Sacred Lakes & Mountains of Northern Japan | Mountain Travel Sobek

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Sacred Lakes & Mountains of Northern Japan

Trip Length 13 days

From $6,895

  • Escape to a hidden Japan and hike the unspoiled lakes, high-altitude wetlands, and lush gorges of Northern Honshū
  • Discover Shugendō—Japan’s “mountain faith”—with its deeply rooted spiritual traditions, and visit the home of the gods in the three sacred Mountains of Dewa
  • See the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Nikko, unwind in natural hot springs, and overnight in traditional ryokans

In Japan, mountains aren’t just revered; they’re objects of worship where powerful spirits reside. One visit to the mountains and lakes of Northern Honshū is enough to see why! Scattered with shrines and temples, each with their own legends and traditions, these mountain destinations offer a fresh air of relaxation. From the UNESCO-listed temples of stunning Nikko National Park, to the volcanic Hakkōda Mountains, to the pilgrimage area of Dewa Sanzan (home to three sacred mountains and Shugendō’s holiest shrines), you’ll experience the abiding connection with nature that infuses Japanese life and culture. After days spent hiking along sparkling lakes and mountain streams, you’ll rejuvenate in charming onsen and bask in the traditional hospitality of ryokans. Your adventure begins and ends in Tokyo, where pockets of tranquility flourish within the city’s cosmopolitan bustle. Explore the beauty and sacred spaces of Japan on this specially crafted MTS adventure!

Day 1: Arrive in Tokyo, Japan

Welcome to Tokyo, Japan, one of the most exciting cities of the world! After arrival at the airport, transfer to your hotel, where you’ll enjoy a festive welcome dinner and a well-deserved night’s sleep.

  • Dinner
  • Accommodation:Park Hotel or similar

Day 2: Go back in time in Tokyo

Our luggage will be sent ahead from our hotel in Tokyo to a Japanese-style inn in Nikko, allowing us to carry just a light day pack with our overnight essentials for the next few days. After breakfast, we’ll gather our group together and head out for a full-day walking tour of Tokyo, beginning with Yanaka, an old quarter of the city which still retains charm from the Edo period, with its traditional wooden houses, narrow streets, and small temples. Yanaka’s stunning contrast from modern Tokyo offers a glimpse of a world gone by. We’ll then continue on to Asakusa, with its narrow streets and the Senso-ji, a large Buddhist temple with a five-story pagoda dating from the 7th century that was rebuilt after World War II. Leading up to the main temple buildings, we’ll find the Nakamise-dori, a pedestrian street lined with shops selling a variety of Japanese arts and crafts and souvenirs. At the end of the street is the Kaminari-mon, the famous entrance gate to the temple.

  • Breakfast
  • Accommodation:Park Hotel or similar

Day 3: Journey to historic Nikko

Today, we’ll travel to historic Nikko, a town set against a stunning backdrop of wooded hills and national parklands about two hours north of Tokyo. The forests and mountains of Nikko have been sacred to the Japanese for 1200 years, and the extravagantly ornate buildings of the Toshogu Shrine are now on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The shrine was created in commemoration to Tokugawa Ieyasu, a shogun venerated for uniting feuding lords to create the unified nation of Japan, and the intricate temple carvings are full of whimsy—including a lifelike cat, as well as “seenoevil, hear no evil, speak no evil” monkeys. We’ll finish our touring with Rinno-ji, with its lacquered pillars and gohonzon shrines and Futarasan Shrine, dedicated to the spirits of the Nikko Mountains.

  • Breakfast/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Itaya Ryokan

Day 4: Explore the natural beauty of Oku Nikko

This morning we’ll set out to explore Oku Nikko,or ‘the hinterland of Nikko,’ an area of outstanding natural beauty in the mountainous north of Nikko and now a protected national park. We’ll enjoy a leisurely five to six hours of trekking in the Karikomi Lake area, famous for its natural hotsprings which leave a hint of sulphur in the air. The monk Enryaku originally discovered the hot springs in 788 AD, and monks have harnessed these waters for bathing and revered them for their healing properties ever since. We’ll have the chance to explore the surrounding marshlands and their wide array of bird life.

