July 5 - 16, 2014 (12 days and 10 nights)
** SOLD OUT **
$ 100 EARLY BOOKING DISCOUNT
(deposit must be made by 12/31/2013)
Chitose, Shiraoi, Porotokotan, Noboribetsu Date Jidaimura, Jigokudani, Noboribetsu Onsen, Lake Toya, Mt. Showa Shinzan, Fruit Picking, Otaru, Sapporo, Asahi Beer Hokkaido Brewery, Okurayama Ski Jump Stadium, Ramen Yokocho, Furano, Farm Tomita, Biei, Shinzo Maeda Photo Art Gallery, Otokoyama Sake Brewery, Asahikawa, Sarobetsu Primeval Flower Garden, Wakkanai, Wakkanai Koen, Cape Soya, Lake Kutcharo, Sounkyo Gorge, Abashiri, Okhotsk Ryuhyo Museum, Abashiri Prison Museum, Oshin Koshin Waterfall, Shiretoko-hanto, Shiretoko-go-ko, Lake Mashu, Kami-no-ko Ike, Lake Akan, Marimo Exhibition and Observation Center, Tokachigawa, Ikeda Wine Castle, Shichiku Garden, Chitose
$ 695 per person
(Individual arrangements to meet group are not included)
Saturday, July 5 (Day 01)
HONOLULU TO CHITOSE
Our tour commences this morning when we assemble at the check-in lobby at the airport for baggage check-in procedures. We will depart Honolulu on Hawaiian Airlines on a direct flight to Chitose International Airport in Hokkaido, Japan's northernmost and second largest island.
Sunday, July 6 (Day 02)
Upon arrival at Chitose Airport, we'll clear entry and customs procedures, then transfer to spend the night at a hotel in the city of Chitose.
Accommodations at CHITOSE AIR TERMINAL HOTEL or similar
Monday, July 7 (Day 03)
CHITOSE - SHIRAOI - NOBORIBETSU (B)(D)
We'll proceed to the town of Shiraoi, visiting Porotokotan (Shiraoi Ainu Museum), an outdoor reproduction of a small Ainu village. Interesting exhibits and artifacts are displayed in the conventional museum relating to the history, culture, and lifestyle of the Ainu - the indigenous people of northern Japan. Enjoy a traditional Ainu song and dance performance in a chise (Ainu home) performed by some of the villagers, including a demonstration of how to play the mukkur, a kind of mouth harp made of a piece of thin-shaved bamboo with a thread attached to it. We'll continue on to Noboribetsu, one of Hokkaido's most famous hot spring resort, part of the Shikotsu-Toya National Park. Enjoy a visit to Noboribetsu Date Jidaimura, a history theme park highlighting the Edo Period, one of the most attractive era in Japanese history. Step back in time to enjoy the traditional games, activities, street performances and more. The charm of ancient Japan is abundant as you mingle with the Ninja and Oiran courtesans, symbolic of the Edo Period. We'll spend the night in a beautiful onsen resort in Noboribetsu, surrounded by forested hills. Before checking in, we'll visit Jigokudani (Hell Valley), a spectacular ravine located just above the town of Noboribetsu. Displays of hot steam vents, sulfurous streams and other volcanic activity can be viewed at this magnificent site - the main source of Noboribetsu's hot spring waters. Enjoy a delicious dinner and relax in the indoor and outdoor baths of our fabulous onsen hotel this evening.
