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Your journey of discovery begins in Japan's ancient capital of Kyoto. The city contains more than 2,000 temples and shrines and was Japan’s capital for nearly 1,000 years before Tokyo became the capital in 1869. A sightseeing tour includes some of the city's most historic attractions including the Golden Pavilion, Heian Shrine and Kinkakuji Temple. At Nijo Castle, see if you can walk silently across the Nightingale Floor, ingeniously designed to "chirp" if intruders penetrated into the Shogun’s private quarters. Dine with a Geisha and tour the tranquil Zen gardens of Kodai-ji Temple. Then step aboard the world-famous bullet train and head to the coast, continuing by ferry across the Inland Sea to Miyajima Island. See the 6th century Itsukushima Shrine before stopping at the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, a moving reminder of the destruction of the Atomic bomb.
Depart Kyoto and travel into the Japan Alps, a mountainous area in central Honshu featuring rugged peaks, quaint villages and year-round resort towns. Stop in Kanazawa, a designated City of Crafts and Folk Art where you can see skilled artisans at work practicing crafts hundreds of years old. See more traditional handiwork in Shirakawago, with its famous "joined hands" farmhouses. And in the spa resort town of Takayama, discover beautifully preserved buildings and whole streets of houses dating from the Edo Period (1600-1868), when the city thrived as a wealthy town of merchants. Here you'll also enjoy a tasting of fine regional sake and tour the fascinating Folk Craft Museum which houses parade floats dating back 400 years.
Travel on to Tokyo, a fascinating city of contrasts, combining 21st century exuberance with ancient traditions. Stay in the bustling heart of the Shinjuku shopping district with its towering animated billboards and abundant eateries. Ascend Tokyo Tower for stunning views and stroll through the bustling Nakamise Arcade to Asakusa Kannon Temple, the oldest temple in the city. Visit the world-famous Tsukiji Fish Market then join a master chef to learn how to prepare restaurant-quality sushi before dining on your efforts.
• 11 nights in deluxe and first-class hotels: 5 nights in Kyoto, 1 night in Kanazawa, 2 nights in Takayama and 3 nights in Tokyo
• 14 meals - Daily breakfast and 3 lunches
• All on-tour transportation by rail, ferry and coach
• Services of a professional trip leader
• Comprehensive escorted sightseeing with all entry fees
• Hotel to hotel baggage handling
July 14, 2014: Kyoto’s Gion Festival
Delight in the centuries-old traditions of this ancient celebration when Kyoto is filled with color, music and light. Join the mid-summer revelry, see the festive decorations and witness a spectacular parade of gigantic floats pulled by teams of men in traditional garb. Experience all this and more on a July 14 festival departure.
April 8, 2015: Takayama Spring Festival
Discover the beauty of Japan at the peak of spring on a special April 2015 departure. Delight in the delicate pink blooms of Japan’s renowned cherry blossoms and experience the Takayama Spring Festival in this lovely Alpine town. It’s a joyous celebration featuring colorful traditions like a lantern-lit night market and a magnificent parade with enormous floats, many ingeniously animated and dating back to the 17th century.
Day 1 - Welcome to Kyoto
AAA Complimentary Inclusion: Enjoy a complimentary extra night in Kyoto before your tour at the Hotel Granvia Kyoto, including breakfast the following day.
Accommodation: Hotel Granvia Kyoto - 5 nights
Day 2 - Kyoto
Enjoy a free day in Kyoto to relax or explore the city on your own.
Day 3 - The Best of Kyoto
Spend the day exploring the most significant historic treasures of this city. Expertly guided city sightseeing includes Nijo Castle with its ingenious "Nightingale Floor," the vermilion-hued Heian Shrine and Kinkakuji Temple – the glittering Golden Pavilion. Engaging Experience: Delve into Japan’s enduring traditions when you dine with a Geisha at midday and tour the tranquil Zen meditation gardens of Kodai-ji Temple.
Day 4 - The Inland Sea, Miyajima & Hiroshima
This picturesque island nation is criss-crossed by an extensive network of trains and ferries, running with a well-deserved reputation for punctuality and efficiency. This morning you’ll have a chance to experience both these forms of transport as you join residents and visitors alike to travel by train and then ferry from Kyoto across the lovely island-dotted Inland Sea to Miyajima Island. Visit Itsukushima Shrine, established in the 6th century, and marvel at the magnificent red Torii Gate which rises from the sea.
