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Itinerary

Countries Visited

Japan

Cities Visited

Hiroshima, Kanazawa, Kyoto, Tokyo

Tour Itinerary

Explore the modern and traditional sides of Japan, Relax at a traditional Inn, Ride a ferry to Miyajima to see the famous floating torii, Learn the art of meditation from a local monk

In Japan, tradition and modernity are celebrated side-by-side in ways that often appear contradictory. Immerse yourself in this intriguing culture, beginning in sprawling Tokyo, one of the world's most innovative cities. Then head by rail into the countryside to visit traditional villages and tranquil shrines. Explore quaint geisha districts and inspiring gardens; savour the fresh flavours of Japanese cuisine; and get a glimpse of the ancient soul of this fascinating, futuristic country.

Day 1: Tokyo
Arrive at any time. Arrival transfer is included.
Activity: The adventure begins tonight. Feel free to explore before your welcome meeting, but make sure you're back in time to meet the group. Check for the meeting time on the welcome note at the hotel. After introductions, your CEO will review the details of your tour. Please note that normal check-in times apply at our start hotels, but you can usually store your luggage for the day if you arrive early.
Accommodation: Hotel Gracery Shinjuku (or similar)

Day 2: Tokyo
Spend the day exploring vibrant Tokyo—one of the world's most populous cities—by public transit. Experience the traditional side of the Japanese capital on a visit to the Meiji Shrine, dedicated to Emperor Meiji and his wife; and take a stroll in Asakusa, the historic heart of Tokyo. We then get a glimpse of the city's quirky, modern side on a walk through Harajuku, a centre of Japanese pop culture and a great place to sit back and people watch.
Transport: Get around underground via public transit.
Activity: Let your CEO guide you around eclectic and modern Tokyo.
Activity: The Harajuku district is known as the centre of Japanese youth culture and fashion. Here, find dozens of shopping and dining options including independent boutiques and larger international luxury stores.
Activity: Visit this shrine dedicated to the 123rd emperor of Japan, Emperor Meiji and his wife. The shrine is a great place to escape the bustle of the city and wander the grounds along the wide walking paths.
Activity: Discover this historic entertainment district on a guided orientation tour of the area with your CEO. Take in one of Tokyo's iconic sites with a stop at Sensoji temple.
Accommodation: Hotel Gracery Shinjuku (or similar)
Meal(s): Breakfast

Day 3: Tokyo
This morning, we set out on a behind-the-scenes tour of the Toyosu Fish Market (formerly known as the Tsukiji Fish Market), the largest fish and seafood market in the world. Delve into the bustling maze of vendors with our expert local guides, learning about Japan's massive fishing industry, and round off the tour with a sushi-making class. Learn how to identify the freshest fish, prepare, fillet, and present; then enjoy a taste of your tasty creations. The afternoon is free to explore Tokyo on your own.
Transport: Get around underground via public transit.
Activity: Visit the Toyosu Fish Market, the biggest fish and seafood market in the world. Walk through the maze of fresh catches, massive fish and exciting business exchanges to get an idea how important this industry is in Tokyo. The market is busiest early in the morning, this is the best time to take in all the action and opt for a fresh sushi breakfast. If you're hoping to get one of the rare and coveted spots to view the famous tuna auction be sure to arrive by 3am - and remember there are no guarantees!
Activity: Walk through this sprawling facility of the Toyosu Fish Market with insiders that know its ins and outs. Later, take in a class with recognized sushi masters in the Tsukiji area, learning first how to recognize the freshest ingredients, before learning to prepare, fillet, and perform the delicate art of sushi-making and presentation. Then, try your own hand at making sushi and enjoy a taste of your own creation.
Free Time: Enjoy some time to explore the city on your own.
Accommodation: Hotel Gracery Shinjuku (or similar)
Meal(s): Breakfast Lunch

