With our native Trip Leader and intimate groups, you’ll come face-to-face with the culture and beauty of Japan, meeting residents who are eager to share insight into their daily lives and traditional ways.
Day 1 - Welcome to Kyoto
You’ll be met at the airport and guided to the coach that will take you to the deluxe Granvia Hotel.
Day 2 - The Best of Kyoto
Your exploration of Kyoto #WHS# begins at Nijo Castle where you can try to walk in stealth across the Nightingale Floor, designed to chirp in warning if would-be assassins penetrated into the Shogun’s chambers. You’ll also tour Kinkakuji Temple and Sanjusangendo with its 1,001 statues of Kannon, Goddess of Mercy. Then delve into Japan’s enduring traditions when you dine with Geisha at lunch and stroll in Gion where Kabuki traditions began long ago. Meals B+L+D
Day 3 - Across the Inland Sea to Miyajima and Hiroshima
Cross the island-dotted Inland Sea to Miyajima Island and visit Itsukushima Shrine #WHS#, established in the 6th century. Just off shore, a majestic red Torii Gate* rises from the sea. In Hiroshima, you’ll visit Peace Memorial Park, where the Memorial Museum stands as a sobering reminder of the destruction wrought by the Atomic bomb. Back in Kyoto, your evening is free. Meals B*Miyajimas Itsukushima Shrine will undergo restoration work from 2019 - late 2020 and scaffolding will cover the torii gate for much of this period.
Day 4 - Excursion to Nara, Japan’s First Capital
Discover the ancient capital of Nara #WHS# where Buddhism was first introduced to Japan nearly 1,500 years ago. You’ll visit Todai-ji Temple, one of the largest wooden structures in the world and home to an immense statue of Buddha. Stroll the peaceful lantern-lined forest paths of Kasuga Shrine before returning to Kyoto.This evening, if you wish, we can arrange for you to enjoy the hospitality of a traditional Japanese inn. Set in a landmark 18th-century structure in the heart of Kyoto’s Gion district (where Geisha and Kabuki traditions began long ago), the deluxe family-owned Yoshi-ima Ryokan offers an authentic Japanese experience. You’ll spend the night in a spacious tatami-matted room with a private en suite bath and enjoy a traditional Kaiseki dinner and Japanese breakfast. The Yoshi-ima’s Buddhist Alter Room, Teahouse and Courtyard Garden enrich your memorable overnight. Meals B
Day 5 - By Rail to Kanazawa
Journey to Kanazawa and visit the Nomura Samurai Residence and Kutani Kosen Pottery Studio to see skilled artisans at work. While strolling through Kenrokuen, revered as one of Japan’s finest gardens, you’ll learn firsthand about the 6 elements of traditional landscape design which have been incorporated so perfectly here. Overnight at the deluxe Nikko Hotel. Meals B
Day 6 - Shirakawago
Travel to the mountain hamlet of Shirakawago #WHS#, famous for its “Joined Hands” farmhouses. More than a century old, they derive their name from their steeply pitched roofs which look like hands joined together in prayer. Continue to the deluxe Associa Takayama Resort. Meals B+L+D
Day 7 - Exploring Takayama
Mingle with residents at the busy morning market and then admire perfectly-preserved buildings like Takayama Jinya, a government hall of the Edo era. Enjoy a tasting of fine sake and tour the Folk Craft Museum. At the Festival Floats Exhibit Hall, you’ll see parade floats dating back 400 years, many with cleverly engineered figures that can be animated when these floats are used in the town’s colorful spring and autumn festivals. Meals B
Day 8 - Onward to Tokyo
Journey by rail to Tokyo and transfer to the Keio Plaza Hotel. After time to refresh in your Premier Grand room on the Club Floor, join your guide for a walking tour in the vibrant Shinjuku district. Meals B
Day 9 - Tokyo Sightseeing
Enjoy a special early morning visit to the famous outdoor fish market in Tsukiji where the city’s best chefs come to procure the freshest seafood. Then join one such chef to learn the art of preparing sushi. Enjoy the fruits of your labor for lunch before ascending the Tokyo Observatory for breathtaking views over the city. Delight in the colorful stalls of the Nakamise Arcade and visit Asakusa Kannon Temple; dating to the 7th century, it’s the oldest temple in the city. Meals B+L
Day 10 - Mt. Fuji and Hakone
Travel to the 5th Station of Mt. Fuji and continue to beautiful Hakone National Park, beloved for its pine forests and lovely views of Mt. Fuji. Enjoy a cruise across picturesque Lake Ashi and ascend Mt. Komagatake by cable car for sweeping views over the forested mountains. Return to Tokyo with time to refresh before tonight’s Farewell Dinner. Meals B+D
Day 11 - Depart Tokyo
Step aboard the comfortable airport limousine coach for your trip to the airport. Meals B