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Japan: Past & Present a Cultural Journey Escorted Tour from Tokyo to Osaka

Embark on an unforgettable journey through the fascinating culture of Japan with this escorted tour that begins in Tokyo. You will have a unique opportunity to explore some of the country's most treasured destinations, including the stunning beauty of the Golden Pavilion with its picturesque gardens and the golden temple. Additionally, you'll visit Mt. Koya in Hiroshima, a mountaintop temple complex surrounded by serene forests. This tour will also take you to the vibrant city of Kyoto, home to the renowned geisha district. This is a one-of-a-kind cultural experience that you will remember forever.

Japan: Past & Present a Cultural Journey Escorted Tour from Tokyo to Osaka

DEPARTURE DATE: May 26, 2024
Countries Visited: Japan

OVERVIEW

From neon-lit streets filled with people to quiet shines filled only with silence, come face-to-face with a culture thousands of years in the making. Explore the cities of Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, travelling between them on the famous shinkansen bullet train. Take part in preparing your own cup of green tea using a traditional method. Meet the incredible ama pearl divers and dine with them while hearing tales of their lives and traditions. Meet the bowing deer of Nara Park. See the beauty of the Golden Pavilion and the Arashiyama bamboo forest. Dive deep into the culture of Japan with the Women’s Association of Kyoto. Explore the historic geisha district of Kyoto, Gion. Stay among Buddhist monks at a monastery on Mount Koya and wander the moss-covered paths of Okunoin Cemetery. Visit the Peace Park and Memorial Museum of Hiroshima and hear first-hand accounts of the atomic bomb’s devastation. See the famous O-torii Gate of Miyajima Island. Explore the neon-soaked streets of Osaka’s Dotonbori district. Discover the thousand facets of culture, art, and life that make up the incredible spirit of Japan.

Travel Dates & Pricing

TRAVEL DATEPRICETYPE
May 26, 2024from $7,949 CADPer Person
May 26, 2024from $9,399 CADPer Person

What's Included

  • 12 night small group escorted tour from Tokyo to Oska
  • 12 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 6 Dinners
  • Must-See Inclusions: See the gleaming beauty of the Golden Pavilion; Wander among the swaying trees of the Arashiyama bamboo forest; Explore the neon-soaked streets of Osaka’s Dotonbori district.
  • Cultural Experiences: Stay among Buddhist monks at a monastery on Mount Koya; Meet Japan’s ama pearl divers and learn more about their elite profession; Visit Hiroshima’s Peace Park and Memorial Museum and hear accounts of the atomic bomb’s devastation.
  • Culinary Inclusions: Dive deep into the culture and social norms of Japan over dinner with the Women’s Association of Kyoto; Enjoy a traditional, multi-course kaiseki meal; Make delicious okonomiyaki, savoury pancakes that are a Japanese favourite.
  • Taxes

Itinerary

DAYDATEPLACE
1Wed Apr 17Tokyo, Japan
2Thu Apr 18Tokyo, Japan
3Fri Apr 19Tokyo, Japan
4Sat Apr 20Tokyo – Toba
5Sun Apr 21Toba, Japan
6Mon Apr 22Toba – Kyoto
7Tue Apr 23Kyoto
8Wed Apr 24Kyoto
9Thu Apr 25Kyoto – Mt. Koya
10Fri Apr 26Mt. Koya – Hiroshima
11Sat Apr 27Hiroshima
12Sun Apr 28Hiroshima – Osaka
13Sun Apr 28Osaka – Tour Ends

Day: 1 – Tokyo, Japan – Tour Begins

Say “Konnichiwa!” to the incredible, eclectic city of Tokyo. Japan is a land of contrasts, and you’re about to discover the thousand facets of culture, art, and life that make up its incredible spirit. From neon-lit streets filled with people to quiet shrines filled only with silence, you’ll come face-to-face with a culture thousands of years in the making. Storied history, artistic traditions, cutting-edge technology – it’s all part of Japan’s everyday life. You’ll soon discover that you could explore Japan for a thousand years and only experience a part of what this country has to offer.

Day: 2 – Tokyo

This morning, start your first day in Tokyo like a true local – by hopping on the subway. Clean, efficient, fast, and easy to use, the Tokyo subway system is one of the best in the world. Follow your Tour Manager on a walk through Ginza, one of the most elegant and luxurious streets in the world. Enjoy shopping at some of the most renowned “department stores” in Japan. This afternoon, visit Zojoji Temple, standing in the shadow of Tokyo Tower and painting a powerful picture of Tokyo’s ancient roots and modern culture. Zojoji is the centre of Japanese Buddhism in the region, and the resting place of the royal Tokugawa family. Head back to the hotel through the lush and beautiful Shiba park, a green oasis in the urban landscape. Tonight, sit down and get to know your fellow travellers at a welcome dinner.

Day: 3 – Tokyo

Feel the excitement start to build as you head to Asakusa, passing by the grounds of the Imperial Palace and see the Nijubashi Bridge. Next, witness the subtle art of preparing green tea. Prepare your own cup of this local staple and learn the gentle practice of making tea using a traditional method. Enjoy free time exploring Nakamise shopping street, where you can stroll between the stalls leading to the Sensoji temple to buy local souvenirs and sweets. Then, head to Tokyo National Museum to learn about the fascinating history and culture of the city. The museum displays artwork and antiques from Japan and the surrounding area.

