1. Kyoto: Make sweets with an award-winning chef at Ninna-ji
Embark on a once-in-a-lifetime before-hours tour of Kyoto's iconic Ninna-ji Temple and discover the history behind each turn. Craft your own delicious wagashi candies with an award-winning confectioner, enjoy an exclusive visit to the Great Hall, and witness an authentic tea ceremony. Arrive at Ninna-ji Temple in the morning before opening hours and meet your guide and resident monk. Then, unlock the temple's main gates, which date back to the 17th century, and step into this peaceful park, surrounded by colorful trees and lush gardens. Proceed to the Great Hall, which is normally closed to the public. Explore its meticulous interior and marvel at the wealth of traditional Japanese art and woodwork. Learn more about the history that surrounds you with insightful commentary from your guide. Next, learn to make wagashi from one of Japan's finest confectioners — and the official candy purveyor of Ninna-ji. First, sample some delicious wagashi before crafting your own tasty treat with the guidance of your award-winning instructor. Continue to a secluded tea house and meet a tea ceremony master. Take a moment to admire the ornate gardens that surround you, before taking part in a traditional tea ceremony with your wagashi. Discover the meaning behind the gestures and the history rooted in this ritual. Ninna-ji is a UNESCO-listed Buddhist temple located in western Kyoto, recognized for its beautiful gardens, traditional architecture, and broad collection of classic art and woodwork. Enjoy an exclusive opportunity to experience this National Treasure at dawn on a tour for your group alone.