Day 1 (Monday): Tokyo
TODAY´S HIGHLIGHTS: Evening transfer to Plaka neighbourhood.
Arrival to Athens. At night we provide and evening transfer to PLAKA area. This neighbourhood is full of small Greek taverns where you can enjoy the rich folklore of this country.
Day 2 (Tuesday): Tokyo
A tour of this impressive city is included. We will visit the Meiji Shinto shrine, the most famous in Tokyo, dedicated to the spirit of the Emperor Meiji and his wife the Empress Shoken. We will have the opportunity to see this bustling city and sophisticated districts such as Omotesando, which has wide tree-lined avenues and boutiques surrounded by peaceful, tranquil areas. During the visit, we will go to Roppongi Hills, a modern area with large squares, art galleries, offices, boulevards and cinema theatres. We will walk around the perimeter of the Imperial Palace and visit the district of Akihabara, the electric town, which is packed with Manga and Anime goods. On the way, we will pass by the Kokugikan stadium, where tournaments of the traditional Japanese Sumo are held. We will also visit the Temple of the Goddess of Mercy Asakusa Kannon. Later, in Yasukuni Jinja, we have the chance to meditate on the subject of peace at the shrine built as a memorial to the 2.5 million Japanese citizens who died during World War II; visitors who want to can visit the war museum (admission to the museum is not included). Free afternoon. Our guide may recommend a boat trip through the city. Lunch included.
Day 3 (Wednesday): Tokyo - Kyoto
We take the BULLET TRAIN to KYOTO. We leave early in the morning and in just over two hours our train will have travelled the almost 500 km between both cities. We have all day to visit the city which was the Japanese capital between 794 and 1868 and home of the Imperial Court. During World War II, this city was the only important Japanese city that was not bombarded, and so it still conserves its artistic heritage. The protocol limiting greenhouse gas emissions was signed in Kyoto in the year 1997. A tour of the city with a local guide is included; the visit includes admission to the wonderful shrine of Fushimi Inari, Kinkakuji Temple and the Imperial Palace. Than we have free time to explore the GION, a bustling traditional district that is well known for its Geishas. Free time.
Day 4 (Thursday): Kyoto - Tsumago - Matsumoto
We set out for TSUMAGO, passing attractive country scenery on our way. This small village with its wooden houses is one of the prettiest places in Japan. Free time to explore and lunch included. Then we continue to MATSUMOTO, a tourist city, where we will visit the impressive 16th century castle, known as the “Crow Castle”. Free time to explore this bustling tourist city.
Note: In some tours, we will not sojourn in Matsumoto but in Nagano.
Day 5 (Friday): Matsumoto - Nagano - Monkey Park - Kusatsu - Takasaki
Today our journey takes us through the beautiful Japanese Alps. In NAGANO, we will visit Zenkoji temple, a pilgrimage site where the first Buddhist image of Japan is located. Passengers will have the opportunity to take part in the Gomakuyo ceremony that brings good luck. Then we continue through the mountains to Monkey Park, with lunch included and wander through its forests with their rivers and thermal fountains where colonies of Japanese monkeys live and bathe. Then our journey takes us through beautiful mountain scenery (reaching an altitude of 2,172 metres) with semi-active volcanoes. KUSATSU is an attractive spa city with a lively main square. Our visit includes admission to the Yumomi performance, with actresses who sing songs about the traditional method for cooling spa waters. Then we can stroll through the city park with its outdoor Onsen. Our journey continues to TAKASAKI, where we settle into our hotel.
NOTE: In autumn, monkey migration is unpredictable as it depends on the abundance of fruit in the mountains. If the monkeys do not go down to the park, it may be closed. In winter, the route may be changed due to weather problems (snow). In such cases we will use other roads and eliminate the visit to the Monkey Park. The visit to Kusatsu and the Yumoni performance are cancelled from November to April due to weather conditions.