Our accommodations in the Nikko Yumoto Onsen area will allow us to experience these healing waters ourselves.

(Hiking time: 8 miles, 5 to 6 hours)

  • Breakfast/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Itaya Ryokan

Day 5: See Yamadera's temple and the scenic Ginzan Onsen

Today, we’ll travel to Yamagata and will hike to Yamadera, the “mountain temple,” known in the past as Ryushaku-ji Temple in Yamagata. Now known as Risshakuji, this temple of the Tendai sect of Mahayana Buddhism, is perched atop the side of a mountain with one thousand steps leading up to it. The upper temple houses a sacred flame that has been burning for over 1,000 years, since the temple was founded in 860 AD! A viewing platform situated slightly further up the mountain from the temple features impressive views of the neighboring peaks and the valley below. We will then descend and re-board the train at Yamagata to continue on to our final destination today—the scenic Ginzan Onsen. This small hot springs town nestled in the hillsides takes its name from a 500-year-old silvermine. The town is now known for the traditional wooden onsen that lines the riverfront.

(Hiking time: 1 mile, 3 hours involving stairs)

  • Breakfast/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Takimikan

Day 6: Hiking to Haguro-san

After breakfast,and perhaps another quick soak in the hotspring, we’ll bus to town to catch the shinkansen (bullet train). We’ll journey north, following the Japan Sea’s picturesque coastline for part of the way, to the Dewa Sanzan–home to the sacred peaks of Haguro-san, Gas-san and Yudono-san.

The lowest of these peaks is Haguro-san (414 meters), the spiritual home of the Shugendo, an animist sect that blends the native Shinto belief system with Buddhism and other forms of mountain worship. Mountain ascetics known as yamabushi can still be seen with their conch shells which are used to call the spirits. We’ll continue on to visit Gyokusenji Temple. Legend has it that the Zen monk Ryonen Homyo Zenji founded the temple in 1251, and its garden was completed in the 1650s. The temple is now designated as a National Place of Scenic Beauty. We stay tonight in temple accommodations.

  • Breakfast/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Sankoin

Day 7: Discover shrine secrets in Dewa Sanzan

We’ll breakfast early this morning and take a local taxi to the start of our hike on Mount Gas- san. Our bags will travel ahead of us to Yakeyama.  The highest of the three sacred mountains, Gas-san (or “Moon Mountain”) is covered in deep snow for much of the year—up to nearly 20 feet! The mountain is officially opened each year with a ceremony at the Shinto shrine at the summit.  After four hours of walking, we’ll reach the summit of Haguro-san by a staircase of 2,446 stone steps surrounded by a forest of giant cedars. At the top, pilgrims in their white coats head for the Dewa Sanzan shrine with its massive thatched roof.  We will visit and walk down the stone steps.

(Hiking time: 6 miles, 4½ hours)

  • Breakfast/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Sankoin

Day 8: Travel to Sukayu Onsen

This morning we will send our bags ahead to Yakeyama and will travel with our overnight bags. We we will travel by train and bus to Sukayu Onsen in the far northeast of Honshu.  Sukayu Onsen is one of the snowiest inhabited regions on earth, but thankfully the thermals caused by the dormant volcano provide an enjoyable counterbalance with their warm waters to the cold of the snow. The onsen is famous for its milky mineral-rich waters of its senimburo, or 1000-person bath!

 

  • Breakfast/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Sukaya Onsen Ryokan

Day 9: Walking on Mt. Hakkoda

Mt.Hakkoda forms part of a plateau of dormant volcanoes situated between Lake Towada and Aomori and is known for its high-altitude wetlands. Snow can persist in the area until May. While the volcanoes of Mt.Hakkoda are dormant, they do make themselves known in the area's onsen.  Following our walk we travel by bus to our evening's accommodation.  Our bags, sent from Haguro, will be waiting for us.

