All Japan Tours 337 N.Vineyard Ave Suite 215, Ontario, CA 91764
Toll Free: 1-855-325-2726 (US/CANADA) Tel: 1-909-988-8885
Fax: 1-909-349-1736 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Land cost: from USD $4698.00
Single supplement: USD $990.00
Tour duration: 12 days 11 nights
Furano / Biei / Otaru / Sapporo / Shiraoi / Noboribetsu / Lake Toya / Shikabecho / Hakodate / Seikan Tunnel / Aomori / Akita / Kakunodate / Hiraizumi / Sendai / Matsushima / Urabandai / Aizu Wakamatsu / Nikko
Tour cost includes:
• 9 nights Western style and 2 nights Japanese style accommodation
• Meet and greet upon arrival at Sapporo New Chitose Airport
• Airport transfers on arrival and departure
• Private coach transfers between destinations in Japan
• Comprehensive escorted with AJT professional English speaking tour guide
• Breakfast everyday
• 7 lunches and 2 dinners
Admission fees and activities
• All entry fees to sites, activities listed in the itinerary
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All prices are per person, based on twin (double on request) or triple occupancy.
International flights are not included on our tours - this allows you the flexibility to choose your own departure and get the best value for your money!
We can arrange international flights for US customers if needed, please ask for details.
Welcome to Sapporo! You will be met at the arrival gate by an AJT representative holding an "All Japan Tours" sign.
NOTE 1: The meet and greet and airport transfer to the first hotel is ONLY available on the first day of the tour after 11 AM. If you plan to stay extra nights before the start of the tour, we will provide full instructions in advance for you to transfer to your hotel on your own.
On a private coach, we will travel to Furano. July and August is traditionally the most popular time to visit Furano, when blooming lavender envelops the city in a purple haze. One of the best spots to see the beautiful flowers against the Tokachi Mountains is Farm Tomita. In addition to flowers, Furano is celebrated for its local wine. Located on a hill overlooking the city, the Furano Winery is open to the public and there are free wine tastings. You can see how local camembert cheese is made at the Furano Cheese Factory. Sample the black cheese, which gets its color from squid ink, and a number of other cheeses at the factory shop. Don't forget to visit the ice cream factory and pizzeria, or participate in one of the many hands-on workshops. In the afternoon, we will proceed to Biei, a small town surrounded by a picturesque landscape of gently rolling hills and vast fields. Visit Blue Pond, then enjoy the beautiful landscapes of Panorama Road from the window. From the Larch tree grove running alongside the hills, to the overlapping layers of hills, the majesty of this landscape unfolds before your eyes. Among the area's highlights is Shikisai Hill, a spacious flower park with various flower fields. Stop by Takushinkan, an exhibition hall with beautiful landscape photography by renowned photographer Maeda Shinzo and his eldest son Akira. The exhibition displays landscape photographs from across Japan with an emphasis on photos from the local Biei region.
In the morning we will travel to Otaru, renowned for its canals and glassblowing in Kitaichi Garasukan. During the first half of the 20th century, the Otaru Canal was a vital part of the city's busy harbor. The canal allowed large vessels to be unloaded onto smaller ones, then transported to local warehouses. Although the canal became obsolete when modern dock facilities allowed for the direct unloading of large vessels, the canal remains an integral part of the city's history and culture. As part of a citizen's movement in the 1980s, the canal was beautifully restored and former warehouses have been transformed into cafes, restaurants, museums, and shops. Afterwards, we will visit the reputable glass workshops and also the popular Otaru Music Box Museum in Sakaimachi Street. In the afternoon, we will then visit Sapporo city which includes a visit to the Sapporo Clock Tower and Odori Park, where you can stroll along the promenade. The next stop is Susukino, Hokkaido's largest entertainment district. The evening is open for you to enjoy your free time.
This morning, our tour of Sapporo continues with a visit to the Nijo Market, where you will see a variety of fresh produce and local food-related goods. Afterwards, visit the Historic Village of Hokkaido, an open-air museum that consists of architecture dating back to the Meiji and Taisho Periods (1868 - 1926). Then, we will visit the Upopoy National Ainu Museum, a newer museum facility that celebrates the cultural heritage of the native Ainu people, including exhibits on Ainu language, culture, history, crafts, music, and dance. In the afternoon, we will stop at Hokkaido's most famous hot spring resort, Noboribetsu Onsen. Our group will spend some time in Jigokudani, or "Hell's Valley", the main source of the town's hot spring water. Visitors can experience the area's hot steam vents, picturesque walking trails, and a sulfurous pond known as Oyunuma. Tonight, we will stay in a traditional Japanese style hotel in Noboribetsu, where you can unwind in a soothing hot spring (onsen) bath.
