Day-1 - DEPARTURE AMSTERDAM
- ARRIVAL TOKYO
You will be met on arrival at Tokyo Narita airport, and transferred by private bus to your hotel in the city.
- TOKYO / CITY TOUR
-- INCL. VISIT TO OLYMPIC VILLAGE --
The final chapter of Japanese history unfolds in Tokyo. After the reunification of the country in the late 16th century, after a tumultuous time when the Samurai were in power, the capital of Japan was established in the small fishing village of Edo. A city
culture flourished and this is how Tokyo developed, which became one of the most important cultural centres of modern times.
Today’s Tokyo is a bustling metropolis with a hugely diverse population and an equally varied street scene. The most modern architecture of imposing skyscrapers and futuristic constructions goes hand in hand with traditional wooden temples.
- TOKYO - SENDAI VIA NIKKO AND YAMA-DERA
From Tokyo, you will drive north on the largest main island in Japan: Honshu.
During the day you will arrive in Sendai. Sendai is a large city with more than 1 million inhabitants and has an important port. Sendai has many universities and is considered an academic city. It is not part of the standard tourist routes, and Sendai will give you an authentic look at life in Japan.
You will pass Nikko on the way. Among the green hills and hot springs of the Nikko national park is one of Japan’s most historic temples. When the great shogun (ruler) Tokugawa Ieyasu died in 1616, Nikko was designated as the site of his mausoleum.
- SENDAI - HAKODATE VIA HIRAIZUMI
On the way to Hakodate, you will pass Hiraizumi, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and once the pearl of the Northeast. The
Fujiwara clan built their wealth here as early temples, palaces and monasteries in the early 11th to 12th centuries. The cultural heritage that appeared during the Fujiwara’s reign is fairly well preserved. You will find the beautifully situated Chuson-ji Temple and Motsu-ji Temple in Hiraizumi.
Today, you will cross at the northernmost tip of Honshu island to the northern main island of Hokkaido.
- HAKODATE - ASAHIKAWA (ASAHIDAKE) VIA SAPPORO
Today, you will drive to the centre of Hokkaido island to Asahikawa. You will pass Sapporo on the way. Sapporo is the capital of the island of Hokkaido and is known for Sapporo beer and its delicious cuisine and the famous ice sculpture festival in February.
The city is dynamic and modern. The Odorikoen park, a green belt of lawns, trees and fountains, runs right through the centre. Attractions such as the Botanical Garden, the ‘Old Hokkaido Government building’ and the wooden clock tower are within walking distance.
At the end of the day you will arrive in Asahikawa. The largest national park here is the Daisetsuzan park, with the highest mountain in Hokkaido (the 2,290 metre high Asahidake).
- ASAHIKAWA (ASAHIDAKE)
A day off from driving today. You will take the cable car up Mount Asahidake (1600m). Once at the top you will take a lovely walk with different viewpoints over the mountain range with spruce forests and alpine plants.
If you enjoy hiking, it is worth climbing to the top (2,290 metres). You will need the whole day for this.
- ASAHIKAWA - BACK TO HAKODAT VIA OTARU
You will drive back today to Hakodate in the southern tip of Hokkaido island via Otaru. Otaru is a small port city on the west coast of Hokkaido, located on the bay of Ishikari. The city is known for its historic buildings and fairy-tale streets that are attractively illuminated at night by the old street lamps.
- HAKODATE - NIIGATA
You will leave Hokkaido island today to drive south along North Honshu to Niigata. Niigata city is located in the prefecture by the same name on the coast of the Japanese sea in the Chubu region. The area is famous for its high quality rice, its beautiful coastlines and its mountainous landscapes.
- NIIGATA - UNAZUKIONSEN VIIA JAPANESE ALPS
Today you will drive through the Japanese Alps in Central West Honshu. The mountain range of the Japanese Alps divides the main island of Honshu in two and consists of the Hida Mountains, the Kiso Mountains and the Akaishi Mountains. Several mountains rise above 3000 metres. In the Japanese Alpine region you will experience rural life, see traditional farms, old tea houses and onsen baths. Today you will finish in Unazuki Onsen.
