During daily hikes experience Buddhist traditions during a three-day pilgrimage walk, visit iconic sites and temples in Osaka, Nara, and Kyoto, and explore Japan's rich history and culture off the beaten path. 

Starting at: $7,595 Register Interest or Call 833-254-6678
 Kiyomizu Temple, Kyoto  Daibutsu Buddha, Nara  Rice terraces in Asuka  Pilgrims at a temple   Temple lanterns  Stone monuments sponsored by devotees on the Shikoku Pilgrimage Route  Pilgrim prayer slips  Shrine along the Yamanobe-no-michi trail  Shitennoji Temple, Osaka  Hiking amid the landscape near Asuka  Todai-ji Temple, Nara  Buddha at Todai-ji Temple  Entrance to Nijo Castle (detail), Kyoto  Nijo Castle Garden, Kyoto  Pagoda at Kyomizu   Historic street of Sannen-zaka  Traditional kimonos  Room at the Sachiya ryokan  Traditional Udon noodle dish  A Japanese specialty  Traditional Japanese cuisine

Hiking Pilgrimage Trails in Japan

11 days from $7,595

During daily hikes experience Buddhist traditions during a three-day pilgrimage walk, visit iconic sites and temples in Osaka, Nara, and Kyoto, and explore Japan's rich history and culture off the beaten path. 

or Call 833-254-6678

Accommodations

* Click on hotel name to visit hotel web-site.

Hotel Monterey Grasmere

Osaka, Japan

This refined hotel is in the bustling Namba district of central Osaka. The comfortable rooms feature complimentary Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, and city views. 

Number of nights: 2

Hotel Nikko Nara

Nara, Japan

Hotel Nikko Nara’s convenient location is perfect for those sightseeing in Nara. Amenities include three restaurants (Cantonese, traditional buffet, and Japanese steakhouse) and an airy lounge with tea service and cocktails. 

Number of nights: 2

Senyuji Temple

Imabari, Shikoku Island, Japan

Senyuji Temple offers a unique accommodation called a shukubo, or pilgrims’ lodging, which adjoins Buddhist temples. These simple accommodations offer few services or amenities as they serve as a place for pilgrims to sleep and focus on their spiritual journey as they hike their path. Guests will share rooms with up to 3 other Smithsonian travelers of the same gender. Each room has tatami mats on the floor with futon mattresses guests will roll out for sleeping. Shared bathrooms are available in each building. For those who wish, there is an opportunity to join the early morning religious services the following day prior to departure.

Number of nights: 1

Sachiya Ryokan

Matsuyama area, Shikoku Island, Japan

Tucked along a quiet alleyway, just around the corner from the renowned Dogo Onsen main bathhouse, sits Sachiya Ryokan. Sachiya is a charming, family-run inn whose owners have welcomed guests for three generations. The friendly Okami (proprietress) Sugita-san greets each arrival with a smile and welcoming cup of green tea. Time seems to stand still while relaxing at this inn, which has always welcomed pilgrims on the Shikoku 88 Temple pilgrimage. The inn’s own hot-spring baths have the same thermal waters as the nearby Dogo Onsen Honkan (main bathhouse). The cuisine is refined and delicious, with seasonal vegetables and regional delicacies such as fresh Tai (red sea bream) served in a whole succession of ways.

Number of nights: 2

Royal Park Hotel the Kyoto

Kyoto, Japan

Located in central Kyoto, this modern hotel is a short walk from many restaurants and shopping. The casual rooms feature tea and coffeemakers, complimentary Wi-Fi, and upgraded toiletries.

Number of nights: 2

Activity Level

Activity Level 4:  Active 

Expectations: This trip is part of the Smithsonian Active Journeys collection. These trips feature a daily schedule of physical activities—such as walking, hiking, kayaking, rafting, or bicycling—in addition to activities designed to offer cultural or historical context. Each trip entails a different level of physical expectations. As some trips are more difficult than others, please review the following activity level description—and feel free to contact an Active Journeys Specialist to discuss the trip at more length—to ensure this Active Journey is right for you.

For this trip, daily walks and hikes of 2 to 10 miles (from two to five hours a day) are taken at a leisurely to active pace over varied terrain that range from city streets to rocky, steep trails with significant gain or loss. Sturdy hiking boots, hiking poles for steep ascents and descents, and day packs for daily necessities are a must.

Each day features a cultural site or activity associated with the walk, such as a visit to a shrine or temple, culinary highlight, tea ceremony, or meeting with local people. Support vehicles are limited while hiking, so once a hike is begun it is necessary to finish. However, it is sometimes feasible to skip a day’s activities and relax at the hotel, if desired. During vehicle transfers, transport is by 15-passenger van. Accommodations feature city hotels, a traditional ryokan (Japanese inn), and traditional pilgrimage lodging in shared facilities.

 Appropriate for: Travelers who are physically fit, expect a vigorous pace, are comfortable participating in up to five hours of walking/hiking per day, and enjoy a physical challenge.

