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Cultural Journey in Japan, from Tokyo to Hakone

offered by supplier M16432 (read about supplier)

Key Information:
Tour Duration: 11 day(s)
Group Size: 1 - 99 people
Destination(s): Japan  
Specialty Categories: Cultural Journey  
Season: March - October
Airfare Included: No
Tour Customizable: Yes
Minimum Per Person Price: 5962 US Dollar (USD)
Maximum Per Person Price: 5962 US Dollar (USD)

When compared to the popular urban destinations, the Japanese alps offer never ending experiences, allowing one to escape from the everyday. From traditional hot springs and wildlife, to local sake brewing, an escape to the Japanese Alps is an unforgettable experience! The Japanese Alps encompass three extensive mountain ranges within the main island of Honshu; Hida, Kiso, and the Akaishi Mountains. Within this central region of the island, one can experience traditional Japan with the surrounding Edo period buildings, enthralling mountainous views, and culinary splendor like nowhere else.

After an exhilarating experience in the contemporary urban complex of Tokyo, discover what the outlaying lands have to offer while escaping from the exciting and bustling metropolis. Walk along the tight, shop filled streets of the mountain city of Matsumoto just before visiting the ancient 16th century castle of the same name. Witness the famous Japanese macaques relaxing in their favorite hot springs with an optional excursion to Jigokudani Park and Nagano. Being so near to natural hot springs, it is a must to have a stay at a traditional ryokan, a type of bed and breakfast, where one can truly take part in a Japanese bath, or onsen. Learn about the different architecture stemming from the different regions and their functionality when in Shirakawago village, famous for its traditional gassho-zukuri farmhouses. Take a side step to the city of Kyoto for shopping and trying ones hand in a local cooking class, learning of Japanese cuisine and its high reputation as a UNESCO Intangible World Heritage. After returning to Tokyo, learn of the city’s history with a detailed walking tour of the Old City with buildings and shrines that had been missed during Allied bombings in WWII, preserving a nostalgic atmosphere.

Japan has much to offer with its technological advances, pop culture fascination, and futuristic metropolis aesthetics. Yet, much like many of our destinations, there is much more to behold. Japan is a prime destination for outdoor winter enthusiasts who want to experience some of the best powder conditions in the world. While absorbing all that one can from the typical tourist destinations, you have the opportunity to venture further and experience more!

Itinerary:
Day 1: Arrive in Tokyo. On arrival at either Narita or Haneda Airport, be met by the provided driver who will assist with the shared transfer to the hotel. The remainder of the day will be at leisure.

Day 2: Full Day Walking Tour of Tokyo.
Take a day tour of this fascinating city with a local guide, making use of Tokyo's comprehensive and user friendly public transport system. The day begins with a visit to Meiji Shrine, a shrine dedicated to the deified spirit of Emperor Meiji and a popular place for traditional Japanese weddings. Take a walk down Omotesando shopping street, a broad tree lined avenue home to the flagship stores of the world's top fashion brands. Head across town to Asakusa, Tokyo's old town to soak in the atmosphere of the Tokyo of old. Visit Sensoji, Tokyo's oldest temple and wander down Nakamise, a shopping street that has been providing temple visitors with a variety of traditional, local snacks and tourist souvenirs for centuries. Take a boat cruise on the Sumida River passing under 12 bridges. Disembark in Hamarikyu garden, an Edo Period Japanese garden surrounded by the Shiodome district's futuristic skyscrapers, a great example of how Japan is the land of contrasts. Take a brief stop for a cup of steaming matcha and Japanese sweets in a tea house on a small island in the park's lake.

Day 3: Transfer to the city of Matsumoto.
Ride the train to Matsumoto (3hrs) using the included JR Pass. Enjoy some free time to visit Matsumoto castle and explore the surrounding town, including Nakamachi, a former merchant district full or preserved warehouses turned into restaurants, cafes and shops. We also recommend the Japan Ukiyoe Museum, home to over 100,000 of these famous Japanese woodblock prints, making it one of the world's largest private art collections.

Day 4: Day at Leisure with optional excursion to Jigokudani Park and Nagano.
Today there are no planned activities, but one may choose to continue exploring Matsumoto. This morning you can choose to head to Nagano to visit historic Zenkoji temple. One of the most visited temples in Japan, Zenkoji was founded 1400 years ago and stores, what many believe to be the first Buddhist statue ever brought to Japan. After visiting Zenkoji, continue on by train and bus (not covered by the JR Pass, to be paid directly) to visit Jigokudani Park to see the famous Snow Monkeys. Jigokudani literally means 'hell's valley' due to the steam and boiling water that bubbles out of small crevices in the frozen ground, and it is in the baths of this boiling water that the resident Japanese Macaques like to soak in on. Accustomed to humans, they can be observed from very close and almost completely ignore their human guests. Whilst the monkeys are most numerous during the colder months, they can be observed all year round.

