• logo
  • The small group
    travel experience

    Just 12-24 Guests, Guaranteed
  • Information & Reservations

    1-888-370-6765

    Mon-Fri 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. EST

What People Are Saying About Us

Very early in the tour we saw we got much more for our dollar than anything we could have put together ourselves. The value exceeded our expectations.

Tara Malmberg
Quitman, TX
award-logo

6-time honoree Travel + Leisure's World's Best Tour Operators awards

Explore the Region

map-img View Larger

Meet Our Tour Directors

View ALL
Small Group Tour Highlights
  • Tokyo touring, including Imperial Palace District and Meiji Shrine
  • Stunning scenery of Mt. Fuji and Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park
  • Overnight stay in traditional ryokan
  • Takayama’s ancient streets and houses
  • Hands-on cooking class
  • Culturally rich Kanazawa
  • Tour of Kyoto, Japan’s cultural capital
  • Excursion to historic Nara
  • Traditional tea ceremony
Day-by-Day Itinerary

Day 1: Depart U.S. for Tokyo, Japan

Day 2: Arrive Tokyo Upon arrival in Japan’s financial, commercial, and political capital, we transfer to our hotel. As guests’ arrival times may vary, we have no scheduled activities or meals planned.

Day 3: Tokyo After a briefing about the journey ahead, we set out to discover a small part of this amazing city that covers a staggering 840 miles. Our sightseeing features the Meiji Shrine, a peaceful enclave of Shinto temples and gardens. We also visit the gallery of preeminent calligrapher Koshun Masunaga, where we learn about this ancient art of artistic writing and browse the collection. Our tour ends in Ginza, Tokyo’s famed shopping, dining, and entertainment district, where we can stay to explore as we wish or return to our hotel for an afternoon at leisure. Tonight, we gather for a welcome dinner at a local restaurant. B,D

Day 4: Tokyo Our tour of Tokyo continues this morning at the Imperial Palace, surrounded by moats and ramparts and home of the Imperial Family. Here we visit the East Gardens, part of the innermost circle of defense of the historic Edo Castle that once stood here. We continue on to the Buddhist Asakusa Kannon, Tokyo’s oldest temple (c. 645 ce), and the adjacent Nakamise shopping arcade, dating to the 17th century. Last, we visit the Tokyo National Museum, housing an extensive collection of art and antiquities from Japan and other Asian countries. This afternoon is free for independent exploration; lunch and dinner are on our own in this city with endless dining options. B

Day 5: Tokyo/Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park/Hakone Japan’s pastoral side is on tap as we leave Tokyo for Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park. Here sits imposing Mt. Fuji, a dormant volcano (it last erupted in 1707) with a perfectly ­symmetrical cone that rises to 12,388 feet. The mountain’s majesty is breathtaking, as artists and writers have attested for centuries. We take a coach ride where, weather permitting, we’ll enjoy breathtaking panoramic views; then we descend for a relaxing cruise on scenic Ashi Lake. Leaving the park, we travel to the town of Hakone where we spend the night at a ryokan, a traditional Japanese inn where we take off our shoes upon entering, enjoy a Japanese-style Kaiseki dinner, and sleep on a futon. B,D

Day 6: Hakone/Takayama Today we travel first by bullet train then by Wide View Hida express train to lovely Takayama in the Japanese Alps, considered one of the country’s most attractive towns with its 16th-century castle and old-style buildings. Our explorations center on three narrow streets in the San-machi-suji district where, in feudal times, merchants lived amidst the authentically preserved small inns, teahouses, and sake breweries. This afternoon we attend a traditional Japanese tea ceremony here, an historic ritual of form, grace, and spirituality. B,D

Day 7: Takayama We pay an early visit to the riverside Miyagawa Morning Market, a blaze of dazzling colors and foodstuffs. Here we meet a local chef to gather ingredients for the lunch we will prepare together at a nearby site. After enjoying the fruits of our labors, we embark on a walking tour, visiting Takayama Jinya, an historic government house; the local sake brewery; and Takayama’s old town, whose well-preserved buildings and homes date to the Edo Period (1600–1868). B,L