Accommodations at NOBORIBETSU GRAND HOTEL or similar
Tuesday, July 8 (Day 04)
NOBORIBETSU - LAKE TOYA - NIKI - OTARU (B)(D)
Our travel continues on to view scenic Lake Toya, a large volcanic caldera lake in the Shikotsu-Toya National Park. This picturesque lake was chosen as the location of the G8 summit which Japan hosted in the summer of 2008. In addition to the lake, this region features an active volcano - Mt. Showa Shinzan, one of Japan's youngest and still active mountain. Showa Shinzan originally emerged as a little bump, but after a series of earthquakes and mud slides, continued to surge upwards to reach its present height. It is an awesome sight to see as it sits there hissing steam. Mt. Usu-zan, the force behind the creation of Showa Shinzan can be seen in the distance. Enjoy a ride on the Usuzan Ropeway to the upper observation deck offering a close-up view of the volcano's summit, panoramic views of Lake Toya and the neighboring Showa Shizan. We'll travel to Niki, a town known for its fruit orchards to enjoy a fruit picking adventure. We'll continue on to visit Otaru, a charming port city facing Ishikari Bay located in western Hokkaido. A well-known symbol of the city is Otaru Canal, adorned with Victorian-style street lamps. Many of the buildings along the canal has been restored into museums, restaurants, and shops. Enjoy strolling through the main street to browse through the sweet shops, glassware shops, and a music box museum. Otaru is also noted for its intricate glassware featuring its most popular item - a drip-free soy sauce bottle. Created in all sizes, shapes and colors, this is one of the most popular item to bring home as a souvenir. We'll spend the night in a quaint hotel in Otaru. Dinner will be provided for you this evening.
Accommodations at HOTEL OTARU NORDE or similar
Wednesday, July 9 (Day 05)
OTARU - SAPPORO (B)(D)
The first beer brewed in Japan was in Sapporo and the island of Hokkaido has since had a reputation of brewing the best beer. Enjoy a guided tour of the Asahi Beer Hokkaido Brewery, a leading brewery and soft drink company in Hokkaido - noted as one of the "Big Four" breweries. At the conclusion of the tour, samples of some of their delicious products will be available for us to enjoy in the tasting room. We'll continue on to experience an exciting ride on the ski lift at the Okurayama Ski Jump Stadium, a venue located on the eastern slopes of Mt. Okura. The stadium has hosted a number of winter sport events including the 1972 Winter Olympics and FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in 2007. Currently, it is used as a prime training facility for athletes of Nordic events. We'll spend the night in Sapporo, the fifth largest and capital city of Hokkaido. On arrival, we'll drive through the city to view Tokei-dai (Clock Tower), the symbolic landmark of Sapporo mounted on the Russian-style Memorial Hall and Odori Park, a wide promenade bordered with beautiful flowerbeds. Odori Park is the site of the Winter Snow Festival held annually during the month of February. Sapporo is well-known for its delicious ramen and for a lunch option, you may want to try some at Ramen Yokocho - a narrow lane lined with many small shops serving several varieties of Sapporo ramen. Ramen Yokocho is located in Susukino, one of Japan's largest and liveliest entertainment district north of Tokyo packed with shops, bars, restaurants, karaoke shops, pachinko parlors and red-light establishments. A delicious dinner will be provided for you at a local restaurant this evening.
Accommodations at SAPPORO CENTURY ROYAL HOTEL or similar
Thursday, July 10 (Day 6)
SAPPORO - FURANO - BIEI - ASAHIKAWA (B)(D)
Our journey continues on to the city of Furano, a city noted for its breathtaking lavender flowers in bloom during the summer season. We'll visit Farm Tomita, one of Hokkaido's premier flower farms to enjoy the extraordinary sight of lavender and other varieties of colorful flowers planted in rows creating a 'rainbow field' of flowers. We'll drive north through the picturesque town of Biei, noted as the 'town of beautiful hills'. The scenic view of its vast fields, hills and trees has been used as a backdrop for many Japanese commercials and television programs. The town of Biei is also noted for the Shinzo Maeda Photo Art Gallery featuring works by a Japanese photographer famous for his beautiful landscape photos. Hokkaido has the ideal climate and water conditions to produce superior sake. At the Otokoyama Sake Brewery, observe the step-by-step process of sake production through interesting displays, photos, and exhibits. At the conclusion of the tour, some of their delicious products will be available for you to sample and enjoy. We'll spend the night in Asahikawa, Hokkaido's second largest city. Dinner will be provided for you this evening.
