The route shown is indicative only. The actual tour route may differ.
A two day (Two night’s accommodation included only if booking the tour with accommodation. Please see below) city tour. Each tour day is fully guided and starts, depending on the day’s itinerary, at either 8:00 am or 8:45 am and finishes at 5 pm. The maximum group size for this tour is 12 persons.
Walk Japan’s two day Kyoto Tour takes us through the city’s rich history while exploring in depth some famous and some less well-known areas that were instrumental in making Kyoto the cultural capital of Japan. A fully guided, unique look into Japan’s old capital, its history, arts, crafts and people.
Kyoto was originally known as Heian-kyo, the capital of peace and tranquility, and modelled on Chang-an, the great capital of the Chinese Tang empire. Kyoto remained the home of the imperial court for eleven centuries before it was removed to Tokyo in the late 19th Century. Over 1100 years as the imperial home, Kyoto justly became one of the great cities of the world. At times it experienced turbulence and violence but, and often at the same time, it was where some of the most distinct and exquisite arts and one of the greatest cultures of the world were cultivated. This was so to the extent that today to talk of the culture of Kyoto is often to talk of Japan’s as a whole. Our gently paced, walking tour unveils Kyoto’s importance at the heart of Japanese culture and history in typical Walk Japan style, inimitable and fascinating.
2000 temples and shrines, 17 of which are listed by UNESCO as world heritage sites, together with many gardens and other sites of interest make for an overwhelming number of places to visit in Kyoto. Of these, Walk Japan’s Kyoto Tour visits some of the famous and not-so-famous to provide a coherent and fascinating experience for an understanding of how the city came to nurture such arts as Noh Theatre and chado, the Way of Tea. We learn of the colourful historical personalities such as the Ashikaga Shoguns Yoshimitsu and Yoshimasa, the Tea master Sen-no-Rikyu, Haiku poet Basho and great samurai warriors, Kiyomori and Nobunaga.
We will learn how much of the beauty that resides in Kyoto and Japanese culture developed in spite of internecine warfare, treachery and murder, combined sometimes with Nero-like indifference to the surrounding mayhem by its rulers. We will also enjoy a hands-on experience of chado, also known as the Tea Ceremony, in the company of a expert tea master that penetrates to the heart of this often misunderstood art.
Day 1 of Walk Japan’s Kyoto tour has a focus on tea and the refined culture, which imbues much of all Japanese culture and customs to this day, that developed around it. We will learn how chado developed through Kyoto’s pivotal Higashiyama Culture and reached its apogee with the great master Sen-no-Rikyu. The day culminates when we make a cup of tea for each other, in the chado style.
On Day 2 we ‘stroll’ through Kyoto’s Kitayama culture, which was centred on what is possibly the most recognisable icon of Japan, the Golden Pavilion at Rokuon-ji temple. Here the arts of Noh Theatre, Kyogen – a comical theatre, and suiboku ink and wash painting developed and flourished. A distinct contrast follows as we visit the subtle Ryoan-ji temple, which is synonymous with its mysterious rock garden that is justly considered the example, bar none, of its type. We then travel to Arashiyama on the western-edge of the city. Here we go a little off the beaten path for a stroll through a park and elegant bamboo groves, an enduring image of Kyoto, to some of Kyoto’s lesser known attractions including Rakushi-sha, where the itinerant haiku poet Basho once stayed, and a small but exquisite temple set in a moss garden.
Walk Japan’s Kyoto Tour consists of a two day itinerary. However, it is possible to join the tour for one day only. On both days we meet at the day’s starting point as indicated in the itinerary. Walk Japan provides detailed instructions on how to get to the start point. Please note that Kyoto’s transport system is very comprehensive and easy to use. Taxis, in particular, are reasonably priced and the drivers honest and, most often, very helpful.
