• Save 10% on Select Departures – Book & Pay in Full by Jan 17, 2019

    Save up to 10% - ends Jan 17, 2019
  • AARP Members Save an additional $100 per person

    AARP Members Save an additional $100 pp
  • Additional Savings for Past Travelers

    Additional Savings for Past Travelers

Classic Japan with Matsue & Osaka

14 Days from $7,875 per person

Style: First Class | Pace: Active

Ancient capitals, modern cityscapes and feudal castles take center stage on this in-depth exploration of Japan, including a visit to the City of Water that has inspired countless legends.

Travel to Asia often requires an overnight flight. Please arrange for flights to arrive on or before Day 1.

Print Itinerary

Overview

Ancient capitals, modern cityscapes and feudal castles take center stage on this in-depth exploration of Japan, including a visit to the City of Water that has inspired countless legends.

Travel to Asia often requires an overnight flight. Please arrange for flights to arrive on or before Day 1.

  1. Tokyo's futuristic cityscape launches your journey through Japan's modern centers and ancient capitals. On arrival at Tokyo Narita or Haneda Airport, you'll be transferred by airport shuttle to your hotel. This evening, meet your Travel Director and fellow travelers for a Welcome Reception drink with appetizers.

    meal(s):Welcome Reception
    hotel:Keio Plaza
  2. Rub shoulders with the locals this morning as you dive into culture and wander through Ameyoko Street Market, once a black market selling American goods after World War II. Continue to the old-time entertainment center of Asakusa to visit the Sensoji Buddhist Temple, which has been rebuilt countless times since its founding in 628, making it Tokyo's oldest temple site. Take a stroll down Nakamise shopping street with some free time for lunch, then join a Local Specialist and learn the mesmerizing rhythmic art of Taiko drumming, one of Japan's most popular cultural icons. Board a cruise along the Sumida River to admire Tokyo's modern skyline, the traditional neighborhoods of old Edo and beautiful Hamarikyu Garden. Later, return to your hotel for time at leisure and dinner at a Sumo-themed izakaya restaurant.

    meal(s):Buffet Breakfast, Dinner
  3. We journey to Kamakura today. A former political capital, its glory days under the Kamakura shogunate spanned from the 12th to 14th centuries, coinciding with the spread of Buddhism in Japan which is reflected in the city's numerous temples. The most important of these is the Tsurugaoka Hachimangu shrine, which we'll have an opportunity to visit this morning, passing multiple torii gates that line the wide approach from Kamakura's waterfront. We head to Komachi-dori street for some free time to admire the old western-style houses lining narrow alleys that branch off this popular market street. Later, we'll travel to Kotokuin Temple to see its Great Buddha which weighs 121 tons. Returning to Tokyo, enjoy an evening at leisure or an opportunity to join an Optional Experience.

    meal(s):Buffet Breakfast
  4. The towering slopes of snow-capped Mt. Fuji loom in the distance as we journey from Tokyo to this celebrated UNESCO-listed site. Admire spectacular views of the surrounding countryside from its 5th station, a magnificent vantage point at 7,550 feet. After lunch at a local restaurant, we'll continue to Owakudani to see the volcanic activity. Consider sampling the local black eggs boiled in geysers, then head back to the hotel for an evening at leisure.

    meal(s):Buffet Breakfast, Lunch
  5. We leave Tokyo, traveling by high-speed bullet train to Kyoto, another former capital of Japan and the center of Japanese culture for centuries. On arrival, we'll embark on a walking tour of the Gion District, embracing the energy of Kawaramachi street. Enjoy some free time before we head to the UNESCO-listed Kinkakuji Temple, whose glittering golden pavilion is widely regarded as the symbol of Kyoto. Enjoy the rest of the evening at leisure and perhaps some karaoke or a visit to a local Geisha teahouse.

    meal(s):Buffet Breakfast
    hotel:Nikko Princess
  6. After a late start this morning, we'll visit one of Kyoto's highlights—the historic and scenic district of Arashiyama, renowned for its cherry blossom trees which bloom in the springtime and its beautiful landscapes that change dramatically from season to season. Enjoy a leisurely walk through the towering Bamboo groves and see its iconic Togetsukyo Bridge. Connect with nature in the Zen gardens of Tenryuji Temple, then return to Kyoto for some free time at Nishiki market, a traditional food market known by locals as "Kyoto's Pantry." Return to your hotel or consider joining an Optional Experience.

    meal(s):Buffet Breakfast
  7. Delve into the ancient history of Nara, the first permanent capital city of Japan. Here you'll visit the landmark Todaiji Temple, one of the powerful Seven Great Temples and home to one of Japan's largest bronze statues of Buddha. Take a stroll around Nara Park, home to hundreds of freely roaming tame deer, then connect with locals over a Be My Guest lunch with a local farmer at his tea plantation. Gain insights into the life of his family while sampling fresh tea and indulging in a delicious home-made meal. Return to Kyoto later, for an evening at leisure.

