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Japan – Trains, Trams & Blossom
Japan – Trains, Trams & Blossom OverviewA comprehensive tour taking in some new railways, tram networks and destinations which Ffestiniog Travel has not visited before. This holiday coincides with Japan’s famous Cherry Blossom season. From the buzz of Tokyo to the historic town of Chichibu and scenic Amanohashidate we journey by vintage tram, steam engine and bullet train.
Day 1 – London to Tokyo
Flight from London to Tokyo
Day 2 – Arrival at Tokyo Narita
Following a morning arrival, transfer to our hotel located in lively Shinjuku, with its major department stores and the busiest rail hub in Japan, and indeed the world, for a 4-night stay. Time to get orientated to this busy metropolis or relax after the flight.
Day 3 – Sightseeing in Tokyo
We will have the opportunity to see a wide variety of trains in Tokyo, as well as Tokyo’s two surviving tram lines, the Arakawa and Setagaya Lines. Alternatively, time to take a look at some of Tokyo’s most appealing and iconic landmarks, both traditional with Shinjuku Gyoen Garden and Meiji Jingu shrine, as well as the modern in the form of fashionable Harajuku and Shibuya. An evening welcome party offers the chance to meet local enthusiasts and find out more about railways and life in Japan.
Day 4 – Romancecar Limited Express
Today features a journey to Enoshima, on the popular Shonan coast by Odakyu Ltd Express for the journey to Enoshima, giving an opportunity to see a resort Japanese style, followed by the chance to travel on the photogenic coastal Enoshima Electric Railway, which includes street running. En route, we will see the great Buddha at Hase which is the second largest in Japan, as well as historic Kamakura, one time capital of Japan. Return to Tokyo by JR East via Yokohama.
Day 5 – Chichibu Railway
A round trip to historic Chichibu, in Saitama Prefecture north west of Tokyo. One way by Chichibu Railway and the other by Seibu Railway, with its ‘Red Arrow’ Limited Express. Chichibu was a major trading centre for silk and is known for its 34 temple ‘Kannon’ pilgrimage. We will have time to see the mountainous scenery, houses from the Edo Period (17th to 19th century) and hopefully the beauty of cherry blossoms, too.
Day 6 – Tobu for Steam
Luggage will be transferred to Takasaki separately, allowing ease of travel today. We start by taking the ‘Spacia Kinugawa’ Limited Express from Shinjuku direct to Shimo Imaichi to join Tobu’s steam service, which was only reinstated on this line in 2017 after a 50 year hiatus. A C11-type loco will haul our train to Kinugawa Onsen, a hot springs resort along the Kinugawa River, for an overnight stay at a traditional Japanese Onsen.
Day 7 – Nikko Sightseeing
A morning in Nikko, allowing time to explore the famous temples and shrines of this historic city. It is an UNESCO World Heritage Site, including the famed Toshogu Shrine which is best known for being the location of Ieyasu Tokugawa’s mausoleum. Ieyasu was the first of the Tokugawa shoguns who ruled Japan for over 250 years. We will also see the iconic red lacquered sacred Shinkyo bridge. In the afternoon, we continue by using Tobu and JR East trains to reach Takasaki, a major railway hub, for an overnight stay.
Day 8 – To Toyama
This morning there will be time to travel on local private railways, particularly the Joshin Railway, which runs 21 miles south west to Shimonita. This afternoon we take the ‘Hakutaka 567’ Hokuriku Shinkansen bullet train for the journey of almost 180 miles through mountainous scenery to Toyama where we have a 3-night stay.
Day 9 – Toyama & Takaoka Trams
A full day to explore the 3’ 6” tram routes of both of these two coastal cities, which feature both traditional trams and modern light rail vehicles. We also visit the seaside Kaiwo Maru Park, named after the 1930 ship of the same name which is moored there.
Day 10 – Kanazawa Sightseeing
Using the Hokuriku Shinkansen means a journey of just around 20 minutes to cover the 37 miles to this popular tourist city to visit its sights including the famous Kenrokuen Gardens, considered one of Japan’s three most notable gardens, as well as a chance to see historic houses in the Higashi Chaya area. They should be looking their best in cherry blossom season!
Day 11 – ‘Kyoto Prefecture by The Sea’
We first depart by Hokuriku Shinkansen for the journey from Toyama to Kanazawa, where we change to a ‘Thunderbird’ Limited Express on the coastal Hokuriku Line to Fukui. Time to travel on Fukui’s trams and have lunch before continuing to Amanohashidate for a 2-night stay with dinner included.
Day 12 – Kaya SL Square Railway Museum
A visit to the outdoor Kaya railway museum where exhibits include historic steam locomotives built in Japan, as well as early locomotives from Britain and the U.S. There is also an option to spend time in Amanohashidate, the famous pine covered sandbar spanning the mouth of Miyazu Bay, considered one of Japan’s top three scenic spots.
Day 13 – To Osaka
We depart Amanohashidate by Kyoto Tango Railway’s ‘Hashidate’ Limited Express service to Fukuchiyama, a key rail junction and transfer to JR West’s Konotori’ Limited Express for the journey to Osaka. Time for a leisurely lunch followed by an afternoon of sightseeing including Osaka Castle and the surrounding park, one of Osaka’s most popular spots during cherry blossom season. We stay for 3 nights.
Day 14 – Osaka Sightseeing
A full day exploring Osaka, a transport hub which features a variety of mostly standard gauge private railways. We will also reach Kobe to the west, a historic port city, where we will have the opportunity to travel on the automated guideway transit systems there, as well as the chance to take in attractive sea views.
Day 15 – Hankai Tramway
Time for a trip over this historic tramline, with the roots of one of its lines dating back to 1900 and a variety of trams, from sleek and modern low-floor cars to vintage models dating back as far as 1928. This will be followed by a chance to experience Nankai Electric Railway services to the south of Osaka.
Day 16 – Fly to Okinawa
Morning transfer to Osaka’s domestic airport, Itami, for our flight to Okinawa’s capital, Naha. After accessing our hotel by monorail, Okinawa’s only current form of rail transport, we have time in the afternoon and evening to explore Naha, including its lively ‘Kokusai Dori’ (International Road).
Day 17 – Okinawa
A coach tour to see the varied history of the main Okinawa Island. Once the centre of the kingdom the Ryukyus, it became a Japanese prefecture in 1879, suffered severely in the closing stages of the Second World War, and was under U.S. control until May 1972. Around 20% of the main island is occupied by U.S. bases, but Okinawa now also attracts more tourists than Hawaii. We will see a selection of historic and scenic locations.
Day 18 – Fly to Tokyo
Free time for sightseeing, souvenir shopping and lunch before taking the Okinawa Monorail to Naha Airport for our flight to Tokyo Haneda. We then transfer by Airport Limousine Bus to Narita for a one night stay.
Day 19 – Flight to UK
Flight from Tokyo Narita to London Heathrow, arriving same day.
- Flights in Economy Class by scheduled airlines
- 7-Day first class Japan Pass
- Kansai Thru Pass for Osaka area
- Accommodation in good quality hotels on a bed and breakfast basis
- 3 Dinners (including Welcome Dinner)
- All rail journeys as stated
- All excursions and admission charges as listed
- All transfers stated
- Services of a tour leader from London and throughout the tour plus local guide in Japan