Reading List

Highly Recommended

The Inland Sea
By: Donald Richie
"An elegiac prose celebration . . . a classic in its genre."—Publishers WeeklyIn this acclaimed travel memoir, Donald Richie paints a memorable portrait of the island-studded Inland Sea. His existential ruminations on food, culture, and love and his brilliant descriptions of life and landscape are a window into an Old Japan that has now nearly vanished. Included are the twenty black and white photographs by Yoichi Midorikawa that accompanied the original 1971 edition.Donald Richie (1924–2013) was an internationally recognized expert on Japanese culture and film.Yoichi Midorikawa (1915–2001) was one of Japan's foremost nature photographers.
Bending Adversity: Japan and the Art of Survival
By: David Pilling
“[A]n excellent book...” —The EconomistFinancial Times Asia editor David Pilling presents a fresh vision of Japan, drawing on his own deep experience, as well as observations from a cross section of Japanese citizenry, including novelist Haruki Murakami, former prime minister Junichiro Koizumi, industrialists and bankers, activists and artists, teenagers and octogenarians. Through their voices, Pilling's Bending Adversity captures the dynamism and diversity of contemporary Japan.Pilling’s exploration begins with the 2011 triple disaster of earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown. His deep reporting reveals both Japan’s vulnerabilities and its resilience and pushes him to understand the country’s past through cycles of crisis and reconstruction. Japan’s survivalist mentality has carried it through tremendous hardship, but is also the source of great destruction: It was the nineteenth-century struggle to ward off colonial intent that resulted in Japan’s own imperial endeavor, culminating in the devastation of World War II. Even the postwar economic miracle—the manufacturing and commerce explosion that brought unprecedented economic growth and earned Japan international clout might have been a less pure victory than it seemed. In Bending Adversity Pilling questions what was lost in the country’s blind, aborted climb to #1. With the same rigor, he revisits 1990—the year the economic bubble burst, and the beginning of Japan’s “lost decades”—to ask if the turning point might be viewed differently. While financial struggle and national debt are a reality, post-growth Japan has also successfully maintained a stable standard of living and social cohesion. And while life has become less certain, opportunities—in particular for the young and for women—have diversified. Still, Japan is in many ways a country in recovery, working to find a way forward after the events of 2011 and decades of slow growth. Bending Adversity closes with a reflection on what the 2012 reelection of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and his radical antideflation policy, might mean for Japan and its future. Informed throughout by the insights shared by Pilling’s many interview subjects, Bending Adversity rigorously engages with the social, spiritual, financial, and political life of Japan to create a more nuanced representation of the oft-misunderstood island nation and its people.The Financial Times“David Pilling quotes a visiting MP from northern England, dazzled by Tokyo’s lights and awed by its bustling prosperity: ‘If this is a recession, I want one.’ Not the least of the merits of Pilling’s hugely enjoyable and perceptive book on Japan is that he places the denunciations of two allegedly “lost decades” in the context of what the country is really like and its actual achievements.”The Telegraph (UK)“Pilling, the Asia editor of the Financial Times, is perfectly placed to be our guide, and his insights are a real rarity when very few Western journalists communicate the essence of the world’s third-largest economy in anything but the most superficial ways. Here, there is a terrific selection of interview subjects mixed with great reportage and fact selection... he does get people to say wonderful things. The novelist Haruki Murakami tells him: “When we were rich, I hated this country”... well-written... valuable.”Publishers Weekly (starred):"A probing and insightful portrait of contemporary Japan."
Japan - Culture Smart!: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture
By: Paul Norbury
Culture Smart! Japan will guide you through modern Japan’s shifting social and cultural maze. It provides invaluable insights into people’s attitudes and behavior, and practical tips to help make your visit to this complex, rich, and dynamic society a mutually rewarding experience. Today Japan is at a crossroads. The postwar economic miracle is over and the balance of power in Asia is shifting as new players enter the field. The bedrock of traditional Japanese culture—its remarkable resilience, coherence, and consensus-based philosophy, underpinned by many protocols—until recently regarded by some as a hindrance, is starting to look like a virtue in a world of accelerating change. Japan remains the world’s third-largest economy and one of the most attractive and secure destinations for investment. The younger generation is outward-looking, Japanese women have a new confidence, and the country’s technical and scientific research capability is as good as it gets. Japan continues to excel at innovation in technology and the “new” sciences, and is among the world’s largest funders in research as a percentage of GDP.
DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Japan
By: DK Travel
Explore Japan's busy city streets, historic temples, and beautiful culture. Experience Tokyo, Kyoto, and the rest of Japan's exciting cities.Discover DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Japan.   • Detailed itineraries and "don't-miss" destination highlights at a glance.    • Illustrated cutaway 3-D drawings of important sights.    • Floor plans and guided visitor information for major museums.    • Guided walking tours, local drink and dining specialties to try, things to do, and places to eat, drink, and shop by area.    • Area maps marked with sights.    • Detailed city maps include street finder indexes for easy navigation.    • Insights into history and culture to help you understand the stories behind the sights.    • Hotel and restaurant listings highlight DK Choice special recommendations. With hundreds of full-color photographs, hand-drawn illustrations, and custom maps that illuminate every page, DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Japan truly shows you this country as no one else can.Series Overview: For more than two decades, DK Eyewitness Travel Guides have helped travelers experience the world through the history, art, architecture, and culture of their destinations. Expert travel writers and researchers provide independent editorial advice, recommendations, and reviews. With guidebooks to hundreds of places around the globe available in print and digital formats, DK Eyewitness Travel Guides show travelers how they can discover more.DK Eyewitness Travel Guides: the most maps, photographs, and illustrations of any guide.
Japan 1:1,200,000 Travel Map, waterproof, GPS-compatible, REISE
By: Reise KnowHow
Japan 1:1,200,000 Travel Map, waterproof, GPS-compatible REISE This map is waterproof and tear-resistant, durable enough to survive time spent in the rucksack, pocket or on a restaurant table. It is double-sided to provide the best balance between a good scale and a convenient sheet size (size 100 x 70 cm / 39.5 x 27.5 in) with topographic and tourist information. Road and rail networks are easy to see on a clear base which shows the country's topography by altitude colouring with contours, spot heights, mountain passes, and names of mountain ranges. Surrounding seas have bathymetric contours. The southern islands of Okinawa and Kagoshima are on an inset. Internal administrative boundaries are shown with names of the provinces. Names of the islands and main towns are in both scripts, with names of smaller towns and villages, provinces and geographical features given in the Roman alphabet only. Road network includes selected minor local roads and shows intermediate driving distances on motorways and main roads. Railways indicate the high speed Shinkansen line. Ferry connections are also shown. National parks and protected areas, including maritime parks are marked. Symbols highlight various places of interest: picturesque towns and villages, UNESCO world heritage sites, temples and shrines, special gardens, caves and hot springs, winter sport areas, etc. The map has a latitude / longitude grid at intervals of 1º and an index of localities. Multilingual map legend includes English. High quality German cartography.

