Participants in our limited-size tour group are asked to arrive at the designated hotel in Kyoto by the evening of May 22nd, 2017 to settle in and get oriented. For those traveling from North America to Japan, this would require a departure by May 21st (since the international dateline is crossed in flight) for arrival at Kansai International Airport (KIX) or Itami Airport (ITM) if routing through Tokyo. Carrie will provide information on ground transportation from either of these Osaka-based airports to Kyoto when participants are making travel plans. Since tour participants book their own flights, they have the option of scheduling to arrive in Japan earlier and/or to stay beyond the conclusion of the tour.
The itinerary of activities commences on the morning of May 23rd and concludes on the morning of June 1st with departures on the same day or elective onward travel in Japan or to other places. (Those who opt to fly directly back to North America on June 1st would arrive there on the same date). All of our scheduled excursions will take place in Kyoto and surrounding villages in the Greater Kyoto region. However, partipants will have three “free” days beyond the optional participation in morning yoga practice, breakfast, and a scheduled group dinner to pursue individual or shared interests, which may include a day trip to such popular tourist destinations as nearby Nara. We will be visiting a stunning array of world-class and aesthetically superior temples, gardens, and shrines in different districts of Kyoto. Weather permitting, yoga practice will be held in the park surrounding the Imperial Palace on several days. There will be an opportunity to learn a traditional Japanese art such as calligraphy, flower arranging, or tea ceremony. There will be so much to experience, on and off the itinerary… strolling through the historic Gion district (to observe the night scene and possibly spot some Geisha or Maiko) or along the promenade on the Kamogawa River; finding delicious and curious foods in myriad restaurants, markets, and stalls from the most traditional to the most modern (even Starbucks is in Kyoto now, and Carrie can show you the one with the best view of the Kamogawa River and eastern mountains of Kyoto); shopping for anything from Kyoto ceramics, paper products, or art pieces, to Japanese electronics or household items; visiting museums, galleries, and parks; catching seasonal festivals or performances; and discovering more than you imagined.
What would make you a great candidate for this memorable excursion:
- An appreciation for and interest in the culture of traditional and contemporary Japan
- The ability and willingness to walk (up to a few miles on some days) mostly on flat grades but with slopes and stairs to negotiate on some days
- The initiative and independence to pursue your own interests on free days, alone or with others, or just relax; plenty of support and information will be available to get you to your places/activities of interest
- The capacity to share time-space and to gel with up to seven other lovely people in your group
- The flexibility to adapt to unexpected changes in the schedule due to weather and other variables
- An open-minded, respectful, and congenial attitude (a sense of adventure and humor are also a plus)
What would NOT make you a good fit for this tour:
- Having a physical injury or condition that prevents you from walking with ease on a variety of surfaces that include gravel paths and stairs. Unfortunately, our itinerary (and many places we will visit) will not be able to accommodate anyone using a wheelchair or walker or anyone who does not have a basic level of fitness to walk some distances at a moderate to easy pace and negotiate occasional slopes and stairs
- Having significant dietary restrictions. Our itinerary includes dining in predominantly Japanese restaurants serving traditional Japanese cuisine. Although it will be possible to accommodate a vegetarian diet (with the exception of fish broth that is a standard ingredient in soups and hot noodle dishes), it will not be possible to accommodate those with most other strict dietary concerns such as celiac disease. While everyone will have choices as to what to order at meal times, a standard part of the Japanese diet is rice and noodles, and so those with a strict carbohydrate-free or strict gluten-free diet may not do well with our itinerary.
- Having aversion to sharing time and space with your fellow group members. While there will be plenty of free time to spend on your own or with friends you have/make on the tour, there will be a significant amount of time we spend with each other; therefore, the genuine interest and readiness to share time and space in a friendly, respectful, and considerate way is very important for the harmony of our small group.