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Home > Japan > Japan Itineraries > Tauck Essense Of Japan

Tauck: Essence of Japan


March – June, August – November


13 Days


Tokyo - Hakone - Takayama - Kanazawa - Hiroshima - Kyoto


Find a wealth of cultural treasures in Tokyo, from the renowned hot spring resort town of Hakone, to Kanazawa and Kyoto. Enjoy traditional Japanese culture in a ryokan with a private sushi lesson, a sake tasting, and a cruise on Lake Ashi to see Mount Fuji. Take part in a Taiko drumming performance; learn about Shinto music, Kagura dancing, and sumo wrestling; and meet a geisha expert.

Itinerary in Detail

    Day 1: Tokyo

    Tour begins: 5:30 PM, Shangri-La Tokyo. A transfer is included from Narita International Airport or Haneda Airport to the five-star Shangri-La Tokyo, located in central Tokyo and just a short walk away from some of the city's most popular shopping areas. This evening, please join us for a welcome reception and dinner at the Meiji Kinenkan featuring a larger-than-life demonstration by sumo wrestlers.

    Hotel: Shangri-La Tokyo

    Shangri-La Tokyo

    Shangri-La Tokyo

    Shangri-La Tokyo

    Day 2: Tokyo

    A drive through Tokyo this morning gives you an overview of one of the world's most dynamic capital cities, touching on both history and modern life. Begin today's sightseeing in Japan's capital city with a visit to the the Asakusa Kannon Temple – also known as the Senso-Ji – and the center of one of country's largest and most popular annual festivals, Sanja Matsuri. After a stop at the bustling Nakamise Street, have lunch at the celebrated restaurant Nobu. Following lunch, enjoy a Tauck Exclusive – an exhilarating taiko drumming performance, including a hands-on instruction session and demonstration; try your hand at this time-honored tradition where rhythm, melody, and movement combine to create an extraordinary musical experience. The rest of the day and evening are free for further exploring on your own. Many good restaurants can be found in the vicinity of your hotel, and your Tauck Director can make suggestions for places to try.

    Hotel: Shangri-La Tokyo

    Shangri-La Tokyo

    Shangri-La Tokyo

    Day 3: Tokyo

    Another day of discoveries in Japan's historic capital includes visits to the Meiji Shrine – honoring the deified spirits of Japan's Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shoken, who died in 1912 and 1914, respectively; a live performance of traditional Shinto music and Kagura dancing and a visit to Tokyo's renowned Tsukiji Market, the largest fish and seafood market in the world, for a walk around the outer market. Following lunch at a local restaurant, join your Tauck Director for a walking tour of Tokyo's celebrated Ginza shopping district, considered among the most elegant and expensive streets on Earth. The rest of your afternoon and evening are free to explore more of Tokyo as you please.

    Hotel: Shangri-La Tokyo

    Shangri-La Tokyo

    Shangri-La Tokyo

    Day 4: Tokyo - Odawara - Hakone

    This morning, board the renowned bullet train (shinkansen) in Tokyo for a short ride south to Odawara, and continue on to the scenic hot springs resort town of Hakone in Kanagawa. En route, enjoy a cruise on Lake Ashi; weather permitting, see views of Mt. Fuji, Japan's highest mountain, looming over the landscape. Have lunch at a local restaurant on the shores of Lake Ashi, then visit the Hakone Open Air Museum before continuing on to your ideally located spa resort in Hakone. This afternoon, get your hands around an authentic Japanese culinary tradition during a private sushi and miso making demonstration; later, gather for a "homey" dinner at your resort.

    Hotel: Hyatt Regency Hakone Resort & Spa

    Hyatt Regency Hakone Resort & Spa

    Hyatt Regency Hakone Resort & Spa

    Hyatt Regency Hakone Resort & Spa

    Day 5: Hakone

    Start the day off with a visit to the Itchiku Kubota Museum, set amidst magnificent views of Mt. Fuji and Lake Kawaguchi. Itchiku Kubota (1917-2003) is considered one of the most important Japanese textile artists of the 20th century; he rediscovered, revived and subsequently modernized a traditional Japanese kimono dyeing technique, creating exceptional artistic kimonos. The museum you'll visit today celebrates his art and legacy. Return to your hotel for an afternoon as you wish. This evening, you'll then have an opportunity to learn the art of ikebana – Japanese flower arranging – from a teacher who gives a class and demonstration of this time-honored tradition. Dine on Western or Japanese cuisine at your resort's dining room tonight.

