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Sample Itinerary for the:
Perfect Introduction to Japan Tour

Updted Itinerary Coming Soon

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

Departure from US (or other originating point), usually scheduled for midday.

Day 1 of the Perfect Introduction to Japan Tour

Arrive Narita Airport, usually late in the afternoon; met by Steve or one of our associates as you exit Customs.  Train ride into Tokyo; check in to Hotel.  Brief gathering to get acquainted.

Day 2 of the Perfect Introduction to Japan Tour

Water Bus

Visit Honganji Temple, noteworthy for its untypical architecture; Tsukiji market - the world’s busiest seafood and produce market (where we will sample some of the freshest Sushi to be found); Hama Rikyu Garden, once the exclusive domain of samurai lords, now a peaceful haven in the heart of the city’s bustle.  Then we ride the Water Bus up the Sumida River to Asakusa, where we will join the throngs on Nakamise-dori shopping street which leads to Senso-ji Temple, the oldest and most famous in Tokyo.  After allowing time for lunch in Asakusa we’ll rest briefly at our Hotel.  Then  we discover many facets of Ueno Park before entering the bustling mazes of Ameyoko marketplace, which began as a black market after World War II.  Riding on a cute neighborhood bus we will come 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.

Day 3 of the Perfect Introduction to Japan Tour

Imperila Palace We begin the day with views of the public portion of the Imperial Palace grounds, including a walk through the East Garden.  Nearby Yasukuni Shrine reminds us of Japan’s militaristic past.  Then, after a break for lunch at our hotel, we will spend the afternoon steeped in history at Edo-Tokyo Museum and Tokyo Reconstruction Museum.

Day 4 of the Perfect Introduction to Japan Tour

Matsumoto CastleLeaving Tokyo we will ride trains to Matsumoto, a lovely city on the eastern edge of the Japan Alps.  After dropping our luggage at the hotel and taking time for lunch, we will head over to the Ukiyo-e (wood block prints) Museum.  In the evening we will walk over to Matsumoto Castle, beautifully illuminated, creating reflections in the moat which surrounds it.

 

Day 5 of the Perfect Introduction to Japan Tour

Floats Museum A bus will take us across the beautiful Japan Alps to Takayama.  Our lodging (for two nights) will be a spectacular, family-run Ryokan (Japanese Inn).  Before checking in we will take a walk around this quaint mountain town, and visit the Floats Museum.  Our Included Dinner will be memorable.

 

Day 6 of the Perfect Introduction to Japan Tour

Breakfast in our Ryokan will be a treat, preparing us for a morning of sightseeing in this beautiful mountain village.  A short trip to Hida-no-Sato will enlighten us regarding the history and customs of this mountainous region. In the afternoon we ride by bus to Hirayu Onsen (hot spring) for a good soak.  Included Dinner at our Inn will again be memorable.

 

Day 7 of the Perfect Introduction to Japan Tour

Todai-ji TempleDescending from the mountains we will head to Nara, the ancient home of the Imperial Family.  Kasuga Shrine, a World Heritage site, will give us insight into the roots of Japanese culture, enhanced by the contributions of our knowledgable local guide.  Todai-ji Temple is the world’s largest wooden structure, housing the largest bronze Buddha in Japan.  After time to get dinner we will head to Osaka for the first of four nights.

 

Day 8 of the Perfect Introduction to Japan Tour

Kinkaku-jiIt is a short ride by Shinkansen to Kyoto.  Our day of sightseeing will start with Kyoto’s unusual Train Station, and then include the famous rock garden at Ryoan-ji; lovely Kinkaku-ji (the Golden Pavilion), and Ginkaku-ji (the Silver Pavilion).  Overnight in Osaka.

 

Day 9 of the Perfect Introduction to Japan Tour

Kiyomizu TempleThe Bullet Train will bring us to Himeji to see the recently restored Castle, a World Heritage Site.  Back in Kyoto we will start at Kiyomizu Temple on the mountainside, and then explore other significant sights before we pass through Gion (if we are lucky we will see Geiko - formerly known as Geisha) and the Pontocho restaurant district.  I hope you will elect to join me for a sumptuous Kaiseki feast before we head back to our Osaka hotel.

Day 10 of the Perfect Introduction to Japan Tour

It’s not too far to scenic Kurashiki, giving 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.  We can stop in Okayama for dinner on the way back to Osaka.

Day 11 of the Perfect Introduction to Japan Tour

Traveling by trains we will cross the channel to Japan’s remote fourth island, Shikoku, with its grand mountain peaks and plunging river gorges.  Our two-night stay in another Ryokan will Include delicious Dinners and a chance to catch our breath.

Day 12 of the Perfect Introduction to Japan Tour

Shikoku Rope BidgeWe will spend the day exploring remote and peaceful Iya Valley.  Weather permitting we plan to ascend Mt. Tsurugi.  Or you may opt to visit the geological museum Lapis Oboke with its collection of minerals and gems, or just relax in the hotel spa.  Dinner is again Included.


Day 13 of the Perfect Introduction to Japan Tour

A train will carry us back to the main island, Honshu.  We will spend two nights in Hiroshima.  After dropping our luggage at the hotel and allowing time for lunch we will walk to Shukkeien Garden, followed by an informative self-guided tour of Hiroshima Castle.

 

Day 14 of the Perfect Introduction to Japan Tour

Floating Torii GateWe 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.

Day 15 of the Perfect Introduction to Japan Tour

Japanese CultureIt is time to return to Tokyo for our final four nights.  After settling back into our Tokyo hotel we will cross town to legendary Shinjuku, 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 16 of the Perfect Introduction to Japan Tour

NikkoThe day starts with riding a Bullet Train (Shinkansen) 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 17 of the Perfect Introduction to Japan Tour

Great BuddhaA train ride takes us to the ancient seaside town of Kamakura where we see Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine; Hase-dera, with its unique nooks and crannies; and the iconic Great Buddha.  It’s not too far to Yokohama to visit Chinatown and the Moto-machi District.  Overnight back in Tokyo.

 

Day 18 of the Perfect Introduction to Japan Tour

Hachiko StatueIn the morning we will visit Meiji Shrine in its wooded, peaceful setting (perhaps we will see a Shinto wedding in progress); Yoyogi Park; and Harajuku, one of Tokyo’s most upscale neighborhoods.  After a break for lunch (you are welcome to join me for excellent Tonkatsu) 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.  Then we head back to our Hotel, allowing some free time before we go out for a lovely included Farewell Dinner.

Day 19 of the Perfect Introduction to Japan Tour

Depending on flight schedules, the morning may be free for final shopping or sightseeing; then we say goodbye at Narita Airport before you catch flights back home.

 

Register Now for The Perfect Introduction to Japan Tour :

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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)