Central Japan Independent Package

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Between the imperial city of Kyoto, and the shogun’s city of Tokyo, lies Central Japan. This area of Japan epitomizes the extremes and contradictions of Japan today. The densely populated coastal belt city of Tokyo is a stark contrast with the beautiful natural scenery of the mountainous central area. Though readily accessible, central Japan is still remote enough to have retained traditional lifestyles and architecture.

Destinations

Tokyo, Kamakura, Hakone Yumoto Onsen, Hakone, Takayama, Shirakawa-go, Kanazawa, Kyoto

Tour Pricing (All prices are per person.)
$2,224 – Double Occupancy
$2,724 – Single Occupancy

Central Japan is a slow-paced region that has it all, without the crowds. Quite opposite is the huge megalopolis of Tokyo, where the sheer energy level of the city will sweep you away. The quaint town of Takayama with its farmer’s markets invites exploration. The old farmhouses at Shirakawa-go will give you a glimpse of the way of life in 17th-century rural Japan. Kanazawa has one of Japan’s best gardens, and is home to many traditional Japanese handicrafts. And Kyoto, the cultural capital of Japan, has something for everyone.

DAY 1Arrive in Japan

You lose a day flying to Japan due to crossing the International Dateline, and gain the day back when you fly home. You will be welcomed at Tokyo’s Narita airport by a Samurai Tours representative who will help you find the correct transportation to your accommodations. They will help you with the exchange of your rail pass, obtain your train ticket into Tokyo and assist with boarding the train.

Travel: TBD; Walking: TBD

DAY 2Tokyo

The licensed, English-speaking guide will meet you in the lobby of your accommodations. You will start the day at the Tsukiji Fish Market. This market is the largest in the world, and it is estimated that 20% of all of the fish caught in the world passes through this market. Next, we will take the subway to Roppongi Hills, where we will visit the Tokyo City View. From the observation deck on the 53rd floor of the Roppongi Hills Building, you will get a bird’s eye view of Tokyo while also getting oriented to Tokyo, and a glimpse as to just how large Tokyo really is. On a clear day you might even see Mt. Fuji. Afterwards, we travel by subway to the famous Ginza district, the most expensive real estate in the world where we will first stop for a lunch of Kushiage (fried meat and vegetables on bamboo skewers). After lunch, we will travel by taxi to the Hinode Pier to take a relaxing cruise on the Sumida River back to the 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.

Travel: 1-1/2 Hours; Walking: TBD

DAY 3Tokyo

The day is free to explore Tokyo on your own. Go shopping for that perfect souvenir, visit the Meiji Shrine dedicated to the Japanese emperor of the 19th century, or wander through the trendy Shibuya or Harajuku districts where you will more than likely see interesting and far-out fashions. In the evening, you can visit the Kabuki-cho entertainment district to see how the Japanese businessmen let off steam.

Travel: TBD; Walking: TBD

DAY 4Kamakura, Hakone Yumoto Onsen

Before checking out, you will transfer your main luggage to Takayama, and will be traveling to Hakone and Takayama with overnight bags only. You will travel by local trains to the ancient city of Kamakura, the former capital of Japan in the 13th century. You can visit Hase-dera temple, originally established in the 8th century which houses a famous Kannon statue made from wood and gold leaf, and also has a commanding view of the nearby ocean. Next you can 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. Later in the afternoon, you will travel by local trains to Hakone Yumoto onsen. Here you can rest and relax the in thermally-heated mineral waters of the bath at the ryokan.

Travel: 2-1/2 Hours; Walking: TBD

DAY 5Hakone, Takayama

After checking out, you will tour the Hakone area. Hakone is famous for its natural beauty and the view of nearby Mt. Fuji (weather permitting). You can stop at Owakudani, which offers magnificent views of Mount Fuji in what is still an active volcanic region. Here at Owakudani, you can explore the thermally-heated pools and mud pots while enjoying 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.). Late in the afternoon, you will leave Tokyo by bullet train and express train 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 in, you can enjoy dinner at one of the many restaurants specializing in Hida Beef. Hida Beef is the same thing as the more famous Kobe Beef. You can retrieve your main luggage from your accommodation when you check in.

Travel: 5 Hours; Walking: TBD

DAY 6Takayama

In the morning you can stroll through the farmer’s market, sampling the numerous options from vegetable stands and stalls selling herbs, pickles, and souvenirs. After that, tour the Takayama-jinya, which was the governing office of Takayama and the surrounding area since the early 17th century. In the afternoon, you can visit the many temples, shrines and museums, rummage through antique shops, or relax at one of the sake breweries.

Travel: TBD; Walking: TBD

DAY 7Shirakawa-go, Kanazawa

After breakfast, you will take a highway bus to the valley of Shirakawa-go. Shirakawa-go is the home of many Gassho-zukuri (Praying Hand) style homes, which have been moved here from the surrounding area. These homes were first used as far back as the 18th century and are still being used today. Tour the open-air museum where you can explore 25 of these traditional farmhouses. Or just enjoy the small-village atmosphere of Shirakawa-go. In the afternoon you will take another bus to the city of Kanazawa. Kanazawa, located on the northern coast of Japan, was once controlled by one of the wealthiest families in Japan, the Maeda Clan. They were admirers and sponsors of many traditional arts, and these arts flourished under their sponsorship. Many of these arts are still being practiced today in Kanazawa.

