B: Breakfast | L: Lunch | D: Dinner | SD: Special Dinner
B: Breakfast | L: Lunch | D: Dinner
Day 1** MAY 11 | Honolulu – Osaka
We begin our journey by boarding an international flight to Kansai Airport, the gateway city to Osaka. Meals and snacks will be served on the plane.
Day 2** MAY 12 | Osaka | (D)
Upon arrival at Kansai International Airport, we will meet with an Air and Sea Travel Representative who will escort us to our hotel in the Kansai area. A bento dinner will be provided.
Day 3** MAY 13 | Osaka – Nara | (B, L, D)
Today we will visit Nara. Eight temples, shrines, ruins and Kasugayama Primeval Forest collectively form “Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara”, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Nara was the capital of Japan from 710 to 794, lending its name to the Nara period. In 2010, Nara celebrated the 1,300th anniversary of its ascension as Japan’s imperial capital. Horyuji Gakumonji or Learning Temple of the Flourishing Law, is a Buddhist temple that was once one of the powerful Seven Great Temples and served as a seminary and monastery. The temple’s pagoda is one of the oldest wooden buildings in the world and was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993. The Japanese government lists several of its structures, sculptures and artifacts as National Treasures. Asuka was Japan’s political and cultural center 1,400 years ago and is the spiritual home of the Japanese people. There are many kofun (tumuli or ancient burial mounds) in Asuka Historical Park and the surrounding area. The Ishibutai Tumulus, the tomb of Soga-no-Umako, is the biggest rectangular tumulus in Japan comprised of 30 rocks weighing 2300 tons. Hase-dera Temple was founded in 686, and now serves as the head temple of the Bunzan school of Shingon Buddhism. The Main Hall is a National Treasure of Japan and one of the largest halls in the Nara prefecture. The statue of the Eleven Faced Kannon is located in this hall. The other name of Hase-dera Temple is “Temple of Flowers” because of its flowers throughout the year, especially peonies. (The Peony Festival is held here in May). This evening, enjoy some free time for omiyage (souvenir) shopping at Naramachi, literally “Nara Town”, the former merchant district of Nara, where several traditional residential buildings and warehouses are preserved and open to the public. Boutiques, shops, cafes, restaurants and a few museums now line the district’s narrow lanes. A Welcome Dinner is arranged for tonight.
Day 4** MAY 14 | Nara – Shiga | (B, L, D)
Nara Park is a public park and one of the “Places of Scenic Beauty” designated by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). Over 1,200 wild Sika Deer freely roam the park and have become a symbol of the city and designated a natural treasure. According to local folklore, deer from this area were considered sacred due to a visit from Takemikazuchi-no-mikoto, one of the four gods of Kasuga Shrine. Killing one of these sacred deer was a capital offense punishable by death until 1637. Today, visitors can purchase “deer-crackers” to feed them. The park is also the home of Todaiji and Kasuga Taisha. Todaiji, also known as Great Eastern Temple, is one of Japan’s most famous and historically significant temples and a landmark of Nara. Todaiji’s main hall, the Daibutsuden (Big Buddha Hall) is the world’s largest wooden building, despite the fact that the present reconstruction of 1692 is only two thirds of the original temple hall. The massive building houses one of Japan’s largest bronze statues of Buddha (Daibutsu). The 15 meter tall, seated Buddha represents Vairocana and is flanked by two Bodhisattvas. Kasuga Taisha is Nara’s most celebrated shrine. It was established at the same time as the capital and is dedicated to the deity responsible for the protection of the city. Kasuga Taisha was also the tutelary shrine of the Fujiwara, Japan’s most powerful family clan during most of the Nara and Heian Periods. Like the Ise Shrines, Kasuga Taisha had been periodically rebuilt every 20 years for many centuries. In the case of Kasuga Taisha, however, the custom was discontinued at the end of the Edo Period. After a local Teishoku lunch, we will drive to Miho Museum, located southeast of Kyoto near the town of Shigaraki in Shiga Prefecture. The museum was the dream of Mihoko Koyama, the heiress to the Toyobo textile business, and one of the wealthiest women in Japan. The Miho Museum houses her private collection of Asian and Western antiques, as well as other pieces with an estimated value between $300 million to $1 billion. There are over two thousand pieces, of which approximately 250 are displayed at any given time. Miho Museum was designed by architect I.M. Pei, who achieved a harmony between the building (much of it underground) and its mountain environment. Tonight, we will relax and rejuvenate at our Hot Spring Hotel.