Unazuki Onsen is a photogenic hot spring place near the entrance of the Kurobe Gorge in the Japanese Alps. The Shin Yamabiko Bridge takes you to the entry point of the gorge. From the largest public bath in Unazuki - Tochinoyu - you will have a great view overlooking the river, the gorge and the trains that drive through the Kurobe valley.
- UNAZUKI - TAKAYAMA
You will drive south through the Japanese Alps to Takayama. Takayama is located in the north of the Gifu-ken district, surrounded by mountains. Takayama has traditionally been a small and traditional town. Although the city has been modernised in recent decades, many original buildings can still be found here. In a few preserved streets in the heart of the city you will find the old private houses. Today, most have been turned into shops, workshops or museums, but there are also still a few original sake breweries to be found that offer sake tasting.
- TAKAYAMA - KANAWAZA VIA NOTOPENINSULA
The drive from Takayama to Kanazawa is not long so you can combine this with a detour via Noto peninsula, which extends north of the city of Kanazawa in the Sea of Japan. You will pass peaceful fishing villages and beautiful coastlines before arriving in Kanazawa during the day. Kanazawa has one of the most beautiful gardens in all of Japan! The Kenrokuen garden, for example, previously belonged to Kanazawa Castle and is still in the same condition as the Maeda family designed it.
In the garden you will find ponds, waterfalls, bridges, tea houses and many flowers. The name ‘Kenrokuen’ literally means ‘Garden of the six heights’, referring to the six essential characteristics of a perfect garden: spatial, separate, artificiality, antiquity, lots of water and panoramic views. Nagamachi, the old Samurai district, is also located in Kanazawa. In this district you can still find old samurai houses, the best known is the Nomura-ke residence. Here, you will get a good idea of the Samurai lifestyle.
- KANAZAWA - KYOTO
You will leave the Alpine region to drive south along Honshu to the old capital Kyoto. Kyoto appeals to the imagination of all travellers to Japan and is almost synonymous with a visit to the country.
Here you can see, feel and smell the Japanese traditions that are still very much alive between the cracks of ultramodern society. Kyoto, the ancient capital of Japan, blossomed during the Heian period.
During this time, the sophisticated court culture developed around the imperial palace. The mysterious geisha culture finds its origin here. In Kyoto you can admire the most famous Shinto shrines, Buddhist temples and the most famous Japanese gardens.
In the west of the city you can admire the beautiful Golden Pavilion of the Kingakuji, but be prepared for droves of Japanese school classes! To the west is the Ryôanji Temple, with perhaps the most famous Zen garden in all of Japan.
Within the city limits you will also find the Sanjûsangendô, with as many as 1001 lifesize images of Kannon, the boddhisattva of compassion. The Kiyômizu-dera is a beautiful temple located on a large wooden plateau overlooking the city. The small surrounding streets are full of small pottery shops where you can buy many beautiful items. Be sure to walk along the Philosopher’s Path, which you can combine with a visit to the Ginkakuji Temple, the Hônen-in and Nanzenji.
- KYOTO - IYA VALLEY VIA SECTION 88 TEMPLE ROUTE
You will drive from Honshu island to Shikoku island. This is the smallest and least populated of the four main islands of Japan. It is synonymous with the 88 Temple Route, a unique and long pilgrimage of no less than 1200 kilometres.
The 88 Temple Route, also known as the Shikoku Henro Pilgrimage Route, consists of 88 ‘official’ temples and numerous other sacred sites scattered around the island. Drive towards the Iya Valley straight through the Oboke Gorge, a rocky, wooded gorge with a clear blue river roaring through it.
The Kazurabashi Bridge is the largest of the three remaining characteristic vine bridges in the Iya Valley. The bridges are made of lianas and used to be the only way to reach the other side of the river.
- IYA VALLEY - BEPPU
You will leave Shikoku island and drive to the southern main island of Kyushu.
In Beppu, you can see the big steam clouds rising in the distance from the hot spring baths scattered around the city. In addition to the hot spring baths, there are mud baths, sand baths and steam baths. You can visit the Beppu ‘hells’, the volcanic springs that are too hot to soak in but impressive to see.
