Discovery the cultural treasures of Japan, while the cherry blossoms bloom.
Welcome to Japan, the "Land of the Rising Sun." Begin in the electrifying city of Tokyo, where pop culture is turned all the way up and traditions are rich and long-kept. Accommodation: (3 Night Stay) Grand Nikko Tokyo Daiba, Tokyo.
Feel the excitement start to build as you pass by the grounds of the Imperial Palace and see the Niju Bridge and Sakurada Gate, the well-known symbols of the Imperial Palace. Walk through Ginza, one of the most elegant and luxurious streets in the world, where modern landscape meets rich history. Enjoy shopping at some of the most renowned "department stores" in Japan. Later, amid a lush forest outside of Tokyo, visit the Meiji Shrine, dedicated to Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shoken. Tonight, join your fellow travellers at a welcome dinner.
Begin the day exploring Asakusa, Tokyo’s oldest Geisha district. Visit the famous Buddhist temple, Senso-ji, the colourful temple famous for the red chochin (lantern) hanging at the entrance gate. Experience the long standing tradition of the Japanese tea ceremony, dating back to the 15th century. During your free time, explore the Nakamise Shopping Arcade and feel the energy of the oldest shopping street in Japan. Then, head to Tokyo National Museum to learn about the fascinating history and culture of Tokyo. The museum displays artwork and antiques from Japan and the surrounding area.
Journey to the lakeside resort of Hakone, renowned for its hot springs. In the shadow of Mt. Fuji (UNESCO), this scenic town hugs the shorelines of Lake Ashi. Make a stop at Owakudani, located in an active volcanic zone. The Owakudani crater was created some 3,000 years ago, when Mt. Hakone erupted. Climb aboard the Hakone Ropeway, an aerial cable car descending from Owakudani for a breathtaking view* of Mt. Fuji. Next, take to the deep-blue waters of Lake Ashi on a cruise where you’ll see epic views of the local mountains before stopping in the charming town of Moto-Hakone.
Accommodation: (Overnight Stay) Odyakyu Hotel de Yama, Hakone.
This breathtaking day begins in Matsumoto at Matsumoto Castle, known as the "Crow Castle” because of its striking black exterior. Enjoy the local cuisine as we stop for lunch at a Soba noodle shop. Later, you’ll step back in time in the rural Edo-period town of Takayama, nestled in the Japanese Alps. Well known to the locals for its connection to sake, this is the perfect place to gather for a visit to one of Japan’s 200-year-old sake breweries. Afterward, experience a true Japanese epicurean treat – traditional rice wine paired with a special Hida beef dinner. Accommodation: (2 Night Stay) Takayama Green Hotel, Takayama.
The ancient cultures of Takayama come alive this morning in the town’s historic district. Take a walk through the past and glimpse the 19th-century Jinya government building. Stroll through the morning market, a 600-year- old open air market with locally grown and produced products, located along the Miyagawa River. Circuit the winding streets, where the town’s traditional charms are preserved in the inns and houses. This afternoon, relish some free time to continue your exploration of Takayama on your own.
Today, embrace the unique charms of Shirakawa-go (UNESCO). Hidden away in the mountain, this harmonious village is famous for its gassho-zukuri-style houses – thatched-rooftops designed to resemble two hands joined in prayer. Journey to Kanazawa, the origin of gold-leaf making since the 16th century. Visit the Samurai district where we will enter the former home of the Nomuras, a wealthy samurai family who served the ruling Maeda family. Then, travel to the Geisha quarters of Kanazawa, the Higashi Tea district. Accommodation: (2 Night Stay) Kanazawa Tokyu Hotel, Kanazawa.
More than 25 acres of absolute beauty await you today at Kenroku-En – Garden of Six Qualities. From the beauty of Japan’s most stunning gardens, dive into the ancient craft of gold leaf making during a hands-on lesson in decorating your own lacquer box! In the centre of town, take in the action of the Omicho fish market before venturing out on your own to really immerse yourself in Kanazawa’s dynamic culture.
Kyoto awaits! The former Imperial capital of Japan is now one of the nation’s top cosmopolitan cities. At the same time, Kyoto’s connection with its past is strong; you won’t need to look far to see one of its 2,000 temples and shrines. For lunch, participate in a sushi making class and master the art of sushi making. This afternoon, visit Kinkakuji (UNESCO), the Golden Pavilion, a Zen temple who’s top two floors are completely covered in gold leaf. Accommodation (4 Night Stay) Kyoto Tokyu Hotel, Kyoto.
All aboard the Shinkansen bullet train to Hiroshima. Upon arrival, board a ferry for the short trip to Miyajima Island, or "Shrine Island” (UNESCO). Afterwards, head into Hiroshima city to visit the Peace Memorial Park, and pause to see the ruined Atomic Dome (UNESCO). Reflect at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. As this long and moving day comes to a close, return to Kyoto by the Shinkansen bullet train.
Experience It! Hiroshima: A modern Japanese city, Hiroshima is most known for being one of two cities hit with an atomic bomb, helping to end the Second World War. Though reclaimed as a cosmopolitan center, the city is never far from its past; amongst the electric neon of its bustling str eets, Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park is a historical time capsule right in the city center that’s both a dedication to the victims of the bombing and to world peace. The park’s main site, the A-Bomb Dome, is the mark of the ruined remains of the Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall. The nearby Peace Memorial Museum gives you the opportunity to learn about life in Hiroshima before, during, and after WWII. For those interested in world history, Hiroshima is a must-see.
This morning, explore Fushimi Inari Taisha for a tour of the most revered shrine of Inari. Follow the spectacular rows of orange torii (made famous in the movie Memoirs of a Geisha) that weave through the forest, leading you to the inner shrine. Move on to the home of the first Shogun, Nijo Castle (UNESCO), and see intricate woodcarvings, wall paintings, and the Ninomaru Garden, designed by Kobori Enshu, a landscape architect and tea master. Next, learn about the ancient craft of stenciling during a hands-on lesson.
Today, spend some time relaxing or set out to explore Kyoto on your own. Fully immerse yourself in Japanese culture tonight during a special kaiseki farewell dinner and geisha show.
Your tour comes to a close in this fascinating land. As you depart,
reflect on its beauty and all you have learned
about its rich history and culture.
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