Friday, April 12 (Day 01)
HONOLULU - NARITA
Our tour to Japan commences this morning when we assemble at the check-in lobby at the airport for baggage check-in procedures. We will depart Honolulu for Narita International Airport. A meal and a snack will be served on board the flight.
Saturday, April 13 (Day 02)
ARRIVE NARITA (D)
We’ll arrive Narita International Airport in the afternoon and after completing entry and customs formalities, we’ll transfer to our hotel in Tokyo to spend the night. A dinner is planned for you at the hotel this evening.
Accommodations at HOTEL METROPOLITAN TOKYO or similar
Sunday, April 14 (Day 03)
TOKYO - BULLET TRAIN TO NIIGATA (B)(D)
We’ll transfer to the Ueno 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, featuring an extensive art collection. In the attractive and peaceful garden complex are several relocated farmhouses, traditional earthen warehouses, and individual tea arbors. We’ll make a stop at Furusato-Mura, a shopping complex offering a nice selection of local traditional food and craft products of Niigata. We will spend the night in the city of Niigata. Dinner will be provided for you this evening at the hotel.
Accommodations at HOTEL OKURA NIIGATA or similar
Monday, April 15 (Day 04)
NIIGATA - SADO ISLAND (B)(D)
This morning, we’ll board a hydrofoil from Naoetsu Port in Niigata, crossing the Japan Sea to the port of Ryotsu located on historic Sado-ga-shima (Sado Island). The island had an image of being remote and associated with political exiles and prisoners but yet had 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). Enjoy a visit of the Toki-Forest Park to view exhibits relating to this endangered species of birds. At the Sado Kinzan Gold Mine in the town of Aikawa, we’ll descend into the old mining cave to observe 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 check-in for the night at our hotel on the island. Enjoy dinner and relax in the hot springs this evening at our onsen hotel.
Accommodations at RYOTSU YAMAKI HOTEL or similar
Tuesday, April 16 (Day 05)
SADO ISLAND - NIIGATA - TSUBAME SANJO - NAGANO (B)
This morning we’ll proceed to the port of Ryotsu to board the hydrofoil and return to Naoetsu Port in Niigata. On arrival, we’ll board our chartered motorcoach and travel to Tsubame Sanjo, a region known for its manufacture of kitchen cutlery & silverware. We’ll visit a 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 Takada Castle. Although only the stone walls and fences of the castle remain today, the site was transformed into Takada Castle Ruin Park featuring thousands of cherry trees planted all 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. The area of Nagano-ken consists of the northern, central and southern ranges of the breathtaking Japan Alps. Dinner will be on your own this evening.
Accommodations at HOTEL METROPOLITAN NAGANO or similar
Wednesday, April 17 (Day 06)
NAGANO - MATSUMOTO - ABO TUNNEL - TAKAYAMA (B)(D)
This morning, we’ll visit the Kawanakajima Ancient Battlefield, the location where the five epic battles between Uesugi Kenshin and Takeda Shingen 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 travel to the quaint and traditional little town of Takayama - tucked away between the mountains of the Japan Alps. We’ll spend some time to enjoy a stroll through Takayama Kami Sannomachi, a charming district featuring many old homes, shops, coffee houses, and sake breweries, some of which have been in business for centuries. We’ll visit the Takayama Matsuri Yatai Kaikan (Festival Floats Exhibition Hall) to view several magnificent Yatai (floats) on display. These elaborate festival floats are several hundred years old and are spectacular creations with detailed carvings, decorative metalwork and beautiful lacquer work. A famous feature of these floats are the marionettes representing various gods and Japanese nobility - 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
Thursday, April 18 (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 - the Wada Family House - now preserved partially 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. We will overnight for two nights in Kanazawa. Dinner will be provided for you this evening at the hotel.
