- Ground Operators
Come explore the incredible culture of Japan with internationally renowned artist and guide Chelsea Wills. Spend your days marveling at the artistic excellence and craftsmanship of Japanese culture as you visit ancient temples and sites; track the current pulse of Japanese culture by engaging with contemporary artists.
“Japan’s Country Inns” is the quintessential cultural trip to Japan. During our two-week journey, we will explore the modern thumping capital that is Tokyo through its museums and markets. In the mountains, we will soak in the mineral-rich waters and revel in the inspirational presence of the alps. In Kyoto, we will look to the past’s artistic history, wandering down crooked little streets to knife stores, tasting exquisitely prepared cups of tea, and reveling in the creative wonders that are that city’s gardens and temples. Our accommodations will be a mix of ultra-modern hotels and exquisitely maintained traditional ryokans (country inns that provide an intimate experience of Japanese culture and delicious traditional food).
If delving deep into the creative fabric of Japan’s culture fascinates you, come along to trace the rich lineage of Japanese artists, from ancient times to the present.
Easy to Moderate Touring
Easy to Moderate Touring generally indicates walks or time on one’s feet of 3-5 hours each day during sightseeing excursions; possible adverse weather conditions (rain). You MUST have the ability to carry your own baggage on and off trains during quick transfers. Bathroom facilities during excursions and long drives oftentimes require a small fee. Overnights will be in deluxe accommodations/lodges. Elevations throughout the trip remain below 5,000 feet.
Day 1: Arrive Tokyo
You are met on arrival at Tokyo’s Narita International Airport and transferred to our hotel.
Day 2: Exploring Tokyo
We spend the morning wandering through the biggest fish market in the world; Tsukiji is best experienced early in the morning when chefs and fish buyers are looking for their catch of the day, and whole tunas are auctioned to become the finest sushi. Stalls each specialize: Some are filled with shimmering abalone, others with prickly uni, and in the next one down the fishmonger might be cutting up a tuna with a razor-sharp knife the length of a sword. In the evening, we dine together at a hot local restaurant.
Park Hotel (B, D)
Day 3: Exploring Tokyo
This morning, we drop into the creative pulse of the city through the rich and varied cultural landscape of art museums in Ueno Park. Later, we experience the city from above, on the 53rd floor of the incredible Mori Tower and Art Museum.
Park Hotel (B)
Day 4: To Kamikochi
We travel north across central Honshu and into the Japanese Alps near Kamikochi, staying with the Kobayashi family at their onsen along the Azusa river. “Onsens” are hot springs resorts popular with the Japanese. Enjoy a mineral-rich soak in one of the four baths that this mountain gem has to offer.
Nakanoyu Onsen (B, D)
Day 5: Exploring Kamikochi
We stay at our mountain onsen for another night and spend the day exploring near the headquarters of the Chubu Sangaku National Park, nestled in a valley between dramatic alps. We will also have time to take a stroll along the Azusa River and visit Myojin Pond.
Nakanoyu Onsen (B, D)
Day 6: To Takayama
We travel across the mountains to the town of Takayama. Spared from the bombing in World War II, it maintains an authentic atmosphere. Famous for its long lineage of woodworkers and craftsman, Takayama is an excellent place to find Japanese crafts. We stay at a classic ryokan, complete with traditional Japanese dining and bath.
Day 7: In Takayama
We take in the morning farmer’s market, then enjoy a walk through the temples on the edge of town. We get a sense of old Japan by visiting an open-air museum based on traditional Japanese farm life, complete with carefully preserved buildings from a traditional village. We finish up the day with a visit to the Takayama Craft Experience Center, where local craftspeople give workshops.
Day 8: To Kyoto
We travel from rural Takayama to the capital of Japan’s culture and history, Kyoto. Today we begin to explore the unique wonder that is Kyoto, with its beautiful contemporary architecture and shopping boutiques nestled among age-old temples and tea shops.
Hyatt Regency (B, D)
Day 9: Exploring Kyoto
Kyoto is like an incredible tapestry: As you get closer, you notice more and more intricacy, yet when you step back the whole picture is beautiful too. We begin the day with a walk that highlights a few of the essential elements of Kyoto—its temples, teahouses, and villas. We spend the rest of the morning meandering down crooked streets into grand halls and beautiful little courtyards.
Hyatt Regency (B)
Day 10: Exploring Kyoto
On our last full day in Kyoto, we explore some hidden gems among the gardens and temples of Eastern Kyoto. We make our way to Shisendo—home, temple, and garden of poet-preist Jozan Ishikawa—and wander through the neighborhood that has been home to samurai families, artists, poets, and intellectuals for hundreds of years. The afternoon leaves time for individual treasure-hunting. We meet up at night for our final dinner to mark the end of our voyage together.
Hyatt Regency (B, D)
Day 11: Depart Osaka
You will be transferred to Kyoto’s Osaka International Airport in time for your flight home.
2016 Trip Dates
September 24th-October 5th, 2016 – led by Chelsea Wills
Private departures – on demand
Trip Duration: 11 days/10 nights
Starting City: Tokyo (airport code – NRT)
Ending City: Kyoto (airport code – ITM)
2016 LAND COST
4+ participants: $5,200 per person
Single accommodations are very limited. Please let us know ASAP if you require single occupancy and we let you know the availability and additional cost.
Minimum: 4 participants
Maximum: 16 participants
Included in Land Cost
• All accommodations, based on double occupancy
• All taxes and service charges
• Daily breakfast and additional meals as listed above
• Special Welcome and Farewell dinners
• All in-country transportation, including buses, taxis, and trains
• All arrival/departure airport/hotel transfers
• All entry fees at all temples, museums, and monuments on sightseeing excursions
• 24/7 Curated commentary and guiding by Chelsea Wills
• TourDirect’s Medical ($25,000), Accident and Evacuation Insurance ($500,000) and Assistance Plan
Not Included in Land Cost
• International airfare to/from Japan
• Lunches and dinners not listed in the above itinerary
• Any movie and video camera fees
• Items of a personal nature, such as alcoholic beverages, laundry, phone calls, etc.
• Gratuities to Tour Leader
• Gratuities to other local staff (drivers, bell boys, etc.)
• Trip cancellation, travel delay or baggage insurance.
(Note: This optional coverage is highly recommended and can be purchased through TourDirect)
Japan: A visa is NOT necessary for US passport holders visiting Japan for a short-term stay of less than 90 days with the purpose of tourism and business.
No immunizations are required for entry into Myanmar or Cambodia, or to return to the U.S. However, proof of yellow fever vaccination is required if you are coming from (or have recently visited) a country that has risk of yellow fever. Several immunizations are recommended by the U.S. Center for Disease Control. A copy of the CDC’s recommended immunization list and additional health information will be included in our Pre-Departure Packet.
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