Project Description


DATE: 10 – 29 September 2021
LAND ONLY TWIN SHARE: AUD $10,915 per person
SINGLE SUPPLEMENT: AUD $350 per person

Japan is enriched with incredible history, culture and fantastic people. Take a journey of a lifetime through amazing cities, gardens and architecture.



The Japanese archipelago is balanced precariously between the continental mass of north Asia and the expanse of the Pacific reflecting nature from the near Arctic to the tropics. Subject to typhoons and earthquakes Japanese life and literature reflects the transient and fleeting character of nature in all its moods, both benevolent and destructive. This unique civilisation is built on infinite variation and regional customs created by climate, immigration and historic circumstance.

The tour is designed to showcase the great gardens and landscapes of Japan, taking in lesser known locations and scenery by passed by the majority of tourists, and revealing the richness of the many traditions which make up the layers of Japanese culture. Passing through different regional environments, the tour includes important gardens and landscapes on the Pacific seaboard, the Japan Sea and the Inland Sea as well as in Kyoto, the thousand year capital. The schedule is designed to minimise single night stays and create a cultural continuum of lesser known national and regional histories.

As an introduction we visit the Hama Rikyu overlooking Tokyo Bay. Formerly a ground for falconry for the Shogun, it is an elegant stroll garden for the hot summers of the city. We travel by ferry to Asakusa to see the city from the water and spend the afternoon the famed shopping street at the Asakusa Shrine.

Leaving the vigorous popular culture of downtown Tokyo we head north to visit the Tokugawa mausoleums in the cryptomeria forests at Nikko before going on to the first great garden. From Heian times Japanese art and literature have reflected the transience of nature in the gardens created by all classes, from Heian nobility to the samurai class and the cultivated and wealthy townsmen. Each garden responded to ever-present natural conditions and the cultural preoccupations of the creator. We will look at the three great gardens of Japan, the Kairakuen at Mito, the Kenrokuen at Kanazawa and the Korakuen in Okayama. In Kyoto we will visit the gardens created by the both the nobility, the merchants and artisans, and the ruling warrior class. We will visit the Imperial Palaces and the Detached Palaces, the Katsura Detached Palace and the Shugakuin Detached Palace, along with the representative stone gardens of the Zen tradition. Adequate time will allow for individual preferences. Leaving Kyoto, we visit one of the three great landscapes of the Japan, the famed Amanohashidate and proceed to recuperate leisurely at the historic hot spring town of Kinosaki. After a day’s rest we continue along the picturesque Japan Sea coastline to the castle town of Matsue. The town possesses an original Tokugawa Period castle and a quarter of fine samurai residences associated with the famed author Lafcardio Hahn. Matsue also possesses the great shrine of Izumo Taisha which forms an integral part of Japan’s national foundation mythology. After a visit to this monument we will also visit the Adachi Museum of Art, founded by Adachi Zenko in 1980 as a way of combining his passions for Japanese art and garden design. It has been named the best garden in Japan annually since 2003.

Continuing along the rugged Japan Sea coast we reach Tsuwano, a picturesque castle town made wealthy by mining. In the town centre, old samurai mansions with white earthen walls, dark red roof tiles and wooden grated windows line the streets, portraying scenes reminiscent of past centuries. The waterway which flows by the main street is filled with lively carp, which add colour and vibrance to the picturesque surroundings. Tsuwano is also home to the Taikodani Inari Shrine, one of the five greatest Inari Shrines.

Travelling further west, we arrive at Hagi, a city born in 1603 out of circumstances of bitter political rivalry and bloody battle. Now a world heritage site, by dint of historic circumstance it is the best preserved Tokugawa period castle town in Japan and is rich in the circumstances of its creation and its role in the Meiji Restoration. The city’s location and difficult topography were chosen by the victorious Tokugawa to ensure that their vanquished rivals would not readily be able to pose a significant political threat to the new national government. Facing the Japan Sea, the quiet streets of the samurai quarter contrast with the dense business of the merchant’s quarters. The surrounding hills contain both the domain’s many temples and shrines. Dotted in the hills are also the kilns of the famed potters of Hagi. From Korean antecedents, Hagi has one of the great pottery traditions of Japan, and is prized by connoisseurs of the tea ceremony. Close to the city are the monuments of the domains efforts to build a new industrial economy are world famous.

