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For many Europeans, there is no culture more different than Japan. Spirit Journeys Worldwide cultural tours are designed to immerse you in a new and different culture. Japanese culture, food, religion, and language are all very unique, which is why this is one of the joys and challenges of travelling to this beautiful region of the world. Come join this tour where you will have the opportunity to delight along some of the best Japanese highlights, while indulging into some of the most delicious Japanese dishes!
During this tour of Japan, guests will be provided with daily accommodation at hotels and ryokan, the traditional Japanese inn originated in the Edo period.
This tour will take place in and around Tokyo, Takayama, Kyoto, Koyasan, and Osaka, Japan.
During this culinary tour around diverse beautiful Japanese regions, guests will be provided with daily breakfast, 3 lunches and 5 dinners, and will have the opportunity to relish some delicious Japanese dishes, while learning how to make rolled sushi, miso soup, salad, dessert and taste matcha (Japanese green tea), paired with a Japanese sweet.
Around noon, catch the bus to Shirakawago region in Toyama Prefecture, famous for its UNESCO World Heritage-listed gassho-zukuri farmhouses. Gassho-zukuri means "constructed like hands in prayer," as the farmhouses steep thatched roofs resemble the praying hands of Buddhist monks. The architectural style developed over many generations and some of the houses are more than 250 years-old. The roofs, which were constructed without any nails, are intricately designed to withstand the large amounts of heavy snow in winter and the large attics were used to cultivate silkworms.
Stroll around Shirakawago and visit a couple of farmhouses, such as the Wada House, which previously belonged to the Wada Family, one of the richest families and village leaders in Ogimachi. Their status in the community was represented by the size of their house, still the largest gassho-zukuri farmhouse in the village today. Interesting about this house is that no nails were used in its construction, and only ropes hold everything together. Inside, you will find a number of antiques such as silkworm installations, looms, and irori, the traditional sunken hearth used for heating and cooking. Return to Takayama for another night in the ryokan.
This can be an alternative to the self-guided tour in Takayama. You can explore some of the food shops in Takayama with a knowledgeable guide, learning about the towns colorful history and familiarizing their taste buds with some of the local delicacies. The walking tour includes visits to a tofu seller, a rakugan (traditional Japanese candy) shop, and even a sake brewery (some stores may close on certain days). Food and sake tastings are also included.
Enjoy a walk around some of Tokyo's brightest and liveliest districts in the company of a tour leader, who will make sure guests experience the city's most famous nightlife spots as well more local and hidden neighborhoods. After meeting the tour leader at the hotel, guests will first head to Ebisu, where modern, western-style nightlife meets Japanese tradition. Bright neon lights will show the way to the most fashionable restaurants and bars, while more traditional lanterns will identify the manyizakayas (Japanese-style pubs).
The tour leader will also take guests to Ebisu Yokocho, one of the most traditional areas of Ebisu, where lively narrow streets are filled with traditional Japanese taverns selling finger food, traditional appetizers, Japanese beer and other traditional drinks. There, guests can choose a bar and have a drink while the tour leader explains the history and the characteristics of the area (first drink included other orders on own expense). Later, a 20-minute walk (or three-minute train ride) will take guests from Ebisu to Shibuya, one of the hearts of Tokyo's nightlife scene.
This area is home to the world-famous Shibuya crossing, considered the worlds busiest intersection with more than a thousand people crossing every time the traffic lights change. This is one of the most famous sights in Japan and definitely one of the best spots to take a souvenir photo. In the middle of Shibuya's bright lights and vibrant atmosphere lies Hachiko, the well-known statue of the dog that used to visit Shibuya station every day to wait for his owner. This is also a convenient meeting point that many locals use when they get together for a night out in Shibuya.
Next, a quick train ride will take you to Shinjuku, which is home to the worlds busiest railway station and a very popular entertainment and shopping district. From the station, head to the Shinjuku NS Building, where dinner awaits at a Japanese izakaya, located on the 29th floor. This high vantage point provides amazing views of Tokyo while guests have dinner (included). After dinner, if time permits, the tour leader can take guests to Shinjukus Golden Gai, a network of small alleys and narrow passageways famous for its unique atmosphere and tiny bars. From there, guests can either continue exploring Tokyo's nightlife on their own, or ask the tour leader to take them back to the station.
Please arrive at Narita International Airport (NRT) or Haneda International Airport (HND). You will be met by a representative who will help you getting to the hotel.
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