This itinerary is for a past tour program.
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Japan is a wonderful and fascinating destination. It's also very expensive— unless you're traveling with Friendly Planet! Now you can explore this ancient yet modern country for a truly remarkable price without compromising on quality. Fly to Japan via Singapore Airlines, voted the world's #1 airline for safety, comfort and service by travel professionals and travelers alike. Stay at beautiful and well-located 4 & 5-star hotels throughout the country, enjoying a lavish buffet breakfast daily.
Day 1: Depart USA. Your exciting journey to Japan begins this afternoon as you depart on your overnight non-stop flight to Tokyo via Singapore Airlines.
Day 2: Tokyo. Arrive early this evening in Tokyo, one of the world's main economic centers and Japan's modern capital, as well as its largest city. Your tour host will meet you upon arrival and escort you to your deluxe, centrally located hotel. En route, you'll have your first glimpse of the stunning, modern skyline and glittering neon-lit streets that are quintessential Tokyo. You'll also receive a short briefing about details of your tour of Japan. Tokyo Prince Hotel Park Tower
Day 3: Tokyo. After breakfast, set out on a guided tour to explore some of Tokyo's main sites. Begin at the Tokyo Tower, modeled after - and slightly taller than - the Eiffel Tower in Paris, where you will enjoy a wonderful view of the city. Proceed to the historic Imperial Palace, which dates back to the 15th century and is the former site of Edo Castle and the present residence of the Emperor of Japan. Visitors are not permitted inside this very private residence of royalty, but you will enjoy a walk through the beautiful East Gardens, with views of the ancient castle walls and ruins.
Continue to Sensoji, or Asakusa Kannon, dedicated to Kannon, the Buddhist deity of mercy and compassion. Sensoji is one of the most popular sights in Tokyo, yet it's delightfully serene. Smoke from its incense cauldron is said to be beneficial to health, especially the part of the body onto which it is rubbed, and you will see many people doing this before going to pray.
Later, stroll Nakamise shopping street, which stretches over approximately 250 meters from the main grounds of Sensoji Temple. It is lined with more than 50 shops, which offer local specialties and souvenirs. This afternoon is free for independent touring. We suggest a visit to the The Ginza, Tokyo's most famous up-market shopping, dining and entertainment district, featuring numerous department stores, boutiques, art galleries, restaurants, night clubs, cafes and Kabuki Theater. Breakfast provided.
After lunch, take a scenic cruise on Lake Ashi, a slender body of water formed in the Hakone caldera some 400 thousand years ago. Board the Komagatake Ropeway for an incredibly picturesque ascent up Mt. Komagatake and a sweeping view of Hakone National Park and Mt. Fuji. Return to Tokyo late this afternoon. Breakfast & lunch provided.
New Miyako Hotel Breakfast provided.
Proceed to the Golden Pavilion (Kinkakuji Temple), which is covered in gold leaf and whose three stories each reflect a different architectural style. The small lake nearby adds to the glimmer, and while no one is allowed inside, you can take pictures that are sure to be among your favorite and most memorable images of Japan. The actual building is a perfect reconstruction, erected after a disaffected monk set fire to the original, centuries-old wooden structure in 1950.
Continue to the fascinating Handicraft Center, where you'll be greeted by five colorful floors offering for sale beautiful Japanese arts and handicrafts including pearls, lacquer ware, dolls, toys, kimono (including antique kimono), woodblock prints, pottery, paper products, swords, lanterns, silk and textile goods, painted scrolls, music boxes and much, much more.
Day 8: Kyoto at Leisure/Optional Japanese Cooking Lesson. Enjoy a full day at leisure to explore Kyoto further on your own. Or, take advantage of a very special optional tour that promises to make you the envy of family and friends when you return home. Spend the morning with a Japanese chef and learn how to prepare a few favorite Japanese dishes, such as sushi and tempura. After your lesson, enjoy a sumptuous lunch of the treats you created in the morning class. After lunch travel to Fushimi to visit the Okura Sake Brewery, where you'll enjoy learning how Japan's most popular alcoholic beverage is brewed and enjoy an opportunity to do some tasting of your own.
This evening, another very special optional tour offer an opportunity to join your fellow travelers for a Japanese Kaiseki dinner, considered an art form that observes the harmony between food and nature, where a set sequence of courses is eaten with great attention to presentation.
After dinner, you'll enjoy a cultural performance including a Geisha Dance, Tea ceremony, Koyo music and more. Then, complete your evening with a walking tour around the Gion neighborhood, where the best-selling novel, Memoirs of a Geisha, was set. With luck, you might catch a glimpse of a geisha or a young maiko (apprentice) hurrying to a theatrical performance or an engagement at a local bar. Breakfast provided.
Day 9: Kyoto/Nara/Osaka. After breakfast, say goodbye to Kyoto as you drive to Nara, one of the earliest capitals of Japan. Visit Todaiji Temple, whose Buddha is the largest bronze statue in the world, and whose main structure is the world's largest wooden building. The temple sits in a huge park where small deer have free rein to mingle with visitors and beg for treats that you can buy from local vendors for a few yen. Another delight is Kasuga Shrine, festooned with thousands of paper lanterns.
This afternoon, continue your drive to Osaka, considered Japan's spiritual heartland. The site of one of the earliest capitals of the country, it remains a vital center for trade and entrepreneurial culture. On an afternoon city tour, visit Osaka Castle, one of Japan's most famous castles, which played a major role in the unification of the country during the sixteenth century of the Azuchi-Momoyama period. The castle is situated on a plot of land roughly one kilometer square and is a popular spot during festival seasons, especially when the cherry blossoms bloom and the sprawling castle grounds are covered with food vendors and taiko drummers.
Continue to Dotonboroi Street, a former pleasure district now famous for its theatres, shops, and restaurants and the many colorful neon and mechanized signs, including snack/candy manufacturer Glico's giant electronic display of a runner crossing the finish line. Enjoy strolling the long street and take advantage of the opportunity to shop for last-minute souvenirs. Hotel New Otani Breakfast provided.
Day 10: Osaka/USA. After breakfast, board the bullet train from Osaka to Tokyo. Upon arrival, transfer to Narita Airport to board your non-stop return flight. Your Japan adventure ends on arrival in Los Angeles later today. Breakfast provided.
For quick answers to Frequently Asked Questions about travel to Japan, click here.
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