Day 8: ­Takayama/Shirakawago/Kanazawa We leave Takayama this morning for the UNESCO World Heritage site of Shirakawago Gassho-zukuri Village. Comprising buildings re­located from authentic villages nearby that were razed for a dam, the village is also a vibrant community whose residents work together to preserve the unique traditional architecture here known as Gassho style. Late this afternoon we reach the castle town of Kanazawa, an alluring coastal city that survived the ravages of World War II. B,L

Day 9: Kanazawa Today’s tour of this culturally rich city features renowned Kenrokuen Garden, a national landmark whose origins date to 1676. We also see Ishikawa Gate, the only remaining section of the town’s original castle; Hakukokan, a museum celebrating the art and craft of gold leaf technology; and the Higashi Chayagai teahouse and geisha area. Our last stop is the Nagamachi Samurai district, where the ruling family’s samurai warriors lived. B,D

Day 10: Kanazawa/Kyoto We depart this morning by train for Kyoto, formerly Japan’s Imperial Capital and now the country’s cultural and artistic center, with more than 1,600 temples, hundreds of shrines, artful gardens, and historic architecture. Upon arrival, we visit Kinkaku-ji, the beloved lakeside Temple of the Golden Pavilion set on pillars suspended over the water. Next: Ryoanji, a Zen Buddhist temple whose acclaimed dry garden epitomizes the simplicity of Zen meditation. Our last stop is Unrakugama, a workshop specializing in prized Kiyomizu pottery. B,D

Day 11: Kyoto/Nara Today we travel to Nara, Japan’s 8th-century capital renowned for its shrines and temples. We first visit Todaiji (c. 752 ce), one of the country’s most important temples, whose main hall (c. 1692) is the world’s largest wooden building. We also visit historic Kasugataisha, the Shinto shrine and UNESCO site surrounded by parkland where deer roam free. B

Day 12: Kyoto This morning’s tour reveals more of this city that was spared destruction during World War II. Highlights include Nijo-jo Castle (c. 1603), the extravagant residence and fortifications of the shoguns who ruled Japan for more than 250 years; and Sanjyusangendo Hall (c. 1266), an important Buddhist temple housing 1,000 statues of the Thousand-Armed Kannon deity. From here we venture to the Gion district, where the geishas gather. Then the remainder of the afternoon is at leisure. Tonight, we toast our adventure at a farewell dinner at a local restaurant. B,D

Day 13: Depart Kyoto for U.S. This morning we travel by motorcoach to Osaka, where we board our return flight to the United States. B

Please note: This trip involves full days of sightseeing and significant amounts of walking on stairs and uneven surfaces. You should be in good physical condition to enjoy the tour to its fullest.

B = Breakfast included L = Lunch included D = Dinner included

Tour Price Includes
  • Round-trip air transportation from listed cities
  • 11 nights’ accommodations: 10 nights in Deluxe and First Class hotels; 1 night in traditional Japanese ryokan
  • 19 meals: 11 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 6 dinners
  • Extensive sightseeing as described, including all entrance fees
  • Services of an Odysseys Unlimited Tour Director
  • Private motorcoach transportation throughout your trip
  • Rail transportation as described
  • Luggage handling for one bag per person
  • Gratuities for local guides, dining room servers, airport and hotel porters, and all drivers
  • $100 frequent traveler credit towards your next ­Odysseys Unlimited tour ($200 after 3 tours; $300 after 10 tours)
Tour Dates & Prices

2018 Tour Dates & Prices
including international airfare and all taxes, surcharges, and fees

Oct 31
Sep 8
Oct 17
Oct 20+
Oct 24*
Sep 19
Sep 22
Sep 29
Oct 6
Oct 10
Los Ang, San Fran$5,257$5,357$5,457
Port (OR), Seattle$5,557$5,657$5,757
Boston, Chicago,
Cleveland, Dallas,
Den, Detroit, Hou,
Minn, New York,
Phil, Phoenix
$5,757$5,857$5,957
Atlanta, Baltimore,
Charlotte, Cinc,
Miami, Orlando,
Tampa, Wash, DC
$5,857$5,957$6,057

Please call if your city is not listed or for land only prices. Prices are per person based on double occupancy and include airline taxes, surcharges, and fees of $262, which are subject to change until final payment is made.

