Explore Japan in depth during visits to many of the country's highlights, plus off-the-beaten-path excursions to learn about its rich traditions.

Starting at: $6,757 * 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  Todaiji Temple, Nara  The historic houses of Shirakawa-go

Eternal Japan

13 days from $6,757 | includes airfare, taxes and all fees

Explore Japan in depth during visits to many of the country's highlights, plus off-the-beaten-path excursions to learn about its rich traditions.

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.

Eternal Japan is a fabulous overview of Japanese culture, with plenty of hands-on experiences and marvelous experts and guides from Smithsonian.

- Kathy, A.

JOURNEYS DISPATCHES

See All Journeys Dispatches ››

Accommodations

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

Da-ichi Hotel Tokyo

Tokyo, Japan

This modern hotel is centrally located in Tokyo and sits close to the city’s popular Ginza area. Hotel facilities and amenities include several restaurants, a bar, fitness center, sauna, salon, complimentary Wi-Fi Internet access, and dry cleaning and laundry service. Each of the air-conditioned guest rooms have a private bath with hairdryer, mini-bar, TV, and phone

Number of nights: 3

Hida Hotel Plaza

Takayama, Japan

Centrally located near the railway station and a five-minute walk from Miyagawa morning market, the 283-room Hida Hotel Plaza features several restaurants, lounges, and a sake bar; beauty salon; gift shop; indoor swimming pool, spa, and sauna; Internet access; and a roof-top pool with commanding views of the northern Japanese Alps. Guest rooms have private bath with hair dryer, refrigerator, TV, and phone.

Number of nights: 2

Takayama Green Hotel (April 1 and October 7, 2019 departures only)

Takayama, Japan

The Takayama Green Hotel, located in Takayama’s Old Town and close to the Miyagawa Morning Market, offers a variety of traditional Japanese relaxation options.  Guests can take the waters at the hotel’s natural hot springs baths, which include indoor and outdoor bathing options.  Hotel amenities include massage service, complimentary WiFi internet access, fitness center, beauty salon, and gift shop. Air-conditioned guest rooms have private bath with hair dryer, refrigerator, TV, and phone.

Number of nights: 2

Aura Tachibana

Hakone, Japan

Located in the small hot springs resort of Hakone, the Aura Tachibana offers a traditional Japanese-style lodging experience.  Guests can enjoy a dip in the public outdoor onsen bath; dine upon fresh, local Japanese food at dinner; and experience sleeping on a futon in a Japanese-style room with private bathroom.  Per Japanese tradition, shoes must be removed in bedrooms at this ryokan.

Number of nights: 1

Hotel Nikko Kanazawa

Kanazawa, Japan

Conveniently located within walking distance of some of Kanazawa's most popular sights, the 260-room Nikko Kanazawa combines a refined European atmosphere with the beauty of the four seasons. Hotel amenities include several restaurants, lounges, and bars; and an indoor swimming pool, fitness center, sauna, and Jacuzzi. Guest rooms have private bath with hair dryer, mini-bar, tea- and coffee-making facilities, Internet access, TV, and phone.

Number of nights: 2

ANA Crowne Plaza Hyoto Hotel (formerly ANA Hotel Kyoto)

Kyoto, Japan

Though it features a contemporary exterior design, the ANA Crowne Plaza Hotel Kyoto offers guests traditional Japanese hospitality within. The 298-room hotel, well located across from Nijo Castle, has several restaurants and a bar; a health club with indoor pool, a spa tub, and sauna; Internet access; laundry and dry cleaning services; beauty salon; and gift shop. Guest rooms have private bath with hair dryer, in-room safe; mini-bar, mini-fridge, TV, and phone.

Number of nights: 3

Hotel Granvia Kyoto

Kyoto, Japan

Sitting atop the JR Kyoto Station, this hotel is ideally located and close to an underground shopping mall, the Kyoto National Museum, and many temples.  The hotel features nine restaurants and two bars, an indoor pool, sauna, fitness center, complimentary Wi-Fi Internet access, and laundry and dry cleaning services. Each of the 536 spacious, air-conditioned guest rooms have private bath with hairdryer, mini-bar, TV, and phone.

Number of nights: 3

Tour Extension

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 
  • 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.