Each day ends at 5 pm in central Kyoto. The Walk Japan tour leader will help arrange onward travel to your accommodation or other desired location. Please note, that after 5 pm on Day 1 the tour leader will also be available to introduce some of the myriad and excellent local restaurants, which are often less accessible for travellers from overseas.
Price: JPY76,000 (JPY= Japanese Yen) per person with two nights’ accommodation, single person supplement JPY18,000; JPY46,000 per person without accommodation, single person supplement not applicable. Please use the currency converter on the right-hand side of this page to find the current rate in your local currency. See Booking Conditions.
*Special Offer* For customers joining our Nakasendo Way, Winter Nakasendo Way, Summer Nakasendo Way, Basho Tour and Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage tours we offer the Kyoto Tour at the special prices of: JPY70,000 per person with two nights’ accommodation , single person supplement JPY18,000; Or, tour without accommodation JPY40,000 per person, single person supplement not applicable. Please use the currency converter on the right-hand side of this page to find the current rate in your local currency.
For customers joining the Nakasendo Way tour:
Please note that the two nights’ accommodation included with the Kyoto Tour is on the night prior to the start of the tour and the night on Day 1 of the tour. Accommodation on Day 2 of the Kyoto Tour is not included because it is included in the Nakasendo Way tour. The Kyoto Tour finishes at 5pm on Day 2 and the Nakasendo Way starts at 6pm the same day.
For customers joining our Winter and Summer Nakasendo Way tours:
As for the Kyoto Tours prior to the Nakasendo Way (see above), the included two nights’ accommodation is only for the night prior to the start of the Kyoto Tour and the night on Day 1 of the Kyoto Tour. As the night of Day 2 of the Kyoto tour is not included in either the Kyoto Tour nor the Winter or Summer Nakasendo Way tours, please let us know if you would like us to book accommodation for you at the tour hotel in either Kyoto or at a hotel near Nagoya Station, where both the Winter and Summer Nakasendo Way tours start.
For customers not joining a Nakasendo Way, Winter Nakasendo Way nor Summer Nakasendo Way tour:
Please advise us if you require additional accommodation for Day 2 of the Kyoto Tour.
What is included and not included? A fully guided tour including local travel from tour meeting point to finishing point as noted in the itinerary, entrance fees and 1 lunch.
For tours with accommodation both breakfast and accommodation for 2 nights are also included. Dinner and drinks are not included.
For tours without accommodation all breakfast and all evening meals, 1 lunch, drinks and accommodation are not included.
Group size: The maximum group size is 12 people. We have no minimum size. If we accept a booking we guarantee to run the tour.
Please see the Itinerary for this tour and Tour Dates for dates and availability by clicking on the buttons found further up this page. To coincide with the Nakasendo Way these tours usually start on a Tuesday and finish on a Wednesday (early March to mid-June; and early September to mid-November); to coincide with the Winter Nakasendo Way these tours usually start on a Tuesday and finish on a Wednesday; and to coincide with the Summer Nakasendo Way usually start on a Thursday and finish on a Friday.
This itinerary for the Kyoto Tour is “ground only” beginning at the starting points as indicated for each Day of the tour in the itinerary and ending around 5 pm in central Kyoto. After receiving the booking and deposit we will provide detailed instructions for getting to the meeting point on both days.
The group meets at 8.00 am in the foyer of the tour hotel for transfer to Ginkaku-ji, the Silver Pavilion temple, which was built by the 8th Ashikaga Shogun in the late 15th Century. In the beautiful surroundings of this temple we continue our look at Higashiyama (East Mountain) Culture and its greatest development, chado. The Silver Pavilion, an exquisite structure, which is silver in name only, is set in beautiful gardens and provides an apposite setting for our exploration of Kyoto culture. A leisurely stroll from the temple along the Philosopher’s Path, through quiet suburbs and past many temples, brings us to the Heian-jingu Shrine. Here we delve into Japan’s Shinto roots and gain an idea of how Kyoto used to look in its earliest days. A nearby museum is the setting for an entertaining introduction to the many and splendid crafts of the city.
