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Japan Autumn Tour
  • Tokyo
  • Hakone
  • Kyoto
  • Tokyo

Crimson Leaf Japan Tour Map

Duration:  11 Nights
Starts in:   Tokyo
Finishes in:   Tokyo

Group size:   Max 10

Cost:   See the date boxes below

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The Crimson Leaf tour is the perfect choice for an Autumn tour of Japan. Every year when the intense heat of the summer breaks, Japan bursts into flame with autumn colours. At autumn’s peak in November, the mountains, the forests, the urban parks and avenues are ablaze with every kind of red, orange and yellow providing a stunning backdrop for your holiday.
The Crimson Leaf Tour is all about the glory of the Japanese autumn. At this time of year, the days are still warm and summery by British standards and the evenings are feeling the first chills, which make the many bars and restaurants cosy and welcoming. The Crimson Leaf Tour will take you from from modern Tokyo to the ancient capital of Kyoto experiencing the best of the new and the traditional — all framed in the dramatic hues of the ubiquitous maple.
Starting with a few days amongst the bustle and thrills of downtown Tokyo, the Crimson Leaf Tour moves west to the national parks around Hakone, home of Mt. Fuji. In the Edo era (17th to 19th centuries) the area was famous as a getaway for the Japanese upper classes, but popular today with all kinds of people. Visitors come from all over Japan and the world to take in the stunning scenery, visit the many world-class art and culture museums, and unwind in the numerous hot springs. From here, the tour continues west to Kyoto with its bounty of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and revered Zen gardens that are seen at their finest among the autumn leaves.
Day trips are available to Hiroshima and Nara, there are lessons in tea ceremony, rides on the bullet train and fresh sake straight out of the vats. You will stay at fine hotels and traditional ryokan (inns). The Crimson Leaf Tour is a chance to experience the Japan’s cultural highlights at their most picturesque. If you are planning a Japan tour during the Autumn this year or in 2017 the Crimson Leaf tour should be at the top of your shortlist.

 



2017 Tour Dates

Start Date Finish Date Price / Person Availability
12th Nov
2017 (Sun)
23rd Nov
2017 (Thu)
GBP £ 3200

Only 4 places left!

2018 Tour Dates

Start Date Finish Date Price / Person Availability
11th Nov
2018 (Sun)
22nd Nov
2018 (Thu)
GBP £ 3200

10 places left

* The prices stated above are per person

Day Highlights Accommodation
Day 1
Group meal; walking tour of Shinjuku and Kabukicho Tokyo / Hotel
Day 2
Asakusa; Sumida River Cruise; Hama-rikyu Gardens; scramble crossing Tokyo / Hotel
Day 3
Tsukiji Fish Market; Kiyosumi Gardens; Rikugien Garden Tokyo / Hotel
Day 4
Hakone; Samurai Museum; Hot Springs Hakone (Mt.Fuji) / Ryokan*
Day 5
Views of Mt.Fuji; Lake Ashi; Nature Trail; Pirate Ship; Ancient Highway Hakone (Mt.Fuji) / Ryokan*
Day 6
Bullet Train to Kyoto; Tea Ceremony Kyoto / Hotel
Day 7
UNESCO World Heritage day — Ryoanji Zen Garden; Kinkaku-ji (Golden Zen Pavilion); Nijo Castle Kyoto / Hotel
Day 8
Free day; shop, relax or take a daytrip to Hiroshima or Nara Kyoto / Hotel
Day 9
Eastern mountains of Kyoto; Kiyomizudera; Gion geisha District; cultural show Kyoto / Hotel
Day 10
Tetsugaku-no-michi (path of the philosopher); Ginkaku-ji (Silver Pavilion) Kyoto / Hotel
Day 11
Bullet train to Tokyo; souvenir shopping Tokyo / Hotel
Day 12
End of Tour  

* Ryokan- Traditional Japanese inn.

Early Arrival

We meet all guests on the Japan Autumn Crimson Leaf Tour at the airport and take you into the city to make your arrival as smooth and free of stress as possible. Arriving a day or two before your tour begins so that you can adjust to the time difference and get your bearings helps you to make more of your adventure. If you do choose to arrive early, we can extend your hotel bookings and provide any information or advice you might need in order to make the most of your time and get yourself warmed up in the huge and exciting metropolis of Tokyo.

