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Oct 2023 prices
$6,160 pp twin share

Single supplement
$480

Prices ex Sydney

HIROSHIMA

KUMAMOTO

KYOTO

HAMAMATSU

TOKYO

Price will include return flight from Sydney to Tokyo, Japan Rail Pass, accomodation, breakfast and admittance to venues.  Not included: lunch, dinner and drinks

CONTACT IAN GREENWOOD
AT   TRAVELMANAGERS
0404 841 038
ian.greenwood@travelmanagers.com.au

October Itinerary - so far!  (scroll further down for May 2023 itinerary)

October 2023

Thur  19th


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.

Friday 


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 Tokyo Station where we will be first in line to board the Shinkansen (bullet train). Usually the unreserved cars (which are the ones we’ll be using) are 1-3. We change to another Shinkansen at Shin Osaka and get to Hiroshima early afternoon. It’s a small cab ride to the hotel. Usually with luggage we get three in a cab - without luggage, four. I’ll have cash for each cab.
There’s a happy hour at Molly Malone’s Irish pub down the street which is where we’ve always gone in the past and it's a good way to wind down after a big day. Plenty of eating options so we can wander out afterwards for a meal.

Saturday 
We’ll make a time to meet after breakfast and take a stroll past the university my Grandfather taught at and the cathedral where Mum and Dad were married- also Mum’s old school. Right nearby is Shukkeien Garden which is a beautiful traditional display of nature. There’s a cafe there as well. After that we’ll wander down to Hiroshima Castle, then on to the famous Peace Park. It’s easy to get back to the hotel from here - a very quick tram ride or a half hour walk. My groups often split up here as some go to the Museum and some go shopping.
Tonight I’ll be doing a gig with my old mate Hiroki Maeta and Kaz Tagami at a great little family run Okonomiyaki Restaurant. This is the one venue we visit that only has a Japanese style toilet.

Sunday 
After breakfast we’ll walk to Hiroshima Station and catch a train to Miyajima Guchi where we’ll get on the ferry across to Miyajima itself. Try to get a spot on the right hand side going over - it’s a great view - one of my favourite parts of my trips.
We’ll head to a hotel when we’re there owned by a friend of mine where we’ll order lunch. After the orders are made there’ll be an hour or so free for wandering. It’s beautiful food at this place. They also split the bill and you can pay with card.  We’ll return to the hotel for lunch and then there’ll be further time to take in the beauty of Miyajima. Great shopping and beautiful temples. There’s also an aquarium and a ropeway to the peak of the island. Because we have a free night, we’ll make a time to meet back at the ferry but if anyone wants to stay late, that’s fine, too.
Back in Hiroshima, I dare say a relaxing happy hour will be on the cards.

Monday
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. Our hotel is right near 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.

Tuesday 


Today we travel to Kyoto. We change trains at Shin Osaka for the quick hop to Kyoto, the old capital of Japan. Once we've checked in 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 is free, but in the past we have always caught up for pre dinner refreshment at a pub near Kyoto Station.
Wednesday 


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.
 
Thursday 


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 head back to the hotel - free time until we gather again this evening
There's a bluegrass jam tonight at Japan's oldest Honky Tonk right on the outskirts of town.
 
Friday 
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. 

Saturday 


When we get on the Shinkansen today try to get a seat on the left side in case the weather is good enough to see Mt Fuji. We will check into our hotel in Kamata. It’s a fairly bustling little area so plenty of ways to keep busy for the afternoon. One of my favourite ramen shops is around the corner from the hotel and there’s a great sushi place as well.
Tonight we’ll be listening to some country music from my friend Dicky Kitano

Sunday 


We’ll meet around 10:30 and head to Ginza where they usually shut a Main Street off on a Sunday. There’s a great paper shop with all sorts of interesting items and cafe to relax at. 

Then a trip to Harajuku to see one of the craziest streets in town.
Tonight we’ll be back in Ginza at Rocky Top for a night of bluegrass with Keep On The Grass.
 
Mon  
After we check out of our rooms, we can leave our luggage at the hotel and we’ll head into Ueno then on to Asakusa where there’s a good last chance for gift shopping and a good look around. It’s a nice way to spend our last day here, although if anyone wants to go solo elsewhere, do that, by all means. We’ll meet up back at the hotel later in the day, get to the airport and check in for our overnight flight back to Australia.

Wed
Arrive in Sydney

 

 

May 2023

Thur 18th


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.

