Tours and Tickets

Japanese Roof Architecture and Workshop Tour provided by Tour du Lac Biwa

Japanese Roof Architecture and Workshop Tour

Japanese Roof Architecture and Workshop Tour
5
Book in advance
from
£121.30
per adult (price varies by group size)
Free Cancellation up to 7 days in advance
Tour snapshot
Duration:
4h 30m
Taking Covid-19 safety measures
Group size:
10
Near public transportation
Ticket type:
Mobile
  • Duration:
    4h 30m
  • Taking Covid-19 safety measures
  • Group size:
    10
  • Near public transportation
  • Ticket type:
    Mobile
About
Discover and learn in detail about the beautiful Japanese roof architecture of temples and shrines. This is a unique opportunity to visit workshops and experience this form of craftsmanship. On this tour, you will visit some of the last craftsmen who dedicate their lifework to the preservation of renowned temples and shrines in Japan. Since ancient times, Japanese people have believed that the beauty of Japanese architecture starts from the roof. This tour is an amazing chance to learn and understand Japanese roof tiles, which are recognized internationally for their beauty and artistic details. In the intimate venue of their workshops and homes, the roof craftsmen will explain to you how roof materials such as tiles, cypress bark and rice straw are used for roofs and share in detail the differences between temple and shrine roofs. 
Know before you go
  • Duration: 4h 30m
  • Mobile tickets accepted
Cancellation policy
  • If you cancel at least 7 days in advance of the scheduled departure, there is no cancellation fee.
  • If you cancel within 2 days of the scheduled departure, there is a 100 percent cancellation fee.
  • If you cancel between 3 and 6 day(s) in advance of the scheduled departure, there is a 50 percent cancellation fee.
Available languages
English
Know before you go
  • Duration: 4h 30m
  • Mobile tickets accepted
Available languages
English
Cancellation policy
  • If you cancel at least 7 days in advance of the scheduled departure, there is no cancellation fee.
  • If you cancel within 2 days of the scheduled departure, there is a 100 percent cancellation fee.
  • If you cancel between 3 and 6 day(s) in advance of the scheduled departure, there is a 50 percent cancellation fee.
Need help booking?
Call the number below and use the product code: 22444P5
Call +44 12 2492 8241
Important information
Inclusions
  • Local guide
  • Mini onigawara ornament
  • Local transportation fare (taxi fare from JR Hieizan-Sakamoto Station)
  • A snack (SOBA buckwheat noodle)
  • All Fees and Taxes
  • Entry/Admission - Sakamoto Tourist Information Center
  • Entry/Admission - Otsu
  • Entry/Admission - Hiyoshi Taisha
  • Entry/Admission - Otsu
Exclusions
  • Gratuities
  • JR Kyoto Station Pickup charge
  • Round trip train fare between JR Kyoto and JR Hieizan-Sakamoto stations
  • Entry/Admission - Kyoto
Duration
4h 30m
Departure details
  • Traveller pickup is offered.
  • JR Hieizan-Sakamoto Station (KOSEI LINE) is the starting point of the tour. Meet our tour conductor in front of the ticket gate (there's only one gate at the station) at 9:30 am. We can also pick you up at JR Kyoto Station at 9:00 am in front of the 7-11 convenience store next to the West Ticket Gate (2nd floor). The pick-up charge is 4,500JPY/group. Your train fare is not included in the price. Please pay the pick-up charge by cash to our tour conductor.
  • Hieizan-Sakamoto Station, 3 Chome-31 Sakamoto, Otsu, Shiga 520-0113, Japan JR Hieizan-Sakamoto Station (KOSEI LINE) is the starting point of the tour. Meet our tour conductor in front of the ticket gate (there's only one gate at the station) at 9:30 am.
  • Kyoto Station, Higashishiokoji Kamadonocho, Shimogyo Ward, Kyoto, 600-8216, Japan We can also pick you up at JR Kyoto Station at 9:00 am in front of the 7-11 convenience store next to the West Ticket Gate (2nd floor). The pick-up charge is 4,500JPY/group. Your train fare is not included in the price. Please pay the pick-up charge by cash to our tour conductor.
  • Hieizan-Sakamoto Station, 3 Chome-31 Sakamoto, Otsu, Shiga 520-0113, Japan
Additional information
  • Not recommended for children under 15
  • A minimum of 2 people per booking is required
  • Not wheelchair accessible
  • Near public transportation
  • Not recommended for travellers with back problems
  • Most travellers can participate
  • This tour/activity will have a maximum of 10 travellers
Inclusions
  • Local guide
  • Mini onigawara ornament
  • Local transportation fare (taxi fare from JR Hieizan-Sakamoto Station)
  • A snack (SOBA buckwheat noodle)
  • All Fees and Taxes
  • Entry/Admission - Sakamoto Tourist Information Center
  • Entry/Admission - Otsu
  • Entry/Admission - Hiyoshi Taisha
  • Entry/Admission - Otsu
Exclusions
  • Gratuities
  • JR Kyoto Station Pickup charge
  • Round trip train fare between JR Kyoto and JR Hieizan-Sakamoto stations
  • Entry/Admission - Kyoto
Departure details
  • Traveller pickup is offered.
  • JR Hieizan-Sakamoto Station (KOSEI LINE) is the starting point of the tour. Meet our tour conductor in front of the ticket gate (there's only one gate at the station) at 9:30 am. We can also pick you up at JR Kyoto Station at 9:00 am in front of the 7-11 convenience store next to the West Ticket Gate (2nd floor). The pick-up charge is 4,500JPY/group. Your train fare is not included in the price. Please pay the pick-up charge by cash to our tour conductor.
  • Hieizan-Sakamoto Station, 3 Chome-31 Sakamoto, Otsu, Shiga 520-0113, Japan JR Hieizan-Sakamoto Station (KOSEI LINE) is the starting point of the tour. Meet our tour conductor in front of the ticket gate (there's only one gate at the station) at 9:30 am.
  • Kyoto Station, Higashishiokoji Kamadonocho, Shimogyo Ward, Kyoto, 600-8216, Japan We can also pick you up at JR Kyoto Station at 9:00 am in front of the 7-11 convenience store next to the West Ticket Gate (2nd floor). The pick-up charge is 4,500JPY/group. Your train fare is not included in the price. Please pay the pick-up charge by cash to our tour conductor.
  • Hieizan-Sakamoto Station, 3 Chome-31 Sakamoto, Otsu, Shiga 520-0113, Japan
Duration
4h 30m
Return details
  • Hieizan-Sakamoto Station, 3 Chome-31 Sakamoto, Otsu, Shiga 520-0113, Japan
Additional information
  • Not recommended for children under 15
  • A minimum of 2 people per booking is required
  • Not wheelchair accessible
  • Near public transportation
  • Not recommended for travellers with back problems
  • Most travellers can participate
  • This tour/activity will have a maximum of 10 travellers
Travel safe during COVID-19
What you can expect during your visit
  • Regular temperature checks for staff
  • Guides required to regularly wash hands
  • Hand sanitiser available to travellers and staff
What you can expect during your visit
  • Regular temperature checks for staff
  • Guides required to regularly wash hands
  • Hand sanitiser available to travellers and staff
  • Face masks required for guides in public areas
  • Paid stay-at-home policy for staff with symptoms
  • Gear/equipment sanitised between use
  • Face masks required for travellers in public areas
Itinerary
  • You’ll have 2 starting options
    Or, you can also get picked up
    See Important Information for details
  • 1
    Kyoto Station
    Stop: 10 minutes - Admission excluded
    See details
  • 2
    Hieizan-Sakamoto Station
    Stop: 10 minutes
    See details
  • 3
    Sakamoto Tourist Information Center
    Stop: 2 hours - Admission included
    See details
  • 4
    Honke Tsuruki Soba
    Stop: 60 minutes - Admission included
    See details
  • 5
    Hiyoshi Taisha
    Stop: 60 minutes - Admission included
    See details
  • 6
    Hieizan-Sakamoto Station
    Stop: 5 minutes - Admission included
    See details
  • You'll end at
    Hieizan-Sakamoto Station
    3 Chome-31 Sakamoto, Otsu, Shiga 520-0113, Japan
    See address & details
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5.0
10 reviews
Excellent
10
Very good
0
Average
0
Poor
0
Terrible
0

