Spring Sakura Tour 2018
Our second small group tour of 2018 was our Spring Sakura Tour 2018. This tour was a 14 day tour which ran from April 12th to April 25th, 2018. This breathtaking tour of Japan began in the ancient capital city of Kyoto and ended in Hakodate on the northern most island of Hokkaido. A small group of four people - two from Germany and two from India - joined the tour, and we had a wonderful time traveling throughout Japan taking in beautiful spring scenery at some of Japan's most famous temples, shrines, and nature spots.
We began the tour by exploring the ancient capital city of Kyoto. We enjoyed beautiful spring flowers, namely cherry blossoms, at some of the most iconic places in Kyoto, including the spectacular Golden Pavilion, Ryoanji Zen Garden, and Kiyomizu-dera Temple. During this time of the year the magnificent Kiyomizu-dera Temple and its beautiful cherry blossoms are lit up at night making it a must see when visiting Kyoto in spring.
After spending two wonderful nights in Kyoto, we then traveled north to the historic city of Takayama in Gifu prefecture. Here we not only took in the spectacular "Takayama Cherry Blossom Festival" but also participated in it! This festival is one of Japan's largest and most popular springtime festivals, and attracts hundreds of thousands of people every year.
Our next stop was the famous hot spring town of Gero. This quaint little town is widely considered to be one of the best hot spring towns in Japan. We spent a relaxing night in a traditional inn (ryokan) where we enjoyed wearing traditional clothing (yukata), eating traditional meals, sleeping in futons, and soaking in the soothing hot springs.
After spending a night in the historic castle city of Kanazawa, where we visited the ruins of Kanazawa Castle and the magnificent Kenroku-en Japanese Gardens, we made our way to the largest Metropolis in the world, Tokyo. Since the cherry blossom season had pretty much finished in Tokyo, we made the decision to take a day trip to Lake Kawaguchi and Mt. Fuji. It turned out to be a great decision as we were blessed with a beautiful clear spring day and beautiful cherry blossoms in full bloom! I have been to Lake Kawaguchi and Mt. Fuji on a number of occasions, but this was the best view I have ever had of Japan's most famous mountain.
Our next stop was the city of Sendai. Sendai is located about 90 minutes from Tokyo, and has a number of large parks where people enjoy the Japanese tradition of "hanami", or cherry blossom viewing. We joined the crowd and enjoyed a wonderful evening eating and drinking with thousands of locals under beautiful cherry blossoms in full bloom.
We finished the tour by visiting three of northern Japan's most famous cherry blossom viewing places, the historic samurai town of Kakunodate, the beautiful castle town of Hirosaki, and Goryokaku Fort in the port city of Hakodate on the northern most island of Hokkaido. Although we had some rain on our day trip to Kakunodate it kind of added to the mystic atmosphere of a city that was once ruled by samurai and where their homes and buildings still remain. In contrast the weather for our day trip to Hirosaki Castle was almost perfect! The sight of cherry blossoms in full bloom surrounding the castle moat was absolutely amazing! Although the cherry blossoms at our last stop of Goryokaku Fort were only still in half bloom, the site of 1600 magnificent cherry blossom trees lining the moat around the castle was still breathtaking.
We were blessed with relatively warm weather for most of the tour, with only a few colder days when we were in the northern part of Japan. The timing of this tour means you can enjoy the various different stages of the cherry blossoms when the weather is stable and when the temperature is nice and warm.
We look forward to seeing you on one of our fully escorted private or small group tours of Japan sometime soon!
A&C Tours Japan