• Japan

    28 Maart – 8 April 2020

Japan

28 Maart – 8 April 2020

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Japan’s unmistakable character has always set it apart from the rest of Asia.  With a long history of isolation, it is thanks to this that the Japanese culture developed without any outside influences.  Japan, as a result, offers many travellers a variety of eccentric experiences, unlike any other!

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Day 1: 28 March 2020

Johannesburg – Osaka

We meet at OR Tambo airport, and check in for our flight via Singapore to Osaka to start our exiting journey!

Overnight On the plane Meals on-board

Day 2: 29 March 2020

Osaka

On arrival at Kansai Airport, we will be welcomed by an English-speaking guide in the arrival hall. We collect our luggage and transfer to our hotel for check-in.

The rest of the day is at leisure until dinner at a local restaurant.

Overnight Hilton Hotel Osaka Dinner

Day 3: 30 March 2020

Osaka

After enjoying our breakfast, we get ready to start our sight-seeing tour with a visit of Osaka Castle, one of Japan’s most famous castles which played a major role in the unification ofJapan during the sixteenth century. The old Osaka Castle Park with its large stone walls and the surrounding skyscrapers provides an excellent example of the balance between modern Japan and its rich cultural heritage.

Lunch will be enjoyed at a local restaurant in Dotonbori which is a pedestrian only restaurant mecca that runs parallel to the Dotonbori canal.

After lunch we head to the Floating Garden Observatory, located between the two towers of the Umeda Sky building. This observatory provides an unobstructed 360° view of Osaka, the bay and surrounding cities.

We then return to the hotel for some time to ourselves and an evening at leisure.

Overnight Hilton Hotel Osaka Breakfast and lunch

Day 4: 31 March 2020

Osaka – Hiroshima – Osaka

We have a very early breakfast before embark on our next exiting expedition. We depart for the Shin-Osaka station where we board a high-speeds bullet train bound for the city of Hiroshima.

Our first stop is the Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park, located in the center of the city. It takes up over 120,000 square meters and is dedicated to the legacy of Hiroshima as the first city in history to suffer a nuclear attack. Before the atomic bomb, the area where the Peace Park now stands used to be the political and commercial heart of the city, and for this reason it was chosen as the pilot’s target during World War II. It was decided that the area was not to be redeveloped, but instead devoted to peace memorial facilities.

The park’s main attraction is the Peace Memorial Museum. The museum covers the history of Hiroshima and the advent of the nuclear bomb. It provides visitors an opportunity to hear eyewitness testimonies and learn about the devastating effects the A-bomb had on the city of Hiroshima and its people.

Acquaint yourself with genuine Japanese cuisine as we enjoy lunch at a local restaurant.

After lunch we board a ferry to Miyajima Island, a small sacred island located in the Inland Sea. It has been a holy place of Shintoism since the earliest times. Here we will find perhaps the most photographed site in Japan; The Floating Torii Gate which has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located at Itsukushima Shrine, the Floating Torii Gate is considered one of Japan’s ‘3 Most Beautiful Views’.

Return to the mainland by ferry late afternoon and board a high-speed bullet train to Osaka.

Overnight Hilton Hotel Osaka Breakfast and lunch

Day 5: 01 April 2020

Osaka – Kyoto – Osaka

We start our day with breakfast then depart on our next journey to Nijo Castle, which was built by the founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate. It is also the Kyoto residence of the Shogun and is surrounded by stunning gardens. The ornamental building was completed in 1603 and is well-known for its Momoyama architecture, decorated sliding doors, and‘chirping’ nightingale floors.

From Nijo castle we travel to Kinkakuji, also known as the Golden Pavilion. It was originally built as a retirement villa for the Shogun. After the death of Shogun Yoshimitsu itbecame a Buddhist Temple at his request, and is now one of Kyoto’s most famous temples,with its top two floors completely covered in gold-leaf.

Our next stop is Arashiyama where we visit the Tenryuji temple, ranked among Kyoto’s five great Zen temples and is the largest and most impressive temple in Arashiyama. Founded in 1339 at the start of the Muromachi Period, the temple is now considered important cultural property and ranked by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. In addition to its temple buildings, there are beautiful gardens with walking paths.

On the way to Nonomiya shrine our path will lead us through Arashiyama’s famousbamboo groves, which are unlike any other place in Japan. The bamboo has been used to manufacture various products, such as baskets, cups, boxes and mats at local workshops for centuries. Nonomiya shrine is a Shinto shrine where in ancient times, unmarried imperial princesses stayed for a year or more to purify themselves. The shrine is referenced innumerous works of literature, most notably in the world’s first novel; The Tale of Genji.

Be prepared for a spectacular dinner delight, at a local restaurant with a Maiko Performance. This is where we get to experience the performance of an apprentice geisha. The job of the Maiko consists of performing songs, dances, and playing the shamisen or other traditional Japanese instruments for visitors during ozashiki. Maiko are usually aged 15 to 20 years old. They can only become a “geiko” after learning how to dance the traditional dances, play the shamisen, and learn Kyō-kotoba (the dialect of Kyoto), regardless of their origins.

After dinner and a show, we then return to our hotel.

Overnight Hilton Hotel Osaka Breakfast and dinner

Day 6: 02 April 2020

Osaka – Nara – Osaka

Breakfast starts our day before we depart for our full day tour of Nara. During the eighth century Nara was Japan’s capital for 74 years and many of the temples and shrines built atthat time still stand today.

We visit Todaiji temple, one of the world’s largest wooden structures and home to Japan’slargest Buddha. The park surrounding the temple is called Nara Park, but is referred to bymany as “Deer Park” due to the large population of more than one thousand tame deer whofreely roam the streets and will bow their heads in exchange for a treat.