Day 4: Tokyo/Tsumago
Depart Tokyo by train. Disembark at Nagiso and continue to a local minshuku, a traditional Japanese bed-and-breakfast, where we'll spend the night. Enjoy a walk through the countryside, passing lush farms and rice paddies into Tsumago, a protected cultural area dating to the Edo period. Explore the charming town, where motorized vehicles are prohibited on the main street during the day and phone lines and power cables hidden from view to preserve its traditional feel. Back at our minshuku, feast on a kaiseki meal—a ritualistic multi-course dinner emphasizing artful presentation and fresh ingredients.
Transport: Get around underground via public transit.
Transport: Climb aboard, take a seat, and enjoy the ride.
Activity: Take a walk through the countryside, passing farms and hamlets, rice patties and waterfalls continuing into Tsumago, a traditional Village. Considered one of the best preserved post towns in Japan, the residents go to great lengths to recreate the feel of the Edo Period. Motorized vehicles are prohibited from the main street during the day and phone lines and power cables are hidden to allow visitors to feel as if they have stepped back in time.
Accommodation: Hanaya Tsumago Ryokan (or similar)
Meal(s): Breakfast Dinner

Day 5: Tsumago/Kanazawa
Continue by train to the historic city of Kanazawa, the seat of the powerful Maeda clan during the Edo period. Venture to Nagamachi, the city's well-preserved samurai district located at the foot of Kanazawa Castle, and learn about the lifestyle of Japan's ancient, elite warrior class. We'll also visit the Nomura residence, the beautifully restored home of a wealthy samurai family, boasting a collection of antique heirlooms and a stunning garden.
Transport: Climb aboard, take a seat, and enjoy the ride.
Transport: Jump in the back and tell the driver to step on it, just like they do in the movies.
Transport: Climb aboard, grab a seat, and enjoy the ride.
Activity: Step back in time with a visit to the Nagamachi Samurai district of Kanazawa. Take a walk through the historic samurai district located just below the Kanazawa Castle, where traditionally samurai and their families lived in mud huts.
Activity: Visit the Nomura Family Samurai Residence - who held executive posts from one generation to the next under rule of the Maeda family. A stunning landmark has a coffered ceiling constructed of Japanese cypress and stunning fusuma-e (paintings on sliding-door panels) which were created by the personal painter of the Maeda family. Also enjoy the garden which features a 400-year old Japanese bayberry and winding stream surrounded by ancient rocks.
Accommodation: Kanazawa Tokyu Hotel (or similar)
Meal(s): Breakfast

Day 6: Kanazawa
Spend the day exploring Kanazawa. Visit the Myoryuji Temple—commonly known as the Ninja Temple—which doubled as a military outpost, and discover its many hidden defenses and escape routes. Take a walk through the Higashi Chaya geisha district and gain insights into geisha culture, viewing one of the district's traditional wooden houses. Then visit a local craft studio, where we'll learn about the city's time-honoured crafts and learn to paint chopsticks with gold leaf.
Activity: Visit the famous Ninja Temple. While there's no evidence linking the temple to ninjas, the hidden doorways, passages and escape routes seem designed for stealthy attackers. Please leave all nunchucks with security.
Activity: Partake in a hands-on experience in one of Kanazawa's many famous craft studios and enjoy chop stick and gold leaf painting.
Free Time: Enjoy some free time to explore on your own.
Activity: Step back in time with a visit to the Higashi Chaya geisha district of Kanazawa. Learn about the geisha culture, prevalent in Kanazawa since the 17th century. Visit the traditional two-story wooden houses decorated with lattice and discover the traditions behind this iconic Japanese way of life.
Transport: Climb aboard, grab a seat, and enjoy the ride.
Accommodation: Kanazawa Tokyu Hotel (or similar)
Meal(s): Breakfast

Day 7: Kanazawa/Hiroshima
Travel by bullet train to Hiroshima. Here, we'll pay a visit to the Peace Memorial Park and Museum, located in the heart of the city, which commemorates the tragic atomic bombings of 1945. Take your time to wander through the park, pausing at memorials dedicated to the victims of the attack, and visit the moving statue of Sadako Sasaki at the Children's Peace Monument, a reminder of the thousands of young lives lost as a result of the bombings.
Transport: Jump in the back and tell the driver to step on it, just like they do in the movies.
Transport: Climb aboard, take a seat, and enjoy the ride.
Transport: Move through the busy streets with ease via urban light rail.
Activity: Walk through the Peace Park in the centre of Hiroshima, a living memorial dedicated to the tens of thousands who died from the atomic bomb blast in 1945. Visit the statue of Sadako Sasaki, a young girl who died of leukemia as a result of the bomb blast, despite folding 1,000 origami paper cranes to appeal to the gods to make her well. See the frame of the Gembaku Dome, the sole building to withstand the explosion. Reflect, remember, and be reminded of the power we all hold to create peace.
Accommodation: Grand Prince Hiroshima (or similar)
Meal(s): Breakfast

