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 $8898.00
Single supplement: USD $1900.00
Tour duration: 22 days 21 nights
Sapporo / Otaru / Shiraoi / Noboribetsu / Lake Toya / Hakodate / Seikan Tunnel / Aomori / Towada / Morioka / Hiraizumi / Matsushima / Nikko / Tokyo / Mt Fuji / Hakone / Obara / Takayama / Shirakawa-go / Kanazawa / Kyoto / Nara / Osaka / Himeji / Kurashiki / Takamatsu / Shimanami Kaido / Hiroshima / Kitsuki / Beppu / Takachiho / Nagasaki / Fukuoka
Tour cost includes:
• 17 nights Western style and 4 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
• 11 lunches and 10 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! An AJT representative will meet you at the arrival gate and direct you to the hotel.
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.
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. Next, we will visit glass workshops and Music Box Museum in Sakaimachi Street. In the afternoon, we will visit Sapporo city. The tour 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. In the evening is for you to enjoy your free time.
In the morning our tour of Sapporo continues with a visit to the Historical Village of Hokkaido, you can view architecture from the Meiji and Taisho periods when Japan experienced rapid expansion. From there we will visit the Sapporo Beer Museum, dedicated to all things beer. Sapporo is Japan's oldest brewery and exports its beer throughout the world. 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. 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 Nebuta Warasse, a well done museum about the Nebuta Matsuri in Aomori. Then we will visit Japan's third deepest lake - Lake Towada, a volcanic crater lake 44 km in circumference. We will go for a nature walk along the creek through Oirase Gorge. Over a dozen waterfalls cascade down into the stream all along its length from the walls of the gorge.The stream flows along the floor of the Oirase Gorge, winding among trees which a lush green in spring and summer and turn brilliant shades of red, yellow and orange from late October through early November.
In the morning we proceed to Morioka for a visit to the Morioka Castle Ruins, considered one of the most popular autumn leaves viewing spots in Tohoku area. Then, you will have the chance to try one of the Morioka’s most famous eating experiences: Wanko Soba. This is not so much a dish as it is an eating challenge. Many locals get competitive and strive to eat over 100 bowls of soba in one sitting! But don’t worry, there’s no shame in sitting back and enjoying the flavor. After lunch, visit to 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. Tonight we will stay in Matsushima where we will have dinner in the hotel.
After breakfast at the hotel, you will be visiting Matsushima, a picturesque bay full of small islands covered in pine trees where we will 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 enjoy the best way to view the islands by boarding one of the sightseeing boats. After your cruise, we will stop by the Matsushima Fish Market, with fresh seafood of the highest quality. Be sure to visit the restaurants to try the famous Miyagi Oysters, known for their creamy and slightly nutty flavor. Many of the restaurants even offer all-you-can-eat oysters! We will then visit Godaido which overlooks the bay and has become a symbol of Matsushima. Godaido was enshrined by the same priest who founded the nearby Zuiganji temple – one of Tohoku’s most famous Zen temples – Date Masamune. At Zuiganji, you will be able to see golden sliding doors known as fusuma featured inside the temple.
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 almost 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.
Today you will have a free day in Tokyo. Tokyo is Japan's most well known and populated city. From pop culture or historic temples to relaxation or shopping, there is no shortage of things to do here! You are free to plan your own route or we are happy to provide suggestions. Tokyo is well known for its culinary diversity so we recommend that you take this opportunity to explore and find yourself some great eats! Lunch and dinner are not included today so you will be free to choose from the wide range Tokyo has to offer.
Today, you will visit Tsukiji Outer Market – a bustling
outdoor street market known
for its fresh and delicious seafood, produce, and
kitchenware. From there, we drive
by the Imperial Palace, which offers splendid views of
the meticulously maintained
front lawn and garden areas, the moat, and the old
stone walls. Next, enjoy a fun
and simple Sushi-Making Experience, where you can
enjoy creating your own
sushi, and eating it afterwards! Then, we visit Tokyo’s
oldest temple complex –
Asakusa Sensoji Temple, featuring the Kaminarimon
Gate, in which hangs an
enormous red lantern. Leading up to the temple is
Nakamise Street, which is lined
with shops selling all manner of Japanese souvenirs. At
the end of the day, we
ascend Tokyo Skytree to the observation deck, which
offers a panoramic 360-
degree view of the Tokyo cityscape.
