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Tokyo (1N)/Kushiro (2N)/ Abashiri (1N)/Sapporo (2N)/Yudanaka Onsen (2N)/Takayama (2N)/Kanazawa (1N)/Mount Koya (1N)/Kyoto (2N)
Japan is a land overflowing with unforgettable experiences. The pamphlet in your hands is a curated guide to one hundred such destinations, handpicked to appeal to the visitor from abroad looking to delve deeper into the country and its culture. A committee of experts has carefully selected those that offer the visitor hands-on experiences that are distinctively Japanese— sites that tell a powerful story that will stimulate the senses, stir the heart, and leave impressions that will stay with you long after you return home.
Tokyo: Shinbashi Atagoyama Tokyu REI Hotel or Similar
Kushiro: Crowne Plaza Kushiro or Similar
Abashiri: Abashiriso or Similar
Sapporo: T mark city Hotel Sapporo or Similar
Yodanaka Onsen Hotel &Resort Yamanouchi hills or Similar
Takayama: Hida Takayama Washington Hotel Plaza or Similar
Kanazawa: Dormy Inn Kanazawa or Similar
Koya: Shukubo Koya-san Eko-in Temple or Similar
Kyoto: URBAN HOTEL KYOTO GOJO PREMIUM or Similar
Welcome to Tokyo!! A business and cultural megacenter that's home to tens of millions of people, Tokyo is also the crossroads where the Japanese interact with citizens from all over the world. The media love to focus on Harajuku's vibrant fashion, robot restaurants, maid cafes and the passionate uberfans known as otaku. As fast-paced as Tokyo’s innovation is, the metropolis is just as devoted to preserving tradition through its historical gardens, shrines and temples. On arrival in Tokyo, you will be meet & transferred to hotel in Tokyo by shared vehicle.
Overnight at Hotel
This morning you head to Haneda International Airport and catch a 90-minute flight to Kushiro, one of the most northern cities in Japan. After arriving, the rest of the day is yours to rest and explore. In the evening, your guide takes you to dinner at a local restaurant. Hokkaido is known for its delicious seafood and comforting ramen noodles, two great ways to insulate yourself against the island’s cold winters.
Overnight at Hotel
Japan has some of the most majestic wildlife in the world. At the Akan International Crane Preserve just outside Kushiro, you have ample opportunity to see these graceful birds. Brought back from the brink of extinction by groups of dedicated conservationists, they are best viewed in the winter, as their red crests are easily spotted against the vast fields of snow. The preservation center not only provides warmth for visitors but also an opportunity to learn about the cranes and their preservation. You return to Kushiro in the afternoon. Dinner is at a local restaurant. Overnight at Hotel
This morning, you say goodbye to Kushiro as you board a local train to Abashiri. Located on the Sea of Okhotsk, ice covers Abashiri’s harbor each winter. The highlight of your day is a cruise on an icebreaker. The sound of shattering ice is the only thing you hear as the ship makes its way into the harbor. From there is a perfect place to photograph the ice flows or the Abashiri coastline. After a day outside in the brisk weather, there is no better place to warm up than a Japanese ryokan, or traditional inn. Expect tatami mat floors and rice paper doors. Before dinner, take a dip in a hot onsen bath. For centuries, onsens have provided the Japanese rest and relaxation. This evening, your ryokan offers a variety of indoor and outdoor onsens. Dinner this evening is a treat: a kaiseki feast. Kaiseki ryori is traditional Japanese cuisine which features regional and fresh ingredients and stunning presentation. Overnight at Hotel
Today you cross Hokkaido by local train. The six-hour trip flies by as the snow-covered wilderness grabs your attention and doesn’t let go. Arriving in Sapporo in mid-afternoon, there is still plenty of time to enjoy the Sapporo Snow Festival. Started over 50 years ago by high school students, the festival has grown to the level of a world-famous art exhibition. Snow artists and admirers from all around the world come to Sapporo each February for the week-long celebration. Walking through an exhibit with more than 400 sculptures, it is easy to get wonderfully lost among all the beauty. Overnight at Hotel.
Today is a self-guided day. Feel free to continue exploring the Sapporo Snow Festival in Odori Park. Or, if you wish, get a birds’ eye view of the festival from the observation deck of the Sapporo TV Tower. For a more hands-on experience, visit the Satoland site. Not only are there snow sculptures, but multiple ice slides and an ice maze. Satoland is particularly impressive at night, when specially placed lights illuminate the snow in many dazzling ways. Besides Genghis Khan, ramen is Sapporo’s signature winter dish. The Sapporo Ramen Alley may be a narrow passage, but it is home to some of the best ramen in the city. As the winter wind blows down the alley, there is no better feeling in the world than taking shelter in a ramen shop. Inside, the savory smells of broth and cooking pork enveloping you like a cozy blanket. Overnight at Hotel.
| Yudanaka Onsen
Today you leave Hokkaido and fly back to Haneda International Airport. After transferring to Tokyo Station, you board an express train to Yudanaka Onsen. Overnight at Hotel.
| Yudanaka Onsen
Today you take a day trip to Jigokudani Monkey Park, home to arguably the most famous wildlife in Japan. During the winter, these red-faced macaque monkeys relax in the naturally occurring hot springs. Though it is unwise to disturb the monkeys, photography is fine. If you should bring any equipment like a tripod, don’t be surprised if a few of the babies attempt to climb it.
