Day 1: Tokyo, Japan One of the world’s most sophisticated capitals, Tokyo is a city of contrasts. Famous for its cutting-edge modernity, neon-lit landscape and towering skyscrapers, it is also home to sprawling parkland, peaceful shrines and temples and well-tended gardens. Despite its love affair with pop culture, fashion, high-tech trends and conspicuous consumption, this city has its roots that reach deep into an ancient heritage. Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples mingle with skyscrapers creating a rich, layered tapestry. In the heart of the hyperactive city center lies the serene Imperial Palace, home of the ruling emperor and a tangible link to the city’s historical past. On arrival at Narita Airport, you will be met in the arrival hall by a Destination Asia representative, who will assist you on your shared transfer to your hotel. The remainder of your day is at leisure. Park Hotel Shiodome – City Room (Superior)
Day 2: Tokyo Experience 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 Hamarikyu Garden, an Edo Period Japanese garden that is surrounded by the Shiodome District’s futuristic skyscrapers – another example of Japan’s many contrasts. Stop to enjoy a cup of steaming macha in a tea house on a small island in the lake and take a cruise on the Sumida River, passing under 12 bridges. Disembark in Asakusa, old town where you can soak up the atmosphere of old Tokyo. Visit Sensoji, the city’s oldest temple and wander down Nakamise, a shopping street that has provided temple visitors with local snacks and tourist souvenirs for centuries. In the afternoon, take the subway across town to Meiji Shrine, a shrine dedicated to the deified spirit of Emperor Meiji. This is a popular place for traditional Japanese weddings. If time permits, you can take a walk down Omotesando, a broad tree-lined avenue that is home to the flagship stores of the world’s top fashion brands. Park Hotel Shiodome – City Room (Superior) (B)
Day 3: Tokyo Today you explore Tsukiji Fish Market, the world’s largest fish market! It handles about 2,888 tons of marine products every day, worth some 2.8 billion yen (US$20 million). More than 450 kinds of fish are received, from penny-per-piece sardines to golden brown dried sea slug caviar, a bargain at US$473 a pound. Some of the giant tuna go for well over 1,000,000JPY each (US$8000). Take time to wander through this enormous market, exploring both the vegetable and fruit areas as well. You will then visit a representative Japanese home to learn how to prepare several variations of sushi. Then, join your hosts for a lunch of your home-made sushi. The remainder of the day is free for you to explore on your own. Or, you can take an optional excursion – a walking tour of Tokyo. Visit old temples and shrines, one of Tokyo’s oldest Buddhist cemeteries as well as traditional shops selling Japanese paper and sweets. One of the most popular parks for hanami (cherry blossom parties) in Tokyo, Ueno Park was originally part of Kaneiji Temple, which was once one of the city's largest and wealthiest temples and a family temple of the ruling Tokugawa clan during the Edo Period. Now it houses some of Tokyo’s finest museums, including the Tokyo National Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Last stop for the day is Ueno’s Ameyoko-cho, a busy market street underneath the train lines. Originally, the site of a thriving black market after World War II, this bustling market is the last of its kind in Tokyo, and is filled with shops and stalls selling fresh fish, dried food and spices. At one of the many open-air restaurants under the train tracks, you can stop for a cold drink and a yaitori (grilled chicken skewer). Park Hotel Shiodome – City Room (Superior) (B,L)
Day 4: Tokyo / Hakone / Mt Fuji National Park You are transferred to the train station to catch your train to Hakone, the gateway to the Mt Fuji region. Hakone is a natural nature wonderland and is famous for its hot springs, outdoor pursuits and the view of the nearby Mount Fuji. It is part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park. Less than 100 kilometers/62 miles from Tokyo, it is a popular weekend destination. Hakone features scenic landscapes that include towering mountains and scenic lakes as well as stunning views of Mount Fuji. It is also blessed with a wealth of historic sites. You are transferred to your hotel for check in. The remainder of the day is free for you to explore on your own. Armed with your Hakone Pass, you can take advantage of the extensive local transport network to explore this region. Ride the world’s second longest cable car to the top of Mt. Owakudani, passing over steamy pools of boiling hot water that give the mountain its name “Hells Valley”. At the top, you can sample a black egg, cooked in the hot springs. Legend holds that it will add seven years to your life. Enjoy a cruise on a replica of a pirate ship that sweeps you across the volcanic Lake Ashi, which is so deep that it never freezes in winter. You can also ride switchback trains, ropeways and buses to explore some of the museums, shrines, and shops around the area. Tonight, you will stay in a Japanese traditional ryokan, sleeping on futons laid out on tatami mats. Gora Souunkaku Ryokan – Japanese room (Superior) (B,D)
Day 5: Hakone / Kyoto Today, you will experience Japan’s world famous Shinkansen bullet train, capable of speeds of up to 360 kmh/185 mph. The Shinkansen takes two hour to reach Kyoto, a must-see destination. Kyoto was once the nation’s capital, and was the residence of emperors from 794 until 1868. It is Japan’s seventh largest metropolis with a population of around 1.4 million. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this is one of the best preserved cities in Japan with some 2,000 religious buildings, including 1,600 Buddhist temples and 400 Shinto shrines, as well as palaces, gardens and associated architecture. Kyoto represents old-world Japan, even in the midst of modern skyscrapers. Here in the narrow alleyways, step back in time to an era of traditional tea houses, kimono-clad geishas and court nobility. The Imperial Palace dates from the Edo period, 1603 and 1867, but other royal buildings occupied the site centuries earlier. The palace grounds are also home to the Sentō Imperial Palace gardens, laid out in 1630, and is one of the main attractions of the palace grounds. This afternoon, you will have the opportunity to experience Japanese culture hands-on. You can choose to explore Japan’s traditional arts – tea ceremony, flower arrangement, calligraphy or origami; or elect to shop in a vibrant food market, visit a former sake brewery, and discover Japanese cooking techniques. Both activities offer you a close up look at everyday life in Japan. If you choose to visit the home of an instructor of one of traditional arts, an assistant will meet you at your hotel and escort you to the instructor’s house. First, you will be dressed in a colorful kimono, and learn about the different kinds of kimonos, and which is used on various occasion. Then, enjoy learning about the art you have selected to work with at the hands of a professional instructor and interpretation from our assistant. For the market tour, you will meet your local guides and browse the mile-long Nishiki covered food market to see the amazing variety of food stores. Your guide will help you shop for ingredients for your Japanese cooking class a little later. Then, visit a former sake brewery for a tour and sake tasting. Finish the walk at a traditional wooden townhouse for your cooking class. Learn techniques to make several types of sushi, miso soup and cooked salad with seasonal fruit for dessert. Then sit down with your hosts to enjoy your creations. Granvia Kyoto – Standard Room with view (Superior) (B) Note: dinner is included only in the cooking lesson activity.
