Saturday, April 16 (Day 01)
HONOLULU TO NARITA
Our tour commences this morning when we assemble at the Japan Airlines lobby at the airport for check-in procedures. We will depart on Japan Airlines for Narita International Airport. Lunch and a snack will be served on board the flight.
Sunday, April 17 (Day 02)
ARRIVE NARITA - HITACHI - MITO (D)
We’ll arrive Narita Airport in the afternoon and after completion of entry and customs formalities, we’ll board our chartered motor coach to begin our Tohoku Ohanami (flower viewing) tour. We’ll travel on the Joban Expressway to the city of Hitachi in Ibaraki prefecture to visit the Hitachi Seaside Park. Enjoy a stroll through the park featuring gardens of daffodils, tulips, and more flowers in bloom. One of the main highlights of the park is a view of delicate blue nemophilas blossoming over Miharashi No Oka, a hill commanding a panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean (weather permitting). Nemophila flowers are also known as baby-blue-eyes because these transparent delicate blue flowers resemble pure baby’s eyes. We’ll continue on to spend the evening in the city of Mito, the capital of Ibaraki prefecture. Dinner will be provided for you this evening.
Accommodations at MITO PLAZA HOTEL or similar
Monday, April 18 (Day 03)
MITO - DAIGO - MIHARU - AKIU ONSEN (B)(D)
This morning we’ll travel to the town of Daigo to enjoy a view of the breathtaking Fukuroda Falls - ranked as one of the three most beautiful waterfalls in Japan. The falls drop down over four cascades of a tall cliff, dashing against the rocks. Every season offers a different view of the falls, thus known as Yodo-no-Taki (falls of four times). We’ll continue on to the town of Miharu - home of one of Japan’s three greatest cherry tree, the Takizakura (waterfall cherry tree). This huge weeping cherry tree located in the hills of Miharu Town is said to be over 1,000 years old and is one of the most popular single cherry tree in the country. We’ll continue on to spend the night in Akiu. Enjoy dinner and relax in the hot springs at our fabulous onsen hotel this evening.
Accommodations at NEW MITOYA HOTEL or similar
Tuesday, April 19 (Day 04)
AKIU - SHIROISHI - MATSUSHIMA (B)(D)
Kokeshi dolls (Japanese dolls) are one of the most popular and famous products in Japan as a traditional folk craft with a long-renowned tradition in the Tohoku area. These dolls, handmade from wood, have a simple trunk and an enlarged head with no arms or legs. We’ll enjoy the experience of painting our own creation on one of them to take home as a souvenir. The splendor of somei-yoshino cherry blossoms in bloom along the banks of the Shiroishi River, together with the combination of the blue sky and white snow-capped mountains of Zao, provides a breathtaking ‘ohanami’ opportunity (weather permitting). We’ll proceed to Matsushima and enjoy a relaxing cruise on picturesque Matsushima Bay, designated as one of the three most scenic sights in Japan - Nihon Sankei. Enjoy the view of hundreds of pine-studded islets floating on the horizon - each with a name relating to a Japanese legend. Before checking-in, we’ll visit Zuiganji Temple, one of Tohoku’s finest Zen temples with elegant painted screens, interior carvings and known for its beautifully painted sliding doors. Enjoy a fabulous dinner and relax in the hot springs at our elegant hotel overlooking the bay.
