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See Japan in its autumn glory with a luxury tour to Kyoto, Mount Koya and Osaka

Personalised journeys from start to finish

Save an acre of rainforest each time you travel

Every detail taken care of

What's Included

  • Completely private tours of Kyoto, Arashiyama, Mount Koya and Osaka
  • Exclusive participation in Buddhist ceremony
  • Luxury accommodation throughout
  • Meet and greet airport service
  • Full support from your Travel Concierge before, during and after your trip
  • The best time to see autumn leaves is from mid-September to late November but please note that we cannot guarrantee autumn leaves sightings
Use this itinerary to inspire your bespoke journey

At a glance

Each autumn, Japan is carpeted in hues of fiery red and gold as summer ends and the autumn leaves erupt on every tree. It’s very difficult to predict exactly when the autumn leaves will make their dramatic appearance in each city and just how long they will last for, but we’ll do our best to show you Japan’s autumn leaves on a luxury trip that takes in two of Japan’s most important cities and an ancient sacred mountain.

We begin our autumn leaves tour with four days in Kyoto, Japan’s imperial pearl, where we hope to see the spectacular sight of the city’s ancient palaces, traditional townhouses and ornate shrines augmented by vibrant autumn leaves. There’s time for a visit to the usually verdant Arashiyama which we anticipate will be coloured in autumnal reds and yellows.

Then it’s on to sacred Mount Koya, one of Japan‘s most revered ancient sites, for a monastery stay, a Buddhist ceremony and a tour of the famous Okunoin cemetery. Our final stop brings us to Osaka with a completely customised tour to take in the best of the city and its shades of autumn.

You’ll stay at luxury accommodation in each city with expert guides on hand and our insider recommendations to ensure that you get the most out of each destination.

Example Trip Itinerary

Days 1-4

Kyoto

Flights & Transfers

Transfer

Private Transfer from Osaka Airport to your hotel in Kyoto

Accommodation in Kyoto

Three days in Kyoto Three days in Kyoto

Spend your time in Kyoto admiring the impressive imperial beauty of the city, evident in the abundance of prewar buildings such as grand palaces, traditional "machiya" townhouses and ornate shrines, and augmented by stunning autumn foliage. See kimono-clad geisha on their way to engagements and stroll in the celebrated Ryoan-ji rock garden. Make sure you visit the magnificent wooden Kiyomizu-dera and the Golden and Silver Pavilion Temples. Your travel designer can help you to experience the city at its best with private guided tours and excursions.

Autumn leaves tour of Kyoto Autumn leaves tour of Kyoto

Meet your guide early this morning at your hotel to start your exploration of Kyoto. We'll start at the Tofuku-ji temple which is one of Kyoto’s most attractive temples, especially when surrounded by autumn foliage. We then continue to the nearby Fushimi Inari Shrine which was founded in the 9th century in honour of the fox that farmers believe is the messenger of the harvest god. We then return towards Kyoto centre to visit the Sanjusangendo Hall. While you won't find much autumn foliage surrounding it, it's famed for its 1001 statues of Kannon the goddess mercy and its impressive demon guardians. Afterwards, we will continue to the nearby Kiyomizu-dera Temple, originally founded in 798. The magnificent views of the city from its main hall are especially impressive in the autumn and attract visitors throughout Japan. A nice and relaxing stroll will take you through the old neighbourhood of Sannenzaka which used to be the favoured route for pilgrims travelling to Kiyomizudera and is now lined with little shops and cafes. We'll then visit the Kodaiji Temple of the Rinzai school of Zen Buddhism which was founded during the Momoyama-period by the wife of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the powerful general who unified Japan at the end of the 16th century. Enjoy lunch at your own account.

Visit to Kyoto's Geisha district, Nishiki market and the Silver Pavilion Visit to Kyoto's Geisha district, Nishiki market and the Silver Pavilion

After lunch, take a break from temples with a visit to the Geisha district of Gion which is famed for the preservation of its traditional architecture and entertainment presented by graceful Geiko, “women of art.” During its golden age in the first half of 19th century, more than 3000 Geikos worked in some 700 teahouses in Gion. We'll also visit Nishiki market, a narrow shopping arcade that's only 400 meters in length featuring more than 100 vendors. A recommended shop to visit is “Aritsugu” which offers a variety of excellent kitchen tools. If time allows, we will make a final stop at Ginkakuji, the Silver Pavilion, which is splendid in Autumn. Ginkaku-ji has an area of around 25,000 square meters and is known for its luxuriant growth of moss and its garden is composed of two terraces. The upper terrace is arranged in the style of a dry garden that uses stones, sand and plants with no water, to represent a scenic view. We'll then return to the hotel where you can spend the rest of the evening at your leisure.

