Excursions + Events

KYOTO

Do you have plans to visit Kyoto this fall?

I’ll be living in Kyoto temporarily and will be leading private & group excursions, creating travel itineraries/packages, offering exclusive dinners with geisha, and more! Contact me for more information: excursionsjapan@gmail.com

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KYOTO EVENING EXCURSIONS – Join an existing group tour or book me privately.

Four Geisha Neighborhoods & Kyoto’s Red Light District – Explore the lantern-lit alleys of four of Kyoto’s five Geisha districts and the red light district built around one of them. Learn about: the area’s history, Geisha culture, and my favorite restaurants/cafes/shops (including some hidden spots). Hopefully we’ll also catch a glimpse of Geiko and Maiko heading to/from work. *Not held on Sundays or during August Obon period.

Best of Higashiyama – Wander the cobblestone alleys that snake through Higashiyama – from Kiyomizudera Temple to Yasaka Shrine, and learn the history, culture, and secrets of Kyoto’s most popular day-time district (which is even better at night!).

Off the Beaten Path: Daitokuji Temple & Northern Nishijin – Walking through the stone-paved paths of Daitokuji Temple at night is like stepping back into a bygone era. Visit local hangouts in Nishijin, an ancient shrine on a mini mountain, and a sento-turned-cafe/bar. Optional visit to a real historic sento (bathhouse) whose pools are full of actual hot spring water.

Drinking & Dining in Gion – Gion is the home to two Geisha districts, Gion Kobo (the most famous) & Gion Higashi (smaller, surrounded by a red light district). Explore and learn about both – with stops along the way to sample tasty Japanese sake, delectable local specialties, and more. Hopefully we’ll also catch a glimpse of Geiko and Maiko heading to/from work. *Not held on Sundays.

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EXCURSIONS IN & AROUND TOKYO

Led in conjunction with Heartland JAPAN & Mandy Bartok of Uncover Japan

For more information on any of these excursions, or to book one privately for your own group, send an e-mail to: uncoverjapan1@gmail.com

SEPTEMBER

Spider Lilies

Tuesday, September 10 Tokyo Neighborhoods: Hibiya 9:30am – 12:30pm

Beat the heat on this tour of the Hibiya neighborhood, as we weave in and out of the area’s skyscrapers, uncovering the secrets of this unassuming business district. Godzilla and General MacArthur, architects and actors … all make an appearance on this late summer walk. End with a tasty lunch (included) and an optional visit to a sake center.

Friday, September 20 ‘Downtown’ Kiyosumi Shirakawa 9am – 12:30pm

Explore the neighborhood of Kiyosumi Shirakawa, one of Tokyo’s up-and-coming ‘old downtowns’, which has become Tokyo’s newest coffee mecca.  Learn about over half a dozen cafes that have opened their doors here in the past few years – and get a caffeine-fix in one of them! Wander through a gorgeous traditional garden and a fascinating, hands-on museum that recreates life in the Edo Period, before enjoying an “artful” finish.

Wednesday, September 25 Spider Lilies in Saitama 8:30am-3:30pm

Escape to Saitama to see one of the best displays of spider lilies in the Kanto region. Over 5 million of these delicate flowers bloom in late September in the Hidaka area. Visit a traditional Japanese home, picnic by the river and learn about the region’s unique ties to ancient Korea.

OCTOBER

Ryuokyo Gorge

Friday, October 4 Ryuokyo Gorge & Kinugawa Onsen 7:45am-5:15pm

Head north to the Nikko region to discover gorgeous Ryuokyo Gorge. Hike the path along the canyon’s edge – passing waterfalls and perhaps some early autumn foliage. Bring a picnic or enjoy lunch in one of the local eateries before taking a local train to Kinugawa Onsen. Conditions permitting, enjoy a boat ride down the rapids of the Kinu River before returning to Tokyo.

Thursday, October 10 Tokyo Neighborhoods: Ryogoku 9am-12:30pm

Ryogoku is Tokyo’s sumo neighborhood, but this traditional shitamachi (downtown) on the eastern bank of the Sumida River boasts many additional fascinating sites. Visit a sumo temple, the birthplace of Edomae sushi, a famous spot associated with the 47 samurai, a traditional garden, and a park that’s seen more than its fair share of disasters. At the end, enjoy a tasty lunch (optional).

Thursday, October 17 Saitama 3 Peak Hike 8:15am-4:15pm

Lace up your boots for a hike in the hills of Saitama Prefecture. Our trail leads us past a hidden waterfall, through a natural bamboo forest, over three summits, and ends with views of late season cosmos in bloom. This is an active adventure for those seeking a manageable day hike in a beautiful setting.

Wednesday, October 30 Nakameguro & Daikanyama 9:45am-12:45pm

These neighborhoods are two of Tokyo’s trendiest, with a great collection of cafes, shops and hidden sights. Visit a museum where you can see sakura (cherry blossoms) year-round, a century-old home and one of the city’s best bookstores, all while poking through the maze of alleys for a selection of your guide’s favorite eateries. Cap off the excursion with an optional lunch at one of Tokyo’s craft breweries, built on the site of the old train tracks.

NOVEMBER

Bonsai Village

Thursday, November 7 Jindai-ji Botanical Garden & Temple 9:00-14:30

Western Tokyo is home to the city’s second-oldest temple, tucked in a forest and surrounded by a quaint village full of soba restaurants. Explore the temple precincts and stroll through the neighboring botanical garden, a delight in any season. Enjoy homemade buckwheat noodles before returning to the city center.

Friday, November 15 Omiya Bonsai Neighborhood 9:00-15:30

Travel just outside of Tokyo to Saitama’s famous bonsai village. Learn about this centuries-old tree shaping practice in the Omiya Bonsai Museum, enjoy a set lunch and wander through the neighborhood’s unique bonsai nurseries.

Tuesday, November 19 Setagaya Temples & Shrines 9:00-12:15

Explore some of Setagaya’s most atmospheric temples and shrines, including Gotoku-ji – the famed “beckoning cat temple” – and Shoin Jinja, a shrine with fascinating historical connections. Wander a revitalized shopping street before catching one of Tokyo’s two remaining streetcars back home.

Monday, November 25 Mitake River Walk 8:30-17:00

On this active excursion, head to the Mitake River Valley, still a part of Tokyo but worlds away in appearance. Ramble along the river path, soak up the fall foliage and enjoy a riverside picnic. Participants have the option to visit two museums along the route, one which is home to a noted rock garden.

DECEMBER

Yokohama X-mas Display

Wednesday, December 4 Kanda River Gardens 9:15-12:15

Kanda River’s quiet paths are perfect for a late autumn walk. Visit a home once belonging to the poet Basho, a traditional Japanese garden and a small museum devoted to a private collection of artistic treasures. End with a final garden stroll and an optional lunch.

Friday, December 13 Yokohama Xmas 8:30-12:30

Get in the holiday spirit while touring gorgeous historic Western homes built in the early 1900s on the bluffs above Yokohama.  Each home is decorated for Christmas in a different country’s theme. Afterward, take a quick walk through Motomachi, a famous shopping street that has catered to foreigners since the 1800s, ending with a visit to Chinatown (with an optional lunch there).