Go off the beaten path and explore Japan in depth, learning about its rich traditions as you take part in a traditional tea ceremony, meet with a preeminent calligrapher, and stroll through Miyakawacho, a geisha neighborhood.

Starting at: $5,591 * Includes airfare, taxes & all fees Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 Kinkaku-ji, the Golden Pavilion, Kyoto  Daibutsu or "Great Buddha" in Nara, Japan  An artisan at work  Mt. Fuji  Young Geishas offer a picturesque pose against sake barrels  Entrance to Nijo Castle (detail), Kyoto  Nijo Castle Garden, Kyoto  Ryoan-ji Zen Garden, Kyoto  The Todaiji Temple, Nara  The historic houses of Shirakawa-go

Eternal Japan

13 days from $5,591 | includes airfare, taxes and all fees

Go off the beaten path and explore Japan in depth, learning about its rich traditions as you take part in a traditional tea ceremony, meet with a preeminent calligrapher, and stroll through Miyakawacho, a geisha neighborhood.

or Call 855-330-1542

Tour Details

TOUR BROCHURE

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WHAT OUR TRAVELERS SAY

This Smithsonian Journeys trip exceeded my expectations. The quality of leadership and their narratives, the hotels, and local guides make my trip rich beyond words. Thank you Smithsonian for a special life experience.

- Cheryl B.

JOURNEYS DISPATCHES

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Overview

Hiroshima Post-Tour Extension — 3 Days, 2 Nights

Discover the city reborn from the atomic destruction of World War II, a modern and cosmopolitan urban center whose residents warmly welcome American visitors. Your tour extension price includes:

  • Rail transportation Kyoto/Hiroshima; Hiroshima/Osaka
  • 2 nights accommodations at Hotel Granvia Hiroshima (First Class)
  • 3 Meals: 2 breakfasts, 1 lunch
  • Extensive included sightseeing: Isukushima Shrine; Mt. Misen Ropeway; Hiroshima touring by local “Hiroden” train; visit to Peace Memorial Park and Museum; Atomic Bomb Dome
  • Services of a professional Tour Director
  • Gratuities to Tour Director, dining room servers, hotel porters, and drivers

Hotel Granvia Hiroshima
Connected to JR Hiroshima Station, the Hotel Granvia Hiroshima offers direct access to several of Hiroshima’s most popular sites, including Peace Memorial Park and Miyajima Island. The hotel offers five restaurants, bar, and lounge; laundry and dry cleaning services; hair salon; gift shop; Internet access; and safe deposit boxes. Air-conditioned guest rooms have private bath with hair dryer, mini-bar, TV, and phone.

This Smithsonian Journeys trip exceeded my expectations. The quality of leadership and their narratives, the hotels, and local guides make my trip rich beyond words. Thank you Smithsonian for a special life experience.

- Cheryl B.

To see itinerary, please click on an option below.

2016 Itinerary

Days 1-2 — Depart the U.S. for Tokyo, Japan

Depart the U.S. for Japan. After arriving in Tokyo, Japan’s financial, commercial, and political capital this evening, transfer to your hotel where you learn about the journey ahead at a briefing with your tour director.

Day 3 — Tokyo

Spend the morning touring this amazing city that comprises 23 wards and covers a staggering 840 miles. Focus on a smaller area as you visit some of Tokyo’s top sights including Shinto Meiji Shrine, a peaceful enclave of temples and gardens; the Edo-Tokyo Museum, a historical presentation of Edo (the city from c. 1600 until 1868) and Tokyo (the new Edo from 1868 until the present); and historic Imperial Palace, surrounded by moats and ramparts, and home of the Imperial Family. Next visit Tokyo’s oldest temple, Buddhist Asakusa Kannon, followed by the Nakamise Shopping arcade. This afternoon is at leisure; dine tonight at a local restaurant specializing in kushiage, kabobs of meat, fish, and vegetables breaded and cooked on a bamboo skewer. (B,D)

Day 4 — Tokyo

Visit the gallery of preeminent calligrapher Koshun Masunaga, where you learn about this ancient art and browse the collection. Then embark on a motorcoach tour of Ginza, Tokyo’s famed shopping, dining, and entertainment district boasting Japan’s most expensive real estate. The remainder of the day is at leisure to visit some of Ginza’s department stores, boutiques, or galleries, or to set off in a new direction. (B)

