Pawprint Pathways 2019
NOTE: The itinerary you see here is subject to adjustments and changes at the discretion of the guides (if needed).
Day 1-2: Fly to japan, transfer to Hiroshima
Day 3: The Magic of Miyajima
After breakfast, we kick off the trip as we sail to Miyajima and the famous floating shrine there, Itsukushima Shrine. After checking out the views, walk among the friendly (and occasionally hungry – seriously, they’ll eat ANYTHING) deer that populate the area as you shop for souvenirs and other goodies. If you’re feeling energetic, climb the mountain for a better view – or just relax and sample some of the local oysters or maple leaf pancakes at a cafe. At night, if you like, join us as we go out for the city’s take on Okonomiyaki for dinner!
Day 4: From the City to the Bunnies
Today, we’ll make a somber visit to the Hiroshima Peace Museum and Peace Park to learn more about post-war Hiroshima. We’ll then relax and unwind during a trip down the Kure Line, where the views of the Seto Inland Sea and its many picturesque islands are sure to amaze. Pack some veggies though; our destination is Okunoshima, home to beautiful seaside views, cool historical ruins – and lots and lots of bunnies. Join us for a walk around the island, or if you prefer, just take it easy and feed our floppy-eared friends! Dinner provided.
Day 5: Under the sea and Umeda
After we say goodbye to our bunny friends and have a buffet breakfast, we’ll dive back into urban Japan as we make our way to Osaka. After dropping our bags, it’s a trip to an undersea world as we visit Japan’s most famous aquarium, Osaka’s Kaiyukan. See sharks, cute otters, stingrays (hey, they can be cute too!), and neon-colored jellyfish as you traverse an exhibit dedicated to sea life in the Pacific Ocean “Ring of Fire.” If watching the fish play has you feeling inspired, that’s okay; we’ll be stopping in Umeda in the evening to shop, eat, and hit a few arcades in one of Osaka’s largest urban enclaves for fun.
Day 6: The Kyoto Experience
Today we visit Japan’s famous traditional capitol, Kyoto! First up, a trip to the Fushimi Inari Shrine – home to long shrine tunnels and fox folklore. Then we cruise to the hills west of the city and Arashiyama, a gorgeous area with towering bamboo groves, scenic temples, and one of Japan’s most famous historical bridges. Eat local goodies, shop for traditional textiles, and more before we cross the river and make our way back to the hotel.
Day 7: FREE DAY!
Want to explore a bit on your own? Cool! Today is a free day, so take this time to shop, explore more temples and shrines, or just relax. Your guides will be on hand the night before to help with directions and other arrangements.
Day 8: The Crows in the castle
We turn inland on Day 8 as we ride into the mountains to the old castle town of Matsumoto! After dropping our bags, we’ll explore Matsumoto Castle itself: a remarkably well-preserved castle with over 400 years of history. If the surroundings have you feeling transported to the past, that’s cool – continue the journey in the city’s cute traditional crafts quarter, Naka-machi. At night, join your guides for an optional picnic under the cherry blossoms or trip to a local eatery or izakaya.
Day 9: Swinging Around the Hot Springs
After a train ride from Matsumoto through the mountains, the famous “monkey onsen” – Jigokudani – will be our first stop of the day! Watch wild Japanese macques bathe in the hot spring at what has become one of Japan’s hottest destinations. After hanging with the “locals,” we’ll check in at our own onsen (hot spring) where you can soak and enjoy the tranquil surroundings of the Japan Alps. Our hosts have a very special dinner planned for us, so make sure you save room for that! Dinner provided.
Day 10: FOXES IN BLOOM
After enjoying a complimentary breakfast at the inn, we’ll be riding north to visit the fuzzy foxes at Zao Fox Village! Then, we’ll check out Sendai – Tohoku’s biggest city – with your guides, snack on the local specialty of beef tongue (yep, beef tongue!), shop, eat, or take it easy. In the evening, we’ll have another trip out to the cherry blossoms!
Day 11: The Narrow Road to Matsushima
Matsushima – long considered one of the “best views” in Japan – is where our day begins, as we sail among picturesque islands resting in the bay. After lunching and visiting the temple hopping, we continue east to Ishinomaki, a city that may still recovering from the damage of the 2011 Tsunami, but is eager to welcome visitors and show them what Tohoku hospitality is all about! We’ll hit a few local hot spots in the city before calling it a night.
Day 12: Cats and Cats and Cats
We begin with a cruise over to Tashirojima, where we hope the island’s feline residents will come out to say hi! Rent a bike, explore, or just picnic with the kitties – but don’t miss the boat back to the mainland! There, we’ll return to Ishinomaki to visit some of the city’s scenic spots before reuniting with our luggage and returning to Sendai. That evening, take a little time to explore the city some more or just put your feet up!
Day 13: Destination Tokyo!
After traveling all over Japan, we’ve come to the last stop on our journey – Tokyo. Once we get back to the city and get situated, we’ll head to Shibuya and Harajuku! Check out alternative fashion offerings, art that ranges from the adorable to the weird, or just have a little tea in a cool local setting.
Day 14: GHibli and akihabara (OR Free day)
By popular demand, today we spend our morning checking out the Ghibli Museum – a treasure trove of exhibits and films from Japan’s most legendary animation studio. Then it’s off to Akihabara to shop for the latest and greatest in Anime goods and merchandise. Not in the mood for Akihabara or Ghibli? That’s fine! Your guides will be able to arrange excursions to other areas upon request!
Day 15: Return home
Today is a free day; take the time to explore a spot you missed, or to re-visit a place or spot you want to see more of. As always, your guide will be on hand to help you select a destination. In the evening, we’ll catch a late flight home, and THEN you can tell everyone who didn’t go on the trip what they missed!