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Wonders of Japan
Our friends at PhotoFly Travel Club ( ) have invited us to a one of a kind adventure throughout Japan! E-mail [masked] for the DAILY ITINERARY! Sign up at: Our Japan group tours are chock full of diverse activities including unique cultural experiences, fantastic landscape & people photography, and all the beautiful temples and architecture which make Japan so iconic. E-mail us at [masked] for the daily itinerary! * 9 nights/10 days throughout the highlights of Japan * Breakfast Everyday * 1 lunch, 3 Dinners (Welcome Dinner & Farewell Dinner) Tokyo: 2 Nights Everything that you have heard about Tokyo is true – and it is not. For if ever there was a city that you could not confine to one definition, this would be it. The never-ending hustle and bustle of the city creates an energy that is quite contagious. One minute you may be elevated 450 metres above ground overlooking Tokyo’s sprawling metropolis, the next you might be cheering on two sumo wrestlers tackle each other in the sumo stadium. Despite the presence of people and stores everywhere, there is an order that allows things to work efficiently, seemingly against the odds. Tradition and technology stand side by side in this city that can be whatever you want to make of it. Highlights: * Privately guided tour throughout Tokyo (Meihi Shrine, Harajuku Fashion District, Imperial Palace Plaza, Asakusa Kanon Temple, Ginza area): – The Electric Town: Experience Akihabara, an otherworldly place filled with bizarre “Japanime” oddities, neon signs, and streets & alleys lined with vendors selling every type of new and used electronics you can think of! - Asakusa Kanon Temple (Sensoji Temple): See and photography Tokyo’s oldest and most famous Buddhist Temple. – Shinjuku: Great restaurants, shops, neon lights everywhere you look, and everything in-between. The “Times Square” of Tokyo! Need we say more? Matsumoto & the Snow Monkeys of Hell’s Valley: 1 night Embraced by seven great peaks to the west (3 above 10,000 ft!) and three smaller sentinels to the east, Matsumoto (松本) showcases views of the regal Alps everywhere you look. Admirers from around the world come to enjoy its superb castle, pretty streets, galleries, cafes and endearing vistas. – From Lonely Planet. Not far from this great historic city lies Hell’s Valley. But the only thing reminiscent of hell is the red colored faces of the adorable snow monkeys who live amongst a world of frigid white snow! Highlights: * Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park: This is the only place in the world where families of red faced monkeys enjoy a hot bath in the middle of the mountains! The Snow Monkeys live at the foot of the Shiga Highlands in Jigokudani Valley, which translates to Hell’s Valley. Since it’s quite cold and snowy here in the winter, one wonders where this name came from? The area is also known for its abundance of natural hot water springs. We’ll go on a short hike to reach these amazing creatures relaxing and keeping warm in a beautiful Japanese Onsen (Hot Spring) just like us humans! The photography will be mind blowing. * Matsumoto & Her Castle: Matsumoto is an alpine city surrounded on all sides by the towering peaks of the Japan Alps, reminiscent of its European counterpart. The city is most famous for its original castle; one of the only original castles in Japan offering a sense of how the samurai used to live and fight. Explore and learn about the “castle” itself on an optional visit. The city also boasts a number of sake breweries hidden in the backstreets amongst the traditional buildings, a good museum of Ukiyoe woodblock prints, and is the home of soba noodles, the delicious local speciality. You can also try one of the city’s other local delicacies – raw horse! The city has a really relaxed atmosphere and a cosmopolitan feel befitting of a city renowned for its musicians and authors. The famous violin teacher, Suzuki (of the Suzuki method) originated from Matsumoto and you will find a commemorative statue on the street opposite the station. Takayama: 2 Nights Mountains in Japan were once believed to be the sacred dwelling places of divine spirits. The Hida, Kiso, and Akaishi ranges, known collectively as the Japan Alps, rise majestically in northern Honshu. Takayama lies in the heart of the Hida Mountains. Established in the 16th century as a castle town of the Kanamori family, it’s now famous throughout Japan for its old town area of narrow streets containing many well-preserved inns, tea houses, shops and merchants houses with latticed windows and overhanging roofs characteristic of the Edo period. The town has many shrines and temples of its own, giving rise to it’s nickname: ‘Little Kyoto’. Just on the outskirts of the town is the fascinating Hida folk village where old farm houses from across the Hida region have been brought together and rebuilt (beam by beam) on a hillside overlooking the town. A stay in Takayama is a chance to get a feel for a way of life that really has all but disappeared from modern Japan. Highlights: * Privately guided tour throughout Takayama: - Takayama Morning Market: Located on the bank of the Miyagawa River, the market is famous and well worth a visit to see the stands selling local farm produce, flowers and crafts. We’ll get some awesome photographs of the local culture here. There are also great micro sake breweries where we’ll have the chance to sample the beer, Takayama’s most famous product! - Takayama’s Old Town : Visit and photograph Takayama Jinya, the old government house. Head back in time as we walk the streets of this merchant town filled with old homes, shops, coffee houses and sake breweries, some of which have been in business for centuries. Other highlights include the Kusakabe Folk House & Floating Museum, & Yatai Kaikan (Festival Float House). - Optional Hida Folk Village Tour: This open air museum exhibits over 30 traditional houses from the Hida region, the mountainous district of Gifu Prefecture around Takayama. The houses were built during the Edo Period (1603 – 1867) and were relocated from their original locations to create the museum in 1971. In a village-like atmosphere, the museum features buildings such as the former village head’s house, logging huts, storehouses and a number of gassho-zukuri farmhouses. These massive