Itinerary 1: 8-Day Adventure
Days 1, 2 & 3: Tokyo
A rich cultural history, delicious authentic cuisine, unique entertainment, and exquisite nature in all its glory await in Tokyo. Begin your journey in the heart of the city at Hirosaki Castle Park and Shinjuku Gyoen, where you will experience the stunning ornamental beauty of the cherry blossom trees that millions flock to each spring. Make your way to the Meiji Shrine, passing through one of its impressive gates to be enveloped in the tranquility of its wooded forest. Catch Godzilla towering over the city near Kabuki Cho, ending your first day atop the Tokyo Metropolitan Building for an amazing 360-degree view of Japan’s capital.
On your second day, grab a furikake for breakfast and head to Ueno, where various attractions await. Stroll the halls of the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum or Tokyo Bunka Kaikan concert hall. Take a relaxing walk through Ueno Park and Zoo or check out the oldest temple in Tokyo, Sensoji Temple, next to Asakusa Temple. Pass through the ‘Thunder Gate,’ traveling back in time 300 years to wander among stalls selling ornate souvenirs on Nakamise Street. Later, revel at the Imperial Palace surrounded by stone walls and ancient moats. Walk alongside 300-year old trees in Hamarikyu, tour the Tsukiji Market where fresh fish stalls line the aisles, and make your way to the waterfront district, crossing the Rainbow Bridge with a view of a miniature Statue of Liberty. On the bay, the illuminated water and colorful buildings will mesmerize you at nightfall as you belly up to a sushi stand for dinner!
On your last day in Tokyo visit the ambient temple of Gyokurin-Ji, a national treasure, to see the ancient chinquapin tree on its grounds. After, shop till you drop in Shibuya or Harajuku for world-class shopping and outstanding entertainment. You’ll be right next to the most famous place in Tokyo, Shibuya Crossing, a place to truly feel the intense energy of the city buzzing around you! Check out a classical sumo fight at The Ryogoku Kokugikan arena, eat at Robot Restaurant for a unique dining experience, and stand under the Eiffel Tower replica or head to the top for another fabulous view of the city before you depart!
Day 4: Kamakura
Just an hour away from Tokyo is Kamakura. Here you’ll see the giant bronze Buddha at Kotokuin Temple, the second largest in Japan! This magical place is idyllic—try the local tradition of ‘washing your money’ at Zeniarai Benten Shrine, in hopes that the saying ‘what you wash in the spring will double’ comes true! After a morning of sightseeing, take a rickshaw to the sandy beaches of Kamakura. Partake in marine sports, lounge on the coast, and try the purple potato soft ice cream as the sun sets over Sagami Bay!
Days 5 & 6: Nara
Journey to Nara via train or plane. Once you arrive, explore Nara-Koen Park to see the infamous Todai-Ji Temple, Kasuga-Taisha Shrine, and Isuien Garden. In the park, don’t be surprised if you spot sacred deer roaming the area, sniffing around for some crackers! Sip some tea in a tea house within the garden for an authentic Japanese experience, then enter the Nigatsu-do Hall, an essential part of the temple, for a breathtaking view of Nara. Next, visit Nara’s most celebrated shrine, Kasuga-Taisha Shrine, famous for its 3,000 bronze lanterns and end your day at Todai-ji, considered among Japan’s most historically significant temples and home to one of the world’s largest bronze Buddha statues. The Todai-ji Temple has awe-inspiring massive wooden doors, impressive pillars and opulent halls.
Arise early to visit Horyu-ji Temple, one of Japan’s oldest temples. Founded in 607, it contains the world’s oldest surviving wooden structures and was designated a world heritage site in 1993. While in Nara, shop at a myriad of galleries, pick up trinkets for your loved ones, enjoy a picnic by Sarusawa Pond, or stroll through Naramachi, the old merchant district. In Nara, experience ancient Japan at a relaxing pace with authenticity down every path.
Days 7 & 8: Kyoto
Begin in the famous zen garden, Ryoan-ji Temple, to contemplate life and all of its intricacies. Watch the gardener rake lines into the garden and feel the stress melt away. Once entirely relaxed, visit other prominent temples and shrines scattered throughout Kyoto. Walk along Philosopher’s Path to reach Ginkakuji, Kiyomizudera, Yasaka Shrine, Nanzenji, and Heian Shrine, all located within the Higashiyama District. These beautifully preserved temples have maintained their opulent presence over hundreds of centuries. Meander to Sanjusangendo to admire 1,001 hand-carved statues, eat at the 400-year old Nishiki market, or purchase goods along 300-year old Teramachi street.
Marvel at the tallest wooden pagoda in Japan, The Toji Temple; romp with monkeys in Monkey Park Iwatayama; or snap a photo of the thousands of vermillion torii gates at Fushimi Inari-Taisha, where millions pay their respect each year. The Golden Pavilion, Kinkakuji, adorned in golden leaves, is a sight to see. Situated nearby is Nijo Castle, representing Japan’s feudal era architecture and Kodaiji Temple, with its marvelous and uniquely Japanese bamboo grove. Take a dip in an outdoor herbal bath, an ancient pastime, at Funaoka Onsen. Just outside of town, head to a magical forest for a romantic walk in Arashiyama Bamboo Grove for a once in a lifetime experience. Rest up and head home the next day out of Osaka International Airport.