Escape to the Japanese Countryside

There are many cities in Japan worth exploring besides Tokyo, and Kyoto is definitely one of them. The nation’s former capital offers a plethora of temples, shrines and other historically priceless monuments that still survive today. In addition to Kyoto, this 8 day/7 night itinerary takes you into the magical Japanese countryside and famed Alps, offering a range of sightseeing and hiking opportunities. You will visit  the mountainous Hida alpine region, Takayama, a beautifully preserved old town was cut off from the rest of Japan, allowing it to develop its own unique culture, and Kanazawa, a town of great cultural achievements, rivalling Kyoto and Tokyo.

Day 1: Arrival

On arrival at Kansai International Airport, you will be met and transferred from the airport to your hotel, the Ritz-Carlton Kyoto.

You will have the remainder of the day at leisure to explore nearby sites or simply relax at the hotel.

Stay: Ritz-Carlton Kyoto

Day 2: Discovering Kyoto

Today you will explore the former imperial capital with a knowledgeable local guide and private car, visiting some of Kyoto’s famous World Heritage Sites.

You will start your day with a visit to Nijo Castle, an ornamental castle built by the founder of the Edo Shogunate and surrounded by stunning gardens. Next, you will see Kinkakuji, which is also known as the Golden Pavilion. Kinkakuji was originally built as a retirement villa for the Shogun and after he passed away, it became a Buddhist Temple at his request. From there you will head to Heian Shrine, which was built on the occasion of the 1100th anniversary of the capital’s foundation in Kyoto, and Ginkakuji (Silver Pavilion), a Zen temple along Kyoto’s eastern mountains, Higashiyama.

Your final stop today is Kiyomizu (Pure Water) Temple. From the 13 metre-high veranda jutting out from the Main Hall you can enjoy amazing views of the whole of Kyoto.

Stay: Ritz-Carlton Kyoto

Day 3: From Kyoto to Takayama

Make your way to Kyoto station in the morning and travel to Takayama by express train and bullet train (tickets included). There will be one train change in Nagoya, where we have included a transfer assistant.

On arrival in Takayama this afternoon, you can take in the quiet atmosphere of this historical countryside town, and visit on own one of the town’s many sake breweries for a taste of the local drop – its high quality due to the area’s clean water sources.

Stay: Koto no Yume Ryokan

Day 4: Exploring Takayama

After breakfast, your guide will take you up to the Miyagawa morning market, with stalls selling local crafts and produce and a good opportunity to try some of the region’s delicious fruit and vegetables.

Your trip around Takayama will continue by visiting the old town area. Takayama’s old town has been beautifully preserved, with many buildings and whole streets of houses dating from the Edo Period (1600-1868), when the city thrived as a wealthy town of merchants. The southern half of the old town, especially the Sannomachi Street, survives in a particularly pretty state with many old homes, shops, coffee houses and sake breweries, some of which have been in business for centuries.

You will end the day at a sake brewery, where you can taste the differences between the different kinds of sake.

Stay: Koto no Yume Ryokan

Day 5: Visiting Kamikochi

Today you will travel by bus to Kamikochi, as private cars are not allowed in the area in order to preserve the natural environment. Kamikochi is one of the most beautiful places in Japan; a haven of unspoilt nature. The ice blue glacial waters of the Azusagawa River carve through the valley, framed by the soaring Alps, capped in snow for most of the year.

Kamikochi is the perfect place to stretch your legs, with easy walks along the river and across the famed Kappabashi Bridge. Some of the country’s most exhilarating mountain treks can be accessed from Kamikochi, and there are also several good day-walks that hikers and ramblers alike will enjoy. 

Stay: Koto no Yume Ryokan

Day 6: Takayama - Shirakawago - Kanazawa

Today you will visit the Takayama Festival Floats Museum and afterwards you will travel by private car to Shirakawago. Between the Shirakawago and Gokayama regions lie the Shogawa River Valley in the remote mountains that span from Gifu to Toyama Prefectures.

Declared as a UNESCO world heritage site in 1995, the village is famous for its traditional gassho-zukuri farmhouses, some of which are more than 250 years old. Gassho-zukuri means “constructed like hands in prayer”, as the farmhouses’ steep thatched roofs resemble the hands of Buddhist monks pressed together in prayer. The architectural style developed over many generations and is designed to withstand the large amounts of heavy snow that falls in the region during winter.

In the afternoon, you will continue your journey to Kanazawa.

Stay: Kinjohro Ryokan

Day 7: Admiring Kanazawa

Today you will visit a town of great cultural achievements, Kanazawa. The highlight of any visit to Kanazawa is Kenroku-en garden. Ranked one of the top three best landscape gardens in Japan, its breathtaking beauty shines through in any season.

You can also visit the Nagamachi Samurai district, Kagayuzen Sangyo Kaikan Silk Center, offering demonstrations of the centuries-old Yuzen silk painting technique, and the Nomura Samurai House, a traditional Japanese home with tea-ceremony room, an interior courtyard garden and artifacts from the Edo period.

Stay: Kinjohro Ryokan

Day 8: Departure

In the morning you will be transferred from your accommodation to Kanazawa Station by private transit. From the station, take the express train from Kanazawa to Kyoto Station. At Kyoto station, you will be transferred to the airport to catch your return flight home.


Duration Description Overnight
Day 1: Arrival Ritz-Carlton Kyoto
Day 2: Discovering Kyoto Ritz-Carlton Kyoto
Day 3: From Kyoto to Takayama Koto no Yume Ryokan
Day 4: Exploring Takayama Koto no Yume Ryokan
Day 5: Visiting Kamikochi Koto no Yume Ryokan
Day 6: Takayama - Shirakawago - Kanazawa Kinjohro Ryokan
Day 7: Admiring Kanazawa Kinjohro Ryokan
Day 8: Departure



  • Accommodation with daily breakfast
  • Transfers
  • 24 hour emergency contact
  • Activities mentioned in the itinerary
  • English speaking tour guide

Not Included

  • International and domestic airfare
  • Personal expenses
  • Visa fees and/or visa authorization
  • Tips and gratuities
  • Other expenses not mentioned on the itinerary
  • Travel insurance (please note that travel insurance is mandatory for all Lightfoot Travel holidays)


Ritz-Carlton Kyoto Takayama Koto no Yume Ryokan Kanazawa Kinjohro Ryokan

From USD 16,347 for a family of 2 adults and 2 children

Notes on our prices

  • This price guide provides you with a broad indication of how much to budget for your holiday.
  • Prices are generally based on two people travelling together (unless stated otherwise) on a shared room basis.
  • Prices can fluctuate depending on season, standard of accommodation, excursions selected (private versus shared) etc.
  • This basic structure works very nicely, but don’t forget that Lightfoot Travel can provide a range of experiences and we tailor-make each itinerary based on your travel requirements. Get in touch to start planning your perfect trip with your own travel consultant.