Day 1 – USA to Tokyo
Today you will begin your Swain Destinations customized itinerary. Please note, international air has not been included in this package price.
Day 2 – Welcome to Tokyo, Japan
An English-speaking representative will be holding a sign with your last name on it and greet you as you enter the public Airport Arrivals Hall. You will be taken to your vehicle nearby and transferred to your Tokyo hotel.
From its bright billboards and crowded sidewalks, one could confuse Tokyo for New York City, but hiding in the shadows of the skyscrapers, neatly-clipped bonsai trees frame ancient wooden houses and kimono-clad women shuffle down narrow streets. Pass spring days under a pink cloud of fragrant cherry blossoms in Ueno Park, or awake early to witness the madness of a tuna auction at Tsukiji Fish Market. Sail down the Sumida River and make a grand entrance at Sensoji, Tokyo’s oldest temple, or feast your eyes on the world’s largest collection of Japanese art at the Tokyo National Museum.Starting Accommodation:
Day 3 – Dynamic Tokyo
Today you will explore the dynamic city of Tokyo. Your first stop today is the observation deck of the Tokyo Tower where you can get sweeping 360° views across the city and on a clear morning even Mount Fuji. Tokyo Tower is 1,091 ft / 333 m tall, making it the tallest man-made structure in Japan. Enjoy a traditional tea ceremony demonstration prepared by a skilled practitioner. After lunch the city tour continues with a stop at the large plaza in front of the Imperial Palace, where you can view the Nijubashi (two bridges that form an entrance to the inner palace grounds). End the tour with a Sumida River boat ride from Hinode pier to Asakusa. The river was the most important waterway for the development of Tokyo, and sights along the way include the twelve bridges of Sumida, the traditional neighborhoods of old Edo. Back on land the Asaukusa Kannon Temple - or Senso-ji - is a few minutes walk away. It is Tokyo's oldest temple, and one of its most significant. Adjacent to the temple is a Shinto shrine, the Asakusa Jinja and entrance to the temple is through the Nakamise shopping arcade, one of the oldest arcades in Japan dating back to the 17th century snacks and souvenirs.Starting Accommodation:
Keio Plaza (B, L)
Day 4 – Hidden Kamakura and Enoshima Bay
Today, travel by vehicle from Tokyo to Kamakura. Surrounded by mountains on three sides and the open water of Sagami Bay on the fourth, Kamakura is a natural fortress. During the Heian period it was the chief city of the Kanto region, and from the 12th through 14th centuries the Minamoto shoguns ruled Japan from here under what is known as the Kamakura Shogunate. Kamakura is now mainly known for its temples and shrines. Here you will explore Jomyo-ji Temple, a Zen temple in the hills of eastern Kamakura. Jomyoji Temple also has a restored tea house where visitors can enjoy some of Japan's famous powdered matcha green tea. Continue to Hokokuji, a small temple of the Rinzai Sect of Zen Buddhism. Hokokuji Temple, however, is best known for the beautiful, small bamboo grove found behind the temple's main hall, which lies thick with over 2000 dark green bamboo stalks.
After lunch, visit Kotoku-in. The Great Buddha of Kamakura is a bronze statue of Amida Buddha, which stands on the grounds of Kotokuin Temple. With a height of 44 feet, it is the second tallest bronze Buddha statue in Japan, surpassed only by the statue in Nara's Todaiji Temple. Your final stop is Enoshima, a pleasant island just off coast but connected by bridge to the mainland. The island offers a variety of attractions, including a shrine, park, observation tower and caves. Views of Mount Fuji can be enjoyed on days with good visibility.Starting Accommodation:
Keio Plaza (B, L)
Day 5 – Tokyo to Hakone (Via Mount Fuji)
This morning depart Tokyo for the iconic Mt. Fuji stands at 12,388 feet high and is surrounded by five lakes. First stop is Mt. Fuji's 5th Station which at 7.562 feet and is the highest point on the mountain reachable by road, but not accessible year round. Along the way there will be a brief stop at the Fuji Visitor Center. Returning down the mountain, continue to Hakone where you will enjoy lunch. After lunch enjoy a scenic lake cruise on Lake Ashi with a Mount Fuji again as your backdrop. Lastly take a aerial cableway ride up Mount Komagatake with views at the top overlooking the national park and with Lake Ashi below. At the end of the tour you will be transferred to your Hakone accommodation.Starting Accommodation:
Kajikaso Ryokan (B, L, D)
Day 6 – Bullet Train to Kyoto
Experience a ride on a ‘Shinkansen’ (Bullet train) as you journey to Kyoto. The distance is 430 miles.
