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zAAA Vacations® - From Japan’s Inland Sea to the Alps

12 days

Never more than 16 guests. Guaranteed.

Small Group Discoveries

+ Experience Japan’s traditions when you dine with Geisha, sample fine regional sake, and tour a tranquil Zen meditation garden.
+ Hear colorful stories of Kyoto’s Geisha traditions as you stroll with your guide in the historic Gion district, where Geisha traditions began long ago.
+ Travel to ancient Nara, Japan’s first capital, and tour its magnificent temples.
+ Learn the art of sushi from a master chef in Tokyo.

2014 Itinerary2015 Itinerary

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Day
1

An Extra Night in Kyoto

AAA Complimentary Inclusion: Enjoy a free extra night in Kyoto before your tour at the ANA Hotel, wonderfully situated in the heart of Kyoto.

Day
2

Welcome to Kyoto!

Enjoy a day at leisure in Kyoto. Meals B

Day
3

The Best of Kyoto c

Spend the day exploring the most significant historic treasures of this captivating city. Expertly guided city sightseeing includes Nijo Castle with its ingenious “Nightingale Floor,” the vermilion-hued Heian Shrine and Kinkakuji Temple – the glittering Golden Pavilion. You’ll also delve into Japan’s enduring traditions when you dine with Geisha at midday and tour the tranquil Zen meditation gardens of Kodaiji Temple. Meals B,L,D

Day
4

Excursion to the Inland Sea... Miyajima c and Hiroshima

This picturesque island nation is criss-crossed by an extensive network of trains and ferries, running with a well-deserved reputation for punctuality and efficiency. This morning you’ll have a chance to experience both these forms of transport as you join residents and visitors alike to travel by train and then ferry from Kyoto across the lovely island-dotted Inland Sea to Miyajima Island. Visit Itsukushima Shrine, established in the 6th century, and marvel at the magnificent red Torii Gate which rises from the sea. Then return to the main island of Honshu to visit Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park c where the Memorial Museum stands as a sobering reminder of the destruction wrought by the Atomic bomb. Meals B

Day
5

Tour Nara c, Japan’s first capital

Transfer to the station this morning and journey by train to ancient Nara. Visit the magnificent Todai-ji Temple, one of the largest wooden structures in the world and home to an enormous statue of Buddha. Then stroll along the lantern-lined forest paths of Kasuga Shrine before returning to Kyoto. Meals B

Day
6

Travel to Kanazawa

Travel by rail to Kanazawa and visit the Nomura Samurai Residence and Kutani Kosen Pottery Studio to see skilled artisans at work. Then explore Kenrokuen, revered as one of the very best traditional landscape gardens in all of Japan. Overnight at the ANA Crowne Plaza Hotel. Meals B

Day
7

Into the Japan Alps to Shirakawago c and Takayama

Journey to the mountain hamlet of Shirakawago, famous for its ancient “Joined Hands” farmhouses. These unique homes, many built by hand more than 100 years ago, derive their name from the steeply pitched thatch roofs which give the appearance of two hands joined together in prayer. Continue to the deluxe Associa Takayama Resort. Meals B,L,D

Day
8

Full day sightseeing in Takayama

Visit the city’s morning market and then admire perfectly-preserved buildings like Takayama Jinya, an imposing government hall of the Edo period. Enjoy a tasting of fine regional sake and tour the fascinating Folk Craft Museum. At the Festival Floats Exhibit Hall, you’ll see enormous parade floats dating back 400 years, many with cleverly-engineered figures that can be animated when these floats are used in the town’s colorful spring and autumn festivals. Meals B

Day
9

Onward to Tokyo

Journey by train to Tokyo and then transfer to the city’s modern rail system for the short ride to the Keio Plaza Hotel, ideally located in bustling Shinjuku. After time to refresh in your spacious Plaza Premier Room, join your guide for a walking tour in the vibrant, modern district where you’re staying. The area is popular with Tokyo residents for shopping, dining and entertainment. Meals B

Day
10

Tsukiji Fish Market and Tokyo city sightseeing

Early this morning, we take you on a special visit to the world-famous Tsukiji Fish Market, where the city’s best chefs come daily to procure the freshest seafood. Then join one such master chef to learn the art of preparing restaurant-quality sushi. Enjoy the results of your efforts for lunch and continue your sightseeing. Ascend the Tokyo City View Observatory for panoramic views over the capital and visit the Mori Museum. Then stroll along the colorful Nakamise Arcade to Asakusa Kannon Temple, the oldest in the city. Meals B,L

Day
11

Full day excursion to Mt. Fuji and Hakone

Travel to the 5th Station of Mt. Fuji and continue to Hakone National Park. Enjoy a cruise across the placid waters of picturesque Lak Ashi and ascend Mt. Komagatake by cable car for sweeping views over mountains and forest. Experience the Earth’s powerful geothermal forces in the Owakudani Valley and then return to Tokyo. Meals B

Day
12

Depart Tokyo

Your tour with us finishes today after breakfast. Meals B

Day
1

An Extra Night in Kyoto

Enjoy a free extra night in Kyoto before your tour at the deluxe Granvia Hotel, wonderfully situated in the heart of Kyoto.

