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  • 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

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What People Are Saying About Us

I have come to expect excellence from Odysseys Unlimited and have never been disappointed.

Michael E. Leahy
Oak Lawn, IL

We have been to many, many places all over the world, with many different tour companies.  None of them compare to the Odysseys Unlimited small group experience.

Nancy & William Sondervan
Sherrills Ford, NC

The small group is wonderful and the quality of tour directors is exceptional.

Bill Jones
Vancouver, WA

All that was advertised was delivered. Consider this tour to be a real value as to sites visited, itinerary, hotels, and travel between sites.

Susan & Paul Krupp
Georgetown, TX

Odysseys does everything with style, but without pretension. Beautiful meals and hotels. Excellent guides.

Barbara Schoetzau
New York, NY

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

Good value for $ — accommodations, food, guide, itinerary, and [small] size of group. Have traveled with other tour groups ... and like you best.

Jean Hall
Prairie Village, KS

We like the model – small groups, excellent tour directors, solid hotels, good mix of group/independent activities.

Roger Soder
Seattle, WA

The combination of excellent hotels with a small group is the way I like to travel. I would highly recommend Odysseys to everyone I know.

Patricia Joyce
Peoria, AZ

We love the small group experience.

Dave & Alice Wilson
Williamstown, MA

Odysseys is the best company we have traveled with. You have first-rate tours at affordable prices, with great itineraries, excellent guides, and outstanding accommodations.

Jane & Ronald Decker
Chicago, IL

Odysseys tours are just right for us: great value, nice group size, complete trips, sufficient free time.

Laurin & Phyllis LeTart
Shepherdstown, WV

This trip far exceeded our expectations: the small group size, the quality of the tour director (the best we’ve ever had), the ability to have dinners on our own, the lower cost without a significant reduction in the quality of the accommodations.

Barry & Bobbi Rosner
Somerset, NJ

I thought I would not like traveling in a group but I was wrong! [Our tour director] was so good at making the group seem as one that it turned out to be the best part of the trip.

Donna Stevenson
Dublin, OH

It was the best value in travel we’ve ever had. It was a wonderful experience.

Trish Merrill & Mac White
Austin, TX

This was my 7th trip with Odysseys and they keep getting better and better.

Merle Frank
Miami, FL

Love the small group format and the ease of traveling with arrangements made for us.

Ken & Carolyn Helm
Newburgh, IN

Tour exceeded my expectations having never taken a group tour. An excellent experience – can’t wait for my next one!

Ronni Goldberg
New York, NY

Absolutely the best bang for the buck – organization, quality, consistency.

Harvey Wine
Dallas, TX

I like the small size of Odysseys tours. [You] have excellent Tour Directors, great itineraries and spend more time in areas than some of the other tour companies.

Lynn Bafaloukos
Glendale, AZ

Because of the group size and outstanding guides, you make travel easy for us!

Sharon Irwin & John Akamatsu
Kent, OH
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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
  • 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/Atami 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. We learn about environmental and conservation efforts on the mountain at the Mt. Fuji World Heritage Center then enjoy a relaxing cruise on Ashi Lake, with Mt. Fuji in the background. Leaving the park, we travel to the town of Atami, 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: Atami/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. Then we visit Gokayama Village to see how traditional Japanese washi paper is made. 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. Last, we visit the Kutani Kosen Kiln, where artists fashion the prized, highly decorated pottery. We dine tonight at a local Japanese restaurant. 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. We reach our hotel late this afternoon and dine there tonight. B,D

Day 11: Kyoto More of Kyoto is on tap today, beginning with a visit to the otherworldly Arashiyama Bamboo Grove; the Kyoto Museum of Traditional Crafts (Fureaikan), showcasing all of Kyoto’s 74 different métiers in one place; and Nijo-jo Castle (ca. 1603), the extravagant residence and fortifications of the shoguns who ruled Japan for more than 250 years. Then the remainder of the day is free for independent exploration in this traditional, yet modern city. B

