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1 – 15 April 2017

Japan at Cherry Blossom Time
Cherry Blossom
Japan at Cherry Blossom Time
Cherry Tree in full blossom
Japan at Cherry Blossom Time
The Golden Pavilion,
Japan at Cherry Blossom Time
Japan at Cherry Blossom Time
Bamboo water feature
Japan at Cherry Blossom Time
Japan at Cherry Blossom Time
Hakusa Sonso garden
Follow the cherry blossom trail as it blooms across Kyoto, Kanazawa, Nikko and Tokyo on a 15-day tour that will take you inside Japan’s great gardens. You’ll meet some of the masters of Japanese horticulture, and experience that fascinating mix of ancient serenity and eye-popping modernity that makes Japan such an exciting destination. This is one of our most popular tours so book now.
Saturday 1 April 2017
Sydney – Tokyo

Meet your Ross Tour Leader Robin Powell at the Qantas check-in counter two hours before departure for the evening flight from Sydney to Tokyo.

Sunday 2 April 2017
Tokyo – Kyoto (D)

When we arrive at Tokyo we’ll jump straight on the bullet train for Kyoto, the beautiful former imperial capital of Japan. We’ll stay for the next four nights at Okura Kyoto. We’ve left the afternoon free to give you time to explore the gardens and soak up the peaceful atmosphere.

We’ve arranged a welcome dinner tonight.

Accommodation: Okura Hotel, Kyoto

Monday 3 April 2017
Kyoto (B/L)

Legend has it that Ginkakuji – the Silver pavilion – was to be covered in silver leaf, but the shogun died before that could happen. An alternative theory for the name holds that the glistening black tiles on the pavilion roof reflected the light of the full moon in such a way as to look like silver. We’ll come to our own conclusion as we admire the elegance of the pavilion and the wonderful Zen gardens with their raked and moulded gravel. This serene garden also features ancient pines, ginkgoes, maples and camellias.

Our next stop is Hakusa Sonso, a garden, villa and museum created by the famous Japanese painter Kansetsu Hashimoto in 1915. We’ll watch a tea ceremony performed by his wife, who is a Tea Master. The garden is a showcase of Japanese plants and Chinese statuary and we’ll have plenty of time to admire it. Later we enjoy lunch at the family’s restaurant.

We’ll stroll along the famous Philosopher’s Path this afternoon, under thousands of cherry trees in full bloom and perfumed spring flowering shrubs, and with the rushing snow-fed waters of the Shirakawa River below us. Three rows of cherries line this most-admired walk, which stretches from the local temple to the entrance of the Silver Pavilion, Ginkaku-ji.

The rest of the day is free to explore Kyoto.

Accommodation: Okura Hotel, Kyoto

Tuesday 4 April 2017
Kyoto (B)

We’ll experience iconic Japanese garden design today. First, an early start to catch the wonderful morning light glowing on the 18-carat gold leaf-covered roof of the Golden Pavilion, Kinkaku- ji. Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu built this three-tiered pavilion in 1397. He used it for entertaining, and as a space for quiet contemplation of nature. Its perfect proportions are reflected in the broad Mirror Lake before it.
Ryoanji Temple is our next stop, renowned throughout the world as Japan’s finest example of a rock and sand garden (seki-taki). We’ll take time here to reflect on the meaning of the raked patterns and enigmatic placement of rocks. While this stone garden is the most famous part of the temple grounds, the garden itself is large and planted with Japanese cedars and hundreds of exquisite flowering cherries. It’s also home of a stone water-basin, Tsukubai, engraved with a famous Zen script.
This afternoon is free for shopping.

Accommodation: Okura Hotel, Kyoto

Wednesday 5 April 2017
Kyoto (B/D)

A day celebrating the ephemeral beauty of cherry blossom today. It’s an early start at Kyoto’s eastern Higashiyama Mountains to wonder at the towering, World Heritage listed, Kiyomizu Temple. Afterwards we’ll head on to Heian Shrine, with its unique pairing of Chinese and Japanese architectural styles. The entrance to this popular Meiji-era strolling garden is through an avenue of 300 weeping flowering cherries. It’s a popular venue for wedding parties, and we can expect to see brides in exquisite bridal kimono posing for photographs.

