About the Tour
Hello all Samurai fans! We are now accepting Pre-Registration bookings for our Sekigahara, Kawanakajima and Beyond Tour. As we are all living in the uncertainty of a Covid influenced world GNT is accepting no funds at this time. However, if you would like to hold a spot on this tour to join our continuing explorations of Japan please book asap to secure your spot..
Covid Pricing note: As we move into the post-Covid era there may well be price adjustments as we move forward. It has been postulated that the tourism industry as a whole will see many price increases. While GNT strives to give the best price along with the best service and experience, we may be forced to increase tour pricing in the future.
Be well, healthy and happy and thank you for all your support!
Teras – Geek Nation Tours
Geek Nation Tours is proud to continue our Signature Battlefield tours with Feudal Japan and the Battlefields of Sekigahara, Kawanakajima and Beyond – an exploration of two of the most important military engagements in Japanese history…
On October 21, 1600 Tokugawa Ieyasu lead his forces onto the plains of Sekigahara to an eventual victory that would change the course of Japanese history. The battle is one of the most famous of all samurai engagements, and is steeped with mystery, betrayal, heroic deeds and acts of barbarism.
We will also journey to the location of perhaps the most loved, commemorated, and touted example of samurai valor and ethic – the Five Battles of Kawanakajima. Here Takeda Shingen and Uesugi Kenshin met in conflict over the course ten years – continually thwarting each others plans for victory – but along the way setting the stonework for the mythic archetype of the samurai.
Our goal with this tour is to of course bring you to these epic spots, but also to transport you back in time. To walk with you in the footsteps of the samurai, and to give you the feeling of what it must have been in feudal times. To do this we will visit a wide range of samurai related sites…
We will take you to the Seki Cutlery Festival where you will see sword making demonstrations, Iaido cutting demonstrations and see examples of the famous katana at the Seki Sword Tradition Museum.
From there we will explore Japan’s many castles, walk the ancient cobblestones of the Nakasendo highway and see the post towns of Magome and Tsumago. We will journey to the west coast of Japan. There we will see even more castles and the city called “Little Kyoto” – Kanazawa. Here we will walk one of the most beautiful gardens in Japan, talk a little Zen and take in the Nagamachi Samurai House district.
We will climb Saijo-San (Mount Saijo) to see the modern but still magnificent via of the battlefield of Kawanakajima from Uesugi Kenshin’s camp to get a layout of the battlefield and then visit the many memorials and of course the statues of the rival Daimyo..
We will spend two days walking the battlefield of Sekigahara to explore it in detail and join in the Battle of Sekigahara Festival where we will be able to see reenactors dressed in samurai garb. We even have plans for you to get dressed up too!
When our feet start to ache, we will even plunge into traditional Japanese onsen to sooth them much as samurai of old did.
You will be treated to at two guides for this tour. We will have a local guide with us throughout the tour and your Geek Nation Tours representative who studied in Japan. But more importantly is our guest host – Dr. Stephen Turnbull. If you have read about Samurai history, ethics or religion you most likely were reading a Stephen Turnbull book. He is a prolific writer and British historian concentrating on Japan and the samurai period. Many of those books have been published by our new partner Osprey Publishing.
This tour sees Osprey Publishing and Geek Nation Tours joining forces to create tours for the most discerning of travelers. It is our goal to fashion vacations where one can delve deeply into the historic period we are covering with expert guest hosts relating knowledge as they walk along beside us. But while learning is important, we will also seek out fun and cover the more geeky aspects of the journey. We will meld pop culture with history, blend practical knowledge with epic legend and see human struggle and heroic deeds through many lenses.
If you ever dreamt of living in Feudal Japan this is the tour for you!
If you want to hear more about the tour – and about samurai and ninjas -give the Scholarly Warrior Podcast a listen (also seen on iTunes under the Freebooters Network). We interview Dr. Turnbull in episode six and we guarantee you will want to join us on the tour then… Check out the episode here.
Day 1 - Nagoya (Friday, Oct. 13, 2023) / Welcome to Japan!
