Signature Battlefield Series: Feudal Japan and the Battlefields of Sekigahara 2017

geek nation - battle of sekigahara - 300x300Geek Nation Tours is proud to continue our Signature Battlefield tours with our Samurai and the Battlefields of Sekigahara tour – the third in our Japan tour trilogy. On October 21st 1600 Tokugawa Ieyasu lead his forces on to the plains of Sekigahara to an eventual victory that would change the course of Japanese history. This battle is one of the most famous of all Samurai battles in Japan’s long history.

The tour will be built around areas of Japan that still give one the feeling of living in those ancient times. It is our goal to take you back to the time of Samurai. So join us as we explore not only this battlefield in detail but also a wide range of Samurai related sites. The first days of our tour bring us to the Seki Cutlery Festival which is dedicated to blades of all sorts. We will see sword making demonstrations, the Seki Sword Tradition Museum and an outdoor knife show where you can purchase blades of your own. We will then slow the tour down and just like ancient times, we will be forced to hike by the Shogunate (your Geek Nation Tours representative) between Magome and Tsumago. The road was well traveled by Samurai in ancient times and still to this day feels like a journey into the past. We will plunge into a traditional Japanese onsen or two just like the Samurai used to sooth aching bones… Castles will also be on the list and as such we will visit some of the very best – Matsumoto and Himeji Castles. Last but not least, we will visit the small city of Takayama and journey back to ancient Japan in its timeless temples and streets.

With this said, Sekigahara does play a big part in what we will see and we are lucky as we will be in Japan for the annual Battle of Sekigahara Festival… We will be able to see re-enactors dressed in traditional Samurai garb and explore the details of the battle. We even have plans for you to get dressed up too…

You will be treated to at least two guides for this tour. We will have a local guide with us for most of the tour and your Geek Nation Tours representative studied in Japan. You will be well covered for all things Japanese.

If you ever dreamed of living in ancient Japan this is the tour for you!

Day 1 (Friday October 13th):IMG_5223

Today we will arrive from all around the world into Nagoya. You will be given detailed instructions on how to meet the rest of the tour participants at our hotel (always remember you will be in constant contact with our representative).  Once you arrive at the hotel you will have a free day to explore all that Nagoya has to offer…. Whether that is seeing the Toyota Museum of Industry and Technology, the Nagoya Public Aquarium, Nagoya City Science Museum, Toganji Temple or just hanging out and shopping on the famous Osu Shopping Street…. When everyone has arrived however, your Geek Nation Tours representative will start our exploration into all things Samurai by visiting the Nagoya Castle or the Tokugawa Art Museum.

When everyone has arrived however, your Geek Nation Tours representative will start our exploration into all things Samurai by visiting the Nagoya Castle or the Tokugawa Art Museum.

Day 2 (Saturday October 14th):

1661427_1555396781345224_4345663033157043616_nB 10710276_841000999268117_7334844065344048814_oBToday we will explore the 50th Annual Seki Cutlery Festival.  Seki has a long history of producing the finest quality swords and blades in the world.  Seki’s history with blades spans over 900 years and today we will get a taste of this tradition.  Throughout the town we will see sword-forging and polishing demonstrations, cutting and sheathing performances and sword collection displays.  We will also explore the outdoor knife show that boasts a multitude of stalls for all those interested in making a purchase.

We will visit the Seki Sword Tradition Museum, and a private local guide will be with us today to help explain the sword making process and to give us deeper details into the festival itself. We will also visit the Cutlery Museum and a local shrine, and you will have a good part of the day to explore the festival on your own.

We do however, suggest you join us to take in the Iaido demonstration, as it was a big hit with tour participants in the past. Iaido is a martial art that studies the sword and how to draw, strike and return the blade to its scabbard in fluid – some say beautiful – motions. It is always amazing to watch the skill and concentration of the demonstrators. Besides, it is a cool way to bring you back to feudal times and prepare you for the next day’s hike.

If possible we will tour a local Kendo (way of the sword) or Kyudo(way of the bow) dojo and see how these traditions still live in Japan. In past tours, we visited the local archery clubs event and they even allowed us to shoot!10604577_840997529268464_7268787677504582888_o

As you explore today, remember a key ingredient to enjoying any festival in Japan is to eat from a street vendor or two.  Take in some street food and enjoy the odd Japanese beer as you explore all that the festival has to offer…

Breakfast included

Day 3 (Sunday October 15th):

You will be immersed into the spirit of ancient Japan, and walking the in foot steps of samurai of old today…

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From Seki we will make our way to Magome to hike the Magome/Tsumago trail.  Our bags will be transferred via our Motor Coach to our Ryokan/Minshuku in Tsumago. The trail itself is 8 km long and is what remains of the Nakasendo – the route through the Kiso Valley which connected Tokyo and Kyoto.

