Skate or Swim 2018
May 10th, 2018 - May 21st, 2018
$500/month - ($3,995 total with flight, or $3,195 land only)
You were born to make history.
Part love-letter to the anime Free! and YURI!!! On Ice, Skate or Swim is also a love-letter to the San-in and Japan Sea Coast areas that give these iconic anime their distinctive look. The journey begins in Karatsu, the inspiration for the town of Hasetsu where Yuri is from. Experience the castle from the series, visit the hot spring that served as the model for Yuri's home, and check out the rice terraces near town. We'll also visit Iwami, a.k.a. Iwatobi, to wander past gorgeous sea cliffs, see sights from the series, visit the local Sand Dunes (you heard me, SAND DUNES) and maybe even hop in the water (in a boat ^_~) to check out the town from the water. That's just the prelims though, friends; we're also going to hit the old-school Ramen stands and shopping alleys of Fukuoka, sweep through old school markets in Yonago, stay at a hot spring, and even ride a fancy sleeper train back to Tokyo! Back in Tokyo, we'll spend a generous amount of time shopping for doujinshi on Otome Road in Ikebukuro, visit a butler cafe, nibble on treats in Jiyugaoka, geek out in Akihabara, see temples in Asakusa and much, much more! You'll also have a full free day to explore a new spot or revisit an old one. If you want to get a whole lot closer to the spots that inspired the two most groundbreaking sports anime of the decade, hit that "Sign Up" button and pack your bags!
Highlights: Tottori Sand Dunes
  • Travel Style: One True Tour
    Anime-centric adventures for every fan
  • Pace: Walking and Shopping
    You can walk OR relax during shopping stops
  • Season: Spring
    Cherry blossoms and cool breezes
Onsen Shopping

Day 1: Departure!

We'll meet up at Los Angeles International Airport and board our flight to Japan.

Welcome Meeting and Tour Guidebook

At the airport, you'll be given the tour guidebook, maps, and other goodies.

The Flight

The flight to Japan will take approximately 10~11 hours.
Meals and on-board entertainment are complimentary!

Note: Guests flying to Japan on their own ("Land Only") guests should consult with PacSet with regards to their travel arrangements and meeting the group in Japan.

Be sure to read our tour pre-departure emails to be prepared for the trip!

Day 2: Skating to Hasetsu!

After arriving in Tokyo, we'll ship off our big bags and exchange money before catching our connecting flight to Fukuoka. That night, we'll check into our hotel in Karatsu on the Saga sea coast.

Day 3: You Only Live Once

YOI fans rejoice: this day is yours! We'll begin with a stop at a local cafe before crossing the iconic bridge to Karatsu Castle, the site of Yuri's practices with Victor in the anime. Learn about the history of the castle, explore the keep, and shoot pics before we head to the station area for more YOI-centric sightseeing.

A bus will whisk us through the ancient Niji no Matsubara forest and up to the city lookout, where we'll get a better look at the town. We saved the best for last though: a stop at the hot spring that inspired Yuri's house. Dinner? Katsudon, of course!

Day 4: Tonkatsu or Tonkotsu?

It's time to get up close with our island: Kyushu. Our first stop this morning are the scenic rice terraces of Karatsu, long admired by visitors and recognized as the lifeblood of the region. When we're done sightseeing, we roll into one of Japan's largest cities, Fukuoka! We'll check out the land bridge in the park, shop our way through Canal City, and finally hit the riverside for some of the area's famed ramen, served from rows of stalls on the riverfront.

Day 5: Castle Cruising

Today, we make our way towards Iwami - but first, we're going to stop and check out Japan's most legendary castle in Himeji! We'll see the inner keep before venturing into the castle outer baileys to see the view that the defenders of this legendary structure once did.

After some free time in town to shop for souvenirs and get lunch, we'll board an express train and cruise through the mountains to Iwami, where we'll get acquainted with Haru's hometown and have dinner.

