Discover the essence of Japan—from Mt. Fuji, Kanazawa, and Kyoto to Tokyo—and discover a land of sublime art, unsurpassed natural beauty, and fascinating traditions as well as bustling modernity.

Starting at: $6,984 * Includes airfare, taxes & all fees Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 Kinkaku-ji, the Golden Pavilion, Kyoto  Buddha at Todai-ji Temple  The iconic Mt. Fuji  Traditional kimonos  Entrance to Nijo Castle (detail), Kyoto  Nijo Castle Garden, Kyoto  Ryoan-ji Zen Garden, Kyoto  Todaiji Temple, Nara  The historic houses of Shirakawa-go  An artisan at work  Traditional sushi platter  Sushi-making lesson

Eternal Japan

13 days from $6,984 | includes airfare, taxes and all fees

Discover the essence of Japan—from Mt. Fuji, Kanazawa, and Kyoto to Tokyo—and discover a land of sublime art, unsurpassed natural beauty, and fascinating traditions as well as bustling modernity.

or Call 855-330-1542

Tour Details

TOUR BROCHURE

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WHAT OUR TRAVELERS SAY

Hard to top this trip! It was well planned and the opportunity to see smaller cities such as Takayama made this trip very special. There was no way could we have seen, experienced and learned so very much about this country on our own … especially over a limited number of days! Very good value. This was our second Smithsonian journey and, as we experienced with our first, excellent arrangements, enrichment program, and educational impact. This was simply an outstanding introduction to Japanese culture; it topped our expectations.

- Suzanne and Peter C.

This was a top quality tour! Fabulous rooms, and delicious meals. The best part though is the exceptional tour guides and experts that took us on this amazing journey through Japan. I learned so much and felt completely cared for from them as we traveled from one city to the next. I would recommend traveling with Smithsonian to all my friends and family without hesitation!

- Carol M.

This tour really gave us insights into the culture and language of Japan we couldn't have gotten any other way. 

- Nicky S.

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 February 28, 2020! Use promotion code LASTCALL online or when speaking to our travel specialists to secure these savings.

• May 4, 2020

*Offer valid on new bookings only.

Overview

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. 

Hard to top this trip! It was well planned and the opportunity to see smaller cities such as Takayama made this trip very special. There was no way could we have seen, experienced and learned so very much about this country on our own … especially over a limited number of days! Very good value. This was our second Smithsonian journey and, as we experienced with our first, excellent arrangements, enrichment program, and educational impact. This was simply an outstanding introduction to Japanese culture; it topped our expectations.

- Suzanne and Peter C.

This was a top quality tour! Fabulous rooms, and delicious meals. The best part though is the exceptional tour guides and experts that took us on this amazing journey through Japan. I learned so much and felt completely cared for from them as we traveled from one city to the next. I would recommend traveling with Smithsonian to all my friends and family without hesitation!

- Carol M.

This tour really gave us insights into the culture and language of Japan we couldn't have gotten any other way. 

- Nicky S.

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.

2020 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

Depart Tokyo this morning for Mt. FujiHakone-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. Learn about environmental and conservation efforts on the mountain at the Mt. Fuji World Heritage Center then enjoy a relaxing cruise on Ashi Lake, with Mt. Fuji in the background. 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 in a room of serene, minimalist Japanese design. (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. 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. Then visit Gokayama Village to see how traditional Japanese washi paper is made. 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 at the Kutani Kosen Kiln, where artists fashion the prized, highly decorated pottery. (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. (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, and Kofukuji, a Buddhist temple established in the year 669. (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 Nishiki Market, "Kyoto's Kitchen" of restaurants, stores, and stalls selling everything food-related. 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)