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Adventure Coordinators is affiliated with Vision Travel.  TICO license 50023501

©Adventure Coordinators

Toronto, ON, Canada

855-550-7487

Time spent laughing is time spent with the Gods

Japanese Proverb

Japan

Japan is a study in contrasts between traditional and modern.  Large bustling cities like Tokyo are only a short journey from traditional villages.  Pop culture exists next to the grace of a geisha, bullet trains next to the spare beauty of a Zen rock garden.  There is temple-rich Kyoto, beautified by cherry blossoms and fall colours; there are walks in the Japanese Alps and on pilgrim trails, followed by a long soak in a classic Japanese bath; there are stays at ryokans (traditional inns); and there is the food, made of the freshest of ingredients.   This is Japan, the Land of the Rising Sun.

When to go

The best times to travel to Japan are spring and fall.  Spring sees the cherry blossoms progress from south to north between March and May, while October and November see spectacular fall colours.

Must-See Places

 

Tokyo

The neon-lit streetscapes of the capital form the archetypical image of Japan - a modern city rushing headlong into the future.  From the hustle and bustle of Tsukiji Market to the excellent restaurants serving delicious sushi, this is one hyperactive city you must experience.  Beyond the main streets you will find quiet alleys, immaculately tended gardens, wooden shanty bars, raucous festivals and peaceful neighbourhood shrines.
 
Nikko
The pilgrim town of Nikko, just north of Tokyo, is home to the World Heritage-listed Tosho-gu shrine complex and a host of lesser-known temples, all set among hilly woodlands.

Hakone
Located around a lake, the town of Hakone is home to a torii gate which rises from the waters with Mt. Fuji in the background.  The town with its quiet onsen (public baths) and ryokans (traditional inns) is a blissful escape from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo.
 
Japanese Alps
Craggy peaks, babbling streams and ancient forests are  hallmarks of the Japanese Alps, where Kamikochi is a popular hiking and mountain climbing resort.  Takayama is a compact atmospheric town set along a pretty river, and home to a wealth of galleries, museums, old merchant houses and serene temples. 
 
Kyoto
Quiet Buddhist temples as old as time, beautiful gardens of every imaginable size and description, ancient palaces and shrines: Kyoto is the Japan of yesteryear and the culinary centre of the country. Wooden sandals hurry down streets lined with traditional wooden houses, see the fleeting image of a geisha as she walks by a shrine surrounded by cherry blossom.
 
Nara
Second only to Kyoto in its rish heritage, home to the incredible Daibutsu (Great Buddha), the compact town of Nara is the ancient capital of Japan and the birthplace of Japanese civilization.
 
Koya-san
Japan’s holiest mountain hosts more than one hundred monasteries. Reached by a spectacular train journey and a vertigo-inducing cable car ride, the complex offers the chance to stay at a temple, where you can witness long-held traditions of Japanese religious life.
 
Himeji Castle
Recently renovated Himeji Castle is Japan's finest example of a feudal-era fortress. Nearby Koko-en is a series of nine meticulously reconstructed samurai houses with their beautiful interlinked traditional gardens. 

Naoshima
The island of Naoshima offers some of Japan's best contemporary art, housed in several world-class art galleries and installations set in gorgeous natural surroundings.

Hiroshima
Millions of people visit the city of Hiroshima every year to pay their respect at the Peace Park and museum, commemorating the nuclear holocaust that took place here at the close of World War II.  Completely destroyed then, the city rose from its ashes to become a pleasant modern city with an old-world feel.

Miyajima
Just off the coast of Hiroshima, the island of Miyajima is one of Japan's most visited locations.  The vermilion torii (shrine gate) of Itsukushima-jinja stars in many photographs, as it seems to float on the waves during high tide.  Come early in the morning, or visit in the evening and enjoy the peaceful shrines and the tranquility of the parks filled with tame deer.

Yakushima & Kirishima-Yaku National Park
Ancient cedar trees, high peaks and subtropcial mossy rainforests form the backdrop for some great hikes on the island of Yakushima, just off the southern tip of Japan.

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Signature Experience

 

Tsukiji fish market Tokyo

Two million kilograms of fish are traded daily in this lively market. Get there early to witness the action at the tuna auctions.

 

Hiroshima - Peace Memorial Park and Museum

Being confronted with personal belongings of people that died in the nuclear holocaust of 1945 is a deeply moving experience.

 

Stay at a temple

Stay at a temple, interact with the monks that run the lodgings, learn about the customs of traditional Japanese accommodation. and experience long-held traditions of Japanese religious life.

 

Kaiseki-ryori, Japan’s haute cuisine

The crown of Japanese haute cuisine belongs to kaiseki-ryori, a meal with perfectly balanced flavours and textures, expertly presented and designed to appeal to all of the senses. Experience it in the restaurants and ryokan (inns) of Kyoto, Japan's cultural capital.

 

Climb Mt. Fuji

The picture-perfect volcanic cone of Mt. Fuji can be climbed in July and August. Most people undertake the tough hike from the end of the road halfway up and start at night so they can reach the summit at dawn after a hike of five to six hours.

 

Experience Kabuki

Japan's best-known traditional theater art, Kabuki plays are dramatic, with fantastic stage settings and gorgeous costumes.