Note: For Sushi Making Experience, if you are vegetarian, on gluten-free diets, have seafood allergy, or don't eat raw fish, please contact us for other ingredient options.
We will depart from Tokyo to Mt. Fuji on our private coach. Along the way, enjoy the changing scenery, from thick vegetation to lowlands to rolling clouds. Stop at Mt. Fuji 5th station (depending on weather) to admire the world famous peak. Next, we will travel to Hakone, which is among Japan's most popular hot- spring resorts, and view the forested slopes of Hakone National Park. We will take a 20 minute ropeway ride from Togendai to Owakundani. Most of the area around Owakundani is considered an active volcanic zone since its creation from the eruption of Mount Hakone some 3,000 years ago. Now, you can experience hot springs and hot rivers there, where sulfurous fumes still linger. Owakundani also has splendid views of Mount Fuji in good weather. Next, take a Shinkansen bullet train ride for experience, which can reach speeds of up to 300 km/hr. We will stay at the Onsen Hotel at Hamanako Kanzaiji Onsen, where you can soak in the therapeutic waters of a spa bath and feast on a traditional Japanese Kaiseki banquet dinner.
Today we will head to Obara and visit the Obara Shikizakura Festival. Obara is the only place in Japan where you can see both the fiery red and orange autumn leaves and the soft pink cherry blossom at the same time. Shikizakura are a special kind of cherry tree that bloom twice a year: once in spring, and again just as the autumn leaves are at their best. At Obara Shikizakura Festival, we are able to enjoy this rare, incredibly beautiful, and fantastic scene. Then, we will continue on to Takayama. This city is located amongst the Japanese Alps and is known as "Little Kyoto" for its preserved historical structures and environment. Due to its remote position in the mountains, it was cut off from the rest of Japan for most of its history and thus has maintained a very unique and traditional atmosphere. We'll explore the old town of Takayama. Along the way you'll notice the huge cedar balls hanging from the eaves of several shops - these indicate that the shops are sake. Next, visit Takayama Jinya, the only traditional local government office in existence and a fine example of a miniature palace containing offices, an interrogation room with torture devices and a 440- year old rice granary.
This morning we'll enjoy the lively city market before heading to the World Heritage-listed rural area of Shirakawa-go. Shirakawa-go is home of the UNESCO designated gassho-zukuri farmhouses. Gassho-zukuri translates to "prayer hands", in which the roofs resemble hands in prayer. Visitors can see great views of Ogimachi Village from the Shiroyama Viewpoint. We will also tour the Gassho-zukuri Minkaen, an open air museum of farmhouses and other structures. From Shirakawa-go, we will depart to Kanazawa to visit Kenrokuen Garden, one of three most beautiful strolling gardens of Japan. The name Kenrokuen literally means a garden combining the 6 attributes of a perfect landscape: spaciousness, seclusion, artifice, antiquity, water features, and panoramas. Here, you'll find the oldest fountain in Japan and Kotoji-toro, the two- legged stone lantern that is iconic of Kenrokuen and Kanazawa. We will then continue to Kyoto, a historical city that was spared from air raids and saved from the atomic bomb during World War II for its cultural and historical value.
