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Sample Itinerary for the:
14 Day Perfect Introduction to Japan Tour

Note regarding meals: This tour includes breakfast each morning, plus a few other meals as indicated in the itinerary (labeled “Included”).  If you wish to enjoy a thorough and excellent exposure to Japanese cuisine we suggest you budget about $350 - $500 US for non-included meals.  Anyone operating on a tight budget should be able to find adequate nutrition for less than half that amount.  Please ask if you have questions.


Day 0 - Departure from your originating point - travel day

You depart for Japan.  (Many flights to Japan, e.g. those from the Americas, “lose” a day due to crossing the International Date Line).

Day 1 of the 14 Day Perfect Introduction to Japan Tour

You arrive Narita or Haneda Airport. Steve or one of his associates will meet you as you exit Customs. Ride trains into Tokyo and then shuttle bus to our Hotel. Overnight in Tokyo.

Day 2 of the 14 Day Perfect Introduction to Japan Tour

Japan tour day 2The Edo-Tokyo Museum is, I think, the best historical museum in Tokyo. We will gain an in-depth understanding of the evolution of what is now the world's largest metropolitan area.
Back to our Hotel for a little "jet-lag break," then we will take a walk around our "home" neighborhood. We will catch a cute neighborhood bus which will bring us to a part of "old Tokyo" rarely visited by outsiders. I will treat you to an Included Welcome Dinner (Yakitori) in a tiny, very delightful eating place. This evening I guarantee you will see and hear about aspects of Tokyo very few tourists have ever encountered. Overnight in Tokyo.

 

Day 3 of the 14 Day Perfect Introduction to Japan Tour

Japan tour day 3Right in the heart of Tokyo, on some of the most valuable real estate in the world, is the Imperial Palace. The Emperor's residence is off-limits to the public except for two days a year (the Emperor's birthday, and New Year's). We will talk through the public portion of the Imperial Palace grounds, including the East Garden.  Along the way we will view the results of recent renovations to Tokyo Station. Then we are off to Ueno Park and Ameyoko Market, just a few stops away on the Yamanote (loop) Line. Back to our Hotel for a break. Then we will visit the Ginza, including Tokyo International Forum. Overnight in Tokyo.

 

Day 4 of the 14 Day Perfect Introduction to Japan Tour

Japan tour day 4A train ride takes us to the historic seaside town of Kamakura where we visit: 1) Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine; 2) Hase-dera, with its unique nooks and crannies; and 3) the iconic Great Buddha. Kamakura has attracted many artists. Next we ride trains to legendary Shinjuku neighborhood, throbbing with its wide variety of modern Japanese energies.  From the observation deck of the Metropolitan Government Building through the neon jungle and pricey department stores to the tiny back alleys of Kabuki-cho, we will observe the gamut. Overnight in Tokyo.

 

Day 5 of the 14 Day Perfect Introduction to Japan Tour

Japn tour day 5In the morning we will visit: 1) Meiji Shrine in its wooded, peaceful setting (perhaps we will see a Shinto wedding in progress); and 2) Harajuku, one of Tokyo's most upscale neighborhoods.  After a break for lunch (I suggest excellent Tonkatsu at a famous Tokyo establishment) we will continue exploring Omotesando-dori (likened to New York's Fifth Avenue), including the Oriental Bazaar, a great place for buying traditional Japanese craft and gift items.  A short subway ride will bring us to Shibuya, starting our walking tour at the famous statue of Hachiko, the loyal dog.  Overnight in Tokyo.

 

Day 6 of the 14 Day Perfect Introduction to Japan Tour

Japan tour day 6The day starts with riding a train north to beautiful and historic Nikko, nestled in the mountains. We will see the mausoleum where Ieyasu Tokugawa, the most famous Shogun, is interred. Also included are many other noteworthy sights – colorful temples and shrines untypical for Japan; the "sleeping cat;" and "hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil." Overnight back in Tokyo.

 

Day 7 of the 14 Day Perfect Introduction to Japan Tour

Japn tour day 7Riding the Bullet Train (Shinkansen), we travel to Osaka. After dropping our luggage we will head to Nara, the ancient home of the Emperor. A bus will bring us to Kasuga Shrine, a World Heritage site, where we will gain insight into the roots of Japanese culture, enhanced by the contributions of our knowledgable local guide. It's not to far to Todai-ji Temple, the world's largest wooden structure, housing the largest bronze Buddha in Japan. After time for dinner we will head to our hotel in Osaka for the first of four nights.

 

Day 8 of the 14 Day Perfect Introduction to Japan Tour

Japan tour day 8Kyoto is fifteen minutes from Osaka by Shinkansen. Our day of sightseeing will start with a tour of the fascinating train station. Then, joined by our local guide, we will ride a bus to Ryoan-ji Temple, famous for its Zen rock garden, followed by the lovely Golden Pavilion, and finally Ginkaku-ji, known as the Silver Pavilion. Along the way we will take time for an lunch - Sushi, served conveyor-belt style. Overnight in Osaka.

 

Day 9 of the 14 Day Perfect Introduction to Japan Tour

Japn tour day 9The Bullet Train will bring us to Himeji to see the recently restored Castle, a World Heritage Site. After time for lunch we will head to Kurashiki, allowing us a chance to explore rice storage buildings from the feudal era, now housing museums. The Ohara Museum of Art is known for its impressive collection including works of numerous Impressionists. Overnight in Osaka.

 

Day 10 of the 14 Day Perfect Introduction to Japan Tour

Japan tour day10On our final day in Kyoto we will ride a taxi to lovely Kiyomizu Temple on the mountainside. We will then explore other significant sights on the east side before we pass through Gion (if we are lucky we will see Geiko - formerly known as Geisha), and the Pontocho restaurant district. Then we may decide to celebrate our final night in Kyoto with a Kaiseki dinner before we head back to our Osaka hotel.

 

Day 11 of the 14 Day Perfect Introduction to Japan Tour

Japn tour day11Riding the Shinkansen, we head to Hiroshima. After dropping our luggage at the Hotel we will walk to Shukkeien Garden, followed by an informative self-guided tour of Hiroshima Castle. Overnight in Hiroshima.

 

Day 12 of the 14 Day Perfect Introduction to Japan Tour

Japan tour day 12We begin the day at the Peace Park and the Peace Museum. After a stop for lunch (Hiroshima-style Okonomiyaki) we will catch a ferry to Miyajima, passing the famous Floating Torii Gate on the way. There is much to see on the Island; the literal high point of our visit will be atop Mt. Misen, reached by cable car. Overnight again in Hiroshima.

 

Day 13 of the 14 Day Perfect Introduction to Japan Tour

Japan tour day 13Leaving Hiroshima by Bullet Train, we head back to Tokyo for our final night. After checking in to our Hotel we will go out for a lovely included Farewell Dinner (Shabu Shabu). Overnight in Tokyo.

 

Day 14 of the 14 Day Perfect Introduction to Japan Tour

We will catch a train to Narita (or Haneda) Airport so you can check in for your flights. Bon Voyage!

 

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*Please note: this is a Land-only tour; you are responsible for getting to and from Japan.  Steve (or one of his associates) will meet you as you emerge from Customs at Narita Airport in Tokyo on the Tour Commencement Date.  Flights from North America always depart a day earlier, since you "lose a day" crossing the International Date Line.

If you are considering arriving at Haneda Airport, or have other plans for arriving in Tokyo, please discuss this with Steve as early as possible.  Some flights into Haneda arrive at very inconvenient times (which is probably one reason they are usually cheaper)