From the bright lights and pulsating streets of high-tech, ultra-modern Tokyo, to the beautiful landscapes and charms of the Japan Alps, and finally to an in-depth tour of historic imperial Kyoto with its must-see temples, shrines and gardens, this 10-day very special journey through Japan will provide you with a wonderful feel for the country’s various highlights and reveal the intriguing nature of today’s Japan — so modern and yet heavily steeped in its traditions.
We’ll marvel at several UNESCO World Heritage sites in this program: the historic monuments of ancient Kyoto (which are many!) as well as those in ancient Nara.
• 10-day trip begins in Tokyo and ends in Kyoto
• Deluxe hotels in Tokyo and Kyoto; 2 nights in an upscale Japanese ryokan (inn) with hot spring baths
• All breakfasts, 7 lunches, 5 dinners
• Venture Out escort throughout plus local guides along the way
Tokyo is Japan’s absolutely buzzing capital city and the most densely populated area on the planet. It certainly is a phenomenon unto itself, and we’ll experience a diversity of sights in the city — from the historical Asakusa district to important religious sights such as the most important Shinto shrine with Japan’s two largest torii (the traditional entry gate of a shrine). More contemporary attractions will also be explored.
Kamakura makes for a lovely day trip outside of Tokyo. It’s a seaside city surrounded on three sides by mountains, and its most iconic sight is the 37-foot-high bronze statue of the compassionate Amida Buddha. Completed in the mid 13th century it’s said to have been commissioned by Japan’s first shogun. Also in Kamakura is the largest carved-wood statue in Japan: the 11-faced, 30-foot-high Kannon in a temple that faces the sea. In downtown Kamakura we’ll have an opportunity to check out shops selling local crafts, especially carved and lacquered woodwork.
A gorgeous ride brings us up into the “Japan Alps” to Takayama. This small city’s rustic charms are the result of hundreds of years of peaceful isolation in the Hida Mountains. Shops and restaurants mingle with museums, inns, sake breweries, and markets along rows of traditional wood-lattice buildings and tiny canals of running water, all immersed amidst the fresh mountain air and gorgeous scenery of 10,000-foot mountain peaks.
There is simply nowhere more special in Japan than Kyoto. It is the epicenter of Japanese culture and history, and it’s home to everything that you might associate with traditional Japan: vermillion temples, mysterious geisha, the sacred tea ceremony, Zen rock gardens, imperial palaces, sumptuous cuisine, glittering kimonos, bamboo groves, street-corner shrines, ancient festivals and much more.
Kyoto culture — a unique tapestry of influences from imperial nobility, samurai warriors, silk traders and Zen Buddhists — is still fiercely defended by Kyotoites. The city is now home to more than 2,000 temples and shrines and in their entirety comprise a massive UNESCO World Heritage site. Then there are the places that are less museum-like and more real, working Kyoto such as markets where old ladies in kimonos barter for mysterious ingredients and the tiny lantern-lit temples set right among the shops in the arcades.
We’ve included a mix of high-end, well-located hotels with two nights in a deluxe Japanese ryokan (an inn with hot springs and the traditional sleeping arrangement of futons on tatami mats). Most meals are included in the program.