Our next stop is Nijo Castle, famous for its fortress-like interior and the ingenious escape routes built into the design by the Tokugawa shogun in the early 17th century. The garden here, Ninomaru Garden, is planted with ancient pine trees and 430 ‘Sakura’ cherry trees.
Next we turn to the Higashiyama Mountains and the towering, World Heritage-listed Kiyomizu Temple, set against a backdrop of wild cherries.
We’ve arranged a special dinner tonight at another traditional Japanese restaurant with an elegant geisha performance.

Accommodation: Okura Hotel, Kyoto

Thursday 6 April 2017
Kyoto – Nagoya (B)

Travel by train to Nagoya to see the iconic Honmaru Palace. This afternoon visit Nabana no Sato in Mie Prefecture. This theme park is a new concept in world class show gardens covering many hectares with beds filled with thousands
of every type of spring flower possible and huge glasshouses overflowing with tuberous begonias and more hanging baskets than you could count.

Accommodation: Nagoya Marriott Associa Hotel, Nagoya

Friday 7 April 2017
Nagoya – Kanazawa (B)

Express train north this morning, through Japan’s picturesque countryside to Kanazawa on the Sea of Japan. Kanazawa is a lovely change of pace where traditional crafts, such as ceramic, embroidery and gold leaf work are still practiced. Next we visit Nomura Samurai house with a garden of meandering streams, waterfalls, lanterns and plants.

Accommodation: Excel Tokyu Hotel, Kanazawa

Saturday 8 April 2017
Kanazawa (B/D)

A tour of the city will orient us for an afternoon of exploration, then it’s on to Kenroku-en, one of Graham Ross’ favourite gardens. Kenroku-en combines the six essential features of true gardens: vastness, symmetry, solemnity, coolness, antiquity and pleasure. Highlights are the mature conifer, the channel gardens of water iris and Japan’s first water fountain, surrounded by flowering cherries.
We pop into the Seisonkaku Villa, built by a samurai for his mother and the rest of the day is free to explore Kanazawa’s Edo-period districts; its great department stores, or the art at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art.

Accommodation: Excel Tokyu Hotel, Kanazawa

Sunday 9 April 2017
Kanazawa – Awazu (B/D)

A once in a lifetime experience today, as we travel deep into the Japan Alps to visit Shirakawago Village. This village, nestled in a rural setting that looks unchanged for centuries, was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995. The traditional farmhouses have steep thatched roofs, called Gasho Zukuri, a style used more than 250 years ago.

We’ll stay tonight in a Japanese ryokan, and enjoy a traditional Japanese style kaiseki dinner. Make sure you take time to enjoy the very special hot Japanese baths at the ryokan.

Accommodation: Roten-no-yu Kinkaku, Awazu

DAY 10
Monday 10 April 2017
Awazu – Nikko (B)

Train from Komatsu via Kanazawa to Takasaki. Today we make our way to Nikko National Park and its famous monuments and mountains. We’ll travel up the northern coastline, then cross the spine of Honshu through forests of Japanese Cryptomeria cedar and Chamaecyparis cypress dotted with maples. Pop into see the Bazu statues on the way to Nikko.

Our hotel in Nikko for the next two nights is the charming, 143 year-old Nikko Kanaya Hotel. This is the oldest Western-style hotel in Japan and many diplomats and intellectuals used it in its 19th and early 20th century heyday to escape the summer heat of Tokyo. Fittingly, dinner tonight in the hotel is western-style, complete with silver service.

Accommodation: Hotel Kanaya, Nikko

DAY 11
Tuesday 11 April 2017
Nikko (B/D)

We’ll take a walking tour of the nearby Toshogu Shrine today, and hear the history behind this sacred region and its traditions. The shrine was built in 1542 to honour the founder of the Tokagawa shogunate. Rinnoji Temple, on the avenue leading to the shrine, contains three gigantic gilded wooden images of Buddha. The buildings are inspiring, but it is the natural beauty of the place that drew the rich and powerful all those centuries ago, and it still casts a spell. There are giant cryptomerias over 1000 years old, the turbulent waters of the Daiya River, and mists wrapping the mountain. The entire site is World Heritage listed.