Activity Level

Activity Level 3:  Moderate / Active


Expectations: Most trips will feature long touring days, many full-day excursions, and a full and active itinerary with a faster pace and longer distances. Some tours may have activities with higher intensity and more active choices/options. Excursions require standing and walking for extended periods of time over more difficult terrain (cobblestones, city hills, stairs without handrails, limited or no access to elevators, muddy/slippery walking/hiking trails), and walking to city centers where coaches are prohibited. Specific itineraries may feature hiking, use of local transportation, extended overnight train travel, extensive use of Zodiac crafts or other smaller ship conveyances, or multiple internal plane rides. Some itineraries may require early morning departures and later evening returns. Travelers may be in remote and/or rugged regions, and may be touring at higher altitudes with steep ascents/descents. Leisure time may be limited (sometimes only in the later evenings). Certain tours feature more active excursions (such as moderate hiking, swimming, snorkeling, canoeing, bicycling, rafting, or kayaking), though another choice may be offered for an alternate skill level. Walking/hiking tours may feature up to six-mile walks/hikes.  

Appropriate for: Travelers who are physically fit, lead active lives, are comfortable participating in long days of activities, and expect some physical exertion. 

Testimonials

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.

Eternal Japan is a fabulous overview of Japanese culture, with plenty of hands-on experiences and marvelous experts and guides from Smithsonian.

