Meet your Tours Representative who will escort you to your driver for an accompanied airport transfer into Tokyo city-center by private vehicle.
Day 2: Get a Lay of the Land
Asakusa Senso-ji Temple
Today meet your guide to embark on a captivating half-day city tour to gain insights into some of the city's most iconic, historical, and cultural sights of Tokyo. Begin with visiting Hamarikyu, a splendid Japanese garden that once belonged to a powerful feudal lord during the Edo Period. Admire the garden's diverse collection of seasonal flowers, drawing visitors from far and wide. The highlight awaits at Nakajima-no-Chaya, a charming teahouse offering freshly brewed green tea, delectable Japanese sweets, and picturesque views of the tranquil ponds and lush greenery. Uniquely, this landscape garden features seawater ponds that ebb and flow with the tides, adding to its allure. Take a delightful tea break as your guide shares intriguing insights into the art of sado, the traditional tea ceremony. From there, venture to Asakusa, a cherished part of Tokyo's old town known as shitamachi. Immerse yourself in the rich history of this district, once a flourishing geisha enclave. Discover the iconic Sensoji dating back to the 7th century, Tokyo's oldest Buddhist temple, and soak in the vibrant atmosphere of the surrounding streets. Delight in strolling through the traditional shops that line the streets, offering a glimpse into Japan's cultural heritage. Let the captivating charm of Asakusa captivate your senses as you explore its timeless beauty.
Please note: This tour makes use of Tokyo's efficient public transportation to travel around the city.
After years of traveling to and from Japan, our Destination Experts all agree that when traveling to the other side of the globe, we all need some time at leisure to acclimate to the new time zone, a fast-paced city, and a different country, culture, and way of life. Take this day to explore the city at your own pace or rest at your accommodations and set off tomorrow fresh-faced and ready to take in the incredibly country that is Japan with your private guide along side. Please note: If you're the type to 'hit the ground running' when you travel, simply let your Destination Expert know and they will help you choose the best tour for the first, full day of your time abroad.
Day 3: City Streets and Tasty Treats
Tokyo street candy
Embark on a fascinating guided journey through the vibrant Tsukiji Outer Market, a bustling hive of activity. Begin with an informative video about the renowned inner market and its famous tuna auction, followed by a walking tour of the lively outer market. Indulge in delectable treats and explore the charming shops, some of which have been serving customers for generations. Visit a serene Shinto shrine where prayers for good fortune and business success are offered, and discover a café cherished by pop culture icons John Lennon and Yoko Ono. After the market tour, immerse yourself in a hands-on sushi experience at a traditional sushi restaurant. Don a sushi chef jacket and witness the art of filleting a fish with three precise knife cuts. Follow the step-by-step instructions to craft various sushi types, including makizushi and nigiri sushi. Admire the beautiful presentation before savoring a mouth-watering meal, complemented by a side dish like crispy golden tempura. Enjoy a truly unforgettable culinary adventure that combines learning, culture, and delightful flavors. Please note: This tour makes use of Tokyo's efficient public transportation to travel around the city.
This evening, set out on a delectable journey that promises to delight your taste buds and leave you craving for more. After meeting your helpful assistant at your hotel, meet up with your knowledgeable, local guide and host for the tour as you embark on a fulfilling Tokyo street food adventure. Explore the vibrant neighborhood of Meguro, where each stop on this tour offers a unique and unforgettable culinary experience in a family-friendly ambiance. Indulge in delectable Japanese-Western fusion dishes at an exceptional eatery adorned with vintage Nintendo game machines and a captivating board game collection. Savor the flavors of Hiroshima style Okonomiyaki, a savory pancake customizable with your preferred ingredients. As you dine, immerse yourself in Japan's rich culinary culture, absorbing the lively atmosphere and listening to captivating stories shared by our guide. Please note that due to the nature of these venues, reservations are not available, but rest assured, your guide will ensure an abundant feast awaits! After an evening of exquisite culinary and cultural exploration, retire to your luxurious for a restful night's sleep.
Please note: This tour makes use of Tokyo's efficient public transportation to travel around the city. Additionally, let your Destination Expert know of any dietary restrictions prior to your departure.
Day 4: Abstract Impressions
This morning, set off with your private guide and make use of Tokyo's efficient public transportation on a guided exploration of Tokyo's renowned hotspots for Japanese pop culture, known by locals as "Cool Japan!" Begin the day with a manga class at a prestigious Japanese school in Central Nakano. Uncover the rich history and learn the art of drawing these iconic cartoons, immersing yourself in the unique style that has captivated audiences worldwide Continue your adventure at Nakano Broadway, a four-level shopping mall devoted entirely to manga and anime. Indulge in the nostalgia of Japan's golden era, featuring beloved characters from the '70s such as Astroboy and UFO Robot Grendizer. Next, venture by train to Akihabara, Tokyo's vibrant "Electric Town." Uncover the hidden gems of this quirky district, renowned not only for its plethora of electronics shops but also as the epicenter of anime, manga, video game, and figurine culture. Please note: This tour makes use of Tokyo's efficient public transportation to travel around the city.