    meal(s):Buffet Breakfast, Lunch
  8. This morning, we board a high-speed bullet train to Hiroshima, a lively city that celebrates peace in the shadow of the previous century's devastation. Our first stop is to a local restaurant where we'll join our Local Specialist for an Okonomiyaki Making experience. Mix your ingredients to make your own savory pancake and cook it on a hot plate before enjoying your creation for lunch. This afternoon, we head to the Peace Memorial Park and Museum and see the UNESCO-listed Peace Memorial, the only structure left standing when the first atomic bomb exploded in 1945. Take a moment to contemplate its symbolic expression of hope for world peace, then spend the rest of the evening at leisure.

    meal(s):Buffet Breakfast, Lunch
    hotel:Rihga Royal
  9. Take the ferry to Miyajima Island to visit the famous UNESCO-listed Itsukushima Shrine and elaborate torii gate rising majestically out of the sea. Learn how to make Momiji Manjyu, one of the local specialties, shaping your steamed bun in the shape of a maple leaf and filling it with sweet red bean paste. You'll have an opportunity to sample your work before some free time for lunch. Spend the rest of the afternoon at leisure or consider joining an Optional Experience. Later, join your fellow guests and Travel Director for a Farewell Dinner in a local restaurant.

    meal(s):Buffet Breakfast, Farewell Dinner
  10. Depart Hiroshima this morning bound for Matsue, the "City of Water" and home to one of Japan's few remaining original castles, which you'll have an opportunity to explore after lunch at your hotel. Located on the shores of Shinji Lake, the "black castle" remains in its original wooden form and features an extensive collection of Japanese samurai armor and swords. The heritage of the samurai is further explored during a visit to a local residence which once belonged to a middle-ranking samurai family who worked for the Matsue clan. Here you will gain insights into how the samurais lived surrounded by the charm and character of old Japan, before strolling down scenic Shiomi Nawate which lines the castle moat. This evening is at leisure.

    meal(s):Buffet Breakfast, Lunch
    hotel:Matsue Excel Tokyu
  11. Celebrate Japanese art and garden design during this morning's visit to the Adachi Museum of Art in Yasugi. Famous for its award-winning Japanese garden, ranked first for 15 consecutive years by the US magazine 'Journal of Japanese Gardening,' the museum houses a large collection of 20th-century paintings and artworks which are rotated seasonally. Return to Matsue and enjoy some free time for lunch before joining a Local Specialist who will teach you how to make waga-shi, traditional Japanese sweets made in a variety of shapes and consistencies. Today, Matsue is one of the three most famous producers of waga-shi. This evening, enjoy a relaxing cruise on Lake Shinjiko, admiring the sun's reflection on the lake's still waters, signalling the end of a busy day of sightseeing.

    meal(s):Buffet Breakfast
  12. Take a step back in time during this morning's visit to Tsuyama, a former castle town which enjoyed its heyday as a merchant city between the 17th and 19th centuries. Today, all that remains of this time are the 148-foot-tall stone walls and beautiful cherry blossoms that dot the city's Kakuzan-koen park in the springtime. Join your Local Specialist for a walk around the Joto district, with its many machiya (traditional townhouses) revealing the city's former trading heritage. Afterward, enjoy lunch in a local restaurant before continuing to the pulsating cityscape that is Osaka. On arrival, embark on an orientation drive through the city before checking in to your hotel for an evening at leisure.

    meal(s):Buffet Breakfast, Lunch
    hotel:Sheraton Miyako
  13. Gain a different perspective of Osaka's landmark city sights, starting your day with a cruise on the 'aqua-bus' along Okawa River. Sail past the Japan Mint, City Hall, Nakanoshima and Osaka Castle, one of Japan's most famous landmarks. Visit the downtown district of Shinsekai to see the Tsutenkaku Tower, then continue to the Dotonbori Street area for some time at leisure. Delve into the star-crossed love story of Ohatsu and Tokubei during your visit to the Tusyunoten Shrine in Umeda, associated with the Edo-period play 'The Love Suicides of Sonezaki,' which tells of the tragic double suicide that took place at the shrine in 1703. To this day, visitors write their prayers for success in love on special wooden plaques called ema, many of which bear the image of Ohatsu and Tokubei. Admire the panoramic views of Osaka from the Floating Garden Observatory—an open-air viewing platform that straddles the two towers of the Umeda Sky Building. Then, return to your hotel or consider joining an Optional Experience for your final evening in Japan.

    meal(s):Buffet Breakfast
  14. Say a fond sayonara to Japan and take a transfer by airport shuttle service to Kansai International Airport or Osaka Itami Airport for your onward flight.

    meal(s):Buffet Breakfast
Request a Quote
  • 30 Day Refund Guarantee

    We promise you’ll enjoy a stress-free travel experience from the minute you start your vacation planning or we’ll refund your deposit. Make your reservation with a $350 deposit. If you change your mind for any reason within 30 days of booking, we’ll offer you a full refund.