Today we will gather from all around the world to start our time travelling adventure into Feudal Japan. When everyone has arrived, we will come together for our Welcome Dinner and meet our guides and of course, our guest host, the illustrious Dr. Stephen Turnbull… Expect to talk about all things Japan, to dine on a traditional Japanese dinner and perhaps indulge in a beverage or two.
Dr T’s Take: I look forward to meeting you all!
We will be staying at the Castle Plaza Hotel. Welcome Dinner included.
Day 2 - Seki (Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023) / Seki Cutlery Festival
Today we will explore the 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.
Our first stop in Seki will be the Seki Kazuga Shinto Shrine and perhaps we will get a blessing for our trip… We will then visit the Seki Traditional Swordsmith Museum, and Eriko our guide, will be with us to help us explore the museum and to give us deeper details into the festival itself. Just outside the museum we will gather for a Sword Making Demonstration…
Before splitting up to explore the festival on your own we will visit the Cutlery Museum, Feather Museum (a great place to get some amazing nail clippers and razors), explain where we will meet at day's end, and point out where one might take in the Iaido demonstration – a must see and 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 one – some say beautiful – motion. 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.
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. Make sure you take a good look at the knives sure to be on display for sale. You might want to bring home a super sharp kitchen blade so you can be a samurai when you cook dinner…
With that said, our last stop in Seki will be the Spyder.co Knife Museum and shop. It will be our first time here and thus we will have to take our time visiting their blade displays, choosing what Spyder knife to bring home and posing with their monstrous “Gulliver Special Knife”!
After our arrival at the evening’s hotel we will sneak out for an Unagi dinner or Japanese style barbequed eel – a local favorite.
Dr T’s Take: This sounds like the perfect time to do an introduction to samurai swords from manufacture to their use.
We will be staying at the Hotel Route Inn Minokama. Breakfast included.
Day 3 - Magome (Sunday, Oct. 15, 2023) / Hiking the Nakasendo Highway
Today you will be immersed into the spirit of ancient Japan by walking in the footsteps of the samurai of old … From Seki we will make our way to Magome to hike the Magome/Tsumago trail. Here we will discover the 8 km long remains of the Nakasendo Highway – the route through the Kiso Valley which connected ancient Edo with the rest of Japan. All around you will be signs of feudal Japan – from the cobblestones you will walk upon to the ancient shrines and cypress forests.
We will take our time on the trail and be regaled by Dr. Turnbull on some of the hidden gems that many tourist – Japanese or foreigner – often walk right past. If you want to fill your Nakasendo experience to the brim, be sure to stick closely to our guest host for the day…. Note however, that we will have headsets for you to be sure you can hear Shogun Turnbull’s stories…
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.
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 bygone ages. 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. In the past, our groups have had to be located in two Minshuku… There will however, be a guide in both as staying at a smaller - family run - Minshuku just has to be experienced.
We are in for a treat this evening as we will be offered a home cooked meal right where we are sleeping, and our own private onsen to help relieve our road weary feet. We do recommend that you be off to bed early tonight as tomorrow is a huge day…
Some, however, may want to skip out for a stroll in the evening as Tsumago is particularly interesting in the dark. It is easy to imagine there are ninja stalking the roof tops – waiting patiently for you to present a nice target before striking. Or perhaps the 13 Assassins are planning the coming assault just down the street, or a frame from a Frank Miller Wolverine comic will come alive just around the corner…
Dr T’s Take: This should be a superb day. The hike is spectacular, and we may have some fall colours. Most tourists don’t notice the small details and the tiny shrines to important local gods – I know where they are!
We will be staying at the Hanaya / Maruya Minshuku. Breakfast and dinner included.
Day 4 - Matsumoto (Monday, Oct. 16, 2023) / The Five Battles of Kawanakajima
We are off to see our first two castles today and the historic spot of perhaps the most loved, commemorated, and touted example of samurai valor and ethic – the Five Battles of Kawanakajima.