Day 4: The Journey Continues...
Meet your driver for a train station transfer with a private vehicle. Board a train from Tokyo with direct service to Kyoto. The train ride is approximately 2.5 hours. Meet your private driver for a train station transfer with a private vehicle.
Day 6: A Sight to Behold
Arashiyama bamboo grove
Embark on a captivating journey to explore the enchanting wonders of Arashiyama, a realm of timeless beauty and cultural richness. Set out with your expert guide and navigate Kyoto's clean and efficient transit system, which will lead you to Otagi Nenbutsuji, a hidden Buddhist temple. Here, marvel at one of Kyoto's most impressive sights, a collection of 1200 moss-covered stone statues gracefully adorning the temple grounds. Next, stroll through the serene backroads of Arashiyama, where you'll find yourself amidst a tapestry of intriguing sites waiting to be unveiled. Experience the tranquility that envelops a temple's collection of small stone effigies, each holding a tale of ancient devotion. Immerse yourself in the captivating legend behind a lush moss garden, inspired by an impossible romance that transcends time. As you traverse these time-honored paths, you'll encounter quaint shops brimming with local folkcrafts and charming traditional treasures. A delightful interlude awaits as you pause for a matcha tea break in the garden of Japan's first silent film movie star home. Continue the journey through the legendary Arashiyama bamboo forest. While throngs of visitors may flock here for the perfect selfie, your savvy guide will reveal a hidden bamboo grove earlier during the tour, allowing you to bask in the enchanting ambiance without the crowds. Conclude your expedition on the main street of central Arashiyama.
Please note: This tour makes use of Kyoto's efficient public transportation to travel around the city.
Kyoto has been charming visitors to Japan since the country began opening its borders at the end of the 19th century. Once Japan's capital (794-868) and the emperor's residence from 794 to 1868, Kyoto is known throughout the world for its wealth of majestic palaces and villas, delightfully charming streets, tediously tended-to gardens; and time-honored traditions that are preserved to the present day. Options abound with time on your own in a city like Kyoto. This evening, consider walking the Philosopher's Path up to Higashiyama: This 30-minute (leisurely) walk takes you along one of the city's most iconic canals and is an ideal way to spend a languid afternoon. We recommend starting at the south end (unlike most city-guides) so that your outing ends in the historical Higashiyama neighborhood, replete with dozens of cute cafes or boisterous izakayas if your afternoon walk has left your whistle in need of whetting.
Day 7: Hone Your Skills
Kyaraben polar bear
Deer in Nara Park
Immerse yourself in the time-honored techniques of preparing a traditional Japanese bento box, enriched with artistic flair and delicious delights. Today, meet your local guide at your hotel and navigate Kyoto's efficient public transportation system as you journey to a charming machiya—a traditional Japanese townhouse—where your skilled food instructor eagerly awaits. Armed with an array of exquisite ingredients and the essential tools of the culinary trade, dive into the intricacies of crafting a delectable and visually enticing Japanese bento box. But this is no ordinary bento—it is a delightful fusion of entertainment and flavor known as chara-ben or "kyaraben." Channel your inner artist as you transform your meal into the likeness of a beloved cartoon character like Hello Kitty or a lovable animal, elevating your bento into a delectable work of edible art. Under the expert guidance of your food instructor, you'll learn the secrets behind crafting this adorable delicacy, ensuring you can impress your loved ones with your newfound culinary prowess. As the workshop draws to a close, relish the fruits of your labor as you savor the hearty bento creation you've crafted. Enjoy the flavors and the satisfaction of creating a culinary masterpiece to be proud of.
Please note: This tour makes use of Kyoto's efficient public transportation to travel around the city.
On today's tour, you will take to the streets of Japan's charming ancient capital, Nara. Hear tales of the city’s past while wandering by ancient shrines and traditional houses. Explore famous landmarks such as the 8th-century Todai-ji Temple and quiet back roads brimming with atmosphere, for a glimpse of Japan’s incredible heritage.
Set off from the hotel with your private guide local guide in the morning to make the most of the day. Start with a visit to Isui Garden, one of Nara’s most beautiful gardens. Stroll around the immaculate grounds, admiring views of Mt. Wakakusayama in the background while hearing about the city’s history. Relax and enjoy a cup of tea and some local sweets at a teahouse set amid the garden. Next, walk onwards to Todaiji Temple, Nara’s most prominent landmark. Walk through the temple compound to enter Daibutsu-den building, the largest wooden building in the world, and admire the 15-metre tall Buddha image found inside.