  • Add air to your reservation

    Let our Air Specialists handle your air reservations. We have direct access to the most current airfare routes and prices, so you’ll get the best value available when we book your flights. We never charge a booking fee and you’ll enjoy the flexibility to pay for air 60-90 days prior to departure.

Print Itinerary
  • Definite Departure
Start Date Return Date Price Discount Availability Price
29 Mar 19 11 Apr 19 $9,425$8,483pp Early PaymentPay by Jan 17 Request Quote Book Now
5 Apr 19 18 Apr 19 $9,425$8,483pp Early PaymentPay by Jan 17 Request Quote Book Now
12 Apr 19 25 Apr 19 $9,175$8,258pp Early PaymentPay by Jan 17 Request Quote Book Now
19 Apr 19 2 May 19 $9,175$8,258pp Early PaymentPay by Jan 17 Request Quote Book Now
10 May 19 23 May 19 $9,175$8,258pp Early PaymentPay by Jan 17 Request Quote Book Now
7 Jun 19 20 Jun 19 $8,750$7,875pp Early PaymentPay by Jan 17 Request Quote Book Now
5 Jul 19 18 Jul 19 $8,750$7,875pp Early PaymentPay by Jan 17 Request Quote Book Now
19 Jul 19 1 Aug 19 $8,750$7,875pp Early PaymentPay by Jan 17 Request Quote Book Now
16 Aug 19 29 Aug 19 $8,750$7,875pp Early PaymentPay by Jan 17 Request Quote Book Now
6 Sep 19 19 Sep 19 $8,895$8,006pp Early PaymentPay by Jan 17 Request Quote Book Now
13 Sep 19 26 Sep 19 $8,895$8,006pp Early PaymentPay by Jan 17 Request Quote Book Now
11 Oct 19 24 Oct 19 $8,950$8,055pp Early PaymentPay by Jan 17 Request Quote Book Now
25 Oct 19 7 Nov 19 $8,950$8,055pp Early PaymentPay by Jan 17 Request Quote Book Now

Price is per person and is based on two people sharing a twin bedded room. Single rooms are available at a supplement.

Single Room Supplement: from $1,480.

Cherry Blossom season varies between different regions of Japan and is dependant on weather conditions so can also vary slightly each year. Late March to mid-April are the most likely times to experience it on this trip but this is not guaranteed.

AARP Members are entitled to an exclusive Member Benefit Discount on all Grand European Travel vacations. Plus receive a free travel gift! Call Toll Free: 1-866-847-3858 for details.

Print Itinerary

  • Professional Travel Director Professional Travel Director
  • Sightseeing with Local Experts Sightseeing with Local Experts
  • VIP Access VIP Access
  • WIFI on Coach and in Hotels WIFI on Coach and in Hotels
  • Cultural Enrichment Cultural Enrichment
  • Expertly Selected Hotels Expertly Selected Hotels
  • Most Meals Most Meals
  • Personal Flight Options Personal Flight Options

Meal Summary

13 buffet breakfasts, 5 lunches, 3 dinners.

Included Highlights

Connect With Locals

  • Lunch with a local farmer's family who runs a traditional tea plantation in Nara

Dive Into Culture

  • Visit Ameyoko Street Market
  • Take a Taiko Drumming lesson
  • Dine in an izakaya restaurant
  • Learn how to make Okonomiyaki and Momiji Manjyu
  • Learn how to make waga-shi, traditional Japanese sweets

Local Specialist

  • Taiko drumming lesson, Okonomiyaki making experience in Matsue, walking tour of Tsuyama

Sightseeing Highlights

  • City Tour of Tokyo, Kamakura, Matsue, Osaka
  • Visit Sensoji Temple in Tokyo, Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine and Kotokuin Temple in Kamakura, Mt. Fuji 5th Station, Gion District, Arashiyama and Kinkakuji Temple in Kyoto, Todaiji Temple and Nara Park in Nara, Peace Memorial Park and Museum in Hiroshima, Itsukushima Shrine on Miyajima Island, Matsue Castle, Tusyunoten Shrine and Umeda Sky Building in Osaka
  • Cruise along the Sumida River in Tokyo, on Lake Shinjiko in Matsue and on the Okawa River in Osaka
  • See the multiple orange colored torii gates in Kamakura, the Togetsukyo Bridge in Arashiyama, Tsutenkaku Tower in Osaka
Request a Quote
  • 30 Day Refund Guarantee

    We promise you’ll enjoy a stress-free travel experience from the minute you start your vacation planning or we’ll refund your deposit. Make your reservation with a $350 deposit. If you change your mind for any reason within 30 days of booking, we’ll offer you a full refund.

