Tour begins: 5:00 PM, Park Hyatt Tokyo. A transfer is included from Narita International Airport or Haneda Airport to the five-star Park Hyatt Tokyo, occupying the top 14 floors of a 52-story tower in the heart of Shinjuku, the city's vibrant business and entertainment district. This evening, please join us for a welcome reception and dinner at the Meiji Kinenkan featuring a larger-than-life demonstration by sumo wrestlers.
City Sights & Traditional Arts
A drive through Tokyo this morning gives you an overview of one of the world’s most dynamic capital cities, touching on both history and modern life. Begin today's sightseeing in Japan's capital city with a visit to the the Asakusa Kannon Temple – also known as the Senso-Ji – and the center of one of country's largest and most popular annual festivals, Sanja Matsuri. After a stop at the bustling Nakamise Street, continue your journey through Japan with a visit to the Edo-Tokyo Museum, whose exhibits focus on Tokyo's history, culture and development from its roots as a fishing village called Edo followed by lunch at the celebrated restaurant Nobu. After lunch, enjoy a Tauck Exclusive – an exhilarating taiko drumming performance, including a hands-on instruction session and demonstration; try your hand at this time-honored tradition where rhythm, melody, and movement combine to create an extraordinary musical experience. The rest of the day and evening are free for further exploring on your own. Many good restaurants can be found in the vicinity of your hotel, and your Tauck Director can make suggestions for places to try.
Roots of Tokyo
Another day of discoveries in Japan's historic capital includes visits to the Meiji Shrine – honoring the deified spirits of Japan's Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shoken, who died in 1912 and 1914, respectively; a live performance of traditional Shinto music and Kagura dancing and a visit to Tokyo's renowned Tsukiji Market, the largest fish and seafood market in the world, for a walk around the outer market. Following lunch at a local restaurant, join your Tauck Director for a walking tour of Tokyo's celebrated Ginza shopping district, considered among the most elegant and expensive streets on Earth. The rest of your afternoon and evening are free to explore more of Tokyo as you please.
Exploring Traditions in Hakone
This morning, board the renowned bullet train (shinkansen) in Tokyo for a short ride south to Odawara, and continue on to the scenic hot springs resort town of Hakone in Kanagawa. En route, enjoy a cruise on Lake Ashi; weather permitting, see views of Mt. Fuji, Japan’s highest mountain, looming over the landscape. Have lunch at a local restaurant on the shores of Lake Ashi, then visit the Hakone Open Air Museum before continuing on to your ideally located spa resort in Hakone. This afternoon, get your hands around an authentic Japanese culinary tradition during a private sushi and miso making demonstration; later, gather for a “homey” dinner at your resort.
Kimonos, Mountains, Whiskey & Art
Start the day off with a visit to the Itchiku Kubota Museum, set amidst magnificent views of Mt. Fuji and Lake Kawaguchi. Itchiku Kubota (1917-2003) is considered one of the most important Japanese textile artists of the 20th century; he rediscovered, revived and subsequently modernized a traditional Japanese kimono dyeing technique, creating exceptional artistic kimonos. The museum you'll visit today celebrates his art and legacy. After lunch at a local restaurant, you'll have a choice of excursions; Visit the Kirin Fuji Gotemba Distillery, for a tour and tasting at one of the largest whisky-making facilities in Japan or return to your hotel for an afternoon as you wish. This evening, you'll then have an opportunity to learn the art of ikebana – Japanese flower arranging – from a teacher who gives a class and demonstration of this time-honored tradition. Dine on Western or Japanese cuisine at your resort's dining room tonight.
A farm and Matsumoto Castle
Today, depart Hakone and head north through forested mountain landscapes of the “Japanese Alps,” through winding valleys dotted with rice farms, lakes, rushing rivers, and small villages, and visit a private farm. Continue on to the hot springs town of Matsumoto, where, after lunch, you’ll see 400-hundred-year-old Matsumoto Castle. Arrive this afternoon at your onsen (hot springs) hotel, combining the authenticity of a traditional Japanese ryokan with the comforts of a contemporary hotel, including western-style and Japanese rooms. Your Tauck Exclusive dinner tonight is Japanese kaiseki style, yukatas and slippers on, in a private room with musical entertainment.
Sake brewery in Takayama
Depart Matsumoto this morning and head for Takayama, a mountain city long famed for its artisans and woodworkers. Do some sightseeing along the narrow lanes of its historic center, and have lunch at a local restaurant known for its Hida beef. Following a lesson in sake making and a tasting at a local brewery in Takayama, continue on to Kanazawa, just inland from the Sea of Japan. Enjoy an included dinner at your choice of your hotel's restaurants either tonight or tomorrow.
Samurais and Gardens in Kanazawa
A full day’s sightseeing in Kanazawa includes: time exploring the historic Samurai District, where samurai homes are tucked among narrow lanes and canals behind earthen walls and private entrance gates, with a visit to the restored Nomura Samurai Family Residence for a look at the lifestyle of the samurai during feudal times, when they were prosperous; a guided stroll through celebrated Kenroku-en Gardens, considered among the country’s top three landscaped gardens; lunch at a Paul Bocuse restaurant; and a walk through the city's Omicho Market. Cap the day with a Tauck Exclusive, private Samurai show at a local temple, then spend the rest of the evening as you please at your hotel or exploring on your own in Kanazawa.
A Train Ride to Hiroshima
Depart Kanazawa by train for Osaka, then continue on by train to the city of Hiroshima for an overnight stay. After lunch at your hotel, take a ferry ride to Miyajima Island and visit the iconic Miyajima-Itsukushima Shrine that seems to float on water (a photographer’s dream). Dinner tonight will be at a local restaurant.
Monuments of Hiroshima
In Hiroshima today, you'll visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park & Museum, and the A-Bomb Dome (Genbaku Dome) – the only structure left standing in the area of the WWII atomic bomb blast that destroyed the city in August 1945, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site – and Orizuru Tower. After lunch at a local restaurant, return this afternoon by bullet train to the historic city of Kyoto, where your evening is free to spend as you wish.
Kyoto... a Temple and a Castle
Kyoto sightseeing today begins with a visit to the famous golden-topped Kinkaku-ji Temple (Temple of the Golden Pavilion), set in an ancient garden on the edge of a lake – a position symbolizing its place “between heaven and Earth.” Hear the story of how this 14th-century temple was burned to the ground by a young monk and then completely reconstructed. Continue on to Nijo Castle, surrounded by stone walls and a moat; tour this 17th-century shogun’s residence and UNESCO World Heritage Site – and discover the secret of its “nightingale” floors. After lunch at a local restaurant, meet up with a geisha expert who leads an exploration of the back streets of one of Kyoto’s geisha districts, and shares insights on the “flower and willow” world of the geishas, past and present. The evening is free to spend as you wish.
Traditional Arts in Kyoto
Begin your day with a prayer at the Kiyomizudera (Pure Water Temple) established in 778; the current buildings were rebuilt in the 17th century. Drink the water here in long-handled cups as you wish for longevity, success or love. Kyoto is known as the craft capital of Japan, and many traditional arts have been passed down through the generations. Experience the revered customs of Japanese culture firsthand during a visit to a private home here; take your shoes off, come in, and your gracious hostess will demonstrate the very specific rituals of a Japanese tea ceremony, followed by a lesson in the paper art of Origami. Return to your hotel where the afternoon is free for you to enjoy Kyoto’s charms as you like. Join us for a special farewell reception and dinner tonight.
Tour ends: Kyoto. Fly home anytime. A transfer is included from Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto to the airport. Please allow a minimum of 3 hours for flight check-in at the airport.