Single travelers please add $1,295. Your $375 deposit is fully refundable up to 95 days prior to departure. All 2018 tour prices above (excluding airline taxes, surcharges, and fees) are guaranteed.

Accommodations: Takayama: *Takayama Green Hotel; Kyoto: +Hotel Granvia Kyoto

Business Class upgrade on round-trip Trans-Pacific flight: $4,395 per person from San Francisco

A visa is not required for this tour.

Accommodations
    Dai-ichi Hotel Tokyo, Tokyo / Days 2-4 / Deluxe

    This modern hotel is centrally located in Tokyo and sits close to the city’s popular Ginza area.   Hotel facilities and amenities include several restaurants, a bar, fitness center, sauna, salon, complimentary Wi-Fi internet access, and dry cleaning and laundry service.  Each of the air-conditioned guest rooms have a private bath with hair dryer, minibar, TV, and phone.

    Aura Tachibana, Hakone / Day 5 / Not rated

    Located in the small hot springs resort of Hakone, the Aura Tachibana offers a traditional Japanese-style lodging experience.  Guests can enjoy a dip in the public outdoor onsen bath; dine upon fresh, local Japanese food at dinner; and experience sleeping on a futon in a Japanese-style room with private bathroom.  Per Japanese tradition, shoes must be removed in bedrooms at this ryokan.

    Hida Hotel Plaza, Takayama / Days 6-7 / First Class

    Centrally located near the railway station and a five-minute walk from Miyagawa morning market, the 232-room Hida Hotel Plaza features several restaurants, lounges, and a sake bar; beauty salon; gift shop; indoor swimming pool, spa, and sauna; Internet access; laundry and dry cleaning services; and a roof-top pool with commanding views of the northern Japanese Alps. Air-conditioned guest rooms have private bath with hair dryer, refrigerator, TV, and phone.

    Hotel Nikko Kanazawa, Kanazawa / Days 8-9 / First Class

    Conveniently located within walking distance of some of Kanazawa’s most popular sights, the 254-room Hotel Nikko Kanazawa combines a refined European atmosphere with the beauty of the four seasons. Hotel amenities include several restaurants, lounges, and bars; Internet access; laundry and dry cleaning services; and an indoor swimming pool, fitness center, sauna, and Jacuzzi. Air-conditioned guest rooms have private bath with hair dryer, TV, and phone.

    ANA Crowne Plaza Kyoto Hotel (formerly ANA Kyoto Hotel), Kyoto / Days 10-12 / First Class

    Contemporary on the exterior, the ANA Crowne Plaza Kyoto Hotel offers guests traditional Japanese hospitality within. The 298-room hotel, well located across from Nijo Castle, has several restaurants and a bar; a health club with indoor pool, spa tub, and sauna; internet access; laundry and dry cleaning services; beauty salon; and gift shop. Air-conditioned guest rooms have private bath with hair dryer, in-room safe; mini-bar, TV, and phone.

    Hotel Granvia Hiroshima, Hiroshima / Extension / First Class

    Connected to JR Hiroshima Station, the Hotel Granvia Hiroshima offers direct access to several of Hiroshima’s most popular sites, including Peace Memorial Park and Miyajima Island. The hotel offers five restaurants, bar, and lounge; dry cleaning and laundry services; hair salon; gift shop; Internet access; and safe deposit boxes. Air-conditioned guest rooms have private bath with hair dryer, mini-bar, TV, and phone.

Ratings are based on the Hotel & Travel Index, the travel industry standard reference.
Post-Tour Extension

Hiroshima: City of Peace

3 days/2 nights for $995 total price
Single Supplement: $155

Discover the city reborn from the atomic destruction of World War II, a modern and cosmopolitan urban center whose residents warmly welcome American visitors.

 

Your Tour Price Includes
  • Rail transportation Kyoto/Hiroshima, Hiroshima/Osaka
  • 2 nights’ accommodations at Hotel Granvia Hiroshima (First Class)
  • 3 meals: 2 breakfasts, 1 lunch
  • Extensive included sightseeing: excursion to Miyajima Island and Itsukushima Shrine; Hiroshima touring by local “Hiroden” train; visit to Peace Memorial Park and Museum; Atomic Bomb Dome
  • Services of an Odysseys Unlimited Tour Director
  • Gratuities for dining room servers, hotel porters, and all drivers

Please see the Accommodations tab for hotel information.