Mitra S
3 contributions
Sep 2019
This tour was the most fascinating, enlightening and memorable experience of our 2 weeks Japan trip. The master roofers, farmer family and Misako-san are the only thing we talk about now about our trip. It was such a wonderful experience, we learned so much about the culture and history of Japan, we got to hangout and converse with people we would otherwise have no access to. Misako-san is incredible and she translated EVERY WORD during our conversation and she helped carry the conversation through and came up with activities even on the spot. We were both extremely impressed with this tour company and I have been raving about it to all my friends. I posted the videos I took during this tour on my instagram and all my friends asked me how on earth we got to see the cool roof workshops and gargoyle studios and wanted to know who the farmers were that we were having sukiyaki with. I am so happy we found this company and the people are so genuine so if you are on the fence about booking any tour with them don’t even think twice it’s completely worth it and more. I am planning on keeping in touch with them and take other tours when we visit Japan again.
Written 22 September 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
LakeBiwa
Hi, Mitra-san, Thank you so much for your wonderful review! It was our pleasure to have you a young, talented couple as our guest. We feel honored to have an opportunity to introduce our special roof masters and do hope our culture and the masters' special skill would be taken over by our future generations. We were also very lucky that you found us. Yes, let's keep in touch! Misako & Hiromi
Written 24 September 2019
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Nandy
Santa Fe, NM11 contributions
Sep 2019
We saw many beautiful temples and gardens in Japan, but it is the memories of the wonderful, warm Japanese people whom we met that we will most cherish. Our lunch in a beautiful traditional Japanese home with lovely, welcoming hosts was a highlight of our 12 days touring Japan.

