Tokyo and Kyoto are two of Japanfs most popular tourist destinations and are commonly traveled between via the Tokaido Shinkansen along what has become known as Japan's "Golden Route", stretching along the densely urbanized Pacific Coast.

For this 3-part series we thought we'd do things differently, instead traveling between the two cities along the Sea of Japan coast via the New Golden Route. This less-explored part of Japan is generally more rural and less populated than the original Golden Route, and accordingly our aim is to experience a more tranquil side of Japan, full of natural beauty and rich culture, and to partake in some experiences that are difficult to have elsewhere.

A great pass for exploring the New Golden Route is the Hokuriku Arch Pass which allows oversea tourists to travel by train between Tokyo and Kyoto via the Sea of Japan coast over a 7-day period for 24,000 yen.