Pickup from select Osaka hotel in a comfortable, air-conditioned minivan and arrive at the train station to climb aboard the JR rapid service train. Relish the high velocity speed of the train and then disembark at Kyoto, Japan’s former capital.
Embark on a comprehensive tour of the city’s impressive sites on an air-conditioned coach; begin at Nijo Castle, a foreboding 17th-century fortress declared a UNECO World Heritage site. Marvel at stolid features like gates and stonewalls and then note the contrast of its lavish interiors replete with gold leaf. Please note, if the castle is closed the Ryoan-ji Temple will be visited instead.
After strolling the beautiful gardens of the castle, return to your vehicle and venture to Kinkaku-ji Temple, another UNESCO World Heritage-listed site home to the Golden Pavilion. Absorb the botanical beauty of some of the world’s most authentic Japanese gardens and then head to Kyoto Imperial Palace, a majestic structure home to the royal family until the 19th century. When the palace is closed, the tour will visit the Kiato Shrine, a sacred structure deemed a national treasure. When the Kyoto Imperial Palace is closed, the tour will visit Kitano Shrine (Kitano Tenman-gu) instead.
Revitalize with a Japanese and Western buffet lunch and peruse the Kyoto Handicraft Centre for unique souvenirs. Climb back onto the coach and venture to Fushimi Inari Taisha, a vibrant shrine made of vermilion pillars. Admire the elegance of this alluring attraction and then visit Sanjusangendo Hall to explore Japan’s longest wooden structure. Gaze at endless rows of more than 1,000 Bodhisattva statues and listen as your guide explains their cultural significance.
Suitably impressed, venture to Kiyomizu Temple to absorb the UNESCO-listed splendor of the structure; enjoy sweeping vistas of Kyoto from the lofty terrace and capture fantastic photographs of the cherry and maple trees that surround.
Return to Osaka on the JR train with your guide when the tour concludes and make your own way back to your hotel.