- Kathy, A.
Reading List
Japan: A Traveler's Literary Companion (Traveler's Literary Companions)
By: Brand: Whereabouts Press
This collection guides the reader through the complexity that is Japan. Although frequently misunderstood as a homogenous nation, Japan is a land of tremendous linguistic, geographical, and cultural diversity. Hino Keizo leads the reader through Tokyo's mazes in "Jacob's Tokyo Ladder." Nakagami Kenji explores the ghostly, mythology-laden backwoods of Kumano. Atoda Takashi takes us to Kyoto to follow the mystery of a pair of shoes and discover the death of a stranger. The stories, like the country and the people, are beautiful and compelling. Let these literary masters be your guide — from the beauty of northern Honshu through the hustle and bustle of Tokyo, to the many temples in Kyoto, through Osaka and the coastline of the Sea of Japan, and down to southern Kushu — to a Japan that only the finest stories can reveal. Contributors include Hino Keizo, Maruya Saiichi, Inoue Yasushi, Oda Sakunosuke, Miyamoto Teru, Tada Chimako, Atoda Takashi, Nakagami Kenji, Mizukami Tsutomu, Kawabata Yasunari, Takahashi Mutsuo, and Shima Tsuyoshi.
In Praise Of Shadows (Vintage Classics) by Tanizaki, Junichiro New edition (2001)
By: Junichiro Tanizaki
A Concise History of Japan (Cambridge Concise Histories)
By: Brett L. Walker
To this day, Japan's modern ascendancy challenges many assumptions about world history, particularly theories regarding the rise of the west and why the modern world looks the way it does. In this engaging new history, Brett L. Walker tackles key themes regarding Japan's relationships with its minorities, state and economic development, and the uses of science and medicine. The book begins by tracing the country's early history through archaeological remains, before proceeding to explore life in the imperial court, the rise of the samurai, civil conflict, encounters with Europe, and the advent of modernity and empire. Integrating the pageantry of a unique nation's history with today's environmental concerns, Walker's vibrant and accessible new narrative then follows Japan's ascension from the ashes of World War II into the thriving nation of today. It is a history for our times, posing important questions regarding how we should situate a nation's history in an age of environmental and climatological uncertainties.
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 = Japon = Japon
By: Reise Know-How Verlag
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
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.
Kyoto Gardens: Masterworks of the Japanese Gardener's Art
By: Judith Clancy
"Bring the art and beauty of Japan to your garden with inspiration from Kyoto Gardens." —HGTV Gardens Featuring beautiful Japanese garden photography and insightful writing, Kyoto Gardens is a labor of love from master photographer Ben Simmons and Kyoto-based writer Judith Clancy. In their rocks and plants, empty spaces and intimate details—Kyoto's gardens manifest a unique ability to provoke thought and delight in equal measure. These varied landscapes meld the sensuality of nature with the disciplines of cosmology, poetry and meditation. Japanese aristocrats created these gardens to display not just wealth and power, but cultural sensitivity and an appreciation for transcendent beauty. A class of professional gardeners eventually emerged, transforming Japanese landscape design into a formalized art. Today, Kyoto's gardens display an enormous range of forms—from rock gardens display of extreme minimalism and subtle hues, to stroll gardens of luscious proportions and vibrant colors.In Kyoto Gardens Simmons' photographs present a fresh and contemporary look at Kyoto's most important gardens. Their beauty is enhanced and humanized by gardeners tending the grounds using the tools of their art. Clancy's graceful text provides historical, aesthetic and cultural context to the Japanese gardens. Combining wonder and rigor, she describes how Kyoto's most beloved gardens remain faithful to their founders' creative spirit and conception. Journey to Kyoto's thirty gardens with just a turn of a page, or use the handy maps to plan your trip.
Hiroshima
By: John Hersey
On August 6, 1945, Hiroshima was destroyed by the first atom bomb ever dropped on a city. This book, John Hersey's journalistic masterpiece, tells what happened on that day. Told through the memories of survivors, this timeless, powerful and compassionate document has become a classic "that stirs the conscience of humanity" (The New York Times).Almost four decades after the original publication of this celebrated book, John Hersey went back to Hiroshima in search of the people whose stories he had told.  His account of what he discovered about them is now the eloquent and moving final chapter of Hiroshima.
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's Cuisines: Food, Place and Identity
By: Eric C. Rath
Cuisines in Japan have an ideological dimension that cannot be ignored. In 2013, ‘traditional Japanese dietary cultures’ (washoku) was added to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list. Washoku’s predecessor was “national people’s cuisine,” an attempt during World War II to create a uniform diet for all citizens.Japan’s Cuisines reveals the great diversity of Japanese cuisine and explains how Japan’s modern food culture arose through the direction of private and public institutions. Readers discover how tea came to be portrayed as the origin of Japanese cuisine, how lunch became a gourmet meal, and how regions on Japan’s periphery are reasserting their distinct food cultures. From wartime foodstuffs to modern diets, this fascinating book shows how the cuisine from the land of the rising sun shapes national, local, and personal identity.  
Traveller's History of Japan
By: Richard Tames
A Traveller's History of Japan not only offers the reader a chronological outline of the nation's development but also provides an invaluable introduction to its language, literature and arts, from kabuki to karaoke. This clearly written history explains how a country embedded in the traditions of Shinto, Shoguns and Samurai has achieved stupendous economic growth and dominance in the twentieth century.
Japanese Culture (Studies of the Weatherhead East Asian Institute, Columbia Un)
By: Paul Varley
For nearly three decades Japanese Culture has garnered high praise as an accurate and well-written introduction to Japanese history and culture. This widely used undergraduate text is now available in a new edition. Thoroughly updated, the fourth edition includes expanded sections on numerous topics, among which are samurai values, Zen Buddhism, the tea ceremony, Confucianism in the Tokugawa period, the story of the forty-seven ronin, Mito scholarship in the early nineteenth century, and mass culture and comics in contemporary times.
Japanese Design: Art, Aesthetics & Culture
By: Patricia J. Graham
**Winner, Choice Magazine Outstanding Academic Title 2015** This Japanese design book presents the arts, aesthetics and culture of Japan with over 160 stunning color photos and extensive historical and cultural commentary. The Japanese sensibility often possesses an intuitive, emotional appeal, whether it's a silk kimono, a carefully raked garden path, an architectural marvel, a teapot, or a contemporary work of art. This allure has come to permeate the entire culture of Japan—it is manifest in the most mundane utensil and snack food packaging, as well as in Japanese architecture and fine art.In Japanese Design, Asian art expert and author Patricia J. Graham explains how Japanese aesthetics based on fine craftsmanship and simplicity developed. Her unusual, full-color presentation reveals this design aesthetic in an absorbing way. Focusing on ten elements of Japanese design, Graham explores how visual qualities, the cultural parameters and the Japanese religious traditions of Buddhism and Shinto have impacted the appearance of its arts.Japanese Design is a handbook for the millions of us who have felt the special allure of Japanese art, culture and crafts. Art and design fans and professionals have been clamoring for this—a book that fills the need for an intelligent, culture-rich overview of what Japanese design is and means. Topics explored in Japanese Design include:The Aesthetics of Japanese DesignThe Cultural Parameters of Japanese DesignEarly Promoters of "Artistic Japan" 1830s-1950s
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.
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.
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.
Memoirs of a Geisha: A Novel
By: Arthur Golden
A literary sensation and runaway bestseller, this brilliant debut novel tells with seamless authenticity and exquisite lyricism the true confessions of one of Japan's most celebrated geisha.Speaking to us with the wisdom of age and in a voice at once haunting and startlingly immediate, Nitta Sayuri tells the story of her life as a geisha. It begins in a poor fishing village in 1929, when, as a nine-year-old girl with unusual blue-gray eyes, she is taken from her home and sold into slavery to a renowned geisha house. We witness her transformation as she learns the rigorous arts of the geisha: dance and music; wearing kimono, elaborate makeup, and hair; pouring sake to reveal just a touch of inner wrist; competing with a jealous rival for men's solicitude and the money that goes with it. In Memoirs of a Geisha, we enter a world where appearances are paramount; where a girl's virginity is auctioned to the highest bidder; where women are trained to beguile the most powerful men; and where love is scorned as illusion. It is a unique and triumphant work of fiction—at once romantic, erotic, suspenseful—and completely unforgettable.
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.
Botchan
By: Natsume Soseki
Botchan By Natsume Soseki
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

