March to Oct 2018 – 22 Day Best of Japan Tour – The Best Japan Tour In The Market!

  • Pricing

    All prices are calculated using the current USD exchange rate. Final pricing for the tour will be calculated based on the exchange rate at the time of tour registration.

    Single travellers – you can request to share with another person (same gender). If Samurai Tours can match you up with another single traveller then the single supplement will not apply. If they can’t find another person for you to share then you will have to pay the single supplement.

     

    2018

     25 Mar – 15 Apr    Early Cherry Blossom  *Fully Booked*

    Per person twin share                                                           $9,423


    Single supplement                                                                 $1,033


    01 Apr – 22 Apr  Late Cherry Blossom  *4 seats remain*

    Per person twin share                                                            $9,423


     Single supplement                                                                 $1,033


    13 May – 03 Jun 

    Per person twin share                                                           $8,772


     Single supplement                                                                   $903


    20 May – 10 Jun

    Per person twin share                                                          $8,772


     Single supplement                                                                 $903


    17 Jun – 08 Jul     Early Summer 

    Per person twin share                                                          $8,642


     Single supplement                                                                 $903


     07 – 28 Oct –   Fall

    Per person twin share                                                           $9,098


    Single supplement                                                                   $1033


    28 Oct – 18 Nov Fall Foliage

    Per person twin share                                                            $9,293


     Single supplement                                                                 $1,033


    2019

     24 Mar – 14 Apr    Early Cherry Blossom 

    Per person twin share                                                           $9,423


    Single supplement                                                                 $1,033


    31 Mar – 21 Apr  Late Cherry Blossom  *4 seats remain*

    Per person twin share                                                            $9,423


     Single supplement                                                                 $1,033


    12 May – 02 Jun 

    Per person twin share                                                           $8,772


     Single supplement                                                                   $1033


    19 May – 9 Jun

    Per person twin share                                                          $8,772


     Single supplement                                                                 $1033


    16 Jun – 07 Jul     Early Summer 

    Per person twin share                                                          $8,642


     Single supplement                                                                 $903


     06 – 27 Oct –   Fall

    Per person twin share                                                           $9,098


    Single supplement                                                                   $1033


    3 Nov- 24 Nov Fall Foliage

    Per person twin share                                                            $9,423


     Single supplement                                                                 $1,033


    Inclusions

    • Full-time services of a Samurai Tours guide

    • Lodging for 21 nights in Japanese-style ryokans or western-style hotels

    • Japanese-style or Western-style breakfast every morning? (Please Note: Some ryokans offer Japanese breakfasts only), 12 Japanese-style or western-style lunches, 9 Japanese-style or western-style dinners (including 2 gourmet kaiseki dinners, a Shojin-Ryori (traditional Buddhist vegetarian cuisine) dinner at the Buddhist temple and Sapporo Beer Garden.

    • 21-day Japan Rail Pass (allows unlimited train travel.)

    • The appropriate amount of free time to allow you to explore and discover your own personal Japan.

    • All transportation costs when traveling with the group. (Transportation costs during scheduled free times are the tour member’s responsibility.)

    • Admission fees to the destinations and activities listed in the Tour Highlights, see below Tour Highlights. (Itinerary specifics subject to change.)

    • Welcome dinner at the beginning of the tour

    • Sayonara dinner at the end of the tour

    • Luggage -
    Luggage delivery from Tokyo to Takayama (one bag only), Luggage delivery from Takayama to Kyoto (one bag only), Luggage delivery from Kyoto to Takamatsu (one bag only), Luggage delivery from Takamatsu to Matsuyama (one bag only), Luggage delivery from Matsuyama to Nagasaki (one bag only), Luggage delivery from Nagasaki to Hakodate (one bag only), Luggage delivery from Hakodate to Tokyo (one bag only)

    • Each tour member receives an electronic copy of our tour handbook. This handbook is full of tips and suggestions taken from our Japan travel experiences that allow you to better plan and prepare for your trip, and therefore enjoy your trip even more. The tips and suggestions included cover everything from how to save while exchanging money, what to pack, some basic Japanese-language tips, general etiquette dos-and-don’ts, ryokan customs, etc.