Day: 4 – Tokyo – Toba

Climb aboard the high-speed shinkansen, or bullet train. Sleek, modern, and comfortable, the bullet train will flash through the idyllic Japanese countryside at 200 miles per hour, but you’ll barely feel or hear a thing. Keep an eye peeled for Mt. Fuji in the distance.* Arrive at one of the most important shrines in Japan – Ise Shrine. This grand shrine is built to honour the Shinto sun goddess Amaterasu. Wander among the thatched roofs and raw wood of buildings, taking in the serenity of this spiritual wonder. Tonight, your meal will be a traditional and delicious Japanese kaiseki dinner, an artfully prepared and presented, multi-course meal using ingredients at the absolute peak of freshness.

Day: 5 – Toba

This morning, you’ll head to the Mikimoto Pearl Museum. Explore the island and the legacy of the skilled ama pearl divers, women who defied conventional gender roles to dive in the sea to harvest oysters and their pearls. Watch divers take the plunge and learn about the history and science of pearl diving. This afternoon, visit an ama hut for an incredible dining experience. While local seafood is grilled in a charcoal fire right before your eyes, hear tales from the ama women about their lives and the sacred rights of their profession.

Day: 6 – Toba – Kyoto

Kyoto awaits! Before arriving in Japan’s former capital city stop at Nara Park and Todaiji Temple. Venture inside the massive building to take some time in this sacred place, and find the huge bronze Buddha statue. Wander the grounds outside and discover the famous “bowing” deer of Nara. Next, it’s off to Kyoto, one of the nation’s top cosmopolitan cities.

Day: 7 – Kyoto

Begin your day at Kinkakuji (UNESCO), the Golden Pavilion, a Zen temple whose top two floors are completely covered in gold leaf. Once the lavish retirement home of a shogun, it was converted to a Zen temple in the 1400’s. It has survived wars, been rebuilt after fires, and still stands as an impressive piece of historic architecture. Depart for the Arashiyama bamboo forest. Set out among the towering bamboo stalks that shade the forest paths and gently sway in the breeze. Later, visit the Women’s Association of Kyoto in a traditional Kyoto town house. Here, delve into a wide array of enlightening Japanese activities, guided by your knowledgeable hostess. Sip different sakes, try your hand at making sushi, fold intricate origami shapes, and speak to your hostess about Japan, its culture, and women’s roles in this complex society.

Day: 8 – Kyoto

Head to Gion, Kyoto’s famous geisha district. Here, your Tour Manager leads you through the narrow cobblestone streets and if you’re lucky, you may see a woman in full traditional geisha regalia headed to one of the hidden, exclusive tea houses. Enjoy the rest of your day at leisure to explore how you want. Perhaps you’ll stay in the Gion district to wander among its temples, shrines, traditional shops and charming cafes. Or, you could make your way to the Nishiki Market, where colourful stalls are filled with fresh foods and local specialties, like pickles, dried seafood, and sushi.

Day: 9 Kyoto – Mt. Koya

This morning, explore Fushimi Inari Taisha for a glimpse into the most revered shrine of Inari. Follow the rows of orange torii that weave through the forest, leading you to the inner shrine. Then, head for the mountain village atop Mount Koya. A special and sacred site, Mount Koya is filled with shrines, temples, and monasteries. Settle into your accommodations for the night – a traditional Japanese monastery,** complete with sliding paper doors and tatami mats. Meet with one of the monks of the temple and learn about life there before sitting down for dinner, where you’ll eat a vegetarian meal, featuring tempura-fried favorites. This evening, join a monk as they walk you into the heart of the awe-inspiring Okunoin Cemetery, and make your way to the mausoleum of Kobo Daishi, the founder of Shingon Buddhism. Kobo Daishi hasn’t passed on – Buddhist belief says he waits in eternal meditation, answering the calls of those who would pray to him.

Day: 10 – Mt. Koya – Hiroshima

If you so choose, you can rise in the early morning to join the Buddhist monks in prayer. Sit in the serenity of the temple shrine as the monks ring their gongs, chant, burn incense, and centre themselves for the activities of the grand day ahead. Then, you’ll once again board the shinkansen bullet train and be whisked away to Hiroshima. Enjoy lunch at a local cooking studio, where you’ll learn how to make the famous Japanese okonomiyaki, or savoury pancake, a favourite of Hiroshima residents. After, visit the Peace Memorial Park, and pause to see the ruined Atomic Dome (UNESCO), a sobering reminder of the devastation caused by the dropping of the atomic bomb during World War II. Reflect at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.

Day: 11 – Hiroshima

Head back to the Peace Park and Memorial Museum this morning for a powerful impact moment, a meeting with someone who experienced the devastating effects of the Atomic bomb firsthand.*** They’ll talk about what it was like to live in Japan during that time, the aftermath of that terrible day, and how they keep the memories of those who were lost alive. After, board a ferry for the short trip to Miyajima Island, or “Shrine Island” (UNESCO). Famous for the Itsukushima Shrine and its mythic O-torii Gate standing proudly in the water.

Day: 12 – Hiroshima – Osaka

Today, journey to your final destination, the energetic city of Osaka. Set out on a walking tour through the famous Dotonbori district. From shopping, to dining, to nightlife, Dotonbori has it all – bathed in the neon glow of huge electric signs. Learn why Osaka is known as the “Kitchen of Japan” as you sample its famous and delicious street food. Tonight, sit down and say your fond farewells to your travel companions at a farewell dinner. Raise a cup of sake and toast to the colourful spirit of Japan, and the adventures you’ve had.

Day: 13 – Osaka – Tour Ends

Take a quiet moment to reflect on all the new memories you have created before heading home.

Sounds Like Your Kind of Trip?
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