Japan in Autumn Bloom

Why Travel with Far Horizons to Japan?

  • Led by Buddhist specialist and Great Courses lecturer, Professor Malcolm David Eckel
  • Visit the most iconic landmarks in Japan’s three major metropolitan areas:
    Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka
  • Enjoy a private Geisha dinner filled with music, dancing and of course food!
  • Soak in the fall colors, where fiery reds, brilliant scarlets, and regal gold adorn the landscapes
  • Visit 6 UNESCO World Heritage Sites:
    Ryonaji Temple, Kinkaku-ji, Nishi Honganji Temple, Himeji Castle, Todai-ji and Horyu-ji Temple
  • Maximum 14 participants

Guided Tour Led by:

Professor of Religion,
Boston University
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  • November 7 – 20, 2025
  • 14 Days; Ext: 5 Days
  • $12,995.00 + air; Extension: $3995.00
  • Single supplement: $995.00; Ext SS: $445.00

Immerse yourself in Japan's enchanting autumn landscapes and profound history with exclusive access and expert guidance.

Join Far Horizons, and only 13 others on an unforgettable 14-day journey through the enchanting landscapes and rich cultural tapestry of Japan, designed exclusively for those seeking the perfect blend of adventure and enlightenment. Our meticulously-curated tour will take you on a captivating exploration of three iconic cities: Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka, along with their charming surrounding towns.

In Tokyo, you’ll be dazzled by the juxtaposition of traditional temples and towering skyscrapers, and you’ll have the chance to delve into Japan’s rich history at the Meiji Shrine. In Kyoto,our serene homebase for most of the trip, your senses will come alive as you stroll through the peaceful gardens of Kinkakuji (the Golden Pavilion), ascend the iconic Fushimi Inari Shrine’s thousand vermilion torii gates, and experience the tranquility of Koyasan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site nestled in the mountains. We will also have the opportunity to savor the elegance of Japanese culture through an exclusive private geisha dinner, a rare insight into this ancient tradition.

Led by Buddhist specialist and The Great Courses lecturer, Professor Malcolm David Eckel, our memorable tour will explore Japan’s profound history, art, and traditions while relishing its modern vibrancy. Won’t you join us on this voyage of discovery, where every day promises new insights and cherished memories? Secure your spot today and let Japan’s magic unfold before your eyes!

Following the main journey, we invite you to extend your experience by exploring Naoshima Art Island, renowned for its breathtaking contemporary public art installations, galleries, and museums.

Please continue reading below for a day-by-day description of our Japan in Bloom tour itinerary. If you are still deciding whether this is the perfect adventure for you, browse our full calendar of Archaeological and Cultural Tours.

Itinerary of Our Japan Culture Trip

(B) breakfast, (L) lunch, (D) dinner

Day 1Depart for Japan

Depart on a flight destined for Tokyo, Japan.

Day 2Arrive Tokyo

Arrive in the vibrant city of Tokyo, where the modern skyline meets ancient traditions. In the evening, enjoy a welcome dinner and get to know your fellow travelers, setting the stage for a memorable journey filled with camaraderie and discovery. Overnight for 2 nights at Grand Prince Shin Takanawa. (D)

Day 3Toyko City Tour: Old vs. New

Experience the contrasts of Tokyo with visits to the serene Meiji Shrine, the fascinating Tokyo National Museum, and the historic Sensoji Temple. Discover the blend of old and new in Japan’s bustling capital, as you immerse yourself in its unique cultural tapestry. (B/L)

Day 4Kamakura, Bullet Train to Kyoto

Explore the coastal city of Kamakura, home to the iconic Great Buddha statue, before transferring to the cultural heart of Japan, Kyoto. Absorb the peaceful atmosphere of Kamakura’s temples and shrines, which offer a glimpse into Japan’s rich spiritual history. Overnight for 6 nights at Miyako Hotel Kyoto Hachijo. (B/L/D)

