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Takayama Festival Tour
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Mixed Groups

13 Days / 12 Nights Trip to Japan

Takayama Festival Tour

Welcome to a country that fuses the ultra-modern and traditional with ease, a nation that blends the elegance of kimonos and the speed of bullet trains with verve.
Japan will surprise, amaze, delight and completely captivate you, from modern metropolis Tokyo, to imperial Kyoto, quiet bamboo forests to the iconic Mt. Fuji.  But no matter where you go, it’s the little experiences - a bowl of spicy ramen,fortune-telling at a Shinto shrine, the shade of a pale-pink kimono, the whimsicality of a robot cafe - that will make your time here truly captivating.
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  • Duration
    13 Days
  • Starting From
    Twin sharing
  • Travel Operator
    Dragonfly Tours
  • Flights
    Not Included
    Flight booking assistance will be provided.

Trip highlights

Kyoto takes you back in time
Highlight #1
Kyoto takes you back in time
Japan's ancient and imperial capital is famous for its elegant temples, tea gardens and markets.
Be astonished by Tokyo
Highlight #2
Be astonished by Tokyo
Explore a modern metropolis of skyscrapers and bullet trains, small ramen stalls and robot bars, and get a first-hand glimpse of life in the capital.
Take part in an elegant tea ceremony
Highlight #3
Take part in an elegant tea ceremony
Could there be anything more quintessentially Japanese?
Stay in a ryokan
Highlight #4
Stay in a ryokan
When in Japan, live like the Japanese do. In a traditional ryokan, wear a traditional robe, relax with a cup of tea, and sleep on a futon.

 There’s simply no place like Japan

Futuristic cities, quiet bamboo forests, kimonos, sushi, Mt. Fuji and more will guarantee you an unforgettable time. Take a look at this video by Media Hog Productions for a glimpse of what’s in store.

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The Takayama Festival Tour starts this evening; Dragonfly Tours hosts a meal at a local restaurant, where your tour of Japan kicks off with a tour of the Japanese palate. This is also a great way for everyone in the group to get to know each other. After the meal, we walk around the neon lit streets of the infamous Kabukicho night time entertainment district as it all comes alive.

Hakone (Mount Fuji)

Today’s destination on the Takayama Festival Tour is Hakone, the National Park beside Mt Fuji. However, before heading off, you take a short subway ride to Tsukiji Outer Fish Market buzzing with atmosphere, stalls, shops and restaurants.  After exploring the market you have a chance to taste some of the freshest sushi and sashimi you will find anywhere. You may wish to complete the experience by washing the succulent cuts of fish down with a glass of sake.

Later in the morning you leave Tokyo for Hakone taking around 90 minutes. Staying with the theme of the tour, we go to the samurai museum. However the Hakone area is blessed with a surprising number of museums of fine art, and you are free to split away from the group and visit one of these others as an alternative. There is the Open Air Museum featuring art by Henry Moore and Pablo Picasso and the collection of the Pola Museum includes pieces by Van Gogh, Monet and Renoir. The Pola Museum building is itself an amazing piece of architecture of concrete and glass. (Be aware that the museums are dotted around the national park, and even for the most dedicated culture vulture, it isn’t possible to see everything in one day.)

If museums aren’t your thing, you may wish to simply relax and soak the day away in the revitalizing natural hot springs.

Hakone (Mount Fuji)

Day 3 of the Takayama Festival tour starts soon after breakfast to avoid the day trippers coming in from Tokyo. You take the cable car up the mountain to Owakudani, “Hell’s Valley”. From this craggy volcano, you should be able to see Mount Fuji in its full majesty. Eggs that have been cooked in the volcanic waters are sold here. The process turns them black and, it is said, for every egg you eat extends your life by seven years. How many can you eat? Nb. Due to volcanic conditions, visiting Owakudani may not be possible and this part of the circuit will be missed out.

From the summit of Hell’s Valley, you descend to Lake Ashi — you may choose to do this on foot, getting up close with Hakone’s hiking trails, or you may prefer the ropeway and the views it affords. The lakeside is a beautiful place for a stroll (especially if you didn’t walk down the mountain). Here the group gets back together for something to eat. Replete, you catch the pirate ship across the lake to the reproduction of the Hakone checkpoint. This may be a remake but the original checkpoint was very significant in its day.

During the Edo era (1603-1868) the Tokugawa shogunate imposed strict regulations monitoring and controlling travellers and merchandise. The regulations were enforced by 52 such checkpoints, and this one is thought to have been the largest and most important — not to mention a cause of considerable anxiety for travellers of the day. Following years of research, the checkpoint was re-built using traditional methods and tools, and was opened to the public in the spring of 2007.

From here, you walk along a stretch of the ancient highway lined with huge cedar trees, planted on the orders of the shogun to shade the travellers from the winter snows and the intense summer sun. After this stretch you can take a bus back to the hotel or you can continue walking along the ancient highway, which still has sections of the original paving. There is something very special about walking on these cobbles, under the very same trees that some of the greatest people in Japanese history have walked (or been carried along in palanquins). Shogun, armies of samurai, noblemen, writers, peasants, courtesans, and ninja in disguise all took this route.


