Japan 2017

(This tour is SOLD OUT – please join our waiting list)

Travel north and west of Tokyo on this in-depth tour of Japan to visit some of its most beautiful and less traveled countryside including World Heritage sites, designated National Treasures, a variety of temples large and small, historic shrines, and varied Japanese gardens. You’ll have the opportunity to stay in Japanese style accommodations, relax in an onsen (hot springs) if you like, and dine on the very best of Japanese cuisine.

The summer palace complex, shrines, and mausoleum of the shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu who first united all of Japan is a beloved treasure for all Japanese who strive to visit it once in their lifetime. Situated the pine forests of Nikkan hour north of Tokyo, it features dozens of buildings, and includes the famous three monkey sculpture: hear-no-evil, speak-no-evil, and see-no evil.  Along the way you’ll visit the village of Omiya, famous for its bonsai nurseries and museum.

The famous three monkey sculpture at the Tokugawa complex

Your trip continues through Kairakun and then north to Sendai where one of Japan’s famous five-story pagodas is located at the Rinnoji Temple and garden.

Another highlight is a visit to Matsushima Bay, with its 250 pine-covered islands, considered by many one of the top three scenic sites in Japan. You’ll tour the bay by boat where every view offers a spectacular view.

Shrine w cherry blossoms Matsushima
Shrine with cherry blossoms in Matsushima Bay

Hiraizumi is home to Choson-ji, one of Japan’s most significant temple complexes, housing the golden Amida Hall, Japan’s first designated National Treasure. From there you visit Tono, the birthplace of some of Japan’s oldest and most fascinating folklore legends.

Amida Hall
Amida Hall

Next you head south and then west. Yamadera boasts one of the most impressive displays of cherry blossoms along the river and through town (always subject to the yearly weather pattern). Its temple complex was founded over 1,000 years with temple halls spread throughout rich pine forests.

You’ll visit Nigata famous for its sake, seafood, and hot springs—and several famous gardens. You’ll stay in Tsukioka Onsen one of the area’s most famous hot spring resorts renowned for its mineral enriched waters that promote “enternal youth, longevity, and beauty.”

From Nigata you’ll enjoy a fast ride on the bullet train back to Tokyo for your return trip home or join us for a Kyoto extension. In Kyoto you’ll visit its most famous temples, pavilions, and palaces and experience cultural experiences such as the Japanese Tea Ceremony and a multi-course dinner with a private Geisha meeting and performance (subject to confirmation).

Greg Graves, former PHS board member will escort this tour. Note: Our 2016 Japan tours have sold out quickly; if interested click the Register button to read a detailed itinerary and discuss your interest with our Tour Company partner, Sterling Tours, Ltd.