Japan Holiday | December 10-18, 2013
Japan is often overlooked for holiday travel – let us show you what you’re missing! We’ll escort you to Kobe’s famous Luminarie holiday lights festival, explore Kyoto, Kobe and Osaka, and take part in holiday events and festivals in Harajuku, Yokohama, and Asakusa. Pick up holiday gifts, explore otaku enclaves, take an optional trip to Tokyo Disney Sea or over the waters of Tokyo Bay on a lunch cruise, and more!
- R/T airfare from Los Angeles
- Rail pass for travel to Kobe, Osaka, Kyoto, Tokyo, and Yokohama
- Hostel accommodations for Basic Package, hotel accommodations for Better and Perfect Package
- 3 nights in Kobe, 4 nights in Tokyo
- All transportation (train, bus, shinkansen/bullet train) within Japan
- Professional bilingual guide services
- Custom tour guidebook
- Admission to all activities
- Much, much more!
After meeting up at Los Angeles International Airport, we’ll board our flight to Japan!
Day 2: Kobe via Tokyo
Upon arriving in Tokyo, we’ll board the Shinkansen “bullet train” to our first destination: the historic trading port of Kobe! Spend the afternoon exploring the city’s Sannomiya shopping arcade, which also includes one of Western Japan’s biggest centers for anime and manga goods. Take a break to fight jetlag, or join us for an optional trip up the mountainside to Kansai’s most legendary hot spring resort, Arima Onsen. In the evening, we’ll gather to walk under the thousands of lights in Kobe’s holiday light display (and memorial to victims of the 1995 earthquake here), the Kobe Luminarie. Option: Arima Onsen $75
Day 3: Exploring Osaka and Kobe
We begin our day with a little history in the city of Osaka as we cross moats and park lands to reach the foot of Osaka Castle. After checking out the castle, we’ll venture to Shinsaibashi and Namba, the wild cultural center of Osaka that is home to countless game centers, neon light displays, and some of the best local cuisine that Japan has to offer. After getting back to the hotel, you have a choice: turn in early, or join us for another stroll past the Luminarie to the Kobe Waterfront.
Day 4: Historical Kyoto
If you’re looking to get an up-close and personal peek into Japan’s past, there’s no better place to do it than Kyoto! We’ll spend the whole day here, visiting the city’s scenic Kiyomizu Temple before going across town to see the shogunate’s old digs, Nijo Castle. After walking along the nightingale flooring in the castle, we’ll take a trip to the Golden Pavilion of Kinkakuji. On our way home, we’ll have a pit stop at Kyoto’s massive Kyoto Station Complex to have dinner and explore the labyrinthine collection of shops and fun centers there.
Day 5: Games and sites in Kansai to Tokyo
Experience the best of Kansai and the Tokyo area in a single day! We’ll stop in Umeda in the morning to check out the views of Osaka from a giant ferris wheel, explore one of the world’s largest underground malls, and get a bento for the train ride to Tokyo. After taking the shinkansen back to Tokyo and checking in at our hotels/hostels, it’s off to the otaku mecca of Akihabara. Shop for rare doujinshi, flip virtual tables in giant video arcades, and see the latest in electronic gadgetry. Feeling adventurous? A visit to the Maid Cafe is a good way to experience Japan’s idol culture (and consume a sundae that looks like an animal XD). Option: Maid Cafe $45
Day 6: More fun in Tokyo
Today we take another step into Tokyo’s pop culture universe! A morning sojourn to the Ghibli Museum will give you the chance to see limited edition films by the famed animation studio, as well as see giant statues and exhibits dedicated to all things Ghibli. Then it’s off to Nakano Broadway, the closet of anime fandom, to search for everything from anime cels to out-of-print manga and indie CDs. Shinjuku will be our last stop of the day, where the holiday lights on the Southern Terrace will light our way to clubs, cafes, game centers, and stores stocked with tons of weird souvenirs you can buy to scare your friends. In the evening, take it easy or join us for an optional excursion to Tokyo Tower. Option: Tokyo Tower $40
Day 7: A Hop to Yokohama
One good port town deserves another – we begin our day in Yokohama on their waterfront in the Minato Mirai complex. Take a ride on a roller coaster, visit the Shonen Jump Store, or join your guide for a very scenic stroll to the architectural marvel that is the Yokohama Ferry Terminal. In the afternoon, we’ll go back to Tokyo and see Harajuku, where the usual parade of Sunday shoppers and fashionistas (not to mention the Omotesando Light Display) will keep your camera busy.
Day 8: Free day, Disney, or lunch cruise
It’s a free day! Take time to explore the areas you missed, go back to places where you didn’t have enough time, or just relax. Your guide will be on hand to help you get where you need to go. Or, join us on an optional extension to Tokyo Disney Sea, the Japan-exclusive Disney theme park on Tokyo Bay. Not in the mood for a theme park? That’s okay too – we’ve also got a special Lunch Cruise on a Yakatabune longboat lined up for lunchtime (optional), with an additional option for Puroland. Options: Disney Sea $85, or Yakatabune $85 and/or Puroland $65
Day 9: Asakusa Festival before departure
We depart today, but first, we’re going to squeeze the most we can out of our last day in Tokyo! We’ll start in Shibuya, where you can finish souvenir shopping or go gallery hopping in Tokyo’s most iconic “hip” neighborhood. To put an exclamation point on our journey, we’ll head to Asakusa for their annual Hagoita Ichi Festival. Here you can pick up some charms that are only sold here at this time of year, in preparation for the new year’s holiday (so save room in your bag!). Then, it’s off to the airport and back to the USA.