Day 8: Hiroshima
Catch a ferry to Itsukushima Island, popularly known as Miyajima. Here, you'll find one of Japan's most beautiful and sacred temples, the 12th-century Itsukushima Shinto shrine. This UNESCO World Heritage site is built over the water, with a red torii or wooden gateway that appears to float at high tide. Spend the afternoon at leisure, opting to ferry over to other islands and explore on your own.
Transport: Get to the next spot on your route aboard a convenient and efficient ferry boat.
Activity: Take a trip to Miyajima Island, famed as one of Japan's most scenic spots, with a free afternoon to explore. See the famous floating Torii Gate, set out in the bay, which glows extraordinarily at sunset. The island is dotted with shrines and temples, populated by deer and monkeys, and traversed with hiking trails for those who want to get some exercise. There are also lanes full of souvenirs and tasty treats. Visit Miyajima at your own pace, and have the option to hike up to the peak of the island, Mt Misen, to see spectacular views of the surrounding islands.
Free Time: Enjoy some time to explore on your own.
Accommodation: Grand Prince Hiroshima (or similar)
Meal(s): Breakfast

Day 9: Hiroshima/Kyoto
This morning, visit the World Heritage-listed Himeji Castle, widely considered Japan's most spectacular and best-preserved castle. The castle was completed in the early 17th century and features an elegant white facade with multiple wooden roofs. Later, we hop on a train to Kyoto, which served as Japan's imperial capital for more than a thousand years. Explore the city's stunning temples, shrines, and gardens at leisure. This afternoon, take a guided stroll through the lantern-lined streets of Gion, Kyoto's renowned geisha district.
Transport: Climb aboard, take a seat, and enjoy the ride.
Activity: Visit the stunning Himeji Castle, which unlike many other Japanese castles was never destroyed in wars, earthquakes, or fires and continues to stand in its original form. Now a UNESCO World Heritage site, the initial site was built in the 14th century and grew over time as the various clans who ruled over the region continued to expand. The complex, as it stands today, was completed in 1609.
Transport: Climb aboard, take a seat, and enjoy the ride.
Activity: Walk through Gion, Kyoto's most famous geisha district. Visit shops, restaurants and ochaya (teahouses), where geiko (Kyoto dialect for geisha) and maiko (geiko apprentices) entertain.
Accommodation: Mitsui Garden Hotel Kyoto Shinmachi Bettei (or similar)
Meal(s): Breakfast

Day 10: Kyoto
Venture to the breathtaking Fushimi Inari shrine just outside of Kyoto, dedicated to the Shinto god of rice. Walk under the temple's iconic red gates, where a scene from Memoirs of a Geisha was filmed. Spend the rest of the day discovering ancient Nara, the site of Japan's earliest capital. Visit the impressive Todaiji temple—home to the largest bronze Buddha statue in the world—and wander the walkways of Kasuga Taisha, one of Japan's most sacred Shinto shrines.
Activity: Visit the Fushimi Inari shrine, located just outside of Kyoto. Walk under the thousands of iconic torii gates (as seen in the film Memoirs of a Geisha) and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere. The shrine itself is at the base of the Inari mountain but includes many trails up to smaller shrines in the area.
Activity: Take a train excursion to the peaceful gardens and ancient temples of Nara, home of Japan's largest Buddha, and a number of cute and docile deer that are the sacred symbol of the Kasuga Taisha shrine.
Activity: Explore the famed Tōdaiji Temple which features the largest bronze Buddha in the world.
Activity: Visit this Shinto shrine originally built in 768 AD by the Fujiwara family. This stunning shrine is famed for its hundreds of bronze and stone lanterns.
Accommodation: Mitsui Garden Hotel Kyoto Shinmachi Bettei (or similar)
Meal(s): Breakfast