Accommodations at MATSUSHIMA CENTURY HOTEL or similar
Wednesday, April 20 (Day 05)
MATSUSHIMA - HANAIZUMI - ICHINOSEKI - HIRAIZUMI - KITAKAMI - HANAMAKI ONSEN (B)(D)
We’ll travel to Hanaizumi, visiting the Hanaizumi Flower World, one of the largest peony gardens in the Tohoku area. Weather permitting, hundreds of large-blooming peonies including various other flowers such as lotus and bush clover, should be in full bloom at this time of the year (weather permitting). We’ll travel through Ichinoseki to Hiraizumi and board a flat-bottomed boat to enjoy a cruise on the peaceful waters of Geibikei Gorge with a serenading boatman on board. As we glide on the river through the gorge, enjoy the breathtaking scenery of spectacular rock formations and sheer cliffs. We’ll continue on to visit Chusonji Temple and its main attraction - Konjiki-do (Golden Hall) - designated as one of the National Treasures by the government in 1951. The hall was constructed to house the remains of three generations of the Fujiwara family and received its name from the unique golden walls covered in gold leaf and inlaid with mother-of-pearl. Weather permitting, we’ll make a stop in Kitakami, a city famous for the gorgeous sakura that bloom in Tenshochi Park, selected as one of a hundred best cherry blossom viewing places by the Japan Cherry Blossom Association (Nihon Sakura-no-Kai). Enjoy dinner and relax in the hot springs at our onsen hotel.
Accommodations at HANAMAKI SENSHUKAKU HOTEL or similar
Thursday, April 21 (Day 06)
HANAMAKI - MORIOKA - TOWADA - ASAMUSHI ONSEN (B)(D)
We’ll drive north through Morioka city, one of the most appealing old castle towns in Japan and the capital of Iwate-ken, famous for the production of Nanbu Tekki (cast ironware). As we drive by the grounds of the district courthouse, we’ll see a 400-year old Ishiwari-Zakura (stone-splitting cherry blossom tree) with a trunk so large that it actually split a boulder - an interesting sight to see. We’ll continue our journey past scenic Towada-ko, the third-deepest caldera lake in Japan, located in the Towada-Hachimantai National Park. Enjoy a relaxing and scenic drive through the serene Oirase River Valley to view breathtaking riverside scenery with trees and waterfalls, each with its own unique name. Experience mountain beauty and marvel at the frozen forests and snow corridors as we drive through a section of the Hakkoda Towada Gold line - Yuki no Kairo (Snow Corridor). Enjoy dinner and relax in the hot springs this evening at our elegant onsen hotel.
Accommodations at ASAMUSHI KAISENKAKU HOTEL or similar
Friday, April 22 (Day 07)
ASAMUSHI - AOMORI - HIROSAKI - TAKANOSU - AKITA (B)(D)
We’ll travel to Aomori, capital city of Aomori prefecture and visit Nebuta No Sato, a gallery where colossal festival floats featured during the Nebuta Matsuri in the summer are displayed. These floats are colorful paper-mache ‘nebuta’ - created as a figure of a theme from history or the Kabuki Theater. We’ll continue on to the castle town of Hirosaki, and on arrival, visit the ruins of Hirosaki Castle, the city’s most famous landmark. Weather permitting, enjoy a spectacular sight of cherry blossoms in bloom on the castle grounds in the surrounding Hirosaki Park, one of Japan’s most famous ’ohanami’ sites with thousands of cherry trees planted around the park. Enjoy a visit of the Odaiko no Yakata (The Great Drum Museum) - displaying an interesting collection of drums from all over the world, including the ‘Big Drum of Tsuzureko’, the world’s largest drum. Dinner will be provided for you this evening at our hotel in Akita, the capital city of Akita prefecture.
