April 03 - April 13, 2024 ( 10 nts - Kyoto 6/7 nts - Okayama 4/5 nts )
Nov 13 - Nov 23, 2024 ( 10 nts - Kyoto 6/7 nts - Okayama 4/5 nts )
Osaka Kansai Airport is still the most convenient destination for international flights
Hotel Reservations close 4 weeks before Tour
One of the world's great cultural assets, the legendary beauty of the gardens of Kyoto has been developed and refined over many centuries. Whether for the festive delights of Cherry Blossom viewing in April or for the spectacular autumnal colours in November, Espirita visits Kyoto's gardens when at their very best.
Okayama - We relocate to Okayama and base ourselves at an international standard hotel adjacent to the railway station for improved logistics. Easily accessible within 2-3 blocks of the hotel is Okayama’s very lively café and restaurant district. The change to a more human level ‘everyday Japan’ is not entirely unwelcome. Okayama is also home to the highly rated Koraku-en garden.
Shikoku - a visit to the stunning stroll garden of Ritsurin in Takematsu, one of Japan's greatest gardens.
Hiroshima - arriving as the very pleasant city stroll garden of Shukkei-in is opening, from there it’s a short way to the profoundly moving Peace Park situated under the bomb epicentre. Depending on the timing of the high tide, we will then take the ferry direct from the Peace Park to the much visited Miyajima Island, with its iconic ocean setting Tori and the famous Itsukushima Shinto Shrine, surrounded by water at high tide. One option might be to start the day at Miyajima, but if the time of the tide is adverse no matter what, we will back track to Okayama and take in the Koraku-en gardens.
Matsue - Primarily, a visit to the well known Adachi Museum, which many consider to have the finest garden in Japan. Certainly it is a stunning creation with many notable design features. Though well worth getting to, it does take time whilst still leaving the opportunity to drop into the old town of Matsue - the simple house and garden of the 19th century traveller, Lafcadio Hearn, is a delight. Depending on time, another option is the delightful Yushien Paeony Garden
As you can see in the budget matrix below, we have broken down the Japanese Garden Tour into its component parts. Further details on application
Kyoto - 7 nts - Those already in Japan can arrive for check in at the hotel in Kyoto from 14.00 on the Wednesday, for the start of the 5 day Garden Tour first thing on the Thursday morning
Kyoto - 8 nts - Clients flying direct to Tour from Europe and N America, are well advised to arrive at the hotel in Kyoto on the Tuesday, with a rest day the following day. Not quite so critical for those arriving from Australasia, but the extra day in Kyoto is still available. The Kyoto Tour finishes on the following Wednesday morning
Transfer to Okayama - Clients stay the Tuesday night of the second week in Kyoto and transfer early on the Wednesday morning. The Wednesday is the start date of the Japan Rail Pass, allowing 4 Rail Pass days post Tour. Alternatively, those flying out on the Saturday could use the Rail Pass on the previous Sunday Free Day in Kyoto, as their start day of the 7 days.
Okayama - 3 nts - The 3 day itinerant garden Tour commences on the second Wednesday afternoon with the half day trip to Ritsurin, returning to Okayama by 18.00, bags having been dropped off at the hotel in Okayama before setting off. The exact day of the trips to Matsue and Hiroshima may vary depending on the weather and the time of the High Tides at Miyajima.
Okayama - 4 nts - Those wishing to have a reflective and relaxing end of Tour can stay on in the very pleasant Japanese city of Okayama. In most cases, the JR Rail Pass will still be valid over the weekend. The earliest train service on the Sunday morning arrives Osaka Kansai Airport 08.15, Tokyo Haneda Airport 10.40, Tokyo Narita Airport 11.30. Otherwise, check out at 11.00 am.
- Client expenses in Yen in Japan : Return train and taxi transfers from Osaka Airport, local transport
costs, garden entrance fees, 10 nts international standard accommodation (we reserve / you pay)
- The pre-purchase of a 7 day JR Rail Pass priced in Yen
- Espirita Fees charged in Pounds. payable to Espirita beforehand in pounds, US Dollars or Euros.
- International flights, food and living expenses are not included Further details below
Garden Japan -
|Option||Sharing Per Person||Single|
Kyoto - 7 nts
|Y65,000 + £360 - 6 nts||Y81,000 + £360 - 6 nts|
Okayama - 3 nts
|Y120,000 + £550 -10 nts||Y141,000 + £550 - 10 nts|
|Okayama - 3 nts only||Y55,000 + £190||Y60,000 + £190|
|Convert to your own currency : www.xe.com|
ROBERT KETCHELL - TOUR GUIDE
|Robert first visited Kyoto as a trainee gardener thirty years ago in search of inspiration. The beauty and beguiling content of the gardens has not yet relinquished its hold on his imagination. The first visit was extended to over three years, working as an apprentice to a master gardener, whilst studying garden history at Kyoto University. Subsequent trips have only deepened his appreciation of this richly preserved garden culture.|
Whilst visiting the gardens, the important thing is to relax, take in and enjoy their unique atmospheres and, whilst Robert Ketchell will clarify function, design, species, etc on site, comment will also take place before or after visiting the gardens - over green tea or lunch, whilst travelling between sites, or, in the case of larger groups, at debrief sessions at the hotel.
Time is available each evening and on the Free Days to explore the rich artistic and cultural heritage of Kyoto, and to venture further afield on a variety of day trips.
Being based in one place for 7 days saves on the most expensive aspect of Japan - cost of travel - 2 ½ hrs on the Shinkansen ‘Bullet’ train costs about £110-120 / $135-145. Those who wish to visit other areas should obtain a Japan Rail Pass, purchasable from official Japan Tourist Offices only outside Japan. As it is easier to recover from the journey and jet lag in one place, it is probably best to extend your journey after the Garden Tour.