Tour Directors for this Journey
Mineko Dohata

Odysseys Unlimited Tour Director

Michiko Doi

“Michiko was amazing! She provided so many experiences by escorting the group to places we wanted to visit during our free time.”
Catherine Pearson
San Jose, CA

Itsuko Hama

“Superb tour director.”
John Schoffstall
Glen Mills, PA

Atsuko Iketsu

“Absolutely OUTSTANDING. Patient, professional, organized, and knowledgeable.”
Rigoberto & Eva Dapena, Lisa Sciacca
Miami, FL

Hiroko Kara

“Hiroko was fabulous. Couldn’t ask for a better tour director. Funny, patient, knowledgeable, and omnipresent to help! Loved her!”
Bonnie Phillips
Edina, MN

Kondo Kiyotaka

“Kondo was a delight! A true professional!”
Andy & Dianne Ross
Baltimore, MD

Makiko Kumazawa

“Makiko is very professional, knowledgeable, and extremely courteous, caring for all guests’ individual needs.”
Michele Macauda & Richard Burke
Monroe, CT

Rie Oka ("Oka")

“Oka was superb – wish there was a category of ‘Beyond Excellent’ for us to check! Every day in every way, she went above and beyond to meet everyone’s needs.”
Darrell & Susan Mahler
Topanga, CA

Emiko Sakurai

“Emiko was excellent in every way. She is extremely organized and well-prepared giving us lots of information at sites and on longer bus rides. …We felt we were well cared for at all times. Emiko is one of the very best if not the very best guide I have had in my 9 Odysseys trips…I find that I say that after every trip, but that’s why I choose Odysseys: the guides are superb.”
Carol Skornicka
Milwaukee, WI

Akira Sato

Wonderful tour director. Very knowledgeable and efficient. Made things run smoothly without any effort (though did much behind the scenes).”
Peter & Mardine Sibley
Kentfield, CA

Tomomi Shimazu

“I cannot express enough how knowledgeable, caring, friendly, and likeable Tomomi is. She made our tour a joy to be on.”
Gerald Krassner
Lake Worth, FL

Tomoko Sugimoto

“Sharing her personal lifestyle was exceptional. She was very attentive, efficient, and knowledgeable.”
Deborah Gandt
Setauket, NY

Naoko Takahashi

Odysseys Unlimited Tour Director

Fumiaki Tanaka (“Jay”)

“Jay made our trip a great success. He was the best tour director we ever had.”
Gloria Healy
Palm Desert, CA

Sammy Tanida

“Sammy is a jewel. He went above and beyond to share his knowledge, pride, and love of Japan.”
Debra Ankeles & Bob Freedman
Swampscott, MA

Sumiyo Terai

“Cannot speak too highly about Sumiyo! Fantastic tour director; made the country, culture, and history come alive for us. Shared personal experiences and was great with recommendations.”
Robert Rando
Monroe Township, NJ

Yumi Ueda

“Yumi probably was the best Odysseys tour director we’ve had (and we’ve had some good ones). She is knowledgeable and energetic.”
Blaine O’Connell
Mainville, OH

Destination Insight

Suggested Reading

Junichiro Tanizaki
In Praise of Shadows
This extended essay by the great Japanese novelist, first published in 1933, offers great insight into traditional Japanese art, architecture and design.

Richard Tames
A Traveller’s History of Japan
A lively and concise narrative history of Japan and its transformation from Shinto, Shogun and Samurai traditions to 20th-century powerhouse.

Jeffrey Angles (Editor)
Japan, A Traveler’s Literary Companion
This geographically-organized anthology introduces both Japan and its best contemporary writers.

Eyewitness Guides
Eyewitness Guide Japan
Dazzling illustrations, architectural cutaways and color photographs, along with useful local maps, give this guide to Japan’s many attractions a distinct edge.

Reise Know How
Japan Map
A handsome, detailed map of Japan at a scale of 1:1,200,000.

Paul Norbury
Culture Smart! Japan
A concise, no-nonsense guide to local customs, etiquette and culture, this is a helpful travel tool for visitors to Japan.