Continue on to Nara Park, where Nara's famous friendly deer casually graze, followed by a stroll through Nara’s backstreets. Pass local shops and traditional houses, gaining a better appreciation for the blend of old and new that defines so many towns in Japan. You arrive at Kasuga Taisha; Nara’s most sacred Shinto shrine. See the shrine’s famous bronze and stone lanterns that hang from the roof, donated to the shrine by devotees. Although only lit during lantern festivals in February and August, they are still an impressive site. Before departing Nara, take a walk through the Naramachi district. The streets of this former merchant neighborhood are filled with restaurants, cafes, boutique stores, and traditional inns. Many of the shopfronts are built in the traditional machiya style, which helps provide the district with its unique atmosphere. Wrap up the Nara day trip with a transfer to the train station, hopping on board for the return journey to Kyoto.
Tsutenkaku Tower in night in Osaka, Japan
Day 8: On the Road Again
Enjoy a transfer with a private driver from Kyoto to Osaka. The transfer time is approximately 1 hour. Step into the nostalgic romance of Osaka's Shinsekai district on a half-day walking tour, relishing traditional flavors and discovering local hangouts. Meet your guide and make efficient use of Osaka's public transportationto begin a delectable journey through Osaka's vibrant retro district. Shinsekai resonates with the Showa Era's spirit in Japan, characterized by progress, economic growth, and forward-looking optimism. The neighborhood's unique charm is a blend of Parisian elegance in the northern section and the essence of New York's Coney Island in the south, with the iconic Tsutenkaku Tower, reminiscent of the Eiffel Tower. Food enthusiasts are in for a treat as they traverse local alleys in Japan's third-largest city. Embrace the Osakan tradition of kuidaore, or indulging until satisfied, and savor six mouthwatering local dishes at five distinct eateries. Along the way, learn about the district's fascinating history and distinct character. Please note: This tour makes use of Osaka's efficient public transportation to travel around the city. Embark on a journey with your private guide and navigate the city's clean and efficient public transit to explore Osaka's vibrant culinary culture. Immerse yourself in a variety of Japanese cuisine styles at an eclectic selection of venues, indulging in the rich flavors this city has to offer. Your journey begins with an exploration of the tempura style at a hidden eatery nestled within a quaint alley. The menu boasts traditional delights like shrimp tempura, alongside daring fusions such as asparagus tempura paired with cheese. Moving on, venture to a specialized restaurant renowned for its mastery of wagyu beef dishes. Recognized as one of the world's most luxurious meats, wagyu beef consistently ranks high on the wish list of discerning gourmets. Delight in its exquisite tenderness while sipping on a revitalizing cocktail. Following a leisurely stroll through the charming backstreets, your final destination awaits: a cozy teppanyaki establishment. Here, relish the flavors of delectable gyoza and negiyaki expertly cooked on a sizzling metal platter, right before your eyes. Please note: This tour makes use of Osaka's efficient public transportation to travel around the city
Statues at the Isshinji Temple
Day 9: Live like a Local
Embark on a private full-day city tour of Osaka, Japan's unofficial western capital, where the city's rich history and vibrant modernity intertwine. Meet your guide and make efficient use of Osaka's public transportation and explore the must-sees of this mega-city. Commence your day at the iconic Osaka Castle, celebrated for its historical significance and architectural grandeur. Explore its artefacts, ascend to the castle's highest floor for panoramic city views, and immerse yourself in the surrounding moats and gardens. Transitioning to the present, experience the pulsating energy of Dotonbori's covered streets, cherished by locals for shopping, dining, and entertainment. Uncover hidden gems along backstreets, such as a moss-covered Buddhist statue, and visit a museum highlighting Osaka's ukiyoe woodblock prints. Indulge in local street delicacies like takoyaki and okonomiyaki as you stroll. If desired, savor a sit-down restaurant lunch (payable on spot) recommended by your guide. Venture to Shinsekai, a retro district exuding an old-world charm. Gaze up at Tsutenkaku tower, an emblem of the postwar revival. Discover how mid-century Osaka envisioned its future amidst the narrow streets. Isshinji Temple, a Buddhist marvel with modern art aesthetics, awaits. Its futuristic gate and golden statues, including the remarkable Bone Buddhas crafted from devotees' ashes, captivate the senses. A tranquil stroll through a historic garden leads to your final destination: Abe no Harukas, Japan's tallest skyscraper. Reflecting in the garden's pond, it blends traditional and contemporary elements. Ascend to its heights, 300 meters above Osaka, to relish an awe-inspiring city panorama. At the end of the tour, you will make your way back to your hotel. Please note: This tour makes use of Osaka's efficient public transportation to travel around the city.
Day 10: Bon Voyage
Meet your driver for an airport transfer with a private vehicle.
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Contact your advisor and mention the Japan Pop Culture itinerary for booking information.