- Exploring the Tsukiji Fish market in the pre-dawn darkness and witnessing the frantic Tuna auction destined for the Sushi tables of Tokyo
- A private visit to the Houses of Parliament in Tokyo
- Taking the Shinkansen from Tokyo to Kyoto in two hours and twenty two minutes
- Stepping back in time in the Nishikikoji District of Kyoto
- Superb Sushi at Kyoto’s Matsumoto Restaurant
Day 1 Depart USA
You board your flight to Tokyo arriving in Japan in the afternoon of the following day
Day 2 Welcome to Tokyo
Upon arrival at Narita you will be met by our representative and escorted to your waiting car for the trip to your hotel. Upon arrival at your hotel you are greeted by the staff and escorted to your room. If this seems familiar to you it could be because your hotel was the location for the movie "Lost in Translation". You have a chance to relax and enjoy the inspiring views of Tokyo laid out beneath you before having dinner at the New York Grill in the hotel.
Day 3 Distinct Districts of Tokyo and a Unique Culinary Experience
After breakfast your personal guide will be waiting to take you on an introductory exploration of historic, trendy and cultural Tokyo. You will visit the Meijijingu Shrine dedicated to the Emperor Meiji who modernized Japan and brought it out of its feudal past, you will visit Harajuku located between Shinjuku and Shibuya which is often called Tokyo's Champs Elysees and a focal point of Tokyo's youth fashion culture. You will then visit Roppongi Hills where Europeans tend to hang out in the evening at its many bars and restaurant. After lunch at a steak restaurant you will have a personal tour of the Mori Art Museum and the Suntory Museum of Art. You return to the hotel to freshen up before heading out to a restaurant specializing in Robatayaki. Upon your arrival your host will shout "the guests have arrived" and this will be repeated by the other waiters. You will be seated at a u-shaped table inside of which are baskets and blocks of ice containing vegetables, seafood, Kobe beef and other delicacies. In the middle of the baskets kneels a chef. You point to what you want and the waiter shouts it out and the chef cooks it for you on a small grill. It is an unforgettable culinary experience.
Day 4 A Personal Visit to the Imperial Palace
This morning we have arranged a special day starting with a private tour of the Imperial Palace. You will have privileged access to the palace, the residence of Japan's Imperial Family. Located on the former site of Edo Castle, the huge park area is surrounded by moats and massive stone walls. Your tour will cover the Imperial Residence, the East Gardens and the Tokagakudo Concert Hall. After your palace visit you will next have a privately arranged visit to the Houses of Parliament representing the modern Japanese government. After lunch at a Soba Noodle restaurant you explore contemporary Tokyo in the areas of Akihabara and Kappabashi and the more traditional at the Asukasa Shrine. In the evening you are taken to a restaurant offering superb Tempura. You return to the hotel for an early night in anticipation of the early morning visit tomorrow.
Day 5 The Fish Market and the Bullet Train
While Tokyo still sleeps and dawn has yet to arrive you will meet your guide and be taken to the Tsukiji Fish Market known in English as the Tokyo Metropolitan Wholesale Market. You will have a chance to see the vast array of fresh seafood, much of it still alive, before watching the action at the Tuna Auction where buyers bid against each other for the prized sushi grade Tuna. After the auction you celebrate with s Sushi breakfast. You will then be taken to the station where you board one of Japan's famous high speed bullet trains which in two hours and twenty two minutes will take you from Tokyo to Kyoto and from the 21st Century to the 17th Century. Upon arrival in Kyoto, your guide will be waiting on the platform to escort you to the car. You will have lunch at a famous Tofu restaurant before beginning an orientation tour of the city. You will visit Sanjusangendo Hall, built in 1164 and famous for its 1001 statues of Kannon, the goddess of mercy. Next you visit Kiyomizu Temple, built in 780 AD and offering spectacular views of Kyoto. You complete your orientation tour with a walk along a canal known as Philosopher's Walk because of its use for meditation by a well known philosopher. After your tour you are taken to your Ryokan where you will spend two nights enjoying traditional Japanese hospitality. Tonight we have arranged a traditional multi-course "kaiseki dinner" which is meticulously and exquisitely presented on beautiful bowls and dishes allowing you an insight into Japanese cuisine intertwined with Japanese culture.