It was an honor to be able to visit the private workshop of the 7th generation sculptor dedicated to preservation of Japan's World Heritage temples. We were equally impressed by the 6th generation master craftsman preserving the ancient technique for hiwadabuki also needed to preserve ancient temples.

And we will always remember our visit to Obubu Tea Plantation - the drive up to the mountain top overlooking the vast tea plantations in the valley below where we were served the finest teas and learned about tea from the most delightful and passionate owner who was assisted by one of the international group of interns studying tea propagation at Obubu.

Again, thank you to everyone who made our trip so memorable.
Written 15 September 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
LakeBiwa
Thank you so much for choosing & visiting us. It was absolutely our pleasure and an honor to have you as our guest. We are so glad that you decided to stay on the tour till the end even though your schedule was quite full. Please take care, we wish you all the best...!
Written 10 October 2019
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Peter
2 contributions
Mar 2019 • Couples
This was a highlight of our much enjoyed holiday travelling in Japan. We felt privileged to be warmly welcomed into these wonderful craft workshops and get an insight into the materials and traditional techniques which are still being used, but also into the working processes of Japanese artisans and their impressive embodied skills. It heightened our knowledge and aesthetic appreciation of temples and buildings that we subsequently visited. In travelling to Hieizan-Sakamoto we felt that we got a bit more off the beaten track, and enjoyed walking through a smaller quieter residential environment to get a flavour of Japanese life. It was great being guided through the historic and beautiful shrine, and learning more about the religious practices. Our host Keiko was delightful, friendly and informative, and we loved the noodle restaurant!
Written 20 April 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to post your wonderful review on TripAdvisor which is so encouraging for us all. We will certainly share your comment with our roof masters, they would be very happy to know that you enjoyed the tour. We are hoping to support their family business going by introducing their behind-the-scenes technique to the world. Your visiting them means a lot and we can't thank you enough.... Warmly, Keiko & Hiromi
Written 22 April 2019
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

wolfItaly
Turin, Italy88 contributions
If you have spare time I absolutely suggest you to join this tour, it was the best part of our visit in Japan! You have the opportunity to see and learn how the roof and tiles that you in the temples and shrine are made. The work, the passion, the details that characterize this roofs. The families that work in this workshop are so lovely and ready to answer to all your questions. Also the lunch at a 300 years old restaurant was wonderful! A special mention goes to Shino, our guide, a so kind, smiley, and ready to translate any question you have.
Thank you for this amazing experience!
If you are in Kyoto, don’t miss it!!!
Written 20 March 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Thank you so much for your wonderful review! We were amazed that you almost understood the artisans' explanations before Shino started to translate. These workshops offer a truly precious opportunity to show their finest works and we are so happy you evaluate them highly. Thank you for finding our small local tour. Best wishes from Shino & Hiromi
Written 3 April 2019
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

