Spring Heian Shrine pond gardens in Kyoto, Japan

Beautiful Kyoto Spring Garden Tour

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Customizable Itinerary

This is a sample itinerary to inspire a personalized trip designed with your travel specialist

Countries Visited


Places Visited


Suggested Duration

9 Days

Kyoto's treasure chest of heritage combines sublime enchantment with indulgent serenity. As the lush tones of spring douse the city in fresh bloom, you'll experience the Land of the Rising Sun in all its ancient glory. Majestic gardens provide the focal point, taking you well off the tourist trail to the finest exemplars of gracious elegance and evocative colors. This garden tour continually infuses with culinary delights, artistic brilliance, renowned garden designers, and endless charm.

Customizable Itinerary

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Trip Highlights

  • Visit 12 -14 carefully selected Kyoto gardens, each revealing a fresh impression of lush beauty, absolute serenity, and innovative design
  • Take a day trip to Shikoku Island in the company of acclaimed garden designer Chisao Shigemorei, his gentle narratives the perfect accompaniment to the Ritsurin Garden and Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum
  • Spend eight nights in the cozy and atmospheric Shunkoin Temple Guest House, a Zen temple situated in the Myonshinji temple complex
  • Immerse yourself in the diverse delights of Kyoto, with trips to rural Buddhist villages, vibrant markets, quaint local neighborhoods, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and shrines unchanged from bygone eras
  • Discover the culinary wonders of Kyoto with five carefully selected lunches, two traditional dinners, and an orientation lecture on Kyoto cuisine by guidebook author Judith Clancy
  • Relive tradition by enjoying tea tasting ceremonies, meditation instruction, a hands-on moss-ball making lesson, old raku collections, and the continual charms of Kyoto's many gardens
  • Small group tour limited to 12 people, guided by two Japanese garden experts, and flowing at a relaxed, easy pace

Detailed Description

Updated for 2020, this spring tour runs around mid-May.

There's a dreamy mystique to Kyoto, with the city embodying abstract preconceptions of the Land of the Rising Sun. It's a city that dances with enchantment, from 7th century temple shrines to quaint neighborhoods of delight and intrigue. Then, there are the gardens, hundreds of exemplars of innovative design, aesthetic splendor, and humble serenity.  Spring brings lush evenings and fresh tones, making it the perfect time of year to explore the blossoming shades of Kyoto's renowned gardens. Blooming wisteria and azalea leads the eye on a merry dance, birdsong floats across flourishing iris, and maple trees unveil an eclectic assortment of green.

This handcrafted itinerary takes these elegant gardens as its focus, taking you on an evocative journey through the country's finest landscapes and designs. Japan’s former imperial capital is a powerful starting point from which to immerse yourself; the lavish colors complemented by benevolent Japanese culture and Kyoto's warm ode to yesteryear. But this tour is not just about gardens. While their exquisite beauty and quietude are the focus, you'll be discovering the rich heritage and tradition of Japan's cultural epicenter. Kyoto is the Japan that many people dream of; charmingly atmospheric and soaked in history, yet humble and graciously welcoming.

Arrive in Kyoto and immediately the serenity will impress you. For eight nights you're staying at the Shunkoin Temple Guest House, an intimate Zen temple amidst the city's largest temple complex. En-suite rooms feature traditional tatami mats and there's a ubiquitous feeling of relaxation. Tour designer and professional garden photographer Allan Mandell is your guide, accompanied by local guide Ayumi Ikushima. Allan has handpicked 12 to 14 of Kyoto's finest temples for you to experience. Some are internationally acclaimed, others are havens of hidden paradise, and all come alive with the vibrant spring bloom. There are two free days included in the itinerary, with the other days being fully guided while flowing at a calm and relaxed pace, usually from 9am to 5pm. You'll utilize a combination of local transport and private minibus to explore, the former ensuring a rich immersion in the delightful sights and sounds of off the beaten track Kyoto. The group size is limited to 12, and carefully selected lunches are included on each of the guided days.

This isn't a tour for ticking off attractions. It's an intimate exploration of arts and culture. For example, on day two, your welcome dinner is accompanied by a lesson on local cuisine from Kyoto guidebook author Judith Clancy. A special tea ceremony offers a delightful interlude on day three. You'll learn about Japanese garden maintenance at one of the country's finest gardens, then spend day five in the company of acclaimed Japanese garden designer Chisao Shigemori. Shikoku Island, Sanzen-in garden, Ohara, Kamigama shrine; these eights days burst with unique attractions and fresh perspectives that turn abstract preconceptions into vivid reality. So step forward into the garden and experience Kyoto in all its absolute beauty and delightful quietude.

Related Information: Zicasso offers a variety of customized tours. To explore more itinerary options, please visit the family trips section on Zicasso.

Starting Price

$4,675 per person (excluding international flights)

Your Zicasso trip is fully customizable, and this sample itinerary is a starting place for your travel plans. Actual costs are dynamic, and your selection of accommodations and activities, your season of travel, and other such variables will bring this budget guideline up or down. Throughout your planning experience with your Zicasso specialist, your itinerary is designed around your budget. You can book your trip when you are satisfied with every detail. Planning your trip with a Zicasso travel specialist is a free service.

What's Included

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all activities and tours
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip

Your final trip cost will vary based on your selected accommodations, activities, meals, and other trip elements that you opt to include.

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