Garden Schedule - To catch special garden openings and other events not publicised in advance and because weather conditions can affect the choice of gardens, we do not have rigid pre-planned garden visiting schedules. Robert also likes to meet clients on site to discuss any special requests. Broadly speaking, the Tour will visit 20-25 gardens over the five 'Garden Days and this will include many of the famous ones.
Group size - The maximum room allocation per group is 9, permitting a maximum group size of 12. This should be to everyone's benefit. For group sizes of 6 persons or under, there is a small group premium.
Night - most European flights depart Osaka Kansai in the morning,
10.00-12.00 am, which means an early start from the hotel in Kyoto
to catch the 6.15-6.45 am train.
Extra Day - Alternatively, an extra day may be added by leaving one's bags at the hotel in Okayama before check-out time 11.00am, or at Kyoto station en route, and then taking an evening train to stay at one of the hotels near Kansai Airport for the extra night.
Excess Baggage - regrettably the meticulous character of the Japanese also extends to the matter of charging for excess baggage - you are more likely to get charged at Osaka Airport than just about anywhere else in the world. Charged at £35-40 1 $50-60 per kilo for European destinations, a 5-7 kilo excess, that is often waived elsewhere, can give you a very unwelcome parting gift.
Travel Insurance - all persons are required to have valid and comprehensive travel insurance policies, covering cancellation of flights, lost luggage etc etc, and with at least £2m for medical costs, with a 24 hour medical contact telephone service and with provision for repatriation in case of emergency. To properly assist you in an emergency, details of the policy numbers and personal contact numbers will need to be submitted.
Mobility - A reasonable amount of walking is involved with the Tour, and the Temples and Gardens have numerous eccentric and uneven surfaces. Those with restricted mobility are requested to make contact to discuss practicalities.
Please note that we book our hotel allocation in Kyoto well in advance and that it is normally
very difficult to get extra nights before or after the Tour dates in Kyoto
Normal Western style buffet breakfasts are available, but as lunch tends to be taken whilst visiting the gardens, and as one tends to eat late in the evening, that can lead to three full meals per day. As all rooms have a small fridge and a Japanese style kettle with small cups - and there are various convenience stores within easy reach, 'room snack breakfasts' are quite possible. Please bring favourite teas, coffee, mug, snacks etc.
hotel in Kyoto is in the central Shijo Karasuma district, with good
connections North-South and East-West by bus, subway or suburban
trains. Bicycles are also an excellent way of getting about
facilities - situated in a 'lived in' part of town, there are numerous
modern city facilities within easy reach, including 24 hour mini-markets
and 24 hour internet access. In our final correspondence 2-4 weeks
before departure, we provide detailed information with maps of Kyoto
and of facilities in the area local to the hotel.
|Budget Summary - April 2024||Double Per Person||Single|
|6 nts - Kyoto||Y 104,000||Y 128,000|
|Tax 10%||Y 10,400||Y 12,800|
|Transfer Airport to Hotel||Y 4,250||Y 4,750|
|Kyoto transport||Y 7 - 10,000||Y 7 -10,000|
|Garden Entrance Fees||Y 10 -12,500||Y10 -12,500|
|Total - Kyoto 6 nts||Y 140,000 + £425||Y 167,500 + £425|
|4 nts - Okayama||Y 35,800||Y 42,350|
|Tax 10%||Y 3,580||Y 4,235|
|Museum/Garden Entrance Fees||Y 8,000||Y 8,000|
|7 day JR Regional Rail Pass *||Y 22,000||Y 22,000|
|Total - Okayama 4 nts||Y 70,000 + £200||Y 77,000 + £200|
|Total - Garden Japan 10 nts||Y 210,000 + £625||Y 245,000 + £625|
|Tea Day Fees - If Available||Y 4,000||Y 4,000|
|Optional Extra Arrival Date Kyoto||Y 18,500||Y 22,500|
|Optional Extra Day Okayama||Y 11,220||Y 13,420|
* JR Sanyo San'in Rail Pass covers : Transfer Kyoto to Okayama - Rail Travel 3 Day Trips
- Transfer Okayama to Kansai Airport - 3 days Free Rail Travel in West Japan
JR National 7 Day Rail Pass - Now at Y50,000
Kyoto Only - for 5 or more Kyoto only clients on any one Tour :
Traditionally, cherry blossom is at its peak in the first week of April. If there is a warmer than normal winter, it will tend to peak in sheltered city microclimates at the end of March , and in outlying districts in the following two weeks.
April 2000 - blossoms peaked in Kyoto April 6th-10th, falling on a
warm day c. April 12th, but they were coming to their best on April
13-14 on the way to Ohara in the North. By April 14th-15th, blossom
trees were starting to reach their best in Arashiyama, in the hills
surrrounding Kyoto. The cherry blossoms at the castle of
Hikone were at their peak on April 17th-20th. A visit on
April 9th to one of the most famous cherry blossom trees in Japan,
near Ouda, was fruitless - its buds remained firmly closed.
Trees in the various hill temples are at their best later in April.
Spring 2002 - ‘cherry blossom’ all over by the end of March was
the earliest for 53 years, leaving one with the gracious beauty of
the delicate bright green tracery of maples coming into leaf.
|Two films on Japanese
Culture, one at Cherry Blossom time, the other in the Autumn.
For general viewing, for viewing whilst in Japan………
|Shishu - Intuition and Feeling In The Japanese Garden - 53 mins|
|Sen Shin An - the other world of Tea - 67 mins|
|'Tokyo Morning' - documentary music video - 4mins 40secs|
For more information, contact espirita by email