 

Stay at a ryokan

Walk up through a bamboo grove to your ryokan, a traditional Japanese inn. Your kimono-clad hostess will show you to your room, and serve a cup of hot green tea. Golden sliding doors decorated in ornate Japanese images open up to rooms where futons are spread out on wooden floors. Enjoy a meal of kaiseki-ryori, Japan’s haute cuisine, soak in a bath, relax and have the best sleep of your life.

 

Sumo

A finely tuned combination of brutal force and carefully controlled ritual, sumo wrestling is for many the archetypal Japanese experience. See the best wrestling tournaments in Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya and Fukuoka.

 

Onsen, sento & rotemburo

Lying as it does in the Ring of Fire, Japan is extremely rich in geothermal pools (onsen). As a result, bathing has become a ritual, deeply ingrained in Japanese culture. Each town has its own sento (public bath), which is the place people come to meet, gossip, catch up and get a darn good scrubbing. And is there anything more gratifying than a dip in a rotemburo (outdoor bath) as the snow falls?

 

Drink sake

Japan's favourite tipple, sake, or rice wine, comes in many different forms and can be tasted at local breweries throughout the country. Find the best at breweries in Obuse, Takayama or Niigata, or try a variety at a Japanese-style pub, an izakaya.

 

Nightlife at Golden Gai

Behind Tokyo's neon-lit facades lies Golden Gai, a neighbourhood that is a jumble of tiny ramshackle, atmospheric bars, each with their own outlandish decor. Enjoy a drink standing shoulder to shoulder with locals: kanpai!

 

Visit a traditional garden

Miniature idealized landscapes form the backbone of the traditional Japanese garden. Visit rustic gardens with teahouses, a meditative Zen garden or stroll around one simply to enjoy the scenery.   Kanazawa is home to Kenroku-en, one of Japan’s best gardens.

 

Ride a bullet train

Over 50 years ago, the first shinkansen pulled out of Tokyo station and ever since nearly 6 billion people have enjoyed the 320 km/h ride.  Enjoy a bento box lunch, let a white-gloved conductor inspect your ticket, sit back and watch the landscape unfurl.  All aboard!

 

Hike the Nakasendo Way

The 3-hour hike between the two lovingly preserved old post towns of Tsumago to Magome, northeast of Nagoya, takes you through gorgeous countryside, along a stone-flagged twisting, craggy post road lined with tea houses and plaster and wooden buildings.

 
 
 

Suggested Tours

Japan Get-Away 

 

Tour code: GJGA

 

Why we love this trip: In just over a week you see all the main sights in Japan

 

Places visited: Osaka, Koya-san,  Kyoto, Hiroshima, Hakone, Tokyo

 

Signature Experiences: Tsukiji fish market Tokyo, Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Museum, stay at a temple, Kaiseki-ryori, experience Kabuki, stay at a ryokan, sumo, onsen, drink sake, nightlife at Golden Gai, visit a traditional garden, ride a bullet train

 

Length: 9 days

 

Accommodation: Hotels (6 nts), mountain monastery (1 nt), Japanese-style ryokan accommodation with hot springs (1 nt).

 

Included meals:  2 breakfasts, 2 dinners

 

Transport: Bullet train, tram, ferry, public bus, walking

 

Departures: Set small-group dates and daily private departures year-round

 

Customizable? Yes, price on request

 

Price: Small group departures priced from $2759

Japan in Depth

 

Tour code: TJID

 

Why we love this trip: An in-depth exploration of all the highlights this country has to offer

 

Places visited: Tokyo, Kamakura, Hakone, Mt. Fuji, Kyoto, Himeni Castle, Hiroshima, Miyojima, Japanese Alps

 

Signature Experiences: Tsukiji fish market Tokyo, Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Museum, Kaiseki-ryori, see Mt. Fuji, experience Kabuki, stay at a ryokan, sumo, onsen, drink sake, nightlife at Golden Gai, visit a traditional garden, hike the hills

 

Length: 14 days

 

Accommodation: 3 star hotels & ryokans

 

Included meals: 9 breakfasts, 2 dinners

 

Transport: buses, trains, bullet train, pirate boat (!), cable cars and ropeways, on foot

 

Departures: Set small-group dates May - November, daily private departures

 

Customizable? Yes, price on request

 

Price: Small group departures priced from $6599

Hike Japan

 

Tour code: WHJA

 

Why we love this trip: Discover the main cities, and hike along forest & mountain trails, through bamboo groves, cherry & cedar forests, past shrines and rice paddies to discover the centuries long history of hermitage and pilgrimage

 

Places visited: Tokyo, Mt. Fuji, Kiso, Nakasendo Highway, Kyoto, Yamanobe Road, Omine pilgrim trail, Mitarari gorge, Osaka

 

Signature Experiences: Tsukiji fish market, Kaiseki-ryori, Mt. Fuji, experience Kabuki, stay at a ryokan, sumo, onsen, drink sake, nightlife at Golden Gai, visit a traditional garden, hike the hills

 

Length: 15 days

 

Accommodation: 6 nights comfortable hotels, 8 nights traditional inns

 

Included meals: 14 breakfasts, 3 lunches and 7 dinners

 

Transport: on foot, train, bus and taxi

 

Departures: set small-group dates in March, April, May, August, October and November

 

Customizable? Yes, we can run this tour for private groups

 

Price: Small group departures priced from $3399