Wednesday, April 7 (Day 01)
HONOLULU - NARITA
Our tour to Japan commences this morning when we assemble at the Japan Airlines lobby at the airport for baggage check-in procedures. We will depart Honolulu on Japan Airlines for Narita International Airport. A meal and a snack will be served on board the flight.
Thursday, April 8 (Day 02)
ARRIVE NARITA (D)
We’ll arrive Narita International Airport in the afternoon and after completing entry and customs formalities, transfer to our hotel in Tokyo to spend the night. A dinner is planned for you at the hotel this evening.
Accommodations at SHINAGAWA PRINCE HOTEL or similar
Friday, April 9 (Day 03)
TOKYO - NIIGATA (B)(D)
This morning, we’ll transfer to the Tokyo Station and board the shinkansen (bullet train) to Niigata, the largest city on the coast of the Japan Sea and the gateway to Sado Island. On arrival, we’ll board our chartered motor coach and embark on a sightseeing tour of this port city. We’ll visit the former residence of a local land baron - the Ito Family - which is preserved as the Northern Culture Museum displaying an extensive art collection. In the attractive garden complex are several relocated farmhouses, traditional earthen warehouses and individual tea arbors. We’ll make a stop to shop at Furusato-Mura, a shopping village offering a nice selection of local traditional food and craft products of Niigata. We will overnight In Niigata for two nights. Dinner will be provided for you this evening.
Accommodations at HOTEL OKURA NIIGATA or similar
Saturday, April 10 (Day 04)
NIIGATA - SADO ISLAND - NIIGATA (B)(D)
This morning we’ll board a hydrofoil from the port of Niigata, crossing the Japan Sea to the port of Ryotsu located on historic Sado-ga-shima. This island had an image of being remote and associated with political exiles and prisoners but yet has a distinguished history and culture all its own. Sado was the home in exile to some historical figures such as ex-Emperor “Juntoku”, Buddhist priest “Nichiren”, and drama master “Zeami”, who left a legacy of Noh theater on the island. In addition to ‘Noh’, the island is famed for okesa (folk dances), ondeko (demon drum dances) and the toki bird (Japanese crested ibis). We’ll visit the Toki-Forest Park to see exhibits relating to this endangered species. At the Sado Kinzan Gold Mine in the town of Aikawa, we’ll descend into the old mining cave to see mechanical puppets dramatize the tough existence of the miners in the past. We’ll visit the Sado Rekishi Densetsukan (Sado Historical Folklore Museum) where the relics of Juntoku and Nichiren Shonin are exhibited. In the afternoon, we’ll proceed to the port of Ryotsu and board the hydrofoil to return to the city of Niigata. Dinner will be provided for you this evening at the hotel
Accommodations at HOTEL OKURA NIIGATA or similar
Sunday, April 11 (Day 05)
NIIGATA - TSUBAME SANJO - JOETSU - NAGANO (B)
This morning we’ll depart for Tsubame Sanjo, a region known for its manufacture of kitchen cutlery & silverware. We’ll visit a nice shop offering a wide selection of various merchandise - including some unique kitchenware products, knives, and scissors. Our journey continues on to enjoy ohanami (cherry blossom viewing) on the grounds of Takato Castle. Although only the stone walls and fences of the castle remain today, the site was transformed into Takato Castle Ruin Park with thousands of cherry trees planted around the park. Weather permitting, the cherry blossoms should be in full bloom at this time of the year. We’ll continue on to overnight in the city of Nagano - best known as the site of the 1998 Winter Olympics. Most of Nagano-ken consists of the northern, central and southern ranges of the breathtaking Japan Alps. Dinner will be on your own tonight to try some of the local specialties of this area.
Accommodations at HOTEL METROPOLITAN NAGANO or similar
Monday, April 12 (Day 06)
NAGANO - MATSUMOTO - ABO TUNNEL - TAKAYAMA (B)(D)
This morning we’ll make a photo stop at Kawanakajima, the location where five epic battles took place to secure the northern territory of Nagano. We’ll continue on to the town of Hotaka and visit the Daio Wasabi (Japanese Horseradish) Farm, Japan’s largest wasabi farm to see the production of this root. A nice selection of wasabi themed products are available in the shops including fresh wasabi and wasabi-flavored ice cream. Enjoy the breathtaking scenery of mountains and tunnels as we drive to the charming and traditional city of Takayama - tucked away between the mountains of the Japan Alps. We’ll spend some time to enjoy a stroll through the Takayama Kami Sannomachi area in this quaint little town. We’ll visit the Takayama Matsuri Yatai Kaikan (Festival Floats Exhibition Hall) to view several magnificent Yatai (floats) on display. These huge festival floats are spectacular creations with detailed carving, decorative metalwork and beautiful lacquer work. A famous feature of these floats are the marionettes representing various gods and Japanese nobility and manipulated by accomplished puppeteers using strings to perform a series of gestures, turns, and other movements. Relax in the hot springs and enjoy dinner at our onsen hotel this evening.