First, we will set out 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 (just prior to 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 exploring Matsumoto Castle, we return to our coach and have lunch on our own at a Japanese truck stop / convenience store as we head toward Kawanakajima. Japanese highway stops offer a surprising variety of dining and shopping options… be sure to buy some of the stranger Japanese snacks on offer.
As we drive north, we will learn of Kawanakajima’s importance to samurai culture and discuss these heroic battles with Dr. Turnbull. Only then will we arrive at Saijo-San (Mount Saijo) to see the magnificent view from Uesugi Kenshin’s camp. We will then continue to the Morozumi Masakiyo gravesite which also gives one an idea of Uesugi's position before the battle. We will continue to the Yamamoto Kansuke gravesite plus Hirose site and see where Takeda crossed the river from Kaizu. We will then double back to the Kawanakajima Kosenjo Park and the historical site of the 4th Battle of Kawanakajima - Hachimanbara. Here, legend has it that the leaders of all five battles once met in single combat, and we will see the statues of the rival Daimyo Takeda Shingen and Uesugi Kenshin commemorated on the spot.
After the Museum visit, we will move to Takeda Nobushige’s grave in the temple of Tenkyuji which also sports Japan’s largest representation of Emma-do, the guardian of hell. We will then cross the Chikumagawa river and journey to our last stop of the day - Matsushiro Castle whose stone foundation, outer walls, gates and moat are still intact. While built by Takeda Shingen in 1560, the castle changed names from Kaizu Castle when the Sanada family came into power.
Prior to again hitting the road we will stop at the Nagano Station area for a group dinner and then continue our journey to the mountain hot spring area of Yamanouchi for the most relaxing part of the trip…
Dr T’s Take: Today should allow us a blow-by-blow account of the battle of Kawanakajima. Matsumoto Castle is a spectacular sight: try and photograph it with the mountains in the background. Matsushiro will bring you close again to the world of the samurai.
We will be staying at the Shibu Hotel Onsen. Breakfast and dinner included.
Day 5 - Yudanaka and Shibu Onsen (Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2023) / Shibu Onsen
Today we will relax in the Japanese Alps. You will have the day to sleep in, roll some dice and play a Samurai based game at our ryokan, stroll the quaint narrow streets of the onsen towns of Yudanaka and Shibu Onsen, or participate in one of two optional tours.
One way to see the town is to make the trip to the nine public onsens that are scattered through the mountain villages. It is said that good fortune comes to those that visit all nine onsens and you will see many people walking the town in traditional yukata and Japanese sandals. Who knows, you might even see a snow monkey journeying through the streets away from his house further up the mountain.
Which, or course, leads us to the second optional tour and a journey to the Jigokudani Monkey Park were one can see Japanese Macaques bathing in a onsen made just for them. The monkeys are accustomed to humans and are known to pose for pictures at their onsen or on the mountain paths leading to and fro.
This year however, we have added the special treat of visiting two other private onsens to our day – We will visit the Yamaichiya onsen (in the hotel right across from ours) in the morning and the Sakaeya Onsen – just down the road – in the evening. Both are optional but allow those journeying to the nine onsens to add two more (well three if you also visit our hotel's onsen which is also rather nice) to their tally and allow a quick visit pre and post to those wishing to visit the Snow Monkeys…
No matter your choice, we will be served another traditional Japanese followed by more gaming or our last chance for an onsen visit right at our hotel.
Dr T’s Take: Hot springs and monkeys – sounds like a perfect rest day to me!
We will be staying at the – Shibu Hotel Onsen / Breakfast & Dinner included
Day 6 - Kanazawa (Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2023) / Kanazawa Nagamachi Samurai House Area, D.T. Suzuki Museum and More
We will continue our travels by motor coach and leave the Yamanouchi area for the long journey to Kanazawa. We hope to again, discuss our favorite Samurai movies and talk with Dr. Turnbull about his before indulging in a film ourselves as we make our way across the western edge of the Japanese coastline.