    Hotel: Hyatt Regency Hakone Resort & Spa

    Hyatt Regency Hakone Resort & Spa

    Hyatt Regency Hakone Resort & Spa

    Hyatt Regency Hakone Resort & Spa

    Day 6: Hakone - Inuyama - Gero Onson

    Today, take a train from nearby Odiwara toward Nagoya before driving to Inuyama for lunch and a visit to Inuyama Castle, one of only 12 pre-modern tenshu (architectural typology found in Japanese castle complexes) left in existence. Arrive this afternoon at your traditional Japanese Ryokan hotel in the town of Gero Onson. Tonight, your Tauck Exclusive dinner is Japanese kaiseki-style, yukatas and slippers on, in a private room with musical entertainment.

    Hotel: Gero Onsen Yunoshimakan

    Gero Onsen Yunoshimakan

    Gero Onsen Yunoshimakan

    Gero Onsen Yunoshimakan

    Day 7: Gero Onson - Takayama - Kanazawa

    Depart Gero Onsen this morning and head for Takayama, a mountain city long famed for its artisans and woodworkers. Do some sightseeing along the narrow lanes of its historic center, and have lunch at a local restaurant known for its Hida beef. Following a lesson in sake making and a tasting at a local brewery in Takayama, continue on to Kanazawa, just inland from the Sea of Japan. Enjoy an included dinner at your choice of your hotel's restaurants tonight.

    Hotel: Hotel Nikko Kanazawa

    Hotel Nikko Kanazawa

    Hotel Nikko Kanazawa

    Day 8: Kanazawa

    A full day's sightseeing in Kanazawa includes: time exploring the historic Samurai District, where samurai homes are tucked among narrow lanes and canals behind earthen walls and private entrance gates, with a visit to the restored Nomura Samurai Family Residence for a look at the lifestyle of the samurai during feudal times, when they were prosperous; a guided stroll through celebrated Kenroku-en Gardens, considered among the country's top three landscaped gardens; lunch at a Paul Bocuse restaurant; and a walk through the city's Omicho Market. Cap the day with a Tauck Exclusive, a private Samurai show at a local temple, then spend the rest of the evening as you please at your hotel or exploring on your own in Kanazawa.

    Hotel: Hotel Nikko Kanazawa

    Hotel Nikko Kanazawa

    Hotel Nikko Kanazawa

    Hotel Nikko Kanazawa

    Day 9: Kanazawa - Osaka - Hiroshima

    Depart Kanazawa by train for Osaka, then continue on by train to the city of Hiroshima for an overnight stay. After lunch at your hotel, take a ferry ride to Miyajima Island and visit the iconic Miyajima-Itsukushima Shrine that seems to float on water (a photographer's dream). Dinner tonight will be at a local restaurant.

    Hotel: Hilton Hiroshima

    Hilton Hiroshima

    Day 10: Hiroshima - Kyoto

    In Hiroshima today, you'll visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park & Museum, and the A-Bomb Dome (Genbaku Dome) – the only structure left standing in the area of the WWII atomic bomb blast that destroyed the city in August 1945, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site – and Orizuru Tower. After lunch at a local restaurant, return this afternoon by bullet train to the historic city of Kyoto, where your evening is free to spend as you wish.

    Hotel: Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto

    Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto

    Day 11: Kyoto

    Kyoto sightseeing today begins with a visit to the famous golden-topped Kinkaku-ji Temple (Temple of the Golden Pavilion), set in an ancient garden on the edge of a lake – a position symbolizing its place "between heaven and Earth." Hear the story of how this 14th-century temple was burned to the ground by a young monk and then completely reconstructed. Continue on to Nijo Castle, surrounded by stone walls and a moat; tour this 17th-century shogun's residence and UNESCO World Heritage Site – and discover the secret of its "nightingale" floors. After lunch at a local restaurant, meet up with a geisha expert who leads an exploration of the back streets of one of Kyoto's geisha districts, and shares insights on the "flower and willow" world of the geishas, past and present. The evening is free to spend as you wish.

    Hotel: Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto

    Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto

    Day 12: Kyoto

    Begin your day with a prayer at the Kiyomizudera (Pure Water Temple) established in 778; the current buildings were rebuilt in the 17th century. Drink the water here in long-handled cups as you wish for longevity, success or love. Kyoto is known as the craft capital of Japan, and many traditional arts have been passed down through the generations. Experience the revered customs of Japanese culture firsthand during a visit to a private home here; take your shoes off, come in, and your gracious hostess will demonstrate the very specific rituals of a Japanese tea ceremony, followed by a lesson in the paper art of Origami. Return to your hotel where the afternoon is free for you to enjoy Kyoto's charms as you like. Join us for a special farewell reception and dinner tonight.

    Hotel: Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto

    Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto

    Day 13: Journey Home

    Tour ends: Kyoto. Fly home anytime. A transfer is included from Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto to the airport. Please allow a minimum of 3 hours for flight check-in at the airport.

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