Day 1 - Tokyo

In the evening, the group meets up and goes to a local restaurant in Shinjuku. This is an ideal opportunity for everyone to get to know each other and provides a great introduction to Japanese cuisine.

Afterwards you take a walk around Shinjuku and the neighbouring area of Kabukicho, the renowned neon-lit entertainment district.

Day 2 - Tokyo

This morning you make our way to Asakusa, an atmospheric part of the city and the location of the first temple in what is now called Tokyo. Asakusa is also known as the old gateway to the Yoshiwara, “the Floating World” red light district of the Edo era. Take time to browse the market stalls and explore the side streets where the real treasures are hidden.

After a bite for lunch, you catch a boat along the Sumida River towards Tokyo Bay taking in the city from an unexpected perspective as you pass under colourful bridges on your way to the Hama-rikyu landscape gardens. Steeped in history, the gardens were a place the Shogun would hunt, relax and flaunt his prestige to guests from Japan’s elite.

On the way back to Shinjuku you have the opportunity to go to Shibuya, the famously busy shopping area. Here you see the much-filmed scramble junction with its human tsunami on the green light. You don’t have to get personally trampled if you watch the crush from the comfort of the adjacent coffee shop.

Day 3 Tokyo

This morning you go to the famous Tsukiji Fish Market. There are hundreds of varieties of fish from around the world here and rowdy fish mongers trade tuna for hundreds of thousands of dollars each. You can try some of the choicest, freshest cuts without paying oceanic prices at one of the many sushi markets around the market.

Later in the morning you visit Kiyosumi Gardens, which date to the 18th century and carry a special Place of Scenic Beauty designation from Tokyo city government. The exact origins of these gardens are obscured by time, but over the centuries they have been a playground for the rich and exalted, a refuge from the fires of the 1923 earthquake, and now a public park and island of calm in the unrelenting city.

While on the subject of green getaways, in the afternoon visit Rikugien Gardens built in around the year 1700 and considered by most as the best spot for koyo (autumn leaves) in Tokyo. Take your time and stroll the trails and forests around the central pond.

Day 4 - Hakone

Getting away from the city for a while, you take the “Romance Car” train from Shinjuku to Hakone, the national park surrounding Mt. Fuji. The shadow of Mt Fuji is not an obvious place to find work by world-renowned artists like Picasso and Monet, but the area is blessed with some special museums. Art is not the only attraction: this is Japan and history is everywhere. Your tour leader will take you to the Samurai museum, and you have the option of striking out to any of the other engrossing locations or simply explore the town and soak the day away in one of the many hot springs.

At Hakone we stay at a traditional ryokan, (Japanese inn) with spacious suites comprising a bedroom, a tatami mat room, and a private bath on the balcony. There is also a communal onsen (natural hot spring bath) both indoors and outdoors to relax in (male and female baths are separate). The dinner, which is included, and which is the centrepiece of any stay in a ryokan, is a traditional Japanese meal of seasonal dishes. Afterwards, you might like to take in the views from the roof terrace.

Day 5 - Hakone

This day of fun begins with a scenic trip on the switchback train up the mountain to Gora. A further ascent on a cable car allows superb views of Mt. Fuji. At the top you might try the famous black eggs cooked in the volcanic waters, each of which is said to lengthen your life by seven years. Nb. Due to volcanic conditions, the cable car ride may not be possible and this part of the circuit will be missed out.

You continue on with a pleasant walk down to Ashiko, the volcanic lake, along a forested nature trail. Alternatively, take a cable car down if you prefer. After lunch by the lake you board a pirate ship taking you to the other side of the lake, and the site of the sekisho, the reconstruction of the old Tokaido checkpoint. There were many such highway checkpoints during the feudal times, but this one was the most feared. You learn about its history and its significance before walking along a stretch of the original Tokaido highway lined by 400-year-old cedar trees. The trees, which were planted by order of the shogun, protected travellers from the icy winds and the snows of the winter, and the intense sun during the summer months.

Later, tired feet can be rejuvenated in one of the region’s excellent onsen.

Day 6 - Kyoto

After a 270km/h ride on the Shinkansen (bullet train) the tour arrives in Japan’s cultural heart: Kyoto. The centrally located hotel you stay at is a great base from which to explore Kyoto’s many attractions and places of interest.