Day 5Shugakuin, Philosophers Path

Stroll through the stunning Shugakuin Imperial Villa and enjoy the peaceful Philosopher’s Walk, lined with cherry trees and temples, reflecting Kyoto’s timeless beauty. In November, the Philosopher’s Walk is particularly enchanting, with vibrant maple leaves creating a stunning canopy of red and orange. (B/L)

Day 6Ise

Immerse yourself in Japan’s spiritual heritage with a full-day visit to Ise, home to the country’s most sacred Shinto shrines, surrounded by serene forests. This journey to the spiritual heart of Japan will leave you feeling enlightened and inspired. (B/L)

Day 7 Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion), Ryonaji Temple, Nishi Honganji

Marvel at the zen rock garden of Ryoanji, the glittering Golden Pavilion, and the historic Nishi Honganji Temple, experiencing the essence of Kyoto’s spiritual and artistic heritage. The Golden Pavilion, in particular, is breathtaking in autumn, with its golden reflection mirrored in the pond surrounded by vivid maple leaves. (B/L)

Day 8 Fushimi Inari Shrine, Tofukuji, and Sanjusangendo

Explore the iconic vermilion torii gates of Fushimi Inari, the serene Tofuku-ji Temple, and the impressive Sanjusangendo Hall. Tofuku-ji is renowned for its spectacular autumn foliage, with countless maple trees creating a fiery display of red and gold. Enjoy a sake tasting at lunch for a taste of local flavor, enriching your journey with the unique tastes and traditions of Japan. (B/L)

Day 9KatsuKatsura Imperial Villa, Arashiyama and Geisha Dinner Performance

Spend your morning in the scenic Arashiyama district, famous for its bamboo groves and beautiful autumn colors. The hills of Arashiyama are ablaze with maple leaves in November, creating a stunning natural spectacle. Visit the exquisite Katsura Imperial Villa in the afternoon, and in the evening, experience a traditional Geisha/Maiko performance at dinner, offering a rare glimpse into Japan’s elegant cultural arts. (B/L/D)

Day 10Sento Gosho, transfer to Osaka

Visit the elegant Sento Imperial Palace before transferring to Osaka, with a stop at the beautiful Byodo-in Temple en route. Byodo-in’s historic architecture and serene gardens offer a tranquil retreat, perfect for contemplation and appreciation of Japan’s cultural heritage. Overnight for 4 nights at Mitsui Garden Hotel Osaka Premier. (B/L/D)

Day 11Himeji Castle

Discover the grandeur of Himeji Castle, Japan’s most spectacular samurai castle, and a UNESCO World Heritage site, renowned for its imposing architecture and beautiful gardens. The castle grounds are particularly beautiful in autumn, with maple trees adding vibrant splashes of color to the scene. (B/L)

Day 12Nara

Travel to Nara to visit the majestic Todai-ji Temple, the Nara National Museum, and the ancient Horyu-ji Temple, delving deep into Japan’s rich history. Enjoy the presence of freely roaming deer in Nara Park, adding a unique charm to this historic city. (B/L)

Day 13Koya-san, Kongobu-ji Temple, Okunoin

Journey to the sacred mountaintop of Koya-san, exploring its serene temples and mystical atmosphere. Conclude your adventure with a farewell dinner, sharing memories and stories with newfound friends, celebrating the journey you’ve shared. (B/L/D)

Day 14Depart for Japan OR continue on to Naoshima Art Island

Depart hotel and head to Kansai Airport for your international flights to the USA. (B) OR continue on our optional post-trip extension to Naoshima Art Island.

Itinerary for our Naoshima Art Island Extension

(B) breakfast, (L) lunch, (D) dinner

Day 1Ferry to Naoshima, Honmura, Benesse House

Head to the art island of Naoshima, visiting the innovative Art House Project and the renowned Benesse House Museum. Spend the night at the unique Benesse House, surrounded by the island’s tranquil beauty and cutting-edge art.