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 a Smithsonian Journeys expert, tour director, and local guides throughout the tour
  • All gratuities for the expert, tour director, on-tour guides and drivers
  • 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. Destination must be at least 100 miles from the insured’s primary residence.)
  • Pre-tour information, including a reading list
  • Luggage handling for one bag per person
  • 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)
  • All sightseeing and visits as noted in each  itinerary
  • Airfare to/from your departure city, transfers, airline taxes, surcharges, and fees, which are subject to change until final payment is made (for air inclusive guests only)

What Is Not Included in the Tour Cost

  • Passport and all visa fees and photos; immunization(s); and any other travel documentation fees as required
  • Optional travel insurance, including cancellation/delay/lost baggage insurance (learn more at TravelGuard.com/SmithsonianJourneys)
  • 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
  • Airline baggage and other airline fees and associated taxes, unless noted in Tour description
  • Transfers when purchasing “land only” package
  • Communication Charges (e.g.: phone, internet,   etc.)
  • Airfare from your hometown to your departure city (for air inclusive guests only)
  • Other items noted as optional or not specifically mentioned as included

Registration

To submit a reservation request, please use our secure online system at SmithsonianJourneys.org or contact a Cultural Travel Specialist, at 1-855-330-1542 Mon-Fri 9 am - 7 pm; Sat 9 am – 4 pm (Eastern Time). Submitting an online request does not guarantee space on a tour. You will be notified by a Reservation Specialist of your status once your request has been received and processed. Please note: No new registrations can be accepted within 30 days of most tours. Some tours are more restrictive; please see individual tour pages for these exceptions.

To complete your reservation, the following information is required.

Upon reservation, we will need to obtain from you the following, in accordance with the Transportation

Security Administration’s (TSA) Secure Flight program (for details, please visit www.tsa.gov), as well as for our travel partners: for international tours your full name as it appears on your passport, date of birth, and gender; for domestic tours – your full name as it appears on the accepted form of government-issued photo identification that you plan to use, date of birth, and gender.

For tours that include round-trip airfare: If you provide incorrect information to the ticketing agent, or if you use a different passport/identification than originally cited, you will be responsible for charges associated with the ticket’s reissue.

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 may be made by credit card or check to the tour operator.  Deposits are applied to the 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. Smithsonian Journeys will process the credit card deposit of $500 per person, then payment in full must be made immediately by credit card, or by check sent by overnight mail to the tour operator before confirmation is possible.

Once confirmed, cancellation penalties apply as set forth below. If confirmation is not possible, all pay- ments made will be refunded in full. 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.

For additional information, please contact a Cultural Travel Specialist, at 1-855-330-1542 Mon-Fri 9 am - 7 pm; Sat 9 am – 4 pm (Eastern Time), or SJReservations@si.edu and SmithsonianJourneys.org.

A Note about Costs

All prices are based on two persons sharing a room/cabin. 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 prior to departure.

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 to Smithsonian Journeys. 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

Please understand that there will be no exceptions to our cancellation policy.

Smithsonian Journeys recommends that all participants purchase travel insurance.

If your flights are 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 Advisory is issued for the destination.

Changes to Your Reservation 

We will not charge a fee for any changes made to your reservation outside of 95 days before departure. From 94 to 30 days before departure, if you make any changes to your reservation, a $100 per person administrative fee will apply, in addition to any fees or penalties imposed by airlines, hotels, or other third parties. Changes are subject to availability and cannot be guaranteed. If your reservation changes from double occupancy to single occupancy for any reason or at any time, you will be charged the single supplement.

Please note that no changes to your departure date and no name changes are allowed within 95 days of departure. No changes to your reservation can be made within 30 days of departure.

Air Service

For tours that include round-trip international airfare, rates are based on an economy class from designated departure cities as shown. Airfares from other cities are available upon request.  Airline upgrades at additional cost may be available on request for the international portion of your flight.  If an air schedule requires an overnight stay in a gateway city, the cost of the overnight will be at your expense.  For tours that include round-trip international airfare, the tour operator will be happy to help with arrangements. Please note that seat assignments for your international flights are usually done at airport check-in. The tour operator is unable to guarantee any seat assignments.