This morning you board the Shinkansen (bullet train) and make our way to the mountain city of Takayama where the festival that is the centrepiece of your trip is heating up.

Eagle-eyed readers will have noticed there are two Takayama Tours at different times, this is because there are two Takayama festivals. As with so many Japanese rites, nature and the seasons are immensely important. The festival to welcome spring takes place amongst the delicate pinks and whites of the blooming cherry blossoms. In contrast, the autumn festival celebrates the harvest.

The highlights of both festivals, which date from the 15th century, come in the evenings, when colourful dashi (floats), are lead through the streets amid cheers and drums. There are a number of small rivers running through the old town and the parades will pass over the beautiful vermillion bridges that span them.


Japanese festivals are the heart of the life of the community and just one day is rarely enough for a proper celebration. The festival continues today but there is no tour itinerary. You are free to explore on your own and soak up the atmosphere and the sights as floats and parades weave their way through the old town.


This morning you take the bus to the picturesque village of Shirakawa-go. Nestled deep in the mountains, it’s an idyllic place with age-old traditions and architecture now lost to most of the country. You spend the night in a gassho zukuri (a traditional thatched farm house) that is over 250 years old. The rooms are homely and you sleep on comfortable futons on tatami flooring. These are not recreations of Japanese historical Japanese homes, they are the real thing.

This is also a living community — most of these beautiful old buildings are family homes. Imagine living like this all year round. You have plenty of time to stroll around the village and get a taste of the community spirit at the heart of this place. The local people here still work together in building and maintaining these magnificent houses, re-thatching them every 25–35 years.

In the evening you are served a home cooked meal made with ingredients from the local mountains. After dinner you may wish to visit the nearby fantastic onsen (hot spring). If you’ve never been to an onsen before then this is a good one to start with. If you don’t think onsen are your thing, (communal bathing doesn’t appeal to all) the farmhouse has its own private washing facilities.


After breakfast and some free time to explore more of the village you take a bus for Kanazawa, like Kyoto a historic city and also like Kyoto, spared the bombing of the Second World War. The hotel is close to the station and most of the town’s main attractions, including the geisha districts, samurai houses, and the world-famous Kenrokuen garden.

Kenrokuen is considered one of the three best gardens in Japan — and many consider it the best. Once the private gardens of the ruling samurai family, the garden was developed and improved over 200 years to become what you see today. It is the essential Japanese garden: manicured trees, waterfalls, rock gardens, a teahouse by a tranquil pond; the ideal blend of art and nature.

Next, you visit the Nomura Samurai Residence. The Nomura family flourished with their class during the Edo period but during the Meiji Restoration the samurai lost their reason for existing, their status and eventually their wealth. The Nomura house was sold to a member of the newly ascendant merchant class but is now restored as it would have been under the Nomura family. The house provides a privileged look into history, evoking the lifestyle of a class that holds enduring fascination.

If you wish to set off on your own, you have the option of the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art just over the road from Kenrokuen, or the nearby Omicho market, the gastronomic heart of Kanazawa.


Moving ever onward, the next destination is Kyoto, the heart and soul of Japan. Here you visit Kiyomizudera, UNESCO World Heritage site, a temple perched on stilts on the mountainside and appearing to float on the forest. Visitors flock here from far and wide to pray and wish for their most heartfelt desires, from meeting their ideal lover to promotion at work; from exam success to miraculous cures for health troubles.

From Kiyomizudera you walk along the winding atmospheric cobbled streets to Gion, the main geisha district of Kyoto where we conclude today's guided tour.  In the evening you will have the opportunity to attend a show that takes you deep into the cultural heart of the country. It includes performances of koto (Japanese harp), gagaku (court music), kyomai (maiko apprentice geisha performing a traditional dance), kado (flower arrangement) and bunraku (puppet theatre). Also, if you’ve ever wanted to don a kimono and dress up as a geisha today is your chance!


Today is steeped in beauty, history, art, and intrigue. You visit the three principal World Heritage sites in Kyoto, each are very different and each help to tell the story of how we understand Japan today.

You start with Ryoanji and the Zen garden that defines Zen gardens. Fifteen rocks set in a swirling gravel bed. However, you only see 14 of the rocks because only the truly enlightened see all 15. As you strive for enlightenment you might contemplate the enigmatic phrase "Ware tada taru shiru" (I only plenty know), which is carved into the water receptacle at the back of the temple.

Next you see one of the most beautiful buildings in the world, Kinkakuji — the famous Golden Pavilion. The pavilion is covered in gold leaf and stands next to a pond that captures the reflection in its shimmering surface. The pond and the pavilion stand in a classic Japanese garden. The Golden Pavilion is another UNESCO World Heritage site and was the centrepiece of Yukio Mishima’s novel The Temple of the Golden Pavilion.