Day
2

Welcome to Kyoto!

Check in to the deluxe Granvia Hotel in the heart of Kyoto.

Day
3

The Best of Kyoto

The day begins at Nijo Castle where you can try to walk in stealth across the Nightingale Floor, ingeniously designed to chirp in warning if would-be assassins penetrated into the Shogun’s inner sanctum. Continue to the vermilionhued Heian Shrine and Kinkakuji Temple – the glittering Golden Pavilion. Delve into Japan’s enduring traditions when you dine with Geisha and tour the Zen meditation gardens of Kodai-ji Temple. Meals B+L+D

Day
4

Excursion to the Inland Sea... Miyajima and Hiroshima

Cross the island-dotted Inland Sea to Miyajima Island and marvel at Itsukushima Shrine, established in the 6th century. Just off shore, the magnificent red Torii Gate rises majestically from the sea. In Hiroshima, visit Peace Memorial Park where the Memorial Museum stands as a sobering reminder of the destruction wrought by the Atomic bomb. Meals B

Day
5

Excursion to Nara, Japan’s first capital

Discover the ancient capital of Nara where Buddhism was first introduced to Japan nearly 1,500 years ago. You’ll visit Todai-ji Temple, one of the largest wooden structures in the world and home to an immense statue of Buddha. Stroll the peaceful lantern-lined forest paths of Kasuga Shrine before returning to Kyoto. Meals B

Day
6

By rail to Kanazawa

Journey to Kanazawa and visit the Nomura Samurai Residence and Kutani Kosen Pottery Studio to see skilled artisans at work. Then explore Kenrokuen, revered as one of Japan’s finest gardens. By special arrangement, a master gardener will share insight into the 6 elements of traditional landscape design which have been incorporated so perfectly here at Kenrokuen. Overnight at the Nikko Hotel. Meals B

Day
7

Shirakawago and Takayama

Travel to the mountain hamlet of Shirakawago, famous for its “Joined Hands” farmhouses. More than a century old, they derive their name from their steeply pitched roofs which look like hands joined together in prayer. Continue to the deluxe Associa Takayama Resort. Meals B+L+D

Day
8

Full day sightseeing in Takayama

Mingle with city residents starting their daily routine at the bustling morning market and then admire perfectly-preserved buildings like Takayama Jinya, an imposing government hall of the Edo period. Enjoy a tasting of fine sake and tour the Folk Craft Museum. At the Festival Floats Exhibit Hall, you’ll see enormous parade floats dating back 400 years, many with cleverly engineered figures that can be animated when these floats are used in the town’s colorful spring and autumn festivals. Meals B

Day
9

Onward to Tokyo

Journey by rail to Tokyo and transfer to the Keio Plaza Hotel, ideally located in vibrant Shinjuku. After time to refresh in your spacious Plaza Premier Room, join your guide for a walking tour in this modern city-center district where you’re staying. The area is popular with Tokyo residents for shopping, dining and entertainment. Meals B

Day
10

Tsukiji Fish Market and Tokyo sightseeing

Early this morning, we take you on a special visit to the world-famous Tsukiji Fish Market, where the city’s best chefs come daily to procure the freshest seafood. Then join one such master chef to learn the art of preparing restaurant-quality sushi. Enjoy the fruits of your labor for lunch before ascending the Tokyo Observatory for breathtaking views across the capital. Then stroll along the colorful Nakamise Arcade to Asakusa Kannon Temple, the oldest in the city. Meals B+L

Day
11

Full day excursion to Mt. Fuji and Hakone

Travel to the 5th Station of Mt. Fuji and continue to beautiful Hakone National Park, beloved for its pine forests and lovely views of Mt. Fuji. Enjoy a cruise across the placid waters of picturesque Lake Ashi and ascend Mt. Komagatake by cable car for sweeping views. Return to Tokyo and enjoy your evening at leisure. Meals B

Private Tour Add-Ons

Shanghai

Our 3-day FreeStyle Travel package includes a choice of fine hotels, daily breakfast, full day sightseeing with your own personal car, driver and guide and private car airport transfers.

Bangkok

Explore the ancient Buddhist traditions of this thoroughly modern city on a private tour featuring its most significant temples including the Temple of the Golden Buddha and the Marble Temple.

Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

Choose from our city-center deluxe and luxury hotels and join your personal guide to explore Saigon’s architectural landmarks, the markets and temples of Chinatown and the historic Cu Chi Tunnels.

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Prices are per person, land only. We offer air on United. Add extra nights.

Family + Friends

Travel is one of  life's most rewarding experiences, perhaps even more so when it's shared with those you love! Combine our limited-time pay-in-full discount with our Family & Friends offers and save even more:
  • Save $50 more per person when 3 guests go
  • Save $100 more per person with 4 people
  • Save $150 more per person with 5 people
  • Save $200 more per person with 6 or more people!

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