Day 6: Future Fish

Let's dive into Iwami, shall we? The inspiration for "Iwatobi" is our stop today, and we'll be getting started just outside of town at the Tottori Sand Dunes. Featured in the ending credits, this odd-yet-natural seaside "desert" gives visitors the chance to sand board, ride camels (no joke), and take in some very nice views. From there, we'll get closer to the San-In coastline by getting some boats and heading into the water! Besides exploring the scenes and sights from Season 1 from a unique angle, we'll also get to poke around the cliffs and seaside vistas that make this area famous.

Day 7: Yowamushi Pedal*

It's a day behind the handlebars! Today, you can choose to pedal or stroll seaside Iwami, where many of the sites featured in Free! are located. We'll stop to take pics and admire the views before grabbing a bento for a seashore picnic. In the afternoon, we board an express train and cruise the San-In Coastline to our next stop, Yonago! We'll get settled in at our hot spring inn for the night before treating ourselves to dinner.

*This tour has nothing to do with Pedal. It would be funny if it did, but it does not. The tour designer apologizes for this pun, but does not regret it.

Day 8: Yona-go go!

Welcome to the Osaka of San-In, Yonago! We'll start our journey slowly though; the morning is reserved for chill time at our hotel in Kaike Onsen. After relaxing a bit, we'll head into Yonago and explore the old Chaya (Tea House) section of town. If you think the streets look cool, wait until you see the view from the canals that run between them!

Our last stop of the day will take us past some of the traditional wagashi (Japanese sweets) shops in town. You might want to grab a small dessert for the next part of our trip, as we settle into our accommodations on Japan's last remaining sleeper train for an overnight cruise all the way to Tokyo.

Day 9: Fan-Centric Fun

Good morning, and welcome to Tokyo! After we pull in to Tokyo Station, we'll drop our luggage and take a few hours to rest and recharge at a local onsen. Grab some morning coffee, get refreshed, but get ready - we're off to Ikebukuro!

Spend the afternoon shopping for doujinshi, but save room in your schedule (and stomach) for a special appointment at a butler cafe. In the afternoon, we'll swing by the dessert paradise of Jiyugaoka to get a few treats and check out local fashion boutiques.

Day 10: The City Beckons

Our second day in Tokyo will have us covering a lot of different ground. We begin in Asakusa for a quick visit to Sensoji Temple, Tokyo's most famous. Then we sail down the Sumida River on the futuristic Hotaluna ship before finishing the day in the fan-centric neighborhood of Akihabara. Your guides will be on hand to help you get any other goodies you seek crossed off your shopping list.

Day 11: I Only Swim Free-Day

Today is a free day! Go back and explore a spot you've been, or check out some place new! Your guides will be on hand the night before to help with directions, maps, and other requests you may have.

Day 12: Return Home

Return home to tell your friends how much fun you had and make them very, very jealous.
What's Included
R/T airfare from LAX to Japan
All transportation within Japan
Train, ropeway, bus, shinkansen (bullet train)
Hotels: 2 nights Karatsu, 1 night Fukuoka, 1 night in Yonago, 3 nights in Tokyo 2 nights in Iwami; 1 night sleeping car on train
8 (2 Breakfasts in Karatsu, Breakfast and Dinner in Yonago and Iwami)
Tour guide services
Professional, bilingual guide and onsite concierge services
Admission to all activities
Costs for all scheduled tour activities (temples, museums, boat rides, etc.) are covered!
Customized tour guidebook
Includes detailed itinerary, Japan travel basics, maps
Nightly turndown service
Local snacks and homemade sweets

Need a custom add-on?
We're more than happy to help you!

Let's make memories together
"Between Roppongi Kingyo, the Kanda festival, Swallowtail cafe, the onsen and all the shopping we got to experience, it was amazing. Evan and Lanny were great guides and they did a wonderful job...They were extremely helpful giving directions to different places during free time so everyone could go see what they wanted." - Samantha Almond, BL Teahouse 2013 "My best friend and friends on the internet are the only people I can discuss my geeky interests with. To be able to do so with such a diverse group of people was so fun and amazing, and a really once-in- a-lifetime experience. This was seriously the BEST vacation I have ever had!" - Talia, BL Teafighter 2015
Previous Tour Recap >
Payment Plan
Sign Up In: w/ Flight from LAX Land Only
October $575 $460
November $670 $535
December $800 $640
January $1,000 $800