for “frog” can also mean “to return home.”

    Aside from a variety of snack shops and cafes/bakeries, the street also has plenty of little knick-knacks shops and souvenirs. A number of shops allow you to make your own unique item to take home.

    Nakamachi-dori is a small section of Matsumoto’s town center with streets lined with nicely preserved, old buildings. The buildings include a number of warehouse-type structures (kura) with large white-painted walls. The area is where the city’s merchants used to live during the Edo Period, and today, the types of buildings here reflect this history. Some of the buildings house small shops, restaurants and Ryokan.

    Leaving Matsumoto city, you will travel north to a Wasabi farm.

    The farm has multiple large fields with a meticulously maintained network of small streams that constantly provides each wasabi plant with clear, flowing water from the Northern Alps. Only under such pristine conditions is wasabi cultivation possible. 

    Night in Matsumoto
    Inclusions: Accommodation, Private Guide, Transportation and Fees

    Day 2 – Transfer from Matsumoto to Nagano

    After Checkout, make your own way to the station and take the bullet-train for Nagano.

    Arriving in Nagano, you can leave your luggage at your accommodation and start visiting the city at your leisure.

    Here are some suggestions: 

    Zenkoji Temple  is one of the most important and popular temples in Japan. It was founded in the 7th century and stores the first Buddhist statue ever to be brought into Japan when Buddhism was first introduced in the 6th century. The original statue is hidden while a copy of it is shown to the public every six years for a few weeks. In the basement of the inner chamber is an underground passage, which visitors walk through in complete darkness in search of the “key to paradise.” The key is attached to a wall along the corridor and is believed to grant salvation to anybody who touches it. The temple approach leading up to the temple  is lined with shops selling local specialties and souvenirs, as well as small restaurants.

    Just a few minutes from Zenkoji temple, you will find this family brewery. Originally established in Kyoto, the factory moved to Nagano in 1637. You can tour the brewery and museum where you can see a range of old photographs that tell the story of the brewery and you can also check out some antique, as well as modern brewing equipment on site. At the end of the tour, you can also sample some of the sake which is a kind of Japanese rice wine and buy a few bottles as souvenirs of your trip.

    Night in Nagano
    Inclusions: Accommodation, Breakfast, Private Guide, Transportation and Fees

    Day 3 – Day trip to the Snow Monkey park and visit to Obuse

    In the morning, hop into your private car and head north to the small village of Shibu where you will find the famous snow monkey park.

    The Jigokudani Monkey Park offers visitors the unique experience of seeing wild monkeys bathing in natural hot springs. The park is inhabited by Japanese Macaques, which are also known as Snow Monkeys. It is located in the monkey’s natural habitat, in the forests of the Jigokudani Valley in Yamanouchi, not far from the Onsen towns of Shibu and Yudanaka.

     After visiting the park, you will head to the small town of Obuse, often referred to as Nagano’s little Kyoto.

    During the Edo Period, Obuse was a prosperous town rich in art and culture. Staying true to its heritage, the small town continues to offer visitors a variety of art museums, a sake brewery, shops and restaurants around the narrow lanes and attractive, traditional-style buildings at its centre. Obuse owes much of its acclaim to the famous painter, Hokusai, who spent several years here. A collection of his work can be seen at the Hokusai Museum at the centre of town.

    After Obuse, the private car will take you back to Nagano, and the evening will be free.

    Night in Nagano
    Inclusions: Accommodation, Breakfast, Private Guide, Transportation and Fees

    Day 4 – Transfer to Toyama – Kurobe Alpine road

    Today, you will transfer to Toyama city via the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine route, 

    an impressive route traversing through the Tateyama mountain range located on the border of Nagano Prefecture and Toyama Prefecture. To traverse across the entire route between Ogizawa and Tateyama, you will need to ride a total of six different modes of transportation. Nature’s marvels that you can experience along the route are definitely a must-see at least once in your life.

    One of the must-see along the route is the Tateyama Corridor. 

    From April to May, the road from Bijodaira to Murodo runs between up to 20-meter high snow walls. The snow corridor is most spectacular around Murodo, where an approximately one kilometer passage is open to pedestrians from around mid-April to mid-June.

    Murodo offers fantastic views of the Tateyama Mountain Range. In summer and autumn, hiking trails lead to the surrounding peaks and to the nearby Jigokudani “Hell Valley”. Volcanic activity can be observed at the valley, although the trails in the area can get closed due to high concentrations of volcanic gases. Next, take the Tateyama ropeway.

    This 1.7km long ropeway operates without any support towers between the lower and upper stations, making it Japan’s longest one-span ropeway.

    Your final stop today will be the Kurobe Dam. With a height of 186 meters, the dam is Japan’s tallest dam. From late June to mid-October, up to 15 tons of water per second are spectacularly discharged through the dam. Sightseeing cruises are operated on the lake from June to early November.

    Night in Toyama
    Inclusions: Accommodation, Breakfast, Private Guide, Transportation and Fees

    Day 5 – Toyama – Day trip to Gokayama

    You may have heard of Shirakawago in Gifu Prefecture, but did you know that the UNESCO World Heritage Site for gassho-zukuri houses comprises two areas—Shirakawago in Gifu, and Gokayama in Toyama? Most tourists flock to Shirakawago, and although they are smaller and slightly more remote, being perched on a hill, the houses at Gokayama are very, very picturesque.