Today you travel to Takayama, a city that was isolated for much of Japan’s history. Your train winds through the snowy mountains, finally entering the Takayama Valley. In the distance, the snow-capped Japanese Alps are reminiscent of the alps in Switzerland, and the city itself seems frozen in time. After dropping off your bags at your ryokan, there is plenty of time to explore Takayama’s old city on your own. Within these buildings, some of which date back to the 16th century, craftsmen still make a variety of goods such as sake and furniture, all while still using traditional methods.
This morning, you begin your time in Takayama with a tour through the morning market. Snow or shine, farmers and artisans from around the Takayama Valley come to the market every day to sell their products. The market is an excellent place to buy a souvenir or culinary ingredient for a meal you make back home. The second stop on your tour of Takayama is Takayama-jinya. Though it may look like a palatial estate, the structure was actually Takayama’s government office during the Edo Period (1603-1868). The many covered walkways mean you have ample opportunity to stop and reflect on the winter scenery and well-maintained grounds. In the afternoon, you continue your exploration of Takayama with a self-guided tour. One of the many possibilities is to visit Hida-no-Sato, also known as the Hida Model Village. Located just ten minutes away by bus, this open-air museum is a collection of over 30 preserved homes. As you are able to freely enter the buildings and touch the contents inside, it is an experience not to be missed, especially on a day when light snow falls from the sky.
In the early morning, you board a bus heading to Shirakawa-go. Just an hour’s ride from Takayama, Shirakawa-go is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its world-renowned gassho-zukuri homes. Gassho-zukuri refers to the buildings’ thick thatched roofs. Originally designed to hold up under heavy winter snow, these buildings represent some of the most unique architecture in all of Japan. When you arrive, you are immersed in a way of life that has changed little in 300 years. The village is open to exploration, and as you are visiting in the winter, expect few other visitors. One attraction in Shirakawa-go is the Silk Worm Museum. For centuries, silk worm farming allowed the village’s residents to supplement their incomes. Nearly every household raised silkworms in their attics, where the smoke from cooking fires below fumigated the area against harmful insects. Late this afternoon, you board a bus for Kanazawa, a seafood and sushi jewel situated on the Sea of Japan.
| Mount Koya
To see winter in all her glory, you begin your day with a morning visit to Kenrokuen Garden. One of the three most beautiful gardens in Japan, this garden was once owned by one of the country’s most powerful families. Today the garden’s beauty is available to anyone who wishes to experience it. Around lunchtime, you board an express train heading south. The journey takes you through a variety of cities and villages, including Osaka. Yet your final destination is not the big city, but Mt. Koya. Over 1,200 years ago, the Buddhist monk Kukai chose Mt. Koya for his temple. To him, the mountain was an ideal location because its eight peaks resemble a blooming lotus flower. Over the centuries, over a hundred temples were established around the mountain. Each temple follows Shingon Buddhism, a Buddhist sect originally imported from Tibet. For hundreds of years, the monks on Mt. Koya have offered lodging to travelers and pilgrims. This evening, you take part in this tradition as your accommodations are a functioning Buddhist temple. After checking in and meeting the monks, tour the stone pathways that connect the temples. The stone lanterns that line the paths are capped in snow. You may witness monks cleaning the cemeteries, as they hold the ashes of generations of Mt. Koya’s monks.
This morning, you rise early with the monks to witness morning ceremonies. After breakfast at the monastery, you visit Okuno-in Temple, Kukai’s final resting place. It is an impressive structure, a fitting memorial to the man who founded one of the most influential Buddhist sects in Japan. After a shojin ryori lunch, you travel by train to Kyoto.
Kyoto was Japan’s capital for over 1,000 years. Hosting over 2,000 temple and shrines, they are perfectly preserved, making Kyoto a city that is a blend of both past and present. After arriving in the late afternoon, you are free to spend the rest of the day exploring. Dinner this evening is on your own.
After Breakfast proceed for KYOTO & NARA TOUR, Discover the history and religions of ancient Japan during this full-day exploration of Kyoto and Nara. See Kyoto’s UNESCO World Heritage-listed Kinkaku-ji and Nijo Castle, along with its Imperial Palace. Then drive from Kyoto to Nara to explore its own World Heritage Site, Todai-ji Temple (including Great Buddha Hall), plus Kasuga Shrine. You also visit Nara’s deer park and sample a Japanese and Western-style meal for lunch.
Breakfast at Hotel. Departure to Osaka Airport for flight to your onward Destination. We hope you enjoyed your stay in Japan.