    Exclusions 

    Airfare to and from Japan is NOT included
    Alcoholic beverages, soft drinks and desserts are NOT included – except at the dinner the first evening, the sayonara dinner and the dinner at the Sapporo Beer Garden

     

    1. Prices quoted are subject to currency fluctuation. Please call us for current pricing if you are interested in our tour.

    2. If you are a solo traveller and would like us to try to find a roommate (same gender of course) for you to avoid the single supplement, please let us know.

    3. These are subject to change.

  • japan map

    Itinerary

    Group size – 16 maximum

    Day 1 – Arrive Tokyo 

    You will be met at Tokyo’s Narita airport by a Samurai Tours representative, who will help you board the bus to the hotel in Tokyo. No meals included. Travel: 1-1/4 Hours; Walking: Light

    Day 2 – Tokyo – Ginza, Tokyo Sky Tree, Sensoji Temple

    After breakfast, you will start the day with a Welcome/Orientation meeting. Next, the licensed, English-speaking guide will escort you by taxi to the famous Ginza district, the most expensive real estate in the world. Here you will have some free time to wander through the numerous boutiques and department stores. Visit the Nissan showroom to see the latest automobile technology. Explore the Sony Building where you will find many of Sony’s products on display, some of which aren’t on the market yet. Before continuing we will first stop for a lunch of Kushiage (fried meat and vegetables on bamboo skewers). After traveling by subway to the Tokyo Sky Tree, we will go to the top observation level of the world’s second tallest building. From here, (weather permitting), you will get an awe-inspiring view of Tokyo. From here, you will get an idea of just how big Tokyo really is. On a clear day, you will even be able to see Mt. Fuji. Next we will take the subway to the nearby Asakusa area. Here we will tour the Nakamise-dori, Senso-ji Buddhist Temple and the Asakusa Shrine where you will learn about Buddhist and Shinto Japanese religious practices. Breakfast at the hotel and lunch at a local restaurant included. Travel: 1-3/4 Hours; Walking: Heavy

    Day 3 – Kamakura, Hase-dera Temple, Kotokuin (Great Buddha), Hokokuin (Bamboo Temple); Travel to Hakone, Hakone Yumoto Onsen

    We board a subway and an express train to the ancient city of Kamakura, the former capital of Japan in the 13th century. Hase-dera Temple, originally established in the 8th century houses a famous Kannon statue made from wood and gold leaf, and also has a commanding view of the nearby ocean. Next we will visit Kotokuin, the home of the famous Kamakura Great Buddha. This 40-foot tall bronze statue of Buddha, built in the 13th century is an icon of Japan. After a relaxing noodle lunch, we continue by taxi to Hokokuin Temple, also known as the Bamboo Temple. Here you will be able to relax and enjoy the serene atmosphere of the bamboo garden while savoring tea and sweets. Late in the afternoon, we will travel to Hakone Yumoto Onsen, where we will stay overnight and where you can enjoy the thermally-heated mineral baths at the ryokan. Before leaving Tokyo, you will prepare your luggage to be transferred to Takayama, and will be traveling to Hakone and Takayama with an overnight bag only. Breakfast at the hotel and lunch at a local restaurant is included. Travel: 1-1/2 Hours; Walking: Lightsamurai 2

    Day 4 – Tour Hakone, Travel to Takayama

    After checking out of the ryokan, we will tour Hakone. Hakone is famous for its natural beauty and the view of nearby Mt. Fuji (weather permitting). We will be taking many different forms of transportation (electric train, funicular, gondola and bus) around Hakone including the Hakone Sightseeing Boats on Lake Ashi. In good weather, passengers aboard the sightseeing cruise can get a fine view of Japan’s most famous peak, Mount Fuji, and enjoy Hakone’s rich scenery reflected on the lake’s calm surface. The large windows of the ropeway (gondola) allow visitors to observe the panorama of Hakone’s unspoiled natural setting. Along the ropeway, we will stop at Owakudani. Owakudani offers magnificent views of Mount Fuji in what is still an active volcanic region. Here at Owakudani, you will have free time to explore the thermally-heated pools and mud pots. You can try one of the ‘black eggs’, which are eggs hard-boiled in the thermally-heated mineral waters. It is said if you eat one of these eggs, it will add seven years to your life. (It is probably said by the people who sell the eggs.) After returning to Hakone Yumoto and picking up our overnight bags, we will continue on to Takayama. Takayama, in the middle of the Japan Alps, with its traditional inns, shops, and sake breweries, has managed to retain its traditional charm. After checking into the ryokan, the evening is free to enjoy one of the many nearby Hida Beef restaurants. (Hida Beef is the same thing as the more famous Kobe Beef.) Breakfast at the ryokan and lunch at a local restaurant is included. Travel: 5 Hours; Walking: Medium