When we arrive in Kanazawa we will first visit the Nagamachi Samurai House Area to see the incredibly preserved samurai residence, rest or way station houses, but in particular the Ashigaru house and the Nomura Family Samurai House with its lush gardens and beautiful screen designs. We will then continue with a quick walk to D.T. Suzuki Museum who is famous for introducing and spreading interest in both Zen and Shinto in the West in the 1950’s and 60’s. The gardens here are said to reflect his views on Japanese religion.
Today we will also offer up three optional tours (some additional costs may apply).
If you wish you can explore the Ishikawa Prefectural Museum and Kaga – Honda Museum to see the history of the area and their marvelous collection of weapons…
Alternatively, you could experience a taste of Samurai and Merchant culture with Mr. Shijimaya of the Shijimaya Honpo company. The Shijimaya can trace their lineage from when they transitioned from being warriors to merchants, and while we visit his family house we can see - and have a hands-on experience - with his collection of ancient blades and swords. For those interested, you will be able to dress up in kendogi and hakama and have a photo shoot (with his blades) in his amazing garden. We top this all off with a taste of his company’s tea and sweet treats. In 2019, we enjoyed the experience immensely and many said it was the highlight of the tour for them.
New this year, we hope to leave Kanazawa for Tsubata to see a real swordsmith’s workshop. Mr. Matsuda creates a very limited number of swords each year and is among the 250 smiths in Japan certified to forge swords using traditional methods. We will be able to experience his working area and have him describe the process in detail. This tour is limited to only six people so be sure to request it soon…
At this point, we will head back to our hotel to prepare ourselves for a feast on Sushi (as Kanazawa is renowned for its sushi restaurants) …
Dr T’s Take: Today offers a drive through marvelous mountain scenery finishing up in authentic old samurai dwellings.
We will be staying at the – ANA Holiday Inn Kanazawa Sky / Breakfast & Dinner included
Overnight Location: Kanazawa
Day 7 - Kanazawa (Thursday, Oct. 19, 2023) / Kanazawa Castle Park, Kenroku-en Garden & More
We will continue our explorations of Kanazawa today and journey to Kenroku-en Garden which is billed as one of the most beautiful gardens in Japan. We will stroll the area and take in the ponds, hills and trees before making the short transition to Kanazawa Castle Park. The partially restored Kanazawa-jo was the headquarters of the Maeda clan which ruled this area from the Sengoku-Jidai to the Meiji Restoration.
From here we will explore the Omicho Fresh Food Market which can trace its origins back to the Edo period. On sale you will see amazing seafood and produce along with florists, kitchen stores and more. We might have to wait in line for our lunch (on own), but a traditional favorite will be the order of the day – bowls of rice topped with Kanazawa seafood.
The afternoon will see us continue to discover Kanazawa’s Samurai houses by stopping at the Terashima family house as it is an elegant home, but also a perfect example of how middle-class samurai would have lived… It also has a great example of an explanation of Japanese aesthetic as prior to entering the garden you will see a sign naming it as “Kensen” or “Dry Spring” describing the pond held within.
We will then make our way to the Kazumachi and Higashi Chaya districts where one can still see and visit a Chaya – or teahouse. During the Edo period one could see the song and dance performances of Geisha in entertainment districts such as these. As a matter of fact, there are two chaya’s still open to the public, but if you want the real Tea Ceremony experience we have an optional stop at the Soyu Chado (additional fees may apply). If you like you can then venture to the Gold Leaf Museum or return to the hotel for a well-deserved nap.
We will gather again for dinner to enjoy the taste of Kanazawa via a local specialty Kaga Ryori.
Dr T’s Take: A day to explore traditional Japanese culture in a leisurely way.
We will be staying at the ANA Holiday Inn Kanazawa Sky. Breakfast and dinner included.
Overnight Location: Kanazawa
Day 8 - Sekigahara (Friday, Oct. 20, 2023) / Hikone Castle, Nakahama Castle, Lake Biwa
Today we leave Kanazawa at to begin our trip south to the Sekigahara area, but our first stop will be to what is considered the oldest still standing castle in Japan – Maruoka-jo. The amazing view from the top of this small three-story castle (along with its “hidden” floor) is only accessible to the stout at heart, via its steep wooden stairs, and suspended ropes to help you scale the climb.