    Gassho-zukuri houses are known for their steep triangular roofs resembling hands in prayer. In fact, this is where the name comes from gasshо, meaning to join your hands in prayer. Located in the mountains, these villages experience high snowfall in winter. The shape of the roofs is meant to prevent heavy snowfall from accumulating and crushing the houses.

    After heading back to Toyama City, check out some of the sights within Toyama City such as the Toyama Glass Art Museum. 

    The museum has both temporary and permanent exhibitions featuring contemporary glass art. Don’t miss the “Glass Art Garden: Chihuly Experience” on the 6th floor, which showcases glass installations created by the pioneer ring glass artist Dale Chihuly.

    Night in Toyama
    Inclusions: Accommodation, Breakfast, Private Guide, Transportation and Fees

    Day 6 – Transfer from Toyama to Kanazawa

    During World War Two, Kanazawa was Japan’s second-largest city (after Kyoto) to escape destruction by air raids. Consequently, parts of the old castle town have survived in relatively good condition.

    In the morning, checkout from your accommodation and take the express train bound for Kanazawa city. Once in Kanazawa, check-in at your new accommodation and visit the city’s sights at your leisure.

    Omicho Market has been Kanazawa’s largest fresh food market since the Edo Period. Today, it is a busy and colorful network of covered streets lined by about 200 shops and stalls.

    Kenrokuen Gardens  is classified as one of Japan’s “Three most beautiful landscape gardens” alongside Mito’s Kairakuen Garden and Okayama’s Korakuen Garden.

    Kanazawa Castle was one of the more important castles in the Edo period, and was ruled over by 14 generations of the Maeda clan. The castle burnt down several times over the centuries, but the Garden dates from 1788.

    Higashi Chagai ya is a traditional area with many Japanese style houses, and where once Samurai and Geisha once walked the streets.

    Night in Kanazawa
    Inclusions: Accommodation, Breakfast, Private Guide, Transportation and Fees

    Day 7 – Transfer to Fukui city via Tojinbo cliffs

    In the morning, proceed to checkout and make a quick stop by the famous “ninja Temple” before heading to the Tojinbo cliffs, and finally arrive at Fukui city.

    Myoruji “Ninja Temple” – While not actually associated with ninja, the temple earned its nickname because of its many deceptive defenses. Since the shogun imposed strict building restrictions as one way of weakening his regional lords, the temple was designed to circumvent the restrictions and serve as a disguised military outpost.

    Your next stop today will be the Tojinbo cliffs.

    Tojinbo is a one kilometer long stretch of rugged basalt cliffs along the Sea of Japan coast north of Fukui City. The rocky coastline has been carved out by the waves, leaving deep chasms and precipitous bluffs that tower up to 30 meters above the water below. The coarse, pillar-shaped rocks look like bundles of hexagonal and pentagonal rods and are a unique geological  formation that can be seen in only three spots in the world and nowhere else in Japan.

    Finally,  you will arrive at Fukui city. The tour will end at your accommodation

    Night in Fukui
    Inclusions: Accommodation, Breakfast, Private Guide, Transportation and Fees

    Day 8 – Fukui: Eihei-ji temple complex

    In the morning, head east of the city to one of Japan’s most impressive temple complexes, Eihei- Ji. All the buildings are connected to each other by covered walkways that protect from the heavy snow. Since the complex is still very active, visitors must receive a short orientation about the temple before they can explore the temple grounds on their own.

    Your next stop this morning will be the Ichijodani Asakura Clan Ruins. 

    The ruins are designated as a ‘national historical relic site’ and constitute one of the largest castle town ruins in Japan. An approximately 200-meter-long street, running from north to south in the centre of the ruins, has been restored along with residences and roads. Visitors can enjoy tea at tea stalls that recreate the atmosphere of tea bars at the time, and can also wear traditional clothing in the style of the Warring States period.

    End of the tour at your accommodation in Fukui.

    Night in Fukui
    Inclusions: Accommodation, Breakfast, Private Guide, Transportation and Fees

    Day 9 – Transfer to Osaka via Echizen village

    On the final day of the Hokuriku journey,you will  head from Fukui to Osaka. But first, let’s make a stop at the Echizen Washi Village. Washi is Japanese paper, usually processed by hand. There is a certain beauty and elegance to it with the fibers, texture and visible layers.

    First stop, the Paper and Culture Museum. The museum is filled with beautiful items crafted entirely with washi, like Tanabata (star festival) decorations and beautiful balls of flowers made with washi. At the back, there’s a room filled with sheets and sheets of all kinds of washi hanging. It’s really pretty, and you can see the different types, colors and textures for different uses.

    Thinking of bringing back a personalized souvenir? Check out the Papyrus House. Here you can experience making your own washi items. The whole process is pretty simple—you layer the pulp on the screen, add floral decorations, add more layers of pulp, add coloring and gold flecks, then wait for your creation to dry.

    From JR Takefu Station, you can take the Limited Express Thunderbird train to Osaka and continue your Japanese journey, or transfer to a train bound for Kansai International.

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