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Spiritual Japan with Tokyo

12 Days from $6,458 per person

Style: First Class | Pace: Leisurely

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.

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

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Overview

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.

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

  1. 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):Welcome Reception
    hotel:Rihga Royal Osaka
  2. 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. General Toyotomi Hideyoshi built the original castle in 1583 as a display of power, using, it's said, the labor of 100,000 workers. 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 984 ft is the tallest skyscraper in Japan. The building stands on top of Kintetsu Osaka Abenobashi Station and it houses a department store, an art museum, a hotel and the observation deck which occupies the buildings top three floors. With large floor-to-ceiling glass panels all around, the 60th floor 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):Buffet Breakfast
  3. This morning travel to Mt. Koya, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and where the Shingon Buddhism sect was introduced in 805 by the priest Kukai, who posthumously became known as Kobo Daishi. Here visit the Kongobuji 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):Buffet Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    hotel:Nanki Shirahama Marriott
  4. 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 425 ft 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):Buffet Breakfast, Dinner
    hotel:Prime Resort Kashikojima
  5. Enjoy a later start this morning before travelling 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):Buffet Breakfast, Dinner
  6. 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):Buffet Breakfast, Lunch
    hotel:New Miyako
  7. 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, a district on the outskirts of Kyoto. Visit the breath-taking Bamboo Forest and walk along the paths that cut through the bamboo groves. Standing amid these soaring stalks of bamboo is like being in another world! Continue on with a visit to Tenryuji Temple which has one of the finest gardens in Kyoto and wonderful mountain views.

    meal(s):Buffet Breakfast, Lunch
  8. 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):Buffet Breakfast, Farewell Dinner
  9. This morning travel to Tokyo by high speed bullet train. On arrival check in to your centrally located hotel.

    meal(s):Buffet Breakfast
    hotel:Keio Plaza
  10. On your City Tour this morning visit the observation deck at the Tokyo Tower which opened in 1958 as a broadcasting mast and at the time was the tallest building in Tokyo. Make a stop at the Imperial Palace Plaza, a large park area in the center of Tokyo from where the two bridges that form the entrance to the inner grounds of the Imperial Palace can be viewed. It is the primary residence of the Emperor of Japan and built on the former site of Edo Castle. Continue to Asakusa and visit the Sensoji Buddhist temple. It is one of Tokyo's most colorful and popular temples and has been rebuilt countless times since it was founded in 628, making it Tokyo's oldest temple site. Visit Nakamise, a shopping street over 650 ft long that stretches from the outer gate to the temple's second interior gate. 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 and take some free time for shopping and lunch.

    meal(s):Buffet Breakfast
  11. After breakfast depart Tokyo for the Five Lakes District, dominated by majestic UNESCO listed Mt. Fuji. At 12,388 ft it is Japan's highest mountain and most recognizable icon. Ascend by road to 7,546 ft at the 5th Station before taking a ride on the Kachikachiyama Ropeway, (both weather permitting) a cable car ride offering spectacular views on a clear day of Mt. Fuji and Lake Kawaguchi. Later return to your hotel for a relaxing evening.

    meal(s):Buffet Breakfast
  12. Transfer by airport shuttle service to Tokyo Narita or Haneda International Airport for your onward flight.

    meal(s):Buffet Breakfast
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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.

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  • Definite Departure
Start Date Return Date Price Discount Availability Price
17 Mar 19 28 Mar 19 $7,250$6,525pp Early PaymentPay by Jan 17 Request Quote Book Now
7 Apr 19 18 Apr 19 $7,295$6,566pp Early PaymentPay by Jan 17 Request Quote Book Now
14 Apr 19 25 Apr 19 $7,295$6,566pp Early PaymentPay by Jan 17 Request Quote Book Now
5 May 19 16 May 19 $7,250$6,525pp Early PaymentPay by Jan 17 Request Quote Book Now
2 Jun 19 13 Jun 19 $7,175$6,458pp Early PaymentPay by Jan 17 Request Quote Book Now
23 Jun 19 4 Jul 19 $7,175$6,458pp Early PaymentPay by Jan 17 Request Quote Book Now
14 Jul 19 25 Jul 19 $7,175$6,458pp Early PaymentPay by Jan 17 Request Quote Book Now
1 Sep 19 12 Sep 19 $7,295$6,566pp Early PaymentPay by Jan 17 Request Quote Book Now
29 Sep 19 10 Oct 19 $7,295$6,566pp Early PaymentPay by Jan 17 Request Quote Book Now
13 Oct 19 24 Oct 19 $7,295$6,566pp 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.

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.

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.

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  • 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

11 buffet breakfasts, 3 lunches, 5 dinners.

Included Highlights

Connect with Locals

  • Lunch with a local family

Dive into Culture

  • Enjoy a Japanese-style vegetarian lunch at a monastery inn served by the local monks and a traditional tea ceremony in a Machiya townhouse.

Make a Difference

  • Learn about the Ama, professional women shellfish divers.

Sightseeing Highlights

  • City Tour of Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo
  • 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, 5th Station at Mt. Fuji
  • View the Nachi waterfall in Kumano, Mt. Fuji and Lake Kawaguchi
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

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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.

Optional Experiences are subject to change. Your Travel Director will supply you with a final list of Optional Experiences available on your trip. Optional Experiences cannot be booked online; they can be purchased during your trip through your Travel Director.

Kyoto

Gion Corner, Kyoto

Adult Price: ¥3900

The Gion corner is a unique experience where you can observe seven of Kyoto’s traditional performing arts, all on one stage. See a Bunraku puppet play; A UNESCO listed traditional Japanese puppet performance. Listen to the wonderful harmonies of Koto Music, as a master plays an ancient six stringed zither using ivory plectrums worn on their fingers. Watch Kyo-Mai, an elegant and dazzling dance performed by Maiko dancers in beautiful and ornate dress. Enjoy a performance of Kyogen Theatre, a comical play portraying humorous stories of daily life. Experience Gagaku (court music), the indigenous Japanese music performed at imperial court shrines and temples. During the evening observe the art of creating flower arrangements and a traditional ‘Ryurei style’ tea ceremony. There is also a Maiko Gallery, displaying costumes, hair decorations and videos of Maiko Dancers. NB. The price shown is in Japanese Yen.

Japanese Tea Ceremony Experience

Adult Price: ¥3500

Experience the ambience of a traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony with a professional Tea Master who will have spent many years leaning his craft which is often presented in a ceremony influenced by Zen Buddhism. Learn about the history and culture of tea making in Japan and observe how the powdered green tea (matcha) is prepared by adding boiling water and mixing it with a bamboo whisk. There will also be an explanation on the Japanese way of making and drinking tea. Take the opportunity to try some Japanese sweets and afterwards, having observed the skill involved in making the tea, have a go at making your own! The price shown is in Japanese Yen.

Tokyo

Kimono Dressing Experience

Adult Price: ¥4500

From cotton summer yukatas to silk kimonos, these pieces of wearable art are icons of Japanese style. Visit a specialist kimono hiring shop and have fun getting dressed up in traditional Japanese style with the assistance of an expert ‘kimono dresser’ who will show you the tricks to make it easy. Choose your preferred colour of kimono which will come with a matching bag and shoes. A professional stylist will dress you in the kimono and afterwards enjoy some free time to stroll through streets wearing your kimono! Strike a pose for camera carrying visitors or just simply act like a local and take a relaxing stroll through the streets. Great fun for both ladies and gentlemen. The price shown is in Japanese Yen.

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.

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  • 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.

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