We will have a lunch at a local restaurant on the way south and Omigyu will be on the menu so expect to have a taste of this Japanese brand of beef…
Our second castle of the day will be Hikone Castle which was built in 1622 and survived the feudal and modern age and sports its original moat, walls, guard houses and gates. Further, its reconstructed palace buildings make for one of the best complete examples of a feudal castle in all of Japan. This castle also has at least one connection to the battle of Sekigahara – it was the home of Ii Naotaka and his “Red Devils” who fought in that battle. As such, we will be sure to take in the museum at the castle as well…
After discovering Hikone Castle, we hope to arrive at our hotel location in time to not only see the restored (and pretty much completely modern) Nakahama Castle but to also have a castle eye view of Lake Biwa. While not much is left of Nakahama castle, its reproduction is worth a visit and the park is a lovely place for a short 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, however, it was subsequently demolished by the Tokugawa regime’s “one prefecture, one castle” regulation. 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 recommend a quick onsen break at the hotel’s wonderful facilities, to be followed by another group dinner and some Western food to remind you of home at the Nagahama Beer Brewery.
Dr T’s Take: Maruoka is a little gem, but I’ll stay downstairs if you don’t mind… Hikone is my favourite castle because the building is complemented by the Ii armour and weapons in the museum – perfect.
We will be staying at the Hotel & Resorts Nagahama. Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.
Overnight Location: Nagahama
Day 9 - Sekigahara (Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023) / Sekigahara Festival and Walking the Battlefield
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 (although some will definitely have some Japanese pop culture aspects to them). We will hop into the festival spirit and celebrate as the locals do, and who knows you might even meet a Samurai or two or pick up some warring clan period related goods…
But first we will be off on a battlefield hike and we will be joined by a local private guide to help us visit the most important seven points of interest including Tokugawa Ieyasu’s final base camp, Higashi Kubizuka temple where over 40000 heads are buried, and Ishida Mitsunari’s base camp. Dr. Turnbull will be teaching us about the battlefield too, and with the help of the local guide perhaps they will unearth some interesting and often ignored sites….
We have updated our tour this year to take in the new Gifu Sekigahara Battlefield Memorial Museum... This will be a treat even for your guide as last time we travelled to Sekigahara it was only being built...
As we ascend the mountain to the base camp and a picnic lunch, we will make sure we stop at the local town office to check on our reservations of samurai or ashigaru armour for the next day’s adventures… We encourage everyone to dress up, but it is a completely optional (but fun) experience. Frankly, those that turn down the offer almost universally regret it. In 2019, we even were allowed to join in the next day’s parade…
If we have time after exploring the battlefield, we will make the quick drive to Ogaki Castle or “The City of Water”, which was originally under the power of Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi – some of the most important historical figures of Japan. 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 (although in Japanese as of last visit). Further, the small park offers many statues and some great photo ops.
Just down the street, and also included with our castle ticket, is the Ogaki Folk Museum… This often overlooked museum, has an amazing garden, displays on armour and of particular interest, the Sekigahara screen. This famous art piece brings the battle alive before us.
We will then transfer back to our hotel in Nagahama, indulge in their onsen and gather again for dinner before retiring for the evening in anticipation of our return to the Sekigahara festival tomorrow.
Dr T’s Take: This will be our opportunity to follow the progress of the entire battle of Sekigahara.
We will be staying at the Hotel & Resorts Nagahama. Breakfast and dinner included.
Overnight Location: Nagahama
Day 10 - Sekigahara (Sunday, Oct. 22, 2023) / Sekigahara Festival Day Two and the Battle Dramatization
Today we will watch the Sekigahara Battle dramatization put on by re-enactors gathered from across Japan, and again participate in the festival. First however, we will gather near Mitsunari’s base camp to see and cheer on those tour participants that opted to don their own samurai armour. We will then mingle with the other Samurai giving speeches and demonstrations prior to posing for photos. After the photo op we will watch the samurai re-enactors march to the town square to dazzle us as they match wits and bring the battle of Sekigahara alive – Japanese style…
For those of you that elected 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…
Please note if you want to get a good view of the dramatization/re-enactment then you should leave a bit prior to when the parade departs the stage area. The samurai will move to the town square where they will gather for battle. Be sure to get there soon to secure a space in the front row…
We will then have time to explore the booths we missed, grab a bite to eat and visit with the locals prior to departing the festival to return to Nagoya.
