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JAPAN CHERRY BLOSSOM

With South Korea extension

From 28 March to 08/11 April, 2024

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.

(JNTO)

1. Land Itinerary:

Osaka – Kyoto – Nara – Kyoto – Nagoya – Hakone – Atami – Kamakura – Yokohama – Tokyo – [Seoul/Korean DMZ]

 

2. Tour Program:

* Day 1 (Sat 30 March): OSAKA (Arrival) – KYOTO

Arrival Osaka-Kansai (KIX) International Airport. 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]. Lunch at a local restaurant. 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. Leisure time on Dotonburi street, a popular nightlife and entertainment area famous for its eccentric atmosphere and large illuminated signboards, and Shinsaibashi shopping district. Dinner at a local restaurant. Transfer to Shin-Osaka Station to take the Shinkansen Nozomi 138 bullet train, the fastest train service in Japan, for Kyoto. Upon arrival, transfer by coach to your hotel.

Overnight at Miyako Hotel Kyoto Hachijo.

 

* Day 2 (Sun 31 March): 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 Zuiho-in, a peaceful Buddhist sub-temple on the premises of Daitoku-ji, a vast Zen temple complex belonging the Rinzai school; Enjoy the serene atmosphere of its amazing Dry Landscape gardens (Kare-sansui); Participate in a Japanese Tea Ceremony where traditional Matcha green tea is gracefully served. Visit Kyoto Gosho (Kyoto Imperial Palace), the former palace of the Emperors of Japan from 794 to 1869 that has been rebuilt many times until its last version completed in 1855; Visit some of the Palace’s main structures, and its delightful garden. Lunch at a local restaurant. 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. 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. If time permits, a leisure walk will be taken through Gion, Kyoto 's most famous Geisha neighborhood. Dinner at a local restaurant. Transfer back to your hotel.

Overnight at Miyako hotel Kyoto Hachijo.

 

* Day 3 (Mon 01 April): KYOTO – NARA – KYOTO

Breakfast at hotel. Transfer by coach to Nara [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 rebuilt in the early 18th century which houses the world's largest bronze statue of the Buddha Vairocana. Lunch at a local restaurant. Back to Kyoto, visit the Kizakura Sake Museum, learn about sake-brewing history and centuries old sake culture in Japan, and enjoy tasting a range of sake brewed with the local underground spring water “Fushimizu”. Visit Kiyomizu-dera, one of the most celebrated Buddhist temples in Japan, founded in 780 AD on the site of the Otowa waterfall in the wooded hills east of Kyoto; Visit its main hall housing the venerated Kannon statue, with its 42-feet high wooden stage overlooking a breathtaking cherry blossom scenery. Dinner at a local restaurant. Transfer back to your hotel.

Overnight at Miyako hotel Kyoto Hachijo.

 

* Day 4 (Tue 02 April): KYOTO

Breakfast at hotel. Visit Sanjusangendo, a Buddhist temple founded in 1164 by the retired Emperor Go-Shirakawa, famed for its 394-foot long hall (the longest Buddhist hall in the world) housing 1001 gilded statues of Kannon Bosatsu. 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. Lunch at a local restaurant. 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). Dinner at a local restaurant. Visit Maruyama Park, the most popular spot for cherry blossom viewing parties (Hanami) in Kyoto, to view the centuries old weeping cherry tree lit up at night. Transfer back to your hotel.

Overnight at Miyako hotel Kyoto Hachijo.

 

* Day 5 (Wed 03 April): KYOTO – NAGOYA

Breakfast at hotel. Transfer by coach to Nagoya [Nagoya, now the 4th-most populous city and 3rd most populous metropolitan area in Japan, had known a rapid growth during the Meiji Restoration and became a major industrial hub for Japan. This industrial city was a target for US air raids during World War II; Following the war Nagoya’s economy greatly diversified, and today the city remains a significant centre for industry and transport in Japan]. Visit the Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology, built in the very birthplace of the Toyota Group; Take an interesting and eye-opening guided tour which allows visitors to learn about the changes in textile technology that underpinned the development of modern Japan and in automobile technologies that are still breaking through new horizons today. Lunch at a local restaurant. Visit the Kakukyu Hatcho Miso Museum, to learn about the more than 1,300 year-old history of that unique Japanese seasoning called “Miso”, to witness with a close-up view of the manufacturing process, and to taste to some Miso samples. Dinner at a local restaurant. Transfer to your hotel.

Overnight at Courtyard Nagoya by Marriott.

 

* Day 6 (Thu 04 April): NAGOYA – HAKONE (MOUNT FUJI) – ATAMI

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 World Heritage Centre, a striking museum dedicated to the iconic Mt. Fuji, with interactive exhibits; Visit its observation deck where visitors may enjoy a fantastic view of the legendary strato-volcano. [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 your hotel in Atami for check-in [Atami, located at the northern end of Izu Peninsula, was built on the steep slopes of a volcanic caldera on the edge of Sagami Bay. It has long been a popular seaside resort town with plenty of hot springs and traditional ryokan, due to its proximity to Tokyo]. Dinner at hotel’s banquet room (traditional Japanese dinner with local Kaiseki menu). Enjoy the Japanese Onsen bath, a truly amazing experience that any serious tourist must try.

Overnight at Hotel New Akao Atami.

 

* Day 7 (Fri 05 April): ATAMI – 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]. 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. Lunch at a local restaurant. 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 filled with Chinese stores and restaurants. Transfer by coach to Tokyo. Visit Ginza, Tokyo’s oldest and most elegant shopping district for a late afternoon leisure time. Dinner at a local restaurant. Transfer to your hotel for check-in.

Overnight at Hotel Metropolitan Edmont Tokyo.

 

* Day 8 (Sat 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. Lunch and leisure time 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. 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. Transfer to Harajuku, a lively area of Shibuya district; Free time at leisure on Takeshita Street, center of Tokyo’s most extreme teenage culture and fashion styles, or on nearby Omotesando Street, a major luxury shopping destination. Dinner at a local restaurant. Transfer back to your hotel.

Overnight at Hotel Metropolitan Edmont Tokyo.

 

* Day 9 (Sun 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 Ueno Park, making a stop at a local food market to buy your own Bento lunch and drink; Visit Ueno Park, Tokyo’s first Western-style park opened to the public in 1873 and popular spot for centuries-old spring tradition of cherry blossom viewing (Hanami); Enjoy the festive atmosphere of Tokyoites’ Hanami parties. 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. Tokyoite Kaiseki-style Farewell dinner at a local restaurant. Transfer back to your hotel.

Overnight at Hotel Metropolitan Edmont Tokyo.

 

* Day 10 (Mon 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:

$3,650 (Japan Land package)

International airlines tickets to be booked and paid separately. We offer Group airfare of $1,375 from LAX (all taxes, fees & surcharges included) with Asiana Airlines (seats are limited). Booking with other airlines is an option and may result in different airfares.

Single supplement: $1,050

(Voyages Saigon, Inc.’s Terms & Conditions)

 

Including:

* 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.

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