    Day 5 – Takayama – Miyagawa Morning Market, Jinyamae Morning Market, Takayama Jinya, San-machi-suji

    This morning we stroll through the farmer’s market, sampling the numerous options from vegetable stands and stalls selling herbs, pickles, and souvenirs. After that, we tour the Takayama-jinya, which was the governing office of Takayama and the surrounding area since the early 17th century. The guide will take you to the Sanmachi-suji district, consisting of merchant homes dating back to the 16th century. The rest of the day is free to roam and explore Takayama. Visit the many temples, shrines and museums, rummage through antique shops, or relax at one of the sake breweries. Breakfast and lunch at a local restaurant are included. Walking: Mediumsamurai 6

    Day 6 – Travel to Kyoto, Kyoto

    In the morning, we will travel by express train and Shinkansen (bullet train) to the city of Kyoto. For many, just the name of Kyoto conjures up the classic images of Japan: streets of traditional wooden houses, the click-clack of geta (wooden sandals) on the paving stones, geisha in a flourish of brightly colored silks, and a tea master deliberately warming water and making tea. Steeped in history and tradition, Kyoto has in many ways been the cradle of Japanese culture. A stroll through Kyoto today is a walk through 11 centuries of Japanese history. After lunch we will visit Kinkaku-ji. Kinkaku-ji, also known as the Golden Pavilion, is one of Kyoto’s, as well as Japan’s, most recognizable attractions. The gleaming building covered in gold leaf seems to float on the aptly named Mirror Pond, especially on a sunny day. Next, we will visit Nijo Castle. Built in 1603, it was the Kyoto home of Tokugawa Ieayasu, the first Tokugawa Shogun. The ostentatious style of construction was intended as a demonstration of Ieyasu’s prestige, and to signal the demise of the emperor’s power. The finest artists of the day filled the castle with delicate transom woodcarvings and paintings by the Kano School on sliding doors. One of the castle’s most intriguing features is the so-called “nightingale” floors. To protect the Shogun from real or imagined enemies, these floorboards creak when stepped on. Next we will learn about the tea ceremony. The regimented discipline of the tea ceremony has been practiced for more than 400 years, and at one time was considered mandatory for Samurai as an aid to train the mind. You will even have an opportunity to make your own tea. Breakfast at the ryokan and lunch and dinner at a local restaurant is included. Travel: 3-1/2 Hours; Walking: Light

    Day 7 – Kyoto

    Today we are off by train to the nearby city of Fushimi, one of the largest sake producing regions of Japan. Here we will visit the Fushimi Inari shrine. This Shinto Shrine, established in the 8th century, is famous for the long tunnels of vermilion torii gates straddling a network of trails leading to the top of the heavily forested Mt. Inari. Next, we will visit the famous Kiyomizu-dera temple. Kiyomizu-dera literally translates to “Pure Water Temple”. For centuries, visitors and pilgrims have climbed the hill to the temple standing on a steep hillside with fine views of the city of Kyoto. Supported by 139 pillars, the temple juts out over the valley. Finding the courage to set out on a daring, new adventure is likened to “taking a leap from the veranda of Kiyomizu”. From Kiyomizu, we will walk through the Higashiyama District of Kyoto. This area of narrow, cobblestone alleys with its numerous shops and restaurants is truly enjoyable and relaxing. Next, we will walk to the famous Gion Geisha District. Here, you will see where the Geisha live and work. You may even see one on their way to one of their appointments. We will continue by taxi to the restaurant to enjoy a Shabu-Shabu dinner. During the dinner in a private room, we will be joined by a “Maiko” for a private Maiko dinner party. A Maiko is a geisha in training. She will perform a short dance, answer any of your questions, pose for pictures with you and teach you some traditional Japanese party games. Breakfast at the ryokan, lunch and Shabu-Shabu dinner at a local restaurant included. Travel: 1-1/2 Hours; Walking: Heavysamurai 3