The exploration of Kyoto’s history continues as you go on to Nijo-jo — Nijo Castle — built by the Tokugawa shogunate as a symbol of power. It’s a building full of national treasures and walking down the corridors on the "nightingale flooring" which sings as you tread — alerting the shogun to unwelcome visitors — carries you back in time to feudal days.


This is a free day set aside for shopping, relaxing and exploring. There is so much to do in Kyoto and the surrounding area. Your tour leader will offer plenty of suggestions and let you in on a few local secrets to help you make the most of your day.

Perhaps you would like to attend a workshop for one of the following:

    Taiko (traditional drumming)
    Ikebana (flower arranging)
    Wearing a kimono
    Cooking class at a local home
    Sake tasting
    Shodo (Calligraphy)
    Paper craft with Washi paper

If interested, please let us know in advance and we’ll get it arranged for you!

This day is also an opportunity to take a trip to one of the neighbouring cities: Osaka, Nara or Kobe. Nara is another UNESCO trove and a former capital of Japan that predates even Kyoto. Osaka is Kansai’s commercial powerhouse, and centre of more worldly delights in its profusion of restaurants and night spots. Kobe is a fashionable and affluent city with a cosmopolitan tone, derived from its history as one of the first places to admit foreign residents when Japan opened its Chrysanthemum Curtain in the 19th century.


The tea ceremony is the definition of serenity, and this morning you have the chance to find out what it’s all about and experience it for yourself. You participate in a ceremony in a teahouse that has been performing the art and supplying the tea to the Nishi Honganji temple for seven generations.

From here the tour proceeds to Fushimi-Inari shrine located just south of Kyoto. This is another of Kyoto’s most photographed spots. Thousands of vermillion torii shrine gates lead up a winding path into the hill. The patron of Fushimi-Inari is the fox, a messenger of the gods, but the shrine is dedicated to rice, Japan’s staple. Fushimi-Inari has thousands of sub-shrines all over Japan, and has been adopted by merchants and business people, who pray here for success in their enterprises.

On the spring festival tour, we have tickets for the Miyako Odori reserved for this evening. The event dates back to 1872 featuring geiko and maiko of Gion in a colourful and mesmerizing series of dances.


The only thing planned for today is the bullet train ride back to Tokyo which takes around three hours. While the tour normally heads back to Tokyo in the morning, you are free to set your own timetable, and our representatives will book you on to the Shinkansen of your choice and provide help and advice for your last hours in this fascinating city.

Journey's end

Sadly, today is the last day of this unforgettable trip. Narita International Airport is about an hour away, alternatively, why not stay a couple of extra days? Dragonfly Tours can help with whatever arrangements you wish to make.


 ALL accommodation. (12 nights)

 The support of your Tour Leader for the entirety of the tour.

 Entrance fees to Museums, Temples, Shrines and Gardens when with the guide as shown on the itinerary summery are included.  Visiting alternative sites at personal expense.

 ALL city to city transportation including the shinkansen bullet train.

 ALL local transportation is covered while following the set guided itinerary. (Any non-guided side-excursions at personal expense)

 Suica card - An electronic travel card for your convenience (saves messing around with tickets)

 Meet & greet at the airport in Tokyo (either Narita or Haneda) on arrival and (Guided) transfer to the tour hotel in Tokyo up to one week before the starting date of the tour.

 Tickets for transfer at the end of the tour (transfer is non-guided)

 Authentic Tea Ceremony at a tea house in Kyoto

 Baggage forwarding for one case / bag per person

 Miyako Odori (Geisha Spring Dance) - On spring tours only

 Breakfast every morning.

 Group meal on Day 1 in Tokyo (Alcoholic drinks included!)

 Dinners (Traditional Teishoku) on Days 2 and 3 at Hakone

 Dinners (Traditional Kaiseki Ryori) on Day 6 at Shirakawa-go

 Tour Info-Pack

 100% payment protection through the TTA (our membership number is U6165)

Not Included

 Additional 5% GST


 Meals, except for the ones mentioned above

 Any coin lockers that you may use

 Travel Insurance. You must take out travel insurance before travelling to Japan, we suggest this is done soon after a booking has been made.

 Flights to and from Japan!

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Start date

11 Apr 2021

End date

23 Apr 2021

6+ Spots left

13 Days / 12 Nights



Byond Postpaid starting at $216/month! Enquire with us now!

Start date

06 Oct 2021

End date

18 Oct 2021

6+ Spots left

13 Days / 12 Nights



Byond Postpaid starting at $216/month! Enquire with us now!

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This Trip Is Operated By Dragonfly Tours

Welcome to Dragonfly Tours Japan, where you will find enthralling holidays and tours in Japan brought to you by guides who are passionate about their country and want to share it with you.  In small groups (most of our Japan tours have a maximum of 8-10 people) and with a flexible schedule our escorted tours will show you the best of Japan whilst also giving you the freedom to explore this magical country by yourself.  We have tours throughout the year including incredible last minute Autumn tours to Japan a brilliant winter tour in Japan and fabulous Japan tours in spring 2020.

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