After breakfast, we begin our tour of Kyoto – the center of Japan’s traditional culture. We first go to the Arashiyama district to see Tenryuji Temple. Tenryuji is most famous for its Zen Garden, which has been carefully maintained for centuries using the technique of “borrowed scenery” to create a breathtaking landscape. We continue from there to the Sagano Bamboo Forest, where towering stalks of bamboo packed close together create an otherworldly feeling of mystery and awe as you walk the path through the center. This area is also famous for their colorful autumn leaves. Next, we go to Kinkakuji Temple (also called the Golden Pavilion), which is one of Kyoto’s most coveted sights. Shimmering walls wrapped in gold leaf are reflected in the Mirror Pond below; look carefully to see the dainty phoenix sitting on the roof. Then experience a traditional Green Tea Ceremony – an elegant ritual of hospitality once accorded only to the social elite. The experience is made even more special as it is hosted by an elegant Maiko (an apprentice Geisha). After, tour Kiyomizu Temple, also known as the Temple of Pure Water, a celebrated landmark famed for its iconic three-story pagoda, large wooden stage offering a spectacular view, and trio of sacred springs pouring from the base of the main hall. We end our day in the Gion Geisha District, a heritage district where stone-paved streets are lined with exclusive ochaya (teahouses). While admiring the old- fashioned buildings, the fortunate visitor may spot Geisha or Maiko (Geisha apprentices) walking between these establishments.
Today, we travel to Fushimi Inari Shrine – the chief shrine of the thousands throughout the country dedicated to Inari, the Shinto deity of economic prosperity, rice, and foxes. What sets this shrine apart is the sight of thousands of bright vermillion “torii” gates that form long pathways through the forest covering sacred Mount Inari. Next, we will travel to the ancient city of Nara, where we will visit one of Japan’s most famous temples and an icon of the city: Todaiji Temple, which is home to the Great Buddha of Nara – a massive, seated image of Rushana-butsu, known as the “Cosmic Buddha”. Outside the temple, spend some time with the friendly wild deer of Nara Deer Park. These adorable creatures are largely accustomed to interacting with people, and some have even learned to bow when asking for the special deer crackers, which can be bought around the park. We go from there to Osaka to visit the colorful, neon-lit entertainment district of Dotonbori. This area is popularly known for being the heart of Osaka’s food culture. Osaka is known as the city of “Kuidaore” or “to eat until you drop”, and you will find Dotonbori to be filled with numerous eateries underneath large, eye-catching billboards, including the famed Glico “Running Man”. Lastly, make your way to Shinsaibashi, the largest shopping district in Osaka. Originally established during the Edo period, this historic district is now home to various modern retailers including jewelers, trendy boutiques, western clothing and footwear stores, even traditional kimono tailors.
Today we take a 2 hour ride on a luxury coach to Himeji to visit Himeji Castle. It is known as "White Egret Castle" and "White Heron Castle" because of its brilliant white exterior, resembling a bird taking flight. Himeji Castle is the largest and most visited castle in Japan, and is one of the few remaining original castles in Japan. This splendid example of traditional architecture was declared one of the first UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Japan. Next is a visit to Kurashiki. In merchant days, this scenic town thrived as a port for rice shipments. Several old rice granaries and examples of historic architecture still remain, in addition to the stone lined canal. Tonight, we will stay in a spa hotel in Kurashiki, where you can soak in the therapeutic waters of a spa bath and feast on a buffet dinner.
After your Japanese breakfast at the hotel, we will cross the inland sea through the Seto-ohashi Bridge to Shikoku Island. Seto-ohashi Bridge is a collective term for the six bridges that connects Japan's main island of Honshu to the island of Shikoku, passing over five small islands in the Seto Inland Sea. These beautiful bridges took 40 years and a tremendous amount of money to build. They are the essence of all available bridge-building technologies. Proceed to Takamatsu with a visit to the Shikoku Mura Village. Shikoku Mura (Shikoku Village) is an open air museum situated at the base of Yashima. This pleasant hillside park preserves and exhibits traditional buildings and structures that have been relocated here from all over Shikoku Island. Then visit Ritsurin Park, a masterpiece of Japanese landscape 100 years in the making. This sprawling park features beautiful ponds and pavilions with Mt. Shiun as the perfect backdrop.
In the morning, we will drive through the Shimanami Kaido to Honshu Island. The Shimanami Kaido is a 60 kilometer long toll road that connects Japan's main island of Shikoku to the island of Honshu, passing over six small islands in the Seto Inland Sea. It is also known as the Nishiseto Expressway. In Hiroshima, we will visit the Peace Memorial Park and Atomic Bomb Museum. Then take a short ferry ride to the island of Miyajima, considered sacred by many. At high tide, the famed vermilion torii gate of the Itsukushima Shrine looks like it's floating in the middle of the sea. The shrine complex is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Miyajima has been selected as one of Japan's three most scenic places (nihon sankei).
