Taste of Japan | May 29-June 8, 2015
You have five senses – engage them all in a journey that offers as much for the palate as it does the soul.
The Taste of Japan Tour combines the best of our previous Narrow Road and Local Eats tours to take you on a fun, engaging, delicious tour of sites along Japan’s old inland walking road, the Nakasendo. You’ll experience old post towns, relaxing hot springs, thrilling cities, life at a temple, and more – all while sampling regional cuisine you won’t get anywhere else. All meals are included in the tour price, except for the free day (you’ve gotta have a chance to go back and have your favorites again, right?) It’s a tour for people that are looking to get as much out of their vacation as possible, with a mix of destinations and experiences you won’t get anywhere else.
Pack your camera and your chopstick skills, friends – your ultimate Japan sampler plate awaits!
|TOUR AT A GLANCE|
Baggage: 1 carry-on sized bag — NO LARGE/CHECK-IN SIZED BAGS
NO Single Rooms available
- R/T airfare from Los Angeles to Japan
- Tour dates: Departs May 29, returns June 8
- Hotel accommodations: 3 nights hotel in Tokyo, 1 night ryokan stay in Ikaho Onsen, 1 night ryokan stay in Kamisuwa, 1 night ryokan stay in Magome, 1 night temple lodging in Mt. Koya and 2 nights hotel in Kyoto
- All meals included EXCEPT on the free day
- Stops in Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Mt. Koya, Ikaho Onsen, Sakuho, Lake Suwa, Tsumago, Magome and points between
- All transportation (train, ropeway, bus, shinkansen/”bullet train”, etc.) within Japan
- Professional bilingual guide services
- Admission to all activities
- Customized tour guidebook
- Nightly turndown service with local snacks and homemade sweets
- Much, much more!
This is not just a Japan food tour, but also a feast for your eyes and senses! We will visit historical towns and cities along the famed Nakasendo road, where samurai once walked. Not only that, we’re including delicious local food to round out your experience.
Day 1: Departure!
We depart Los Angeles for Japan!
Day 2: Landing
We arrive in Japan and transfer to our hotel.
Day 3: The First Course
We begin our adventure with a fresh sushi breakfast and a tour of the Kappabashi shopping district, where Japan’s finest chefs go to shop for their tools of the trade. We then cross over to Akihabara to explore Japanese fast food venues, shop, and eat the best Ramen Tokyo has to offer. Finally, we head off to the beginning of the Nakasendo, Nipponbashi and Ginza, to hunt for bargains, check out some of Japan’s oldest dessert spots, and finish with a tasty Kushiage (fried skewer) dinner.
Day 4: Into the Mountains
Today, we’ll board a bus and ride into the mountains of Gunma Prefecture to our accommodations at Ikaho Onsen on the side of Mt. Haruna! Soak in the hot springs and relax, but don’t forget to leave room for the region’s famous Udon for lunch and a traditional kaiseki dinner with delicious locally-raised meats and vegetables.
Day 5: Elevation Change
After breakfast, we’ll head further inland and board the world’s only gas-electric hybrid train as we climb the backbone of Nagano Prefecture to the small town of Sakuho. Here, we’ll peruse the works of famed artist Togyu Okumura before visiting the local Kurosawa Sake brewery and dining on bento for lunch. Then, it’s back on the train to glide by beautiful mountain scenery. Our evening lodging will be off scenic Lake Suwa, where you can kick back in one of the local onsens and enjoy another dinner prepared with local ingredients.
Day 6: Walking the Nakasendo
Today is all about history! After shipping some of our luggage ahead to Kyoto, get the rest of your stuff into a backpack for the stroll down the old Nakasendo between the post towns of Tsumago and Magome. In Tsumago, we’ll have a tasty lunch at one of the rest houses before hitting the trail. In Magome, we’ll take a rest and eat a meal prepared by our innkeepers before a free evening to explore the area.
Day 7: A trip to tranquility
We step off the Nakasendo and head into the city today, starting with Osaka Castle and the surrounding park, site of one of the most legendary battles of the warring states period. After taking in the history and donning some cool samurai garb, we’ll conquer another Osaka institution: an Okonomiyaki lunch. From there, we ride south into the country to the top of Mt. Koya, one of the holiest Buddhist sites in Japan, where we’ll lodge at a temple with the monks to experience a view of Japan few ever get to see.
Day 8: The old capitol
After a morning with the monks and breakfast, we head to Kyoto where we’ll be reunited with our baggage and have an afternoon to explore the shrine gate tunnels and beautiful views of Fushimi Inari Shrine. To cap the day, we head to Uji – the green tea capitol of Japan – for a festival and dinner.
Day 9: Kyoto up close
Today, we’ll explore the famous Golden Pavilion of Kinkakuji before venturing to the Higashiyama area of Kyoto, stopping at the picturesque Ginkakuji Temple before hitting Kiyomizu Temple and its famed shopping street. Then it’s off to Gion for an all-you-can-eat Sukiyaki and Shabu-Shabu dinner. In the evening, if all the traditional culture has you craving a little noise and lights, join your guide for an optional night out in Osaka’s Umeda district.
Day 10: Free Day!
Today is a free day! Take your time and explore a new spot, see a city you didn’t get to see before, or revisit a place you haven’t seen yet. Meals are not included today so you have a chance to sample something new – or eat something again!
Day 11: Return home
Return home and tell everyone what you ate, making them extremely jealous (hopefully).