The third and last great garden of the tour is the Korakuen of Okayama Castle and the tour draws to an end with a visit to the famous Kibitsu Shrine, the chief Shinto shrine of Bitchū Province. The shrine is dedicated to Kibitsuhiko-no-mikoto the son of legendary Emperor Korei, making a fitting conclusion to our journey.

Leaving Okayama early, the tour concludes with a bullet train trip to Osaka and departure from the Kansai International Airport.

YOUR TOUR LEADER: Peter Armstrong is a professor at Sydney and Western Sydney Universities. He is a graduate in architecture, city planning and archaeology from Sydney and Waseda Universities. He worked in the office of the Metabolist Kikutake Kiyonori before returning to Australia where he practised as an architect for 30 years. Major projects include the Family Court of Australia, Sydney, and the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) Sydney. A garden for the Japanese Studies Courtyard for the University of Western Australia is well regarded. He has taught East Asian architectural and urban history at Sydney and other universities since 1974. In 2006 he was decorated by the Foreign Minister of Japan and was made an Honorary Research Fellow of the Korean Government’s National Gyeongju Research Institute of Cultural Heritage. His PhD dealt with the formative period of the Japanese castle town between the years 1586 and 1650 and his recent publications include “Hagi-A feudal Capital in Tokugawa Japan” (Routledge 2019).



On arrival, meet and greet by local guide. Visit Hama-rikyu Garden, take a step into this beautiful Edo-period garden and discover a world separate from the city. The tour continues to visit the venerable Asakusa Kannon Temple, which has more than 1300 years of history. Pick up souvenirs at nearby Nakamise shopping Street, a walkway leading to the temple that is lined with crafts, souvenirs and other cultural curios. Either to have welcome dinner at hotel or pick up around 6pm for dinner. (B)

This morning, travel upwards to Nikko. Visit the most famous for Toshogu, Japan’s most lavishly decorated shrine and the mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Tokugawa shogunate. Next, get ready to be awed by Kegon Waterfall, ranked as one of Japan’s 3 most beautiful waterfalls. (B)

Start the day heading to Kairakuen Garden, regarded as one of Japan’s top 3 gardens, for some calm and relaxation. Enjoy a local specialty monkfish hot pot lunch before your visit to Oarai Isosaki-jinja Shrine. A beguiling sight distinguished by its alluring lone torri gate on a rock by the ocean. Here, you can pick up an ema, small wooden plaques used to write prayers, at your own expense and write down a wish just like the locals. (B,L)

After breakfast, take a ride return to Tokyo. Enjoy your very first time bullet train ride to Kanazawa, post-town served as the seat of the Maeda Clan during Edo Period. Visit the highlight of tour – Kanazawa Kenrokuen, one of Japan’s “three best landscape gardens” and by many considered the most beautiful of them all. (B)

Visit to Kanazawa Castle, who was the seat of the powerful Maeda Clan, a feudal domain ranking second only to the Tokugawa possessions in terms of size and wealth. Although the castle been burnt down several times over the centuries, reconstruction effort been carried out throughout years make most central structures standing again and make the visit more interesting. We proceed to visit the Sensonkaku, an elegant retirement villa built for the last lord’s mother. (B)

The day is spent visiting the high quality arts and crafts of the domain. We visit the Honda Museum to see the tea container ”Murasame no Tsubo”, once traded for a domain. We also visit the 21st century museum (designed by Kazuyo Sejima), and the Suzuki Daisetsu Museum (designed by Yoshi Taniguchi). (B)

This morning, travel via local express train to Kyoto. Visit Kyoto Imperial Palace, used to be the residence of Japan’s Imperial Family until 1868, when the emperor and capital were moved from Kyoto to Tokyo. It is located in the spacious Kyoto Imperial Park, an attractive park in the center of the city that also encompasses the Sento Imperial Palace and a few other attractions. (B)