Day 5** MAY 15 | Shiga – Kanazawa (Ishikawa) | (B, L, D)
In the morning, we depart for Yunokuni No Mori, a crafts village in Komatsu. Komatsu is a city located in the southern portion of Ishikawa Prefecture near the Awazu Onsen amid a massive acreage of preserved forest land. At Yunokuni no Mori, you will have time to participate in learning crafts and making various Kaga area goods by yourself. These high quality craft products include: Wajima lacquer ware, Kutani ceramics, gold leaf, Kaga Yuzen (printed silk), and Yamanaka lacquer ware. After lunch, we will visit Kenrokuen, one of the three famous gardens in Japan. As a strolling style landscape garden, it incorporates fancy designs in every corner, achieving peerless scenery in each season. According to the ancient Chinese book of gardens, six elements contribute to the qualities of the garden: spaciousness and seclusion, artifice and antiquity, water courses and panoramas. This evening, enjoy some free time for omiyage (souvenir) shopping at Kanazawa JR Station area before dinner.
Day 6** MAY 16 | Kanazawa – Kurobe Gorge (Toyama) | (B, L, D)
In the morning, our journey will take us to The Historic Village of Gokayama, one of Japan’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The site is located in the Shogawa river valley stretching across the border of Gifu and Toyama Prefectures in central Japan. The Gokayama (“Five Mountains”) area is divided between the former villages of Kamitaira and Taira in Nanto, Toyama Prefecture. These villages are well known for their houses constructed in the architectural style known as Gassho-zukuri. The Gassho-zukuri, “prayer-hands construction” style is characterized by a thatched and steeply slanted roof resembling two hands joined in prayer. The design is exceptionally strong and in combination with the unique properties of the thatching, allows the houses to withstand and shed the weight of the region’s heavy snowfalls in winter. Then we continue driving to the Northern Alps. Forget city life – let’s see the natural beauty of Japan. The Hida Mountains or Northern Alps are one of the finest areas of natural beauty and the Kurobe Gorge is among the most spectacular places in the Hida Mountains. The open carriage style Train makes us feel that we are in nature. The view of the gorge changes as the train zigzags its way up. Then we will return to the Onsen Hotel. If time allow, we can visit the observation deck Yamabiko or enjoy the Outdoor Foot Bath.
Day 7** MAY 17 | Kurobe Gorge –Tateyama Kurobe Alpine – Nagano | (B, D)
After a morning onsen bath and breakfast, we will experience stunning vistas and unique landscapes as we travel on, above, and even under majestic Mt. Tateyama. We will stop to enjoy a stroll through flower filled meadows and steaming volcanic valleys. The Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route is known as the “Roof of Japan”. It passes through the dynamic scenery of Mt. Tateyama in the Japan Alps and is traversed using a variety of vehicles with an elevation change of 2400 meters from Toyama Prefecture to Nagano Prefecture. The route is approximately 90 km long and we will be impressed by the variety of scenery that can be seen in different seasons. First, we take a Cable Car to Bijodaira that takes us 500 m up. The average gradient here is 24°, and a site with unique rock formations named “Zaimoku-ishi” (timber rocks) is visible from the cable car. Second, we take the Highland Bus to Midagahara and Murodo. We will be captivated by the views as we travel through the range with a 1500 m change in altitude. The large trees in the forests, the highlands, and the mountain ranges are the highlights of the route. We will be able to get off the bus and walk along the road between 2 walls of snow 18 meters high. Third, we take the Tunnel Trolley Bus to Daikanbo which is the highest altitude trolley bus in Japan (2450 m). This bus runs inside a tunnel, piercing through the heart of Mt. Tateyama (3015 m high). The bus is powered by electricity, so the bus is “green” and does not produce exhaust fumes. Fourth, we take the Ropeway to Kurobedaira. The cable car here is one of the most unique in the world. It is the only cable car in Japan without pylons along its span. It is like a “moving observatory” giving a full panoramic view of the surrounding nature. Fifth, we take another Cable Car to Kurobeko. This is the only underground cable car in Japan, allowing it to be unaffected by snowfall. We have to do some walking before coming to the next station. Sixth, we take the Kanden Tunnel Trolley Bus from Kurobe Dam to Ogizawa Station. The tunnel for this trolley bus was originally built to transfer materials needed to build Kurobe Dam. The trolley bus crosses the border between Toyama and Nagano Prefectures, which was one of the most inaccessible places before the construction of the Kurobe Dam. After today’s exciting excursion we will return to the hotel to enjoy a delicious dinner and relax in the Onsen Hotel. Japanese onsens are extremely beneficial for one’s health because of its mineral content. Different minerals provide different health benefits while relaxing our body and mind.
