Japan holiday 2019
NOTE: The itinerary you see here is subject to adjustments and changes at the discretion of the guides (if needed).
DAY 1-2: Take the tower
We arrive and rest. If you brought a large bag, you’ll store it tonight in Tokyo. Speaking of Tokyo: you’ll have the chance to join us this evening for a look at the city from the iconic Tokyo Tower!
Option: Tokyo Tower $15
Day 3: Luminarie!
Today, we’ll board the Shinkansen “bullet train” to our first destination: the historic trading port of Kobe! In the afternoon, we’ll explore the city’s many sights, such as the waterfront Meriken Park, Kobe’s bustling Chinatown, and the Sannomiya shopping arcade, which also includes one of Western Japan’s biggest centers for anime and manga goods. In the evening, we’ll gather to walk under the thousands of lights in Kobe’s holiday light display (and memorial to victims of the 1995 earthquake here), the Kobe Luminarie, before meeting up for an optional Kobe steak dinner!
Day 4: osaka overtures
We begin our day with a little history in the city of Osaka as we cross moats and park lands to reach the foot of Osaka Castle. After checking out the castle, we’ll venture to Shinsaibashi and Namba, the wild cultural center of Osaka that is home to countless game centers, neon light displays, and some of the best local cuisine that Japan has to offer. Take time to window shop, or grab your camera for a swing through Osaka’s Museum of Art and the Keitakuen Japanese Garden!
Day 5: Hot springs and high altitudes
All this traveling can make one tired, so we’ll begin this day with a trip up the mountainside to Kansai’s most legendary hot spring resort, Arima Onsen. That afternoon, we’ll hang out on the outskirts of Kobe and take a ropeway car over a waterfall to the scenic Kobe Nunobiki Herb Garden, where you’ll be treated to one of the finest views of the bay the area has to offer. Explore the gardens, or just relax and take it in – the choice is yours!
Day 6: Historical kyoto
If you’re looking to get an up-close and personal peek into Japan’s past, there’s no better place to do it than Kyoto! We’ll spend the whole day here, visiting the city’s scenic Kiyomizu Temple before going across town to see the shogunate’s old digs, Nijo Castle. After walking along the nightingale flooring in the castle, we’ll take a trip to the Golden Pavilion of Kinkakuji. On our way home, we’ll have a pit stop at Kyoto’s massive Kyoto Station Complex to have dinner and see the annual holiday lights display in the station center.
day 7: Freedom!
Today is a free day! Go check out the Luminarie again, check out Himeji Castle or Nara, or just relax on the balcony of your hotel room – it’s up to you! Your guides will be on hand the night before and morning of the free day to help with directions, book day excursions, or help find an elusive item on your holiday shopping list.
Day 8: Swinging into tokyo
We’ll begin the day by getting bento for the train ride to Tokyo. After taking the shinkansen back to Tokyo and checking in at our hotel, we’ll take a train over to Harajuku for the afternoon. Take in a little culture at Meiji Jingu Shrine, or join the shoppers and fashion mavens of Takeshita Street. You’ll visit the famous Kiddy Land Toy Shop, check out what’s next in trends at Laforet and the Design Festa Gallery, or just kick back and consume some delicious crepes. Afterwards, check out the streets of Shibuya!
Day 9: from the temple stairs to the bay
We start our day with a quiet cultural stop at the majestic Ikegami Honmonji Temple. Take pictures, admire the five-story pagoda, or buy some charms for good fortune. Once we’ve finished our visit, it’s off to the otaku mecca of Akihabara. Shop for rare doujinshi, flip virtual tables in giant video arcades, and see the latest in electronic gadgetry. Feeling adventurous? A visit to the Maid Cafe is a good way to experience Japan’s idol culture (and consume a sundae that looks like an animal XD).
Not feeling the anime shopping scene much? We’ll also be running a side trip to Kappabashi, Tokyo’s “kitchen goods” paradise where you can acquire everything from a fancy knife set to realistic plastic sushi! In the evening, you can relax or join us for a tempura and hot pot dinner on a Yakatabune longboat in Tokyo Bay!
Option: Maid Cafe $45
Options: Yakatabune Dinner $100
Day 10: Ghibli and Good Times
We’re covering a lot of ground today in western Tokyo. First up: a visit to the Ghibli Museum, where you’ll have the chance to see limited edition films by the famed animation studio and exhibits dedicated to all things Ghibli. Then it’s off to Nakano Broadway, the closet of anime fandom, to search for everything from anime cels to out-of-print manga and indie CDs. Not in the mood to shop more? We’ll also offer an excursion to Shibuya’s Fab Cafe, where you’ll be able to produce your own digital art projects as you sip Tokyo’s cutest lattes.
Day 11: Free day, Disney, or Kamakura!
It’s a free day! Take time to explore the areas you missed, go back to places where you didn’t have enough time, or just relax. Your guide will be on hand to help you get where you need to go. Or, take an optional extension! You can choose to visit Tokyo Disney Sea, the Japan-exclusive Disney theme park on Tokyo Bay, or Kamakura, a culturally significant city that is home to some of the area’s finest shrines, temples, and a world-famous giant buddha.
Options: Disney Sea OR Kamakura + Lunch $85
day 12: Happy Hagoita!
In the morning, we’ll head to Asakusa for their annual Hagoita Ichi Festival! Here you can pick up some charms that are only sold here at this time of year, in preparation for the New Year’s holiday (so save room in your bag!). Then, it’s off to the airport and back to the USA to tell your friends all about your adventures.