(Hiking time: 5 to 8 miles, 4 to 6 hours depending on weather conditions)

  • Breakfast/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Yakeyamasou

Day 10: Walking in Oirase

This morning, we send our bags ahead to Tokyo. After breakfast, we’ll head out to enjoy a five-hour hike along the Oirase mountainside stream. This unspoiled area of Lake Towada is famous for its autumn foliage, but is spectacularly beautiful all year round. The stream follows the floor of the Oirase Gorge and is the only draining river from Lake Towada. During the summer, waterfalls and fast moving rapids punctuate the stream’s lush greenery and virgin forests. The cedar, beech, and maple trees along its banks provide a beautiful canopy for our walk. At the end of our walk, we take a scenic lake cruise to reach our accommodations. Overnight and dinner at our inn in Lake Towada.

(Hiking time: 5 hours, 8½ miles)

  • Breakfast/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Shinzantei

Day 11: Bullet train back to Tokyo

Today we will travel by bus and then Shinkansen to make our way back to Tokyo. We will have time to pick up a filling ekiben, or train station bento box filled with local specialties, for us to enjoy as we travel on the shinkansen back to Tokyo. We will arrive at our hotel in the afternoon, and our bags sent from Yakeyama will meet us at the hotel.

  • Breakfast
  • Accommodation:Park Hotel or similar

Day 12: Explore trails in Kamakura

We’ll spend the day walking in Kamakura, scenically located between the ocean and wooded hills just southwest of Tokyo. While it is famous for its temples, some of which we discover today, it also provides great walking along the Ten’en trail situated in the northern regions of Kamakura. We will follow a ridgeline between Kenchoji Temple and Zuisenji Temple, passing tomb caves and jizo statues as we pass through birch, maple, ginko and bamboo groves. This afternoon, we’ll return to our hotel in Tokyo and get ready for our last dinner together as a group.

  • Breakfast/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Park Hotel or similar

Day 13: Depart from Tokyo

This morning, we’ll bid each other farewell and transfer to the airport for our flights home.

  • Breakfast

Jul 17 - 29, 2018

Aug 28, 2018 - Sep 09, 2018

Sep 02 - 14, 2018

pricing

2017 Prices

$6,895 (5-12 members)

$1,500 single supplement (Single only guaranteed in Tokyo)

2018 Prices

$6,995 (5-12 members)

$1,500 single supplement (Single only guaranteed in Tokyo)

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Itaya Ryokan — Nikko

Itaya Ryokan is an onsen, or hot springs ryokan with both a 250-year-old traditional side and a modern side. The property is surrounded by beautiful mountains and the natural, milky-white spring water in the communal baths contains sulfur, which is purported to have skin smoothing and healing properties. Rooms are Japanese style with futons on tatami mat floors and also have en-suite bathroom facilities.

Park Hotel or similar — Tokyo

Park Hotel Tokyo is a luxury hotel that is ideally located in Shiodome, a bustling center of business and culture. The Park Hotel's art theme is reflected in the 17 artist-designed guestrooms, the various art installations and exhibitions the hotel displays, and the creative cuisine that is served in its many restaurants. The Park Hotel Tokyo offers traditional Japanese hospitality in a modern setting.

Sankoin — Shrine lodgings in Haguro-san

This beautiful Shinto shrine lodging was originally part of a Buddhist temple. The surviving building was used by yamabushi (mountain priests) during the Edo period, but the property is now open to anyone. The rooms are similar to ryokan or minshuku, though without en-suite facilities. The food is excellent vegetarian ‘shojin-ryori’ cuisine. It is a wonderful experience to stay in a shrine lodgings and there may also be the opportunity to join the early morning religious service. Service is provided by Shinto priests, who are courteous and friendly, but it should be kept in mind that shrine lodgings are not hotels, are attached to temples and not run for profit. There are communal baths, segregated by gender, and toilet facilities are along the hallway. Rooms are Japanese style with futons on tatami floors and, in true traditional Japanese style, rooms are divided by fusuma or paper screens.