    Day 8 – Travel to Koya-san, Koya-san – Okunoin Cemetery and Temple, Garan Temple Complex, Overnight at a Buddhist Temple

    We will board an express train to Osaka, and then continue to Koya-san by train and funicular. Koya-san, the world headquarters of the Shingon School of Esoteric Buddhism, was established in the year 816 by Kobo Daishi, considered by many to be the most influential religious person in Japanese history. After dropping off the luggage at the temple, we will enjoy a vegetarian lunch. After lunch, we will wander through the huge cemetery leading up to the Okuno-in temple. Kobo Daishi is buried at this temple, and many Japanese still believe that he is not dead, but merely in a very advanced state of meditation, waiting to awaken at the appropriate time. After touring the Garan Temple complex and checking into our shukubo (Buddhist temple lodging), you are free to roam and visit one of the 110 temples in the area or just rest in the garden at the shukubo. Your dinner of shojin-ryori (traditional Buddhist vegetarian cuisine – no meat, fish, onions or garlic) will be served by the Buddhist Monks from the temple. Breakfast at the ryokan, Shojin-ryori (Buddhist vegetarian cuisine) lunch at a local restaurant and Shojin-ryori dinner at the temple is included.
    Travel: 3 Hours; Walking: Heavy

    Day 9 – Koya-san – Morning Prayer Service; Travel to Himeji, Himeji Castle; Travel to Takamatsu

    Early in the morning, we will attend a Buddhist prayer service held at the temple. After a vegetarian breakfast, we will travel back to Osaka, and continue by Shinkansen to Himeji where we will tour Himeji Castle. Built about 400 years ago, it is one of the oldest and largest of the remaining original castles in Japan. It is only one of four castles in Japan that has been designated as a National Treasure and has also been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After touring the castle, we will continue to Takamatsu by Shinkansen and express train. The sprawling city of Takamatsu is located on the northern shore of Shikoku, the smallest, the least populated and least visited of the four major islands of Japan. Despite a relaxed atmosphere, Takamatsu hums with an urban energy. Walking down the city’s wide, sunlit boulevards or numerous covered shopping arcades you will find funky shops, artsy cafes and exciting nightlife. Shojin-ryori breakfast at the temple and lunch and dinner at a local restaurant is included. Travel: 4 Hours; Walking: Mediumsamurai 1

    Day 10 – Takamatsu – Ritsurin Garden; Kotohira – Konpira Shrine

    We will start the day at Ritsurin Garden, thought by many to be one of best gardens in Japan. This garden was designed by the local feudal lord family and took over 100 years to create. The more than 1,400 twisted and contorted pines set this garden apart from other gardens. We will also stop for tea and sweets in a tea house overlooking a beautiful koi-filled pond. Next we travel by street car to the nearby city of Kotohira, where we will visit Kompira Shrine. Kompira Shrine is the main shrine of multiple Kompira shrines found around Japan that are dedicated to sailors and seafaring. Located on the wooded slope of Mount Zozu in Kotohira, the approach to Kompirasan is an arduous series of 785 stone steps. We will return to Takamatsu by train. Breakfast at the hotel and lunch at a local restaurant included. Travel: 3-1/2 Hours; Walking: Heavy

    Day 11 – Travel to Matsuyama, Matsuyama – Matsuyama Castle, Dogo Onsen

    In the morning, we will travel by express train to the city of Matsuyama. We will start the afternoon at Matsuyama Castle. Matsuyama Castle is one of Japan’s most beautiful original castles. It is located on Mt. Katsu, a steep hill in the city center providing visitors to the castle with a bird’s eye view of Matsuyama and the Seto Inland Sea. The castle was constructed between 1602 and 1628. The current three storied castle tower was constructed in 1820 after the original five storied one was destroyed by lightening. In the evening, you can visit the famous Dogo Onsen. It is thought this was the first onsen in Japan, and the history of the onsen goes back 1,000 years. The current main onsen building was built in 1894, and includes a bath reserved exclusively for visiting Emperors. Breakfast at the hotel is included. Travel: 3 Hours; Walking: Medium