Then return to the main island of Honshu to visit Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park where the Memorial Museum stands as a sobering reminder of the destruction wrought by the Atomic bomb.
Day 5 - Nara, Japan’s First Capital
Engaging Experience: On a morning excursion to ancient Nara, visit the magnificent Todai-ji Temple, one of the largest wooden structures in the world and home to an enormous statue of Buddha. Then stroll along the lantern-lined forest paths of Kasuga Shrine before returning to Kyoto.
Day 6 - Travel to Kanazawa
Travel by rail to Kanazawa and visit the Nomura Samurai Residence and Kutani Kosen Pottery Studio to see skilled artisans at work. Then explore Kenrokuen, revered as one of the very best landscaped gardens in all of Japan.
Accommodation: ANA Crowne Plaza Hotel - 1 night
Day 7 - Into the Japan Alps to Shirakawago and Takayama
Journey to the mountain hamlet of Shirakawago, famous for its ancient "Joined Hands" farmhouses. These unique homes, many built by hand more than 100 years ago, derive their name from the steeply pitched thatch roofs that give the appearance of two hands joined together in prayer.
Accommodation: Associa Takayama Resort - 2 nights
Day 8 - Takayama
Visit the city’s morning market and then admire perfectly-preserved buildings like Takayama Jinya, an imposing government hall of the Edo period. Engaging Experience: Enjoy a tasting of fine regional sake and tour the fascinating Folk Craft Museum. At the Festival Floats Exhibit Hall, see enormous parade floats dating back 400 years, many with cleverly engineered figures that can be animated when these floats are used in the town’s colorful spring and autumn festivals.
Day 9 - Onward to Tokyo
Journey by rail to Tokyo and transfer to your hotel, ideally located in bustling Shinjuku. After time to refresh, join your guide for a walking tour in the vibrant, modern district where you’re staying. The area is popular with Tokyo residents for shopping, dining and entertainment.
Accommodation: Keio Plaza Hotel - 3 nights
Day 10 - Tsukiji Fish Market & Tokyo Sightseeing
Engaging Experience: Early this morning, enjoy a special visit to the world-famous Tsukiji Fish Market where the city’s best chefs come to procure the freshest seafood. Then join one such master chef to learn the art of preparing restaurant-quality sushi. Enjoy the results of your efforts for lunch.
Later, ascend the Tokyo City View Observatory for panoramic views over the capital and visit the Mori Museum. Then stroll along the colorful Nakamise Arcade to Asakusa Kannon Temple, the oldest in the city.
Day 11 - Mt. Fuji & Hakone
Travel to the 5th Station of Mt. Fuji and continue to Hakone National Park. Enjoy a cruise across the placid waters of picturesque Lake Ashi and ascend Mt. Komagatake by cable car for sweeping views over mountains and forest. Experience the Earth’s powerful geothermal forces in the Owakudani Valley and then return to Tokyo.
Day 12 - Depart Tokyo
Your journey ends this morning after breakfast.
Limitations & Restrictions
*Prices are per person based on double occupancy, are subject to availability at time of booking, and may change without notice. Price given based on Jun 18, 2014 departure date; rates for other departure dates may be higher. Single supplement may apply. The $100 per person Family & Friends savings is based on 4 people traveling together. Note that if a single traveler brings a couple for a total of 3 people traveling together, then all guests receive an extra $50 per person discount (not $100). Except for packages including air transportation, unless stated otherwise, airfare, taxes and government fees are not included. Offers valid for new bookings only. Member Benefits are per person and apply to first and second traveler only. Member Benefits are available only with advertised fare and are subject to change without notice. Your travel arrangements may be modified or canceled subject to the travel providers’ policies. Blackout dates and other restrictions may apply. We make every effort for accuracy at time of printing but reserve the right to correct errors. AAA Travel strongly recommends the purchase of trip protection insurance. Except for packages including air transportation, fares may not reflect additional fuel supplement or port charges and vary by provider.
**Restrictions apply to the AAA Vacations® Best Price Guarantee and 24/7 Member Care. Should you find a valid better rate for the exact same itinerary within 24 hours of booking, AAA will match the lower rate. Ask your AAA Travel Counselor for details.
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