The Golden Route of Japan Multi City Vacation

The Golden Route strings Japan’s must-see destinations in one streamlined itinerary which we have filled in with hands-on cultural experiences and visits to some of the country’s most famous sites such a making sushi in Tokyo, learning a traditional art in Kyoto, and visiting Todaiji in Nara famous for its giant Buddha statue and sacred deer that roam freely within Nara Park.

9 day/8 night package featuring Tokyo, Hakone/Mt. Fuji, Nara, and Kyoto. This progam includes your choice of Superior Tourist Class or Superior First Class hotels, daily breakfast, 7-day JR Pass for transfer by train, Hakone Pass for transport in Hakone, sushi-making in Tokyo, and your choice of a private cooking class or an artisan craft lesson in Kyoto.

Includes

  • Transfers per itinerary
  • Hotels per itinerary or similar
  • Meals per itinerary; (B) Breakfast, (L) Lunch, (D) Dinner
  • Train tickets per itinerary
  • Private guide
  • Custom private tours per itinerary

Excludes

  • Personal expenses
  • Optional tours
  • Customary tips and gratuities
  • Drinks during meals
  • Private arrival and departure transfers
  • Flights

Daily Itinerary

Day

1

Tokyo - Arrival

Upon arrival at Narita Airport, you will be met by a local representative who will assist with a shared transfer to your hotel and with your check-in. Remainder of the day is at your leisure.

Day

2

Discover Tokyo Highlights

The day begins with a city highlights tour of this incomparable city. Head across town to Asakusa, Tokyo’s old town, where you can soak in the atmosphere of the Tokyo of old. Visit Sensoji, Tokyo’s oldest temple, and wander down Nakamise, a shopping street that has been providing temple visitors with a variety of traditional, local snacks and souvenirs for centuries. Next, board a cruise down the Sumidagawa River to Hamarikyu garden, an Edo Period Japanese garden surrounded by the Shiodome district’s futuristic skyscrapers. The garden is a great example of how Japan is the land of contrasts, which you may contemplate over a cup of steaming macha and Japanese sweets in a tea house on a small island in the park’s lake. Visit Meiji Shrine, dedicated to the deified spirit of Emperor Meiji and a popular place for traditional Japanese weddings. Take a walk down Omotesando fashion street, a broad tree-lined avenue home to the flagship stores of the world’s top fashion brands.(B)

Day

3

Discover Tokyo Markets

The world’s largest fish market, Tsukiji Market, handles about 2,888 tons of marine products a day. Some 450 kinds of fish are received – from penny-per-piece sardines to golden brown dried sea slug caviar, a bargain at $473 a pound. Take time to wander through this enormous market, exploring both the fresh produce areas plus the impressive seafood section. You may also have the opportunity to see a complete tuna being cut and filleted. After your visit to the seafood market, you will take public transportation to visit a typical Japanese home. En route, your guide will answer all your questions about Japanese culture and everyday life in Tokyo. Upon arrival, you will meet the family who will teach you how to prepare maki sushi (rolled sushi), gunkan maki (sushi rice wrapped with a strip of seaweed and topped with soft ingredients), and nigiri sushi (sushi rice topped with a slice of raw fish). At the end of your lesson, sit down and enjoy your home-made sushi for lunch. The remainder of the day is at your leisure to explore the city. (B,L)

Day

4

Tokyo - Hakone

After breakfast, make your own way from your hotel to the train station to take Japan’s world-famous Shinkansen bullet train to Hakone using your JR Pass. Armed with your Hakone Pass, take advantage of the extensive local transport network to explore this stunning region; from switchback trains to cable cars, ropeways to buses and even a replica pirate ship that will sweep you across the volcanic Lake Ashi, offering views of Mt. Fuji. Tonight, you will stay in a traditional Japanese ryokan, sleeping on futons laid out on tatami mats, with delicious meals and piping hot Onsen (hot spring) baths. (B,D)

Day

5

Hakone - Kyoto

This morning, make your own way from you hotel to Hakone train station for travel to Kyoto, using your JR Pass. Kyoto represents the “Japan of old” and beyond the high-rise skyscrapers built as a monument to progress, the real monument to Japan’s historical and cultural past can be found in the plentiful tea houses and kimono-clad geisha hurrying from elegant function to function. Upon arrival, make your own way to your hotel for check-in and free time for leisure. In the afternoon, you have two options: 1) Enjoy a Japanese cultural experience in a local home for 3 hours. Visit the home of an instructor of one of Japan’s traditional arts. One of our assistants will meet you at your hotel and escort you to the instructor’s house. You may choose from a tea ceremony, flower arranging, calligraphy or origami. 2)* Enjoy a Japanese cooking class in a Machiya townhouse and try your hand at making some of the dishes that made this cuisine so popular around the world, and learn about Kyoto’s typical kappo cuisine. (B)
Note: Transfers to and from option 2 venue are not included. Transportation can be arranged at an additional cost.

Day

6

Discover Kyoto

Today you explore the former imperial capital with a knowledgeable local guide, utilizing Kyoto’s comprehensive bus system to visit some of the city’s World Heritage Sites. You will start your day with a visit to Kinkakuji Temple (the Golden Pavilion), which was originally built as a retirement villa for the Shogun. Next, Nijo Castle is an ornamental castle built by the founder of the Edo Shogunate as his Kyoto residence. Take a walk through Nishiki Market a narrow, five block long shopping street lined by more than one hundred shops and restaurants. Known as "Kyoto's Kitchen," this lively retail market specializes in all thing’s food related, like fresh seafood, produce, knives and cookware, and is a great place to find seasonal foods and Kyoto specialties. To end the day, you can decide what to visit. You may want to go to Kiyomizu (Pure Water) Temple. From the 13m high veranda, jutting out from the Main Hall, you can enjoy amazing views of the whole of Kyoto, whilst pondering the fact that both the Main Hall and Veranda were built without the use of nails or any kind of joiners; however, it is a steep walk uphill, and the temple is now under repair work, although it is still an enjoyable Kyoto landmark. You may decide, instead, to visit Sanjusangendo, a temple which is Japan's longest wooden structure. It is famous for its 1001 statues of Kannon, the goddess of mercy. In the center of the main hall sits a large, wooden statue of a 1000-armed Kannon that is flanked on each side by 500 statues of human sized 1000-armed Kannon standing in ten rows. Together they make for an awesome sight. (B)

Day

7

Nara and Fushimi

Begin the day with a transfer (shared) from your hotel to Nara by train (45min) with a local guide. For 74 years during the 8th century, Nara was Japan’s capital and many of the temples and shrines built at that time remain. Visit Todaiji Temple, the world’s largest wooden building and home to Japan’s largest Buddha. Your next stop is Nara’s most celebrated shrine, Kasuga Taisha, established in 768 AD and famous for its hundreds of bronze and stone lanterns. Take a wander through Nara Park, called Deer Park by locals, home to more than 1,000 tame deer. Upon returning from Nara, you can visit Fushimi Inari Shrine, used in the movie “Memoirs of a Geisha.” The shrine is famous for housing over 10,000 red torii gates, which form a path up the mountain behind the temple. (B)

Day

8

Kyoto - Tokyo

Today, you will make way back to Tokyo from Kyoto, using the Shinkansen bullet train. Upon arrival in Tokyo, you will have the remainder of the day at your leisure. (B)

Day

9

Tokyo - Return

At the appropriate time, you will take your shared transfer to Narita Airport to continue on to your next destination. (B)