Accommodations at ANA CROWN PLAZA HOTEL KANAZAWA or similar
Friday, April 19 (Day 08)
KANAZAWA - NOTO PENINSULA - KANAZAWA (B)
We’ll travel to ‘Noto-Hanto’, a scenic peninsula with rugged seascapes surrounded on three sides by the Sea of Japan. Enjoy a shopping excursion at the asa-ichi (morning market) in the town of Wajima - a large indoor and outdoor marketplace with vendors offering a variety of merchandise including dried seafood products: abalone, scallops, and cuttlefish. Wajima, located 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 - then 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 have some time to browse through the shop to see their beautiful merchandise and art work on display and 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. As we return to Kanazawa, we’ll travel along the west coast of the peninsula and enjoy a unique drive along the breakers of the water on the Chirihama Beach Driveway, a beach resembling a sandy motorway. Dinner will be on your own this evening to try some local specialties of the area at some of the restaurants located in the train station adjacent to our hotel.
Accommodations at ANA CROWN PLAZA HOTEL KANAZAWA or similar
Saturday, April 20 (Day 09)
KANAZAWA - TOJINBO - FUKUI - TSURUGA - MIYAZU (B)(D)
We’ll continue our journey along the Sea of Japan to scenic Tojinbo - an impressive view of magnificent pillar-shaped rocks and cliffs created by sea erosion. Standing gallantly against the raging waves, this site is well-known for its legends and is noted as a popular spot for suicides. As we drive along the coast line, enjoy the scenic beauty of Mikata Goko (Five Lakes of Mikata) - located on the east shore of Wakasa Bay. A cable car or an individual chair lift will take us to the top of the mountain to enjoy this breathtaking view. Each of these lakes has a different water quality and depth. We’ll make a stop at Konbu Kan , a shop offering a variety of konbu and other konbu-related products. Relax and enjoy dinner at our luxurious hot spring resort tonight.
Accommodations at MIYAZU ROYAL HOTEL or similar
Sunday, April 21 (Day 10)
MIYAZU - TOTTORI (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 proceed to Kasamatsu Park and board a chair lift or cable car to take us 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 spend the night in Tottori, one of the main cities in the San-in district. Tottori is famous for its unique sand dunes formed by the sea currents and wind that bring the sand from the bottom up onto the shore. Climb to the top of one of them to enjoy a beautiful view of the Sea of Japan. The site of the Tottori Sand Dunes was used as the setting for Teshigahara Hiroshi’s classic 1964 film “Woman in the Dunes”. Dinner will be provided for you this evening.
Accommodations at HOTEL NEW OTANI TOTTORI or similar
Monday, April 22 (Day 11)
TOTTORI - 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 beautiful flower conservatory that is the largest in the world, displaying a variety of begonias, fuchsias and other flowers in bloom all year round. Several trained owls will perform for you at a scheduled special owl show. Enjoy a delicious dinner and relax in the hot springs at our onsen hotel this evening.
Accommodations at HOTEL ICHIBATA or similar
Tuesday, April 23 (Day 12)
MATSUE - YANAI - OSHIMA ISLAND - HIROSHIMA (B)(D)
We’ll travel 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 a video and 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. We’ll continue on to check-in for two nights in the city of Hiroshima. Dinner will be provided for you this evening at the hotel.
Accommodations at SHERATON HIROSHIMA or similar
Wednesday, April 24 (Day 13)
HIROSHIMA - IWAKUNI - MIYAJIMA - HIROSHIMA (B)
We’ll proceed to the city of Iwakuni, visiting the scenic Kintai-kyo Bridge, Iwakuni’s most distinguished landmark. Completely made of wood and without the use of any nails, this historical wooden five-arched bridge spans across the serene Nishiki River. We’ll continue on to the town of Hatsukaichi and board a ferry from Miyajimaguchi Pier to Miyajima Island - a sacred island famous for Itsukushima-jinja. featuring the famous ‘floating torii’ (Shinto Shrine Gate). Itsukushima Shrine is one of the most photographed tourist attraction in Japan and with the island’s Mt. Misen-san as a backdrop, is classified as one of Japan’s three most scenic sights. We’ll return to the main island of Honshu by ferry, and return to the city of Hiroshima. Dinner will be on your own this evening. Try some delicious Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki, the specialty of Hiroshima at one of the local restaurants at the train station located nearby the hotel.
Accommodations at SHERATON HIROSHIMA or similar
Thursday, April 25 (Day 14)
HIROSHIMA TO HANEDA TO HONOLULU (B)
In the late afternoon, we’ll transfer to the Hiroshima Airport to check-in for our domestic flight to Haneda Airport. On arrival, we’ll transfer to the Haneda International Airport to board our early morning flight 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.