JAPAN CHERRY BLOSSOM
From 28 March to 08 April, 2023
The Sakura of Japan are well known around the world for their radiant, delicate and transient beauty, but they are more than simply beautiful cherry blossom trees. Sakura are tied to Japan’s history, culture and identity.
Each year, the Japanese people gather together to watch the Sakura bloom throughout the month of April and observe how at the peak of their beauty, the blossom start to fall; providing a stark reminder that although life is beautiful, it is also ephemeral and short. Visit Japan in springtime, learn more about the Sakura and find out how you can begin a journey to see them in person.
1. Land Itinerary:
Osaka – Hiroshima – Kyoto – Osaka – Nara – Kyoto – Hamamatsu – Hakone – Ito Onsen – Kamakura – Yokohama – Tokyo
2. Tour Program:
* Day 1 (Thu 30 March): OSAKA (Arrival) – HIROSHIMA
Arrival Osaka-Kansai International Airport at 9:45am. Transfer by private motor coach to Hiroshima [Hiroshima is the capital of Hiroshima Prefecture, the 11th-largest city in Japan by population (1.15 million inhabitants), founded in the late 16th century, was a center of military activities during World War II, thus became the first city in the world targeted by a nuclear weapon on August 6, 1945]. Lunch stop en route at restaurant in service area. Free time at leisure upon arrival in Hiroshima before dinner at a local restaurant. After dinner, transfer to hotel for check-in.
Overnight at Grand Prince Hotel Hiroshima [https://www.princehotels.com/hiroshima/]
* Day 2 (Fri 31 March): HIROSHIMA – OSAKA – KYOTO
Breakfast at hotel. Transfer by coach to Miyajimaguchi ferry terminal; Take a short ferry ride for Miyajima on Itsukushima Island [Miyajima is the main town on the island of Itsukushima, one of the most visited areas in Hiroshima Prefecture thanks to its Itsukushima Shinto shrine with its huge red wooden Torii gate which is constructed offshore]. Visit the Itsukushima Shrine. Lunch at a local restaurant in Miyajima. After lunch take the same ferry boat to go back to Hiroshima. Transfer by coach to the city center’s Peace Memorial Park; Visit the A-Bomb Dome, the skeletal ruins of a building closest to the A-bomb’s hypocenter; Visit the Peace Memorial Park and Museum, dedicated to the memories of the nuclear bomb's 140,000 direct and indirect victims. Transfer to Hiroshima JR Station. Take the Shinkansen Nozomi 138 bullet train, the fastest train service in Japan, for Osaka. Upon arrival, transfer to Dotonburi, a popular nightlife and entertainment area famous for its eccentric atmosphere and large illuminated signboards, for dinner at a local restaurant. After dinner, transfer by coach to hotel in Kyoto for check-in.
Overnight at Miyako hotel Kyoto Hachijo [https://global.miyakohotels.ne.jp/kyoto-hachijo/]
* Day 3 (Sat 01 April): KYOTO – OSAKA – NARA – KYOTO
Breakfast at hotel. Transfer by motor coach to Osaka [Osaka is the largest city in the Kansai region and capital of Osaka Prefecture, the 3rd most populous city in Japan (2.6 million inhabitants), traditionally considered Japan's economic hub, and recognized as the 2nd most cosmopolitan cities in Japan after Tokyo]. Visit Osaka Castle, one of Japan’s most famous landmarks, built in 1583 by the warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi to serve as his political and military headquarters, which played a major role in the unification of Japan during the late 16th century. Transfer to Nara, making a stop en route for lunch at a local restaurant [Nara is the capital city of Nara Prefecture with a population of 360,000, making it the 6th-largest city in the Kansai region. Nara was Japan's first permanent capital during the short Nara period (710-794), and its construction was modeled after Chang’an, China’s capital city of the Tang dynasty]. Visit Todai-ji and its Deer Park, a Buddhist temple complex founded in 738 AD with its Great Buddha Hall built in the early 18th century which houses the world's largest bronze statue of the Buddha Vairocana. Visit the Gekkeikan Okura Sake Museum, learn about sake-brewing history and sake culture in Japan, enjoy tasting a range of sake brewed with the underground water. Dinner at a local restaurant. Transfer back to hotel.
Overnight at Miyako hotel Kyoto Hachijo.