Day 5 — Mt. Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park and Hakone

Japan’s pastoral side is on tap as you leave Tokyo for Mt. Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park. Here sits imposing Mt. Fuji, a dormant volcano (it last erupted in 1707) with a perfectly symmetrical cone that rises to 12,388 feet. The mountain’s majesty is breathtaking, as artists and writers have attested for centuries. Take a coach ride where, weather permitting, you’ll enjoy breathtaking panoramic views; then descend for a relaxing cruise on scenic Ashi Lake. Leaving the park, travel to the town of Hakone where you spend the night at a ryokan, a traditional Japanese inn where you take off your shoes upon entering and sleep on a futon. (B,D)

Day 6 — Takayama

Today travel to lovely Takayama in the Japanese Alps, considered one of the country’s most attractive towns with its 16th-century castle and old-style buildings. Your explorations center on three narrow streets in the San-machi-suji district where, in feudal times, merchants lived amid the authentically preserved small inns, teahouses, and sake breweries that you see here. Enjoy a sake tasting then have free time to visit local shops that sell the region’s unique lacquerware and prized carvings of yew wood. (B,D)

Day 7 — Takayama, Shirakawago, Kanazawa

Pay an early visit to the river side Miyagawa morning market selling flowers, fruit, and vegetables, a blaze of dazzling colors and exotic foodstuffs then leave Takayama for the World Heritage site of Shirakawago Gassho-Zukuri Village. Comprising buildings relocated from authentic villages nearby that were razed for a dam, the village is also a vibrant community whose residents work together to preserve the unique traditional architecture here known as Gassho style. Next visit that dam – Miboro – the largest dam constructed using “rock-fill technology”: just stones and clay. Late afternoon reach the castle town of Kanazawa, an alluring coastal city that survived the ravages of World War II. (B,L)

Day 8 — Kanazawa

Today’s tour of this culturally rich city features renowned Kenrokuen Garden, a national landmark whose origins date to 1676. Also see Ishikawa Gate, the only remaining section of the town’s original castle; the Gold Leaf Museum celebrating the art and craft of gold leaf technology; and the Higashi Chayagai tea house and geisha area. Your last stop is the Nagamachi Samurai district, where the ruling family’s samurai warriors lived. (B,D)

Day 9 — Kanazawa and Kyoto

This morning board the train for Kyoto, once Japan’s Imperial Capital and now the country’s cultural and artistic center. With its many temples, shrines, artful gardens, and well-preserved wooden architecture, Kyoto embodies Japan’s rich culture and complex history. Upon arrival, visit Kyoto National Museum, a premier institution featuring pre-modern Japanese and Asian art and artifacts, then continue on to Unrakugama, a workshop specializing in prized Kiyomizu pottery. (B,D)

Day 10 — Kyoto

Today’s tour reveals the highlights of Kyoto, which was spared destruction during World War II. Highlights include 16th-century Ryoan-ji Temple, with the dry garden of sand and rocks (kare-sansui), a marvel of classic Japanese design; and Kinkaku-ji, the lakeside Temple of the Golden Pavilion set on pillars suspended over the water. Also visit ostentatious Nijo Castle (c. 1603), where the shogun asserted control over the city and its people. Next, attend a traditional Japanese tea ceremony - an historic, ritualized ceremony of form, grace, and spirituality. (B)

Day 11 — Nara

Today, enjoy an excursion to Nara, Japan's ancient capital. After a short train ride from Kyoto, see the Kasuga Taisha Shrine and Todaiji Temple, both World Heritage sites, and Nara National Museum on a walking tour. Return to Kyoto late afternoon. (B)

Day 12 — Kyoto

See the sights today from a slightly different perspective as you embark on a cycling tour visiting the important Heian Jingu Shinto shrine; Nishiki Market, “Kyoto’s Kitchen” selling foodstuffs of all kinds; and the Gion district where geishas gather. Tonight enjoy a farewell dinner at a local restaurant. (B,D)

Day 13 — Depart Kyoto for the U.S.

This morning travel by coach to Osaka and board your return flight to the U.S. (B)

2017 Itinerary

Days 1-2 — Depart the U.S. for Tokyo, Japan

Depart the U.S. for Japan. After arriving in Tokyo, Japan’s financial, commercial, and political capital this evening, transfer to your hotel where you learn about the journey ahead at a briefing with your tour director.