When planning our tours that include international round-trip airfare, the tour operator contracts with those airlines that they feel provide the level of service, routings, and value necessary for your entire trip. While another airline may offer a more direct connection, it may be at a price unavailable at the lower group rates that enable us to offer you the best possible travel value. Please note that frequent flyer mileage credits are issued at the discretion of the airline(s) and may not be available for the flights on your tour. If you prefer to make your own airline reservations, “land only” pricing is available on most of our tours.

Air Service/Tickets Purchased Independently of the Tour

International and domestic air schedules are subject to change at any time. Tours can also be canceled due to low enrollments. 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- Cancellation/Delay/Lost Baggage

Smithsonian Journeys recommends that all participants purchase travel insurance.  Learn more at TravelGuard.com/SmithsonianJourneys.

Travel Documents and Information

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, we 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. The U.S. Department of State will no longer add visa pages into U.S. passports beginning January 1, 2016. The decision to discontinue this service was made to enhance the security of the passport and to abide by international passport standards. Beginning January 1, 2016, applicants in need of additional pages in their valid passports must obtain a new passport. 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

To enjoy the travel experience, participants should be in good physical and mental health. All tours require an element of walking (up to two miles per day over uneven terrain) and of climbing stairs, often without handrails. Participants should have sufficient stamina to keep pace with an active group of participants on long days of touring. If you have any questions about your ability to participate in a tour, please call us at 855-330-1542. Any physical condition, diet, or special request for accommodation must be identified in writing on the Personal Information Form when the reservation is made. Some tours have additional information regarding physical and medical considerations, which may be discussed with the Reservation Specialist at 855-330-1542.

Please be aware that health care standards, facilities, and services abroad may be different or even inadequate for treating certain health conditions.  It is essential that you inform us in writing (on the provided Personal Information Form) 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, the 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 Tour 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, experts, and services for any stated in the itinerary.

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.

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 bathroom.

Singles and Roommates

Hotel rooms are always reserved for single participants, however, the number of single rooms 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 and smoking preference to share with you. If you are matched with a non-smoking roommate, it is mutually agreed that you cannot smoke in your hotel room/cabin. When 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 after the tour. Our tour operators will work with you on these arrangements, dependent upon space availability. For participants using air, only post-tour extensions are offered. Tour operator may be able to assist land only participants with pre-tour arrangements.

Should you decide not to participate in certain parts of the tour or use certain goods included in the tour, no refunds will be made for those unused parts of the tour or goods.

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.

The Smithsonian Journeys staff will make a good faith effort to resolve any dispute.  In the event that the parties are unable to resolve the dispute, the parties may agree to use a method of non-binding Alternative Dispute Resolution to resolve the dispute.  In the event that the parties are unable to agree on the method of Alternative Dispute Resolution to use, or in the event that either party is dissatisfied with the outcome of that alternative dispute resolution method, such efforts shall not constitute a waiver by either party of the right to file suit.

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.

READ CAREFULLY: RESPONSIBILITY STATEMENT AND  LIABILITY DISCLAIMER

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 participants 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, or safety of tour participants.

The Smithsonian Institution and its designated tour operator also reserve the right, without penalty, to withdraw the tour announced, 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.

AS A CONDITION OF ACCEPTANCE OF ANY APPLICATION, EACH APPLICANT MUST AGREE TO THE STATEMENT SET FORTH BELOW:

The undersigned has read carefully the Responsibility Statement and Liability Disclaimer set forth above, the schedule of activities for this tour, as well as the terms and conditions of application and participation as set forth in the tour materials, and recognizes and accepts any risk associated with the tour and the conditions, including the refund policy, set forth in the tour materials. The undersigned further acknowledges that there are many risks and uncertainties inherent in any travel tour, including but not limited to the hazards of various modes of transportation, forces of nature including, but not limited to, weather, flooding, and high/low water levels, acts or omissions of foreign governments, terrorism, war or insurrection, theft, illness, bites from or attacks by animals, insects, or pests, and damage to person or property due to the negligent acts or omissions of tour staff or others. In consideration of, and as part payment for, the right  to participate in the tour, the undersigned, on behalf of himself, his dependents, heirs, executors, administrators and assigns, agrees to release the Smithsonian Institution, its Regents, officers, employees, representatives or agents, the United States, and the tour operator and its officers, employees and agents, from liability for personal injury, death, property damage or loss suffered by any person in connection with this tour, even if caused by the negligence (but not the reckless, willful, or fraudulent conduct) of  tour staff or other related persons or entities. In addition, by registering for this tour, the applicant certifies that he or she is mentally and physically capable of full participation in this tour. By registering for a Smithsonian Journey, the participant agrees to the Responsibility Statement and Liability Disclaimer and the Terms and Conditions herein.