Maps & Guidebooks

Lonely Planet Japanese Phrasebook & Dictionary
By: Lonely Planet, Yoshi Abe, Keiko Hagiwara
Lonely Planet: The world's #1 phrasebook publisher* Lonely Planet Japanese Phrasebook & Dictionary is your handy passport to culturally enriching travels with the most relevant and useful Japanese phrases and vocabulary for all your travel needs. Get to know your sushi from your sake, enjoy an elaborate tea ceremony with its centuries'-old conventions, and find your way elaborate transit maps; all with your trusted travel companion. With language tools in your back pocket, you can truly get to the heart of wherever you go, so begin your journey now! Get More From Your Trip with Easy-to-Find Phrases for Every Travel Situation! Feel at ease with essential tips on culture, manners, idioms and multiple meanings Order with confidence, explain food allergies, and try new foods with the menu decoder Save time and hassles with vital phrases at your fingertips Never get stuck for words with the 3500-word two-way, quick-reference dictionary Be prepared for both common and emergency travel situations with practical phrases and terminology Meet friends with conversation starter phrases Get your message across with easy-to-use pronunciation guides Inside Lonely Planet Japanese Phrasebook & Dictionary: Full-colour throughout User-friendly layout organised by travel scenario categories Survival phrases inside front cover for at-a-glance on-the-fly cues Convenient features 5 Phrases to Learn Before You Go 10 Ways to Start a Sentence 10 Phrases to Sound like a Local Listen For - phrases you may hear Look For - phrases you may see on signs Shortcuts - easy-to-remember alternatives to the full phrases Q &A - suggested answers to questions asked Covers Basics - time, dates, numbers, amounts, pronunciation, reading tips, grammar rules Practical - travel with kids, disabled travellers, sightseeing, business, banking, post office, internet, phones, repairs, bargaining, accommodations, directions, border crossing, transport Social - meeting people, interests, feelings, opinions, going out, romance, culture, activities, weather Safe Travel - emergencies, police, doctor, chemist, dentist, symptoms, conditions Food - ordering, at the market, at the bar, dishes, ingredients The Perfect Choice: Lonely Planet Japanese Phrasebook & Dictionary, a pocket-sized comprehensive language guide, provides on-the-go language assistance; great for language students and travellers looking to interact with locals and immerse themselves in local culture. About Lonely Planet: Since 1973, Lonely Planet has become the world's leading travel media company with guidebooks to every destination, an award-winning website, mobile and digital travel products, and a dedicated traveller community. Lonely Planet covers must-see spots but also enables curious travellers to get off beaten paths to understand more of the culture of the places in which they find themselves. The world awaits! *#1 phrasebook publisher. Source: Nielsen Bookscan UK, US & AUS