Visit Katsura Imperial Villa, is one of the finest examples of Japanese architecture and garden design, where the most sublime techniques of Japanese architecture and garden design come together. There is no doubt that this is a must-see for serious fans of Japanese architecture and gardens. (B)

Visit Shugakuin Imperial Villa, built in the 17th century by Emperor Gomizuno, consists of the Upper, Middle and Lower Villa areas, each featuring gardens and buildings of the traditional imperial style. It is a place of breathtaking beauty and a wonderful example of the art of the Japanese garden. (B)

Start the day by taking a leisure drive to Sea of Kyoto. Make a stop at Amanohashidate, a pine-covered sandbar that looks like a pathway between heaven and earth when viewed from the mountains at either end of the bay. It is no wonder why the scene has been admired for centuries and is ranked one of Japan’s 3 most scenic views. Thereafter, travel to Ine, regarded as one of the most beautiful villages in Japan, and visit Ine no Funaya, literally meaning boat houses. With over 200 funayas standing in a row, this is an original Japanese landscape that can only be seen in the town of Ine. Tonight, enjoy a rejuvenated stay at a Kidosaki hot spring resort. (B,D)

Spend the day in your yukata relaxing in the historic hot spring resort sampling the various hot spring establishments and the local food establishments. Indulge your palate with a Kaiseki dinner. (B,D)

Following an early start we arrive at the Adachi Museum of Art: said to be the Most Beautiful Garden in Japan! It has been winning the Best Japanese Garden title for the past over 10 years since 2003. The 16.5 ha picturesque garden was created by the founder Zenko Adachi himself with the belief of “the garden is also a picture” and he has devoted his late life to gardening until his death at 91 years old. The garden has 6 different sections showing different feature on each season and can be only seen from the museum building. (B)

Explore Matsue Castle, one of the remaining original castles out of only 12 in Japan. Built mainly for the real battle, the castle looks rather strong than gorgeous. However it was in the end of times of war when it was constructed so it survived without being burned down. You can visit the castle as the same as it was 400 years ago. Thereafter, visit Izumo Taisha, often considered the oldest shrine in Japan, being already in existence in the early 700s as revealed by the nation’s oldest chronicles. (B)

Leaving Matsue, we arrive at Tsuwano. Tsuwano is small castle town called Little Kyoto of San-In. Tsuwano, a former thriving castle town is famous for its historic scenery including its former castle site, a range of white earthen wall-surrounded samurai houses standing along the waterways with irises in full bloom. We visit the famed Hori-tei with its famous garden before going to our accommodation. (B)

We spend the day in Tsuwano, beginning with the castle site and the Samurai quaster, We visit Taikodani Inari, a shrine with a tunnel of small red shrine gates and proceed to the pass to see the Maria Seido Chapel, telling a sad story of Japanese Catholics who perished for their religious belief. Novelist Mori Ogai was born in Tsuwano. Overnight in Tsuwano with an authentic kaiseki dinner. (B)

Leaving Tsuwano, we arrive in Hagi in early afternoon. We visit the Shoin Shrine dedicated to Yoshida Shoin, teacher of the revolutionaries of the Meiji restoration and have a guided tour of the Shiseikan Museum dedicated to him, concluding the day with a visit to Tokoji, the hereditary temple of the Mori family. We stay on tatami at the Senshunraku, a traditional hotel facing the Japan Sea beside Hagi Castle. (B,D)

We begin the day with a visit to Hagi Castle and the Hagiyaki Pottery Museum. We then explore the new Museum of Hagi. We continue our unfinished exploration within the central area to the Meirinkan, the domain school, then to Edoya Yokocho and the birthplace of Takasugi Shinsaku, followed by a visit to the Kikuya Family Residence, belongs to the Kikuya Family, samurais-turned-merchants following the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600. (B,D)

We visit the Hagi Uragami Museum which preserves a splendid collection of Hagi pottery donated by Hagi-born entrepreneur Toshiro Uragami. Awarded two-star attraction in “Michelin Green Guide Japan 2009” – the highest ranked attraction in Yamaguchi Prefecture. After lunch we visit to the Kumaya Museum the home of another prominent merchant where we will be served tea with Japanese sweets. Among the remarkable exhibits is a piano presented to Kumaya Goeimon by the Prussian physician von Seibolt. (B,D)

