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: $6,257 * 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 $6,457 | 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.

JOURNEYS DISPATCHES

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LASTCALL

Save $200 *per person when you book by June 1, 2018! Use promotion code LASTCALL online or when speaking to our travel specialists to secure these savings.

• Aug. 29, 2018

• Sept. 17, 2018

*Offer valid on new bookings only.

SPECIAL VALUE

This tour is specially designed for a small group of 16 to 24 Smithsonian travelers and offers outstanding travel value. Prices include airfare, airline taxes, fuel surcharges, and departure fees.

Overview

Join us to discover the essence of Japan. From Mt. Fuji, Kanazawa, and Kyoto to Tokyo, you’ll discover a land of sublime art, unsurpassed natural beauty, and fascinating traditions, as well as bustling commerce and modernity. Throughout your trip, meet local people, stay in a genuine ryokan (inn), and experience age-old cultural traditions, such as a ritualized tea ceremony and a sake tasting.

Highlights Include

  • Vibrant Tokyo: See the highlights of this cosmopolitan city, including the Shinto Meiji Shrine, a peaceful enclave of temples and gardens; the important Edo-Tokyo Museum; the historic Imperial Palace, home of the imperial family; and Tokyo’s oldest temple, Buddhist Asakusa Kannon.
  • Majestic Mt. Fuji: Delight in breathtaking Mt. Fuji and take a relaxing cruise on nearby Ashi Lake.
  • Japanese Alps: Go off the beaten path to lovely Takayama, one of the country’s most attractive towns with its 16th-century castle and old buildings. Later, visit the World Heritage site of Shirakawago Gassho-Zukuri Village, a vibrant community whose residents work to preserve its unique traditional architecture.
  • Kanazawa: Tour the breathtaking Kenrokuen Garden, a national landmark with origins dating to 1676. Also see Ishikawa Gate, the only remaining section of the town’s original castle; a museum celebrating the art and craft of gold leaf technology; the Higashi Chayagai tea house and geisha area; and Nagamachi Samurai district, where the ruling family’s samurai warriors lived.
  • Traditional Kyoto and Nara: Enjoy two days exploring Kyoto’s many temples, shrines, gardens, and well-preserved architecture. Highlights include visits to Kinkaku-ji (the lakeside Temple of the Golden Pavilion) and ostentatious Nijo Castle, where the shogun asserted control over the city and its people. You’ll also see the Gion District, where geishas gather, as well as other neighborhoods. During a day trip to nearby Nara, Japan’s ancient capital, take a walking tour that features Todai-ji Temple, the Kasuga Taisha Shrine, and the Nara National Museum. 

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.

Itinerary

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

Upon arrival this evening, transfer to your hotel where you learn about the journey ahead at a briefing with your tour director. 

Day 3 — Tokyo

Spend the morning touring this amazing city that comprises 23 wards and covers a staggering 840 miles. Focus on a smaller area visiting some of Tokyo’s top sights, including Shinto Meiji Shrine, a peaceful enclave of temples and gardens, the Edo-Tokyo Museum, a historical presentation of Edo (the city from c. 1600 until 1868) and Tokyo (the new Edo from 1868 until the present); and a visit to the gallery of preeminent calligrapher Koshun Masunaga, where you learn about this ancient art and browse the collection. The tour ends in Ginza, Tokyo’s famed shopping, dining, and entertainment district, where you can stay to explore as you wish or return to the hotel. Tonight gather for a welcome dinner at a local restaurant. (B,D) 

Day 4 — Tokyo

Your tour of Tokyo continues at the Imperial Palace, surrounded by moats and ramparts and home of the Imperial family. Visit the East Gardens, part of the innermost circle of defense of the historic Edo Castle that once stood here. Continue to the Buddhist Asakusa Kannon, Tokyo’s oldest temple, followed by the Nakamise Shopping Arcade. Last, visit the Tokyo National Museum, housing an extensive collection of art and antiquities from Japan and other Asian countries. This afternoon is at leisure. (B) 

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

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

Day 6 — Takayama

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

Day 7 — Takayama

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

Day 8 — Takayama, Shirakawago, Kanazawa

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

Day 9 — Kanazawa

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

Day 10 — Kanazawa and Kyoto

This morning board the train for Kyoto, once Japan’s Imperial Capital and now the country’s cultural and artistic center. Upon arrival, visit Kinkaku-ji, the lakeside Temple of the Golden Pavilion, and Ryoan-ji, a Zen Buddhist temple whose acclaimed dry garden epitomizes the simplicity of Zen meditation. Then continue on to Unrakugama, a workshop specializing in prized Kiyomizu pottery. (​B,D) 

Day 11 — Kyoto and Nara

Today travel to Nara, Japan’s 8th-century capital renowned for its shrines and temples. First, visit Todaiji (c. A.D. 752) whose main hall (c. 1692) is the world’s largest wooden building. Also visit historic Kasugataisha, the Shinto shrine and World Heritage site surrounded by parkland where deer roam free. (B) 

Day 12 — Kyoto

This morning’s tour reveals more of this city that was spared destruction during World War II. Highlights include Nijo-jo Castle (c. 1603), the extravagant residence and fortifications of the shoguns who ruled Japan for more than 250 years; and Sanjyusangendo Hall (c. 1266), an important Buddhist temple housing 1,000 statues of the Thousand-Armed Kannon deity. From here venture to the Gion district, where the geishas gather. Tonight enjoy a farewell dinner at a local restaurant. (B,D) 

Day 13 — Depart Kyoto for the U.S.

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

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)