After freshening up, we will head out on our last evening together and Farewell Dinner at a local Izakaya.
Dr T’s Take: The Japanese do battle re-enactments very well and this should be a classic.
We will be staying at the Castle Plaza Hotel Nagoya. Breakfast and Dinner included.
Overnight Location: Nagoya
Day 11 - Returning (Monday, Oct. 23, 2023) / Sayonara for now...
Today many will be returning home and will thus leave for Nagoya international airport. GNT will make reservations and you will be given detailed instructions on how to get to the airport and return home.
Optional Post-Tour Add-on
Day 1 - Akame (Monday, Oct. 23, 2023) / Iga-ryu Ninja Village and Museum & Akame 48 Waterfalls
For those that will be carrying onwards on our tour extension, today we will leave Nagoya by coach at to make the journey into the hidden mountains of the Ninja. Our first stop will be the Iga-ryu Ninja Village and Museum. Iga-ryu is not only said to be the birthplace of Ninjutsu and the famous Ninja Hattori Hanzo, but was also once a secret village where ninjas of old practiced their dark arts. The Ninja Museum houses hidden rooms, trap doors and revolving walls. We can also see the tools of the trade, as the displays offer ninja weapons and artifacts. Need a smoke bomb for a quick getaway? Or perhaps you need to cross some water in stealth? Here is the place to spy ideas…
With all the Ninja (possibly) around we hope you can relax as we make a lunch of Ninja Soba at the Akame Kanko house, before heading off to stroll the Akame 48 Waterfalls and Ninja Forest. This beautifully preserved natural area is said to have been discovered by legendary holy man En No Gyoja and the name Akame was derived from his encounter with the god of fire 1300 years ago. The area was later used by the Iga-ryu assassins and spies as a training ground. Keep your eyes peeled, we suspect to find ninjas everywhere…
We will meet as a group for dinner after arriving at the Taisenkaku our last ryokan and onsen. This time we will experience the Japanese tradition of cooking our own meal right at the table via Amiyaki ryori Ninja Nabe.
Dr T’s Take: Iga is THE place to experience ninja – it has Japan’s best ninja museum and an excellent show.
We will be staying at the Taisenkaku Ryokan. Breakfast and dinner included.
Overnight Location: Kyoto
Day 2 - Kyoto (Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2023) / Kyoto Temples & Shrines
Once we reach our hotel, you are welcome head off into Kyoto to explore on your own on this free day. A multitude of temples and shrine abound in Kyoto with some of our favorites being the Tofuku-ji (known throughout Japan as a special place to view autumn colours), Byodoin Temple (known for its beautiful garden) or the Fushimi Inari Shine and its endless Torii gates….
To make our personal journeys a bit easier today however, we will keep the coach until after we drop our bags off at the hotel. From there you will have your choice to stop at one or two locations:
Our first possible stop is a continuation of our explorations of Sekigahara with one of Japan’s Blood Temples or Chitenjo. Just prior to the events at Sekigahara, Torii Mototada was ordered by Tokugawa Ieyasu to hold Fushimi Castle at all costs. It was known that the castle would fall but would delay Ishida Mitsunari enough for the Eastern armies consolidate in Gifu. When it was obvious that the castle was lost, Mototada and 375 warriors committed seppuku staining the castle floorboards with blood. After the battle of Sekigahara, Ieyasu ordered the bloodstained wood salvaged from Fushimi and used in the construction of temples across Kyoto. Mototada and his warriors then, would be immortalized for their heroism in places of peace for all time. For something a bit lighter, next door to Yogenin Temple is another site to behold - Rengeoin Sanjusngendo and its 28 Kannon and 1001 buddha statues…
If any desire, the coach will continue with those remaining to Kinkakuji (The Gold Pavilion) which because of it golden brilliance is one of the most popular temples in all of Japan. Further, just down the street is one of the most important Zen temples (again, in all of Japan) Ryoanji and a personal favorite …
There is of course, tonnes of shopping in and around Kyoto station (and a good example of a Japanese department store is Yodobashi just down the block). More shopping can be seen by venturing to the Teramachi and Shin Kyogoku Shopping arcades. If you need to pick up some souvenirs this area is excellent for that, but also contained here is the Nishiki Market – another famous Japanese market and a perfect place for lunch.