Golden Pavilion and Ryoan-ji visit Golden Pavilion and Ryoan-ji visit

This morning your guide will meet you at your hotel and bring you to Kinkaku-ji the Golden Pavilion temple which was built in 1397 to serve as a retirement villa for Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu. From here we visit the serene Ryoan-ji temple and its celebrated rock garden which is comprised of nothing but clay walls, raked sand and 15 rocks.

Arashiyama Autumn Leaves visit Arashiyama Autumn Leaves visit

Visit to Arashiyama, a lush district that provides a welcome break from the city’s hustle. Arashiyama features numerous interesting sites surrounded by nature and offers some stunning autumn vistas. We'll start at the unique and quiet Otagi-Nenbutsuji Temple to see its 1200 Rakan figures, carved by worshipers to pray for the prosperity of the temple which have been sculpted with much humour. Continue towards Okochi Sanso, a splendid mountain retreat that was once occupied by a silent screen actor with grounds at their best during autumn. From here, take a relaxing stroll around the bamboo forests, then come to Tenriu-ji Temple, a famous Zen Buddhist temple. We end our visit at the Togetsukyo Bridge, one Arashiyama's major landmarks and also known as “Moon Crossing Bridge”.

Days 4-5

Mount Koya

Flights & Transfers

Transfer

Private scenic transfer from your hotel to Mount Koya

Accommodation in Mount Koya

Half day Excursion at Mount Koya Half day Excursion at Mount Koya

Upon arrival in Koya, enjoy lunch (at your own account) and start your half-day excursion with a visit to Kongo Buji, the holiest Temple on Mount Koya and headquarters of the Shingon sect. The complex comprises administrative buildings, a religious university and a temple that's open to visitors. Built in 1593 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, it has been destroyed by fire and rebuilt several times. We then continue to the Garan where you will see some of the most important buildings in Koyasan and end your visit with a unique experience in the form of a “Jukai”, a formal and ancient Buddhist ceremony in which a Buddhist monk will guide you through the process of “taking refuge in the teaching of Buddha”. The setting is pitch-black - except a few flickering candles - and the ceremony will create a very spiritual atmosphere that will put you in the right frame of mind for your stay in Koya-san. After the ceremony, you will be brought to the Eko-in Temple to check-in. Your guide will assist you and explain the details of a stay at a Buddhist monastery.

Two days at Mount Koya Two days at Mount Koya

Mount Koya is a sacred and tranquil spot that has been revered since ancient times. During your time here, you will stay in a buddhist monastery for a fully immersive experience. Speak to your Travel Designer to find out the best things to do and see here.

Mount Koya morning Buddhist service Mount Koya morning Buddhist service

This morning, we will wake up early and take part in a morning Buddhist ceremony that is open to residents of the Temple in the richly decorated prayer hall. You'll find that the prayers and chanting are hypnotic and the ambience is spiritual. After the ceremony, you will be able to walk around the prayer hall and see funeral tablets as well as several Buddhist artefacts, usually not accessible to the public. This is a rare opportunity to glimpse the most sacred precincts of a Buddhist Temple. After the morning service, we will try and experience a “Goma” fire service, a traditional ceremony that is unique to Koya-san monasteries.

Okunoin cemetery visit Okunoin cemetery visit

This morning, we will check out of the monastery and be transferred in a private vehicle to Okunoin where we'll enjoy a morning stroll in the largest cemetery of Japan. Your guide will explain the meaning of statues and funerary stalls along the way to the Mausoleum of Kobodaishi, the founder of Shingon Buddhism. Upon arrival at the mausoleum, we'll bear witness to the daily ritual ceremony in which monks bring meals twice daily to the cave where Kobodaishi is said to be meditating for 1200 years. If time allows, we will visit the Daimon and Reihokan Museum. We'll then return to the centre of town and enjoy an early lunch.

Days 5-6

Osaka

Flights & Transfers

Transfer

Private transfer to Osaka

Accommodation in Osaka

One day in Osaka One day in Osaka

Spend your time in Osaka admiring the beauty of the city in Autumn. Depending on your interest, your guide can recommend the most enjoyable options for visits and experiences.

Private tailored tour of Osaka Private tailored tour of Osaka

Meet your private guide in your hotel lobby after breakfast and checking out. You'll then be brought on a tour of Osaka in its autumn beauty that's been tailored to your interests.

Flights & Transfers

Transfer

Private transfer from your hotel to Osaka Kansai Airport

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Luxury Autumn Leaves Tour of Japan

6-Day Example Trip
 
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