Shinzantei — Lake Towada

This ryokan is located on the shore of Lake Towada, a caldera lake created by an ancient volcanic eruption. All rooms are Japanese style with futon bedding on tatami mat floors. Rooms also have en-suite bathroom and toilet facilities and you may also enjoy the onsen's communal hot spring bath which is available 24 hours a day.

Sukaya Onsen Ryokan — Sukaya Onsen

Sukayu Onsen is famous for its large, 1,000-person hot spring bath made of Hinoki, or cypress. This onsen was originally built by local people in the Edo period and they opened it for hunters and foragers. Over the next three centuries, the onsen became larger and popular as a healing and restorative onsen. The great bath consists five different types of baths—some offer mixed bathing, but there are also onsen baths segregated by gender. Toilet facilities are shared. Rooms are Japanese style with futon bedding.

Takimikan — Ginzan Onsen

This hidden onsen is located on a hill surrounded by forest. Its peaceful open-air bath has stunning views of Ginzan Onsen area and the all rooms face the spectacular mountains. There are indoor and outdoor communal hot springs baths segregated by gender. Rooms are Japanese style with futon bedding, and all have en suite toilet facilities. This ryokan is also renowned for its buckwheat noodle restaurant, where you can enjoy fresh noodles, seasonal local vegetables, and fish at night. 

Yakeyamasou — Yakeyama Onsen

The entirety of this onsen, or hot springs ryokan building is made of natural Hinoki and tatami mats. Its onsen baths use natural water coming directly from the hot spring source and indoor and outdoor baths are available. Guests will enjoy a soak with views of the mountains! Rooms are Japanese style, have en suite bathrooms and Wi-Fi is available in the lobby.

 

"Great trip to a less explored part of Japan with a very knowledgeable guide. Couldn't do this trip without this kind of support." Jerry Glick

“We very much enjoy hiking and getting out into the countryside when traveling alone, however there is simply no way we could have navigated our way around northern Japan on our own. Tomo was indefatigable in explaining everything we were seeing, doing, and eating, along with relevant cultural and religious customs.”  Shannon Gifford        

  • Escape to a hidden Japan and hike the unspoiled lakes, high-altitude wetlands, and lush gorges of Northern Honshū
  • Discover Shugendō—Japan’s “mountain faith”—with its deeply rooted spiritual traditions, and visit the home of the gods in the three sacred Mountains of Dewa
  • See the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Nikko, unwind in natural hot springs, and overnight in traditional ryokans

In Japan, mountains aren’t just revered; they’re objects of worship where powerful spirits reside. One visit to the mountains and lakes of Northern Honshū is enough to see why! Scattered with shrines and temples, each with their own legends and traditions, these mountain destinations offer a fresh air of relaxation. From the UNESCO-listed temples of stunning Nikko National Park, to the volcanic Hakkōda Mountains, to the pilgrimage area of Dewa Sanzan (home to three sacred mountains and Shugendō’s holiest shrines), you’ll experience the abiding connection with nature that infuses Japanese life and culture. After days spent hiking along sparkling lakes and mountain streams, you’ll rejuvenate in charming onsen and bask in the traditional hospitality of ryokans. Your adventure begins and ends in Tokyo, where pockets of tranquility flourish within the city’s cosmopolitan bustle. Explore the beauty and sacred spaces of Japan on this specially crafted MTS adventure!

reviews

"Great trip to a less explored part of Japan with a very knowledgeable guide. Couldn't do this trip without this kind of support." Jerry Glick

“We very much enjoy hiking and getting out into the countryside when traveling alone, however there is simply no way we could have navigated our way around northern Japan on our own. Tomo was indefatigable in explaining everything we were seeing, doing, and eating, along with relevant cultural and religious customs.”  Shannon Gifford        

DAILY itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Tokyo, Japan

Welcome to Tokyo, Japan, one of the most exciting cities of the world! After arrival at the airport, transfer to your hotel, where you’ll enjoy a festive welcome dinner and a well-deserved night’s sleep.