Day 12: Kyoto We continue our encounter with Kyoto today, first at the important Fushimi Inari shrine, with its trails straddled by red torii gates; Sanjyusangendo Hall (ca. 1266), an important Buddhist temple housing 1,000 statues of the Thousand-Armed Kannon deity; and Nishiki Market, “Kyoto’s Kitchen” of restaurants, stores, and stalls selling everything food-related. Then this afternoon is at leisure; tonight we toast our Japan 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

2020 Tour Dates & Prices
including international airfare and all taxes, surcharges, and fees

Mar 21
Mar 23*
Oct 26+
Oct 28+
May 2*
May 9
May 13
Aug 31
Sep 2*
Sep 7*
Oct 17
Oct 19*+
Mar 28
Apr 4, 6*
Apr 11, 15*
Apr 20
Apr 22
Sep 14*
Sep 16
Sep 21*
Sep 28*
Oct 5*, 10
Los Ang$5,984$6,084$6,184
Port (OR), San Fran, Seattle$6,284$6,384$6,484
Boston, Chicago,
Cleveland, Dallas,
Den, Detroit, Hou,
Minn, New York,
Phil, Phoenix
$6,484$6,584$6,684
Atlanta, Baltimore,
Charlotte, Cinc,
Miami, Orlando,
Tampa, Wash, DC
$6,584$6,684$6,784

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 $389, which are subject to change until final payment is made.

Single travelers please add $1,395. Your $375 deposit is fully refundable up to 95 days prior to departure. All 2020 tour prices above (excluding airline taxes, surcharges, and fees) are guaranteed.

Accommodations: Day 5: *Setsugetsuka (Hakone); Days 6-7: +Takayama Green Hotel (Takayama)

Business Class upgrade (subject to availability) on round- trip Trans-Pacific flight: $4,695 per person

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.

    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.

    Shin Kado Ya, Atami / Day 5 / Not rated

    Shin Kado Ya sits overlooking the Sagami-nada Sea in the coastal town of Atami.  This traditional ryokan offers a Japanese-style lodging experience where 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.  Water is pulled from Shin Kado Ya’s private spring, and the ryokan offers traditional décor and a tranquil atmosphere for our one-night stay.  Bedrooms have private bathrooms, and per Japanese tradition, shoes must be removed in bedrooms.

    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.

    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.

    The Thousand Hotel, Kyoto / Days 10-12 / First Class

    Just opened in the summer of 2019, The Thousand Kyoto offers an elegant and contemporary stay in the heart of Kyoto.  With soaring interior spaces, understated yet sophisticated décor, and a variety of amenities, The Thousand Kyoto ranks as a perfect place from which to explore this fascinating city.  The hotel boasts a Japanese restaurant, an Italian restaurant, a tea room with tea-infused cocktails, fitness center, spa with a range of treatments (for a fee), complimentary Wi-Fi internet access, and laundry and dry cleaning services (for a fee).  Air-conditioned guest rooms are designed according to a minimalist Japanese aesthetic and have private bath with hair dryer, tea-making facilities, 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 $1,095 total price
Single Supplement: $155

Discover the city reborn from the atomic destruction of World War II, now 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 Daisho-in Temple; 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

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

Akane Shinohara

“Akane was superb in all aspects. Her humor, adaptability, and personal sharing were a bonus!”
Peter Lam
Sunnyvale, CA

Tomoko Sugimoto

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

Naoko Takahashi

“Naoko was excellent! A real star in your organization. She was calm; clear in her explanations of Japanese history; a delightful and friendly person to know.”
Ron & Anne Taylor
Lake Forest, IL

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

Saeko Yamashita

“Sae was an excellent tour manager. She is smart, friendly, and very organized. We really enjoyed our travels with her. She is a keeper!”
Wayne & Barbara Jarosh
Nevada City, CA

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.

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