Accommodations at HIDA HOTEL PLAZA or similar
Tuesday, April 13 (Day 07)
TAKAYAMA - SHIRAKAWA - TONAMI - KANAZAWA (B)(D)
Our journey continues on to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Shirakawa-go - famous for their traditional gassho-zukuri (hands in prayer) farmhouses, some of which are more than 250 years old. Enjoy a stroll through Ogimachi Village, the largest village and the main attraction of Shirakawa-go with farmhouses standing amid vegetable gardens and rice paddy fields. Many of them are now functioning as restaurants, shops and small museums. We’ll have an opportunity to visit one of the farm houses - Wada Family House - now preserved as a museum. The farmland around the house continues to be worked by local farmers. We’ll continue on to the castle town of Kanazawa to enjoy a leisure stroll through its main attraction - Kenroku-en Garden - ranked as one of Japan’s three most beautiful gardens. The name Kenroku translates as ‘combined six’ - referring to a renowned Chinese garden from the Sung Dynasty that required six attributes for perfection: seclusion, spaciousness, artificiality, antiquity, abundant water, and broad views. Dinner will be provided for you this evening at the hotel.
Accommodations at KANAZAWA ANA HOTEL or similar
Wednesday, April 14 (Day 08)
KANAZAWA - NOTO PENINSULA - YAMANAKA ONSEN (B)(D)
We’ll travel to ‘Noto-Hanto’, a scenic peninsula of rugged seascapes surrounded on three sides by the Sea of Japan. The town of Wajima at the center of the Okunoto area is known not only for its fishing industry but also for its production of Wajima-nuri (lacquerware). A characteristic of Wajima lacquerware is found in the base coat being repeatedly applied to original wooden materials - taking months to finish and decorated with chinkin (gold & silver inlaying) and makie (gold or silver raised lacquer painting). We’ll visit a shop to observe the production of these elegant pieces and we’ll have some time to browse through the shop to see their beautiful merchandise and art work available for purchase. Kiriko is a form of lantern produced only in the Noto district and is used to lead portable shrines during festivals. We’ll visit the Kiriko Kaikan (Festival Hall), where a giant lantern and several beautiful lacquered floats from the Edo period are elegantly displayed in the main room. Enjoy shopping at the asa-ichi (morning market) - a large indoor and outdoor marketplace in the town of Wajima with many vendors offering a variety of dried seafood products, such as dried abalone, scallops and various other merchandise. As we drive back along the west coast of the peninsula, enjoy a unique drive on the Chirihama Beach Driveway, a beach resembling a sandy motorway as we roar on the sand by the breakers of the waters. We’ll continue on to spend the night in the onsen town of Yamanaka. Enjoy dinner and relax in the hot springs at our ryokan this evening.
Accommodations at KAJIKA SO ROYAL HOTEL or similar
Thursday, April 15 (Day 09)
YAMANAKA - TOJINBO - FUKUI - TSURUGA - MIYAZU (B)(D)
We’ll continue our journey along the Sea of Japan to scenic Tojinbo - offering an impressive view of magnificent pillar-shaped rocks and cliffs created by sea erosion. Standing gallantly against the raging waves, this site is a popular tourist attraction and famous as a spot for suicides. As we drive along the coast line, enjoy the beauty of Mikata Goko (Five Lakes) - an area located between Mihama and Wakasa town. A cable car or an individual chair lift will take us to the top of the mountain to enjoy a breathtaking view of the scenery. Each lake has a different nature such as salt water, fresh water & brackish water, differences in depths, and also known as the five colored lakes - providing individual beauty during all four seasons. En route to our hotel, we’ll make a stop at Konbu Kan, a shop offering a wide selection of konbu, seaweed and konbu related products available for purchase. Relax and enjoy dinner at our luxurious hot spring resort tonight.
