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Spiritual Japan

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Tour Pace: Active
Heian Shrine, Kyoto
Tour Style: First Class
10 Days from $4,028 per person

Retrace the steps of the ancients – a spiritual interlude with some of Japan's most sacred places and the extraordinary rituals performed throughout millennia.

Visit the birthplace of Shingon Buddism, the elegantly painted sliding doors of Kongobunji Temple and delight in vegetarian dishes served by local monks at their monastery lodgings.

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  1. Board your overnight flight to Asia (not included).

  2. 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 drink with appetizers.
    meal(s):WR
    hotel:Rihga Royal Osaka
  3. After breakfast start your city tour with a visit to Osaka Castle, one of Japan's most famous landmarks which played a major role in the unification of Japan during the sixteenth century. Although the present structure is a 1931 reconstruction, it's nonetheless quite a sight, looming dramatically over the surrounding park, which has the bonus of being a great place to view cherry blossom in the springtime. Next visit the Abeno Harukas Observatory which standing at 300 meters is the tallest skyscraper in Japan. The observation deck with large floor-to-ceiling glass panels all around offers 360 degree panoramic views of Osaka. Later enjoy some free time for shopping in the Umeda district before returning to the hotel. This afternoon is yours at leisure or choose to join an Optional Experience.
    meal(s):BB
  4. This morning travel to Mt. Koya, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and where the Shingon Buddism sect was introduced in 805 by the priest Kukai, who posthumously became known as Kobo Daishi. Here visit the Kongobunji Temple with its elegantly painted sliding doors and the Danjo Garan Temple, one of the first complexes built by Kobo Daishi in Mt. Koya. Later enjoy a Japanese style vegetarian lunch at a delightful monastery inn (shukubo) served by local monks, a Cultural Insight. Continue to Okunoin, Japan's largest cemetery and the site of Kobo Daishi's mausoleum, set in an enchanted forest of towering ancient cedar trees. Travel to Shirahama and later enjoy dinner in a local authentic Japanese ‘Izakaya'.
    meal(s):BB, L, D
    hotel:Nanki Shirahama Marriott
  5. Today visit the Kumano area, the spiritual heartland of Japan and discover the Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Route, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Choose to ascend Daimonzaka Hill either on foot or by coach to admire the Nachi Taisha Shrine, Seiganotoji Temple and the impressive Nachi waterfall which at approximately 130 meters high is the tallest waterfall in Japan. Continue your journey by visiting Hayatama Taisha one of Kumano's most important shrines that holds an important place in Japanese mythology. The collection housed in this small museum is impressive, with more national treasures than some major museums. Continue to your hotel which for the next two nights is the Shima Kanko The Classic; famous for hosting the 42nd G7 summit in 2016 which was attended by many top politicians including President Barack Obama. This evening enjoy dinner at the hotel.
    meal(s):BB, D
    hotel:Shima Kanko The Classic
  6. Enjoy a later start this morning before traveling to Ise to visit the Ise Jingu Shrine the most revered Shinto sanctuary of great spiritual and historical significance. It consists of an inner and outer shrine and both are rebuilt from scratch every 20 years according to ancient Shinto tradition. Later meet some traditional free divers known as ‘Ama', as seen in the James Bond movie ‘You Only Live Twice'. They are working women of the region who dressed all in white, dive into the sea without any diving equipment to catch shellfish and seaweed. Enjoy the fine flavor of the char-grilled local fresh seafood while listening to the stories told by the friendly and cheerful divers, a Cultural Insight. Later visit Mikimoto Pearl Island which is the place where, for the first time in the world, pearls were successfully cultured. Then enjoy some free time at a local mall for shopping and dinner at one of the many local and international restaurants.
    meal(s):BB
  7. Travel to Iga and start the day with a visit to the Ninja Museum, dedicated to the history of ninja and ninjutsu, an original form of warfare developed mainly in the region. The museum's collection includes very old ninjutsu writings analyzed scientifically along with ancient weapons. Continue by exploring Ueno Castle constructed in the late 16th century served as the seat of the local lords during the Edo Period. The castle tower was destroyed in a storm less than 50 years later and not rebuilt until 1935 when a local resident provided funding for the tower's reconstruction. Then enjoy a special Be My Guest lunch with a monk at Shorenji Temple in Nabari while learning about the history and traditions of the region. After lunch continue to Kyoto for your overnight stay.
    meal(s):BB, BG
    hotel:New Miyako
  8. Enjoy a late start this morning followed by a visit to Kinkakuji Temple; a UNESCO World Heritage site famous for its Golden Pavilion reflecting beautifully in the water of the adjoining pond. Lunch today is okonomiyaki; similar to a savory pancake and made with egg, cabbage, soba noodles and meat, seafood or cheese and grilled in layers on a hot plate in front of you. This afternoon visit Arashiyama and the breath-taking Bamboo Forest for a walk through the bamboo groves. Continue on with a visit to Tenryuji Temple which has one of the finest gardens in Kyoto and scenic mountain views.
    meal(s):BB, L
  9. This morning visit the Kiyomizu-dera Temple; a buzzing hive of activity perched on a hill overlooking the city. It is one of Kyoto's most popular and most enjoyable temples and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Then head to Sanjusangendo Hall, a temple famous for its 1001 statues of Kannon, the goddess of mercy. Return to the hotel for a leisurely afternoon or choose to take part in an Optional Experience. This evening have a delightful Farewell dinner with your fellow companions and Travel Director at a local restaurant.