Day 2Lee Ufan Museum, Chichu Art Museum, Miyanoura

Enjoy a morning visit to the Lee Ufan Museum and the Chichu Art Museum, then explore Miyanoura’s vibrant art scene before transferring back to Okayama. Let the avant-garde art and serene landscapes of Naoshima inspire and rejuvenate your creative spirit. Spend the night at the unique Benesse House, surrounded by the island’s tranquil beauty and cutting-edge art. (B/L)

Day 3Okayama Culture Zone: Korakuen Garden, Yumeji Art Museum, Okayama Castle, Hayashibara Museum

Stroll through the tranquil Korakuen Garden, one of Japan’s most beautiful landscape gardens, and visit the historic Okayama Castle. The garden is especially lovely in November, with maple leaves enhancing its serene beauty. (B/L)

Day 4Depart Japan

Take a bullet train and Airport Express to Kansai International Airport. Please note, we will be taking the earliest train back to Osaka. (B)

Tour Information

Tour Cost & Inclusions

Price is based on double occupancy and includes:

  • Internal flights during the trip (if applicable)
  • The accompaniment of your scholar throughout the entire trip
  • Local English-speaking guide
  • Hotel accommodations (3 or 4 stars; or best available based in the area)
  • Ground transportation
  • Airport transfers for arrivals and departures
  • Most meals as noted in the itinerary
  • Entry fees to all included sites and museums
  • Gratuities to guides, drivers, and restaurant and hotel staff
  • Coordination for any private presentations or tours

Trip prices are based on a minimum number of participants. If this minimum number is not met, trip prices are subject to change. Should the prices need to change, Far Horizons will reach out to registered guests to discuss directly.

Single Supplement

Should a roommate be requested and one not be available, the single supplement must be charged.


  • International round trip airfare
  • A separate donation check of $150.00 per person to a designated donation project
  • Passport or visa fees
  • Required vaccines or tests
  • Airport or departure taxes
  • Alcoholic drinks, beverages or food not included on set menus
  • Excess baggage charges
  • Personal tips and hotel incidental expenses
  • Laundry or other items of a personal nature

Donation Checks

As a tour company that benefits from the cultural and natural riches of our destinations, we have a policy of donating to the scientific and cultural sites and projects which we visit. This has created a bond between Far Horizons and the academic and local communities that has helped us establish an extensive list of lecturers and contacts in each of our destinations. We ask that each participant donate to the noteworthy project we designate. The donation amount is $150.00 per person. Note that the donation is required as part of your registration for the trip and that it is non-refundable.

Exchange Rate Fluctuations

Prices are based on currency exchange rates keeping below a projected level. While it is unlikely, if the exchange rates should change substantially, Far Horizons reserves the right to charge an additional amount to the trip cost.


A deposit of $1000 per person is required along with your registration & health forms, which will be linked in the email confirmation you receive once you pay your deposit on our booking platform. Final payment is due 120 days before departure. Prior to departure, you will be sent a reading list and a tour bulletin containing travel information.


Cancellations received in writing at least 120 days before departure will receive a refund less a $500 per person administrative fee. Cancellations received less than 120 days before the departure date will not receive a refund. If for any reason you are unable to complete the trip, Far Horizons will not reimburse any fees. Upon registering for the tour, the purchase of travel protection with both trip cancellation and emergency evacuation is strongly advised. Links to recommended insurance policies will be included in the email you receive confirming receipt of your deposit.

Air Ticketing

International round trip flights are not included in the cost of the trip. If Far Horizons must change the trip dates or cancel the trip for any reason, Far Horizons is not responsible for any air ticket you may have purchased. Please send your complete air schedule as soon as you have it. NOTE: Please contact Far Horizons if you would like for us to handle your air ticketing.