* Day 4 (Sun 02 April): KYOTO
Breakfast at hotel. Kyoto tour by coach [Kyoto is the capital city of Kyoto Prefecture, 7th most populous city in Japan (1.45 million inhabitants), built in 794 AD following the model of the ancient Chinese capital of Chang’an. Kyoto was the Imperial Capital of Japan for much of the country’s history (794-1868), famously known as the cradle of Japanese culture, “the city of 2,000 temples and shrines”. During World War II the city was spared from large-scale destruction and as a result, its prewar cultural heritage has mostly been preserved]. Visit Nijo Castle, built in 1603 as the Kyoto residence of Tokugawa Ieyasu, 1st Shogun of the Edo Period (1603-1868), and completed during his grandson Iemitsu’s tenure; Tour the castle’s Ninomaru Palace which served as residence and office of the Tokugawa shoguns during their visits to Kyoto, ending in the exquisite and stately Ninomaru Garden. Visit the Shin’en Garden at Heian Shrine designed by renowned landscaper Ogawa Jihei (1860-1933), a Japanese strolling-style garden most famous for its cherry blossoms and its gorgeous pond views from the roofed Bridge of Peace (Taihei-kaku). Lunch at a local restaurant. Take a leisure walk on the Philosopher’s Path (Tetsugaku-no-michi), a pleasant pedestrial stone path that follows a cherry-tree-lined canal in Kyoto’s Higashiyama district. Visit Ginkaku-ji (Silver Pavilion), a retirement villa built in 1482 for the 8th Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa of the Muromachi Period (1336-1573) and later converted into a Buddhist Zen temple; Stroll along a circular route around the temple’s grounds, from which its meticulously maintained sand garden and moss garden can be viewed. Visit Sanjusangendo, a Buddhist temple founded in 1164 by the retired Emperor Go-Shirakawa, famed for its 394-foot long hall housing 1001 gilded statues of Kannon Bosatsu. Dinner at a local restaurant. Visit Maruyama Park, the most popular spot for cherry blossom viewing parties in Kyoto, to view the weeping cherry tree lit up at night. Transfer back to hotel.
Overnight at Miyako hotel Kyoto Hachijo.
* Day 5 (Mon 03 April): KYOTO – HAMAMATSU
Breakfast at hotel. Kyoto tour by coach. Visit Daisen-in, a Buddhist sub-temple of Daitoku-ji, a vast Zen temple complex of the Rinzai school; Enjoy the serene atmosphere of its L-shape Dry Landscape garden (Kare-sansui); Participate in a Japanese Tea Ceremony where traditional Matcha green tea is gracefully served. Visit Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion), a retirement villa built in 1397 for the 3rd Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu of the Muromachi Period (1336-1573) and later converted into a Buddhist Zen temple of the Rinzai sect; Admire the elegant beauty of the three-story pavilion of which the top two floors are lavishly covered in gold foil and reflecting in the calm waters of the adjacent Kyokochi pond. Lunch at a local restaurant. Free afternoon at leisure in Gion, Kyoto’s traditional entertainment district known for its charming, historic ambience and strong ties to the world of traditional Japanese arts. Transfer by motor coach to Hamamatsu [With a population of 800,000 Hamamatsu is the most populous city of Shizuoka Prefecture. During the Edo Period (1603-1868) Hamamatsu flourished as an important post town on the Tokaido highway connecting Kyoto to Edo (modern-day Tokyo), thanks to its equal distance between the two main cities of Japan]. Stop en route for dinner at restaurant in service area. Upon arrival Hamamatsu transfer to hotel for check-in.
Overnight at Grand Hotel Hamamatsu [https://www.grandhotel.jp/hamamatsu/en/]
* Day 6 (Tue 04 April): HAMAMATSU – Mt. FUJI & HAKONE – ITO ONSEN
Breakfast at hotel. Transfer by motor coach to Hakone [Located at the historic, cultural, and natural crossroads of Japan, Hakone is part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, famous for its hot springs, natural beauty and the view of Mount Fuji across Lake Ashi]. Visit Mt. Fuji Observatory and Information Center [Mount Fuji or Fuji-san, standing 12,390 ft on the central island of Honshu, is an active stratovolcano that last erupted in 1707-1708. Mt. Fuji’s exceptionally symmetrical and snow-covered cone is revered for its majestic beauty since the most ancient of times, and commonly used as a cultural icon of Japan]. Transfer to Lake Ashi’s embarkment port; Take a sightseeing boat cruise on Lake Ashi and enjoy the view of Mt. Fuji if nice weather permits. Lunch at a local restaurant. Transfer to Hakone Ropeway station; Take an aerial lift to Owakudani, enjoying along the way the striking view of Owakudani Valley, a geological marvel of active sulfuric valley which heats many of the hot springs around the area. Transfer by coach to hotel in Ito Onsen for check-in. Dinner at hotel’s banquet room (traditional Japanese banquet dinner with Kaiseki menu). Enjoy the Japanese Onsen bath, a truly amazing experience that any serious tourist must try.