Afterwards we transfer by taxi to Daitoku-ji temple, one of Japan’s finest Zen monasteries, a complex of main and sub-temples covering 56 acres. We take lunch within Daitoku-ji at a restaurant specialising in shojin ryori, delicious vegetarian temple cuisine, after which we soak up the serene atmosphere and learn about the temple’s greatest resident, the tea master Sen-no Rikyu. We then take a short stroll to meet our tea master for the day. In his expert and insightful company we experience chado, the tea ceremony, and make tea for each other.
Although the tour does not extend into the evening, your tour leader will be available to either make suggestions where you may like to eat for your evening meal or join you, if you wish.
The second day starts at 8.45am at Nijo-jo castle, where we will see the magnificent audience halls built for the Tokugawa Shoguns, the rulers of Japan in the Edo Period. Transferring to Rokuon-ji temple by taxi we are introduced to Kitayama (North Mountain) Culture in the environs of Kinkaku, the Golden Pavilion. The Pavilion, coated in gold leaf and reflected in a lake, is probably Japan’s most recognisable icon.
We travel on to nearby Ryoan-ji temple and it’s world famous garden, considered the epitome of a Zen garden. From there it is a short walk to a small train station, where we ride a local tram-cum-train to Arashiyama in the west of Kyoto. We lunch here on soba, buckwheat, noodles. A simple but delicious and popular dish. After, we stroll through the low hills of Arashiyama. The scenery is more reminiscent of rural Japan than a city and here we visit a gorgeous, almost delicate temple that is associated with Gio, a concubine of Taira-no-Kiyomori. Taira was a central figure in the Tale of Heike, the epic story of the power struggle between the Taira and Minamoto Clans that engulfed Japan in the 12th Century. Here we also visit Rakushisha, which is forever associated with Japan’s greatest poet, Basho.
We continue on our walk through quiet, elegant suburbs before taking another train back to Shijo-Omiya in west-central Kyoto where the tour ends.
This itinerary is subject to change.
Please see Tour Dates for scheduled tours and their availability. Contact Walk Japan for more information.
|Tour Name||Tour Dates||Tour Status / Availability|
|Kyoto Tour||20 December 2014 - 21 December 2014||Places Available|
|Kyoto Tour||6 January 2015 - 7 January 2015||Places Available|
|Kyoto Tour||13 January 2015 - 14 January 2015||Places Available|
|Kyoto Tour||3 February 2015 - 4 February 2015||Places Available|
|Kyoto Tour||10 February 2015 - 11 February 2015||Places Available|
|Kyoto Tour||21 February 2015 - 22 February 2015||Places Available|
|Kyoto Tour||3 March 2015 - 4 March 2015||Places Available|
|Kyoto Tour||17 March 2015 - 18 March 2015||Places Available|
|Kyoto Tour||24 March 2015 - 25 March 2015||Places Available|
|Kyoto Tour||29 March 2015 - 30 March 2015||Places Available|
|Kyoto Tour||31 March 2015 - 1 April 2015||Places Available|
|Kyoto Tour||7 April 2015 - 8 April 2015||Places Available|
|Kyoto Tour||14 April 2015 - 15 April 2015||Places Available|
|Kyoto Tour||16 April 2015 - 17 April 2015||Please Contact Us|
|Kyoto Tour||21 April 2015 - 22 April 2015||Places Available|
|Kyoto Tour||28 April 2015 - 29 April 2015||Places Available|
|Kyoto Tour||29 April 2015 - 30 April 2015||Places Available|