History, Culture & Exploration

Traveller's History of Japan
By: Richard Tames
The Traveller's History series is designed for travellers who want more historical background on the country they are visiting than can be found in a tour guide. Each volume offers a complete and authoritative history of the country from the earliest times up to the present day. A Gazetteer cross-referenced to the main text pinpoints the historical importance of sights and towns.Illustrated with maps and line drawings, this literate and lively series makes ideal before -you-go reading, and is just as handy tucked into suitcase or backpack.
Inventing Japan: 1853-1964 (Modern Library Chronicles)
By: Ian Buruma
In a single short book as elegant as it is wise, Ian Buruma makes sense of the most fateful span of Japan’s history, the period that saw as dramatic a transformation as any country has ever known. In the course of little more than a hundred years from the day Commodore Matthew Perry arrived in his black ships, this insular, preindustrial realm mutated into an expansive military dictatorship that essentially supplanted the British, French, Dutch, and American empires in Asia before plunging to utter ruin, eventually emerging under American tutelage as a pseudo-Western-style democracy and economic dynamo.What explains the seismic changes that thrust this small island nation so violently onto the world stage? In part, Ian Buruma argues, the story is one of a newly united nation that felt it must play catch-up to the established Western powers, just as Germany and Italy did, a process that involved, in addition to outward colonial expansion, internal cultural consolidation and the manufacturing of a shared heritage. But Japan has always been both particularly open to the importation of good ideas and particularly prickly about keeping their influence quarantined, a bipolar disorder that would have dramatic consequences and that continues to this day. If one book is to be read in order to understand why the Japanese seem so impossibly strange to many Americans, Inventing Japan is surely it.From the Hardcover edition.
Kyoto: A Cultural History (Cityscapes)
By: John Dougill
Kyoto, the ancient former capital of Japan, breathes history and mystery. Its temples, gardens and palaces are testimony to many centuries of aristocratic and religious grandeur. Under the veneer of modernity, the city remains filled with countless reminders of a proud past. John Dougill explores this most venerable of Japanese cities, revealing the spirit of place and the individuals that have shaped its often dramatic history. Courtiers and courtesans, poets and priests, samurai and geisha people the pages of his account. Covering twelve centuries in all, the book not only provides a historical overview but also brings to life the cultural magnificence of the city of "Purple Hills and Crystal Streams."
The Book of Tea
By: Kakuzo Okakura
The Book of Tea by Kakuzo Okakura - Tea began as a medicine and grew into a beverage. In China, in the eighth century, it entered the realm of poetry as one of the polite amusements. The fifteenth century saw Japan ennoble it into a religion of aestheticism—Teaism. Teaism is a cult founded on the adoration of the beautiful among the sordid facts of everyday existence. It inculcates purity and harmony, the mystery of mutual charity, the romanticism of the social order. It is essentially a worship of the Imperfect, as it is a tender attempt to accomplish something possible in this impossible thing we know as life. The Philosophy of Tea is not mere aestheticism in the ordinary acceptance of the term, for it expresses conjointly with ethics and religion our whole point of view about man and nature. It is hygiene, for it enforces cleanliness; it is economics, for it shows comfort in simplicity rather than in the complex and costly; it is moral geometry, inasmuch as it defines our sense of proportion to the universe. It represents the true spirit of Eastern democracy by making all its votaries aristocrats in taste.
The Little Book of Japan
By: Charlotte Anderson
This compact travel guide and pictorial is the #1 selling travel book in Japan. Packed with cultural and historical information along with charming photographs take a trip to Japan to always remember. Japan is a country shrouded in mystery, even now in the 21st century. The myriad facets that, when put together, compose the whole of this nation are impossible to capture fully. But in The Little Book of Japan, the dynamic photographer-writer team of Gorazd Vilhar and Charlotte Anderson do an admirable job of creating a celebration in words and images that encapsulates what makes this country so extraordinary.Small and easily portable, this Japan travel guide is organized in a series of 44 essays with photographs contained within four chapters: Cultural Icons, Traditions, Places, and Spiritual Life. Under these four overarching ideals, Vilhar and Anderson explore a wide range of topics from Japanese cultural icons and traditions to Japan's spiritual life to its unique cities and villages. Broad enough to satisfy anyone with interest in the culture, art, and beliefs of this unique island nation, yet comprehensive enough for the true Japanophile, The Little Book of Japan is a stunning collection of photographs and thoughtful essays. With everything from Cherry Blossoms to Sushi, Calligraphy to Kimonos, Old Tokyo to Hiroshima, to intimate details of Buddhism and Pilgrimages, this book is a beautiful and enjoyable way to learn more about the fascinating island nation of Japan.
Tokyo: A Biography: Disasters, Destruction and Renewal: The Story of an Indomitable City
By: Stephen Mansfield
The history of Tokyo is as eventful as it is long. A concise yet detailed overview of this fascinating, centuries-old city, Tokyo: A Biography is a perfect companion volume for history buffs or Tokyo-bound travelers looking to learn more about their destination. In a whirlwind journey through Tokyo's past from its earliest beginnings up to the present day, this Japanese history book demonstrates how the city's response to everything from natural disasters to regime change has been to reinvent itself time and again. A calamitous fire results in a massive expansion of the city's territory. A debate over the Samurai code creates far-reaching social change. A malleable boy becomes the figurehead for powerful forces which change an ancient feudal society into a modern industrialized power within a generation. Utter destruction wipes the slate clean again so Tokyoites may start all over. And so it goes. Tokyo's story is riveting, and by the end of Tokyo: A Biography, readers see a city almost unrivaled in its uniqueness, a place that—despite its often tragic history—still shimmers as it prepares to face the future.
Zen Buddhism: A History (Japan) (Treasures of the World's Religions) (Volume 2)
By: Heinrich Dumoulin
In this second volume of his classic history Dumoulin turns his attention to the development of Zen in Japan.
Super Sushi Ramen Express: A Culinary Adventure Through Japan
By: Michael Booth
From the author of The Almost Nearly Perfect People comes Super Sushi Ramen Express, a fascinating and funny culinary journey through JapanJapan is arguably the preeminent food nation on earth; it’s a mecca for the world’s greatest chefs and has more Michelin stars than any other country. The Japanese go to extraordinary lengths and expense to eat food that is marked both by its exquisite preparation and exotic content. Their creativity, dedication, and courage in the face of dishes such as cod sperm and octopus ice cream are only now beginning to be fully appreciated in the sushi- and ramen-saturated West, as are the remarkable health benefits of the traditional Japanese diet.Food and travel writer Michael Booth takes the culinary pulse of contemporary Japan, learning fascinating tips and recipes that few Westerners have been privy to before. Accompanied by two fussy eaters under the age of six, he and his wife travel the length of the country, from bear-infested, beer-loving Hokkaido to snake-infested, seaweed-loving Okinawa. Along the way, they dine with―and score surprising victory over―two sumo wrestlers, pamper the world’s most expensive cows with massages and beer, share a seaside lunch with free-diving female abalone hunters, and meet the greatest chefs working in Japan today. Less happily, they witness a mass fugu slaughter, are traumatized by an encounter with giant crabs, and attempt a calamitous cooking demonstration for the lunching ladies of Kyoto.

