Tokyo is one of the world’s most interesting cities. Tradition meets contemporary with shrines and space age buildings standing side by side. You will have the opportunity to relax post-flight or explore this very special city of your own accord ahead of the start of your trip. Tokyo is the perfect place to get lost in.
After breakfast you will make our way by vehicle to the wonderful Keyforest hotel, the base for your adventure. Sitting 1,000m above sea level at the foot of Mount Yatsugatake, you will be treated to stunning views of Mt Fuji, and the southern alps in the distance during the day and the starriest sky at night viewed from the hotel’s rooftop. Featured in Harper’s Bazaar, this boutique hotel will delight you with amazing scenery, excellent food, a spa and a relaxing base for your trip.
Mt. Fuji may be higher than Yatsugatake, but when it comes to stunning alpine landscapes, the Yatsugatake Mountains reign supreme. After breakfast you will start to explore this specular mountain by starting with the wonderful waterfall walk. The streams are crystal clear, the hills will reveal themselves to you as you make your way along the path. You will experience magical forests which have been here for thousands of years.
You’ll arrive at the waterfall just before lunch. This fairy-tale natural force is powerful but soothing. The thundering noise of the water tells you just how formidable it is, but it relaxes you at the same time. Following lunch, you will start to make your descent, where you’ll observe rock formations on the trail.
This area is home to some charming wildlife including deer, flying squirrels, raccoon dogs and Japanese serows. Once back at the hotel you will be free to use the facilities such as the spa or take advantage of a massage to revive your tired limbs. The hotel also offers guests private use of its outdoor onsen, natural spring baths, in the forest.
Today’s activities are very special and exclusive. After breakfast you’ll leave the hotel and travel to the sake brewery. You will be given a private tour of the Emperor’s home by the owner. This home was used by the Emperor in the 1800’s.
This is a very history rich home with many stories from times gone by. Once you have finished the tour you will begin the sake tasting. There are many different types of sake, each with a unique flavour.
Following the tasting we have arranged a private lunch sitting with an array of Japanese foods buffet style for you to enjoy. Once tummies have been satisfied, you will move to the Wagashi making. Calling wagashi ‘sweets’ is rather misrepresenting them, they are more than just candies. Made to compliment green tea, wagashi are beautiful and intricate in their design. Reflecting the delicacy culture of Japan, wagashi are typically made from plant-based ingredients.
You will spend another day exploring the countryside. You will also visit a Buddhist shrine that is maintained by a single monk. You will spend the day surrounded by specular landscapes with some more wonderful photographic opportunities, all the Japanese topography can offer. You will continue on after lunch for an afternoon of trekking enjoying more sounds, smells and sights of the woods.
Another different day is in store for you as you visit Hakushu whiskey distillery. The distillery has been operating since 1973 and is surrounded by the forest of Hakushu. It co-exists with the forest and its abundant wildlife. You will start the day with a tour of the facility and once complete will move on to the tasting part of the day. You will learn how important the correct water is in the quest for the perfect whiskey.
The water for the Hakushu makes the prolonged passage from the mountains in the Southern Alps picking up just the right amount of minerals along the way. You will enjoy 6 whiskey samples on the day to enjoy. There will also be an opportunity to shop so you can take away mementos of the day.
Today you will take you on another magical adventure. The Japanese forest is so vast you don’t think you could ever cover it all or see the same vista twice. You have a number of heavenly paths you can take you on today all of which will swathe you in nature.
Today you will add a skill to your repertoire, Soba is the Japanese name for buckwheat. It usually refers to thin noodles made from buckwheat flour, or a combination of buckwheat and wheat flours. Soba noodles are served either chilled with a dipping sauce, or in hot broth as a noodle soup.
Making soba noodles is surprisingly simple but defiantly has an art to it and can be a little tricky. You have the experts to show you how to construct the perfect noodle which will allow you to wow your friends and family when you return home. Once you have completed the museum tour you’ll make and hopefully enjoy our own lunch.
Following lunch, you’ll be free to relax and use the hotel facilities. And explore the superb Nakamura Keith Haring Collection – the only museum in the world devoted to the New York street artist.
Final trek today, conclude this part of your trip by feeling the sway of the trees, the astonishing colours and feeling of calmness surrounding you as you make your way along the path. Saying goodbye to the mountain and everything she has shared with you can be an emotional experience. It’s days like this which will stay with you for a very long time.
What better to conclude your forest adventure than to be schooled in crafting one of nature’s specular materials. Bamboo according to Feng Shui, is a lucky plant which attracts positive energy that is supposed to bring good health, peace, happiness, prosperity, longevity and good luck into any home that has this plant. Following this pursuit, you will move to a traditional tea ceremony also called the Way of Tea. This is a Japanese cultural activity involving the ceremonial preparation and presentation of matcha, powdered green tea.
Dating back to the 9th century CE, the Japanese tea ceremony represents harmony, respect, purity and tranquillity. This is a beautiful tradition and steeped in history where each movement has a different meaning. Chadō is counted as one of the three classical Japanese arts of refinement, along with kōdō for incense appreciation, and kadō for flower arrangement.
To complete this wonderful day, you will spend some time at the rice fields. Rice is the main crop in Japan. It has been cultivated for more than 3,000 years in Japan and its husbandry is fascinating. A paddy field is a flooded parcel of arable land used for growing semiaquatic rice. They can require a great deal of labour and materials to create and need large quantities of water for irrigation. Rice is the most important human food crop in the world feeding more than 3 billion people every day, unique because it can grow in wet environments that other crops cannot survive in.
Finally, you will make our way back to the hotel to relax and use the facilities one more time ahead of leaving the hotel and travelling to Tokyo the following morning.
This evening you will arrive in Ginza. Ginza is one of the major shopping districts in the city, filled with smart boutiques, as well as glamorous bars. Fine jewellery is sold in Wako Honkan a department store from the 1930’s, while futuristic Ginza Place deals in high-tech goods. Traditional Japanese dance and drama is staged at the landmark Kabuki-za theater.
An exhilarating start to the day, a helicopter tour over Tokyo; you will get a bird’s eye view of the unique city from the air and get a real understanding of how tradition and modern are intertwined.
Once you land you will make our way to the Imperial Palace. This is the principal residence of the Emperor of Japan. Located in a specular park in the Chiyoda ward of Tokyo and comprises of the main palace, the private residences of the Imperial Family and a museum. A true oasis in a bustling city.
We finish the day with another culinary delight, an exquisite sushi making workshop giving you an insight and taste into one of Japan’s most famous dishes.
You have a free day today to explore Tokyo.