  • Dinner
  • Accommodation:Park Hotel or similar

Day 2: Go back in time in Tokyo

Our luggage will be sent ahead from our hotel in Tokyo to a Japanese-style inn in Nikko, allowing us to carry just a light day pack with our overnight essentials for the next few days. After breakfast, we’ll gather our group together and head out for a full-day walking tour of Tokyo, beginning with Yanaka, an old quarter of the city which still retains charm from the Edo period, with its traditional wooden houses, narrow streets, and small temples. Yanaka’s stunning contrast from modern Tokyo offers a glimpse of a world gone by. We’ll then continue on to Asakusa, with its narrow streets and the Senso-ji, a large Buddhist temple with a five-story pagoda dating from the 7th century that was rebuilt after World War II. Leading up to the main temple buildings, we’ll find the Nakamise-dori, a pedestrian street lined with shops selling a variety of Japanese arts and crafts and souvenirs. At the end of the street is the Kaminari-mon, the famous entrance gate to the temple.

  • Breakfast
  • Accommodation:Park Hotel or similar

Day 3: Journey to historic Nikko

Today, we’ll travel to historic Nikko, a town set against a stunning backdrop of wooded hills and national parklands about two hours north of Tokyo. The forests and mountains of Nikko have been sacred to the Japanese for 1200 years, and the extravagantly ornate buildings of the Toshogu Shrine are now on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The shrine was created in commemoration to Tokugawa Ieyasu, a shogun venerated for uniting feuding lords to create the unified nation of Japan, and the intricate temple carvings are full of whimsy—including a lifelike cat, as well as “seenoevil, hear no evil, speak no evil” monkeys. We’ll finish our touring with Rinno-ji, with its lacquered pillars and gohonzon shrines and Futarasan Shrine, dedicated to the spirits of the Nikko Mountains.

  • Breakfast/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Itaya Ryokan

Day 4: Explore the natural beauty of Oku Nikko

This morning we’ll set out to explore Oku Nikko,or ‘the hinterland of Nikko,’ an area of outstanding natural beauty in the mountainous north of Nikko and now a protected national park. We’ll enjoy a leisurely five to six hours of trekking in the Karikomi Lake area, famous for its natural hotsprings which leave a hint of sulphur in the air. The monk Enryaku originally discovered the hot springs in 788 AD, and monks have harnessed these waters for bathing and revered them for their healing properties ever since. We’ll have the chance to explore the surrounding marshlands and their wide array of bird life.

Our accommodations in the Nikko Yumoto Onsen area will allow us to experience these healing waters ourselves.

(Hiking time: 8 miles, 5 to 6 hours)

  • Breakfast/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Itaya Ryokan

Day 5: See Yamadera's temple and the scenic Ginzan Onsen

Today, we’ll travel to Yamagata and will hike to Yamadera, the “mountain temple,” known in the past as Ryushaku-ji Temple in Yamagata. Now known as Risshakuji, this temple of the Tendai sect of Mahayana Buddhism, is perched atop the side of a mountain with one thousand steps leading up to it. The upper temple houses a sacred flame that has been burning for over 1,000 years, since the temple was founded in 860 AD! A viewing platform situated slightly further up the mountain from the temple features impressive views of the neighboring peaks and the valley below. We will then descend and re-board the train at Yamagata to continue on to our final destination today—the scenic Ginzan Onsen. This small hot springs town nestled in the hillsides takes its name from a 500-year-old silvermine. The town is now known for the traditional wooden onsen that lines the riverfront.

(Hiking time: 1 mile, 3 hours involving stairs)

  • Breakfast/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Takimikan

Day 6: Hiking to Haguro-san

After breakfast,and perhaps another quick soak in the hotspring, we’ll bus to town to catch the shinkansen (bullet train). We’ll journey north, following the Japan Sea’s picturesque coastline for part of the way, to the Dewa Sanzan–home to the sacred peaks of Haguro-san, Gas-san and Yudono-san.