    meal(s):BB, FD
  10. Transfer by airport shuttle to Kansai International Airport or Osaka Itami Airport for your onward flight.
    meal(s):BB
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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.

  • 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
  • Hotel Tips Hotel Tips
  • Most Meals Most Meals
  • Personal Flight Options Personal Flight Options

Meal Summary

8 nights , 8 buffet breakfasts, 3 lunches, 4 dinners, On-trip transport, .

Included Highlights

Hidden Treasure

  • Enjoy at least one surprise Hidden Treasure

Be My Guest

  • Lunch with a monk at Shorenji Temple in Nabari

Cultural Insight

  • Enjoy a Japanese style vegetarian lunch at a monastery inn. Learn about the 'Ama', professional women shellfish divers

Sightseeing Highlights

  • City Tour of Osaka, Kyoto
  • Visit Osaka Castle, the Abeno Harukas Observatory in Osaka, the Kongobuji Temple, the Danjo Garan Temple in Mt. Koya, the Ise Jingu Shrine, Mikimoto Pearl Island in Shima, the Ninja Museum, Ueno Castle in Iga, Bamboo Forest, Kinkakuji Temple, Sanjusangendo Hall in Kyoto
  • View the Nachi waterfall in Kumano
  • Definite Departure
Depart Date Return Date Price Discount Availability Price
17 Mar 18 26 Mar 18 $4,550$4,095pp Early PaymentPay by Jan 11 Request Quote Book Now
24 Mar 18 2 Apr 18 $4,550$4,095pp Early PaymentPay by Jan 11 Request Quote Book Now
31 Mar 18 9 Apr 18 $4,550$4,095pp Early PaymentPay by Jan 11 Request Quote Book Now
7 Apr 18 16 Apr 18 $4,550$4,095pp Early PaymentPay by Jan 11 Request Quote Book Now
5 May 18 14 May 18 $4,550$4,095pp Early PaymentPay by Jan 11 Request Quote Book Now
2 Jun 18 11 Jun 18 $4,475$4,028pp Early PaymentPay by Jan 11 Request Quote Book Now
16 Jun 18 25 Jun 18 $4,475$4,028pp Early PaymentPay by Jan 11 Request Quote Book Now
30 Jun 18 9 Jul 18 $4,550$4,095pp Early PaymentPay by Jan 11 Request Quote Book Now
1 Sep 18 10 Sep 18 $4,550$4,095pp Early PaymentPay by Jan 11 Request Quote Book Now
29 Sep 18 8 Oct 18 $4,550$4,095pp Early PaymentPay by Jan 11 Request Quote Book Now
6 Oct 18 15 Oct 18 $4,550$4,095pp Early PaymentPay by Jan 11 Request Quote Book Now
13 Oct 18 22 Oct 18 $4,550$4,095pp Early PaymentPay by Jan 11 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.

Cherry Blossom Season varies between different regions of Japan and is dependent on weather conditions. Late March to mid April are the most likely times to experience it on this trip, but this is not guaranteed.

Single Room Supplement: from $930.

Room Share: Guaranteed Room Share is not available on this trip. 

Early Payment Discount: Pay in full to save the amount listed above. For details, click here. 

AARP members SAVE $100 per person on any guided vacation or river cruise!

Past Travelers: Save an additional 5% off the price of the vacation. 

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.

  • 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 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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