Day 6: Kyoto Today, you explore the former imperial capital with a knowledgeable local guide, utilizing Kyoto’s comprehensive bus system to visit some of Kyoto’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites, starting with a visit to Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavilion), originally built as a retirement villa for the shogun. After his death, it became a Buddhist Temple at his request, and is one of Kyoto’s most famous temples. Nijo Castle is an ornamental castle built by the founder of the Edo Shogunate as his Kyoto residence. It is surrounded by stunning gardens. The main building was completed in 1603, and is famous for its architecture, decorated sliding doors and ‘chirping’ nightingale floors. Heian Shrine was built on the occasion of the 1100th anniversary of the capital's foundation in Kyoto. It is dedicated to the spirits of the first and last emperors, who reigned from the city, Emperor Kammu (737-806) and Emperor Komei (1831-1867). Take a walk down Nishiki Market, a narrow, five block shopping street lined with more than 100 shops and restaurants. Known as "Kyoto's Kitchen," this lively retail market specializes in all things food related, from fresh seafood and produce, to knives and cookware. You’ll find Kyoto specialties such as sweets, pickles, dried seafood and sushi. Final stop today is Kiyomizu (Pure Water) Temple, amazing views of the city. Both the 13-meter/ 43-foot high veranda jutting out from the main hall and the hall itself were built without the use of nails or any kind of joiners. Granvia Kyoto – Standard Room with view (Superior) (B) Day 7: Kyoto / Nara & Fushimi Transfer from your hotel to Nara by train with your local guide. In the eight century, the city served for 74 years as Japan’s capital, and many of the temples and shrines dating from this time remain. Todaiji Temple is home to the world’s largest wooden building and to Japan’s largest Buddha. Stop at Nara’s most celebrated shrine, Kasuga Taisha, established in 768 AD. It is known for the hundreds of bronze and stone lanterns donated by worshipers. Shin-Yakushiji Temple was founded during the Nara Period (710-794) by an empress for the sake of the ailing emperor. It is devoted to Yakushi Buddha, the patron of medicine in Japanese Buddhism. Inside the main hall there are life-size statues of 12 guardian deities surrounding a two meter tall statue of a seated Yakushi Buddha. Wander through pleasant Nara Park, Deer Park, with its population of more than 1,000 tame deer that live here. On the way back from Nara, visit Fushimi Inari Shrine, which was used in the movie “Memoirs of a Geisha”. It is home to over 10,000 red tori gates, which form a path up the mountain behind the temple. Granvia Kyoto – Standard Room with view (Superior) (B)
Day 7: Kyoto – Nara & Fushimi – Kyoto Today, you will enjoy a train ride to Nara with your local guide. In the eight century, the city served for 74 years as Japan’s capital, and many of the temples and shrines dating from this time remain. Nara is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site “Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara,” which encompasses eight places in the old capital Nara, five Buddhist temples, one Shinto shrine and a primeval forest. Todaiji Temple is home to the world’s largest wooden building and to Japan’s largest Buddha. Stop at Nara’s most celebrated shrine, Kasuga Taisha, established in 768 AD. It is known for the hundreds of bronze and stone lanterns donated by worshipers. Shin-Yakushiji Temple was founded during the Nara Period (710-794) by an empress for the sake of the ailing emperor. It is devoted to Yakushi Buddha, the patron of medicine in Japanese Buddhism. Inside the main hall there are life-size statues of 12 guardian deities surrounding a two meter tall statue of a seated Yakushi Buddha. Wander through pleasant Nara Park, Deer Park, with its population of more than 1,000 tame deer that live here. On the way back from Nara, visit Fushimi Inari Shrine, which was used in the movie “Memoirs of a Geisha”. It is home to over 10,000 red tori gates, which form a path up the mountain behind the temple. Granvia Kyoto – Standard Room with view (Superior) (B)
Day 8: Kyoto / Osaka / Depart Today you are transferred to the Osaka Airport for your onward flight.
Land price, per person, double occupancy: Starting from $6070