 

Friday 


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 take the Monorail to Hamamatsucho (about 15 minutes) and then a suburban train to Kamata (a couple of stations) where will drop our bags at the hotel as check in isn’t until three PM.
We will fill in that time by heading back into Tokyo to visit Ueno Park which has a fair bit to see, including museums, art galleries and even a zoo. There is also a place for coffee and cake and general chilling out after a long night of travel. By the time we have a look around and head back to Kamata for lunch, three PM will be on us before we know it.
There will some free time that afternoon to look around Kamata or have a rest. There’s a British style pub nearby that has happy hour from 5-7pm. We’ll work out a meeting time in the lobby and head there for a refreshment.  There’s food there for those who want a pub snack and of course, eating places all over. Near our hotel are some great ramen shops, Japanese style curry and a beaut sushi place.

 

Saturday 
Tonight we will have a night of bluegrass at the iconic “Rocky Top” in Ginza with cooking little band “Keep On The Grass”. There is snacky food available here but some of you may want to eat a little before we head out. Because a lot of these venues only take cash, it’s often a lot easier for me to pay the drinks bill in a lump sum at the end. If everyone keeps a rough tab of what they spent, they can pay me back in the next few days…….and by rough tab, I mean that - don ’t feel you have to count everything down to the last yen - I’m happy if it’s ball park!
Activity during the day TBA - but as always, if anyone wants to go exploring solo or with their own group, please don’t hesitate - you’re here to enjoy and experience Japan. Simply going to a supermarket or walking back streets can be a memorable time. 

 

Sunday
We’ll meet around 10:30 and head to Ginza where they usually shut a Main Street off on a Sunday. There’s a great paper shop down the end of the street which is well worth a visit. 
Then a trip to Harajuku to see one of the craziest streets in town.
Tonight we’ll be going to “Little Texas” to see some country music with Dicky Kitano and band. 

 

Monday
Today we travel to Hamamatsu.  It’s not a long trip today so we’ll leave Kamata as late as we can. Our hotel is right near the station so we’ll drop off our bags and check in later. 
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. Tonight will be very casual - acoustic jamming.

 

Tuesday
Today we travel to Kyoto, the old capital of Japan. Once again, we’ll be there before check, in but the hotel is near the station so we’ll drop our bags and have 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 is free, but in the past we have always caught up for pre dinner refreshment at a pub near Kyoto Station. 


 

Wednesday


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.
Either today or tomorrow, for those who are interested, there’s a little knife shop a couple of stations away from Kyoto I’ve taken my groups to in the past. There are a lot of shops that sell quality knives in Japan but I love this one for the small business vibe. Plus, you can get you name engraved in the blade in Japanese if you want.
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. 
 


 

Thursday 
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 head back to the hotel - free time until we gather again this evening
There's a bluegrass jam tonight at Japan's oldest Honky Tonk right on the outskirts of town.

 

Friday
Today we head to Kumamoto. There’ll be a short train ride to Shin Osaka Station where we change to the Sakura Shinkansen for the rest of the trip. There are food shops everywhere, as you will well know by now so we can buy some lunch and something to drink on the train. Our hotel is right near 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 over 40 years. 

 

Saturday
We train back to Hiroshima today. We’ll cab from the station to our hotel, drop out bags off and take a stroll down to Hiroshima Castle, then on to the famous Peace Park. It’s easy to get back to the hotel from here - a very quick tram ride or a half hour walk. My groups often split up here as some go to the Museum and some go shopping.
Tonight I’ll be doing a gig with my old mate Hiroki Maeta at a great little family run Okonomiyaki Restaurant. This is the one venue we visit that only has a Japanese style toilet.



 

Sunday


After breakfast we’ll walk to Hiroshima Station and catch a train to Miyajima Guchi where we’ll get on the ferry across to Miyajima itself. Try to get a spot on the right hand side going over - it’s a great view - one of my favourite parts of my trips.
We’ll head to a hotel when we’re there owned by a friend of mine where we’ll order lunch. After the orders are made there’ll be an hour or so free for wandering. It’s beautiful food at this place. They also split the bill and you can pay with card.  We’ll return to the hotel for lunch and then there’ll be further time to take in the beauty of Miyajima. Great shopping and beautiful temples. There’s also an aquarium and a ropeway to the peak of the island. Because we have a free night, we’ll make a time to meet back at the ferry but if anyone wants to stay late, that’s fine, too.
Back in Hiroshima, I dare say a relaxing happy hour will be on the cards at Molly Malone’s Irish Pub.

 

Monday


Today is a travel day back to Tokyo. Our flight out of Haneda is around 9:30pm and in the past we have aimed to get there around 6pm. To give ourselves plenty of time for the trip, it would be good to depart Hiroshima around midday. If we can, after breakfast, we’ll check out and leave our bags in the lobby and do the short walk to Shukkeien Garden. It takes us past my Mum’s old school and the cathedral where Mum and Dad were married. It’s a beautiful garden and very relaxing.
Then we’ll get back to the hotel, cab to the station and make our way back to Tokyo and Haneda Airport. 

 

Tuesday


Arrive in Sydney
 

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