Accommodations at MIYAZU ROYAL HOTEL or similar
Friday, April 16 (Day 10)
MIYAZU - TOTTORI - BOKORO (B)(D)
“Amanohashidate” (Bridge to Heaven) is a pine tree covered sand bar resembling the shape of a bridge spanning across Miyazu Bay and is ranked as one of Japan’s three most scenic sights (nihon sankei). We’ll board a boat to Kasamatsu Park, then take a chair lift or cable car to the top of the hillside to enjoy this spectacular view. To view the sand bar as a ‘bridge in the heaven’, turn your back towards the bay, bend over, and view the scenery from between your legs. We’ll travel along the scenic San-in coast of the Japan Sea to Tottori, one of the main cities in the San-in district and famous for its spectacular sand dunes formed by the wind stretching along the coastline. The site of the Tottori Sand Dunes was used as the setting for Teshigahara Hiroshi’s classic 1964 film “Woman in the Dunes”. For a wonderful cultural experience, we’ll spend the night at Bokoro, an elegant onsen ryokan located on the shores of Lake Togo in Yurihama-cho. Enjoy dinner and relax in the hot springs at our ryokan this evening.
Accommodations at HAWAI BOKORO ONSEN or similar
Saturday, April 17 (Day 11)
BOKORO - YONAGO - IZUMO - MATSUE (B)(D)
We’ll travel along the coast of the Sea of Japan to the town of Izumo, home to Japan’s oldest and largest Shinto Shrine, Izumo Taisha, constructed in the taisha-zukuri style of architecture. The wooded grounds are pleasant to wander through and the shrine itself enjoys the ‘borrowed scenery’ of Yakumo Hill in the background. Okuninushi, whom the shrine is dedicated to is the kami (Shinto Spirit God) of marriage. Hence, visitors to the shrine summon the deity by clapping their hands four times rather than the normal two - twice for themselves and twice for their partner. We’ll travel to the city of Matsue, capital of Shimane prefecture - located at the eastern shores of Lake Shinji. Enjoy a visit of the Matsue Vogel Park, a paradise of flowers, owls, and rare birds from around the world. The park features a waterfowl aviary that is home to various aquatic birds and a flower display conservatory that is the largest in the world displaying a beautiful variety of begonias, fuchsias and other flowers in bloom all year round. Several trained owls will perform for you at a special owl flying show. Enjoy dinner and relax in the onsen at the hotel this evening.
Accommodations at HOTEL ICHIBATA or similar
Sunday, April 18 (Day 12)
MATSUE - YANAI - OSHIMA ISLAND (B)(D)
Our travel continues on through Yanai city in Yamaguchi prefecture to Oshima Island, one of the largest islands in the Seto Naikai Strait. On arrival, we’ll visit the Museum of Japanese Emigration to Hawaii - located in the town of Suo Oshima, the sister city of Kauai. The museum features many photographs, exhibits and artifacts of the hardship faced by the emigrants in Hawaii, the contributions made with the fortune accumulated through their efforts, and the history of cultural exchanges between the hometown and Hawaii up to now. Dinner will be provided for you at our beautiful onsen beach resort this evening.
Accommodations at SUNSHINE SAZAN SETO RESORT or similar
Monday, April 19 (Day 13)
OSHIMA ISLAND - IWAKUNI - MIYAJIMA - HIROSHIMA (B)
We’ll continue our journey to Iwakuni, visiting the scenic Kintai-kyo Bridge, also known as the ‘Brocade Sash Bridge’. Its five linked wooden arches forms a span across the Nishiki River and is ingeniously built without nails. We’ll proceed to the town of Hatsukaichi and board a ferry from Miyajima-guchi Pier to Miyajima Island, a sacred island and famous for Itsukushima-jinja with the famous ‘floating torii’ (Shinto Shrine Gate). Itsukushima Shrine is one of the most photographed tourist attractions in Japan and with the island’s Misen-san as a backdrop, is classified as one of Japan’s three most scenic sights. We’ll return to the main island by ferry, then continue on to spend the night in the city of Hiroshima. Dinner will be on your own this evening. You may want to try okonomiyaki, the specialty of Hiroshima at one of the local restaurants located around the hotel.
Accommodations at RIHGA ROYAL HIROSHIMA or similar
Tuesday, April 20 (Day 14)
HIROSHIMA - KANSAI - HONOLULU (B)
This morning after breakfast we’ll depart Hiroshima and begin our journey to the Kansai International Airport to check in for our evening flight home to Honolulu, arriving on the same day due to the crossing of the International Dateline. A late meal will be served on board the flight.
Map of Tour Itinerary