The lowest of these peaks is Haguro-san (414 meters), the spiritual home of the Shugendo, an animist sect that blends the native Shinto belief system with Buddhism and other forms of mountain worship. Mountain ascetics known as yamabushi can still be seen with their conch shells which are used to call the spirits. We’ll continue on to visit Gyokusenji Temple. Legend has it that the Zen monk Ryonen Homyo Zenji founded the temple in 1251, and its garden was completed in the 1650s. The temple is now designated as a National Place of Scenic Beauty. We stay tonight in temple accommodations.

  • Breakfast/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Sankoin

Day 7: Discover shrine secrets in Dewa Sanzan

We’ll breakfast early this morning and take a local taxi to the start of our hike on Mount Gas- san. Our bags will travel ahead of us to Yakeyama.  The highest of the three sacred mountains, Gas-san (or “Moon Mountain”) is covered in deep snow for much of the year—up to nearly 20 feet! The mountain is officially opened each year with a ceremony at the Shinto shrine at the summit.  After four hours of walking, we’ll reach the summit of Haguro-san by a staircase of 2,446 stone steps surrounded by a forest of giant cedars. At the top, pilgrims in their white coats head for the Dewa Sanzan shrine with its massive thatched roof.  We will visit and walk down the stone steps.

(Hiking time: 6 miles, 4½ hours)

  • Breakfast/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Sankoin

Day 8: Travel to Sukayu Onsen

This morning we will send our bags ahead to Yakeyama and will travel with our overnight bags. We we will travel by train and bus to Sukayu Onsen in the far northeast of Honshu.  Sukayu Onsen is one of the snowiest inhabited regions on earth, but thankfully the thermals caused by the dormant volcano provide an enjoyable counterbalance with their warm waters to the cold of the snow. The onsen is famous for its milky mineral-rich waters of its senimburo, or 1000-person bath!

 

  • Breakfast/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Sukaya Onsen Ryokan

Day 9: Walking on Mt. Hakkoda

Mt.Hakkoda forms part of a plateau of dormant volcanoes situated between Lake Towada and Aomori and is known for its high-altitude wetlands. Snow can persist in the area until May. While the volcanoes of Mt.Hakkoda are dormant, they do make themselves known in the area's onsen.  Following our walk we travel by bus to our evening's accommodation.  Our bags, sent from Haguro, will be waiting for us.

(Hiking time: 5 to 8 miles, 4 to 6 hours depending on weather conditions)

  • Breakfast/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Yakeyamasou

Day 10: Walking in Oirase

This morning, we send our bags ahead to Tokyo. After breakfast, we’ll head out to enjoy a five-hour hike along the Oirase mountainside stream. This unspoiled area of Lake Towada is famous for its autumn foliage, but is spectacularly beautiful all year round. The stream follows the floor of the Oirase Gorge and is the only draining river from Lake Towada. During the summer, waterfalls and fast moving rapids punctuate the stream’s lush greenery and virgin forests. The cedar, beech, and maple trees along its banks provide a beautiful canopy for our walk. At the end of our walk, we take a scenic lake cruise to reach our accommodations. Overnight and dinner at our inn in Lake Towada.

(Hiking time: 5 hours, 8½ miles)

  • Breakfast/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Shinzantei

Day 11: Bullet train back to Tokyo

Today we will travel by bus and then Shinkansen to make our way back to Tokyo. We will have time to pick up a filling ekiben, or train station bento box filled with local specialties, for us to enjoy as we travel on the shinkansen back to Tokyo. We will arrive at our hotel in the afternoon, and our bags sent from Yakeyama will meet us at the hotel.

  • Breakfast
  • Accommodation:Park Hotel or similar

Day 12: Explore trails in Kamakura

We’ll spend the day walking in Kamakura, scenically located between the ocean and wooded hills just southwest of Tokyo. While it is famous for its temples, some of which we discover today, it also provides great walking along the Ten’en trail situated in the northern regions of Kamakura. We will follow a ridgeline between Kenchoji Temple and Zuisenji Temple, passing tomb caves and jizo statues as we pass through birch, maple, ginko and bamboo groves. This afternoon, we’ll return to our hotel in Tokyo and get ready for our last dinner together as a group.