Overnight at Hotel Shinko Isawa Onsen [https://shinko.ooedoonsen.jp/en/]
* Day 7 (Wed 05 April): ITO ONSEN – KAMAKURA – YOKOHAMA – TOKYO
Breakfast at hotel. Transfer by motor coach to Kamakura [Kamakura is a city of Kanagawa Prefecture with a population of 173,000. As the seat of the Kamakura shogunate, the first military government in Japan’s history, the town became the political center of Japan during the Kamakura Period (1185-1333). Today this beautiful coastal city is among the most popular tourist destinations in Japan]. Make a lunch stop en route. Visit the 13th-century Kotoku-in Buddhist temple and admire its serene Daibutsu (Great Buddha), a 43-foot high bronze statue of Amida Buddha sitting in the open air on the temple’s grounds. Transfer to Yokohama [Yokohama is the second-largest city in Japan by population (3.8 million), and the capital of Kanagawa Prefecture. Located south of Tokyo, on the Tokyo Bay, Yokohama is also the major economic, cultural, and commercial hub of the Greater Tokyo Area and the Kanto region]. Visit Yokohama Chinatown, Japan's largest Chinatown, wandering among its narrow and colorful streets adorned with Chinese stores and restaurants. Transfer by coach to Tokyo. Dinner at a local restaurant upon arrival. Transfer to hotel for check-in.
Overnight at Hotel Metropolitan Edmont Tokyo [https://edmont.metropolitan.jp/]
* Day 8 (Thu 06 April): TOKYO
Breakfast at hotel. Tokyo tour by coach [Located on Tokyo Bay in the Kanto region, known as Edo prior to 1868 and established as Japan’s political center during the Tokugawa shogunate (1603-1868), Tokyo is now Japan’s capital and the world's most populous metropolis (14 million). Tokyo is also Japan's leading center of business and finance, the largest urban economy in the world with over 500 high-rise buildings. The ultra-modern megapolis offers a seemingly unlimited choice of shopping, entertainment, culture and dining to its visitors]. Visit Tokyo Imperial Palace (from outside), the actual residence of Japan's Imperial Family located on the former site of Edo Castle, a large park area surrounded by moats and massive stone walls; View the Nijubashi, two bridges that form the entrance to the inner palace grounds from the plaza in front of the Palace. Visit Senso-ji, also called Asakusa Kannon, a colorful Buddhist temple built in the mid-7th century for the Kannon Bosatsu, known as Tokyo’s oldest temple; Free time at leisure to stroll along the 800-foot Nakamise-dori shopping street for Japanese souvenirs and local snacks. Transfer to Ueno Park, making a stop at a local food market to buy Bento lunch and drink. Visit Ueno Park, Tokyo’s first Western-style park opened to the public in 1873 and most popular spot for centuries-old spring tradition of Hanami (cherry blossom viewing); Enjoy the festive atmosphere of Tokyoites’ Hanami parties. Transfer to Ginza, Tokyo’s most elegant shopping district for a late afternoon leisure time. Dinner at a local restaurant. Transfer back to hotel.
Overnight at Hotel Metropolitan Edmont Tokyo.
* Day 9 (Fri 07 April): TOKYO
Breakfast at hotel. Tokyo tour by coach. Visit Meiji Shrine, the Shinto shrine built in 1920 and dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his consort, Empress Shoken, of which the spacious and forested grounds offer walking paths for an enjoyable stroll. Transfer to Shinjuku's skyscraper district, home to many of Tokyo's tallest buildings, to visit the 798-foot high Metropolitan Government Building, nicknamed “Tokyo’s Twin Towers”, of which the Observation decks provide fantastic panoramic views of Tokyo and beyond when weather conditions are favorable. Lunch at a local restaurant. Free time at leisure in the entertainment and shopping area around Takashimaya Times Square and Shinjuku Station, the world’s largest and busiest railway station, handling more than 2 million passengers every day. Visit Akihabara, Tokyo’s central district famous for its many electronic shops and in recent years for its growing number of establishments devoted to anime and manga culture. Transfer to Shibuya, Tokyo's most colorful and busy district, a center for youth fashion and culture packed with shopping, dining and nightclubs; Visit the large intersection in front of Shibuya Station’s Hachiko Exit and watch the “Shibuya Crossing”, one of Tokyo’s most recognizable sights. Dinner at a local restaurant. Transfer back to hotel.
Overnight at Hotel Metropolitan Edmont Tokyo.
* Day 10 (Sat 08 April): TOKYO (Departure)
Breakfast at hotel. Transfer by coach to Narita International Airport. Check-in for departure flights back to the US.
3. Land Tour Package Cost:
$3,700 (Japan Land package)
(International airlines tickets to be booked and paid separately, est. $1,050-$1,250 + Fuel Surcharge from LAX)
Single supplement: $950
(Voyages Saigon, Inc.’s Terms & Conditions)
* Upscale 4-star hotels (double occupancy)
* Three meals daily (except 1 lunch in Tokyo)
* All transportations by private motor coach, including airport/hotel tranfers
* Shinkansen bullet train (reserved seats in non-smoking cars)
* All guided sightseeing tours, excursions and visits (entrance fees included) as per tour itinerary and program
* Medical Insurance
** Travel insurance, such as trip cancellation and interruption, lost baggage, health insurance for medical emergencies is strongly recommended in order to protect your travel plans. Please ask Voyages Saigon, Inc. for additional information.