Tokyo – Nikko – Mt. Fuji – Nagano – Nagoya – ISE – Iga Ninja
Nara – Kyoto (bullet train) Kobe – Osaka
Tour: Nov 07 – Nov 17, 2018 Price: $3,895 + Tax
Your local tour guide: Journalist Do Thong Minh or Tran Duc Giang, with over 50 years of living experience in Japan, and sophisticated knowledge of Japan’s culture and history
The capital city of Japan, Tokyo, is the largest metropolitan area in the world with a population of over 13 million residents. Tokyo is not only the center of politics and economy of Japan, but also the center of the global economy and culture. On your first day here, enjoy a panoramic view of Tokyo before you visit the Shinto shrine, stroll through the impressive Imperial Palace East Garden, once was the ground of an old Edo castle, where you can savor the splendid view of the moats and walls around the seat of Japan’s imperial household. Browse the many colorful stores lining the Nakamise walkway leading up to Sensoji Temple, Tokyo’s oldest and most famous Buddhist temple, before passing through Ginza, Japan’s world-renowned shopping and entertainment district. In Asakusa, you will have fun browsing through many colorful stores lining along the Nakamise walkway that leads up to the Kannon Temple (also known as Senso-ji), which is the oldest and most popular Buddhist temple in Tokyo.
Nikko is a town at the entrance to Nikko National Park, most famous for Toshogu, Japan’s most lavishly decorated shrine and the mausoleum of Tokugawa leyasu, the founder of the Tokugawa shogunate. Nikko had been a center of Shinto and Buddhist mountain worship for many centuries before Toshogu was built in the 1600s. Visit Nikko Tosho-guis a Shinto shrine, is part of the “Shrines and Temples of Nikko “a UNESCO World Heritage Site, initially built in 1617. Continue to visit Futarasan Shrine stands next to Toshogu. Much older than its more lavish neighbor, it was founded in 782 by Shodo Shonin, the Buddhist monk who introduced Buddhism to Nikko. Futarasan Shrine is dedicated to the deities of Nikko’s three most sacred mountains: Mount Nantai, Mount Nyoho, and Mount Taro.
Visit Japan’s iconic Mount Fuji, Japan’s highest mountain. On a clear day, the Fujisan’s perfectly shaped volcano slopes can be seen from Tokyo and Yokohama. If you’re inspired by the beauty of the Japanese landscape, you’ll enjoy the crisp mountain air and Mt Fuji views while cruising Lake Ashi even more.
Continue drive to Nagano City is the capital of Nagano Prefecture. It evolved as a temple town around Zenkoji, one of Japan’s most popular temples. In 1998, the city hosted the Winter Olympic Games. Special visit to the Kiso Valley runs alongside the mountains of the Central Alps. An ancient 70 km trade route called the Kisoji was developed along the valley and served as a very important means of commerce in the area. Visit Samurai Magome-juku. Magome’s main street is lined with wood and plaster Edo-style buildings, most of which date from the 20th century as the originals fell into disrepair or were burnt down in the frequent fires that affected both towns. A walk though Magome-juku will transport you back to the Edo period, some 300 years ago. The area is known internationally as a place that retains the particular atmosphere of old Japanese posting stations. This scenic trail is especially popular among overseas visitors who seek an authentic experience of traditional life This morning, you will drive to Nagoya, the capital of Aichi Prefecture and the principal city of the Nobi Plain.
Nara of Japan’s Kansai region is your next stop. Nara was the country’s first permanent capital city, and a Unesco World Heritage site. You’ll visit the Todaiji Temple housing a great image of Buddha, colorful Kasuga Shrine with 3,000 lanterns, and the Deer Park.
Ise is located on the Shima Peninsula in Mie Prefecture. The city is home to the Ise Shrines(Ise Jingu), Japan’s most sacred Shinto Shrines. The Ise Shrines consist of two major shrines that stand several kilometers apart from each other, the Inner Shrine (Naiku) & the Outer Shrine (Geku), and over a hundred smaller shrines spread across the region.
Known as the cradle of Japan’s cultural heritage, Kyoto was Japan’s capital and the emperor’s residence from 794 until 1868. You’ll see the main highlights of the wonderfully rich culture of Kyoto, including the residence of the Tokugawa Shogun, Nijo Castle. The castle was built in 1603 and is noted for the contrast of its solemn appearance and gorgeous interior. Your guide will also introduce you to Kyoto’s most popular temple, Kinkakuji, home of the world’s most authentic and exquisite Japanese garden as well as the celebrated Golden Pavilion. As part of the Kyoto sightseeing tour, you will also get a chance to view the ancient Kyoto Imperial Palace, the former residence of the Imperial family, which reflects the Japanese taste for purity, simplicity, and calmness. Once you’re at the Imperial Palace, you should also visit the Shishinden Imperial state chamber where the enthronement ceremonies took place. Kyoto, the old Imperial capital, has an imperial heritage of the amazing Emperor’s palace, ancient temples, old Gion Geisha town, and a cultural background said to include the most refined manners and language in Japan.
Osaka, on the other hand, just seven minutes away by bullet train, is widely decried as Japan’s uncouth relative. Down to earth, direct and in turns hilarious and offensive to Japanese sensibilities, Osakans spawn Japan’s comedians, maintain its economic engine, and feed you some of the best cooking. With a population of 2.5 million, Osaka is Japan’s third largest and second most important city. It has been the economic powerhouse of the Kansai region for many centuries. Osaka was formerly known as Naniwa. Before the Nara period, Naniwa was the first capital city of Japan under Emperor Kotoky in 645.