- BEPPU - NAGASAKI
You will drive to the most western point of Kyushu island, Nagasaki. At the end of World War II, Nagasaki was hit by an atomic bomb, which was actually intended to hit Kokura, slightly further north. Partly due to the poor visibility, the bomb fell on Nagasaki and destroyed as much as one third of the city, in particular the Urakami district, where the most important memorials are nowadays. Despite this destruction, some memories of Nagasaki’s rich past have been preserved.
For the Netherlands, Nagasaki is almost synonymous with the island of Dejima, where, from the 17th to the 19th century, the Dutch were the only foreigners allowed to trade with the then isolated Japan. This small island near Nagasaki was the only contact between Japan and the West.
Today, Dejima is no longer an island and has grown into the city, but there are still historical buildings and part of the old city walls have been reconstructed. The traces of the Netherlands can also be seen in the theme park ‘Huis ten Bosch’, with its replicas of famous Dutch buildings, such as the Palace on the Dam (Amsterdam) and the Dom Tower (Utrecht).
- NAGASAKI - HIROSHIMA AND VISIT TO MIYAJIMA ISLAND
You will drive north again across Honshu Island to Hiroshima, the city that was the target of the first ever nuclear bomb in World War II. On 6 August 1945, absolutely everything was destroyed within a 2-kilometre radius. Over time, the city has been rebuilt. Right in the centre, formerly the commercial heart of the city, a large Peace Memorial Park has been built, containing both a museum and a monument to commemorate the catastrophe.
From Hiroshima, you will catch the ferry to Miyajima Island, easily accessible by ferry, just a 10-minute boat ride from Miyajimaguchi station. Miyajimaguchi station can be reached within half an hour from Hiroshima Station.
- HIROSHIMA - IZUMO
From Hiroshima, drive north to the coast at Izumo. Izumo is a city on the rural Sanin Coast. The area is best known for Izumo Taisha, one of Japan’s oldest and most sacred Shinto Shrines.
- IZUMO - TOTTORI SAND DUNES VIA DAISEN OKI NP
On the way to Tottori, drive to Daisen Oki National Park. The park encompasses a huge range of landscapes, from the massive Daisen Mountain to the rocky shoreline of the Shimane Peninsula overlooking the enchanting Oki Islands.
Just outside the city of Tottori on the Sea of Japan you will find a landscape that is surprising for Japan: the golden - and only - sand dunes of Japan.
These sand dunes were created thousands of years ago from the sand deposited in the sea by the neighbouring Sendai River. The area is about 15 kilometres long and barely 2.5 kilometres wide and is part of San’in Kaigan National Park.
- TOTTORI - NARA
You will drive southeast to the old capital, Nara. The city of Nara is the centre of the oldest Japanese culture. Several cities were founded in this area by the early emperors, but when Nara was built in 710, it was the first city to truly qualify to be designated as a ‘capital’. During this period, Buddhism was introduced to Japan from China, which became known as the Six Nara Schools.
- NARA - KAWAGUCHIKO AT MT. FUJI
Drive east from Nara to Kawaguchiko at Mt. Fuji. The image of the perfectly formed Fuji mountain with its beautifully snow-capped peak will be in view all day long from Lake Kawaguchiko.
You can make stops along the way at several Shinto shrines, a tofu factory and/or a sake brewery in the area. Also worth seeing is the Kachi Kachi Ropeway, a funicular that takes you up to a viewpoint where you will have an impressive view of Mt. Fuji and Kawaguchiko.
- KAWAGUCHIKO - TOKYO VIA FUJI SPEEDWAY
From Kawaguchiko you will be driving back to Tokyo. In the morning, you will visit the Fuji Speedway, a race track in the Japanese Prefecture of Shizuoka. The circuit is located 64km west of Yokohama City not far from Mt. Fuji. The circuit is 4.563 km long. Drive the Formula 1 circuit in your own classic car. Now that’s something to tell the people at home!
- TOKYO / CITY ADN JAPANESE DINNER
The cars are returned to the port. You will take a city tour in Tokyo where you will get to know a different part of the city than the one you saw at the beginning of the trip. We will end this unique adventure along rugged ocean coasts, mythical landscapes, long sandy beaches and inhospitable mountain areas with a traditional Japanese dinner.
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