Classical Highlights of Japan Tour

  • $ Classical Highlights of Japan
  • Beds: Please see itinerary
  • Baths: Moderate
  • Sq Ft: 2+

Discover the Modern & Ancient Cultures of Japan

Tokyo • Shirakawago • Kanazawa • Kyoto • Nara

Luxury Japan Tour

Tour Highlights

  • Take in the breathtaking views of Tokyo from 52 stories high at the Tokyo City View Observatory.
  • Visit the Nezu Museum, set among iris ponds and housing one of the finest collections of screen paintings by Ogata Korin.
  • Explore 200 year old farmhouses in Shirakawago, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Explore the historic entertainment district of Gion, Kyoto’s most famous geisha district.
  • Meet with American Professor Catherine Ludvik, who will give you a private tour of the Daitoku-ji Temples.
  • A day trip to Nara to visit Todaji Temple, once the largest wooden structure in the world, Kasuga Shrine, and the Deer Park.

Trip Details

  • Itinerary
  • Day 1: Arrive Tokyo

    Arrive in Tokyo, transfer on your own to the hotel. The remainder of the day is free.

    Accommodations:  New Otani Hotel
    Meals Included: None

  • Day 2: Tokyo

    Start your time in Japan with a trip to the Tokyo City View Observatory to take in the breathtaking views from 52 stories high.

    Continue onto the Meiji Jingu Shrine, a Shinto shrine dedicated to Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shoken, the great-grandparents of the present emperor. The lovely ground spreads over 700,000 square meters covered by a forest of 120,000 trees donated by people from all over Japan. For many Japanese, the shrine is both a spiritual home and an oasis in Tokyo.

    Walk the fashionable Omotesando and Aoyama Streets to soak in modern Japanese culture.

    Enjoy exploring the Mitsukoshi Depachika. In Japanese, department stores are called depato, and basements are called chika. Combine the two and you have depachika. Founded as the Echigoya dry goods store in 1673, Mitsukoshi’s Ginza branch has one of the city’s best depachika where the highest quality of culinary delights are artistically crafted and displayed

    Stroll through Ginza, Tokyo’s most famous upmarket shopping, dining and entertainment district, featuring numerous department stores, boutiques, art galleries, restaurants, night clubs and cafes. The evening is free with dinner on own.

    The evening is free and dinner is on your own.

    Accommodations:  New Otani Hotel
    Meals Included: B,L

  • Day 3: Tokyo

    Nezu Museum is located in a quiet neighborhood. This former residence of the nobleman stands in a delightful Japanese garden with ponds and teahouses. It has the finest collection of Japanese, Chinese and Korean classical and Buddhist art, including the famed 17th-century screen painting of irises by Ogata Korin.

    Visit Akihabara Electric City (also called Akiba), the fashionable district known for its many electronic shops, as well as anime and manga. Explore the festive Ameyoko street with colorful vendors selling various products such as clothes, bags, cosmetics, fresh fish, dried food and spices. The name “Ameyoko” is a short form for “Ameya Yokocho” (candy store alley), as candies were traditionally sold there.

    After lunch, tour the Edo Museum to discover Japan’s rich history and culture through numerous displays of dioramas, scale models and historical items.

    Cook your own Okonomiyaki dinner (hotplate pancake) at locals’ favorite restaurant.

    Accommodations: New Otani Hotel
    Meals Included: B,D

  • Day 4: Tokyo–Kanazawa-Shirakawago

    After breakfast, take the bullet train to Kanazawa. Drop off your luggage at the hotel and enjoy lunch in the city.

    In the afternoon take a private coach to Shirakawago. Set far back in the valley, Shirakawago has preserved gassho-zukuri farmhouses, some of which date back 250 years! Gassho-zukuri means, “constructed like hands in prayer” as the steep roofs represent the hands of Buddhist monks in prayer. The style was developed not only to withstand the heavy snowfall in the region, but also to provide an attic space for cultivating silkworms! Many of them remain private residences, a few have been converted into restaurants, museums, and family owned and operated bed and breakfast inns. Shirakawago was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1995.

    Return to Kanazawa in the late afternoon. The evening is free and dinner is on your own.

    Accommodations: Hotel Nikko Kanawaza
    Meals Included: B,L

  • Day 5: Kanazawa

    This morning visit Kenrokuen Garden, one of Japan’s “three most beautiful landscape gardens”. The spacious grounds used to be the outer garden of Kanazawa Castle and were constructed by the ruling Maeda family over a period of nearly two centuries. Opened to the public in 1871, Kenrokuen features mature flowering trees, expansive ponds, traditional architectures, and delightful landscapes. Enjoy a tea ceremony conducted by a tea master.

