October 13th-22nd 2017
Our Japan group tours are chock full of diverse activities including unique cultural experiences, fantastic landscape & people photography, and all the beautiful temples and architecture which make Japan so iconic. This year we’re going to even more off the past places including the
wonders in and around the ancient town of Matsumoto (ever heard of the Snow Monkeys?!). Best of all, we’ve managed to include these great experiences with highly rated accommodations at a fraction of the typical Japan group tour cost.
E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org for the daily itinerary!
* 9 nights/10 days throughout the highlights of Japan
* Breakfast Everyday
* 1 lunch, 2 Dinners (Including Welcome Dinner & Farewell Dinner)
Tokyo: 2 Nights
Everything that you have heard about Tokyo is true – and it is not. For if ever there was a city that you could not confine to one definition, this would be it. The never-ending hustle and bustle of the city creates an energy that is quite contagious. One minute you may be elevated 450 metres above ground overlooking Tokyo’s sprawling metropolis, the next you might be cheering on two sumo wrestlers tackle each other in the sumo stadium. Despite the presence of people and stores everywhere, there is an order that allows things to work efficiently, seemingly against the odds. Tradition and technology stand side by side in this city that can be whatever you want to make of it.
* Privately guided tour throughout Tokyo (Meihi Shrine, Harajuku Fashion District, Imperial Palace Plaza, Asakusa Kanon Temple, Ginza area):
– Tsukiji Outer Market: Visit the world’s largest fish markets, handling over 2,000 tons of marine products per day.
– Asakusa Kanon Temple (Sensoji Temple): See and photography Tokyo’s oldest and most famous Buddhist Temple.
– Imperial Palace Plaza: The former site of Edo Castle, explore the park, surrounded by moats and stone fortifications, in the heart of the city
Matsumoto & the Snow Monkeys of Hell’s Valley: 1 night
Embraced by seven great peaks to the west (3 above 10,000 ft!) and three smaller sentinels to the east, Matsumoto (松本) showcases views of the regal Alps everywhere you look. Admirers from around the world come to enjoy its superb castle, pretty streets, galleries, cafes and endearing vistas. – From Lonely Planet. Not far from this great historic city lies Hell’s Valley. But the only thing reminiscent of hell is the red colored faces of the adorable snow monkeys who live amongst a world of frigid white snow!
* Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park: This is the only place in the world where families of red faced monkeys enjoy a hot bath in the middle of the mountains! The Snow Monkeys live at the foot of the Shiga Highlands in Jigokudani Valley, which translates to Hell’s Valley. Since it’s quite cold and snowy here in the winter, one wonders where this name came from? The area is also known for its abundance of natural hot water springs. We’ll go on a short hike to reach these amazing creatures relaxing and keeping warm in a beautiful Japanese Onsen (Hot Spring) just like us humans! The photography will be mind blowing.
* Matsumoto & Her Castle: Matsumoto is an alpine city surrounded on all sides by the towering peaks of the Japan Alps, reminiscent of its European counterpart. The city is most famous for its original castle; one of the only original castles in Japan offering a sense of how the samurai used to live and fight. The city also boasts a number of sake breweries hidden in the backstreets amongst the traditional buildings, a good museum of Ukiyoe woodblock prints, and is the home of soba noodles, the delicious local speciality. You can also try one of the city’s other local delicacies – raw horse! The city has a really relaxed atmosphere and a cosmopolitan feel befitting of a city renowned for its musicians and authors. The famous violin teacher, Suzuki (of the Suzuki method) originated from Matsumoto and you will find a commemorative statue on the street opposite the station.
Takayama: 1 Night
Mountains in Japan were once believed to be the sacred dwelling places of divine spirits. The Hida, Kiso, and Akaishi ranges, known collectively as the Japan Alps, rise majestically in northern Honshu. Takayama lies in the heart of the Hida Mountains. Established in the 16th century as a castle town of the Kanamori family, it’s now famous throughout Japan for its old town area of narrow streets containing many well-preserved inns, tea houses, shops and merchants houses with latticed windows and overhanging roofs characteristic of the Edo period. The town has many shrines and temples of its own, giving rise to it’s nickname: ‘Little Kyoto’. Just on the outskirts of the town is the fascinating Hida folk village where old farm houses from across the Hida region have been brought together and rebuilt (beam by beam) on a hillside overlooking the town. A stay in Takayama is a chance to get a feel for a way of life that really has all but disappeared from modern Japan.
* Privately guided tour throughout Takayama:
– Optional Takayama Morning Market: Located on the bank of the Miyagawa River, the market is famous and well worth a visit to see the stands selling local farm produce, flowers and crafts. We’ll get some awesome photographs of the local culture here. There are also great micro sake breweries where we’ll have the chance to sample the beer, Takayama’s most famous product!
– Takayama’s Old Town: Visit and photograph the best and most interesting of Takayama on a privately guided tour. Head back in time as we walk the streets of this merchant town filled with old homes, shops, coffee houses and sake breweries, some of which have been in business for centuries. Other highlights include the Kusakabe Folk House & Floating Museum, & Yatai Kaikan (Festival Float House).
– Optional Hida Folk Village Visit: This open air museum exhibits over 30 traditional houses from the Hida region, the mountainous district of Gifu Prefecture around Takayama. The houses were built during the Edo Period (1603 – 1867) and were relocated from their original locations to create the museum in 1971. In a village-like atmosphere, the museum features buildings such as the former village head’s house, logging huts, storehouses and a number of gassho-zukuri farmhouses. These massive farmhouses are named after their steep thatched roofs which resemble a pair of hands joined in prayer (“gassho”). They were moved here from nearby Shirakawago; these gassho-zukuri houses are the reason for the region’s World Heritage status.