When we arrive in Tsumago we will be pleasantly rewarded with a town which looks virtually untouched for centuries. Tsumago is a traditional post town that welcomed visitors on the path to and from Tokyo.  It is one of the best preserved post towns in Japan and is like visiting an open air museum.  We will check in at our hotel and then you are free to explore the area and have lunch on your own.

Ryokan and Minshuku are traditional Japanese hotels that are still in use today.  We will sleep on the tatami floor and eat just as explorers did in ages bygone.   As is tradition the washroom will be down the hall and you will most likely have to pull out your own futon out of the closet. What’s more as these traditional hotels are quite small the guides will be staying down the street. Don’t worry you will have access to the Geek Nation Tours representative or the local guide at all times.

We are in for a treat this evening as we will be offered a home cooked meal right where you are sleeping, and our own private onsen to help relieve our road weary feet. Who knows – we might even get a game in or two this night…

Breakfast and dinner included

Day 4 (Monday October 16th):

We are off to see a castle today!

10661616_841008272600723_919797250756359225_oToday we will again be on the road to Matsumoto to visit its wonderful castle.  Matsumoto castle is one of the most beautiful and historically intact castles in all of Japan.  It was built during the Sengoku Jidai (Warring States Period) around 1593 (the same time period as Sekigahara).  It was never attacked in those times and also avoided being so during World War II.  Matsumoto is known as the black castle and this hirajiro (a castle built on a plain) is both forbidding and beautiful.

After our castle visit we will stroll down the local shopping streets of Nawate and Nakamachi.

Even before we reach the castle however, we have a short visit to a local Wasabi Farm, where you will be able to see how this traditional Japanese spice makes its way to tables around the world.

We will spend the day at the castle and have some free time to have lunch and dinner on our own as we explore this bustling country town.

Breakfast included

Day 5 (Tuesday October 17th):

10668893_841016912599859_6233090538048095299_oToday we will head off to the Japanese Alps by motor coach and visit the onsen town of Hiraya. The onsens in this area are said to have been discovered in the 1560s by Takeda Shingen’s troops as they passed through the area.  Legend has it that an old white monkey led them to the hot springs and a place to recover from their journeys … We will visit two onsen today – the first is an open air and public onsen named Hirayu Minzokukan and the second is right in our hotel.

But first, we us this day to experience the natural beauty of Japan. First we will off to Kamikochi and the Azusa River. Here we will walk along the river and take in the beauty of the surrounding mountains. If you are lucky, you might even see a monkey or two yourself. If we have time we will also visit the Hirayu Waterfall Garden, see one of the best waterfalls in Japan, and perhaps rest our feet in hot springs…

We will have dinner right at our ryoken and we recommend you visit their onsen tonight prior to bed (it will 13240529_10153830911139440_9140713404948663338_nensure a great night’s sleep). As a matter of fact, Teras will try to get in there early the next day to have a short dip prior to heading off again.

Day 6 (Wednesday October 18th):

1492249_841028872598663_4955966232126070996_oWe will continue our travels by motor coach and leave Hirayu to visit Takayama.  Takayama is known for the Sanmachisuji or “Old Town” that is wonderfully preserved with many houses and shops dating from the Edo Period (1600-1868) and is a favourite for people visiting this area

Prior to our arrival we will get a tour of a small traditional Sake distillery and stroll the shops of Hida. From here we will head off for lunch at a truly Japanese experience a conveyer belt sushi place… Eat to your heart’s content but know that the restaurant has a Sega arcade to one side of it and a great shopping center on the other (with one floor dedicated to electronics and plastic models – loads of Gundam stuff here!).   If we have time we will head to Old Town for the rest of the day, or possibly wander though Shiroyama Park, before retiring for a traditional meal at our ryokan.

Breakfast and Dinner included

Day 7 (Thursday October 19th):

After breakfast we will spend a full day in Takayama.  For those wanting to get a bit of rest this is the day for that… For anyone interested however, our representative will be headed off to visit Takayama Jinya (A traditional Japanese government office used during the Edo period) and the local morning market.  If time presents itself we will visit two markets – one near the Jinya and one on the Miyagawa River.

After this, we will have a slow walk through the Higashiyama Walking Course which will bring us to the Teramachi area, that has over a dozen temples and shrines and the beautiful Shiroyama Park.  The park is also the former site of the Takayama Castle and we can discover its ruins here… It is here that we will again see the calmer side of Japan and be able to envision it in the days of the Samurai.