    Day 12 – Matsuyama – Ishiteji Temple, Travel by ferries to Miyajima Islandsamurai 4

    In the morning, we will tour the nearby temple of Ishiteji. This temple is one of the 88 temples (#51) on the Shikoku pilgrimage. Ishiteji is known for its Niomon Gate, a designated national treasure. The main hall and pagoda are also designated important cultural properties, and all of the structures exhibit the typical architecture style of the Kamakura Period (1192-1333). In the afternoon, we will travel by high-speed ferries to Miyajima Island. The Japanese proclaim Miyajima Island to be one of the top three scenic sights in Japan. The evening is free to enjoy the solitude and ambiance of the island after all of the day-trippers head back to the mainland. Before leaving the hotel in the morning, we will transfer the luggage to Nagasaki. (You will need enough items for three days/two nights.) Breakfast at the hotel and Kaiseki-style dinner at the ryokan is included. Travel: 2-1/2 Hours; Walking: Medium

    Day 13 – Miyajima Island, Free Day

    The entire day is a free day to enjoy Miyajiima Island. The afternoon and evening is free to enjoy the solitude and ambiance of the island after all of the day-trippers head back to the mainland. Ride the cable car to the top of the mountain on Miyajima Island, or visit the Itsukushima-jinja shrine which was built in its present form in 1168. Or just stroll around the island while enjoying grilled oysters, the island’s specialty. Breakfast at the ryokan and Kaiseki-style dinner at the ryokan is included.

    Day 14 – Hiroshima – Peace Park and Museum; Travel to Nagasaki

    We will travel by ferry and train to the city of Hiroshima. Here we will visit the Hiroshima Peace Park and Museum, both sobering monuments to the tragic event on August 6, 1945. Late in the afternoon, we will travel to Nagasaki on the island of Kyushu. Breakfast at the ryokan and lunch at a local restaurant included. Travel: 6-1/2 Hours; Walking: Heavysamurai 7

    Day 15 – Nagasaki, Dejima, Glover Garden, Free afternoon

    We will start the day by visiting Dejima. Dejima was a man-made island in the port of Nagasaki constructed in 1636. A few years later, the Dutch trading factory was moved to Dejima. The Dutch workers, the only remaining Westerners allowed in the country, were restricted to Dejima during Japan’s two centuries of isolation. Today, Dejima is no longer an island, as the surrounding area has been reclaimed during the 20th century. However, a number of Dejima’s historical structures have been reconstructed, including various residences, warehouses, walls and gates. There are many displays in these buildings documenting the daily life of the Dutch residents. Next, we will tour Glover Gardens. Glover Garden is an open air museum, exhibiting mansions of former Western residents of Nagasaki. It is located on the hill where Western merchants settled down after the end of Japan’s era of seclusion in the second half of the 19th century. You can also enjoy a panorama of the city from the garden. The rest of the day will be free. Breakfast at the ryokan and lunch at a local restaurant included.
    Travel: 1 Hours

    Day 16 – Travel to Sapporo

    The entire day is a travel day. We will be traveling by air to Sapporo, Hokkaido’s largest city and host of the 1972 Winter Olympics. After arriving, we will visit the JR Sapporo Tower where you will be able to get a bird’s eye view of Sapporo. In the evening, we will enjoy dinner at the Sapporo Beer Garden, located in the original Sapporo Beer brewery. Breakfast at the hotel and dinner at a local restaurant included. Travel: 8 Hours; Walking: Light

    Day 17 – Sapporo – Old Government Building, Clock Tower; Travel to Shiraoi, Poroto Kotan Ainu Village and Museum, Travel to Norboribetsu Onsen

    After breakfast, we will next visit the Old Hokkaido Government Building. Affectionately known by the locals as “Red Bricks” (akarenga in Japanese), it was built in 1911 and has been designated as an Important Cultural Asset. Next, we will visit the Clock Tower, the symbol of Sapporo. The building was constructed in 1878 as a drill hall of the Sapporo Agricultural College. The American-made clock was added in 1881. In the afternoon, we will travel to Noboribetsu Onsen, one of the most popular and famous hot spring resorts in Japan. On our way to Noboribetsu, we will stop at the city of Shiraoi, where the Poroto Kotan Ainu Village and Museum is located. Ainu are considered to be the original inhabitants of Japan. Here you will see a traditional Ainu dance demonstration, as well as a demonstration of traditional Ainu musical instruments. In the museum, you will learn about Ainu history, as well as their every-day life and how they lived. Before leaving Sapporo, we will transfer the main luggage to Hakodate. Breakfast at the hotel and dinner at the ryokan included. Travel: 1-1/2 Hours; Walking: Mediumsamurai 5

