Self Guided Adventure


Through the Floating World

15 Nights: from US$6344 per person (twin share) Trip Code: TFWS

This two-week trip allows you to delve into the life and work of two of Japan's greatest woodblock print artists as you journey to the postal towns and iconic mountains that inspired their most famous works, and provides plenty of time to visit the cities of Tokyo, Kyoto and Kanazawa along the way. Read more >

This two-week itinerary takes you on an artistic journey across Honshu Island, through the landscapes and towns depicted in the iconic ukiyo-e woodblock prints created by the master artists Katsushika Hokusai and Utagawa Hiroshige.

Ukiyo-e, literally meaning "pictures of the floating world", is a genre of art that flourished in the 17th to 19th centuries in Edo (Tokyo). The ukiyo-e artists captured a wide range of subjects in their woodblock prints and paintings, including sumo wrestlers, hedonistic kabuki actors and geisha, folk tales, and landscapes. The landscape prints of Hokusai and Hiroshige, particularly their series featuring Mount Fuji and the ancient Tokaido road, influenced the likes of Manet, Monet, and van Gogh, and had a lasting impact on Western art.

Your adventure through the floating world begins in Tokyo, famous for its neon-lit skyscrapers, vibrant districts, and cutting-edge technology. The capital is also home to a thriving art scene, and the Sumida Hokusai Museum, dedicated to the master artist himself, provides an in-depth introduction to woodblock prints and Hokusai's life and work.

From Tokyo you'll journey west to Lake Kawaguchiko at the foot of Mount Fuji for a two night stay. Kawaguchiko is one of the best places to enjoy uninterrupted views of the notoriously shy Mount Fuji, which was immortalized in Hokusai's series "Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji".

Matsumoto is next on the list, a small castle town in the Japan Alps which is famous for its striking ?Black Crow Castle', delicious soba buckwheat noodles, and the Ukiyo-e Museum. As the home of 100,000 woodblock prints, the Ukiyo-e Museum is the largest private collection of prints in the world.

The small town of Obuse in north-eastern Nagano Prefecture isn't usually on the tourist trail, despite its rich history. Obuse's most famous past residence was none other than Katsuhika Hokusai himself, who lived here in his 80s. While in town you can head to the Hokusai museum to see a range of his works, then finish off your day with a visit to a brewery to sample some locally produced sake.

A train journey through the Northern Japan Alps will bring you the garden city of Kanazawa. This photogenic city was spared bombing in World War II, so you can enjoy wandering the unspoilt traditional geisha and samurai quarters, Kenrokuen - one of the top three landscape gardens in the country, and Omi-cho fish market.  Kanazawa also has a thriving history as a centre of crafts and produces 99% of all gold leaf in Japan. As a change from traditional ukiyo-e art, you can visit the highly acclaimed 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art.

No trip to Japan is complete without a stay in Kyoto, the city of a thousand temples. From the gilded Kinkakuji Golden Pavilion to the bamboo groves of Arashiyama to the historic Nishiki market, there is more to see here than you could ever hope to accomplish even if you lived here for years. That's why we've included a private English-speaking guide to help you make the most of your time in the ancient capital.

Your penultimate destination is the Nakasendo Way (also called the Kiso road), the old samurai highway that connected Edo (Tokyo) and Kyoto, which was the inspiration behind Hiroshige's ukiyo-e series "Sixty-nine Stations of the Kiso Road". Take a step back in time as you walk the ancient trail between Magome and Tsumago, the well-preserved post towns that have changed little since Hiroshige's time.

You'll round off your trip back in Tokyo where you can take advantage of the vast array of shops for some last-minute souvenir buying, or perhaps treat yourself to a fabulous final meal at one of the 230 Michelin-starred restaurants the capital has to offer.

At a glance

What's Included

What's included

  • 14 nights' accommodation (five nights Japanese-style)
  • Breakfast each except Kyoto, four dinners
  • Transport between destinations unless otherwise specified
  • First class (green) Japan Rail Pass
  • Airport transfers by private car
  • Eight-hour private guide service in Kyoto, including entrance fees and lunch
  • Full day private art tour of Tokyo
  • Private afternoon tea experience with a maiko (trainee geisha)
  • Pocket WiFi device
  • Your personalised InsideJapan Info-Pack

What's NOT included:

  • International flights
  • Any entrance fees including those for museums, shrines, and temples unless otherwise specified
  • Baggage handling and luggage forwarding unless otherwise specified
  • Local transport (buses, subways, taxis) at any destinations

Trip Highlights

  • Delve into Tokyo's modern and traditional art scene
  • Hike the ancient Nakasendo Way
  • Speed around Japan on the Shinkansen bullet train
  • Visit three woodblock print museums in Tokyo, Matsumoto, and Obuse
  • Have a private afternoon tea experience with a maiko
  • Stay like a local in your own Kyoto machiya townhouse

For more information email us: [email protected] or call: 303 952 0379

What, where, when and how...

Through the Floating World - 16 Days - Accommodation

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