Accommodations at ASAHIKAWA GRAND HOTEL or similar
Friday, July 11 (Day 7)
ASAHIKAWA - HORONOBE - WAKKANAI (B)(D)
We'll travel north through the towns of Horonobe and Toyotomi to Wakkanai, a city located at the northern fringe of Hokkaido. En route, we'll make a stop to visit the Sarobetsu Primeval Flower Garden, home to hundreds of alpine wetland plants and flowers (weather permitting). On arrival in Wakkanai, we'll visit Wakkanai Koen, a large park offering commanding views of the area. Featured in the park are several interesting monuments including the 'Monument to Nine Ladies' - a memorial commemorating the nine female operators working at a Sakhalin Island telegraph station who committed suicide at the post office after they learned about the fall of Karafuto (Sakhalin) to Russian troops. Also featured in the park is the 'Monument to Taro and Jiro', two Siberian huskies that an Antarctic expedition was forced to leave behind. When the trainer returned with another expedition the following year, much to his surprise, he was warmly greeted by the two dogs who had survived a whole Antarctic winter. Their story is detailed in the 1983 film Nankyoku Monogatari. Weather permitting, from Cape Noshappu at the northwestern end of the city, you may be able to see Rishiri Island and Rebun Island - two windswept islands off the northern tip. We will spend the night in the city. Dinner will be provided for you this evening at the hotel.
Accommodations at WAKKANAI ANA HOTEL or similar
Saturday, July 12 (Day 08)
WAKKANAI - LAKE KUTCHARO - NAYORO - SOUNKYO (B)(D)
This morning, we'll visit Soya-Misaki (Cape Soya), located at the northernmost point of the island of Hokkaido and Japan - a lonely but significant spot. To commemorate this fact stands a large 'Northernmost Point Monument' - a gray concrete triangle engraved with accomplishments. Next to this monument is the 'Statue of Mamiya Rinzo', a Japanese explorer from the Edo period famous for his explorations and mapping of Karafuto (Sakhalin) and discovering it was an island. In the hills behind the cape near the lighthouse are several additional monuments: The 'Tower of Prayer' - a memorial of Korean Air Lines Flight 007 that was shot down in 1983 with its tip pointing toward the direction where the plane went down, and the 'Bell for World Peace', a replica of a bell located in the garden opposite the United Nations Building in New York. We'll continue our journey south to visit Lake Kutcharo, a world famous wetlands area that is home to thousands of swans making their winter migration from northern Siberia to the southern climate of Japan. We'll continue on to spend the night in Sounkyo - a popular hot-spring resort located in the Daisetsu-zan National Park. Enjoy dinner and relax in the hot springs of our onsen hotel this evening.
Accommodations at SOUNKYO KANKO HOTEL or similar
Sunday, July 13 (Day 09)
SOUNKYO - KITAMI - ABASHIRI (B)(D)
The largest of Japan's national parks - Daisetsu-zan - contains the very essence of rugged Hokkaido: vast plains, soaring mountain peaks, hidden gorges, cascading waterfalls, forests, and wilderness. The main route through the park is Sounkyo Gorge - a scenic ravine that extends into the park. For a 5-mile stretch, sheer cliffs rise on both sides of the canyon as the road winds through the mountain. This tame gorge is renowned for its picturesque waterfalls and we'll make a photo stop to view two of the main ones: Ryusei-no-taki (Shooting Star Falls) and Ginga-no-taki (Milky Way Falls). We'll continue on to spend the night at Abashiri, a fishing port overlooked by Mount Tento-zan and the Sea of Okhotsk. Before checking in, we'll visit the Okhotsk Ryuhyo (drift ice) Museum, featuring an interesting video and exhibits that explains the history of the drift ice that flows into the Sea of Okhotsk from the Aurora River during the winter season. Enjoy dinner and relax in the hot springs of our onsen resort this evening.