Hiroshima & Charming Miyajima Island: 1 Night
Hiroshima is a city that needs little introduction. It is of course well-known for being the site of one of two atomic bombs dropped on Japan at the end of the Second World War. Despite its tragic past, Hiroshima is now a bustling and vibrant city which has risen phoenix-like from the ashes. No visit to Hiroshima would be complete without sampling okonomiyaki, a Japanese savoury pancake. Choose the ingredients and one of the cooks makes it on a hot plate right in front of our eyes. If the smell doesn’t tickle your taste buds, the taste will leave you screaming for more. While in Hiroshima we’ll take a ferry ride to Miyajima Island where the world famous Itsukushima Shrine is located.
*Privately guided tour of Hiroshima and Miyajima:
– Memorial Peace Park, Museum, & A-Bomb Dome: Experience the poignant reminder that caused Hiroshima’s fame. An afternoon in this part of town might be sobering, but well worth it. The museum tells us the story of this tragic day and we’ll get to walk around the park and see and photograph the A-Bomb Dome (Genbaku Dome), the the only structure left standing in the area where the first atomic bomb exploded on 6 August 1945.
– Itsukushima Shrine in Miyajima: After a ferry ride to this sacred island we’ll visit the world famous vermilion torii gate at this UNESCO World Heritage Site. If we’re lucky, we’ll see the shrine and gate during high tide when it looks like it’s floating in the middle of the sea. Miyajima has been selected as one of Japan’s three most scenic places. Though the island itself is unfairly overshadowed by its beautiful gate, the semi-wild deer, gorgeous temples, and superb nature trails are more than worth the experience even it wasn’t there…
Kyoto: 4 nights
Oozing with tradition, Kyoto is the ultimate destination for anybody who wants to soak up time-honoured Japanese culture. Home to 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites, over 1,600 Buddhist temples and 400 Shinto shrines, this ancient city showcases the heart and soul of traditional Japan. Kyoto boasts an array of world-class gardens, majestic festivals, and delicate cuisine. Together, they make up the rhythms of nature and the changing of the seasons. On first glance however, visitors will see that like any large Japanese city, grid-like Kyoto has its fair share of neon and concrete. But the discerning eye will soon pick out Kyoto’s treasures: sacred shrines tucked in among shopping arcades, time-honoured teahouses nestled among modern businesses, and mysterious geisha scuttling down backstreets among the tourists and souvenirs. Kyoto’s charm lies in the details and the closer we look, the more we’ll discover.
* Privately Guided Tour of Kyoto:
– Nijo Castle: There are only a few traditional castle defensive structures left and this is one of them. Built in the early 17th century and renovated in 1626, this building is renowned as a priceless example of the architectural style of the period.
– Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavillion): Covered with 18 carat gold leaf, this three story structure was originally built by the Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu in 1397.
– Kiyomizu Temple: Visit and photograph the famous Kiyomizu Temple, best known for its wooden stage that juts out 13 meters above the hillside below. The stage affords visitors a nice view of the numerous cherry and maple trees that erupt in a sea of color in spring and fall, as well as skyline view of Kyoto in the distance.
– Gion District (The Old Geisha Quarter) & Authentic Tea Ceremony: Experience the world famous Geisha’s in their ancient district of Gion. At a local machiya (tea house) in this area we’ll begin our tea ceremony. “The way of tea” is one of Japan’s traditional cultural practices, and is a name given to an art that synthesizes the preparation and drinking of tea together with spirituality, history, architecture, the appreciation of handmade tea utensils. This is a truly unique experience for our time in Kyoto.
– Fushimi Inari Shrine: Visit and photograph the famous Kiyomizu Temple, best known for its wooden stage that juts out 13 meters above the hillside below. The stage affords visitors a nice view of the numerous cherry and maple trees that erupt in a sea of color in spring and fall, as well as skyline view of Kyoto in the distance.
* Free time in Kyoto to explore on your own
*Japan is wonderful country to see by train and of course they are world famous for their advanced bullet train system. For many of our journeys between each city we visit, we’ll use this fun and efficient way to travel the country. This is one place where local public transit is a lot faster than using a vehicle!
* All Transfers, All Rail tickets, All Public Transit Passes, All Entry fees and activities as listed in the daily itinerary, & Taxes included!
* Tour Leader and photographer to help those interested in photography throughout these Japan group tours
* International Airfare is not included. We are happy to help you find a good flight as always! (Flying into Narita International Airport in Tokyo (NRT) and departing from Kansai International Airport (KIX) in Osaka)
E-mail us at email@example.com for the daily itinerary!
*For our solo travelers, we will pair you up with someone of the same sex unless single occupancy is requested.
Single Supplement: $795.00 * Only 4 Singles Available
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Local Planet Travel Services
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Cancellation Policy & Refunds
There is a $100.00 administrative fee for all cancellations. Cancellations made 125 days or more prior to trip departure date are fully refundable except for the $100 fee. Cancellations less than 125 days prior to trip departure date will receive no refund of monies paid. No refunds on unused portions of the tour. After airline tickets are issued, airline cancellations are per the airline’s policy and are usually non-refundable and changeable with a fee plus new ticket price.
*Hotels subject to change based on availability
CST # 2101181-40