|Kyoto Tour||5 May 2015 - 6 May 2015||Places Available|
|Kyoto Tour||12 May 2015 - 13 May 2015||Limited Availability|
|Kyoto Tour||19 May 2015 - 20 May 2015||Places Available|
|Kyoto Tour||26 May 2015 - 27 May 2015||Places Available|
|Kyoto Tour||2 June 2015 - 3 June 2015||Places Available|
|Kyoto Tour||9 June 2015 - 10 June 2015||Places Available|
|Kyoto Tour||2 July 2015 - 3 July 2015||Places Available|
|Kyoto Tour||9 July 2015 - 10 July 2015||Places Available|
|Kyoto Tour||16 July 2015 - 17 July 2015||Places Available|
|Kyoto Tour||23 July 2015 - 24 July 2015||Places Available|
|Kyoto Tour||30 July 2015 - 31 July 2015||Places Available|
|Kyoto Tour||20 August 2015 - 21 August 2015||Places Available|
|Kyoto Tour||25 August 2015 - 26 August 2015||Places Available|
|Kyoto Tour||8 September 2015 - 9 September 2015||Places Available|
|Kyoto Tour||15 September 2015 - 16 September 2015||Places Available|
|Kyoto Tour||22 September 2015 - 23 September 2015||Places Available|
|Kyoto Tour||29 September 2015 - 30 September 2015||Places Available|
|Kyoto Tour||6 October 2015 - 7 October 2015||Places Available|
|Kyoto Tour||13 October 2015 - 14 October 2015||Places Available|
|Kyoto Tour||20 October 2015 - 21 October 2015||Places Available|
|Kyoto Tour||27 October 2015 - 28 October 2015||Places Available|
|Kyoto Tour||29 October 2015 - 30 October 2015||Places Available|
|Kyoto Tour||3 November 2015 - 4 November 2015||Places Available|
|Kyoto Tour||10 November 2015 - 11 November 2015||Places Available|
|Kyoto Tour||17 November 2015 - 18 November 2015||Places Available|
|Kyoto Tour||19 December 2015 - 20 December 2015||Places Available|
The following travel tips are intended to be helpful advice for our Kyoto Tour. In addition, please refer to your own past experiences and make adjustments or amendments as necessary. If you require any further advice please contact us.
Weather, clothing & baggage
December ~ February tours:
Day temperatures will be cold to cool (4 ~ 12 C or 40 ~ 53 F) in Kyoto and Tokyo. Nights will be very cold to cold (-5 ~ 5ºC or 23 ~ 41ºF).
Early to mid-March tours:
Day temperatures will be cool (13 ~ 17ºC or 55 ~ 63ºF) in Kyoto and Tokyo. Nights will be cold (0 ~ 9ºC or 32 ~ 48ºF).
Later March to mid- to late April and mid-October to November tours:
Day temperatures will be warm (16 ~ 20ºC or 61 ~ 68ºF) in Kyoto and Tokyo. Nights will be cold to cool (4 ~ 12ºC or 39 ~ 54ºF).
Late April to June and September to mid-October tours:
Day temperatures will be warm to hot (18 ~ 28ºC or 64 ~ 82ºF) in Kyoto and Tokyo. Evenings will be cool to warm (10 ~ 18ºC or 50 ~ 64ºF).
July and August tours:
Day temperatures will be hot (25 ~ 35 C or 77 ~ 95 F) and the nights will be warm (16 ~ 26 C or 61 ~ 79 F). It will also be extremely humid.
Please bear the above temperatures in mind when packing.
We will be walking in urban areas on even surfaces. Please bring a variety of layers ranging from t-shirts to a top with long sleeves according to the season. A lightweight sweater is useful in summer as air conditioning can sometimes be overly cool. Shorts are acceptable in Japan for both men and women. Please bring comfortable walking shoes suitable for around town sneakers, sandals, etc. The sun’s rays can be strong throughout much of the year and we recommend a sun hat, sun screen, etc. We recommend a small day-pack to carry items you will need during the tour.