After breakfast, we will head to Lake Toya and take the Usuzan Ropeway to the observation deck and have a panoramic view of Lake Toya and neighboring Showa Shinzan. From Lake Toya, we head to Hakodate, along the way we stop at Shikabe-cho and attend a fun and easy cooking experience with Hama no Kasan at a local Japanese home. Hakodate was one of the first Treaty Ports in Japan which opened up to world trade in 1854, so there are many preserved buildings around the area from that time. We will continue our tour to visit Goryokaku Pentagonal Fort, built in 1868 and the only structure of its kind in Japan. The surrounding moat and defensive grounds are now a city park and gardens. In the evening, we will take a ropeway ride up to Mt Hakodate from where we can look down upon the twinkling lights that surround Hakodate Bay. The view from the mountain are spectacular and it's listed as Japan's three best night view alongside with the view from Nagasaki's Mount Inasa and Kobe's Mount Rokko.
Today we will travel across the Tsugaru Channel between the islands of Hokkaido and Honshu by train via the undersea train tunnel, before arriving to Aomori. We will visit the Furukawa Fish Market. What makes the Furukawa Fish Market special is a system that lets visitors create their own seafood donburi (called nokkedon) from the seasonal, local seafood sold right at the market. These types of seafood donburi are available under different names at other fish markets around the country, usually on a limited basis; however, at Furukawa Fish Market they are sold every day that the market is open. Then we will visit the Nebuta Warasse, a well done museum about the Nebuta Matsuri in Aomori. Tonight, we will enjoy the Nebuta Matsuri (Nebuta Festival). Recognized as one of Japan’s Three Big Fire Festivals, the Aomori Nebuta Festival is renowned internationally and is designated as a significant and intangible folk cultural asset of Japan. During the festival, more than twenty large nebutas (large lantern floats decorated with human figures) are wheeled along the parade route in the city of Aomori. Ahead of each float, Nebuta dancers called haneto dance wildly to the hayashi music of the Nebuta Festival, making the summer night festival lively and exciting. The fantastic view of lantern-lit floats and the dancers’ shouts of “rasse rasse” are overwhelming. It certainly is a genuine fire festival of Japan.
Today we take a 3 hour ride on a private coach to Akita City for it's Kanto Festival. The Kanto Festival (pole lantern festival) is a Tanabata related celebration in Akita City. The highlight of the festival is an impressive display of skill in which performers balance kanto (long bamboo poles) with arrays of paper lanterns attached to the end. The Kanto Festival together with Aomori's Nebuta Festival and Sendai's Tanabata makes up the three great festivals of the Tohoku Region. We will first visit the Akita City Folk Traditions Hall, where you can learn about the history of Kanto Festival and try out balancing a kanto pole yourself. Then, we will enjoy the daytime events which include taiko drum, dance and music performances, as well as Kanto Demonstrations. The main event of the festival, the Night Parades, are held nightly along Chuo Dori street in the center of the city. The various performing groups, carrying nearly 250 kanto poles, line up on the street, and when a signal is given the poles are all raised up at once and the performers show off their skills. The event lasts about 90 minutes, and at the end of each night there is a 15 minute session during which the audience is invited to talk to the performers, take pictures and try their hand at hoisting up a kanto.
In the morning we head to Kakunodate, a former castle town and samurai stronghold. We will visit the Kakunodate samurai district, which once housed about 80 families, and is one of the best examples of samurai architecture and housing in the country. The Aoyagi House is an impressive complex with multiple buildings containing museum collections. The displays provide interesting information on samurai traditions, lifestyle and Japan's historical context in relation to Kakunodate. Then, we'll visit Hiraizumi for a cultural interlude and to stroll around the magniﬁcent Japanese Cedar Trees and photogenic buildings at Chusonji Temple. Hiraizumi is now listed as a World Heritage site and is home to Konjiki-do (Golden Hall) within Chusonji Temple, which attempts to re-create an ideal Buddhism world. As such, it is host to an ensemble of exquisite "culture of gold" remnants from the brand of Buddhism that developed independently in the Tohoku region far away from the cultural center of Kyoto in the late Heian era of the 11th century. UNESCO has recognized this area as being a globally rare example of local culture to manifest on such a high level in the transitional period from the ancient era to the medieval period. During the afternoon we will proceed to Sendai to enjoy a ﬁreworks display that will be held the night before the Tanabata Festival (August 5th) along the bank of the Hirosegawa River.
