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OverviewHistorically a land of sublime art, rich traditions, and unsurpassed natural beauty, Japan is also known for its bustling commerce and dizzying modernity. Experience fascinating aspects of Japanese culture, from a traditional tea ceremony and meeting with a preeminent calligrapher to a gallery visit and stay in a ryokan. You’ll delight in the natural beauty of Kanazawa’s famous Kenrokuen Garden as well as the majesty of Mt. Fuji and a relaxing cruise on scenic Ashi Lake. See the highlights of cosmopolitan Tokyo, including the Shinto Meiji Shrine, the historic Imperial Palace district, and Tokyo’s oldest temple, Buddhist Asakusa Kannon.
Go off the beaten path to lovely Takayama in the Japanese Alps to experience the narrow medieval streets of the San-machisuji district and enjoy a sake tasting. Visit Shirakawa-go Gassho-zukuri Village, a World Heritage site showcasing a unique style of traditional architecture. Then conclude in Kyoto, Japan’s cultural capital, where highlights include the lakeside Temple of the Golden Pavilion, Nijo Castle, and a walk through Miyakawacho, the neighborhood where the geishas live. You’ll also enjoy a day visiting some of the World Heritage sites in nearby Nara.
Special ValueThis tour is specially designed for a small group of 16 to 24 Smithsonian travelers and offers outstanding travel value. Prices include airfare, airline taxes, fuel surcharges, and departure fees.
Smithsonian ExpertsThroughout this tour, travel in the company of an exceptional Smithsonian Study Leader. Jonathan Hall, an expert in Japanese film culture, is a film researcher and curator in Media Studies at Pomona College in Claremont, California. He is interested in how Japanese arts reflect the culture. Jonathan will lead the May departures. Mark Lincicome is associate professor and chair of the Department of History at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, where he has taught Asian history since 1991. Mark will be on the September 14 departure. Carol Morland is a Japanese art historian, with special expertise in the painting of the Edo period. Carol will lead the September 25 departure.
Special HighlightsVisit the gallery of preeminent calligrapher Koshun Masunaga in Tokyo.Experience an overnight stay in a traditional ryokan.Tour the famed Kenrokuen Garden in Kanawaza.Enjoy a full day excursion to Nara, Japan's ancient capital.
World Heritage SitesThis tour features the following World Heritage sites in Japan:
See a complete list of all Smithsonian tours featuring World Heritage sites.
- Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto
- Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara
- Shirakawago Gasshozukuri Village in Japan
- Hiroshima Peace Memorial (optional extension)