Kobe, scene of the worst earthquake in the living memory of most Japanese, has rebuilt and revitalized to form one of the most delightful and peaceful cities you can wish to visit. Historically, due to its port, Kobe has a long history of foreign contact, which has imbued its people with a very global outlook and attitude.
Check in at Los Angeles Airport – LAX. Depart for Tokyo, Japan on a non-stop flight. AV Travel will escort traveler(s) throughout the trip.
Welcome to Tokyo, one of the busiest cities in the world day and night. It is bursting with contemporary urban cultures mixed with traditional ones. You’ll soon find this city mind-blowing. (D)
Journey to the city of Nikko, which houses the Toshogu Shrine. The shrine is the final resting place of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate that ruled Japan for over 250 years until 1868. Also in Nikko, we’ll drive along the amazing Irohazaka – a zigzag slope road that connects the lower elevations around central Nikko to the higher elevations of the Okunikko region.
The autumn landscape with maple leaves turning red and yellow in concert is absolutely breathtaking. Fawn over mesmerizing beauties as we visit the Kegon Waterfall and the Chuzenji Lake. (B/L/D)
Visit Asakusa district, famous for the Sensō-ji, a Buddhist temple dedicated to the bodhisattva Kannon. In Japan’s history, there are six bodhisattvas (goddesses), all of whom experienced dramatic love lives. During the tour, journalist Do Thong Minh will tell you about their love stories. (B/L/D)
In the afternoon, we’ll visit the monumental outdoor bronze statue of Amida Buddha, called The Great Buddha of Kamakura. The statue was built in 1252 in Kamakura city.
Overnight in the Mount Fuji area. We’ll be staying at a ryokan (a traditional Japanese inn). After dinner, you can enjoy bathing in the onsens (thermal hot springs) that Mount Fuji has to offer, and have all of your tiredness after a long day rinsed out. (B/L/D)
This morning, we’ll take you to Mount Fuji and to Camp 2-5 (depends on weather conditions), up on the mountain, to enjoy breathtaking views and the beauty that has inspired so many artists and poets. Mt. Fuji, with its 3,776-meter height, is listed as a UNESCO Heritage and known as the symbol of Japan. Embark on a boat trip on Lake Kawaguchiko to view Mt. Fuji in an absolutely poetic landscape.
Visit the old village Oshino Hakkai which bears Japanese traditional architecture and sits at the foot of Mt. Fuji. There are plenty of local food vendors that will definitely satisfy your taste buds. (B/L/D)
Depart for Ise Peninsula by ferry. Ise is home to Ise Grand Shrine, the most sacred Shintō shrine in Japan. The city has a long-standing title: “The Holy City”. Every 20 years, the old shrines are torn down and new ones, which look exactly the same as the old, are built nearby so that the buildings will be forever new and forever ancient and original.
On our journey in Ise Bay, we will take you to the world-famous Mikimoto Pear Island, where you’ll be watching women divers demonstrate the traditional method of diving for pearls.
Visit The Wedded Rocks (known as Meoto Iwa in Japanese). The two rocks represent a married couple who, according to Shinto mythology, created Japan and the spirits that exist in people, places, and objects. The rocks were featured in the movie Sayonara co-produced by Japan and the U.S. (B/L/D)
You will get to know the Ninja martial art by visiting the Ninja museum and watch a Ninja performance.
We’ll move on to Nara, Japan’s first capital city. Pay a visit to Todaiji Temple, once one of the powerful Seven Great Temples and still houses the world’s largest bronze statue of the Buddha Vairocana. We will also stop by Nara Deer Park before continuing on to Kyoto.
Kyoto was Japan’s capital city from 794 to 1868 before the title was given to Tokyo city. For 12 centuries in history, Kyoto witnessed all the rise and fall of Japan. At the heart of Kyoto lies Gion, the center of the city’s art. Gion is the most charming in the early evening, when the lanterns are lit and Geishas and Maikos flit about the back streets on their way to their appointments. (B/L/D)
Another day in Kyoto. This morning, we’ll visit Kinkakuji Temple which is most famous for it’s Golden Pavilion. Our next stop is Kiyomizu Temple. The temple is part of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto UNESCO World Heritage site, and is known for Otowa-no-taki water fall, where visitors drink sacred waters that is believed to bestow health and longevity. Moving on, we’ll watch a Kimono performance. (B/L/D)
Depart from Kyoto for Kobe by high-speed bullet train with a velocity of 320 kph. Start your journey in Kobe city. Kobe, scene of the worst earthquake in the living memory of most Japanese, has rebuilt and revitalized to form one of the most delightful and peaceful cities you can wish to visit. Historically, due to its port, Kobe has a long history of foreign contact, which has imbued its people with a very global outlook and attitude. It is also home to the famous Kobe Beef, which is known for its tenderness, sweet flavor and fine texture. Dine at a restaurant specialized in Kobe beef – a delicious treat. Also, a Japan’s famous Sake brewery is not to be missed. You’ll be touring the brewery and tasting three different kinds of Sake. (B/L/D)
Enjoy another day in Osaka. We will pay a visit to the old town Osaka. Perhaps spend the rest of your day in Namba district – the largest shopping area in Osaka where many boutiques and specialty shops are gathered, attracting local people and visitors. It is little wonder why Namba is called the “Time Square” of Osaka.
Depart Osaka for Los Angeles. (B/L/D)