1 Welcome To Osaka, Japan!
On arrival at Kansai or Itami airport, you will be welcomed and taken to your five-star hotel situated in the heart of the city, where there is time to relax. At 20:00 meet your Travelling Concierge and travel companions at the hotel's Rainbow Lounge for your Welcome Dinner. Enjoy stunning views over Osaka while you enjoy delicious Japanese cuisine including tempura and sushi. (DW) Stay Two Nights: Imperial Hotel Osaka
2 Highlights Of Osaka.
Situated in the heart of Japan where rivers and sea routes converge, Osaka is a hub of cutting-edge architecture, exotic flavours and laid-back locals. Experience Osaka Your Way as how you will observe the city's many highlights is your choice. You can board the chic Osaka Aqualiner to see the national library and 16th Century Osaka Castle, while you cruise on the Yodo River, a particularly beautiful option during cherry blossom season. Alternatively, you may visit the Floating Garden Observatory in the Umeda Sky Building, a landmark of the city offering incredible views in every direction. Then, together with your Travelling Concierge and fellow traveller, discover why Osaka is known as the kitchen of Japan as you embark on a food-tasting exploration along Dotonbori Street with a passionate local foodie. Try local specialities such as Takoyaki, rounds of ground octopus wrapped in batter, before sitting down to a tasty two-course lunch. With the evening at leisure, ask your Travelling Concierge for local recommendations to further explore this exotic city. (B/L)
3 A Local Perspective On Hiroshima.
Experience Japanese technology at its best as you journey to Hiroshima station on the Shinkansen bullet train. On arrival, catch a ferry to Miyajima Island to visit the Itsukushima Shrine and see the elaborate O-torii gate rising majestically out of the sea. Take a moment to stroll around this peaceful island, before returning to Hiroshima on the ferry. Explore the UNESCO World heritage Site of Peace Memorial Park and Museum, the only structure left standing after the first atomic bomb was dropped during World War II. The bomb was the single-most destructive force ever created by humankind and changed the course of history forever. During your visit, meet a survivor who will share insights into this dark chapter of world history. You may wish to finish your visit with a special prayer for peace. For dinner you are treated to traditional savoury pancakes, known as Okonomiyaki, a typical dish of the region. Continue to Kyoto by bullet train where you check in to your hotel, a modern architectural masterpiece located in the centre of the city. (B/DW) Stay Two Nights: Hotel Granvia Kyoto
4 The Temples And Geisha Of Kyoto.
Kyoto is Japan's Geisha capital, and during your city tour with your Travelling Concierge you will discover why this is the hub of ancient tradition and culture. Marvel at the Zen Buddhist temple of Kinkaku-ji, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and see its famed Golden Pavilion to appreciate its classic architecture, intricate history and expansive gardens. Visit the famous Giouji Temple, situated on a majestic grove of bamboos and maple trees, where you'll learn about local folklore and explore the temple's thatched hut and walk through the indigenous bamboo forest. Savour a Highlight Lunch of traditional Kyo-Kaiseki cuisine made of seasonal ingredients, whilst you enjoy a performance by a Maiko, an apprentice Geisha. Central to Kyoto culture, Geisha are highly-skilled entertainers, specializing in classical music, dance, conversation and games. This fine art has evolved over many centuries and today attracts visitors from around the world. Embark on a walking exploration of the vibrant Gion neighbourhood, known as Kyoto's primary Geisha district. With free time to explore for the rest of the evening, perhaps enjoy the local teahouses, lantern-lit restaurants and bars or simply absorb the electric atmosphere, as you shop for souvenirs. (B/L)
5 From Kyoto To Tokyo.
Board the bullet train and journey to the iconic capital city Tokyo, where cutting-edge modernity meets ancient tradition. The city is an economic powerhouse and home to national museums, festivals, theatres and sacred temples. Visit the Sensoji Buddhist Temple, the oldest and most-visited temple of Japan, and wander along the famous Nakamise Street and explore Kappabashi, a local back-street known as Tokyo's foodie hub. During a Your Choice Evening you're in for a true local experience with the choice of two hand-picked restaurants, each specialising in local delicacies. You may try either Shabu-shabu which are hotpots of meat and vegetables or Teppan-yaki where rice, meats and vegetables are freshly cooked on a grill. (B/DW) Stay Two Nights: Imperial Hotel Tokyo