Accommodations at ABASHIRI KOSO or similar
Monday, July 14 (Day 10)
ABASHIRI - SHIRETOKO (B)(D)
The Abashiri Prison Museum consists of many buildings which were in use until the year 1984. Only the most heinous criminals were banished to this forbidden northern outpost known as the 'Alcatraz' of Japan. The cells, watch towers, and prison farm buildings show how stark and monotonous life was for inmates, relieved only by restricted bathhouse visits. Anguished-looking mannequins bring it all to life as we retrace the history of convict labor and the harsh life of a prisoner on a tour of this open-air site. We'll proceed east to Utoro, located on the west coast of Shiretoko and make a photo stop at the Oshin Koshin Waterfall - selected as "one of the 100 most beautiful waterfalls of Japan:". The peninsula, Shiretoko-hanto, remains as one of the most remote wilderness in Japan and is known for its healthy brown bear population. As we enter the Shiretoko National Park at Utoro - the main gateway to the park - we'll board the Shiretoko Tourist Ship 'Aurora' to enjoy a scenic cruise along the peninsula in the Sea of Okhotsk, skirting the shores with impressive views of rugged cliffs and mountains (weather permitting). Located within the peninsula are the Shiretoko Go-Ko (Five Lakes), a collection of five small lakes grouped together between the sea and the mountains. This evening, enjoy a fabulous dinner and relax in the hot springs of our elegant hotel.
Accommodations at SHIRETOKO DAI-ICHI HOTEL or similar
Tuesday, July 15 (Day 11)
SHIRETOKO - LAKE AKAN - TOKACHIGAWA ONSEN (B)(D)
We'll travel southwest to enjoy a spectacular view of Lake Mashu from an observation point (weather permitting). The small isle (actually a lava hill rising from the lake bottom) in the center of the lake is known to the Ainu as the 'Isle of the Gods'. On a clear day, the clarity of the water and its intense blue color is quite startling - its transparency depth was once a world record. We'll make a stop to view Kami-no-ko Ike (God's child's pond), an amazing iridescent blue hue of water derived from minerals - so beautiful. Smoking volcanoes, 'Me-Akan' and O'kan' watch over Akan-ko (Lake Akan), but the lake is best known for its marimo, a rare spherical green algae designated as a Special Natural Monument. Marimo is formed when separate pieces of algae at the bottom of the lake roll around and eventually form into balls, gradually growing larger and larger. We'll enjoy a boat cruise on Lake Akan, providing us with a close-up view of the mountains, islands, and into remote sections of the lake. A brief stop will be made at Churui Islet to view live marimo in large tanks at the Marimo Exhibition and Observation Center. We'll continue on to spend the night in Tokachigawa. Enjoy dinner and relax in the hot springs of our onsen hotel this evening.
Accommodations at TOKACHIGAWA DAI-ICHI HOTEL or similar
Wednesday, July 16 (Day 12)
TOKACHIGAWA - CHITOSE TO HONOLULU (B)
This morning, we'll begin our journey west to the Chitose International Airport for our flight home. En route, we'll stop in the city of Ikeda, a small town located in East Tokachi. We'll visit the Ikeda Wine Castle, to observe the wine making process of Tokachi wine. Samples of some of their local wines or grape juice will be available for us to enjoy. The famous gardener, Akiyo Shichiku, once had an ambition to make Hokkaido into an island of flowers. The popular Shichiku Garden is one of the most famous colorful gardens in Japan, creating a dream to those who adore the beauty of flowers. Weather permitting, we'll make a stop to view this picturesque garden. We'll continue on to the Chitose International Airport to check-in for our direct flight home to Honolulu, arriving in the morning of the same day due to the crossing of the International Date Line. A light meal will be served on board the flight
The tour price is based on double occupancy and a minimum group size of 20 passengers. Fare adjustment may apply for groups of 20 or under. The rate is based on tariffs and exchange rates effective 10/1/13. Tour fare is subject to change according to any airfare increase, fuel surcharge increase and fluctuation of the rate of exchange between U.S. and foreign currency. In the event of revaluation, the land portion of the tour price may be adjusted prior to your final statement.
Land portion based on 97 Yen = $1.00 U.S.
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