Private Tours and Talks

The private tours of archaeological sites and talks by specialists are scheduled in advance and include a donation to each. Specialists working at these sites are excited about showing their work to interested enthusiasts. However, please be aware that there may be times when the director or a member of the staff may not be on site when our groups arrive due to other commitments.

Walking and Standing

Far Horizons expects all participants to be physically active and able to walk and climb independently throughout the full touring days. This includes walking over uneven terrain (uphill and downhill) for 2 miles or more at each site. You should expect to be on your feet for much of each day, averaging as much as 5 miles of walking per day. As such, each participant should be able to walk unaided at a pace of 3 miles per hour for at least an hour at a time, and to stand unsupported for at least 60 minutes. Bearing this in mind, we suggest that, if you have not already done so, you begin walking several miles every day, ideally including stairs and hills. If you have questions about your ability to keep up with the group or the strenuous nature of this trip, please contact the Far Horizons staff.

Expectations During Travel

This tour is designed for flexible, energetic people who like to be active, have a spirit of adventure and a positive attitude. We have designed this trip to be as comfortable as possible, while also aiming to visit some remote or unique sites that other companies do not attempt to include in their itineraries. There may be days where we have very long drives and the conditions of the roads may vary. Hotels and transportation in some remote areas may not be up to western standards. There may be times when no bellhops are available; please pack with the understanding that you need to be able to handle your own luggage at times. Sometimes we may be walking over uneven trails for a mile or more; hiking boots are strongly recommended. Not every meal will be haute cuisine and several lunches may be picnics or box lunches. By maintaining a flexible attitude we will soon be captivated by the beauty of the natural scenery, the hospitality of the local people, and the fascinating sites we will see. Your flexibility and patience will be appreciated.

Itinerary Changes

Changes in our itinerary, accommodations, and transportation schedules may occur. While we are committed to keeping as close to the published details as possible, sometimes it is simply not possible. Weather events, government affairs, or other factors out of our control sometimes come into play. A good book to read as well as patience, flexible attitude, and a sense of humor are essential.

Travel Insurance

We strongly recommend that you consider purchasing travel insurance. Should illness or an unforeseen event force you to cancel your travel plans after your final payment or during your trip, it would be doubly unfortunate to incur a significant financial loss. Trip cancellation protection will enable you to be reimbursed for the loss of your payment if you are unable to travel for any of the covered reasons in the “Outline of Coverage” section, or should you have an accident or suffer from any medical conditions during the trip.  
Far Horizons offers customized protection plans through Travel Insured International (a Crum & Forster Company) with the following benefits:
• Trip Cancellation and Trip Interruption for covered reasons
• Trip Delay
• Baggage Loss and Baggage Delay
• Emergency Medical Expenses and Emergency Medical Evacuation
• 24-Hour Accidental Death & Dismemberment
• 24-Hour Travel Assistance & Concierge Services
• Option to upgrade to ‘Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR)’
We recommend reviewing the language in detail so you are aware of specific parameters; Depending on the policy, to waive the Pre-Existing Medical Condition Exclusion or to upgrade to CFAR coverage, the plan must be purchased within 14 to 21 days of the initial trip deposit, full trip cost must be insured, and traveler is medically fit at time of plan purchase. Otherwise, coverage may be purchased at any time prior to departure. 
To obtain a personalized quote and/or purchase a plan through Far Horizons/Travel Insured International, simply click HERE. For specific questions regarding the Worldwide Protector Plan, please contact Travel Insured International’s Customer Care Center at 1-800-243-3174 or by email at customercare@travelinsured.com, and refer to Far Horizons’ account number: 54070.

Travel in Japan

This trip is designed for adventure-loving travelers and may involve schedule changes and local staff unaccustomed to Western tour groups. 

  • Rooms are more compact than we may be accustomed to in the West
  • Meal customization is limited; we enjoy some fabulous feasts, but it is challenging to accommodate some allergies and dietary restrictions
  • If you have tattoos, please be mindful and cover them when at temples/visiting onsens

Tour Map