Day 1: Tokyo
The adventure begins tonight. Feel free to explore before your welcome meeting, but make sure you’re back in time to meet the group. Check for the meeting time on the welcome note at the hotel. After introductions, your CEO will review the details of your tour. Please note that normal check-in times apply at our start hotels, but you can usually store your luggage for the day if you arrive early.
Day 2: Tokyo
Let your CEO guide you around eclectic and modern Tokyo.
In Harajuku, we catch a glimpse of the pop culture phenomenon of Kawaii. Directly translated as “cute,” this Japanese cultural movement is reflected through various avenues of entertainment, toys, personal style, attitude, and cuisine.
Visit the Meiji shrine dedicated to the 123rd emperor of Japan, Emperor Meiji and his wife. The shrine is a great place to escape the bustle of the city and wander the grounds along the wide walking paths.
Day 3: Tokyo
Opt to visit Ueno park and the museums, Akihabara for cutting edge electronics, Harajuku for funky fashions, Ginza for the highest of the high end, walk the grounds of the Imperial Palace East Garden, or just stroll the streets, looking for the traditional life that still lies just under the modern surface.
Visit the Toyosu Fish Market, the biggest fish and seafood market in the world. Walk through the maze of fresh catches, massive fish, and exciting business exchanges to get an idea of how important this industry is in Tokyo. The market is busiest early in the morning, this is the best time to take in all the action and opt for a fresh sushi breakfast. If you’re hoping to get one of the rare and coveted spots to view the famous tuna auction be sure to arrive by 3 am – and remember there are no guarantees!
The Ginza district is Tokyo’s equivalent of Fifth Avenue in New York. Window shop at Chanel, Dior, Gucci, and Louis Vuitton, then check out the latest electronics at the Sony showroom or Apple store. Visit the Wako department store with its historic clock tower, housed in a building that dates back to 1894. If you are there on a weekend, head to Ginza’s main street where pedestrians rule without Tokyo’s traffic.
Day 4: Tokyo to Tsumago
Depart Tokyo by train. Disembark at Nagiso and continue to a local minshuku, a traditional Japanese bed-and-breakfast, where we’ll spend the night. Enjoy a walk through the countryside, passing lush farms and rice paddies into Tsumago, a protected cultural area dating to the Edo period. Explore the charming town, where motorized vehicles are prohibited on the main street during the day and phone lines and power cables are hidden from view to preserve its traditional feel. Back at our minshuku, feast on a kaiseki meal—a ritualistic multi-course dinner emphasizing artful presentation and fresh ingredients.
Day 5: Tsumago to Kanazawa
Continue by train to the historic city of Kanazawa, the seat of the powerful Maeda clan during the Edo period. Venture to Nagamachi, the city’s well-preserved samurai district located at the foot of Kanazawa Castle, and learn about the lifestyle of Japan’s ancient, elite warrior class. We’ll also visit the Nomura residence, the beautifully restored home of a wealthy samurai family, boasting a collection of antique heirlooms and a stunning garden.
Day 6: Kanazawa
Spend the day exploring Kanazawa. Visit the Myoryuji Temple—commonly known as the Ninja Temple—which doubled as a military outpost, and discover its many hidden defenses and escape routes. Take a walk through the Higashi Chaya geisha district and gain insights into geisha culture, viewing one of the district’s traditional wooden houses. Then visit a local craft studio, where we’ll learn about the city’s time-honoured crafts and learn to paint chopsticks with gold leaf.
Day 7: Kanazawa to Hiroshima
The large Peace Park in the centre of the city is an extremely moving place dotted with memorials of those known to have been killed in the explosion and others who died as a result. A burning flame waits in the park to be extinguished when all nuclear weapons in the world have been destroyed.
Day 8: Hiroshima
Catch a ferry to Itsukushima Island, popularly known as Miyajima. Here, you’ll find one of Japan’s most beautiful and sacred temples, the 12th-century Itsukushima Shinto shrine. This UNESCO World Heritage site is built over the water, with a red torii or wooden gateway that appears to float at high tide. Spend the afternoon at leisure and explore on your own.
Day 9: Hiroshima to Kyoto
As the Imperial capital, Kyoto is an essential part of any visit to Japan. Kyoto has some of the most magnificent temples in Japan which date back centuries. There are said to be 2,000 temples, shrines, palaces, museums, and traditional gardens in Kyoto. Use your time to wander past huge wooden structures and multi-storied pagodas, all linked with famous walkways.
Day 10: Kyoto
Venture to the breathtaking Fushimi Inari shrine just outside of Kyoto, dedicated to the Shinto god of rice. Walk under the temple’s iconic red gates, where a scene from Memoirs of a Geisha was filmed. Spend the rest of the day discovering ancient Nara, the site of Japan’s earliest capital. Visit the impressive Todaiji temple — home to the largest bronze Buddha statue in the world — and wander the walkways of Kasuga Taisha, one of Japan’s most sacred Shinto shrines.
Day 11: Kyoto
This morning, we visit a local temple to learn about the history and practice of Zen Buddhism in Japan. Meet with a local monk for a lesson in Zen meditation and calligraphy; then head to the shimmering Kinkakuji, or “temple of the golden pavilion,” one of Kyoto’s most magnificent sites. Later, we’ll learn the basics of samurai etiquette and the practice of kembu, or traditional Japanese swordplay. Try your hand at this delicate art form, and witness a memorable performance by kembu masters.
Day 12: Depart Anytime