6 Mount Fuji.
Mount Fuji is Japan's tallest mountain standing at 3,776 metres above sea level and is registered as The National Monument of Japan. Admire spectacular views from the observatory at the 5th Station, before venturing down to Lake Kawaguchi where you will be captivated by the flawless reflections of the mountain. Continue to enjoy spectacular views of this UNESCO World Heritage Site as you enjoy lunch made of fresh, seasonal ingredients at a local restaurant. In the afternoon, explore the lake-side village and visit the Icchiku Kubota Art Museum with its unique works of art, traditional architecture and seasonal gardens. Return to your hotel where you are at leisure to relax or explore as you wish. (B/L)
7 Journey To Sendai In Northern Japan.
Journey north by bullet train, your destination is the Sendai, known as the City of Trees. This is a true locals region, off-the-beaten path and away from the tourist crowds. Enjoy a private cruise along the dazzling Matsushima Bay, taking in views of countless pine-covered islands. The bay has often featured in Japanese poetry since ancient times. Disembark at Katsurashima Island and meet the owner of a local inn. Dine as the locals do with a seafood lunch as the owner shares their insights of life on the island. Return by ferry to Matsushima, where you explore the site Aoba Castle once stood before witnessing samurai performance by local artists. Continue to your five-star hotel where the evening is at your leisure. Perhaps sign up for a massage at the in-house spa or discover how Kokubuncho comes to life at night time? (B/L) Stay: The Westin Sendai (Superior Rooms)
8 Hachinohe And Hirosaki Castle.
Journey to Hachinohe via bullet train. On arrival, absorb the unique atmosphere of Hashoku Centre Market. Visit Hirosaki Castle, famous for its bright Cherry Blossom trees that bloom between April and May. Meet a Cherry Blossom Doctor who will explain how his team nurture these beautiful trees from sapling to maturity and ensure all the Cherry Blossoms of the region are strong, healthy and able to thrive during the Cherry Blossom season. As you explore the Tsugaru han Neputa Village you will see the colourful decorations used during the summer Neputa Festival and watch skilled craftsman at work, they spend month lacquering to create the perfect chopsticks. You then enjoy a special, VIP Experience, a private musical performance of Tsugaru Shamisen and Taiko, traditional Japanese guitar and drumming. Your journey continues to Oirase Gorge, one of Japan's most-revered nature havens. After checking-in to your luxurious hotel, perhaps experience a soul-soothing Onsen, a traditional Japanese hot bath, in the nearby forest? (B/DW) Stay: Hoshino Resorts Oirase Keiryu Hotel, Oirase Gorge
9 Exploring Oirase Gorge.
The spectacular Oirase Gorge is a place of special scenic beauty. Wander along the crystal-clear Oirase Keiryu stream, admire the cascading waterfalls and marvel at the seasonal colours of the indigenous forest. Journey to a local brewery in the Tohoku region to taste Japan's national drink, sake, then enjoy lunch at a local restaurant. Return to Tokyo via bullet train, where you are leisure to relax or continue your own exploration of this intriguing city. (B/L) Stay Two Nights: Imperial Hotel Tokyo
10 The Highlights Of Tokyo.
Seasonal tea ceremonies date back a thousand years and play an important part in Japanese culture, they are central to good hospitality. Experience this for yourself when you visit a traditional teahouse where you learn how to prepare the perfect cup of Matcha Green Tea. Try your hand at making sushi with the highest-quality fish and discover why it takes ten years to become a Master Sushi Chef, before sitting down to a delightful Highlight Lunch. Spend your free time exploring Ginza, one of the world's most luxurious shopping districts and known as the Champs-Elysees of Tokyo. In the evening, get ready for a dazzling Celebration Dinner as you venture to the heart of the city. Tokyo Shiba Tofuya Ukai is a famous restaurant with old-world charm and surrounded by a Zen garden. It specialises in tofu cuisine, but you will savour a range of intricately-prepared dishes including simmered eggplant and fried shrimp, fresh sashimi and deep-fried tofu coated with miso, all accompanied with beer or wine. (B/L/DW)
11 Farewell Japan.
Bid farewell to your travel companions and head to Narita or Haneda International Airport for your onward journey. (B)