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Maximum number of 22 guaranteed.
DAY 1, Wednesday – Depart for JapanDepart for Japan
DAY 2, Thursday – Arrive in TokyoArrive in dynamic Tokyo in the “Land of the Rising Sun”; transfer to your hotel. This evening, attend an orientation meeting at approximately 6:30 pm with your Tour Manager on the exciting adventure that awaits you in Japan, followed by a Welcome Dinner and drinks with your fellow travelers. We recommend that you select flights which arrive in your destination no later than 4 pm on Day 2 of the itinerary, if possibleOvernight:TokyoMeals: Dinner
DAY 3, Friday – Tsukiji Fish Market, Sushi Demonstration & GinzaOn today’s tour of Tokyo, witness the stark contrasts of this dazzling city of ancient traditions coupled with state-of-the-art technology. To begin, walk the lanes of the hectic Tsukiji Fish Market, famous for fish and seafood. Afterward, enjoy a culinary demonstration led by a professional Sushi Chef. Learn the art of creating sushi, or sashimi and have them for lunch afterward! Continue to the opulant district of Ginza, Tokyo’s most celebrated upscale shopping, dining and amusement area. Proceed to the serene Meiji Jingu Shrine, nestled in a beautiful forested area that honors the first Emperor of modern Japan and his Empress. Nearby, explore Harajuku, one of the world’s fashion centers and a hub for fashion-forward Japanese youthOvernight:TokyoMeals: Breakfast, Lunch
DAY 4, Saturday – Itchiku Kubota Art Museum, Hakone National Park and Mt. Fuji Excursion*A full day of breathtaking scenery as you drive south to Hakone, the most famous National Park in Japan. En route, stop to visit the Itchiku Kubota Art Museum, situated in the wooded hills along the coast of Lake Kawaguchi. Here, view exhibits of the textile artist Kubota Itchiku’s kimono creations, depicting the themes of nature and the seasons. Continue along the scenic roads of rural Japan to Hakone where a gondola takes you on the Hakone Ropeway to the Owakudani Valley’s extraordinary volcanic zone. Here, the bubbling pools cook eggs in the hot waters blackened by sulfur, and are said to prolong one’s life by at least seven years. Enjoy a relaxing cruise around placid Lake Ashi, followed by a train ride back to Tokyo. Tonight, be adventurous and explore Tokyo’s incredible variety of cuisine!*Due to local conditions, the Mt. Fuji sightseeing might be altered. Details will be provided locally by your Tour Manager.Overnight:TokyoMeals: Breakfast
DAY 5, Sunday – Imperial Palace, Asakusa Kannon Temple & Edo-Tokyo MuseumStart your day with the Imperial Palace East Garden, a precious jewel of nature within the hectic city center and view the lovely Nijubashi Bridge that stretches over the moat in the outer gardens with its colorful displays of seasonal flowers. Later, travel to the imposing Asakusa Kannon Temple (Sensoji) enshrining a golden image of Kannon, the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy; its entrance is dominated by a massive paper lantern dramatically painted in vivid red and black tones. Walk along the centuries-old Nakamise shopping area, where everything from souvenirs to genuine Edo-style crafts is sold. Afterward, visit Edo-Tokyo Museum and learn about the history of Tokyo, formally known as Edo, through the museum’s interactive exhibits. Later, take a short walk in the buzzing shopping area of Akihabara with its plethora of electronic retailers. Dinner tonight is at a local restaurantOvernight:TokyoMeals: Breakfast, Dinner
DAY 6, Monday – Kenroku-en Gardens, Kagaonsen Ryokan ExperienceBoard the famous Shinkansen, or “bullet train,” that takes you to Kanazawa south of the Noto Peninsula, with its winding cobblestone streets, Samurai residences, Geisha houses, lavish gardens and a flower filled open-air market. Stroll through Kenroku-en Garden, one of the country’s most elite gardens with its elaborate water fountains and designs. Continue to the Nomura Family House, where Samurai once dwelled. In Kagaonsen, an exceptional experience is awaiting you. Spend the night at a traditional Ryokan(inn), where you dress in yukata(bathrobe) that you wear to the onsen(hot spring spa.) You overnight in authentic Japanese rooms with tatamimats and sleep on a futonbed. Dinner together at the Ryokan is a full course Kaiseki Dinnerhighlighted by regional specialtiesOvernight:KagaMeals: Breakfast, Dinner