We visit the impressive red Sacred Bridge. This afternoon we visit the Imperial Summer Palace – the Tamazawa Imperial Villa and walk around its beautiful garden.
This afternoon there is plenty of time to walk around the charming town of Nikko, and soak up the tranquil atmosphere. Dinner at one of the nearby restaurants.
Accommodation: Hotel Kanaya, Nikko

DAY 12
Wednesday 12 April 2017
Nikko – Tokyo (B)

Today our coach takes us to Tokyo, with a stop to see the sacred way of ancient cedar trees, and to visit the Omiya Bonsai Village and Museum. The village was established in 1925 when an earthquake in central Tokyo forced bonsai nurseries to look for an alternative location. They chose Omiya for its clean water and good soil. There are several nurseries in the village that specialise in bonsai and private gardens also have good collections by their front doors. The museum itself offers a great introduction to this ancient art.

This afternoon we’ll check in to the luxurious New Otani Hotel, our accommodation for the next two nights. The hotel is set in 10 acres of beautiful gardens dating back to the 16th century.

Accommodation: New Otani Hotel, Tokyo

DAY 13
Thursday 13 April 2017
Tokyo (B/D)

We’ll visit Nezu Shrine, one of the famous Meiji Ten Shrines of Tokyo this morning, but our first destination is Rikugien Garden. This strolling garden was laid out in 1695 and restored in the 18th century. A path takes us around a lake, which features 88 stops, each offering a view that is a symbolic representation of scenes from classical Japanese literature. The rhythm achieved by alternating dark and bright zones, spacious and confined areas, sunlit groves and mysterious forests, produces virtually a musical effect. The azaleas and cherries will be putting on the last of their spring show.

Our farewell dinner tonight will be held in one of the hotel’s garden restaurants.

Accommodation: New Otani Hotel, Tokyo

DAY 14
Friday 14 April 2017
Tokyo – Home (B)

Late check out today so our day is free to explore some more of Tokyo. Stroll through the famous Ginza district, visit Hibya Park, or catch up with some last-minute shopping. We’ll take a early evening transfer to the airport for our flights home.

DAY 15
Saturday 15 April 2017
Arrive Home

To secure your booking and make your deposit, please complete our online booking form. You will be contacted by a Ross Tours Travel Manager to confirm your details and preferred method of payment.


Cancellations received 180-120 days prior to departure will incur loss of deposit.
Cancellations received between 119-60 days prior to departure will incur a 50% cancellation fee.
Cancellations received between 59-30 days prior to departure will incur a 75% cancellation fee plus any non-recoverable costs incurred.
Cancellations received within 30 days prior to departure will incur 100% cancellation fee.

Cancellations must be sent in writing.
Cancellation fee is based upon the total amounts paid including tours, airfares and all other travel arrangements.
Please refer to the Ross Garden Tours standard terms and conditions

  • Return flights (including taxes) Sydney / Tokyo / Sydney with Qantas
  • Shinkansen and express train travel
  • Deluxe air-conditioned motorcoach throughout tour
  • Deluxe accommodation for 12 nights, including an overnight stay at a traditional Japanese ryokan
  • Porterage
  • Breakfast daily, 1 lunch and 6 dinners
  • Ross Guide and National (English speaking) Japanese Guide
  • Guided tours of Kyoto, Kanazawa, Nikko and Tokyo
  • Entrance fees to all gardens and sightseeing including, Ginkakuji, Hakusa Sonso, Heian Shrine, Kinkakuji, Ryoanji, Shinkyo Sacred Bridge, Tamazawa Imperial Villa, Nijo Castle, Kiyomizu Temple, Fushimi Shrine and Nomura Samurai House, Kenrokuen, Shirakawago, Toshougu Shrine, Omiya Bonsai Village, Rikugien, Nezu Shrine and Meiji Shrine

Twin Share land only $11,295 per person
Twin Share including air $12,295* per person (Airfare valid until 1/8/16)
Single Supplement $2,450

All prices in Australian Dollars.
Prices based on minimum 15 passengers.
Price is based on departure from Sydney.
Price from NZ and other Australian ports available on application.


Book and pay in full by 1/11/2016 to receive the Early Bird Discount of $300.00 per person off the final instalment.
Previous Traveller Discount $100
Garden Clinic Member discount $25

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