This morning, we will take a ride on the top speed Shinkansen bullet train to Kokura, then board the "Sonic" express train to Kitsuki where we will visit the Kitsuki Samurai Districts. From Kitsuki, we proceed to a bather's paradise - the celebrated hot spring resort of Beppu. Marvel at one of Beppu's most celebrated attractions, the Jigoku Meguri, or "Boiling Hells" hot springs. View two of the nine hot springs or “hells” of Beppu. These hot springs are ideal for viewing rather than bathing. The springs earned their name because it was said that these mysterious, steamy attractions resembled a scene from hell ("jigoku" means "hell"). Then we will enjoy a scenic drive to Mt. Takasaki Monkey Park where we will take a monorail up to the observation area. Mt. Takasaki is a forested mountain just outside of Beppu and home to over 1,500 wild Japanese monkeys. Within this natural habitat, the monkeys have been fed regularly in order to keep them living on the mountain and prevent conflicts with local fruit farmers. The monkeys are quite accustomed to human visitors, and it is possible to get very close in order to take their pictures! From here, we drive west to Takachiho, a town in northern Miyazaki Prefecture that is steeped in Japanese mythology. It is the supposed site of legend where Amaterasu, the Shinto Sun Goddess, disturbed by her brother's cruel pranks, hid herself in a cave, prompting the other gods and goddesses to try and lure her out. Another legend suggests that this is where Amaterasu's grandson Ninigi-no- Mikoto descended to earth to establish Japan's imperial family. Takachiho is also known as a "power spot", a place of profound religious importance and natural beauty, which radiates spiritual energy. After a traditional Japanese Kaiseki banquet dinner, we have a special treat-a Yokagura Dance Performance. An outrageously ribald dance that supposedly caused Amaterasu to leave the cave to see what all the fun was about, and in doing so she returned her light to the world.
After breakfast, we will visit Takachiho Gorge, a narrow chasm cut through the rock by the Gokase River. The nearly sheer cliffs lining the gorge are made of slow forming volcanic basalt columns, which resemble the scales of a dragon where the stone twisted and flowed as it was formed. Partway along the gorge is the 17 meter high Minainotaki waterfall cascading down to the river below, and it is truly impressive to see the waterfall against a backdrop of dense green foliage and the surrounding grey cliffs. Then visit Amano Iwato Shrine and Amano Yasukawara. Amano Iwato Shrine was built near the cave where Amaterasu is said to have hid herself. A short walk down the road from Amano Iwato Shrine is a path that leads down to the river below. Eventually the path leads to a simple shrine inside a cave known as Amano Yasukawara. This is said to be the cave where the gods and goddesses met to discuss their strategy of luring Amaterasu out of hiding. The natural beauty of the cave and river lined by countless stacks of stones make Amano Yasukawara a place not to miss. After lunch, proceed to Kumamoto and take a 30 minute ferry crossing the Ariake Sea to Shimabara. Tonight we stay in a western style hotel in Nagasaki.
After breakfast, we will visit the Nagasaki Peace Park that holds the memorial for the victims of the second bomb that hit the land. A statue of a man pointing up and holding his other arm out is symbolic of the Nagasaki Peace Park. Our next site is Dejima, an area with over 400 years of history in Dutch trade. It features historical warehouses and residences, providing insight into the former Dutch Trade Post and how they lived during Japan's two centuries of isolation. Then, visit the Glover Gardens, an open air museum where we can see a fine collection of historic mansions of former Western residents of Nagasaki. Continue to the Oura Catholic Church, the oldest standing Christian church in Japan. It was also the first Western building in Japan to be designated as a national treasure. In the afternoon, we depart from Nagasaki to Fukuoka, where we will savor the world famous Wagyu beef.
After breakfast, our tour officially ends. Checkout time is 11 am, free for leisure until transfer Fukuoka Airport for departure.
NOTE 2: If you would like to stay longer in Japan, please contact us to book hotel accommodations.