Day 6 A Private Tour of Traditional Kyoto
After breakfast, your guide will meet you and take you on a trip that covers some of Kyoto's most revered sites. The first stop will be Kinkakku-ji Temple commonly known as the Golden Pavilion and built in 1397 to serve as a retirement villa for Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu. Next to the temple is the Zen garden of Ryoanji. Prominent for its simplicity, it is comprised of nothing but clay walls, raked sand and fifteen rocks. Your next visit will be to the Imperial castle followed by Nijo-jo Castle built by Tokugawa Ieyasu founder of the Edo Shogunate. After lunch at a yakitori restaurant you have the chance to stroll the Nishiki area, a narrow shopping area less than 1,200 feet in length but with just over 100 vendors. Here you will discover distinctive culinary delicacies and be intrigued by the sights, sounds and smells. Of particular note is the Aritsugu knife shop which, since 1560, has been making fine Japanese swords but now focuses on unparalleled kitchen knives. This evening, dinner is at your Ryokan
Day 7 A Visit to Nara, Japan’s First Capital
Today your guide will take to the central part of the peninsula and a town now known as Nara. In 710 it was known as Heijo and was the first permanent capital of Japan and one in which Buddhism played a significant role. In the centre of the city is Nara Park which is famous for the Nara Deer, held sacred in the Shinto religion and allowed to run free throughout the park. Within the park are several impressive and historic buildings. Kofujuki Temple was the temple of the Fujiwara one of the most powerful clans in those early days. At one time the temple had over 150 buildings today a lot fewer remain but the most significant is the five story pagoda one of Japan's tallest and the symbol of Nara. Close by is Todaiji Temple which houses the World's biggest bronze stature of Buddha housed in the world's largest wooden building. After lunch at Restaurant Noh, you are taken to Kasuga Shrine which is famous for its many lanterns within the shrine and the hundreds of stone lanterns lining the approach to the shrine. A visit to Naramichi, the former merchant district completes your visit and you return to Kyoto and your new, more western hotel for the last two nights of your stay. For a change of pace tonight you dine Italian!
Day 8 Embracing the Culture of Japan
This morning you will be introduced by masters to two of Japan's most honored cultural traditions, calligraphy and the tea ceremony. First, a master calligrapher will spend time teaching you the art of calligraphy widely practiced and revered in East Asian civilizations. Using an ink brush and shiny white paper you learn the art of writing Chinese characters in an artistic fashion. Although spoken differently, the Chinese and the Japanese share the same written characters. Following your lesson you will be led through the steps and the symbolism of the tea ceremony. Following lunch at a Soba restaurant you will have the opportunity to stroll and shop in the city center of Kyoto. Tonight reservations have been made at Matsumoto for Sushi at its finest.
Day 9 Return to USA
Depending on your flight time you will be taken to the airport in plenty of time for your return flight. One of our representatives will assist in your check in. Your flight will arrive back in the US the same day having experienced a true insider's exposure to the past and present capitals of Japan.
Available Year Round
Private Luxury Tour - Tale of Japan's Three Capitals ULJA02 Location and other villas and tours nearby
Disclaimer: Pins in map may not be accurate if Google Maps cannot find the exact address. In this case an approximation is made.
Tour Location / Places Visiteds
Tokyo, Old Kyoto, Kyoto, Nara
Additional Pricing Information
- Superior Rooms at the properties indicated in the accommodations area (We reserve the right to substitute a property of equal quality in advance of departure should the designated hotel be unavailable)
- Private Transfers to and from the airport at destination
- All meals as indicated on the itinerary by B=Breakfast, L=Lunch and D=Dinner
- Private guides for city explorations and private driver/guide while traveling.
- Entrance fees to all museums, attractions and other venues as indicated on the daily itinerary
- •Baggage handling at all hotels
- •All applicable taxes and service fees
Services Not Included
- International airfare (round-trip from hometown departure gateway to destination)
- Beverages with included meals (unless otherwise indicated on itinerary page)
- Any meals not indicated on the Itinerary page
- Items of a personal nature e.g. minibar, film, postcards etc.
- Gratuities to Guides and Driver/Guides (we provide suggested guidelines for your selected destination in your pre-departure material)
- Any passport or visa fees or government departure taxes (It is the traveler’s responsibility to secure the latest informationregarding passports and visa requirements)
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