    Day 18 – Nooboribetsu Onsen, Travel to Hakodate

    The morning is free to explore Noboribetsu Onsen, including the Jigoku-dani (Hell Valley) and the other geothermal activity in the area. In the afternoon, we will travel to the city of Hakodate. Hakodate was one of the first cities open to the West after the Meiji Restoration. In the evening, we take a cable car to the top of Mt. Hakodate, where we will enjoy a panoramic view of Hakodate’s night lights. Breakfast at the ryokan is included. Travel: 3 Hours; Walking: Light

    Day 19 – Hakodate – Hakodate Morning Market, Goryokaku Fort; Travel to Sendai

    Early in the morning, we will visit the Hakodate Morning Market, where the sellers can prepare the specialties of Hakodate (crab, sea urchin and squid) fresh from their stalls for breakfast. Next we will visit the Goryo-Kaku, Japan’s first western-style fort. Built in 1864 by the Tokugawa Shogunate in the shape of a five-pointed star, it was designed to trap attackers in a deadly crossfire. We will go to top of the Goryo-kaku tower next to the fort, providing a view of the fort and the surrounding city. We will then tour the Moto-machi historic area. This is where many of the westerners who lived in Hakodate lived at the end of the 19th century. Overlooking the western bay at the foot of Mount Hakodate, there are numerous sloping streets lined with 19th century churches, consulates, shops and homes of the foreigners who first opened this area of Japan to commerce. In the afternoon, we will travel to the city of Sendai. Breakfast at the hotel is included.
    Travel: 8 Hours; Walking: Medium

    Day 20 – Matsushima – Matsushima Bay Cruise, Kanran-tei, Zuigan-ji samurai 1

    Today we will tour Matsushima. Matsushima, near Sendai, is known as one of Japan’s three most scenic areas, and has been visited by numerous dignitaries over the years including the famous Haiku poet Basho who wrote a very famous poem about Matsuhsima published in the late 17th century. First, we will take a sightseeing boat that will navigate between the 260 small islands sculpted by the waves and covered with pine trees. During the cruise, you will see how Matsushima got its name (Matsu means pine and shima means island). After the cruise, we will visit the Kanran-tei Pavilion given to the Date feudal lord family of Sendai by Toyotomi Hideyoshi which was used for moon viewing and tea ceremonies. Here we will enjoy the view while sampling green-powder tea and sweets. We will also visit Zuigan-ji Temple. Originally founded by the Tendai Buddhism sect in 828, the current buildings were built by the Date feudal lord family in 1606. Here, along the entrance to the temple, we will find the numerous Buddha statues carved by hand into the rocky-cliff face by Buddhist monks to show their dedication. Breakfast at the hotel and lunch at a local restaurant is included. Travel: 8 Hours; Walking: Medium

    Day 21 – Nikko – Rinno-ji, Tosho-gu, Taiyuin; Travel to Tokyo

    We board a Shinkansen (bullet train) and local train to Nikko, where the Tosho-gu Shrine is located. This shrine – built by Tokugawa Iemitsu – is a dedication to his grandfather, Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu. (James Clavell’s fictional Shogun in his novel Shogun was based on this person.) One of the most elaborate monuments in Japan, no expense was spared in this shrine’s construction. After touring Nikko, we will travel by local train and Shinkansen to Tokyo. In the evening, we will enjoy our “Sayonara” dinner. Breakfast at the hotel and lunch and dinner at a local restaurant is included. Travel: 8 Hours; Walking: Light

    Day 22 – Return Home

    You will travel to the airport by express train to catch your flight home. Breakfast at the hotel is included. Travel: 1-1/2 Hours; Walking: Light

     

  • See ‘Pricing & Inclusions’ for all available dates in 2017

    New dates now available for 2018

    1300 689 461

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