Your day-by-day itinerary
Arrival in Tokyo
After your flight into Tokyo, you’ll be picked up from the airport and transferred to your hotel for the night. You’ll be staying in a local community hotel, that uses local craftsmen to create their unique designs and amenities. The rest of the day is free for you to explore the contrasting city. You can wander around the capital and see the iconic landscapes of neon and soaring skyscrapers dotted around peaceful parklands, shrines and temples.
Farm Life in Akita
Akita city is situated near the coast of the Sea of Japan. It’s famous for its high-quality rice which is attributed to the area’s access to crystal-clear water. Upon arrival at Akita station, you’ll be met by your hosts for the evening, and they’ll drive you to their farm in the Akita countryside. During the afternoon you’ll have the opportunity to help your hosts with some seasonal work on their farm, from vegetable harvesting to rice cutting, planting crops or assisting them with tending to their fields.
This evening your meal will be a delicious local dish that you, and your hosts, will make together. Although they may not speak much English, body language and smiles will take you a long way!
Temples and History of Hiraizumi
Hiraizumi is a city with a sad history. In 1189, the first Shogun ruler of Japan burned most of Hiraizumi to the ground. All that remains in the region today are a few temples and shrines that hint at Hiraizumi’s great past. Nevertheless, the sites that remain are treasured by the local community and Japan and are considered to be among the country’s most important cultural properties.
After your arrival in Hiraizumi, you will be met at the station by your guide, who will take you around town on the loop bus to see some of the areas classic sights. First is Motsuji Temple, known for its beautiful garden designed around the Buddhist concept of the pure land paradise. Many foundations of destroyed temples can be seen here, a rare archaeological treat in a country where old foundations are often paved over.
You’ll then explore the iconic Chusonji Temple, where you’ll find one of the buildings is entirely plated with gold. The final stop today is Takadachi Gikeido, dedicated to a man known as the ‘local hero’. The memorial hall looks out over the beautiful Kitagami River and has some spectacular Japanese open plain scenery for you to enjoy. You’ll then head to your hot springs accommodation for tonight, that stands in the mountains of Hiraizumi, where you’ll be served dinner.
Memories of the Sanriku Coast
Back in 2011, Rikuzentakata was hit by the strongest ever earthquake recorded in Japan. The small town was wiped off the face of the earth by the 13m high waves when they slammed into the town. Your tour today revisits one of the areas worst affected by the tsunami. You and your guide will spend the afternoon walking a stretch of the Michinoku Coastal Walk, which spans the full 300km from Aomori down to Miyagi. The walk will take you past some of the haunting reminders of the tsunami, including buildings hulled by the tragedy.
Today ends with the Miracle Pine, the only surviving reminder that this stretch of coast used to be lined by 70,000 ancient pine trees. After the tsunami, one of the large pine trees somehow survived and became a meeting point for survivors as well as a beacon of hope for the town. At the end of the day, after your guide has told you their own stories, you’ll bid farewell as you make your way back to Hirazumi for another night in your hotel.
Wellness in Aizu-Wakamatsu
Upon arrival at Aizu-Wakamatsu, a former feudal capital and a famous destination for history buffs, you’ll catch a bus to Nozawa station. Here, your hosts will pick you up and take you to their community farm for tonights stay. Your accommodation is a holistic centre, you can take part in workshops and retreats; from agriculture to yoga and meditation, your time here will revolve all around wellness and health.
Let's Go Tokyo!
One of the world’s truly great cities, Tokyo is a thrilling mix of the past and future, complete with incredible cuisine, neon-lit nightlife and unique pop-culture. Whilst here you’ll take an evening tour of Shinjuku with a guide popping into a few well-chosen bars where you can have drinks and try out some delicious bar food. At the end of the tour, you’ll head to a cosy speakeasy for an expertly made nightcap, before heading back to your hotel or wherever the night takes you next……karaoke, anyone??