Accommodations at AKITA VIEW HOTEL or similar
Saturday, April 23 (Day 08)
AKITA - KAKUNODATE - SAGAE - TENDO (B)(D)
Our journey continues on to Kakunodate, a former castle town noted as one of Tohoku region’s most popular ohanami (cherry blossom viewing) sites with its hundreds of weeping cherry trees (shidarezakura) lined along the central avenue of the town. Weather permitting, we may be able to view beautiful somei yoshino cherry trees lined along the Hinokinai River that runs through the city. Kakunodate is also famed for its well-preserved samurai houses and samurai tradition. Most of the samurai houses (bukeyashiki) stand behind wooden fences and gates lined along the central avenue. Among the most interesting mansions open to the public are the Ishiguro Samurai House - the former residence of Kakunodate’s highest ranked family and the Aoyagi Samurai House - which exhibits arms, antiques and other family treasures. We’ll visit one of them, offering a rare glimpse into the life of a samurai and the common townspeople. Kakunodate also has a traditional wooden craft called kaba-zaiku - using the bark of wild cherry trees. Several of these intricate craft pieces are exhibited in the Kakunodate Museum of Traditional Crafts and are also available for purchase at the shops located along the street. We’ll travel to the city of Sagae in Yamagata prefecture - a fruit producing region. We’ll stop at a local orchard to enjoy picking and eating some delicious fresh strawberries (weather permitting). We’ll continue on to spend the night in Tendo, a town noted for the manufacture of shogi (Japanese chess pieces). Relax in the hot springs and enjoy dinner this evening at our fabulous onsen hotel.
Accommodations at TAKINO-YU ONSEN or similar
Sunday, April 24 (Day 09)
TENDO - YONEZAWA - AIZU WAKAMATSU - KORIYAMA (B)(D)
Our drive this morning takes us through Yamagata prefecture to view beautiful cherry blossoms in bloom at Kasumigajo Park - noted as one of the hundred best cherry blossom viewing sites in Japan (weather permitting). Enjoy a leisure stroll to see more cherry blossoms in bloom on the grounds of Matsugasaki Koen, the former residence of the Date and Uesugi clan - also noted as a popular cherry blossom viewing site. We’ll proceed to the castle town of Aizuwakamatsu in Fukushima prefecture to visit the grounds of Tsuruga-jo, a traditional castle noted as an important Tokugawa stronghold in the Tohoku region. At the top of Iimoriyama Hill are the tombs of the 19 samurai youths - members of the Byakkotai (White Tiger Corps) who were ordered into battle against the Meiji government soldiers. After their defeat, they retreated to Iimoriyama Hill and committed seppuku or ritual suicide as they presumed that their castle - Tsuruga-jo - was on fire and all was lost. At the hilltop and along the pathway are several monuments, a statue and other buildings of interest, devoted to the Byakkotai. Dinner will be provided for you this evening at our hotel in Koriyama.
Accommodations at HOTEL HAMATSU KORIYAMA or similar
Monday, April 25 (Day 10)
KORIYAMA - SUKAGAWA - ASHIKAGA - TATEBAYASHI - TOKYO (B)(D)
We’ll continue on our ohanami tour to visit Hirata Village, site of a spectacular view of shibazakura (pink & white moss phlox flowers) blooming on a hillside - like a pink carpet. The Japanese people love flowers and wisteria are among one of their favorites. One of the best places to view wisteria (weather permitting) is at the Ashikaga Flower Park in Ashikaga City, best known for its breathtaking 100-year-old blue, white, and pink wisteria growing on a trellis. We’ll continue on to Tatebayashi, a small and quiet town in Gunma prefecture with an event that they can be proud of, Koi-no-bori (carp streamers). The city commemorates the celebration of Children’s Day by flowing thousands of these carp streamers along the Tsuruuda River to promote sightseeing in the city. In the city of Tatebayashi, we’ll visit Tsutsujigaoka Park, the largest azalea park in Japan with thousands of azalea plants representing 50 varieties of flowers in-bloom around Jonuma Pond (weather permitting). Our day ends in the exciting metropolitan city of Tokyo where we will spend our last night. Dinner will be provided for you this evening.
Accommodations at SHINAGAWA PRINCE HOTEL TOKYO or similar
Tuesday, April 26 (Day 11)
TOKYO - NARITA TO HONOLULU (B)
Enjoy your last breakfast in Japan before making preparations to return home. The morning will be free to do some last minute shopping and packing or just relaxing around the hotel. In the afternoon, we will transfer to Narita International Airport to check-in for our evening flight home to Honolulu, arriving on the same day due to the crossing of the International Date Line. A meal will be served on board the flight.
Map of Tour Itinerary