A leisurely trail from Osaka to Hiroshima, Japan's mesmerising culture comes alive in incredible moments like cruising the Okawa River and strolling through a floating garden high above the city.
You'll enjoy Insider moments like… mastering the art of making Udon Noodles with an expert in Kotohira, then tucking into your thick and juicy handmade noodles for lunch. And sinking into a hot spring ‘onsen' bath, before settling down for the night in an authentic Japanese ryokan.
Board your overnight flight to Asia (not included).
Welcome to Japan. Upon arrival at Osaka Itami or Kansai International Airport, transfer by pre-booked airport shuttle service to your hotel. This evening join your Travel Director and fellow travelers for a Welcome Reception with appetizers.
Start your day with a cruise on the ‘aqua-bus' along Osaka's Okawa River. See the sights of the city including Osaka Castle, the Japan Mint, City Hall and Nakanoshima. Later enjoy panoramic views at the Floating Garden Observatory in the Umeda Sky Building. This afternoon travel to Nara, the first permanent capital of Japan. Visit the Todaiji Temple, which houses one of Japan's largest bronze statues of Buddha at 15 meters tall, and Nara Park, home to hundreds of freely roaming deer. Enjoy some free time at the Higashimuki Shopping Arcade before returning to Osaka.
This morning travel to Kyoto and start your City Tour with a visit to the Fushimi Inari Shrine. See the tunnel of thousands of bright orange torii gates that snake through the forest up into the mountains. Then head to Sanjusangen-do Hall, a temple famous for its 1001 statues followed by a walking tour of the Gion area. Enjoy some free time in Gion before continuing to the Kinkakuji Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage site famous for its Golden Pavilion. Later return to your hotel in Osaka.
Cross the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge, the world's longest suspension bridge, over the Seto Inland Sea to Awaji Island. At the Water Temple see how the mountains, sky, rice paddies and bamboo groves are reflected in the stillness of the water as you descend the steps to a unique Buddhist temple below the waterline. Afterwards check in to your hotel and enjoy some free time. Perhaps take a dip in the hotel's indoor swimming pool, treat yourself to a massage or alternatively take a walk around the Yumebutai complex. One of the most striking features of the complex is the ‘100 Stepped Garden', a group of 100 flower beds in small square gardens on an incline and arranged in grids spread over several levels.
This morning cross to Shikoku Island and make a stop in Takamatsu to have some free time for lunch. Visit Ritsurin Garden, one of the most famous historical gardens in Japan featuring many ponds, small hills, bridges and beautiful pavilions. Later continue to the mountain hot springs village of Kotohira for your dinner and overnight stay in your Authentic Accommodations, a Japanese ryokan. This evening perhaps have a relaxing soak in the hot spring (onsen) bath.
This morning climb the steps adjacent to the hotel up to Kotohira-gu Shrine and be rewarded with breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside. The shrine is often referred to as ‘Kompirasan' and is known as the 'guardian of the sea' dedicated to sailors. For lunch you will take part in an Udon Noodle Making cooking class with a Local Specialist. Udon is a type of thick wheat flour noodle featured often in Japanese cuisine. Afterwards visit the Kinryo Sake Museum, a Cultural Insight. Enjoy some free time for the remainder of the day.
Start the day with a visit to the Zentsuji Temple, birthplace of the high priest Kobo Daishi. It is the 75th temple on the 88 temple Shikoku Pilgrimage, which covers approximately 1,200 kilometers and is traditionally done on foot. Continue to Matsuyama, Shikoku's largest city and known for its hot springs (onsen). Take the cable car to visit Matsuyama Castle, located on Mt. Katsuyama. There are about 200 cherry trees in the castle grounds, making this a lovely cherry blossom viewing spot in the spring. Enjoy a Be My Guest lunch at a local ryokan followed by a rikisha ride around Dogo Onsen and some free time for shopping.
Drive to Hiroshima via the Setouchi Shimanami Kaido Expressway, a 60-kilometre highway that links the islands of the Seto Inland Sea with nine individual bridges. Stop en route at Omishima Island for lunch in a local restaurant before continuing on to your hotel in Hiroshima.
This morning catch a ferry over to Miyajima Island and on arrival visit the Itsukushima Shrine. Admire the elaborate torii gate rising majestically out of the sea and have some free time for lunch and exploring. This afternoon return to Hiroshima and visit the Peace Memorial Park and Museum. See the UNESCO listed Peace Memorial, the only structure left standing in the area when the first atomic bomb exploded in 1945. This evening join your Travel Director and travel companions for a Farewell Dinner.
This morning travel to Tokyo by high speed bullet train. On arrival check in to your centrally located hotel.
On your City Tour this morning see the Tokyo Tower and make a stop at the Imperial Palace Plaza, a large park area from where the two bridges that form the entrance to the inner grounds of the Imperial Palace can be viewed. Continue to Asakusa and visit the Sensoji Buddhist Temple. It is one of Tokyo's most colorful and popular temples. Next drive through Akihabara which began its evolution into "Electric Town" post-WWII when the area became a black market for radio parts. Later, make a stop at Ginza for some free time.
Depart Tokyo for the Five Lakes DIstrict, dominated by majestic UNESCO-listed Mt. Fuji. Ascend by road to 2,3000 meters at the 5th Station before taking a ride on the Kachikachiyama Ropeway (weather permitting), a cable car ride offering spectacular views on a clear day of Mt. Fuji and Lake Kawaguchi.
Transfer by airport shuttle service to Tokyo Narita or Haneda International Airport for your onward flight.
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 $530
Room Share: Guaranteed Room Share is not available on this trip.
Note: For guests traveling to Tokyo by bullet train on day 10, please bring an overnight bag for day 9.
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.
Past Travelers: Save an additional 5% off the price of the vacation.
9 nights' accommodations, 9 buffet breakfasts, 3 lunches, 4 dinners.
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 48 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.
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