We take a bullet train ride to Okayama today. Complete your exploration of Japan’s greatest landscape gardens journey with a visit to Korakuen, Okayama’s main attraction. Along with Kanazawa’s Kenrokuen and Mito’s Kairakuen, Korakuen is the third of the Three Great Gardens of Japan. (B)

We leave Okayama travelling by bullet train to Osaka. Finish your trip by enjoy one-way private transfer to Kansai. We hope to see you next time. Travel to Kansai Airport. Sayonara! (B, Meals in flight)



Land Only per person, twin-share A$10,915
Single Supplement A$350

• Twin-share accommodation in comfortable hotels with private facilities
• Transport in comfortable air conditioned coaches
• Transfers, touring and entry fees as indicated
• Breakfast daily and other meals as indicated in the itinerary (B = Breakfast, D = Dinner)
• Service of a Tour Leader throughout the itinerary
• All applicable tipping and gratuities for group arrangements
• Tour notes

• Air travel from Australia to Japan
• Applicable passenger airport taxes
• Meals not listed in itinerary
• Beverages with meals
• Airport transfers
• Travel Insurance
• Items of personal nature (phone, laundry)

Please contact Tony ( for the best fares available at the time of booking.

I’m Interested…How Do I Book?
Fill in the online Booking Form, read and agree with our Terms & Conditions, select your payment option for your deposit of $450.00 per person to Alumni Travel and Submit. Upon receipt of your Booking Form and deposit, you will receive a confirmation of your place in writing.

The deposit is accepted as a first installment of the tour cost and will be fully refunded if the arrangements can not be confirmed or the tour is cancelled by Alumni Travel. Final payment for the tour needs to be received at least 60 days prior to tour departure. An invoice will be sent to you about a fortnight before the final payment becomes due.

Any cancellation from the tour needs to be done in writing. The cancellation date will be taken from the day your written cancellation is received by Alumni Travel. Because of the tour cancellation charges imposed by our various suppliers, the following cancellation charges apply, per person:

Over 60 days $100.00 – Administration Fee
59 – 40 days 25% of tour cost
39 – 10 days 50% of tour cost
Within 10 days 100% of tour cost

If a difference occurs between these cancellation conditions and those imposed by our suppliers, then the conditions of the supplier shall apply.

There is no refund before or after travel has commenced or for any unused portion of the tour, either in regard to the standard group arrangements or separate independent arrangements.

Any payments by credit card will be subject to a 2% non-refundable Merchant Administration Fee.

It is now standard policy with our company that all our international travellers have some type of international travel insurance, so that you are covered for any unforeseen circumstances that may arise. A comprehensive Insurance brochure is available from Alumni Travel. The insurance brochure contains the terms and conditions under which insurance cover will be offered to you.

If you would like Alumni Travel to assist you with any additional arrangements pre or post tour, please contact our office for assistance at time of booking. All arrangements need to be finalised at least 30 days prior to your departure.

An administration fee of $30.00 per amendment will be charged for any changes made to any reservation within 30 days prior to your departure. Any additional charges imposed by our suppliers will also be payable.

It is the traveller’s responsibility to ensure that they possess the necessary travel documentation for the tour, such as a valid passport and any required visas. Your passport should be valid at least 6 months beyond the end of your journey and have two clear pages for each country to be visited in your journey.

In the event that passenger numbers do not reach the minimum number of tour participants (approximately 10, excluding the tour leader) required for the tour, it may be necessary to either surcharge or cancel the tour. If such an event does occur, you will be notified at least 60 days prior to the tour departure.

This tour price has been calculated on the basis of exchange rates and tariffs at time of print and is subject to change up until final payment has been received. At the time of final invoicing (approximately two months prior to the tour departure date), Alumni Travel reserves the right to re-cost the tour based on actual exchange rates. This could mean an increase or decrease to the above listed prices. Should you decide to cancel your arrangements on the basis of a change in the tour price, normal cancellation charges will apply.