Day 5: Travel by coach to Takayama.
This afternoon we recommend visiting one of the town's many sake breweries for a taste of the local drop, its high quality due to the area's clean water sources. Tonight, stay in a Japanese style ryokan accommodation with hot spring onsen bath.

Day 6: Miyagawa morning market.
After breakfast one may head up to the Miyagawa morning market with stalls selling local crafts and produce. This is a great opportunity to try some of the region's delicious fruit and vegetables. A short bus ride will take you to Hida No Sato Folk Village, an open air museum exhibiting over 30 typical farmhouses and other traditional buildings from the Hida region. There is also a workshop in the village illustrating how many of Japan's famous handicrafts are made. In the afternoon one can visit the Takayama Festival Floats museum, displaying floats from the famous Takayama festival, or simply wander through the beautifully preserved old town. One can also make a half day trip to the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Shirakawago village, famous for its traditional gassho-zukuri farmhouses, some of which are more than 250 years old. Gassho-zukuri translates as 'Praying Hands', as the farmhouses' steep thatched roofs resemble the hands of Buddhist monks pressed together in prayer, and are designed to withstand the heavy snows which fall in the region.

Day 7: Travel by train to Kyoto.
Japanese cuisine has such high reputation that it was declared UNESCO Intangible World Heritage. This afternoon you will be able to try their hand at making some of the dishes that made this cuisine so popular in the world. This class is a great way to immerse oneself in Japanese dining culture as well as learn authentic and popular Japanese foods that are eaten at home and in local restaurants. The course consists of two parts. First, cook 2,3 dishes and enjoy them. Then return to the kitchen and learn 2,3 more dishes before eating once more. Enjoy cooking and eating a variety of dishes in cozy atmosphere just like in Izakaya restaurants (Japanese style pubs)!

Day 8: Walking tour of Kyoto with Nishiki Market.
Today, explore the former imperial capital with a knowledgeable local guide, utilizing Kyoto's comprehensive bus system to visit some of Kyoto's World Heritage Sites. Start the day with a visit to Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavilion), which was originally built as a retirement villa for the Shogun. Take a walk down Nishiki Market, a narrow, five block long shopping street lined by more than one hundred shops and restaurants. Known as Kyoto's Kitchen, this lively retail market specializes in all things food related, like fresh seafood, produce, knives and cookware, and is a great place to find seasonal foods and Kyoto specialties, such as Japanese sweets, pickles, dried seafood and sushi. Final stop today is Kiyomizu (Pure Water) Temple.

Day 9: Shinkansen bullet train to Hakone.
Take Japan's world famous Shinkansen bullet train to Hakone (2hr) using the JR Pass. Armed with a Hakone Free Pass, take advantage of the extensive local transport network to explore this stunning region. From switchback trains to cable cars, ropeways to buses and even a pirate ship that will sweep visitors across the volcanic Lake Ashi with views of Mt Fuji. Tonight, stay in a Japanese traditional ryokan, sleeping on futons laid out on tatami mats with included delicious meals and piping hot onsen (hot spring) baths.

Day 10: Train to Tokyo with Old Tokyo walking tour.
Take the aptly named Romance Car train back to Tokyo (1.5hrs) Take this afternoon to explore Tokyo's shitamachi (downtown). Visit old temples and shrines, one of Tokyo's oldest Buddhist cemeteries as well as traditional shops selling Japanese paper and sweets, and soak in the atmosphere of pre-war Tokyo. Take a look at what life in this area used to be like in the Shitamachi Museum, located in Ueno Park. One of the most popular parks for hanami (cherry blossom parties) in Tokyo. The guide will take you on a stroll to show the many attractions that enrich this large park. Last stop for the day is Ueno's Ameyoko-cho, a busy market street underneath the train lines.

Day 11: Depart Tokyo. The day is at leisure until the included transfer to the airport.

Notes:
Airfare is not included in the tour price.

Price Includes:
-domestic and regional flights within the itinerary
-all hotel accommodations including daily continental or buffet breakfast and daily city tax ---all transfers between airports and hotels with assistance and baggage handling
-guided tours in English including entrance fees.

Price Excludes:
-international airfare
-meals not mentioned, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages with meals
-meals other than specified as included
-travel Insurance or expenses of a personal nature (minibar, phone call, laundry, etc.),
-drinks or personal expenses or entrance fees for any extra sightseeing or optional activities
-any guiding, transfer or service not expressly mentioned in the text.

About This Supplier
Location: USA
Joined InfoHub: May 2007

There are many travel companies out there eager to plan a trip for you. So why pick us? The most important reason is that our company is run by real people with a scrapbook full of past travels. Our travel consultants have been to, and fallen in love with, the places where you will travel. An entire operations team...

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