Passport & visas
Please check that your passport is still valid before travelling and that it has sufficient blank space, usually a single page, for entry and exit stamps. Please also check with your local Japanese Embassy or Consulate whether you will require a visa before travelling to Japan. It is a requirement of Japanese Law that you carry your passport with you at all times in Japan or, if you are resident in Japan, your Residence Card.
Please have a photocopy of your passport details kept separately from your passport in case the latter should be lost. This will help speed the procurement of a replacement.
Japan has Reciprocal Visa Exemption Arrangements with a number of countries. Please refer to your nearest Japanese Embassy or Consulate for details. Please note that if you do need to apply for a visa and require a letter from Walk Japan to support your application, please request this from us no later than six weeks prior to the start of your tour. Walk Japan cannot guarantee the letter will be available in time to complete your visa application if your request is received any later than this date.
Food and drink
While travelling during the day it is not usually necessary to carry more than water, a snack and personal effects. Shops, vending machines, and kiosks, which are found in most places we visit, provide for many immediate needs including drinks, snacks, cosmetics and clothing. Lunch will be taken either in restaurants or with food bought to eat as a picnic on our way.
In Japan, specific dietary requirements such as vegetarianism, kosher food, and a number of food-related allergies and problems, such as coeliac disease, are not widely understood nor catered for and we cannot guarantee to provide vegetarian, vegan, kosher, or other specific meals. However, we will endeavour to cater wherever possible to individual requirements.
Specifically, the concept of vegetarianism does not really exist in Japan outside of Buddhist temples. However, meals are usually made up of a large variety of dishes and many of these are suitable for vegetarians. We will also contact the accommodation we use and notify them of your requirements. Most, if not all, will be able to provide one or two alternative dishes for you. Please let us know in advance if you have any special dietary needs.
Please note that soy sauce, which in Japan always includes wheat, is an ingredient common to many dishes in Japan and there may be a limit to how many dishes can be altered for those who require a gluten-free diet. If you have specific dietary needs we suggest you also bring other food items to help supplement your meals.
For meals not included in the tour expect to pay between JPY 700~1,500 per person for lunch.
Vaccinations and general health
Vaccinations are not required for Japan. However, please check with your own government’s health authorities for their latest advice.
The weather is generally benign in Japan. Summer, however, can be hot and humid and the rays of the sun strong. To help avoid sun stroke and dehydration use sunscreen, a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses and drink water regularly.
Mountain sickness is not an issue on Walk Japan tours, which rarely reach an altitude above 1,600m (5,250ft). Walk Japan will advise if on a private, custom tour the itinerary includes heights where altitude sickness is a possibility.
Water from the tap in accommodation in Japan is usually safe and drinkable. If in doubt please ask your tour leader or purchase drinks from one of the ubiquitous drinks machines found almost everywhere.
Medicines and cosmetics
Although the Walk Japan tour leaders carry a first aid kit please bring your own basic supply of adhesive bandages, blister plasters, antiseptic cream, etc. Some medicines and cosmetics with which you are familiar may not be available in Japan, although there are usually similar products. Prescription medicines in Japan may differ from foreign medicines in minor, but possibly unacceptable, ways. If you require a specific medicine or cosmetic, either for health or comfort, please bring sufficient quantities with you.
Getting into shape
Walk Japan’s tours are not a test of endurance. However, Japan is a hilly country and being in reasonable shape will help you maximise your enjoyment. The best way to get fit is to start exercise gradually and build up over a period of time. Regular walking, including some ups and downs, should be sufficient practice for most of our tours. Please see the tour levels found in the Quick Information box for each tour on our web site for specific information.
Walking in a group
Walk Japan’s tours attract people of varied walking abilities. The pace of tours is set by the tour leader and, in general, is a pace at about 80% of the speed most people stroll around town. This is not just to accommodate slower walkers but also to allow everyone to throughly enjoy the countryside we walk through. Depending on the tour, on some days the tour leader may be able to provide additional walking to those who want it. It is also sometimes possible to reduce the amount of walking by travelling onwards by taxi or public transport – for anyone who would like to take a particular day more easily. The Walk Japan tour leader will advise.
