The days for boring history lectures have long since past. We’ve found three tour operators who are willing to take on the challenge of providing a hands-on cultural education about Japan for your clients, through fun and adventurous trips and tours.
From May 9-17, IACE Travel offers the 9-day 2012 The Amazing “Snow Wall” Japan Tour, taking guests through the Japanese countryside along an Alpine route, famous for its high snow walls.
The tour travels through the middle of the country, stopping in cities such as Takayama, Kanazawa, Midagahara and Matsumoto. The biggest highlight of the tour, and the reason for its name, is a 23-mile route through the Japan Alps, parts of which can be lined in up to 65-ft.-high snow walls, and which requires five different modes of transportation including bus, trolley and aerial tramway. Other highlights include a stop in Shirakawa-go, a historic village famous for farm houses built in a very unique architectural style called gassho, and a visit to Kenroku-en, one of Japan’s three most famous gardens which has been named as a national treasure due to its beauty.
Land-only rates for The Amazing “Snow Wall” Japan Tour start at $3,380 pp dbl and include 8-night accommodations, transportation, 11 meals, English-speaking guide or assistant, luggage transfer, and admissions and fees for sightseeing as per itinerary. For more information, call (866) 735-4223 or visit iace-asia.com.
All Japan Tours (AJT) takes a different tactic this spring and next, focusing on the cherry blossom trees that the country is so famous for. Through its 7-day Golden Route Japan—Cherry Blossom Special, clients learn the nation’s history from past to present while visiting the best places to view cherry blossoms along the way.
Included in the lesson are stops in Osaka to visit towering monuments such as the Great Buddha statue; Kyoto, where guests will have exclusive access to the city’s gardens, temples and shrines; Nagoya, allowing a visit to the Toyota Kaikan Museum of Industry and Technology and the Inuyama Castles; and Tokyo, visiting shopping districts, cultural landmarks, and attractions such as Tokyo Tower, the Imperial Palace and Ueno Park. Experiences also include a ride on a bullet train and on a Sumida River cruise, a green tea ceremony and kimono show, and a stop at a traditional hot spring near Hakone and Mt. Fuji.
Land-only rates for the Golden Route Japan—Cherry Blossom Special start at $1,998 pp dbl and include 6-night accommodations, airport meet and greet, roundtrip airport transfers, transportation, English-speaking guide, admission fees and activities as per itinerary, daily breakfast, four lunches and two dinners. Itinerary dates for 2012 begin on April 1 and 8, while 2013 itineraries begin on April 1 and 7. For more information, call (800) 490-5728 or visit alljapantours.com.
And from Friendly Planet Travel comes a 7-day Tokyo Express Tour, exploring the city inside and out through visits to main sites including the Tokyo Tower, Meiji Shrine, and East Garden of the Imperial Palace.
Travelers also have the option of adding on additional excursions, including a walking tour of the Shinjuku ward to experience the first-class neighborhoods of the area, a visit to the Manga Kissa Cafe to indulge in Japanese comic book culture, and a stop by an izakaya, or Japanese pub. Other possibilities for adventure include a full-day Mt. Fuji and Hakone tour or an excursion to Hamarijyu Gardens with a boat ride promising views of both old and new Tokyo.
Providing the most bang for the buck, the Tokyo Express Tour starts at $1,499 pp dbl, inclusive of airfare from Los Angeles on Singapore Airlines, plus superior first-class hotel accommodations, daily buffet breakfast, and a city tour of Tokyo with local guides. For more information, call (800) 555-5765 visit friendlyplanet.com.