Day 8** MAY 18 | Nagano – Tokyo | (B, L, D)
Today, we will continue our trip to Tokyo, the capital, political, and commercial center of Japan. We will visit Tokyo’s most famous upscale shopping, dining and entertainment district – The Ginza, featuring numerous department stores, boutiques, art galleries, restaurants, night clubs and cafes. A Duty Free Shop visit is arranged as well. If time permits, we can also go to Shinjuku City, another well-known shopping district and Tokyo’s most vibrant commercial center, with many alleys, nooks, and crannies. Tonight, a Crab Feast is arranged as a Farewell Dinner.
Day 9** MAY 19 | Tokyo – Haneda – Honolulu | (B)
Today we will visit Tsukiji Outer Market, known as the Jogai Shijo, or Japan’s “Food Town,” where we can encounter all of Japan’s traditional foods. A mixture of wholesale and retail shops along with numerous restaurants line the streets, and new culinary trends are born here. Take a walk around and experience the taste of Japan first hand on your own. Senso-ji (Kinryū-zan Sensō-ji) is an ancient Buddhist temple located in Asakusa. It is Tokyo’s oldest and one of its most significant temples. The temple is dedicated to the bodhisattva Kannon (Avalokitesvara). Dominating the entrance to the temple is the Kaminarimon or “Thunder Gate”. This imposing Buddhist structure features a massive paper lantern dramatically painted in vivid red-and-black tones to suggest thunderclouds and lightning. Beyond the Kaminarimon is Nakamise-dori with its shops, followed by the Hōzōmon or “Treasure House Gate” which provides the entrance to the inner complex. Within the precincts stand A Stately Five-story Pagoda and the Main Hall, devoted to Kannon Bosatsu. Catering to the visiting crowds, the surrounding area has many traditional shops and eating places that feature traditional dishes (hand-made noodles, sushi, tempura, etc.). These shops themselves are part of a living tradition of selling things to pilgrims who walked to Senso-ji. Then we will take a Water Bus to our last stop – Odaiba, a large artificial island in Tokyo Bay across the Rainbow Bridge from central Tokyo. It was initially built for defensive purposes in the 1850s, dramatically expanded during the late 20th century as a seaport district, and has developed since the 1990s into a major commercial, residential and leisure area. Today’s Odaiba is a popular shopping and sightseeing destination for Tokyoites and tourists alike. Major attractions include: Ferris Wheel, Venus Fort, and Aqua City Shopping Center. After a long day, we will transfer to Haneda International Airport for our return flight to Honolulu, taking with us the lasting memories of this wonderful Japan Alps trip.
☺We wish you a safe journey and have many wonderful memories to share with family and friends! ☺
*Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara
*Nara Horyuji Temple
*The Historic Village of Gokayama
*Seafood Shabu Shabu *Onsen Kaiseki
*Beef Sukiyaki *Japanese Yakiniku
*Nara Specialty Teishoku *Crab Feast
CHECK OR CASH PAYMENT ONLY. A deposit of $ 350 per person is required at the time of application. The balance is due 70 days prior to departure. In case payment balance is not made within the required time period, Air and Sea Travel Center reserves the right to cancel reservations and charge a cancellation fee.
Written notice is required for any cancellation. $ 350 deposit is non-refundable if you cancel 70 days prior to departure.
Within 70 days before departure, the cancellation fee will be as follow:
** 69-31 days prior to departure, 50% of total price plus any other fees caused by the cancellation;
** 30 days prior to departure or withdrawing during the tour shall be regarded as willingly giving up all rights concerned, 100% of the total price, and request for other services as a substitute shall not be accepted.
We strongly recommend purchasing travel insurance when you make your reservation.
Price from: $3,388.00
Includes: Tax and fuel surcharge
(SINGLE SUPP: $700)