For a moment of calm and tranquillity, guests can enjoy an authentic tea ceremony in a teahouse which has been performing the art and supplying the tea to the Nishi Honganji temple for several generations. You have the rest of the afternoon free to explore the area at your own pace. We'll give you plenty of tips and pointers about local shopping or nearby historical sites.

Day 7 - Kyoto

Today you visit three of the most important sites in Kyoto, each of which enjoys UNESCO World Heritage status. The classic Zen garden of Ryoanji was laid down in the 15th century and is the ideal of Zen minimal elegance and the harmony of aesthetics and spirituality. The design of the garden allows for only 14 of the 15 rocks to be seen from any one point, and only those who have achieved enlightenment can see all 15.

It is a short journey to The Golden Pavilion of Kinkakuji, which casts its reflection on the small shimmering lake it sits beside — it is truly one of the most beautiful pieces of architecture in the world.

You finish the day at Nijo Castle, built as a show of power and prestige by the Tokugawa Shogunate in 1603. It is known for its elaborate decorations and nightingale flooring which “sings” as you walk on it making the presence of all, including potential assassins, known.

Day 8 - Kyoto

Today is a free day. Shop, relax and explore; there is so much to do in Kyoto and the surrounding area. Dragonfly Tours offer plenty of suggestions and let you in on a few local secrets to help you make the most of the day. Visiting some of the fantastic Zen gardens Kyoto has to offer is a popular choice, as is Arashiyama, whose bamboo groves and rivers evoke Japan’s elegant past.

If you would like to travel a little further afield, Hiroshima and Nara are two contrasting, history-steeped cities within easy travelling distance. Hiroshima — a city that needs no introduction — is just a bullet train ride away, and is covered by your rail pass. The Peace Park, atomic bomb museum and dome make for a very moving experience.

Nara is much closer to Kyoto and was the original capital of Japan. The centrepiece of the city is UNESCO World Heritage Site Todaiji, the world’s largest freestanding wooden building and home to the world’s largest bronze statue of the Vairocana Buddha at 15 metres tall and built in 752. Todaiji stands in expansive parkland that is full of deer, considered to be messengers of the gods.

Day 9 - Kyoto

Today you see a different part of Kyoto — the Eastern Mountains, home to Japan’s most popular temple, Kiyomizudera, another UNESCO World Heritage Site. The temple has perched on stilts on the side of the mountain in a sea of maple for 1,200 years — an engineering feat impressive on its own, but the temple was built here without the use of one single nail. The maple will be aflame with seasonal colours.

From Kiyomizudera you walk through the old winding cobbled streets to Gion, famed for its geisha. Here, in the evening, there is a show of traditional performing arts including a dance by maiko (apprentice geisha), koto music, kagaku and bunraku theatre.

Day 10 - Kyoto

Today you walk along Tetsugakku-no-michi, the Path of Philosophy, following a stream lined with maple trees, one of the most famous spots in Kyoto during the season of crimson leaves. The 2km walk ends at Ginkaku-ji, the Silver Pavilion, built in 1482 by Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa, the grandson of Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu who built the Golden Pavilion.

If you still have the legs, you might want to consider hiking up Daimonji, the mountain behind Ginkaku-ji, which has fantastic views over the city from the summit — the exertion earns you a spectacular view of the sunset.

Day 11 - Tokyo

Today we return to Tokyo by bullet train to conclude the Japan Tour. There will be plenty of time for last-minute shopping before getting together for an end-of-tour party.

Day 12 - End of Tour

This is the last day of the tour and there is no itinerary planned. Some guests head to the airport today for their homebound flight, but many stay on a few more days. Dragonfly Tours Japan is happy to help you with the arrangements for an extended stay.

Accommodation

 

Tokyo: Odakyu Century Hotel, Shinjuku.

A luxury skyscraper hotel in Shinjuku, the dynamic heart of Tokyo. Situated beside Shinjuku station; parks full of autumn colours, shops, department stores, and restaurants of every variety are all close at hand. The rooms have amazing views over the city.

All rooms have LAN & Wi-Fi

Breakfasts included

Hakone: Aura Tachibana Ryokan

Excellent ryokan serving gourmet food. We have spacious Japanese suite rooms for the Crimson Leaf Tours with private baths on the balcony. Soak in the luxury!

All rooms have Wi-Fi

Traditional breakfasts and dinners included

Kyoto: Granvia

Hotel in central Kyoto with easy access across the city. Situated at Kyoto station, the hub of the city.

