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2014 Tohoku Ohanami Tour

April 20 - 30, 2014 (11 Days & 9 Nights)

(deposit must be made by 09/15/2013)

 Narita, Hitachi Seaside Park, Mito, Daigo, Fukuroda Falls, MiharuTakizakura, Akiu Onsen, Shiroishi, Matsushima Bay, Zuiganji Temple, Hanaizumi Flower World, Geibikei Gorge, Hiraizumi, Chusonji Temple, Tensochi Park, Hanamaki Onsen, Morioka, Towada, Hakkoda-Towada Gold Line, Asamushi Onsen, Nebuta-no-Sato, Hirosaki Castle, Odaiko no Yakata, Akita, Kakunodate, Tendo, Kasumigajo Park, Tsuruga-jo, Iimoriyama Hill,Aizu Wakamatsu, Koriyama, Sukagawa Shibazakura, Ashikaga,Tsutsujigaoka Park, Tokyo

 Check out a video on Tohoku

$ 4,980 per person
$ 585 per person
$ 3,860 per person
 (Individual arrangements to meet group are not included) 

Sunday, April 20 (Day 01)
Our tour commences this morning when we assemble at the departure lobby at the airport for baggage check-in procedures. We will depart for Narita International Airport. Lunch and a snack will be served on board the flight.

Monday, April 21 (Day 02)
We’ll arrive Narita Airport 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. On arrival, we’ll visit a flower paradise at Hitachi Seaside Park, featuring “Miharashi No Oka” a hill commanding a panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean. The park is best known for its delicate blue nemophilas - flowers with transparent blue petals blooming over the hillside, creating a breathtaking sight (weather permitting). These flowers are also known as baby-blue-eyes as they resemble baby’s eyes. Aside from nemophilas, daffodils, tulips, and many other flowers are in bloom spread out in gardens throughout the park. 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

Tuesday, April 22 (Day 03)
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 from a giant 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 Miharu Takizakura, (waterfall cherry tree), an ancient tree said to be over 1,000 years old. Weather permitting, we’ll view this giant weeping higan cherry tree with its light pink flowers spread out in all directions from the branches, like a waterfall. Designated a national treasure in 1922, it is classified as one the five great cherry trees in Japan. We’ll continue on to spend the night in the city of Akiu in Miyagi prefecture. Enjoy dinner and relax in the hot springs at our fabulous onsen hotel this evening.

Accommodations at NEW MITOYA HOTEL or similar

Wednesday, April 23 (Day 04)
Kokeshi 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 your own creation on one of them to take home as a souvenir. Weather permitting, 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 as we continue on our journey through the Tohoku region. We’ll continue on 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 one with a name relating to a Japanese legend. Before checking-in, we’ll visit Zuiganji Temple, one of Tohoku’s finest Zen temples featuring elegant painted screens, interior carvings, and its beautifully painted sliding doors. We’ll spend the night in a beautiful hotel overlooking the bay. Dinner will be provided for you this evening.

Accommodations at MATSUSHIMA CENTURY HOTEL or similar 

Thursday, April 24 (Day 05)
We’ll travel to the city of Hanaizumi, visiting the Hanaizumi Flower World, one of the largest peony gardens in the Tohoku area. 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 to Ichinoseki in Iwate prefecture and board a flat-bottomed boat to enjoy a cruise on the peaceful waters of Geibikei Gorge piloted 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 the 100 best cherry blossom viewing sites 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

Friday, April 25 (Day 06)
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 featuring waterfalls, each with its own unique name. Experience mountain beauty and marvel at the snow-covered trees and snow corridor as we drive through a section of the Hakkoda Towada Gold Line (Snow Corridor). Enjoy dinner and relax in the hot springs this evening at our elegant onsen hotel.

Accommodations at ASAMUSHI KAISENKAKU HOTEL or similar

Saturday, April 26 (Day 07)
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 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), a museum displaying an interesting collection of drums from all over the world., including the ‘Big Drum of Tsuzureko’, the world’s largest drum. We’ll continue on to the town of Akita, the capital city of Akita prefecture to spend the night. Dinner will be provided for you this evening at our hotel.

Accommodations at AKITA VIEW HOTEL or similar

Sunday, April 27 (Day 08)
Our journey continues on to Kakunodate, a former castle town noted as one of Tohoku region’s most popular ohanami sites with hundreds of shidarezakura (weeping cherry trees) lined along the central avenue of the town. Weather permitting, we may also be able to view delicate 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 bukeyashiki (samurai houses), 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. A visit to one of them offers a rare glimpse into the life of a samurai and the common townspeople. Kakunodate is also noted for their traditional kaba-zaiku, wooden craft ware using the bark of wild cherry trees. Several of these intricate pieces are exhibited in the Kakunodate Museum of Traditional Crafts. We’ll continue on to overnight in Tendo, a town noted for the manufacture of shogi (Japanese chess pieces). Enjoy dinner and relax in the hot springs at our fabulous onsen hotel this evening. 

Accommodations at TAKINO-YU ONSEN or similar

Monday, April 28 (Day 09)
This morning, our drive takes us through Yamagata prefecture to view beautiful cherry blossoms in bloom at Kasumigajo Park - noted as one of the 100 best cherry blossom viewing sites in Japan (weather permitting). Enjoy a leisure stroll to view more cherry blossoms in bloom on the grounds of Matsugasaki Koen, the former residence of the Date and Uesugi clan. We’ll proceed to the castle town of Aizu Wakamatsu in Fukushima prefecture to visit the grounds of Tsuruga-jo, a traditional castle noted as an important Tokugawa stronghold in the Tohoku region. We’ll climb to the top of Iimoriyama Hill where the tombs of the 19 samurai youths - members of the Byakkotai (White Tiger Corps) who were ordered into battle against the Meiji government soldiers are located. After their defeat, they retreated to Iimoriyama Hill and committed seppuku or ritual suicide when they presumed that their castle - Tsuruga-jo - was on fire and all was lost. On the hilltop and along the pathway are several monuments, statues, and other buildings of interest devoted to the Byakkotai. Dinner will be provided for you this evening at our hotel in the city of Koriyama in Fukushima prefecture.

Accommodations at HOTEL HAMATSU KORIYAMA or similar

Tuesday, April 29 (Day 10)
We’ll continue on our ohanami tour to visit Hirata Village, site of a spectacular view of shibazakura (pink and 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 is at the Ashikaga Flower Park in Ashikaga city, best known for its breathtaking 100-year-old blue, white, and pink wisteria blooming 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 displaying thousands of these carp streamers along the Tsuruda 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 HOTEL METROPOLITAN IKEBUKURO or similar

Wednesday, April 30 (Day 11)
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.

 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 6/1/13. 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 95 Yen = $1.00 U.S.

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