Day 6 (Saturday): Takasaki - Nikko - Sendai
In Takasaki, we will climb to the top of the hill where Byakuen Daikannon is found, a gigantic statue honouring the Goddess of Mercy. Afterwards, we will resume our journey to NIKKO. In this fantastic town, we will visit the impressive Toshogu shrine with its outstanding room where the clapper of a priest suggests the sound of a crying dragon. We will also visit Taiyuin-byo Mausoleum, a site surrounded by peaceful scenery. We will go for a stroll along the river in Kanmangafuchi, under the attentive watch of hundreds of Jizo statues!
We will enjoy some free time in the city’s centre before departing for SENDAI, a modern, bustling city with more than 1 million inhabitants. You will have a chance to stroll around and have supper in its lively centre.
Day 7 (Sunday): Sendai - Matshushima - Hiraizumi - Morioka
We depart for the marvellous city of MATSHUSHIMA, on the “Thousand Islands” Bay in the Pacific Ocean and considered one of the most attractive cities in Japan. After arriving, we will visit a magnificent “tea house” overlooking the sea and enjoy a cup of traditional tea while our guide tells us about the city. Then we will go on a 50-minute cruise (included). Free time to visit the historical museum, temples or take a walk to the islands which are connected by pretty pedestrian bridges.
Lunch included. We continue to HIRAIZUMI to visit its temples and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Takkoku no Iwaya, carved in the rock in 1801, followed by a visit to the magnificent Buddhist temples of Chusonji. We take time to relax in the gardens of Motsuiji temple, where passengers can take part in a Zen ceremony (admission included).
We then carry on to MORIOKA, the pleasant capital of Iwate province, where we settle in at our hotel and have some free time to explore.
Day 8 (Monday): Morioka - Towada - Aomori - Hakodate
Our journey takes us through beautiful scenery to TOWADA, where we will visit the Towada Art Center, a magnificent contemporary art museum; there we will see works by Japanese and international artists.
Then we continue to AOMORI, the provincial capital, located on Mutsu Bay. Time for visit to Nebuta Museum where we will learn about the Japanese festival tradition, which reminds us of the Carnival, with its vivid, painted floats. Lunch included.
Then we board the ferry to HOKKAIDO Island. The crossing takes just over three and a half hours.
HAKODATE –Arrival-. Before going to our hotel, we will ascend Mount Hakodate, which has wonderful views. We make the descent by cable car. Time in the beautiful city pedestrian centre in which to admire the influence of other cultures in the city (Russian Orthodox and Christian churches).
Day 9 (Tuesday): Hakodate - Onuma - Noboribetsu - Sapporo
In the morning we visit the impressive and busy fish market. Then we climb the GORYOKAKU Tower with its impressive views, from where we can make out the star-shaped fortress of Hakodate. Then we will take a stroll through the castle area before continuing to ONUMA. Free time in this wonderful tourist site, with its countless small islands in which to explore the islands, go on a boat trip and have lunch included.
In the afternoon our journey takes us towards the ocean and NOBORIBETSU, an impressive volcano site, where we can walk amidst geysers in Jigoku Dani (Hell’s Valley), admire the hot spring lake of Oyunuma and follow the path next to the hot spring to the site of the footbath.-
Then we carry on to SAPPORO.- At the end of the day, we arrive at this beautiful city, the capital of North Japan.-
Day 10 (Wednesday): Sapporo - Otaru - Sapporo
City tour (included) stopping at the clock tower and Odori Koen avenue-park, dominated by the telecommunications tower. We will see the beautiful Shinto shrine of Hokkaido Jingu. The visit includes a ceremonial Kito (prayer session) in which we give thanks for the journey. Afterwards we enter Shiroi Koibito (admission included), an attractive theme park and chocolate factory. We then continue to OTARU, a small city with a European air and streets filled with shops, an old canal and tiny museums. Lunch included. We return to Sapporo at about 4pm. Free time in the afternoon.
Day 11 (Thursday): Sapporo
After breakfast, end of our services.