  • Breakfast/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Park Hotel or similar

Day 13: Depart from Tokyo

This morning, we’ll bid each other farewell and transfer to the airport for our flights home.

  • Breakfast
lodgings

Itaya Ryokan — Nikko

Itaya Ryokan is an onsen, or hot springs ryokan with both a 250-year-old traditional side and a modern side. The property is surrounded by beautiful mountains and the natural, milky-white spring water in the communal baths contains sulfur, which is purported to have skin smoothing and healing properties. Rooms are Japanese style with futons on tatami mat floors and also have en-suite bathroom facilities.

Park Hotel or similar — Tokyo

Park Hotel Tokyo is a luxury hotel that is ideally located in Shiodome, a bustling center of business and culture. The Park Hotel's art theme is reflected in the 17 artist-designed guestrooms, the various art installations and exhibitions the hotel displays, and the creative cuisine that is served in its many restaurants. The Park Hotel Tokyo offers traditional Japanese hospitality in a modern setting.

Sankoin — Shrine lodgings in Haguro-san

This beautiful Shinto shrine lodging was originally part of a Buddhist temple. The surviving building was used by yamabushi (mountain priests) during the Edo period, but the property is now open to anyone. The rooms are similar to ryokan or minshuku, though without en-suite facilities. The food is excellent vegetarian ‘shojin-ryori’ cuisine. It is a wonderful experience to stay in a shrine lodgings and there may also be the opportunity to join the early morning religious service. Service is provided by Shinto priests, who are courteous and friendly, but it should be kept in mind that shrine lodgings are not hotels, are attached to temples and not run for profit. There are communal baths, segregated by gender, and toilet facilities are along the hallway. Rooms are Japanese style with futons on tatami floors and, in true traditional Japanese style, rooms are divided by fusuma or paper screens.

Shinzantei — Lake Towada

This ryokan is located on the shore of Lake Towada, a caldera lake created by an ancient volcanic eruption. All rooms are Japanese style with futon bedding on tatami mat floors. Rooms also have en-suite bathroom and toilet facilities and you may also enjoy the onsen's communal hot spring bath which is available 24 hours a day.

Sukaya Onsen Ryokan — Sukaya Onsen

Sukayu Onsen is famous for its large, 1,000-person hot spring bath made of Hinoki, or cypress. This onsen was originally built by local people in the Edo period and they opened it for hunters and foragers. Over the next three centuries, the onsen became larger and popular as a healing and restorative onsen. The great bath consists five different types of baths—some offer mixed bathing, but there are also onsen baths segregated by gender. Toilet facilities are shared. Rooms are Japanese style with futon bedding.

Takimikan — Ginzan Onsen

This hidden onsen is located on a hill surrounded by forest. Its peaceful open-air bath has stunning views of Ginzan Onsen area and the all rooms face the spectacular mountains. There are indoor and outdoor communal hot springs baths segregated by gender. Rooms are Japanese style with futon bedding, and all have en suite toilet facilities. This ryokan is also renowned for its buckwheat noodle restaurant, where you can enjoy fresh noodles, seasonal local vegetables, and fish at night. 

Yakeyamasou — Yakeyama Onsen

The entirety of this onsen, or hot springs ryokan building is made of natural Hinoki and tatami mats. Its onsen baths use natural water coming directly from the hot spring source and indoor and outdoor baths are available. Guests will enjoy a soak with views of the mountains! Rooms are Japanese style, have en suite bathrooms and Wi-Fi is available in the lobby.

 

Dates and Pricing

Jul 17 - 29, 2018

Aug 28, 2018 - Sep 09, 2018

Sep 02 - 14, 2018

pricing

2017 Prices

$6,895 (5-12 members)

$1,500 single supplement (Single only guaranteed in Tokyo)

2018 Prices

$6,995 (5-12 members)

$1,500 single supplement (Single only guaranteed in Tokyo)

Activity Level Moderate
Trip Length 13 days

From $6,895

Interested in this adventure? Take the next step and book it!

Got questions?

Call us at 1-888-831-7526
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Award-winning journeys recognized by Travel +Leisure