Today you will be visiting Matsushima, a picturesque bay full of pine tree covered small islands, where we explore ancient caves once frequented by meditating monks. Matsushima is famous for being one of Japan's three most scenic views alongside Miyajima and Amanohashidate. The bay is dotted by over 200 small islands covered by pine trees. We will visit Godaido and Zuiganji Temple, the most famous in the Tohoku region, that was built by Date Masamune and is designated as a national treasure. We will then take the best way to view the islands by boarding one of the sightseeing boats from Matsushima to Shiogama. We will then take the local train to Downtown Sendai for the Tanabata Festival. The Sendai Tanabata Matsuri, held every year on August 6- 8, is one of the largest and most famous tanabata celebrations in Japan. While festivities take place throughout Downtown Sendai, the festival's main feature are thousands of colorful streamers that decorate the city's shopping arcades, which come to resemble brightly colored forests. Each set of 3-5 meter long streamers is handcrafted by local shops, schools, and community groups by using washi paper and bamboo. They are then hung up from ten meter long bamboo poles along the arcades. In addition to the streamers, various other events including stage performances, live music and entertainment, traditional dance and food vendors are also held.
After breakfast, we will head to Urabandai, also known as the Bandai Highlands, a pond dotted area on the highlands north of Mount Bandai. It is a popular outdoor destination, offering attractive scenery, various walking and hiking opportunities in summer. The best way to enjoy the scenery of the Urabandai area is to drive along the Bandai-Azuma Lake Line sightseeing roads. Bandai- Azuma Lake Line offers panoramic views over the highlands and passes the scenic Nakatsugawa Gorge. We will take a walk on the Goshikinuma Walk or "Five Colored Pond Walk". The flat, well maintained nature trail leads mostly through forest and passes numerous ponds along the way, many of which are colored in various hues of blue. The trail is about four kilometers long, takes about an hour to walk and starts and ends in different locations. We will continue our tour to Aizu Wakamatsu to visit Tsuruga Castle. Originally built about 600 years ago, it was destroyed after the Boshin Civil War but some of the moat and stone walls of the original castle still remain. There is a realistic replica of the castle used as a historical museum. Then we will visit Ouchijuku, a former post town along the Aizu-Nishi Kaido trade route which connected Aizu with Nikko during the Edo Period. Restrictions set by the shogunate required travelers to make their long journeys on foot and as a result, post towns developed along the routes to provide travelers with food, accommodations and rest. Tonight, we will stay in the Onsen Ryokan at Kinugawa Onsen, where you can soak in the therapeutic water of a spa bath and feast on a traditional Japanese Kaiseki banquet dinner.
After a Japanese breakfast at the ryokan, we will start a tour of Nikko. The shrines and temples of Nikko, together with their natural surroundings, have for centuries been closely associated with the history of the Tokugawa Shoguns. We will visit the lavishly decorated Toshogu Shrine set in a grove of magnificent ancient Japanese cedars. Then, visit Futarasan-Shrine and the Rinnoji complex of Buddhist temples founded in 766 BC by the Buddhist hermit Shoto. Next is a visit to the Lake Chuzenji and Kegon Waterfall. The nearly 100 meter tall Kegon Waterfall is the most famous of Nikko's many beautiful waterfalls. In fact, it is even ranked as one of Japan's three most beautiful falls, along with Nachi Waterfall in Wakayama Prefecture and Fukuroda Waterfall in Ibaraki Prefecture. In the evening, we will proceed to Tokyo for a night stay before your return flight on the next day.
NOTE 2: If you wish to stay in the center of Tokyo for the last night instead of Hotel Mystays Premier Narita, we can arrange for you to stay at Hotel Metropolitan Tokyo Ikebukuro (or similar class). In this case, airport transfer is not included. We will provide full instructions for you to get to the airport in advance, or we can arrange shared shuttle service for you at US$65.00 per person per way.
NOTE 3: If you will be flying out from Haneda Airport (HND) instead of Narita Airport (NRT), we can arrange for you to stay at Hotel Metropolitan Tokyo Ikebukuro (or similar class) instead of Hotel Mystays Premier Narita. In this case, airport transfer is not include. We will provide full instructions for you to get to the airport in advance, or we can arrange shared shuttle service for you at US$60.00 per person per way.
After breakfast, our tour officially ends. Checkout time is 11 am and Narita Airport can be reached by hotel shuttle bus.
NOTE 4: If you would like to stay longer in Japan, please contact us to book hotel accommodations.