We invite you to take a trip through the Japanese province! This trip is suitable for those who, dodging the usual tourist paths, like to turn into an alley with mossy corners, open a leaning door, look inside and unexpectedly meet the inhabitants of the house. It is for those who seek to penetrate into the essence of another people's culture, to ask many questions, to perhaps better understand themselves.

The Japanese hinterland, which has preserved living traditions, is not so deep: 2-3 hours drive from famous tourist centers Kyoto и Osaka. Japanese "Alps" that formed the "Hokuriku" region with its main cities Kanazawa, Toyama and Takayama protected it from the active penetration of industry from the Pacific coast of the country and helped to save it from the devastating wars of the past century. The towns and villages, like toy towns, are frozen in their largely original image and ready to tell the centuries-old story of their inhabitants.

Kanazawa You'll boast one of the three most beautiful landscaped gardens in Japan, Kenrokuen, and take you on a tour of the Samurai Museum Quarter (bukeyashiki). And then maybe sneak a peek at the Higashi Geisha District, founded in the early 19th century to entertain wealthy patrons and preserving authentic geisha houses.

City Takayama will get you up early for your morning asa-ichi bazaar and then, without resting, head straight for the San-machi Suji district, a lively part of Takayama that has remained untouched since the feudal era. If you are in Takayama on April 13-14, you can catch one of the most ecstatic festivals in Japan, where the image of calm and restrained Japanese will be immediately dispelled to dust. And to come to your senses, you can retreat back to the piercing silence of Shirakawa-go, a UNESCO World Heritage village, and admire its thatched-roofed houses, folded like hands in prayer (gasho style) against a backdrop of rice paddies.

Township Saeki will remind you of the ancient art of samurai sword forging, Ainokura - about the production of Japanese washi rice paper, and Gokayama - about the secrets of gunpowder making. And all this against the backdrop of fantastic views of the local nature. It is not by chance that the local mountains are called "Alps": green-black-and-white peaks against the blue sky, reflected in the lake - what is not a Swiss landscape?

Detailed program

Day 1. Kanazawa

8:00 Meeting with Russian-speaking guide in the hotel lobby, transfer by private transportation to Tokyo railway station.

8:36-11:06 Transfer to Kanazawa city by high-speed shinkansen train.

11:00-17:00 A tour of the ancient city Kanazawa.

The name "Kanazawa" (golden swamp) is associated with the legend of Imohori Togoro, a peasant. He earned his living by digging potatoes, and one day when he washed his hands in a spring, he found gold dust on his hands. This is how gold was first discovered in the Kanazawa area. The city is still widely known for the production of the finest gold plates, which are used not only to cover various surfaces, but also in cosmetics and even in the manufacture of "golden" ice cream.

  • A walk through the territory of the building erected in the middle of the XVI century. зamka Kanazawa. This powerful structure, which attracts visitors with its rugged beauty, was the stronghold of the Maeda clan's military power. In 1583, the castle became the residence of Maeda Toshiye. Since then, it has been home to 14 generations of the Maeda family. Subsequent owners built and expanded the structure, adding new tiers and towers. The roofs of the buildings were covered with namari gawara (wooden planks covered with protective lead sheeting) so that they could withstand the weight of the snow that fell heavily here. In 1759, a huge fire destroyed most of the castle. Fires and natural disasters repeatedly destroyed these buildings centuries later, but they were rebuilt each time. The last major destruction was in 1881, when all the main buildings burned down. The castle was rebuilt in 2001 using traditional late 18th century construction methods. 
  • Attendance Kenroquan GardensIt is the favorite garden of many generations of the Maeda Princes, the rulers of Kanazawa. Each ruler has contributed to the splendor of this garden, which has all six qualities of landscape gardens: spaciousness, privacy, refinement, the presence of the spirit of antiquity, ponds and waterfalls, and a magnificent panorama of the city and surrounding hills. In spring, white and pink flowers decorate the landscape gardens. sakura and the plum tree, and in the fall, the scarlet leaves blaze. maples. Therefore, Kanazawa is one of the most visited cities in Japan during these seasons.
  • Walking deep into Kenrokuen Gardens, you will visit the luxurious villa Seison-kakuThe Maeda House was lovingly built in the mid-19th century by a Maeda prince for his elderly mother, who had become a monk. You will see the household items of a member of the princely family not in a museum, but in a building of the time - a rare opportunity in Japan, where many wooden buildings have simply not survived to this day.
  • Nagamachi Old QuarterThere are still some "samurai houses" in Kanazawa. The famous samurai families living in Kanazawa include the Nomura, Maeda, Takada, Okumura, Murai, Honda, and other clans. Many of the residences are private estates closed to internal viewing. The most popular and open to inspection is the house belonging to the Nomura family, called Nomura-ke. The feudal era, and with it the prosperous life of the samurai class, ended with the onset of the Meiji Restoration. Many samurai families, including the Nomura, went bankrupt.
  • Attendance of the Kaikaro Tea House in the Nagamachi neighborhood, where you can enjoy fragrant green tea and traditional Japanese dessert. The owner of the tea house will introduce you to its history, the details of geisha life, the peculiarities of their communication with samurai and other representatives of the wealthy strata of the population of historical Kanazawa. By reservation only.
  • Galleries-shops of porcelain Kutani.

17:00-19:00 Transfer to Takayama (2 h). Accommodation at Hanaugi ryokan.

Day 2. Takayama

Breakfast at the ryokan.

10:00 Meet your guide in the hotel lobby.

