Tokyo, a city of some 10 million inhabitants welcomes you to a variety of sensory delights with its sleek skyscrapers and vivid neon colors of the Ginza District. Japan displays a stark contrast between its slice of ultra-modern Tokyo and the serenity of its traditional palaces and shrines. City center includes the Imperial Palace Square with the National Diet building, seat of Japan’s government a stone’s throw in the distance. Highlights include the Asakusa Canaan Temple, one of the oldest and most popular within the city to the Meiji Shrine, where newly wed Japanese visit to pay homage. The Akihabara District is famous for its innumerable electronic stores featuring the latest innovations within the electronics world to the night lights of Shinjuku, where both private and public nightclubs abound.
Local train passage to Hakone National Park provides carries you aside forested hillsides to the shoreline of Lake Ashi with Mount Fuji rising in the distance. Highlights within the park include the Open Air Museum, and the opportunity to walk the footpaths along the Old Tokaido Road, which connected Kyoto with Tokyo and is line with that are now 400 year-old cedar trees, which provided shade for the traveler afoot or on horseback. The Gora Kadan Ryokan is one of the finest in Japan and an excellent accommodation to choose for the night in Hakone.
The cities of Takayama, “Little Kyoto” and Furukawa are excellent choices to vist en en route to the city of Tokyo. Their neatly laid out streets and unspoiled appearance provide a perfect setting to wander about the generations-old shops providing both product and services for decades. Crossing the Japanese highlands, a visit to Kyoto would be a perfect fit to continue an exploration of Japan. This festival city was the capital of Japan from 794 until 1868. Interlaced throughout the city and hillsides are some of the 16,000 shrines, temples, and pagodas that will make a visit one of the treasured highlights of a visit to Japan. Here, as in few other places, one experiences and intimate glimpse into the culture of ancient Japan.
Kurama, a rural town in the mountains north of Kyoto takes less than one hour from the city center. Best known for its temples and hot springs, it is a worthwhile journey and offers a trek through the forest passing several nearby temples. Staying the night provides free access to all of the baths, while visitors are charged a small fee to use those offered to visitors.
Begin your day with a walking tour of the side streets and narrow lanes of old Kyoto, known only to the local community. It is a fun and fascinating glimpse into the generations-old businesses; each with their own generations-old specialty, crafted with care and time honored precision. Both the Golden Temple and Nijo Castle are worthy of a visit as are two of the most important shrines in all of Kyoto. The Fushimi Inari Shrine and the Shinogamo-jinja Shrine, each a special highlight while touring the best of Kyoto
Board the Shinkansen (Bullet Train) en route to Hiroshima. A midway stop at the 14th century Himeji Castle is not to be missed. Acclaimed as the most beautiful castle in Japan, it turrets, gates, and covered passages create an imposing white, bird-like silhouette, bestowing upon it the name, “White Heron Castle”. Many of the castle scenes for the movie “Shogun” were filmed at this exquisite setting. Continue on to Hiroshima for a visit to the Peace Memorial Park, including the Memorial Centotaph and the Peace Memorial Museum. Transfer by ferry to Miyajima Island, where tranquility is the norm and beauty reigns supreme. Having completed this full day of touring, return by train to Kyoto, perhaps to visit the narrow lanes of the Ginza District, where in passing your eyes might catch sight of a Geisha off to keep a time-honored appointment with a clientele.
Customized touring is a specialty at First Cabin Travel. The above-mentioned highlights of Japan touch on just a few of the many wonders offered within country.