Day 3 — Tokyo

Spend the morning touring this amazing city that comprises 23 wards and covers a staggering 840 miles. Focus on a smaller area visiting some of Tokyo’s top sights, including Shinto Meiji Shrine, a peaceful enclave of temples and gardens, the Edo-Tokyo Museum, a historical presentation of Edo (the city from c. 1600 until 1868) and Tokyo (the new Edo from 1868 until the present); and historic Imperial Palace, surrounded by moats and ramparts, and home of the Imperial family. Visit Tokyo’s oldest temple, Buddhist Asakusa Kannon, followed by the Nakamise Shopping arcade. This afternoon is at leisure; enjoy a welcome dinner tonight at a local restaurant. (B,D)

Day 4 — Tokyo

Visit the gallery of preeminent calligrapher Koshun Masunaga, where you learn about this ancient art and browse the collection. Then embark on a motorcoach tour of Ginza, Tokyo’s famed shopping, dining, and entertainment district boasting Japan’s most expensive real estate. The remainder of the day is at leisure to visit some of Ginza’s department stores, boutiques, or galleries, or to set off in a new direction. (B)

Day 5 — Mt. Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park and Hakone

Japan’s pastoral side is on tap as you leave Tokyo for Mt. Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park. Here sits imposing Mt. Fuji, a dormant volcano (it last erupted in 1707) with a perfectly symmetrical cone that rises to 12,388 feet. The mountain’s majesty is breathtaking, as artists and writers have attested for centuries. Take a coach ride where, weather permitting, you’ll enjoy breathtaking panoramic views; then descend for a relaxing cruise on scenic Ashi Lake. Leaving the park, travel to the town of Hakone where you spend the night at a ryokan, a traditional Japanese inn where you take off your shoes upon entering and sleep on a futon. (B,D)

Day 6 — Takayama

Today travel to lovely Takayama in the Japanese Alps, considered one of the country’s most attractive towns with its 16th-century castle and old-style buildings. Your explorations center on three narrow streets in the San-machi-suji district where, in feudal times, merchants lived amidst the authentically preserved small inns, teahouses, and sake breweries that you see here. This afternoon attend a traditional Japanese tea ceremony here, an historic, ritualized ceremony of form, grace, and spirituality. (B,D)

Day 7 — Takayama

Pay an early visit to the riverside Miyagawa Morning Market, a blaze of dazzling colors and foodstuffs. Here meet a local chef to gather ingredients for the lunch you will prepare together at a nearby site. After enjoying the fruits of your labors, embark on a walking tour, visiting Takayama Jinya, an historic government house; the local sake brewery; and Takayama’s old town, whose well preserved buildings and homes date to the Edo Period (1600-1868). (B,L)

Day 8 — Takayama, Shirakawago, Kanazawa

Leave Takayama this morning for the World Heritage site of Shirakawago Gassho-zukuri Village. Comprising buildings relocated from authentic villages nearby that were razed for a dam, the village is also a vibrant community whose residents work together to preserve the unique traditional architecture here known as Gassho style. Late afternoon reach the castle town of Kanazawa, an alluring coastal city that survived the ravages of World War II. (B,L)

Day 9 — Kanazawa

Today’s tour of this culturally rich city features renowned Kenrokuen Garden, a national landmark whose origins date to 1676. Also see Ishikawa Gate, the only remaining section of the town’s original castle; Hakukokan, a museum celebrating the art and craft of gold leaf technology; and the Higashi Chayagai teahouse and geisha area. Your last stop is the Nagamachi Samurai district, where the ruling family’s samurai warriors lived. (B,D)

Day 10 — Kanazawa and Kyoto

This morning board the train for Kyoto, once Japan’s Imperial Capital and now the country’s cultural and artistic center. With its many temples, shrines, artful gardens, and well-preserved wooden architecture, Kyoto embodies Japan’s rich culture and complex history. Upon arrival, visit Kyoto National Museum, a premier institution featuring pre-modern Japanese and Asian art and artifacts, then continue on to Unrakugama, a workshop specializing in prized Kiyomizu pottery. (B,D)

Day 11 — Kyoto and Nara

A morning tour reveals the highlights of Kyoto, which was spared destruction during World War II. Visit Kinkaku-ji, the lakeside Temple of the Golden Pavilion and the ornate Nijo Castle (c. 1603), where the shogun asserted control over the city and its people. This afternoon visit Nara, Japan’s 8th century capital, renowned for its shrines, temples, and deer that roam Nara Park. (B)

Day 12 — Kyoto

Today is at leisure to enjoy Kyoto as you wish or participate in an optional cycling tour visiting the important Heian Jingu Shinto shrine; Nishiki Market, “Kyoto’s Kitchen” selling foodstuffs of all kinds; and the Gion district where geishas gather. Tonight enjoy a farewell dinner at a local restaurant. (B,D)

Day 13 — Depart Kyoto for the U.S.

Travel by coach to Osaka, to board return flights to the U.S. (B)