2 Arrive In Tokyo
Welcome to Tokyo, Japan's dazzling, ultra-modern capital city.
We begin the day at the grounds of the Imperial Palace, residence of Japan's Imperial Family, and situated on the former site of Edo Castle. We'll also visit the Meiji Shrine, an oasis in the heart of the bustling Shibuya district, dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji. This afternoon we'll experience the neon lights and hustle and bustle of Shibuya before admiring the city lights on a dinner cruise around Tokyo Bay in a typical Japanese-style houseboat from the Heian Era, known as a yakatabune. (B/D)
4 Tokyo - Sendai
This morning we transfer to the station to board the bullet train to Sendai. Here we'll visit the Sendai City Museum, which houses a reproduction model and digital display so you can imagine it as it stood in its heyday. (B/D) Special Experiences: Experience the local cuisine at a special dinner where we'll try the delicacy of gyutan (beef tongue).
5 Matsushima Excursion
We spend the day discovering Matsushima and its iconic bay, ranked one of Japan's most scenic views for centuries. Hit by the earthquake and tsunami of 2011, we'll visit the City Earthquake Memorial Museum and the area devastated by the tsunami. We'll also visit the Entsū-in Temple. After some free time for lunch, we'll enjoy a cruise on the stunning bay, dotted with some 260 pine islets. (B)
6 Sendai - Morioka
Today we explore the Iwate Prefecture at the easternmost point of the island of Honshu. We'll visit the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Buddhist temple of Chuson-ji, founded in 850 according to the Tendai sect, and Konjikido Hall. (B) Special Experiences: Admire the impressive waterfalls, rock formations and limestone caves on a scenic cruise along the Geibikei Gorge. Enjoy local folk songs sung by the boatmen as they guide us through the spectacular gorge.
This morning we'll discover the garden city of Tono, known as a treasure trove of Japanese folklore, thanks to its legends of spirits, animals and supernatural creatures. Our sightseeing includes the Municipal Museum and Tono Furusato Mura, a recreation of a traditional farming village. This afternoon we'll explore the Morioka Castle Ruins Park. (B/D) Special Experiences: Take part in the local Wanko Soba tradition for dinner tonight. These soba noodles originated in Morioka and Hanamaki; by tradition you quickly eat small servings from small bowls, which are repeatedly refilled.
8 Morioka - Oga
We depart for Tezukurimura this morning and tour the Japanese Cultural Arts and Crafts mall, where we'll take part in an indigo-dyeing experience. (B/L/D) Special Experiences: Explore the Kakunodate Aoyagi Samurai Manor open-air museum and discover the rich history and way of life of samurai and their wealthy families.
Learn about the fascinating legend of Namahage and the tradition of its yearly festival this morning at the Museum. We'll then tour the Shinzan Folklore Museum and Shrine. The afternoon is free for you to enjoy the natural onsen (hot springs) and facilities of our ryokan accommodation. (B/L/D)
10 Oga - Hirosaki
Sit back and enjoy the scenic drive this morning to Hirosaki. After stopping for lunch, we'll discover majestic Lake Towada, the largest crater lake on the island of Honshu. The water here is so clear that you can peer down more than 10 metres into it. We'll also visit Oirase Gorge, one of the most beautiful river areas in Japan. (B/L)
11 Hirosaki - Aomori
Special Experiences: Wander through the stunning Hirosaki Castle Gardens, one of the best places in Japan to witness the breathtaking cherry blossoms and autumn colours. This afternoon we'll continue to Aomori via the Nebuta Museum Wa Rasse which offers a glimpse into the spectacular Nebuta Festival held each year in August. (B/D)
12 Aomori - Hakodate
We board the bullet train for Hakodate on Japan's northernmost island of Hokkaido. We'll see the famous star-shaped fort known as Goryokaku and visit the tower observatory for panoramic views. This afternoon we'll take the Hakodateyama Ropeway to the top of Mt Hakodate and enjoy the views of the city and surrounds. (B)
Today we discover the city of Hakodate, starting with the Jomon Culture Centre, which provides insight into the distinctive Japanese culture that has lasted for more than 10,000 years. We'll also visit the Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse, the first commercial warehouse in this important port city. Enjoy some time at leisure before we tour the historic Motomachi District. (B)
14 Hakodate - Sapporo
This morning we take the train north to Sapporo, famous for its ramen and beer. Enjoy an afternoon at leisure to explore. (B)
We spend the morning in the port city of Otaru on Ishikari Bay, and explore its beautifully preserved canal area. Otaru is also famous for its glass and we'll visit the original Kitaichi Glass Sangokan in a converted fishery warehouse. As well as a place to shop for souvenirs, it is also famous for a grand hall lit with one-of-a-kind oil lamps. (B)
Today we'll visit Hokkaido Shrine, which enshrines three pioneering gods. Special Experiences: Discover the history of beer making in Japan and the famous Sapporo brewery at the Sapporo Beer Museum, and enjoy a tasting of ‘Fukkoku Sapporo Bakushu' - a unique beer brewed according to traditional methods dating from 1881. This evening we'll enjoy a group farewell dinner. (B/D)
17 Depart Sapporo
Today we begin our journey home. (B)
18 Arrive Australia
Level of fitness: This tour features 2+ hours of walking, often across uneven ground and in areas of high altitude or heat and humidity on 1 or more days.