  • Add air to your reservation

    Let our Air Specialists handle your air reservations. We have direct access to the most current airfare routes and prices, so you’ll get the best value available when we book your flights. We never charge a booking fee and you’ll enjoy the flexibility to pay for air 60-90 days prior to departure.

Print Itinerary
  • U.S. citizens traveling to Japan must have a current passport that is valid for six months beyond the conclusion of their trip. You can find information on how to apply for a passport here, and how to renew a passport here. No visa is required for U.S. citizens entering Japan.

  • The currency in Japan is the Yen. We recommend bringing a combination of debit and credit cards on your trip. It is important that you inform your financial institutions of your travel plans before leaving the country.  You can pay by card at larger stores but small shops and markets will only accept cash. The most convenient way to obtain yen is by using your debit or ATM card to withdraw cash at local banks in Japan.  

  • One of the most enjoyable parts of traveling is sampling the local cuisine.  Japanese food offers an abundance of delights with an emphasis on seasonal ingredients and regional traditions.  Rice, noodles, and miso soup are common staples.  You’ll find a variety of fish, which is often grilled, but also served raw in sushi or sashimi. Seafood and vegetables are also deep-fried as tempura.

  • We suggest bringing comfortable, loose-fitting clothing that can be layered. Sturdy walking shoes are important for sightseeing excursions; a hat, lightweight jacket, and shawl or scarf could also come in handy. Keep in mind that your shoulders and knees should be covered while visiting religious sites. For more helpful information please refer to our Packing Tips & Packing List.

  • There is no custom of tipping at restaurants in Japan.  If you attempt leave a tip for your waiter it could very well be refused – or even perceived as an insult.  As such, it’s best to follow the local customs by not tipping on top of your bill. 

    It is, however, customary to offer your motor coach driver and Travel Director a gratuity.  We recommend the equivalent of $4 per person/per day for your driver and $6 per person/per day for your Travel Director.  Recommended gratuity for a Local Host and Local Specialist is the equivalent of 1-2 dollars per person, paid at the conclusion of each guided visit.  A convenient option is to prepay your tips before your departure.

  • Baggage on our trips is restricted to one large suitcase per person with dimensions not exceeding 30x19x10 inches and a maximum weight of 50 pounds. You are also permitted one piece of hand luggage, which should be small enough to fit under your coach seat or on the small overhead shelf compartment. Please note that luggage with an adjustable handle and wheels will not fit in the overhead compartment of the coach. Hotel porterage is included in your vacation.

  • You will need to be comfortable on your feet, walking and standing for up to three hours in various weather conditions.  All of our vacations involve walking, often on cobblestone and uneven surfaces in historic city centers.  In order to get the most out of your vacation you need to be able to comfortably walk 1-3 miles unassisted in one day, be in good condition and be able to keep pace with the group. 

    If you need any medications, it is important that you bring enough to last you the whole trip and keep them in your carry-on bag while you travel.

  • We highly recommend our optional Travel Protection Plan, which allows you to cancel for any reason up to 24 hours before departure. The plan also includes trip interruption, baggage loss or delay, and medical and emergency assistance. Click here for a summary of coverage details, terms and conditions.

Request a Quote
  • 30 Day Refund Guarantee

    We promise you’ll enjoy a stress-free travel experience from the minute you start your vacation planning or we’ll refund your deposit. Make your reservation with a $350 deposit. If you change your mind for any reason within 30 days of booking, we’ll offer you a full refund.

  • Add air to your reservation

    Let our Air Specialists handle your air reservations. We have direct access to the most current airfare routes and prices, so you’ll get the best value available when we book your flights. We never charge a booking fee and you’ll enjoy the flexibility to pay for air 60-90 days prior to departure.

Print Itinerary

Reviews

Trip not yet reviewed
Request a Quote
  • 30 Day Refund Guarantee

    We promise you’ll enjoy a stress-free travel experience from the minute you start your vacation planning or we’ll refund your deposit. Make your reservation with a $350 deposit. If you change your mind for any reason within 30 days of booking, we’ll offer you a full refund.

  • Add air to your reservation

    Let our Air Specialists handle your air reservations. We have direct access to the most current airfare routes and prices, so you’ll get the best value available when we book your flights. We never charge a booking fee and you’ll enjoy the flexibility to pay for air 60-90 days prior to departure.

Be the First to Know!

Sign up for our emails and receive exclusive offers, travel information, announcements, and more!
Providing peace of mind and unparalleled service for over 40 years.