Yoshi Abe
Lonely Planet Japanese Phrasebook
A handy palm-sized guide to pronunciation, basic grammar and essential vocabulary for the traveler.

Donald Richie
Tokyo, A View of the City
Richie’s literate essay on the culture, history and fabric of Tokyo, where he lived for 50 years, is structured as a geographic tour starting at the Imperial Palace and branching out. With black-and-white photos.

Stephen Mansfield
Tokyo, A Cultural History
A literary, cultural guide to the art, architecture, traditions and history of Tokyo.

David Pilling
Bending Adversity, Japan and the Art of Survival
Financial Times Asia editor David Pilling captures the dynamism and diversity of Japan after the 2011 tsunami. He interviews, among many, novelist Haruki Murakami, former prime minister Junichiro Koizumi, industrialists, bankers, activists and artists, teenagers and octogenarians.

Paul Varley
Japanese Culture
Valery traces cultural trends from the emergence of Japanese civilization through the present age, touching on religion, gardens, the tea ceremony, the visual arts, theatre, literature and cinema.

Juliet Winters Carpenter, Sen Soshitsu (Introduction)
Seeing Kyoto
In this oversized visual celebration of Kyoto and neighboring Nara, long-time resident Carpenter presents the cobblestone streets, temples, gardens, history and traditions of the ancient capital.

Charlotte Anderson
The Little Book of Japan
Veteran Japanophiles Vilhar and Anderson produced this illuminating collection of 44 essays on Japanese life and culture, which, even in the 21st century remains elusive and poorly understood.

Reto Guntli (Photographer)
Living in Japan
One in a series of illustrated guides, focusing on design and the multifaceted landscape of Japanese living today, by the art publisher Taschen.

Patricia J. Graham
Japanese Design, Art, Aesthetics & Culture
In this handbook to Japanese aesthetics and design principles, Asian art expert Patricia Graham focuses on ten elements of Japanese design. She clues readers in to the allure of Japanese culture with explanatory text and more than 160 color photos.

Cathy Davidson
36 Views of Mount Fuji, On Finding Myself in Japan
A thoughtful set of witty reflections on Japan, Japanese culture and the adventure of living overseas by a talented writer who taught at an all-women’s university in Japan in the 1980s.

Donald Richie
The Inland Sea
Richie’s masterpiece, more than a travel account, is a beautiful reflection on all things Japanese by one of its most acute observers.

Marie Mutsuki Mockett
Where the Dead Pause, and the Japanese Say Goodbye
When her American father passes away, Mockett seeks consolation in her mother’s home country of Japan. Traveling in the wake of the 2011 tsunami, Mockett visits a radiation zone in a hazmat suit, a school for Zen Buddhist monks and several temples and festivals in an effort to understand the Japanese way of grieving, to bury her dead and, ultimately, to find healing.

Soseki Natsume
Botchan
A Japanese literary classic that is still read today by Japanese adults and students alike. Botchan, a young teacher from Tokyo, takes a post in Maysuyama on the island of Shikoku, beginning a quest for love and understanding. Soseki Natsume is considered the greatest writer in modern Japanese history.

Elizabeth Ingrams (Editor)
Japan, Through Writer’s Eyes
These tales by both Japanese writers and visitors, including Pico Iyer, Junichiro Tanizaki and Jan Morris, illuminate the history and culture of Japan.

Haruki Murakami
South of the Border, West of the Sun
Murakami stirs jazz, neon-lit streets, out of the way shrines, hustle and bustle and wonder into this lyrical tale of love in contemporary Tokyo.

I. J. Parker
The Hell Screen
Suguwara Akitada returns in another mystery of 11th-century Japan, with rich ambiance and superb historical detail. This time, a murder in a temple catches Akitada unprepared.

Yukio Mishima
The Temple of the Golden Pavilion
Inspired by historical events, this powerful first novel by the great 20th-century Japanese writer tells the story of the monk who burned the Temple of the Golden Pavilion in Kyoto.

Mark Brazil
Birds of East Asia: China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, and Russia
Featuring 234 superb color plates, Brazil’s comprehensive guide includes birds found in Japan, Korea and Taiwan along with adjacent areas of Asia and Kamchatka.

copy-right-logo

© Odysseys Unlimited
2018 All Rights Reserved

affiliation-img