DAY 7, Tuesday – Thatched Farmhouses in Shirakawa-go, Takayama’s Old TownYou travel from Kagaonsen to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Shirakawa-go, known for its village of thatched gassho-zukuri(praying hands) farmhouses. Visit the historic village of Ogimachi and the ruins of its castle, dating back to medieval times. From atop the observation deck, see the amazing view of an entire settlement of thatched style houses. Lunch at local restaurant before continuing with a drive to 16th century Takayama, with its meticulously preserved Old Town. Upon arrival, visit Takayama Jinya, a historic government house converted to a museum and the Yatai Kaikan Hall housing intricately designed wooden floats brought out only for major festivals. Later, you arrive at a scenic mountain resort for dinner and overnightOvernight:TakayamaMeals:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
DAY 8, Wednesday – Takayama’s Historic District, Morning Farmer’s Market, Bullet Train to KyotoThe delightful town of Takayama, with its wealth of museums, galleries, and impressive temples, is often called “Little Kyoto.” A walking tour includes the remarkably preserved Edo-period merchants’ shops and houses in the Sanno-machi Historic District. Visit the morning market along the Miya River with farmers and craftsmen selling everything from vegetables to clothing and hand carvings. Across the river lies the Sanmachi-Suji (district) of sake breweries, cafes and immaculately preserved old private houses. Travel to Nagoya and board the bullet train to enchanting and historic Kyoto, founded in the 8th century, one of the early capitals of JapanOvernight:KyotoMeals:Breakfast
DAY 9, Thursday – Kyoto’s Cultural Heritage & Tea Ceremony, Zen MeditationBegin your exploration of Kyoto with a tour of Nijo Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, that was built by Tokugawa Ieyasu in 1603. Its ornate interior is handcrafted out of Japanese cypress. Next, familiarize yourself with Zen meditation, a calming practice deeply rooted in Japanese culture. Enjoy a traditional Tea Ceremony, where you participate in the ritualized art of preparing and serving tea, savoring the hospitality of the host in an atmosphere distinctly different from the fast pace of everyday life. Lunch is at a local restaurant, followed by a walk in Gion, Kyoto’s most famous geisha district. Continue to Nishiki Market, lined with more than one hundred shops and restaurants. Here, you will find Kyoto specialties, such as Japanese sweets, pickles and dried seafood, as well as fresh produce, and seasonal foodsOvernight:KyotoMeals:Breakfast, Lunch
DAY 10, Friday – Arashiyama Bamboo Forest, Kinkaku-ji Temple, Kimono DressingDiscover the beautiful cultural heritage of Kyoto that has spanned the centuries. Head outside the city to Arashiyama bamboo forest. Here, take a stroll through the stunning bamboo grove, followed by a ride on a traditional Japanese rickshaw, a unique experience! Visit the celebrated Kinkaku-ji Temple, “the Golden Pavilion,” and understand why this magnificent gold leaf covered temple was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, before lunch at a local restaurant. Afterward, dress in an authentic kimono during a visit to a Kyoto-style home. Later, attend a traditional shamisen (Japanese guitar) show. Spend the rest of the day at leisure for individual pursuitsOvernight:KyotoMeals:Breakfast, Lunch
DAY 11, Saturday – Imperial Nara, Great Buddha Statue, Deer Park, Kasuga Grand Shrine, MaikoDance PerformanceMake a stop at Fushimi Inari Shrine, a Shinto shrine that is famous for its thousand vermilion torii gates. Afterward, travel by private bus to the 8th century Imperial capital of Nara, repository of Japan’s cultural heritage, with eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites and a wealth of historic treasures, including some of Japan’s oldest Buddhist temples. Arrive at the exquisite wooden Todai-ji Temple, home of the impressive Daibutsu(Great Buddha) bronze statue, rising over 50 feet high. You then continue to Nara Deer Park to see the over 1,000 tame deer roaming freely in the peaceful park. Visit the famous and beautiful Kasuga Grand Shrine displaying over 3,000 stone and bronze lanterns. Return to Kyoto and enjoy leisure time this afternoon before a Farewell Dinner at a local restaurant, featuring a traditional Maiko(Geisha) dance performance that reflects the core of Japanese cultureOvernight:KyotoMeals:Breakfast, Dinner
DAY 12, Sunday – Depart JapanSayonara!Transfer to Osaka for your departure flightMeals:Breakfast
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