HaveTrunk
Austin, TX65 contributions
Oct 2018 • Couples
This is the second time we have taken a tour with Tour du lac Biwa. We were so happy with this tour and found the craftsman fascinating. This is really a once in a lifetime opportunity that shouldn't be missed. It was a perfect day and we enjoyed the Soba lunch too!
Written 26 October 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hi, welcome back to Shiga! We've all remembered you and were so happy to have another opportunity to host the tour. The proud roofers are truly amazing and we are sure you had a great time at their workshops. The beautiful & delicious Soba restaurant is also our favorite. Hope to see you sometime in the future!
Written 21 November 2018
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Kiyoshi1952
Oakland, CA2 contributions
Excellent opportunity to learn about the craft and to connect with the master craftsmen and their families. Our guides were very knowledgeable and personable. We were very curious about where the materials came from and the methods used and the craftsmen were very open and accommodating in answering our questions. This experience gave us a depth of knowledge that lead to a better understanding of the role of master craftsmen such as these in the restoration and preservation of historic architecture in Japan.
Written 17 October 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Thank you so much for joining our roof masters tour. It is such a rare chance to peep behind the scenes of the workshops which support the UNESCO class temples/shrines, and we are glad you fully enjoyed the experience with the craftsmen and our guide. We also appreciate your wonderful review! Please take care and hope to see you again.
Written 1 November 2018
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Holly
3 contributions
We booked the artisan roof workshop tour and had high expectations... and we were still completely blown away by the craftsmanship of these masters. Beyond that, we also felt very fortunate to have Misako be our tour guide. It was a pleasure to spend the day with her and she shared her knowledge of the Otsu region and history which further enriched our experience in Sakamoto. Thank you for such an amazing experience! It was definitely one of the greatest highlights to our trip to Japan!
Written 30 September 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Thank you for posting a great comment on our tour. The roof masters are eager to devise the display and demonstration to show the process more clearly, so we are glad to know that you had a wonderful experience with them and our super tour attendant Misako. Hope you had a nice flight back home. All the best from Hiromi & Misako
Written 10 October 2018
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

rehhausser
Birdsboro, PA12 contributions
Mar 2018 • Couples
A rare opportunity to meet and talk with master craftsmen. This half+ day tour took us to the workshops that make the decorative roof tiles for temples and traditional homes, the shop that makes and installs cypress bark and cedar roofs, and follows it up with a visit to a temple complex showing their completed work.

The ceramic workshop was *only* fourth generation craftsmen, who took you through their processes, from evaluating historic tiles removed from ancient temple roofs, through the design, construction and firing of historically accurate replacement tiles. This family is a big part of the reason that the 1000+ year old temples you see are in such good condition.

The cedar and cypress roofing shop was just as impressive. The master takes you through the processing of the cedar shakes from the cutting of the trees to the hand splitting of the cedar, even giving you an opportunity to split your own shakes. You also go to the shop where they cut and shape the cypress bark for roofing.

Both shops gave us gifts to remember our visits with - a special touch that we appreciated very much. Absolutely delightful people who were very happy to be able to share their craft with us.

We finished with a visit to a local temple, Hiyoshi Taisha, that dates from the 8th century, although the current buildings only date from the late 1500's (!). One of the Buddhist monks at the temple gave us a history of the temple complex and its significance to local and Japanese history.

The tour includes all the cab fares, lunch at the Master's house, gifts, admission fees, and a very small group size (in our case, just my wife and me). Our guide, Keiko, was a real delight, cheerful, outgoing and knowledgeable. I highly recommend this tour which is only a short train ride from Kyoto.
Written 1 April 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Thank you for taking time to post such a wonderful review on our tour, which made Keiko and I so happy. We would like to share your comments with the artisans, too. We are still on the way improving the tour contents and always wondering what makes the participants delightful, so your comment is truly encouraging for us all. We also thank you for choosing the perfect day to stroll around the beautiful historic area with the cherry blossoms in full bloom...! Wishing you all the best from Keiko & Hiromi
Written 1 May 2018
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Angelique Z
14 contributions
Jan 2018 • Family
My son booked us in for this tour and we are novices in architecture yet we totally enjoyed this tour and learned so much. We were totally looked after and saw fascinating workshops that gave us a whole new insight into our Japan holiday, the craftsmanship and history is amazing, after completing this tour I spent the rest of our holiday looking up at roofs.
Written 17 March 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Thank you so much for joining the roof masters tour. I am sure roofs and gargoyles looked different after the tour. We were happy to know that your son booked this tour. We all hope he has a fulfilling college life and wish his bright future..!
Written 14 April 2018
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Fractal8_12
Washington DC, DC4 contributions
Nov 2017 • Business
This half-day tour was the keystone of my two-week visit to Japan, which focused on great gardens in Kyoto. The roofs of temples and shrines throughout Japan are often made using Hiwadabuki (Cypress bark) and Kokerabuki (Cedar board) roof-making techniques. Others are covered with silver-grey clay tiles and ornamented with Onigawara, or gargoyles, which are placed to keep away evil spirits and protect the buildings and their occupants. This tour provided a terrific introduction to these ancient building techniques and enhanced my understanding of Japanese architecture, aesthetics, and spirituality. I met and visited the workshops of MASTERS of these crafts, the skills, secrets, and traditions of which are currently practiced by 7th and 4th generation descendants, respectively. I happened to visit on one of the two days a year that the clay for the Onigawara was being pressed using ancient techniques by one family, and got to see the other family workshop where Cypress bark is prepared for roofing. It is an easy train trip, four-stops from Kyoto Station, and Keiko was an excellent tour conductor; she easily translated my questions to the roof masters, their answers back. Emi documented our experience. The artisans served tea, sweets and a light lunch, and we also visited an ancient Shinto shrine complex, Hiyoshi Taisha, where I saw roofs constructed as I had just learned. Truly a unique and wonderful experience. Highly recommended for people serious about Japanese culture, but any curious person will be amazed by the dedication and talent of these Japanese Master Roof Builders. Terrific value.
Written 23 November 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Thank you so much for posting such a great review. We are very impressed with your polite and respectful attitudes towards the roof masters and appreciate for recommending this tour to your fellow travelers. Sadly, their market is shrinking in this modern age but their young successors are working hard to take over the techniques. We hope to be their spokeswomen and a bridge between them and the participants. Your visit was encouraging for us all.
Written 6 December 2017
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
About the operator