Archaeology, Art & Architecture

In Praise of Shadows
By: Junichiro Tanizaki
An essay on aesthetics by the Japanese novelist, this book explores architecture, jade, food, and even toilets, combining an acute sense of the use of space in buildings. The book also includes descriptions of laquerware under candlelight and women in the darkness of the house of pleasure.
The Art of Setting Stones: And Other Writings from the Japanese Garden
By: Marc Peter Keane
In Japanese gardens, composition follows from placement of the first stone; all elements and plantings become interconnected. These eight essays on Kyoto gardens similarly begin with keen description and build into richly meditative excursions into art, Buddhism, nature, and science. Landscape architect Marc Keane shows how Japanese gardens are both a microcosm of the natural universe and a clear expression of our humanity, mirroring how we think, worship, and organize our lives and communities. Filled with passages of alluring beauty, this is a truly transcendent book about "experiencing" Japanese design.Marc Peter Keane has lived in Kyoto for 17 years and is author of Japanese Garden Design. He designs residential, company, and temple gardens.

Travel, Biography & Memoir

Where the Dead Pause, and the Japanese Say Goodbye: A Journey
By: Marie Mutsuki Mockett
“Read it. You will be uplifted.”―Ruth Ozeki, Zen priest, author of A Tale for the Time BeingMarie Mutsuki Mockett's family owns a Buddhist temple 25 miles from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. In March 2011, after the earthquake and tsunami, radiation levels prohibited the burial of her Japanese grandfather's bones. As Japan mourned thousands of people lost in the disaster, Mockett also grieved for her American father, who had died unexpectedly.Seeking consolation, Mockett is guided by a colorful cast of Zen priests and ordinary Japanese who perform rituals that disturb, haunt, and finally uplift her. Her journey leads her into the radiation zone in an intricate white hazmat suit; to Eiheiji, a school for Zen Buddhist monks; on a visit to a Crab Lady and Fuzzy-Headed Priest’s temple on Mount Doom; and into the "thick dark" of the subterranean labyrinth under Kiyomizu temple, among other twists and turns. From the ecstasy of a cherry blossom festival in the radiation zone to the ghosts inhabiting chopsticks, Mockett writes of both the earthly and the sublime with extraordinary sensitivity. Her unpretentious and engaging voice makes her the kind of companion a reader wants to stay with wherever she goes, even into the heart of grief itself.
Learning to Bow: Inside the Heart of Japan
By: Bruce Feiler
Learning to Bow has been heralded as one of the funniest, liveliest, and most insightful books ever written about the clash of cultures between America and Japan. With warmth and candor, Bruce Feiler recounts the year he spent as a teacher in a small rural town. Beginning with a ritual outdoor bath and culminating in an all-night trek to the top of Mt. Fuji, Feiler teaches his students about American culture, while they teach him everything from how to properly address an envelope to how to date a Japanese girl.

