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27 MARCH – 10 APRIL 2021
(Departing Melbourne & Brisbane)

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Follow the delicate cherry blossom trail as it blooms across Kyoto, Kanazawa, Nikko and Tokyo on a 14 day tour that takes you inside Japan’s great gardens. Experience a fascinating mix of ancient Zen serenity and modernity that makes Japan such an exciting cultural destination.
Saturday 27 March 2021
Melbourne (or Brisbane) – Tokyo

Meet your Ross Tour Leader Graham Ross at Melbourne, or Claire Bickle at Brisbane Airport, for a Qantas morning flight to Tokyo. Check into 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

Sunday 28 March 2021
Tokyo (B/D)

Our first garden is Rikugien, a ‘strolling’ masterpiece 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 their spring show.
The serenity of Meiji Shrine will finish the day surrounded by forest in the middle of Tokyo. Enter through tori gates made of 1,700 year old cypress wood.
Welcome dinner tonight is in our hotel.

Accommodation: New Otani Hotel, Tokyo

Monday 29 March 2021
Tokyo – Nagoya (B/D)

Travel by bullet train to Nagoya. 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. After dark enjoy one of Japan’s largest illumination shows. Dinner included tonight.

Accommodation: Nagoya Marriott Associa Hotel, Nagoya

Tuesday 30 March 2021
Nagoya – Kyoto (B/D)

Morning visit to Nagoya Palace and gardens. It’s magnificent Hommaru Palace reopened in 2018 after 10 years of restoration, showcasing Japan’s finest example of Shoin-zukuri Samurai style residential architecture.
Board the train bound for Kyoto, the beautiful former imperial capital of Japan. Check into our hotel in the heart of Kyoto for 4 nights. Our garden this afternoon is 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. Dinner included tonight.

Accommodation: Brighton Hotel, Kyoto

Wednesday 31 March 2021
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, a Tea Master. The garden is a showcase of Japanese plants and Chinese statuary and we’ll have plenty of time to admire it. Lunch is included 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.

Accommodation: Brighton Hotel, Kyoto

Thursday 1 April 2021
Kyoto (B)

We’ll experience iconic Japanese garden design today. First, an early start to catch the wonderful Ryoanji Temple, 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 to a stone water-basin, Tsukubai, engraved with a famous Zen script.
Then it’s off to see 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. It’s perfect proportions are reflected in the broad Mirror Lake before it.
Free afternoon.

Accommodation: Brighton Hotel, Kyoto

Friday 2 April 2021
Kyoto (B/D)

Morning visit to Nijo Castle, famous for its fortress-like interior and the ingenious escape routes built into the design by the Tokugawa shogunate in the early 17th century. The garden here, Ninomaru Garden, is planted with ancient pine trees and 430 ‘Sakura’ cherry trees.
We’ve arranged a very special dinner tonight with an elegant geisha/meiko traditional dance performance.

Accommodation: Brighton Hotel, Kyoto

Saturday 3 April 2021
Kyoto – 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. Visit Nomura Samurai house with a garden of meandering streams, waterfalls, lanterns and plants.

Accommodation: Hotel Nikko, Kanazawa

Sunday 4 April 2021
Kanazawa (B)

Today we visit Kenroku-en Garden which combines the six essential features of true gardens: vastness, symmetry, solemnity, coolness, antiquity and pleasure. This is one of Japan’s three most famous landscapes and was developed from the 1620’s by the local daimyo Lord Maeda and includes Japan’s oldest fountain operating by natural water pressure. Included is a visit to Seisonkaku Villa, built by a samurai for his mother.
The remainder of the day is free.

Accommodation: Hotel Nikko, Kanazawa

DAY 10
Monday 5 April 2021
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: Tsujinoya Hananosho, Awazu

DAY 11
Tuesday 6 April 2021
Awazu – Nikko (B/D)

Travel by train from Kanazawa to Takasaki and 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. On arrival at Nikko, we visit the former Imperial Summer Palace – the Tamozawa Imperial Villa for a walk around its beautiful garden.
Our hotel in Nikko for the next two nights is the charming, 145-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: Kanaya Hotel, Nikko

DAY 12
Wednesday 7 April 2021
Nikko (B/D)

We visit the impressive red Sacred Bridge then take a walking tour of the nearby Toshogu Shrine, and hear the history behind this sacred region and its traditions. The shrine was built in 1542 to honour the founder of the Tokugawa 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. Afterwards, visit the Kanaya Samurai House.
This afternoon there is plenty of time to explore the charming town of Nikko, shopping and soaking up the tranquil atmosphere.
Western style dinner included tonight.

Accommodation: Kanaya Hotel, Nikko

DAY 13
Thursday 8 April 2021
Nikko – Tokyo (B/D)

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 back in to the luxurious New Otani Hotel. Farewell dinner included in the hotel.

Accommodation: New Otani Hotel, Tokyo

DAY 14
Friday 9 April 2021
Tokyo (B)

Free day to explore some more of Tokyo. Stroll through the famous Ginza district, visit Hibiya Park, or catch up with some last-minute shopping. We’ll take an late afternoon transfer to Narita Airport for our overnight flight home.

DAY 15
Saturday 10 April 2021
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

Book Now

  • Return flights (including taxes) Melbourne / Tokyo / Melbourne 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 lunches and 8 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, Hashimoto Art Museum with Tea Ceremony, Philosphoers Path, Normura Samurai House, Seisonkaku Villa, Shirakawago, Tamozawa Imperial Villa, Toshogu Shrine, Kanaya Samurai House, Meiji Shrine

Twin Share land only $12,895 per person
Twin Share including air $14,295 per person
Single Supplement $3,395

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


Book and pay in full by 1/11/2020 to receive the Early Bird Discount of $300.00 per person off the final installment.
Previous Traveller Discount $100
Garden Clinic Member discount $50

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Read what our tour leaders have written about Japan here.


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