Or there is always the option of just chilling at a café or izakaya…
We will again gather to visit the elegant Shishin Samurai restaurant to continue with our samurai theme….
Dr T’s Take: Kyoto has everything to offer – the only problem will be deciding what to choose!
We will be staying at the Hotel Vischio Kyoto by Granvia Hotel. Breakfast and dinner included.
Overnight Location: Kyoto
Day 3 - Kyoto (Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2023) / Toei Uzumasa Eigamura & Kembu Lesson
We will be off 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, courthouse and police box and even an ancient red-light district. Park guides and living history actors are dressed 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 (Ninja Show Sasuke) - watch out for throwing stars, Samurai Sword Fighting Lessons, a look behind the scenes of Jidaigeki (Period Dramas), 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 an area dedicated to anime exhibits.
The day will not end there, and more Samurai goodness is planned. We will all participate in 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. (Ok we won’t become Musashis in the two hours we are there, but we should have loads of fun and look pretty cool doing it)
After our lesson we will make our way directly to a local Izakaya for our Farewell Dinner…
We will return to our hotel after a long day of adventuring to finish packing and preparing to return home … For those of you that might want to get a final beer in after packing, we will meet at Man in the Moon Irish Pub for a farewell drink…
Dr T’s Take: The staff at Eigamura really do make you feel you are back in old Japan – watch out for fights breaking out!
We will be staying at the Hotel Vischio Kyoto by Granvia Hotel. Breakfast and dinner included.
Overnight Location: Kyoto
Day 4 - Returning (Thursday, Oct. 26, 2023) / Sayonara for now... Part II
All good things must end, unfortunately, and today we return to the Kyoto Itami/Osaka Kensai airports and depart for home. The photos, memories and friendships you made on the tour are yours to keep forever!
We get you reading straight away…
Osprey Publishing and Geek Nation Tours want to start you off right with our tours and thus will get you reading about the history we will be visiting. Each of our Signature Battlefield tours will see books on the subject bound for your bookshelves… Upon securing a spot on our Signature Battlefield Series: Feudal Japan and the Battlefields of Sekigahara, Kawanakajima and Beyond 2023 we will be sending you Ninja 1460 – 1650, War in Japan 1467 – 1615, Kawanakajima 1533 – 64, Japanese Castles 1540 – 1640 All by Stephen Turnbull so you will be well acquainted with his work even prior to arriving in Japan…
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.
NOTE: We do a load of walking this tour. Please note that we can walk as much as 8 kilometers a day in our attempt to show you as much of Japan and the Sekigahara battlefield as possible. Please keep this in mind. Further, there are steps. Japan has lots of steps …
NOTE: Attendance of special guests and celebrities is subject to change due to scheduling conflicts and conflicting professional or personal obligations.
NOTE: COVID-19 has changed both our geek and our real worlds. Some things may never be the same and others may not be able to be offered on our tours or will have to be altered in a new post Covid world. With that said, please understand that GNT is moving forward as if the disease is already conquered, but all tours are now subject to change.
All accommodations, all motor coach and river transfers, Welcome & Farewell and most other Dinners, Breakfasts, most entry fees.
What's Not Included
Airfare, some local taxi and subway fares.
Single-Occupancy Upgrade: $399.00 USD + $41.25 Taxes & Fees
Single-Occupancy Upgrade: $375.00 USD + $41.25 Taxes & Fees
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!
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.
Non-Geek Spouse Argument
Samurai and Ninjas… Nuff said…