Don’t take it from us – here’s what people have to say about this operator.

By: Tour du Lac Biwa
robinlittle4
robinlittle4
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A Warm Welcome and Great Food
My wife and I had a wonderful time visiting this charming couple who are traditional famers living in the hills opp
S7607OLdavef
S7607OLdavef
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Amazing day at Japanese Tea Farm
My wife and I did a day-long tour of a tea farm near Uji with Keiko as our guide. It was a great day! We were abl
angelafT2449FZ
angelafT2449FZ
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Amazing experience! Must visit!
This tour was one of the most important experience we had in Japan. This tour and lunch gave us the opportunity to
Discover61818923606
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Highlight of our trip!
We had a wonderful tour through the community’s Shinto shrine, and then a walk through the town before going to our
Stevernator
Stevernator
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Beautiful Tour
It was a personal experience that let us connect with the people and the event. I wish I could say how emotionally
L D
L D
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Tea Master Visit and Lake Biwa
We were led by Shino on our tour of Lake Biwa to see the Shirahige shrine and temple. Initially we were supposed to
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A fun-filled visit to countryside village and mochi making
A rare opportunity for my husband and myself to reminisce the life of a countryside village again. As for my 2 grow
Back_to_Japan
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A memorable experience
What a wonderful, memorable experience. We visited the tea terraces at Asamiya, had lunch prepared by the gracious
taylorchasewhite
taylorchasewhite
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An Unforgettable and Intimate Experience
My brothers and I just spent two weeks in Japan, and this was our favorite experience. Simple, yet incredibly intim
emilyandjosh
emilyandjosh
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Phenomenal Experience
This by far was one of the most memorable experiences my wife and I had while traveling in Japan. We were greeted
JJBangkok
JJBangkok
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Must visit
I have been to Japan nearly every year for the pass 18 years, but It is the first time that we really get close to
markandhel
markandhel
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FAB day out!
Well what a surprise this was on the last day of our holiday which turned out to be one of the best days of a fanta
DavidSmallWorldP
DavidSmallWorldP
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A personal insight into Japanese traditional life
Our guide Saori gave us a deeply personal and touching experience of the Shinto effect on rural Japanese life, thou
LoulieMe
LoulieMe
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Unique experience
Thank you so much to our knowledgeable and thoughtful guides Saori and Hiromi and also to our wonderful hosts, Mr.
TripReviewerNumber1
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Fun and informative excursion
I thoroughly enjoyed this tour with guide Saori and mochi-making and lunch hosts Mr. and Mrs. Kosaka, who have a te
Frequently Asked Questions about Japanese Roof Architecture and Workshop Tour

Japanese Roof Architecture and Workshop Tour will start at 9:30 AM. Discover and book Japanese Roof Architecture and Workshop Tour on Tripadvisor


Japanese Roof Architecture and Workshop Tour price starts from £121.08. Discover and book Japanese Roof Architecture and Workshop Tour on Tripadvisor

Japanese Roof Architecture and Workshop Tour cancellation policy: If you cancel at least 7 days in advance of the scheduled departure, there is no cancellation fee. If you cancel between 3 and 6 day(s) in advance of the scheduled departure, there is a 50 percent cancellation fee. If you cancel within 2 days of the scheduled departure, there is a 100 percent cancellation fee. Discover and book Japanese Roof Architecture and Workshop Tour on Tripadvisor