    Visit Museum of Traditional Arts and Crafts inside the Kenrokuen Garden. Observe the traditional craftsmen skills developed over the centuries. In the permanent exhibition, objects are classified into groups as “Clothes” Food” “Houses” “Praying” and “Festivals.”

    Stop by D.T. Suzuki Museum designed by the famous architect Yoshio Taniguchi. The museum is a tribute to one of the foremost Buddhist philosophers of our times influencing a whole generation of westerns with Japanese Zen Buddhist teachings. You may meditate and contemplate for a moment by the water mirror garden.

    Visit Nomura Samurai residence and garden. The family successively held executive posts for generations. The house has a coffered ceiling made of Japanese cypress and fusuma-e (paintings on sliding-door panels) created by the Maeda family’s personal painter. The charming garden has a 400 years old Japanese bayberry with a running stream surrounded by ancient rocks. The residence is voted as top three must visit historic sights in Japan.

    Accommodations: Hotel Nikko Kanawaza
    Included Meals: B,D

  • Day 6: Kanazawa – Kyoto

    In the morning ride on the two hours express train to Kyoto. The new Kanazawa train station has caught much attention. The beautiful glass and metal arched entry hallway is a good statement of the vitality and artistry of the city.

    After lunch, explore the exquisite Shoren-in Temple with giant camphor trees growing outside the walls. This intimate sanctuary contains a superb landscape garden missed by most tourists.

    Visit the lovely Ginkaku-ji, the Silver Pavilion, home to a sumptuous garden and classical Japanese and Chinese architecture. Tourists crowd at Kinkaku-ji, the Golden Pavilion, but this elegantly landscaped garden and the serene temple ground portrait more charm and tranquility.

    Tour Gion (the Geisha District) in Kyoto. The area is dotted with old style Japanese houses called Machiya. If you are lucky you can spot a Geishas or Maikos (apprentice geishas) with elaborate make up and hair dressing in gorgeous kimono dress.

    Dinner at the hotel’s Chinese Restaurant serving elegant Chinese and Japanese dishes.

    Accommodations:  Kyoto Tokyu Hotel
    Meals Included: B,L,D

  • Day 7: Kyoto

    This morning visit the Heian-jingu Shrine with its massive tori gate. The expansive garden behind the shrine features lovely ponds, Chinese inspired bridge and mature cherry blossom and Japanese maples trees.

    A few minutes walk is the heart of museum district. Stop at Kyoto Museum of Traditional Crafts in the basement of Kyoto International Exhibition Hall. The multi-purpose hall has excellent display of Kyoto crafts including wood-block prints, lacquerware, bamboo goods, and gold leaf work. Make sure to check out the museum store with beautiful artifacts and souvenirs.

    After lunch tour Kinkakuji Temple—the Golden Pavilion, an exquisite pavilion surrounded by a beautiful pond.

    Visit the nearby Ryoanji Temple, one of the symbols of Kyoto. The lovely temple is famed for the rock garden, an oblong of sand with an austere collection of 15 carefully placed rocks. The intricate Japanese architecture is surrounded by beautifully landscaped grounds around the lak

    Explore the landmark of Kyoto, Kiyomizu Temple (before closing as it’s always crowded during the day), for a panoramic view of the city from a grand wooden veranda built on the cliff. (b,l)

    Deluxe Accommodations:   Kyoto Tokyu Hotel
    Meals Included: B,L

  • Day 8: Kyoto

    Take the new bullet train to Kyoto. Upon arrival in Kyoto, visit Kiyomizu Temple for a panoramic view of Kyoto from a grand wooden veranda built on the cliff. Take the time to wander two of Kyoto’s most attractive streets, Sannen-zaka and Ninen-zaka. Explore the historic entertainment district of Gion, Kyoto’s most famous geisha district. Walk though the festive Nishiki Market with over 100 specialty shops and restaurants. The five block market is nicknamed “Kyoto’s Kitchen” with great variety and diversity of local ingredients.

    The evening is free and dinner is on your own.

    Accommodations:   Kyoto Tokyu Hotel
    Meals Included: B,L

  • Day 9: Kyoto

    In the morning wonder the famous Nishiki Market. With over 100 shops and restaurants, it’s no wonder this five block long shopping street is known as “Kyoto’s Kitchen”.

    Meet Catherine Ludvik, a Canadian native and a professor of Japanese religions at Stanford Kyoto Bing Center. Living in Kyoto for 20 years, Catherine offer a private tour at the grand Daitoku-ji temple complex founded in 1319, the headquarter of Rinzai sect of Japanese Zen Buddhism. The complex consists of nearly two dozens of sub-temples and is one of the best places in Japan to see a wide variety of Zen gardens as well as experience Zen culture and architecture.

    Continue through the Daitokuji complex to look at breathtaking entrances to sub-temples. Stop in front of the monks training section and emerge past the bamboo forest to get to Imamiya Jinja shrine at the northwest end of Daitokuji. At Imamiya Jinja, Catherine will talk about Japanese original religion Shintoism and Shinto shrines.