We break for lunch to enjoy Japanese cuisine at a local restaurant.

Next stop is Nara’s most celebrated shrine, Kasuga Taisha. Established in 768 AD the shrine is dedicated to the deity tasked with the protection of the city and is famous for its hundreds of bronze and stone lanterns which have been donated by worshippers over the years.

From Nara we travel to the Fushimi ward in Kyoto, where we will visit the Fushimi Inari Shrine. Featured in the movie “Memoirs of a Geisha”, this shrine is known for its thousandsof red torii gates leading up and through the sacred forest of Mount Inari and has been voted the number one must see spot in Kyoto by visitors.

We return to Osaka and have the evening to ourselves and enjoy dinner on our own.

Overnight Hilton Hotel Osaka Breakfast and lunch

Day 7: 03 April 2020

Osaka – Hakone

We check out of the hotel after breakfast and are transferred to the Shin-Osaka station for our next journey. We board a highspeed bullet train bound for the Odawara.

We arrive in Odawara and travel to the town of Hakone where we visit the Hakone shrine. This Shinto shrine was very popular among Samurai during the 12th century and is hidden away in a dense forest. In fact, the shrine is so well hidden that it would be easy to miss were it not for its magnificent torii gates.

We check into our hotel after our visit and have some relaxation time until we meet again for dinner at the hotel.

Overnight Hakone Kowakien Tenyu Hotel Breakfast and dinner

Day 8: 04 April 2020

Hakone – Tokyo

We check out of the hotel after our breakfast and are transferred to Hakonemachi port. Here we board a Pirate Boat that will take us to Togendai. Both Hakonemachi & Togendai are port on the shores of Lake Ashi, which is in fact an enormous volcanic crater created by an eruption 3,000 years ago.

*In case of bad weather, Pirate Boat departure may be subjected to rescheduling or cancellation*

Throughout the day we will have a chance to get a glimpse of Mt Fuji, however please keep in mind that she is a notoriously shy mountain and it needs to be a clear day.

After arriving in Togendai we will continue the journey via Ropeway heading towards Owakudani.
*Owakudani is generally accessible by ropeway, however as this area is an active volcanic zone, hiking trails may be closed due to volcanic gasses. People with respiratory problems should consult their physician before visiting the area*

The first thing we will notice when arriving in Owakudani is the smell of sulfur coming from this active volcano. There are walking trails around Owakudani that lead to steam vents andbubbling pools. The eggs they sell in Owakudani are boiled in the volcano’s natural hotsprings and are said to prolong life by seven years!

After we enjoy lunch at a local restaurant we make our way to our hotel in Tokyo.

Overnight Keio Plaza Hotel Breakfast and lunch

Day 9: 05 April 2020

Tokyo – Nikko – Tokyo

We have a very early breakfast before making our way to Nikko, which has been the center of Shinto and Buddhist worship for many centuries. The general mountain area is now a protected national park. We begin our exploration of Nikko with a visit to the Toshugu Shrine complex. Built as a mausoleum for Tokugawa Ieyasu, founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate that ruled Japan for over 250 years, this lavishly decorated shrine complex consists of more than a dozen Shinto as well as Buddhist buildings in a beautiful forest setting and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Next, visit the Old Imperial Villa, a National Cultural Treasure, featuring architecture that spans three different periods; Edo, Meiji, and Taisho and is surrounded by a beautiful garden.

After visiting the imperial villa we visit the Kirifuri Falls, one of Nikko’s most famous waterfalls. This waterfall is over 75 meters tall and the name Kirifuri translates as falling mist, derived from the way the waterfall splits as it hits the rocks on the way down.

We return to the hotel and have time to freshen up before walking to a nearby local restaurant for dinner.

Overnight Keio Plaza Hotel Breakfast and dinner

Day 10: 06 April 2020

Tokyo

After breakfast we begin exploration of Tokyo with a visit to Meiji Shrine, a shrine dedicated to the deified spirit of Emperor Meiji and a popular place for traditional Japanese weddings.

After visiting the shrine, we will pass by private coach through the adjacent Omotesandoshopping street, a broad tree lined avenue home to the flagship stores of the world’s topfashion brands.

From here we go to the Roppongi ward by private coach where we will visit the Roppongi Hills Observation Deck. The 238 meters tall Mori Tower is the centerpiece of the Roppongi Hills complex in Tokyo’s Roppongi district. The tower houses the entrance to the excellentMori Art Museum and the elegant Tokyo City View observation deck. On a clear day, one can see Tokyo Tower, Tokyo Skytree and even as far as Mt. Fuji!

After visiting Roppongi head across town to Asakusa, Tokyo’s old town where one can soakup the atmosphere of what Tokyo must have been like hundreds of years ago. Visit Sensoji, also known as Asakusa Kannon and Tokyo’s oldest temple. The Broadway leading up tothe Temple is called Nakamise and this shopping street has been providing temple visitors with a variety of traditional, local snacks and souvenirs for centuries.

We return to our hotel and have free time until dinner at the hotel.

Overnight Keio Plaza Hotel Breakfast and dinner

Day 11: 07 April 2020

Tokyo – Johannesburg

We enjoy breakfast at leisure and have time to fishish packing before we say goodbye to Tokyo, the beautiful mega-city. We then depart to the Narita/Haneda airport, where we check in for our flight to Johannesburg via Singapore.

Overnight On the plane Breakfast and meals on-board

Day 12: 08 April 2020

Johannesburg

Arrive in Johannesburg.

Bon Voyage!

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