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Snow Monkeys & Mountains
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If you love monkeys and mountains then you’ve come to the right place. This nature-focused Journey takes you from the slopes of Mount Fuji to the mountain views of Nagano, Matsumoto and Sapporo, which offers hiking in the summer and skiing in the winter. To top it off, you’ll experience one of Japan’s best nature experiences: watching snow monkeys warming up in the hot springs of Nagano’s Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park.
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Your Example Itinerary
Fly from the UK to Tokyo
Welcome to Japan. Your first stop is Tokyo, a bustling hub of action and adventure that blends tradition and technology like no other city on Earth. This is a place where gadgets and geishas collide; shop for high fashion and slick technology, seek out a traditional tea ceremony or try some of the best sushi you’ll ever taste. While in this city, you’ll join a Tokyo After Five tour, showing you the capital by night and allowing you to sample the delicious street food.
Hotel Gracery Shinjuku
Fuji-Hakone National Park
Leaving Tokyo behind, you’ll be whisked up to the 5th Station of Mount Fuji, Japan’s highest peak. The views from up here are spectacular, so don’t forget your camera. Later on, you’ll sail across Lake Ashi crater lake and see views of Mount Hakone, a volcano that last erupted in 1170. Take a ride on the Komagatake Ropeway for further views of Hakone National Park, before spending the night in a Ryokan, a traditional Japanese Inn, with the chance to soak in an onsen, or traditional hot spring.
Take the train to Nagano, a historic city famous for the Zenko-ji temple that is its main attraction, visited by 4 million people annually. The city had a resurgence in popularity in 1998, when it hosted the Winter Olympic Games, which also improved its infrastructure and tourist facilities no end. Nagano is a pretty place, surrounded by mountains and with a variety of onsen to soak in, but really you’re here for the snow monkeys, which you’ll find at Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park, warming themselves and looking rather soggy in the hot springs.
3* Hotel JAL City Nagano
At the eastern end of the Japanese Alps, Matsumoto is blessed with mountain views and delightful countryside scenery. The town itself is dominated by Matsumoto Castle, voted into the world’s top three castles and surrounded by a moat, as well as streets filled with art galleries and quaint cafés. Be sure to visit the Matsumoto Folkcraft Museum to learn more about the arts and crafts of the area, and the Japan Ukiyo-e Museum to discover the region’s traditional woodblock prints.
Matsumoto Hotel Kagetsu
Your next stop is Kyoto, which you’ll explore on two wheels as you join a cycling tour. Renowned for its mysterious geishas and spectacular seasonal blooms, Kyoto is also a diner’s paradise with restaurants serving up the very best of traditional and contemporary Japanese cuisine. Take in Nijo castle, with two concentric moats, as well as the beautiful Golden Pavilion, and don’t miss the National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto (MoMAK), a vast collection of 20th-century art including Japanese and Western paintings, sculpture, prints, ceramics and crafts.
4* Hotel Gracery Kyoto Sanjo
Your final stop is Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido. It’s a lively, dynamic place with plenty of restaurants and cafes to try, as well as 24-hour karaoke, and within easy reach of various hot springs and pretty mountain vistas. In summer, head for Odori-park for the Beer Festival and climb to the top of the Sapporo TV tower to get amazing views of the city and surrounding mountains. Don’t worry if you miss it though, as you can always try the Sapporo Beer Museum. In winter, enjoy the snow sculptures at annual Snow Festival, or test out the nearby Sapporo-Teine, Rusutsu and Niseko ski resorts.
Depart Sapporo and return to the UK
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