    Enjoy a delicious vegetarian lunch inside Daitokuji the temple prepared by the temple staff.

    Transfer to Arashiyama area, a pleasant district on the northwestern Kyoto. It was a popular resort place for nobles during the Heian period (785-1185AD).

    Walk into the extensive Bamboo Grove behind the Tenryu-ji Temple is like entering another world. Massive green bamboos and the streams of lights coming through create a magic temple of Nature.

    Nearby is the beautiful Okochi Sanso, the lavish estate of the famous samurai film actor Okochi Denjiro. The sprawling stroll garden is the most elegant one in town with brilliant views of the city. The house and the teahouse are equally sublime. The tea ticket can be claimed for free tea and cake

    For dinner, you may explore the fine restaurants and bars in Ponto-cho Street along the Kamo Gawa River. Few streets in Asia rival this narrow pedestrian-only walkway for atmosphere. The place comes alive by night with colorful lanterns, traditional wooden exteriors, and delicate entryways disappearing into the doorways of elite dining and bars

    Accommodations:  Kyoto Tokyu Hotel
    Meals Included: B,L

  • Day 10: Kyoto (Nara Day Trip)

    Take a short ride to Nara, the ancient capital laid out after China’s Changan (now known as Xi’an).  In 710AD, the first Japanese capital was founded here for 74 years. During this short but most significant period, Japan witnessed the birth of nation’s arts, crafts, and literature. Nara imported everything from religion to art and architecture from China. It was during the Nara period that the first historical account, first mythological chronicle, and first poetry anthology were written. Buddhism flourished together with temples, shrines, pagodas and palaces. Much has remained intact surrounded by the gardens and spacious parks where deer roam freely among the visitors.

    Todaiji Temple is the largest wooden structure in the world, even though at two third of its original size. A UNESCO World Heritage Site houses Japan’s second largest bronze Buddha. The temple structure, an exact copy after a grand temple in China’s ancient capital Changan is considered by architectural experts as one of the most lovely buildings in the world.

    Kasuga Taisha Shrine is a beautiful Shinto shrine of vermilion-colored pillars and astounding 3000 stone and bronze lanterns. It contains a botanical garden, Shin-en, famous for its wisteria and 300 varieties of native Japanese plants.

    Enjoy a bento box lunch at the traditional Japanese Restaurant, Harishin in an elegant setting.

    The first UNESCO World Heritage site in Japan, Horyuji Temple, was founded in 607AD as the origin of Japanese Buddhism. This is the country’s most significant gems of historic architecture, art and religion. About 45 buildings remain in the complex, comprising what are thought to be the oldest wooden structures in the world. The atmosphere here is serene and ancient as created by Prince Shotoku, the founder of Buddhism in Japan and much revered still today. The Gallery of Temple Treasures contains some of the finest artifacts of ancient Nara, many are National Treasures.

    Stroll through Nara Park where 1200 deer roam freely. Deer are considered divine messengers for the locals.

    Return to Kyoto and enjoy a farewell dinner at the refined garden restaurant Sodoh featuring western and Japanese cuisines

    Accommodations:   Kyoto Tokyu Hotel
    Meals Included: B,L,D

  • Day 11: Depart Kyoto

    After breakfast, depart from Kyoto station to Osaka Kansai International Airport or Osaka Itami International Airport for your flight home.

    Meals Included: B

PricesInclusionsExtension Tours

Prices start at:

$ 6,395 Main Tour, Double Occupancy

$ 2,290 Single Supplement

Roundtrip International Air is not included. For pricing, please contact Airtreks at 415-977-7136 or at china-advocates@airtreks.com.

Main Tour Includes: Double occupancy accommodations • All meals listed in itinerary • All sightseeing, entertainment, and cultural activities listed in itinerary • All ground transportation within Japan • English-speaking Japanese Guides • Gratuities to local guides and drivers on main tour • Preparatory materials

Not Included: Domestic U.S. and international airfare • Airport transfers and all porterage • Gratuities on extensions • Visa processing • Meals not included in the tour • Excess baggage charges • Travel insurance • Soft drinks, liquor, wine, & beer, and other items of a personal nature

Customize Your Japan Experience

Pre or Post Tour Extension:

Hakone, Lake Ashi, & Mt. Fuji Extension – 5 days

To sign up for Classical Highlights of Japan call (888) 333-2585 or (415) 334-4505. Or fill in the inquiry form below.

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Price:$Classical Highlights of Japan
Address:Art, History,
State:Tokyo & Kyoto
Zip Code:Coach, Bullet Train, Train
MLS:9
Square Feet:2+
Bedrooms:Please see itinerary
Bathrooms:Moderate
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