Travel: TBD; Walking: TBD

DAY 8Kanazawa, Travel to Kyoto

You can begin the day by touring the Kenrokuen Garden. This garden is considered to be one of the three best gardens in Japan and was initially constructed in the 17th century. After enjoying the garden, you can tour the Kanazawa Handicrafts Museum to learn how the local Kanazawa handicrafts are made. You can visit the Kutani Pottery Kiln, where you can watch artisans making the local Kutani pottery, noted for its vibrant color-schemes. Tour the Naga-machi District. This area of Kanazawa was the former living quarters of the samurai that served the local warlord in Kanazawa as far back as the 17th century. Visit the Saihitsuan Yuzen Silk Center, where you can observe demonstrations of Yuzen silk painting, a centuries-old technique used for decorating kimonos. Or visit the Higashi-no-Kuruwa pleasure quarter, an active geisha district. Later in the afternoon you will travel by train to Kyoto. 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. Kyoto is endowed with an almost overwhelming legacy of ancient Buddhist temples, majestic palaces, and gardens of every size and description. 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.

Travel: TBD; Walking: TBD

DAY 9Kyoto

Visit the famous Kinkaku-ji (Golden Temple), or walk along the Philosopher’s Walk and enjoy one of the many tea shops along the way. Visit the Kyoto Train Station, which has won numerous design awards. Or visit the city of Fushimi, a famous sake-producing area. Fushimi is also home to the famous Fushimi Inari Shrine, which contains tunnels of vermillion-colored Torii kilometers long. The choices are endless in Kyoto.

Travel: TBD; Walking: TBD

DAY 10Kyoto

Today is a free day.

Travel: TBD; Walking: TBD

DAY 11Return Home

It’s time to say “sayonara” (goodbye). You will take the express train on your own to the Kansai International Airport, just outside Osaka, or return to Narita Airport by Shinkansen and Narita express train on your own for your flight back home. (If you are flying out of Narita Airport, be sure to schedule a flight in the late-afternoon or evening.)

Travel: TBD; Walking: TBD

Inclusions

Accommodations in 3 Star hotels including all taxes, fees and breakfast every morning (See the Upgrades Page for available Upgrade Options)

  • Tokyo – Western-style hotel such as Shinagawa Prince Hotel (Single in East Tower, Double in North Tower)
  • Hakone Yumoto Onsen – Japanese-style ryokan such Yajikitanoyu Ryokan
  • Takayama – Western-style hotel such as the Best Western
  • Kanazawa – Western-style hotel such as the Dormy Inn Kanazawa
  • Kyoto – Western-style hotel such as the Palace Side Hotel

Detailed, easy-to-follow directions on how to travel between cities

Bi-lingual maps, addresses and phone numbers for all your lodging

7 Day Ordinary Car JR Rail Pass

Reserved seat tickets on the Shinkansen (bullet train) from Tokyo to Hakone

English-speaking emergency contact number in Japan

Meeting service at the airport

Airport transfers

8 Hours of Guiding Service from a licensed, English-speaking guide

Lodging each night

Suggested train schedules including train schedules for 2 hours prior and 2 hours after the suggested time to allow you to choose your own times

SUICA card pre-charged with 2,500 Yen to be used on the subways in Tokyo and Kyoto (2,500 Yen will allow as many as 8 or 10 trips depending on the length of the trips

Breakfast every day

Hakone Free Passes

A copy of our “Gaijin on Getas” tour handbook (this is the same popular handbook our escorted tour members receive) which contains 180 pages of Japan travel tips, Japanese language tips, Japanese customs and etiquette and Japanese history to prepare you properly for your trip and allow you to enjoy Japan even more after you arrive.

Baggage transfer forms (We will provide the necessary forms in Japanese to transfer your main baggage ahead, allowing you the freedom of traveling light. The service provided will only work overnight, so you will need to travel with an overnight bag. The actual transfer fees are not included and will be paid by you at the time of transfer. These fees normally run between 1,250 Yen and 1,750 Yen.)

Tour Map

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Overall Customer Ratings

Individual Customer Reviews

Martha Pine – May 18, 2012

Shirley Delgado – Apr 13, 2013

Rich Roca – May 07, 2013

Marissa Corona

Lynn Learson – Jun 27, 2012

Blake Bankwitz – May 25, 2012

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David Fryburg – May 18, 2012

Tom Parker – Apr 25, 2012

Mark G Murray – Jun 15, 2012

Mihail Rugeanu – Mar 30, 2012

Cherie Gillette Sigward – Jun 12, 2012

Tom Fowle – Feb 25, 2012

Kathleen Mensing – Feb 20, 2012

Allison Nishimoto – Jul 04, 2012

Mary Lou Herlihy – Jul 03, 2012

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Janette Aguado – Jul 18, 2012

Martha Gomez – Jun 17, 2012

Jennifer and Scott Isdaner – Jul 29, 2012

Ardath Yamaga – Jul 24, 2012

Patrice Sutton – Aug 22, 2012

Taiko Yamaga – Jul 24, 2012

Theodore K. Hirota – Oct 01, 2012

Tammy Lee – Oct 05, 2012

Wolfgang Kulhanek – Oct 03, 2012

Lynn and Ned Masters – Nov 10, 2012

Ros Watson-Hunter – Dec 09, 2012

Greg Brown – Jun 27, 2013

Jim Hoelzel – Mar 13, 2013

Greg Brown – Jun 27, 2013

Susan and Jim Russell

William Mierse – Jun 19, 2013

Mark Haden – Jul 21, 2013

Greg Brown – Jun 27, 2013

Shirley Delgado – Apr 13, 2013

Martha Pine – May 18, 2013

Stanford Paul

Anonymous

Gail Radzevich – Oct 08, 2013

John Walsh – Oct 19, 2013

Ilona Kwiecien

Jackie Hoy – Oct 27, 2013

C. Davis – Dec 22, 2013

Sarah Kurian – Feb 02, 2014

Anonymous – Mar 22, 2014

Thomas Richard Davis – Mar 28, 2014

Steven Woodward – Apr 01, 2014

Eileen and Gerald Ikeda – Apr 09, 2014