farmhouses are named after their steep thatched roofs which resemble a pair of hands joined in prayer (“gassho”). They were moved here from nearby Shirakawago; these gassho-zukuri houses are the reason for the region’s World Heritage status. Hiroshima & Charming Miyajima Island: 1 Night Hiroshima is a city that needs little introduction. It is of course well-known for being the site of one of two atomic bombs dropped on Japan at the end of the Second World War. Despite its tragic past, Hiroshima is now a bustling and vibrant city which has risen phoenix-like from the ashes. No visit to Hiroshima would be complete without sampling okonomiyaki, a Japanese savoury pancake. Choose the ingredients and one of the cooks makes it on a hot plate right in front of our eyes. If the smell doesn’t tickle your taste buds, the taste will leave you screaming for more. While in Hiroshima we’ll take a ferry ride to Miyajima Island where the world famous Itsukushima Shrine is located. Hiroshima: *Privately guided tour of Hiroshima: – Memorial Peace Park, Museum, & A-Bomb Dome: Experience the poignant reminder that caused Hiroshima’s fame. An afternoon in this part of town might be sobering, but well worth it. The museum tells us the story of this tragic day and we’ll get to walk around the park and see and photograph the A-Bomb Dome (Genbaku Dome), the the only structure left standing in the area where the first atomic bomb exploded on 6 August 1945. - Miyajima Island: Miyajima is small sacred island located in the Inland Sea. It has been a holy place of Shintoism since the earliest times. Here we find perhaps the most photographed site in Japan; The Floating Torii Gate, designated an UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s considered one of Japan’s ‘3 Most Beautiful Views! – Vermilion Torii Gate & Optional Itsukushima Shrine in Miyajima: After a ferry ride to this sacred island we’ll visit the world famous vermilion torii gate at this UNESCO World Heritage Site. If we’re lucky, we’ll see the shrine and gate during high tide when it looks like it’s floating in the middle of the sea. Entrance to the shrine itself is optional (not included) but it’s not necessary to go inside to experience the incredible surroundings and views of the torii gate. Miyajima has been selected as one of Japan’s three most scenic places. Though the island itself is unfairly overshadowed by its beautiful gate, the semi-wild deer, gorgeous temples, and superb nature trails are more than worth the experience even it wasn’t there… Kyoto: 4 nights Oozing with tradition, Kyoto is the ultimate destination for anybody who wants to soak up time-honoured Japanese culture. Home to 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites, over 1,600 Buddhist temples and 400 Shinto shrines, this ancient city showcases the heart and soul of traditional Japan. Kyoto boasts an array of world-class gardens, majestic festivals, and delicate cuisine. Together, they make up the rhythms of nature and the changing of the seasons. On first glance however, visitors will see that like any large Japanese city, grid-like Kyoto has its fair share of neon and concrete. But the discerning eye will soon pick out Kyoto’s treasures: sacred shrines tucked in among shopping arcades, time-honoured teahouses nestled among modern businesses, and mysterious geisha scuttling down backstreets among the tourists and souvenirs. Kyoto’s charm lies in the details and the closer we look, the more we’ll discover. Highlights: * Privately Guided Tour of Kyoto: – Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavillion): Covered with 18 carat gold leaf, this three story structure was originally built by the Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu in 1397. – Jingoji Temple: Famous for the beautiful autumn colors which enshroud the temple, a long set of stone stairs make for an impressive approach with great photo ops. The temple grounds feature a large entrance gate and multiple halls, as well as a path to an observation point with views over the valley. – Kiyomizu Temple: Visit and photograph the famous Kiyomizu Temple, best known for its wooden stage that juts out 13 meters above the hillside below. The stage affords visitors a nice view of the numerous cherry and maple trees that erupt in a sea of color in spring and fall, as well as skyline view of Kyoto in the distance. – Gion District (The Old Geisha Quarter) & Optional Authentic Tea Ceremony:Experience the world famous Geisha’s in their ancient district of Gion. At a local machiya (tea house) in this area we’ll begin our tea ceremony (optional, not included). “The way of tea” is one of Japan’s traditional cultural practices, and is a name given to an art that synthesizes the preparation and drinking of tea together with spirituality, history, architecture, the appreciation of handmade tea utensils. This is a truly unique experience for our time in Kyoto. – Free time in Kyoto to explore on your own – Fushimi Inari Shrine: Visit and photograph the famous Kiyomizu Temple, best known for its wooden stage that juts out 13 meters above the hillside below. The stage affords visitors a nice view of the numerous cherry and maple trees that erupt in a sea of color in spring and fall, as well as skyline view of Kyoto in the distance. *Japan is wonderful country to see by train and of course they are world famous for their advanced bullet train system. For many of our journeys between each city we visit, we’ll use this fun and efficient way to travel the country. This is one place where local public transit is a lot faster than using a vehicle! * All Transfers, All Rail tickets, All Public Transit Passes, All Entry fees and activities as listed in the daily itinerary, & Taxes included! * Tour Leader and photographer to help those interested in photography throughout these Japan group tours * International Airfare is not included. We are happy to help you find a good flight as always! (Flying into Narita International Airport in Tokyo (NRT) and departing from Kansai International Airport (KIX) in Osaka) E-mail us at [masked] for the daily itinerary! Join Us! *For our solo travelers I will pair you up with someone of the same sex unless single occupancy is requested. Price: $[masked] *Single Supplement:[masked] OR Deposit: $600.00 Go here to sign up:

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