• A sushi breakfast at the Tsukiji Fish Market
• Shopping in the Ginza with your own car and driver
• Staying in quaint Ryokans in Kaga and Kanazawa
• Learning the secret to making Tofu and the timeless beauty of the Kimono
• A private Geisha performance at Yoshikawa in Kyoto
Day 1 Depart USA
You board your flight to Tokyo arriving 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 Modern Art and Modern Cuisine
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 maître‘de 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.
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Day 4 Tsukiji and the Ginza
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. Your next visit will be to Hamariku Garden located at the mouth of the Sumida River and surrounded by a seawater moat filled from the waters of Tokyo Bay. You then board a water taxi which will take you to Asakusa Temple, one of Japan's most revered sites before stopping for lunch at a Soba restaurant which specializes in noodles. After your lunch your car will take you to the Ginza. Known for having the most expensive real estate on earth and lined with neon signs, the Ginza is home to some of Japan's most prestigious companies, department stores, boutiques and bars. You have some time to shop while your driver waits for you. In the evening you are picked up and taken to Ukatei, a
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Day 5 The Cultural Charms of Kaga
After breakfast, your driver will be waiting to take you to the airport for the brief flight to Komatsu. Upon arrival you will be met by your guide who will take you on an excursion to the Kutani Pottery Museum where you can view historical Japanese pottery and its cultural implications. After lunch at a local restaurant, you visit the studio of a lacquerware craftsman to learn how this ancient art is still practical for today's cuisine. A lacquerware piece going through about 100 steps in its production process can take six months to one year to produce. The process is not only beautiful but practical since even if you pour hot soup into a Wajima lacquerware bowl, you can easily hold the bowl since the wood and the lacquer coated on the surface help moderate the heat. You arrive at your charming Ryokan with just ten suites arranged in the traditional style of a tea ceremony pavilion. The Ryokan is set at the beginning a delightful one mile walking trail along the Kakusenkei Gorge which offers scenic river views highlighted by three bridges spanning the gorge. This walk provides an excellent prelude to dinner.
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Day 6 An Excursion to Hakusan
Today your guide will meet you at your Ryokan and take you to the nearby town of Hakusan where you will visit the Yamashita Misu Tofu shop where you will learn the art of creating the wide variety of Tofu so crucial to the Japanese diet. After lunch and a visit to the Shiyarama Hime Shrine you will be taken on a private visit to the Ushikubi Tsumugi Kimona factory to learn how these garments are created and why they cost so much. After your exploration you return to your Ryokan for some relaxation.
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Day 7 The Geisha and Samurai of Kanazawa
In the morning you check out of the Ryokan and your guide will take care of loading your luggage into the car. Then it is off to Kanazawa which is sometimes called "Little Kyoto" because its many older buildings are similar to those of Kyoto and, like Kyoto, they are authentic since Kanazawa was also spared any bombing during the war. Your first visit will be to Kenrokuen Garden regarded as one of Japan's finest. In ancient China it was considered impossible to combine six focal themes of beauty: extensiveness, quiet seclusion, artificial construction, antique elegance, abundant water and wide prospect. The name Kenrokuen, which literally means, " a garden combining six" stems from the fact the garden successfully exhibits a harmonious coexistence among the six attributes of beauty. Following a sushi lunch you have the chance to visit the old samurai town of Nagamachi which is the same as it was in the time of the Shoguns. You will also visit the quaint Geisha district of Higashi before arriving at your new Ryokan located in a key hot springs area.
Day 8 Relaxing in the Hot Springs
Your Ryokan is blessed with over 50,000 gallons of hot water per day sourced from the natural hot springs. The inn has existed for 18 generations and offers a true insight into the Japanese love of nature and the therapeutic value of relaxation in a hot bath. You have a chance to enjoy the surroundings, walk the gardens and just restore your sense of well being.
Day 9 An Introduction to Kyoto
In the morning you are transferred to the station where you board an express train for Kyoto. Upon arrival you are met by your guide then taken to lunch at a Yakitori Restaurant. After lunch you are taken on a private orientation tour of Kyoto. 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. You check into your hotel and complete the day with an Italian meal.
Day 10 An Excursion to Ancient Nara
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 Buddha 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 where a quiet and relaxing dinner at your hotel's Japanese restaurant overlooking a Japanese Garden,. You may want to try one of the specialty sakes offered at the restaurant bar.
Day 11 Calligraphy, the Tea Ceremony and the Art of the Geisha
This morning you will be introduced by a master 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. This evening we have arranged a special farewell experience for you. You will be taken to an exclusive teahouse in the Geisha district with personable " maiko" geisha entertainers who are finely schooled in the arts of song, dance and games. This is a rare honor even for Japanese. Although Geisha used to be everywhere in Japan nowadays in only a few cities like Kyoto are they still active.. An exquisitely presented kaiseki in the Kyoto style featuring seasonal dishes is followed by the formal Ozahiki Asobi Experience, an enchanting night of traditional entertainment featuring all the arts performed and assisted by the beautifully kimono-clad performers.
Day 12 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 contrasting cultures of Japan.
Available Year Round
Disclaimer: Pins in map may not be accurate if Google Maps cannot find the exact address. In this case an approximation is made.
Tokyo, Kaga, Yamashira, Kyoto
Services Not Included