All rooms have LAN & Wi-Fi

Breakfasts included

Please note that the accommodation above is standard for the Crimson Leaf Tour but is at times subject to change to a similar or better hotel.
All hotels have been selected with location and comfort in mind.

Granvia Hotel, Kyoto Granvia Hotel, Kyoto Aura Tachibana Ryokan, Hakone
Granvia Hotel, Kyoto Granvia Hotel, Kyoto Aura Tachibana Ryokan, Hakone
Odakyu Century Hotel, Tokyo Odakyu Century Hotel, Tokyo Aura Tachibana Ryokan, Hakone
Odakyu Century Hotel, Tokyo Odakyu Century Hotel, Tokyo Aura Tachibana Ryokan, Hakone

Flexibility

 

The itineraries of our tours are flexible, and do vary occasionally, due to weather or on-going events such as festivals which guests may want to see.

In addition if there is something else you’d like to do or see on your trip please mention this to your tour leader and we’ll try our best to include it.

 

Age / Requirements / Fitness

 

The Crimson Leaf Tour is suitable for all ages and ideal for families, couples and friends alike. Most guests on this tour are aged between 40 and 70. Our only requirements are English speaking ability (all tours are conducted in English), and a zest for life!

None of the hikes in the Crimson Leaf Tour are compulsory and can easily be missed out. On average we walk around 5 km per day following the itinerary. Steps are involved at some stations and attractions and an extended time is spent on your feet each day. This is not a tour bus holiday!

If at any point you would like to take time off from the itinerary to rest or to stop to catch up with your memoirs with a cup of sake — absolutely no problem, we like to keep things as flexible and relaxed as possible!

 

Transportation

 

As with all our Small Group Tours we use the extremely efficient, clean, safe and reliable public transportation network — it’s the most efficient way to get around, and by far it’s the best way to experience the country and its people. On some occasions we also use private transportation. This is not a tour bus holiday with fixed tourist trap set lunches and rug sales in the afternoon!

 

Baggage Forwarding

 

We forward your main baggage ahead from hotel to hotel where necessary during the tour. You can enjoy all the pleasures of travel without having to drag you case around with you.

 

Minimum Numbers

 

The minimum number of passengers on the Crimson Leaf Tour is two — we believe it’s unfair to cancel tours when the numbers are not larger.

 

Single Supplement

 

Unfortunately, we are unable to accept single travellers on the Crimson Leaf Tour due to the nature of the advance accommodation bookings.

 

What is Included?

  • All accommodation (11 nights)
  • The support of your Tour Leader for the entirety of the tour
  • All transportation from city to city including the shinkansen bullet train
  • Meet & greet at the airport in Tokyo (either Narita or Haneda) on arrival and transfer to the hotel in the city up to one week before the starting date of the tour
  • Tickets for airport transfer at the end of the tour (non-guided)
  • Most local transport (subways / city buses / cable cars / boats) is covered by the various travel passes we issue, but not all coming to an overall total of around an additional GB£10
  • Sumida River Cruise
  • First Class Tickets on Pirate Ship in Hakone
  • Authentic Tea Ceremony at a tea house in Kyoto
  • Baggage forwarding for one case, from Tokyo to Kyoto
  • Breakfast every morning
  • Group meal on Day 1
  • Dinners (Traditional Teishoku) on Days 4 and 5 at Hakone
  • Tour Info-Pack
  • 100% payment protection through the TTA (our membership number is U6165)

What's not included?

  • Meals, except for the ones mentioned above
  • Local transportation which is not covered by the various travel passes we issue for the tour. This comes to around GB£10 in total
  • Due to the flexible nature of our tours entrance fees for temples, museums and shows etc are not included. If you visit all the places in the itinerary, the entrance fees will come to a total of around GB£50 for the whole tour
  • Travel Insurance. You must take out travel insurance before travelling to Japan.
  • Flights to and from Japan!

Holiday snaps on the Crimson autumn leaf Tour

A few photos from the tour, for more photos click here

Japan Autumn Crimson Leaf Tour
Japan Autumn Crimson Leaf Tour Japan Autumn Crimson Leaf Tour Japan Autumn Crimson Leaf Tour
Japan Autumn Crimson Leaf Tour
Japan Autumn Crimson Leaf Tour

Feel free to drop us a line and we’ll be happy to help with any queries or advice about the Crimson Leaf Autumn Tour of Japan.

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