Depart from the United States, across the Pacific with an arrival at Narita, Japan. Your local guide will meet you and make you feel at ease by familiarizing you with some of the local customs and the traditional lifestyle of the Japanese. A day of sensory delights awaits you as you view the sleek skyscrapers and vivid neon colors of the Ginza. Contrast this slice of ultra-modern Tokyo with the serenity of its innumerable palaces and shrines. You will visit the Imperial Palace Square and see the National Diet building, seat of Japan’s government. Continue on to Asakusa Kannon Temple, one of the oldest and most popular of the Buddhist temples in Tokyo. A visit to the Meji Shrine and Tsukji Market also are included, while time enough is reserved for a stroll down the Ginza.
Depart Tokyo for Hakone National Park, where you will enjoy a panoramic view of Lake Ashi and your first chance view of magnificent Mount Fuji. The park is one of Japan’s most beautiful settings and the view of Mount Fuji across the lake can be breathtaking. The early riser will have the best opportunity to view captivating Mt. Fuji, before cloud cover breaks the horizon. A morning drive takes you across the Japanese “Alps” to Takayama, fondly known as “Little Kyoto.” A morning tour of the city offers a wonderful blend of simplicity and beauty. The town’s narrow lanes are filled with old shops, where families for generations have maintained age-old traditions of making sake, tofu, delightful sweets and sundry items. Continue on to Kanazawa, the setting for the Kenrokuen Park, perhaps the most beautiful landscape garden in Japan. Your stroll through the gardens will be one of the highlights of your visit to Japan. Thereafter, visit a Samurai Street, the gold foil factory and a famous local fish market.
A morning drive across the highlands brings you to exquisite Kyoto. This festival city was the capital of Japan from 794 until 1868. Interlaced throughout the city and nearby hillsides are some of the 1,600 temples and 350 shrines that will make your visit to Kyoto one of the tour’s treasured highlights. Begin your day with a visit to the elaborate Nijo Castle. Built in 1603, so remarkably well preserved, it provides a dramatic perspective on life during the feudal period. View the stunning gold leaf encrusted Golden Pavilion. The structure is a superior example of the Muromachi period (14th – 16th century). As a final highlight of the day’s tour, enjoy a walk down Shinmonzen (antique street) as you glance into the many traditional-styled shops.
Your morning begins with a visit to the vermilion lacquered Heian Shrine in Okazaki Park. The shrine was erected in 1895 to pay tribute to the 1100th anniversary of the founding of Kyoto. In springtime, the lovely “stroll garden” enchants the senses with the many brilliant hues of irises and azalea blossoms. Follow your delightful visit to the park by stopping at the colorful Kiyomizu Temple, one of the more popular within Kyoto. Thereafter, visit the Yuzen Dye factory, which provides an insight into how the Japanese manage their work place. Complete your day with a visit to the enchanting Gion District, perhaps in tie to catch a performance by the local troupe.
Travel to Tsuwano where many Samurai houses line the streets of the Tono-machi area. In the feudal era (1603 – 1867) carp were bred in the moats aside the houses to fend off starvation. No longer a necessity, the carp, now numbering in the thousands, freely swim the inter-connecting moats throughout the district. Visit the Taisha Shrine, dedicated to a Shinto Deity. The shrine is the oldest structure of its architectural style in Japan. Begin your morning with a visit to the Adachi Museum, set in one of the more remarkably beautiful landscaped gardens in all of Japan. Thereafter, continue by coach to Hagi, a quintessential, small Japanese city that is nestled between the Chugoku Mountains near a river delta that flows into the Japan Sea. Your visit to Hagi includes a tour of a generations-old pottery mill, a samurai house and a fun-filled visit to the local sake brewery. Your day ends with a drive to Hiroshima.
A morning ferry ride takes you to the island of Miyajima to visit the Itsukushima Shinto Shrine with its famous “Tori Gate.” The landscape of these environs has been acclaimed since ancient times as one of Japan’s most beautiful sights. Return by ferry to Hiroshima for a visit to the Peace Memorial Park, including the memorial Centopath and the Peace Memorial Museum. Begin your day with a drive to the city of Kurashiki to visit the renowned Ohara Museum. Continue on to Shikoku Island; a setting that provides a grand look at traditional Japan with its farming villages, Samurai castles, craft shops and orange groves, all set out in a landscaped treasure. End your day at Tokushima, best known for Awa Odori, a dance performance with a 400 year-old history.
A morning drive takes you to Koya-san, the community of temples positioned on the mountain peak over the hidden valley of Wakayama. The main monastery was founded in 816 and annually draws thousands of visitors. By the Edo period, there were more than one thousand temples on the mountain of which, slightly more than one hundred remain. The temples blend in beautifully within the natural landscape of the mountain range. The footpaths are lined with cedar trees, the air crisp and pure. Koya-san is the perfect choice to end your colorful journey across this fascinating land.
This morning, you are free to walk the footpaths of this beautiful mountain retreat, contemplating the magnificence of nature and the serenity found within this very special hideaway. An afternoon drive takes you to Osaka for an evening at leisure in preparation for your journey homeward, taking with you a wonderful series of lifetime memories.
Japan: once home to samurai and shoguns, is now a whirl-wind of high-tech innovation. This country blends the best of old and new, with something for every traveler.
Four main islands comprise Japan: Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu. Eighty percent of the region is mountainous, providing breathtaking views of lush peaks and cascading waterfalls. Like the Hawaiian Islands, Japan was created by underwater volcanic eruptions of molten rock. This volcanic heritage provides the country more than 1800 hot springs. Japan's hot spring resorts, called onsens, are a popular destination for tourists and locals alike.
In spring, Japan is blanketed in a pink coverlet of cherry blossoms, a world-renowned spectacle. The cascades of flowers are celebrated with a series of cultural festivals.
Even more intriguing than the scenery, is the history and culture of the Japanese people. Thirty-thousand years ago, migrants from northeast Asia were the first to settle in Japan. Over time, strong feudal states emerged, culminating in the Yamato court during the 5th century. Commodore Perry arrived in 1854, establishing the first connections to the west. A flourishing Japan expanded into the mainland, capturing Korea and Taiwan. The expansionism was halted in World War II, after the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor brought Japan into conflict with the United States.
Japan still has an emperor, though these days his duties are symbolic, the country now governed by a bicameral parliament with a House of Representatives and a House of Councilors.
There are many historical sights to see: spectacular castles from the feudal era, Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, and quaint villages nestled amidst tall cedars.
But for all this history, Japan also provides the finest modern amenities: world-class hotels and cuisine. A transportation system that is modern and efficient. Although few signs are printed in English, the rail lines are color-coded for destination.
The experienced guides at First Cabin Travel will help you navigate the Kanji characters and make ensure you reach your Japanese destinations without misstep. They also act as your cultural advisors, helping you navigate and appreciate the subtleties of Japanese society.