Day 11: Kyoto
This morning, we visit a local temple to learn about the history and practice of Zen Buddhism in Japan. Meet with a local monk for a lesson in Zen meditation and calligraphy; then head to the shimmering Kinkakuji, or "temple of the golden pavilion," one of Kyoto's most magnificent sites. Later, we'll learn the basics of samurai etiquette and the practice of kembu, or traditional Japanese swordplay. Try your hand at this delicate art form, and witness a memorable performance by kembu masters.
Activity: Visit a local temple to learn about the history and practice of Zen Buddhism in Japan. One of the monks will instruct us in Zen meditation and Zen calligraphy. This insider access will allow us deeper insight into Japanese culture and beliefs, as well as how to use these techniques to reduce stress in our daily lives.
Activity: Relax with a traditional bowl of matcha tea at this historic temple where tea ceremony was developed into its current form by famous tea master, Rikyu.
Activity: Explore Kinkaku-ji or the Golden Pavilion, named for the temple's top two floors that are covered in gold leaf. The temple is surrounded by trees and sits on a reflective pond, making this must-see in Kyoto a perfect place for photos. While the temple can be busy, there are gardens around the area to explore once you've had enough of the view.
Activity: Gain an understanding of kembu, an ancient art form that honours the culture of the Japanese warrior class, the samurai. Watch kembu masters practice this delicate artform and learn for yourself the basic moves of properly using a Japanese sword. It's said that in feudal times, samurai would perform these traditional routines to build courage and improve concentration, thereby expressing the spirit of the warrior.
Accommodation: Mitsui Garden Hotel Kyoto Shinmachi Bettei (or similar)
Meal(s): Breakfast

Day 12: Kyoto
Depart at any time.
Meal(s): Breakfast

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Inclusions

Meals Included
11 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 1 dinner

Transport
Bullet train, express train, local train, ferry, metro, taxi, public bus, walking.

Inclusions
Your Journeys Highlight Moment: Tsukiji Sushi Experience, Tokyo Your Journeys Highlight Moment: Zen Buddhist Meditation and Calligraphy, Kyoto Your Journeys Highlight Moment: Kembu Masters, Kyoto Your Hands-On Moment: Chopstick and Gold Leaf Painting Experience, Kanazawa. Tour of Tokyo including Meiji Jingu Shrine and Asakusa and Harajuka districts. Walking tour of Tsumago Village and countryside. Kaiseki dinner. Visit Kanazawa samurai and geisha districts. Visit Nomura Family Samurai Residence and Myoryuji Ninja Temple. Visit Himeji Castle. Visit Hiroshima Peace Memorial. Excursion to Miyajima Island. Zen tea experience. Tour Kyoto and Nara including Fushimi Inari, Kinkaku-ji Golden Pavilion, Todaiji Temple, Kasuga Taisha Shrine (Jan - Sep). Visit Gion Geisha district. Japan Rail (JR) pass (7 days). All transport between destinations and to/from included activities.

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Accommodations

Hotels (10 nts), traditional Inn (1 nt)

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Questions & Answers

Question: How much is the single supplement for the trip?

The single supplement for Iconic Japan prices out at $1879 USD, however they only have a small amount of single rooms available on any given tour date.

Question: How many suitcases can I take with me on my trip?

Each person is allowed one "check-in," and one "carry-on." Remember to take all valuables with you as "carry-on", because electronic equipment, cameras, laptops, jewelry, business documents and money are not covered by the airlines' liability, so always carry them aboard with you.

Question: Is Airfare Included in the Price?

Airfare from your point of origin to and from the trip is not included in the land price.

National Geographic Tours Customer Reviews

Overall Rating
4.2
Accommodations
3.6
Itinerary
4.4
Professional Staff
4.8
Repeat with Operator
4.2
Value for Money
3.9

Ratings based off 42 reviews about National Geographic Tours - currently showing 2 reviews with comments only

Outstanding trip and tours with plenty of opportunities for planned and unplanned adventures. Knowledgeable, friendly, and capable guides who kept us moving while allowing adequate free time for exploring on one's own.

Affordable Tours was helpful, answered all questions, booked tour and all flights for us. Great experience! We will definitely book through AT again.


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