With its Zen rock gardens and air of tradition, Kyoto is a city for lovers. Young couples drift down the Oi River in wooden boats glowing with red lanterns while older sweethearts stroll along the narrow streets of historic Eastern Kyoto. As home to 20% of Japan’s national treasures, Kyoto is a massive museum.Nara Tour
This afternoon you will visit Todaiji Temple with its huge Image of Buddha; Sacred Deer Park; and Kasuga Shinto Shrine famous for its hundreds of stone lanterns. Buddhism gained a foothold in Japan after monks from the Korean kingdom of Paekche introduced the faith to the Japanese court. Completed in just four years by 751, Todaiji was truly a wonder of the world. It housed the largest wooden building the world has yet seen. Even the 2/3 scale reconstruction, finished in the 17th century, it remains the largest wooden building on earth today. Return to Kyoto to your hotel for check in.Starting Accommodation:
Day 7 – Kyoto City
This morning's first stop is Nijo Castle, the Kyoto Residence of the Tokugawa Shogun built in 1603, the castle is noted for the contrast of its solemn exterior and gorgeous interiors (closed Tuesday's in January, July, August and December and substituted with Ryoanji Temple and Zen garden). Next, visit Kinkakuji Temple, Kyoto's most popular temple is the home of perhaps the world's most authentic and exquisite Japanese Garden, as well as the celebrated Golden Pavilion. Continue to the Kyoto Imperial Palace, the residence of the Imperial family until the capital was relocated to Tokyo in 1868. Closed on Saturdays, Sundays and national holidays, so a visit to Nishi Honganji will be arranged instead. After lunch stop at Heian Shrine, brightly colored with its vermilion pillars and green roof, and its enchanting inner gardens and ponds, reflects the elegance of life in the ancient Japanese court. From there visit Sanjusangendo, a renowned long wooden hall housing all of 1,001 statues of Kannon or Bodhisattva (Goddess of Mercy), that date back to the 13th century. The day ends with a visit to Kiyomizu-dera, a grouping of several Buddhist temples in Eastern Kyoto, and one of the best known sights of the city with its main pavilion commanding an exalted spot on a steep hill with a sweeping view over Kyoto. The pathway leading to the shrine is lined with pottery and souvenir shops.Starting Accommodation:
Day 8 – At leisure, Kyoto
The city boasts an impressive catalog of 1,700 well-preserved Buddhist temples and 300 Shinto shrines. Kinkakuji, the Temple of the Golden Pavilion, is one of Kyoto’s most famous and elaborate attractions. Featuring a three-story pavilion covered in gold-leaf and crowned by a phoenix, one has to shade their eyes from its brilliance. Rivaling this luster is Nara’s Great Buddha, Daibutsu, one of the largest bronze statues in the world containing 286 pounds of pure gold.Starting Accommodation:
Day 9 – Hiroshima and Miyajima
Travel from Kyoto by JR Bullet Train (Shinkansen) to Hiroshima. On arrival transfer to Miyajimaguchi where you will board a ferry to Miyajima Port. Easily reached in about 30 minutes from Hiroshima, Miyajima is a treasure of an island only 1 quarter miles off the mainland in the Seto Inland Sea. The most famous landmark, a huge red torii, or shrine gate, rising out of the water, was erected in 1875 and made of camphor wood, it's one of the largest torii in Japan, measuring more than 53 foot tall. It guards Miyajima's main attraction, Itsukushima Shrine (currently under renovation and is not visible). A World Heritage site and established in the 6th century, this shrine is one of Japan's finest. It is famous for its beautiful Shinden-zukuri style structure, architecture representative of a nobles' residence in the Heian period. The contrast of the green of Mount Misen behind the lacquered shrine pavilion and the blue of the Seto Sea is beautiful and evocative of the underwater palace of Ryugujo. Return to Miyajimaguchi by ferry. As you walk around Hiroshima today, you'll find it hard to imagine that the city was the scene of such widespread horror and destruction almost 60 years ago. On the other hand, Hiroshima doesn't have the old buildings, temples, and historical structures that other cities have, yet it draws a steady flow of travelers who come to see Peace Memorial Park, the city's best-known landmark. Continue the tour to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Atomic Bomb Museum. This large-scale park was established in 1949 after the Pacific War ended and is visited by countless visitors as a symbol of peace. The museum within the park is an Important Cultural Property of Japan and was built to remind future generations of the terror wrought by atomic bombs. The Atomic Bomb Dome is a symbol of the disastrous atomic bombing during WWII, the first atomic bombs used in human history, and has been preserved as it was to promote peace and elimination of atomic weapons around the world. At the end of tour travel by train to Osaka where the tour concludes.Starting Accommodation:
New Otani Hotel, Osaka (B)
Day 10 – Afternoon Walking Osaka Tour
Enjoy some leisure time this morning before embarking on a walking tour of the city. This afternoon travel by local train to Osaka Castle which its high location provides an excellent view of the city. First built in the 1580’s on the order of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Osaka Castle was the largest castle in Japan, a magnificent structure used by Toyotomi as a military stronghold from which to wage war against rebellious feudal lords in far flung provinces. Osaka Castle is noted for its magnificence and the immense stones used in its construction. Inside you will find an exhibition of relics of Toyotomi Hideyoshi and historical Osaka. Continue with a short walk to the Yodo River pier as you end the day with a 60-minute cruise by Aqua Liner. Views out toward Osaka Castle, the Twin Towers, City Hall and Nakanoshima lsle can be seen on both sides.Starting Accommodation:
New Otani Hotel, Osaka (B)
Day 11 – Osaka to USA
Transfer to the airport for your return flight to the USA.