Literature

The Karma of Words: Buddhism and the Literary Arts in Medieval Japan
By: William R. LaFleur
"A masterly book . . . will prove of great assistance to a student of Japanese literature and thought from the eleventh century onwards."--Times Literary Supplement "A major contribution to the fields of Japanese studies, comparative literature, and history of religions . . . a book that begs for classroom use."--The Eastern Buddhist "Innovative and provocative . . . will be of interest not only to specialists in Japanese religion and Japanese culture, but also to literary critics and cultural historians."--Religious Studies Review "Rich and stimulating material . . . an important help and influence to all concerned with understanding the tradition that has shaped Japanese culture and religion."--History of Religions "Thought provoking, finely written . . . one of the more original and creative contributions to the study of medieval culture and religion to be produced by a Western scholar. . . . Can be read with profit by all Western students of Japanese culture . . . one of those rare books that has something to offer Japanese specialists in medieval studies."--Journal of Japanese Studies "A very important contribution to Japanese studies . . . a paradigm of the genre."--Pacific Affairs "This is an exciting, ground-breaking book."--Chanoyu Quarterly "I have been most impressed and even excited by what I have read."--Donald Keene, Professor Emeritus and Shincho Professor Emeritus of Japanese Literature at Columbia University "This is one of the most important books in Japanese studies in a long time and will influence the entire field."--Robert Bellah, former Elliott Professor of Sociology, Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley
The Samurai (New Directions Classics)
By: Shusaku Endo
One of the finest novels, from “a masterly historical writer” (David Mitchell)  In 1613, four low-ranking Japanese samurai, accompanied by a Spanish priest, set sail for Mexico to bargain for trading rights with the West in exchange for a Catholic crusade through Japan. Their arduous journey lasts four years, as they travel onward to Mexico then Rome, where they are persuaded that the success of their mission depends on their conversion to Christianity. In fact, the enterprise seems to have been futile from the start: the mission returns to Japan to find that the political tides have shifted. The authorities are now pursuing an isolationist policy and a ruthless stamping out of Western influences. In the face of disillusionment and death, the samurai can only find solace in a savior they’re not sure they believe in.
Thousand Cranes
By: Yasunari Kawabata
Nobel Prize winner Yasunari Kawabata’s Thousand Cranes is a luminous story of desire, regret, and the almost sensual nostalgia that binds the living to the dead.   While attending a traditional tea ceremony in the aftermath of his parents’ deaths, Kikuji encounters his father’s former mistress, Mrs. Ota. At first Kikuji is appalled by her indelicate nature, but it is not long before he succumbs to passion—a passion with tragic and unforeseen consequences, not just for the two lovers, but also for Mrs. Ota’s daughter, to whom Kikuji’s attachments soon extend. Death, jealousy, and attraction convene around the delicate art of the tea ceremony, where every gesture is imbued with profound meaning.
Travel Insurance

For the convenience of our travelers, Smithsonian Journeys includes an on-tour Provided Insurance Plan through Travel Guard with the price of your tour. This travel insurance plan includes On-tour medical evacuation insurance (up to $100,000), emergency medical expense coverage (up to $25,000), dental expense coverage (up to $500), travel medical assistance and worldwide travel assistance (U.S. Residents only, not including U.S. Territories). Travel must be more than 100 miles from the Insured’s primary residence.

In addition, you may want to consider purchasing travel insurance to protect your investment from unforeseen events, such as missed flight connections, lost luggage, and cancelled plans. There are many plans you can consider. For your convenience, you may visit www.TravelGuard.com/SmithsonianJourneys or call Travel Guard at 1.800.208.6142 to learn more.

Terms and conditions

Our Mission

Smithsonian Journeys engage travelers in the mission of the Smithsonian – “the increase and diffusion of knowledge.” Like the Institution, our tours enrich our guests’ lives and satisfy their curiosity about the world. Your participation benefits the work of Smithsonian’s 19 museums, National Zoo, and nine research centers, helping to preserve our national treasures and shape the future through science, research, and exhibitions.

What Is Included in the Tour Cost

  • Expertise of select speakers, Adventure Guide, and local guides throughout the tour as described in each itinerary
  • All gratuities for all tour staff
  • On-tour medical evacuation insurance (up to $100,000), emergency medical expense coverage (up to $25,000), dental expense coverage (up to $500), travel medical assistance and worldwide travel assistance (U.S. Residents Only)
  • Pre-tour information, including a reading list
  • All on-tour transportation, unless otherwise noted
  • All accommodations for the duration of the tour
  • Meals, as noted in the itinerary (B-breakfast; L-lunch; D-dinner; R-reception)
  • All sightseeing and visits as noted in each itinerary

What Is Not Included in the Tour Cost

  • International and in-country airfare and departure taxes
  • Passport and all visa fees and photos; immunization(s) and medication(s); and any other travel documentation fees as required
  • Optional travel insurance, including cancellation/delay/lost baggage insurance
  • Personal items, unless otherwise stated, such as wine, liquors, a-la-carte orders
  • Expenses incurred by our tour operator in making any individual travel arrangements in conjunction with the tour
  • Communication charges (e.g. phone, internet, etc.)
  • Other items noted as optional or not specifically mentioned as included

Payments

A deposit of $500 per person for a land tour reservation, unless otherwise noted, is required to reserve a space on a tour.  All payments must be made by credit card (Visa, MasterCard, American Express) to the tour operator.  Deposits are applied to final payment of the tour price. Final payment is due 95 days prior to departure, unless otherwise noted.  Balance is due upon invoicing.  If full payment is not received by the final payment due date, your place cannot be guaranteed on the tour.

Late Registration

Any registration received within 95 days of departure is considered “on-request” and is subject to specific confirmation. Some tours are more restrictive. Payment in full must be made immediately by credit card before confirmation is possible.

Once confirmed, cancellation penalties apply as set forth below. If confirmation is not possible, all payments made will be refunded in full by the tour operator. Late registration confirmation procedures apply to any participant who is transferred from the wait list to the tour within the designated late registration period for that tour.

A Note About Costs

All prices are based on two persons sharing accommodations. All prices are quoted in U.S. dollars. Tour costs are based upon current airfares, tariffs, currency values, and on the basis of a presumptive minimum number of participants. While we will do everything possible to maintain the listed prices, they are subject to change.   Due to fluctuations in oil prices, a fuel surcharge may be added to your tour fee (e.g. internal flights, cruises, etc.).  Details and costs will be advised at the time of final invoicing.

