May 2023 - $5,280 pp twin share. Single supplement $470
Prices ex Sydney
Price will include flight, Japan Rail Pass, accomodation, breakfast and admittance to venues. Not included: lunch, dinner and drinks
CONTACT IAN GREENWOOD
0404 841 038
This itinerary is subject to slight changes, but is typical of all trips so far.
We will meet at the gate lounge in Sydney International Airport about half an hour before boarding. Then we have our overnight flight to Haneda.
We land at Haneda International Airport, Tokyo at around 0500. After we collect our luggage and get through customs, we need to wait until the Japan Rail Office opens at 0645 to exchange our JR passes (I will have all these). The wait will be diminished by baggage collection and customs but there is a coffee shop nearby where everyone can have a sip and chat. I will get in line for the passes as soon as I can because the line grows very quickly once the office is open.
Once we have the passes, we have a little train hop. We take the Monorail to Hamamatsucho (about 15 minutes) and then a suburban train to Kamata where we will drop our luggage at the hotel. We won't be able to check in until the afternoon so we will head back into Tokyo to do some sightseeing.
By the time we check in to the hotel, everyone will probably be pretty tired. I would suggest a bit of a rest, freshen up and we'll meet in the lobby around 5ish and head to a nearby pub for a refreshment and then something to eat. The Pub itself isn't trad Japanese but I find it's a good way for everyone to get to know each other a bit before ten fun days in Japan.
After breakfast, we'll train down to Kamakura, home of an enormous statue of Buddha at Koutokuin Temple. We'll return mid afternoon and head out tonight to see some country music. Details TBC
I’ll be in the lobby around 1030 to meet up with anyone who wants to see the busiest pedestrian crossing in the world at Shibuya Station. Shibuya is also home to the bronze statue of Hachi - a dog who waited for his master every evening for nine years after his master died. We’ll also take a stroll up the main street of Ginza and visit a great little paper and calligraphy shop - a good place for gifts. The main street of Ginza is closed to traffic on a Sunday so it makes for a really nice walk. Tonight, we will return to Ginza for a gig at the iconic bluegrass venue, Rocky Top for a great pickin’ party with Keep On The Grass.
Today we travel to Hamamatsu. This is a real music town. My mother did her training for working at Yamaha Hiroshima in this city. Near our hotel, there’s a musical instrument museum which is well worth a visit.
Tonight we’ll take a bus to a place called “Biscuit Time” for an evening of bluegrass with my good friend Tomoyuki Murata and co. There is snacky food here, but might be an idea to have a bite before we go - even if it’s late afternoon. It’s a good fun night here.
Today we travel to Kyoto. It’s not a long trip and our hotel is right near the station. Once we've checked it's definitely worth getting out for a look around. The top of Kyoto Station is a good first place to visit. It’s a great view of the town.
The afternoon is yours - there's plenty see even around and in the station.
Tonight there is an Irish session at Field Irish pub that starts at 9pm. I’ll be in the lobby at an arranged time and we’ll take a short subway ride eat somewhere up there, or before we leave and check out some Japanese/Irish tunes.
No need to get going really early today. We'll meet in the lobby and take the subway/bus to Kinkakuji, one of the most photographed temples in Kyoto. It's only a short hop from there to Imamiya Shrine where there is a mochi (Japanese rice cake) business that has been trading for about 1,000 years. It is well worth a stop here for a short but very Japanese experience - a taste of this traditional snack and a cup of local tea made with the well water from this ancient store.
My good friend Minoru Tanaka has a little shop of Japanese religious supplies nearby that includes some very nice incense. We will visit his shop before taking the subway back to Kyoto station.
There's no gig tonight so it would be a good opportunity to head up to Gion and see if we can spot any Maiko (Geisha) and enjoy Kyoto after sundown.
We will meet fairly early this morning to beat the crowds to Arashiyama and the beautiful walk though the bamboo grove. There’s a great little shop that sells bamboo products (all ok to bring home) and after a coffee and a spell, we’ll visit a music box shop that’s well worth a look and a good place for gifts.
There's a bluegrass jam tonight at Japan's oldest Honky Tonk right on the outskirts of town.
Today we will get to the station a bit before our train ride to Kumamoto and buy some lunch to have on the train. There are food shops everywhere, as you will well know by now. We change trains at Shin Osaka Station and travel 3 hours and 40 minutes to Kumamoto where our hotel is right by the station. Tonight we're going to Good Time Charlie, an iconic Honky Tonk in Japan. Charlie Nagatani is 86 years old and has been playing in his bar Good Time Charlie every night (except for outside shows, including the Grand Ole Opry 28 times) for 40 years.
It's an easy ride back to Hiroshima this morning. Once there, we will have a short cab ride to our hotel. Because we will more than likely be there before check in, we'll leave our luggage there and head for a little sightseeing.
Tonight I’ll have a gig with my good friend Hiroki Maeta at a little okonomiyaki Restaurant. Hiroshima okonomiyaki is delicious - don’t know what it is? Ask Mr Google - everyone so far on my trips has loved it.
This venue only has a Japanese style toilet, by the way - it hasn’t been a problem before, but it’s handy to know!
We’ll meet after breakfast in the lobby and take the half hour train ride to Miyajimaguchi and then catch the JR Ferry to Miyajima Island. This ten minute ride is one of my favourite parts of my trips. Try to get an outside rail on the right hand side of the ferry for the best view as we go.
Once at the island, we will get maps and start exploring. It's a wonderful place and there are plenty of spots you can go to get away from the crowds, even if it's busy. We will organise a time to meet back at the ferry for those who want to return to Hiroshima at a set time. If anyone wants to stay longer, that's fine.
Our hotel actually has a happy hour with free wine and beer, so I'm sure a few of us will partake in that. Plenty of eating options as always for our last night in Japan.
For those who are interested, I will be heading down to the Peace Park after breakfast. We will endeavour to leave Hiroshima Station at midday for the 4-5 hour Shinkansen ride back to Tokyo. We change trains at Shin Osaka so from there, try to get a seat on the left hand side just in case the weather allows a view of Mt.Fuji near Shizuoka.
Once we have checked in at Haneda, there is a last chance for gift shopping. One great thing about Japanese airports is the price of food and drinks isn't terribly inflated like it is here.
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