• $6,357
  • $500
  • Odysseys Unlimited
  • Moderate
  • Land Only

Discover a truly foreign and truly fascinating land of rich traditions and dizzying modernity.  This well-crafted 13-day tour with no more than 24 guests features Tokyo and Kyoto’s highlights, engages you in local life, and takes you off the beaten path.  Your journey begins in Tokyo, where touring includes Shinto Meiji Shrine and historic Imperial Palace.  Visit stunning Mt. Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, home to magnificent Mt. Fuji.  Overnight in Hakone at a ryokan, a traditional Japanese inn, then explore Takayama’s ancient sites.  Partake in a traditional tea ceremony and a hands-on cooking class.  Tour Kanazawa’s famed Kenrokuen Garden and visit a gold leaf museum.  Travel to Kyoto, Japan’s cultural capital, where you visit the National Museum and see prized Kiyomizu pottery.  Explore nearby Nara, Japan’s 8th-century capital, and spend a final day in Kyoto at leisure.  On an optional 3-day/2-night post-tour extension, discover cosmopolitan Hiroshima, reborn from its atomic destruction.

Day 1: Depart U.S. for Tokyo, Japan

Day 2: Arrive Tokyo After arriving in ­Japan’s financial, commercial, and political capital this evening, we transfer to our hotel where we learn about the journey ahead at a briefing with our Odysseys Unlimited Tour Director.

Day 3: Tokyo We spend the morning touring this amazing city that comprises 23 wards and covers a staggering 840 miles. We focus on a smaller area as we visit some of Tokyo’s top sights, including Shinto Meiji Shrine, a peaceful enclave of temples and gardens; and historic Imperial Palace, surrounded by moats and ramparts, and home of the Imperial Family. Next we visit Tokyo’s oldest temple, Bud­d­hist Asakusa Kannon, followed by the Nakamise Shopping arcade. This afternoon is at leisure; tonight we enjoy a welcome dinner at a local restaurant. B,D

Day 4: Tokyo Today’s touring includes a visit to the gallery of preeminent calligrapher Koshun Masunaga, where we learn about this ancient art of artistic writing and browse the collection. Then we embark on a motorcoach tour of Ginza, Tokyo’s famed shopping, dining, and entertainment district boasting the most expensive real estate in all Japan. Our tour ends in Ginza, with the remainder of the day free to explore Ginza’s department stores, boutiques, and galleries as we wish; or to set off in a new direction, perhaps to a kabuki performance or judo demonstration. Our Tour Director will advise the best way to return to the hotel. B

Day 5: Tokyo/Mt. Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park/Hakone Japan’s pastoral side is on tap as we leave Tokyo for Mt. Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park. Here sits imposing Mt. Fuji, a dormant volcano (it last erupted in 1707) with a perfectly ­symmetrical cone that rises to 12,388 feet. The mountain’s majesty is breathtaking, as artists and writers have attested for centuries. We take a coach ride where, weather permitting, we’ll enjoy breathtaking panoramic views; then we descend for a relaxing cruise on scenic Ashi Lake. Leaving the park, we travel to the town of Hakone where we spend the night at a ryokan, a traditional Japanese inn where we take off our shoes upon entering, enjoy a Japanese-style Kaiseki dinner, and sleep on a futon. B,D

Day 6: Hakone/Takayama Today we travel first by bullet train then by Wide View Hida express train to lovely Takayama in the Japanese Alps, considered one of the country’s most attractive towns with its 16th- century castle and old-style buildings. Our explorations center on three narrow streets in the San-machi-suji district where, in feudal times, merchants lived amidst the authentically preserved small inns, teahouses, and sake breweries. This afternoon we attend a traditional Japanese tea ceremony here, an historic, ritualized ceremony of form, grace, and spirituality. B,D

Day 7: Takayama We pay an early visit to the riverside Miyagawa Morning Market, a blaze of dazzling colors and foodstuffs. Here we meet a local chef to gather ingredients for the lunch we will prepare together at a nearby site. After enjoying the fruits of our labors, we embark on a walking tour, visiting Takayama Jinya, an historic government house; the local sake brewery; and Takayama’s old town, whose well-preserved buildings and homes date to the Edo Period (1600-1868). B,L

Day 8: ­Takayama/Shirakawago/Kanazawa We leave Takayama this morning for the UNESCO World Heritage site of Shirakawago Gassho-zukuri Village. Comprising buildings re­locat­ed from authentic villages nearby that were razed for a dam, the village is also a vibrant community whose residents work together to preserve the unique traditional architecture here known as Gassho style. Late this afternoon we reach the castle town of Kanazawa, an alluring coastal city that survived the ravages of World War II. B,L

Day 9: Kanazawa Today’s tour of this culturally rich city features renowned Kenrokuen Garden, a national landmark whose origins date to 1676. We also see Ishikawa Gate, the only remaining section of the town’s original castle; Hakukokan, a museum celebrating the art and craft of gold leaf technology; and the Higashi Chayagai teahouse and geisha area. Our last stop is the Nagamachi Samurai district, where the ruling family’s samurai warriors lived. B,D

Day 10: Kanazawa/Kyoto We leave this morning by train for Kyoto, formerly Japan’s Imperial Capital and now the country’s cultural and artistic center. With more than 1,600 temples, hundreds of shrines, artful gardens, and historic architecture, Kyoto embodies Japan’s rich culture and complex history. Upon arrival we visit Kyoto National Museum, a premier institution featuring pre-modern Japanese and Asian art and artifacts, then continue on to Unrakugama, a workshop specializing in prized Kiyomizu pottery. B,D

Day 11: Kyoto/Nara A morning tour reveals the highlights of Kyoto, which was spared destruction during World War II. We visit Kinkaku-ji, the lake- side Temple of the Golden Pavilion set on pillars suspended over the water. We also visit ostentatious Nijo Castle (c. 1603), where the shogun asserted control over the city and its people. This afternoon we visit Nara, Japan’s 8th century capital, renowned for its shrines, temples, and deer that roam Nara Park. B

Day 12: Kyoto Today is at leisure to enjoy Kyoto as we wish or participate in an optional cycling tour to visit the important Heian Jingu Shinto shrine; Nishiki Market, “Kyoto’s kitchen” selling provisions of all kinds; and the Gion district where the geishas gather. Tonight we celebrate our journey over a farewell dinner at a local restaurant. B,D

Day 13: Depart Kyoto for U.S. This morning we travel by motorcoach to Osaka, where we board our return flight to the United States. B

Please note: This trip involves full days of sightseeing and significant amounts of walking on stairs and uneven surfaces. You should be in good physical condition to enjoy the tour to its fullest.

B = Breakfast included L = Lunch included D = Dinner included