Wait List

If the tour of your choice is fully subscribed, you may choose to be placed on a waitlist by contacting a Reservation Specialist at 1-855-330-1542 Mon-Fri 9 am - 7 pm; Sat 9 am – 4 pm (Eastern Time), or SJReservations@si.edu. Individuals on the wait list will be contacted if space becomes available and can inquire about tour status by contacting a Reservation Specialist. If you choose to withdraw from a wait list, please notify us.

Cancellation and Refund Policy

Following enrollment, a participant’s withdrawal from the tour for any reason, including, but not limited to, illness, injury, family engagements, work-related issues, or geopolitical concerns, etc., will be deemed a cancellation. Please understand that there will be no exceptions to our cancellation policy.

Per person cancellation fees are based on the date of written notice. Tour operator will refund on the following basis:

  • Cancellations within 7 days of booking:  Full Refund (unless it is within final payment date, 95 days before departure)
  • Cancellations after 7 days of booking:  Full Deposit Retained
  • Cancellations made within final payment date, 95 days before departure:  No Refund
  • Cancellation by Smithsonian Journeys:  Full Refund or Credit

This policy also applies to pre and post tour extensions. If we cancel a Tour, we will not be responsible for any additional expenses incurred by participant in his/her preparation for the Tour (e.g. nonrefundable airline tickets, visa fees, if applicable, clothing, equipment and medical expenses, etc.).

Smithsonian Journeys recommends that all participants purchase travel insurance.

If you have scheduled your own airfare and it is delayed or if for any reason you are prevented from joining the tour on the scheduled departure date and time, or if you choose to leave the tour early, we cannot provide a full or partial refund or credit toward a future tour.

Smithsonian Journeys reserves the right to cancel any tour due to low enrollment and when a U.S. Department of State Travel Warning is issued for the destination.

Air Service/Tickets Purchased Independently of the Tour

International and domestic air schedules are subject to change at any time. If you make your own airline reservations, we recommend that you do not purchase nonrefundable tickets or tickets with high penalties for changes. 

We urge you to check airline cancellation penalties before purchasing airline tickets since international departure times and flights can change. Neither the Smithsonian Institution nor the tour operator accepts liability for cancellation penalties related to domestic or international airline tickets purchased independently in conjunction with a tour.

Travel Insurance

Basic medical and evacuation travel protection is purchased on your behalf (Tour cancellation is not included in this plan). Optional Tour-cancellation protection is available at an additional cost and is strongly recommended. For more information about and to enroll in the option available through Travel Guard, visit the “Travel Insurance” section of our website at www.TravelGuard.com/SmithsonianJourneys.

Travel Documents

Participants are responsible for obtaining any documents required for their participation in the tour such as a valid passport, all visas, vaccination certificates, and any other documents. If your tour requires a visa or other entry documents, the tour operator will send you the appropriate information after you make a reservation.  Failure to obtain documents does not negate the terms and conditions, and any extra costs incurred for rerouting or delay due to travel without the necessary documents will be the participant’s responsibility. If you are not a U.S. citizen, please contact your embassy or consulate to ensure you obtain the proper documentation.

For all international departures, a passport valid for at least six months after the completion of your tour, and with at least six blank visa pages, is required for U.S. citizens on all tours. For more information on how or where to apply, please visit Travel.State.Gov/ApplyEarly or call the National Passport Information Center toll-free at 1-877-487-2778/1-888-874-7793 (TTY/TTD).

For more information about traveling to destinations abroad, we recommend the “Learn about your destination” section on the U.S. Department of State travel website www.travel.state.gov.  For medical information, we recommend contacting the Centers for Disease Control at (877) FYI-TRIP or www.cdc.gov/travel

Physical and Medical Considerations

Smithsonian Journeys strives to offer programs that optimize our travelers' time and enjoyment, and we want participants to be aware of the physical requirements involved. By registering for a Smithsonian Journeys tour, the participant certifies that he/she is physically fit and does not have a condition that would limit mobility or trip participation. Participant further certifies that he/she does not have any mental, physical, or other condition or disability that would create a hazard for him/herself or other participants. For Tours that take place at higher elevations (above 5,000 feet), participant certifies that he/she does not suffer from a respiratory, cardiac or circulatory disorder. Participant must notify tour operator of any medical issues well before departure. We reserve the right in our sole discretion to accept, decline to accept, or remove any participant on a Tour at any time during the Tour. In the event of removal from a Tour, refunds are not given. Hospital facilities or appropriate medical facilities or doctors are often unavailable and evacuation can be prolonged, difficult, and expensive. We assume no liability regarding provision of medical care. Participants will receive appropriate health information and provide the tour operator with his/her medical history and any dietary restrictions as requested on the Personal Information Form. On certain designated Tours, a Physician Certificate must be signed by the participant’s physician and returned to us within 30 days after the participant receives it.

Each tour carries an activity rating from Level 1- Level 5. For the most satisfying experience (and in fairness to your fellow travelers), please carefully review the itinerary and physical requirements for your specific trip. If you have questions about the physical demands of your itinerary, call us at 833-254-6678.