If time permits we will visit the Sanmachi shopping area, and get some bearings for tonight’s dinner – a specialty of the area and famous throughout Japan – Takayama Beef!

Breakfast and Dinner included

Day 8 (Friday October 20th):

Today we leave Takayama for Ogaki and Nakahama Castle and their parks.

10358861_842655879102629_4934042654341820010_nOgaki Castle or “The City of Water” was originally under the power of Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi – some of the most important historical figures of 10378273_842656305769253_2150386754790245721_nJapan. The leader of the Western Army, Ishida Mitsunari occupied Ogaki Castle prior to the battle of Sekigahara, but after his defeat at that battle Ogaki was eventually besieged and overtaken by Tokugawa Ieyasu. The castle was destroyed by a bombing raid in 1945, but rebuilt as a modern reproduction complete with museum, weapon and armour display, and even videos explaining the history of the castle and the Battle of Sekigahara. Its small park offers many statues and some great photo ops.

After discovering Ogaki and park, we will have a group lunch prior to heading off to our hotel, lake Biwa and Nakahama Castle. While not much is left of Nakahama castle, its reproduction is worth a visit and the park is a lovely way to spend the afternoon – followed by a stroll along the lakeside. Nagahama Castle was built by Hideyoshi Toyotomi after he received the land from Nobunaga Oda in 1573. After the battle of Sekigahara, Naito Nobunari obtained ownership and eventually the castle was destroyed. Today, the castle and park are used as an entrance to Lake Biwa viewing. Biwako appears in much of Japan’s ancient poetry and literature, and of course in many accounts of historical battles. We will use the park and the evening to relax and to slow our pace, and will gather for a group dinner at the hotel.

Many will want to experience the hotel’s onsen…

Breakfast and Dinner included

Day 9 (Saturday October 21st):13256393_1172229479478599_833745970895721544_n

10616412_1555392774678958_7075020729560746848_n  Today will be our first day in Sekigahara. The town will be gearing up for the Annual Battle of Sekigahara Festival and enthusiasts and reenactors will be gathering here from all around the country. The goal of the festival is to turn the clock back to 1600, and you will see many people walking around in full Samurai armour.  There are live stage events, and loads of demonstrations reminiscent of the time period. We will again hop into the festival spirit and celebrate as the locals do – who knows you might even meet a Samurai or two or pick up some warring clan period related goods …

We will have a local private guide to take us on a visit of the Sekigahara battlefield so we can dive into the history of the battlefield itself. We will see Tokugawa Ieyasu’s final base camp, Higashi Kubizuka temple where over 40000 heads are buried, Ishida Mitsunari’s base camp, and even spend a bit of time at the interesting Sekigahara War Land.

If we have time after exploring the most important seven points of interest of the Battlefield, we visit the festival before being transferred back to our hotel in Nagahara. Where we will gather for dinner again, and then retire for the evening in anticipation of our return to the Sekigahara festival tomorrow.

Breakfast and Dinner included

Day 10:

Day 10 (Sunday October 22nd):

10370965_10203250032711402_9103142635929378524_n13227139_1172229656145248_8337147600216854077_nBToday we will watch the Sekigahara Battle Re-enactment, and again participate in the festival.  There will be plenty of time to take in some of the spots we missed, or to revisit things we saw yesterday.  With that said, we will have a local private guide to take us on a visit of the Sekigahara battlefield so we can again dive into the history of the battlefield.

For those of you that want to jump right into it however, today is the day you may want to don a Samurai or Ashigaru set of armour. We will try to beat the lines to get you outfitted in time to stand with other re-enactors for some special photo shoots…

Remember though that today is re-enactment day! We will follow the Samurai from both sides of the engagement in a parade to the local town square, where we will watch the battle come alive before us…

We will depart the festival in the evening to see us return to the Castle Plaza Hotel in Nagoya. After freshening up, we will head out on our last evening together and Farewell Dinner (on Geek Nation Tours) at a Izakaya.

Breakfast and Dinner included

Day 11 (Monday October 23rd):13265991_10153830937394440_7092094644831303148_n

Today many will be returning home and will thus leave to Nagoya international airport. You will be given instructions (and we are happy to make the necessary reservations for you) on how to get to the airport and return home.