10:00-18:00 Takayama tour

  • Attendance of the morning market "asa-ichi" Miya-gawa. This local bazaar dates back to the Edo period (about 200 years ago). Back then, it was mainly a place to trade rice, mulberry and flowers. Nowadays, you can buy fresh fruits and vegetables, flowers and other goods here all year round. It is open from early morning until 12 noon.
  • Old Town, Sannomati districtKusakabe Mingei-kan Museum, the historic part of Takayama, which has been preserved intact since the feudal era and includes many restaurants, family museums, etc. in addition to residential houses. Kusakabe Mingei-kan Museum, the house of a prosperous merchant of the 19th century, an embodiment of the city's history and the traditions of its inhabitants. Yoshijima-ke merchant's house. Yatai-kaikan, an exhibition gallery of colorful mobile platforms and giant inflatable brightly painted kites used during major temple festivals.
  • Hida-no-Sato Open Air Museum, where you can try your hand at a local craft, such as making soba (buckwheat noodles), straw weaving, or making a sarubobo amulet in peasant houses collected throughout the region. The Matsuri-no-mori forest museum complex, where giant models of temples on stretchers are on display for the annual local festival, with the world's largest drum. There you can also try to make your own Japanese osenbei rice cookies. There is also a tea ceremony museum. 
  • Return to the ryokan.

Day 3. Shirakawa-go - Seki

Checking out of the ryokan. 

10:00 Meet your guide in the hotel lobby.

10:00-10:50 Transfer to Shirakawa-go.

11:00-17:00 Excursion to Shirakawa-go village complex, A UNESCO World Heritage Site. A walk through the streets and paths of the old village along the thatched roof houses, folded like hands in prayer - the gasho style, a feature of village architecture in this region. 

  • Wada-ke Museumwhich tells the story of this style. Climbing a hill for a postcard view of the village. Gokayama Valley, famous for its fantastic natural beauty and the history of Japan's secret gunpowder production, which you can learn more about in a museum inside a former workshop. 
  • Murakami-ke Museum in the village of Kaminasi (4 km from Gokayama), where folk songs are sung after a story about local traditions. 
  • Shimonashi and Ainokura district (another 4 km), also on the UNESCO list. The center of production of washi, Japanese handmade rice paper, where you can try your hand at this craft.

Transfer to Seki town (2 hours). Accommodation at Sugishima ryokan.

Day 4. Seki to Ise

10:00 Meet your guide in the hotel lobby.

10:00-16:00 Seki City Tour

Along with Solingen, Germany, the Japanese city of Seki is one of the most famous cities for the production of edged weapons. To this day, local gunsmiths still make swords in the traditional forging style that has been handed down from generation to generation for centuries.

Kajita Token Workshop in the suburb of Seki (10 km, 20 min), whose master is Yoshida Ken. We need to check the relevance. Like many traditional craftsmen in Japan, Master Yoshida works under his professional pseudonym, Kanehisa. The master and his assistants will introduce you to the history and traditions of blade making. 

Japan Sword Forging Museum (The Seki Sword Tradition Museum) - together with Master Kanehisa. The master will introduce guests to the history and tradition of the blacksmiths of Japan, which dates back more than 700 years. The museum exhibits various documents and videos, with forging demonstrations on certain days. 

Store for modern and historical swords.

Transfer to Ise (2.5 hours). Accommodation in a hotel or ryokan.

Day 5: Ise - Mikimoto

10:00 Check out from the hotel, meet your guide in the hotel lobby.

10:00-16:00 Ise City Tour and Mikimoto Island. 

  • Visit to Japan's main temple complex Ise-jingu (the abode of the sun goddess Amaterasu, the goddess-grandmother of the first Japanese Emperor Jimmu): inner and outer sanctum. The temple houses national treasures, notably the Sacred Mirror, which is a an imperial regalia.
  • Internal Naiku shrine is dedicated to the ancestor of the imperial family, goddess Amaterasu. The outer shrine of Geku is dedicated to the goddess of food, Toyouke, who plays the role of cook under Amaterasu. The distance between the outer and inner shrines is about 4 kilometers. 

It is believed that kami like everything new and clean. Therefore, all buildings must be rebuilt regularly. In Ise, these traditions are strictly observed and every 20 years a new dwelling is built for Amaterasu and Toyouke. The last time the shrines were renovated in 2013. For this purpose, about 200 thousand people were involved, most of whom were volunteers and participated in the construction for free. However, despite the significant number of volunteers, the construction cost about 30 million dollars.

  • Moving to Mikimoto Islandwhere there are pearl plantations and a jewelry factory. There you can also watch a pearl diving show.

Transfer to Nara (2.5 hours). Accommodation at the hotel.

Day 6. Koya-san

09:30 Check out from the hotel, meet your guide in the hotel lobby. 

09:30-16:00 Excursion to the mountain monastery town of Koya-sanIt is located inside eight mountain peaks and surrounded by a dense forest of cryptomeria. This journey can change your outlook on life, as the pervasive atmosphere of esoteric Buddhism is a lasting memory, especially if you stay overnight at the temple and take part in morning Zen meditation.

Transfer to Koyasan by guided car (1.5 hours). 

  • Nyonyin-do Temple Complex
  • Tokugawa Family Mausoleum
  • Garan, central monastery
  • Kondo Shrinebuilt by the famous Japanese educator Kukai.
  • The monks' cemetery and the famous aristocrats of Okuno-in.

Sanmai-in Pagoda

16:00-17:00 Transfer and check-in to Soujiin Shrine Monastery near Kongobudzi Temple. Attending the monks' service and meditation. 

17:30- 18:30 Dinner at the temple.

Day 7. Koya-san - Osaka

07:20 Buddhist vegetarian breakfast, meditation. 

08:00 Discharge from the temple, meet your guide. 

08:00-10:00 Guided car transfer to Shin-Osaka Station (1.5-2 hours). 

10:15-12:45 Transfer by shinkansen to Tokyo. Meet guide on the platform. Transfer to the hotel. Free time.