Please be aware that healthcare standards, facilities, and services abroad may be different or even inadequate for treating certain health conditions.  It is essential that you inform tour operator in writing of any existing condition for which you may require medical attention or accommodation during the tour. We will make reasonable efforts to accommodate the needs of our participants; however, services of a personal nature cannot be expected or guaranteed. By forwarding the deposit for pre-registration or registration in full, you affirm that you do not have any physical or other limitations that would create a hazard for yourself or other participants or would require adjustments to the tour for other participants.

Itinerary or Program Modifications

Smithsonian Journeys strives to improve tour itineraries and their features. If improvements can be made, or unforeseen circumstances beyond our control make changes necessary, at our sole discretion, we reserve the right to vary itineraries and to substitute elements of the tour.  These elements include, but are not limited to:  hotels, staff, speakers, and services for any stated in the itinerary. We will not be responsible for providing any reimbursement for delays in the Tour due to bad weather, trail conditions, river levels, road conditions, transportation delays, or government intervention.

Every effort will be made to carry out the tour as planned but alterations may still occur after the final itinerary has been sent to you. Please note that weather and other conditions may force changes to the advertised sailing schedule on cruise tours. The ship’s captain has the authority to change the ship’s schedule. Smithsonian Journeys and the tour operator reserve the right to substitute motorcoach transportation using hotels, inns or lodges for cruise accommodations if necessary due to weather, water conditions or levels, other events of force majeure, mechanical, or other conditions beyond their control.

Hotel Accommodations

Smithsonian Journeys chooses hotels based on a combination of location, service, atmosphere, and price. On adventure tours and tours in out-of-the-way places, best-available hotels are used.  Tour prices are based on two persons sharing a room with a bath.

Singles and Roommates

Accommodations (hotels, lodges, tents, etc.) are always reserved for single participants, however, the number available on a tour may be limited. Therefore, we recommend that you register early. Please note that a single supplement will most likely apply for a single room.  If you are traveling alone and wish to share a room/cabin, we will do our best to find someone of the same gender to share with you. If a roommate cannot be found, a single supplement will be charged. Please note that the single rooms in many foreign hotels may be smaller than those to which you are accustomed.

Children

All tours except family journeys are designed for adults. Some may be suitable for children 16 and older. Regardless of age, children must pay full price unless otherwise noted, moreover, a parent or guardian must accompany those under 18.

Special Travel Arrangements

Participants may wish to extend their stay in the group hotel either before or after the tour. Our tour operator will work with you on these arrangements, dependent upon space availability. Your pre-tour bulletins will further explain all options.

Dispute Resolution

If a complaint arises, the participant should first inform a member of the on-tour staff, so that the staff can attempt to rectify the matter. If the issue remains unresolved, the individual should submit the complaint in writing to Smithsonian Journeys within 30 days of the completion of the tour.

Photography and Video

Participants on tour may be photographed or recorded (audio and video) for the educational and promotional purposes of the Smithsonian Institution and Smithsonian authorized third parties.  This content may be used in marketing publications and posted on websites to promote Smithsonian Journeys without compensation to the participant. Participants who prefer that their name, voice and/or image not be used must notify us in writing prior to the beginning of the tour.

Smoking Policy 

For the comfort of all participants, we ask that there be no smoking during all group activities, including excursions and meals. On certain cruises, there is no smoking aboard the ship. Your pre-tour bulletins will provide further information.

Responsibility Statement

Smithsonian Journeys tours are organized and administered by professional tour operators hired as independent contractors. The use of designated tour operators allows the Smithsonian to offer travelers a wide array of educational travel opportunities. The tour operator acts only as an agent for the respective suppliers by making arrangements for transportation, accommodations, and other services. Neither the Smithsonian Institution nor the tour operator shall be held liable for personal injury, death, property damage or accident, delay or irregularity arising out of any act or omission of these suppliers. The Smithsonian Institution and the tour operator reserve the right, without penalty, to make changes in the published itinerary whenever, in their judgment, conditions warrant, or if they deem it necessary for the comfort, convenience, and safety of our travelers.

The Smithsonian Institution and its designated tour operator also reserve the right, without penalty, to withdraw the tour, to decline to accept any person as a participant in a tour, or to require any participant to withdraw from the tour at any time (including, but not limited for inappropriate, or offensive behavior) when such action is determined by tour staff to be in the best interests of the health, safety or general welfare of the tour group or the individual participant.

Dates, schedules, tour details, and costs, although provided in good faith based on information available at the time of publication on the website, in the brochure or catalog, are subject to change and revision.

Responsibilities of Participants

Participant is responsible for understanding the conditions as described in the Tour Itinerary and selecting a Tour in consultation with us that is appropriate to his/her interests and abilities. In addition, the participant should prepare for the Tour by reading the Tour Itinerary and supplemental Tour information in the pre-Tour materials and bringing the appropriate clothing and equipment as advised in those materials. The participant should also consult his or her physician to determine his/her suitability for the Tour and to discuss any over the counter or prescription medicines he/she should consider taking in the case of Tours which travel to higher altitudes. Screening for fitness (for Tours rated “Level 4 or Level 5”) is made during the confirmation of booking. In addition, we strongly urge all participants to review any State Department warnings, alerts, advisories, and destination specific information at www.travel.state.gov as well as specific health information for their destination at www.cdc.gov.