Breakfast included

Extension:

Day 11 (Monday October 23rd):

site_0661_0007-500-375-20151105113201As the rest of our tour participants head for the airport and home, we will depart to perhaps the most famous castle in Japan – Himeji Castle or White Heron Castle. This world heritage site is considered the best and most well preserved castle in all of Japan. Its white winged rooflines lend to its name, and it is a pleasure to approach from the Shinkansen station. The walk will allow us to take in its full (newly renovated) beauty. The Castle grounds, multiple buildings, gates and winding paths will bring you back to ancient Japan. The grounds staff even get into the whole vibe, and you can often see a samurai darting here and there…

From here we will return to Kyoto and gather for our Extension Welcome dinner at a traditional Japanese restaurant.

Breakfast and Dinner included

Day 12 (Tuesday October 24th)

img_cm04Today we will be off to Kyoto and directly to a truly different samurai experience at the Toei Uzumasa Eigamura, or Kyoto Studio Movie Park. Here you will be immersed into an Edo period small town, movie studio and theme park all roll into one.

As well as being an actual movie studio (who knows you might see a Japanese actor or actress or two), you will see a recreation of the Nihonbashi bridge, court house and police box and even an ancient red light district. Park guides and living history actors are dress in period costumes and fun is had by all… There is even a Ninja Maze (full of secret passages, revolving doors and traps), Ninja Performances (watch out for throwing stars), a Haunted House and a 3D theater. You can even get dressed up in one of their cool geisha, samurai, or ninja costumes… Want a bit of anime thrown in? There is even a display of Power Rangers through the years…

But the day will not end there, and more Samurai goodness is planned. We will all take a Samurai Kembu (sword dance) lesson and become more acquainted with the aspects of the etiquette of the samurai classes and how to use a samurai sword. This often hidden school is said to be a gem in Kyoto, not often frequented by tourists.

Breakfast and Dinner included

Day 13 (Wednesday October 25th):

10414647_10152501277922857_7553579217171124735_nToday we will see Kyoto in a very specific light. We will slow down our pace, travel by foot and visit a few of the more spiritual places in this ancient city. We will visit Ryoan-ji. This Zen temple is known worldwide for its rock and sand garden. It is the finest of all rock gardens in Japan as it brings together many aspects of Zen Buddhism, and acts to clear the mind and cleanse the spirit.

From here we will visit an often forgotten walk through this city. The “Philosopher’s Walk” takes us from Nansenji Temple to the often missed Ginkakuji (Silver Pavilion). We will take our time on the walk stopping for lunch at one of the many restaurants along the way. If we have time we will visit Honen-in or many of the other temples in the area.

Kyoto, and in particular this area, has a special way of sheltering us from the business of normal city life and you will again be transported into the past.

We will end the day in the house of the Tokugawa Shogunate. Nijo Castle which is a momentous display, showcasing how the ruling members of feudal Japan spent their days. Complete with Nightingale floors to make sure any ninja skills you developed earlier in the tour are pointed out…

We will gather tonight for one last meal together as we prepare for our journey home.13260262_10153830908039440_4744593873459155274_n

Breakfast and Dinner included

Day 14 (Thursday October 26th):

All good things must end, unfortunately, and today we return to the Kyoto/Osaka Kensai airport and depart for home. The photos, memories and friendships you made on the tour are yours to keep forever!

Want to see more photos of our past tour?  Visit our 2014 tour group at Facebook here.

Included in the tour: All accommodations, all motor coach and river transfers, Welcome & Farewell and most other Dinners, Breakfasts, most entry fees.

Book Now

Main Tour Price:$3599.00 USD + taxes and fees ($395.89) per person based on double occupancy

Extension Tour Price: $999.00 USD + taxes and fees ($109.89) per person based on double occupancy

Don’t have a friend to get the double occupancy rate? That is what Geek Nation Tours does. Book as a double occupancy and we will match you up a roommate… This way you get the best of both worlds – someone to BS about the con with – and more cash to spend!

Deposit: $1200.00 Final due 20 July 2017

Single Occupancy upgrade Main Tour: $550.00 USD + $60.50 taxes and fees

Single Occupancy upgrade Extension: $300.00 USD + $33.00 taxes and fees

Want to do more in Japan?: Geek Nation Tours can arrange hotel stays and other options for you. Just let us know what you have in mind and we will come up with a travel plan.

Not included in the tour price: Airfare, some local taxi and subway fares

Non- Geek Spouse argument: Samurai and Ninjas… Nuff said….

NOTE: Both the Sekigahara Festival and the Seki Cutlery Festival have NOT confirmed their dates.  Currently, the date seem to be as per the above.  Geek Nation Tours cannot not be held liable for a date change. On the odd chance the festivals are the same weekend, the Sekigahara festival will be chosen instead of the Seki Cutlery Festival.  If both festivals are separated by more than a week, GNT will again choose the Sekigahara Festival.  The DATES ABOVE MAY CHANGE.