Japan delights in contrasts, revering the past while embracing the future. Begin your 12-day adventure in glittering, massive Tokyo, then head by rail into the countryside to visit traditional villages and tranquil shrines. On strolls through geisha districts and restorative visits to ancient temples and gardens, feel the power of the here and now.
Arrive at any time.
Spend the day exploring Tokyo. Experience the city’s traditional side with visits to Meiji Shrine and the historic neighborhood of Asakusa. Then delve into Japanese pop culture on a walk through the quirky, modern Harajuka district. The next day, visit the sprawling Tsukiji Market to learn about the country's fishing industry and take part in a sushi-making class. The afternoon is free to explore Tokyo on your own. (2B, 1L)
Depart Tokyo by train for the quaint town of Nagiso. Walk through the countryside, passing picturesque farms and hamlets on our way to the rural village of Tsumago. Arrive at our traditional Japanese inn, or ryokan. Feast on a multi-course kaiseki meal. (1B, 1D)
Travel by train to historic Kanazawa. Explore Japan’s ancient samurai culture in the well-preserved Nagamachi district, and opt to visit the area's stunning gardens or castles. Visit Myoryuji Temple the next morning, then stroll the cobblestone streets of the Higashi Chaya geisha neighborhood, lined with traditional wooden homes and tea houses. The city of Kanazawa is known as a center for traditional arts, and we'll delve into one of them during a chopstick-making experience. (2B)
Speed by bullet train to Hiroshima, where we’ll visit the Peace Memorial Park and the Peace Memorial Museum to learn about a dark chapter in human history. The next day, set off by ferry to Itsukushima Island, popularly called Miyajima. Venture into the 12th-century Itsukushima Shinto Shrine, a UNESCO World Heritage site built over the water, where a beautiful torii gate appears to float at high tide. Take advantage of a free to explore on your own. (2B)
Begin the day at the hilltop Himeji Castle, one of the best-preserved castles in Japan. Catch a train to Kyoto, which served as the imperial capital for more than a thousand years. Stroll the charming streets of Gion, Kyoto’s most famous geisha district. At a local tea house, take part in an authentic tea ceremony and discover the intricacies of this important Japanese tradition. (1B)
Spend the day exploring ancient Nara, an imperial capital of Japan. Visit Todai-ji temple, the world’s largest wooden building, and Kasugataisha, Nara’s most celebrated shrine. Meet a Buddhist monk who will teach us the techniques of Zen meditation. The following day, discover Kyoto’s exquisite Kinkaku-ji Golden Pavilion. Then visit a local dojo, or martial arts school, where we’ll enjoy a presentation about samurai etiquette and try out some traditional moves. (2B)
Depart at any time.
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