In general, taking photographs is not a problem. However, if taking photos of individuals or groups please ask their permission first. Please do not take photographs of young school children, unless first agreed by their parents or guardians.
Access to cash
Changing foreign currency at a bank can be a time consuming exercise. Instead, we recommend alternatives, including arriving in Japan with some Japanese currency, using credit cards and withdrawing cash from ATMs.
ATMs in post offices provide cash against the following credit/debit cards – Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Diners Club International, PLUS, Maestro, Cirrus, Union Pay and JCB. Post offices are ubiquitous in Japan and found in the smallest village. The daily withdrawal limit for international cards is JPY30,000. Seven-Eleven stores also offer the same service with the exception of MasterCard cards (this includes Cirrus and Maestro cards). The ATMs at Seven-Eleven convenience stores are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Most Japanese bank ATMs do not provide cash against credit cards, nor will they provide access to foreign bank accounts with the exception of Citibank and Shinsei Bank branches. However, branches of these banks are only found in the largest cities. ATMs can also be found at Narita and Kansai Airports and some major department stores. All ATMs have an English language screen for ease of use.
Before leaving your home country, please check that your credit/debit card can be used abroad. You may also wish to enquire as to what fees you will have to pay for overseas withdrawals, and to notify your bank that you are going abroad, as occasionally a card that is suddenly used overseas may be suspected of being used fraudulently and blocked.
International telephoning, mobile/cell phones and the internet
Making international telephone calls outside of major urban areas can be difficult. Please bring a telephone charge card issued by your local telephone company, such as AT&T or BT. These can be used almost anywhere.
Most G3, BlackBerry, iPhones and other smartphones operate in Japan but please confirm with your service provider whether your phone will work. If your phone does not work in Japan you may rent a mobile/cell phone from providers such as NTT Docomo, Cellhire, Mobal, World Roam, SoftBank, or Vodafone.
Internet access is usually available in hotels and increasingly common in Japanese inns and other establishments.
Japan uses a 100v 50/60mhz electrical system. Electrical goods use the “American” (Type A) plug, with two vertical pins. If the device you wish to use says something like “100-240V, 50/60 Hz”, it will work anywhere in the world with the right plugs. This covers most, if not all, computers, iPads, mobile/ cell phones and battery chargers.
There is no tradition of tipping in Japan. No Japanese expects or will solicit tips. If, however, you feel your Walk Japan tour leader has provided you with excellent service and you would like to reward that please feel free to offer a tip. Please, though, on no account feel that you have to do so.
Quick tour information
Price: JPY76,000 (JPY= Japanese Yen) per person with two nights’ accommodation, single person supplement JPY18,000; JPY46,000 per person without accommodation, single person supplement not applicable. Please use the currency converter below to find the current approximate rate in your local currency. See Booking Conditions.
*Special Offer* For customers joining our Nakasendo Way, Winter Nakasendo Way, Summer Nakasendo Way, Basho Tour and Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage tours tours we offer the Kyoto Tour at the special prices of: JPY70,000 per person with two nights’ accommodation , single person supplement JPY18,000; Or, tour without accommodation JPY40,000 per person, single person supplement not applicable.
Duration: Fully guided 2 day, 2 night tour.
Included: For tour with accommodation: Walk Japan tour leader; 2 nights’ accommodation; 2 breakfasts & 1 lunch; entrance fees, travel each day from tour start point to finish point.
For tour without accommodation: Walk Japan tour leader; 1 lunch; entrance fees, travel each day from tour start point to finish point.
Please see tour details for more information.
Tour Level: 2
Group Size: Maximum group size 12 people. We have no minimum group size.
Guarantee: If we take a booking we guarantee to run the tour.
Please note that values shown here are indicative only.