Experience Japan with your family, traveling by bullet train from Kyoto and Tokyo to the lively towns of northern Honshu, and encountering the timeless ways of samurai warriors, geisha, and ninjas—as well the modern arts of anime and manga.

Request a Tailor-Made Itinerary Request Quote or Ask Us A Question or Call 855-215-8690
 The Fushimilnari Gate, Kyoto  Kinkaku-ji, the Golden Pavilion, Kyoto  Buddha at Todai-ji Temple, Nara  Nara, the ancient capital of Japan  Japan's bullet train with Mt. Fuji in the distance  Evening panorama of Tokyo  Odaiba, Tokyo  Traditional family dinner in Japan  Aomori, Japan

Japan for Families: A Tailor-Made Journey

11 days from $6,950

Experience Japan with your family, traveling by bullet train from Kyoto and Tokyo to the lively towns of northern Honshu, and encountering the timeless ways of samurai warriors, geisha, and ninjas—as well the modern arts of anime and manga.

Request a Tailor-Made Itinerary

or call 855-215-8690

Overview

Smithsonian Archivist Circle membership. Benefits include:

  • Recognition in the Friends of the Smithsonian Honor Roll displayed electronically on the National Mall in the Membership Reception Center
  • Invitation to a special welcome tour for new members at a Smithsonian venue
  • A Smithsonian Institution annual engagement calendar with full color images of exceptional art and artifacts
  • A complimentary Smithsonian museum guidebook
  • Subscription to the award-winning magazine Smithsonian
  • 20% discount at Smithsonian Museum Stores, 10% discount at selected dining facilities, at SmithsonianStore.com, and Folkways Recordings
  • Special member rate for tickets to the Smithsonian's IMAX® theaters and Einstein Planetarium
  • Admission to Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in New York City
  • Weekday access to the Friends of the Smithsonian Reception Center

If you are already a member of the Archivist Circle or above, you will receive The Smithsonian's History of America in 101 Objects by Richard Kurin.

Itinerary

Day 1 — Kyoto, Japan

Arrive in Kyoto and meet with your private guide to review your itinerary and hear useful tips for traveling in Japan. Then set off with your guide on a tour of the city’s highlights.

Day 2 — Kyoto

Venture into the mysterious realm of the ninja this morning, learning about the origins of these stealthy warriors who served as spies and mercenaries during Japan’s feudal era.  Learn about ninjutsu, the techniques of the ninja, and discover the many tools they use—from climbing hooks to swords. Meet a ninja instructor for a demonstration of ninjutsu techniques and a lesson on how to throw a shuriken, or throwing star. During free time this afternoon, consider discovering one of the city’s many gardens and temples. Your guide will have recommendations. (B)

Day 3 — Kyoto

Visit some of Kyoto’s  family-oriented museums today. We recommend  the Samurai and Ninja Museum and the Kyoto International Manga Museum, home to a massive collection of Japanese and international manga (Japanese-style comics). In the evening, venture out with a local expert for a tour of Gion, the geisha district, and learn about the rituals and way of life of the geisha. (B)

Day 4 — Kyoto

Just southeast of Kyoto, visit the iconic Fushimi-Inari shrine, famous for the thousands of red torii gates that zigzag up the hillside. Later, travel to Nara, the 8th-century capital of Japan. Explore expansive Nara Park, home to wild deer and numerous temples, and see the Great Buddha at the impressive Todaiji Temple. (B)

Day 5 — Tokyo

Hop on the legendary bullet train and zoom north to Tokyo, Japan’s effervescent capital city. Check into your hotel in the stylish Ginza district, and enjoy time to explore the neighborhood at your leisure. In the evening, head out with a guide to the vibrant Meguro district to sample some of Tokyo’s culinary specialities. (B)

Day 6 — Tokyo

Take the monorail to Odaiba, an island in Tokyo Bay built for defensive purposes during the Edo Shogunate in the late 1800s. Now, the island is a futuristic entertainment district with plenty of activities for families. Highlights include a trick museum, driverless cars, wandering robots, and the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation. You might stop at the traditional onsen (hot spring) theme park, Ooedo-Onsen Monogatari, to relax after a day of exploring. (B)

Day 7 — Tokyo

Step into the world of anime at the delightful Ghibli Museum, designed by one of the master animators of Studio Ghibli, a major producer of Japan’s beloved animated films. Discover the origins and the art of anime as you explore this fairy-tale-like, interactive museum. After lunch, head to Nakano Broadway to try your hand at drawing manga. This vintage shopping mall is filled with curiosities, collectibles, and manga and anime art galleries. (B)

Day 8 — Sendai

Ride your second bullet train this morning, speeding to the city of Sendai, the gateway to the northern Tohoku region. This part of the island of Honshu is known for its natural beauty, with mountain landscapes dotted with serene lakes and hot springs. Settle into your hotel and get to know the city on your own this afternoon. (B)

Day 9 — Kakunodate and Sendai

Take a walk through the lively Asaichi Morning Market, where merchants sell seasonal produce, flowers, and prepared food. (We highly recommend the croquettes!) Next, ride the bullet train to Kakunodate, a former castle town and samurai stronghold. Venture into the Bukeyashiki samurai district, where remarkably well-preserved samurai manors are tucked among cherry trees. Imagine the life of a samurai as you explore several of the houses and discover artifacts such as armor, swords, uniforms, and kimonos. Return to Sendai via bullet train this evening. (B)

Day 10 — Aomori

Your next stop is Aomori, located at the northern tip of Honshu. Arrive in time for lunch at the Furukawa Fish Market, where you can make your own nokkedon, a rice bowl with toppings of your choice, including fresh, locally caught fish. Kids will love the Wa Rasse Museum, which tells the history of the famous Nebuta festival that occurs here each summer. See the giant paper floats that glow through the night on festival day, and watch taiko drumming demonstrations, with a chance to join in! (B)

Day 11 — Hirosaki

A short train ride brings you to the former castle town of Hirosaki. Explore Hirosaki Castle, complete with defensive walls, moats, and three-story turret that dates to the early 1800s—one of the few that hasn’t been rebuilt in the modern era. Then visit the Neputa Mura, a museum and workshop for local craftspeople where you can learn how traditional lanterns are made and make your own lacquerware chopsticks and more. While in Hirosaki, be sure to stop in one of over 100 bakeries that serve the town’s famous apple pie. (B)

Day 12 — Return Home

Transfer to Aomori Airport for your domestic flight to Tokyo where you will connect with your return flight home. (B)

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