Japan's Cultural Treasures

Highlights & InclusionsItineraryPricing Information Terms & Conditions
Departure Date: April 20, 2019
May 6, 2019
October 1, 2019
Duration: 13 Days / 12 Nights
Price from: $4,995
Single Room Supplement: Waived
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This trip will be operated on behalf of Gutsy Women Travel (GWT) clients by award winning Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT). There are 5 Twin bedded rooms and 6 single accommodations rooms with no single supplement blocked on this trip. Once single rooms are sold out, women can secure a guaranteed share in a twin room accommodation. This trip is opened up to OAT clients & is co-ed. However the group size will always be capped at no more than 16 participants. There will be a dedicated OAT licensed, local travel director assigned to this GWT group block departure.

Highlights & Inclusions

  • Be sure to mention booking code G9-25972 to receive all the Gutsy benefits!
  • Airport transfers are included when you purchase our operator's International air to coincide with trip's day by day agenda.
  • All land transportation, including 3 rail transfers on bullet and local trains
  • Accommodations for 12 nights
  • 23 meals—daily breakfast, 5 lunches, and 6 dinners
  • 13 small group activities
  • Services of a resident, English-speaking Trip Leader
  • Gratuities for local guides, drivers, and luggage porters
  • 5% Frequent Traveler Credit toward your next adventure
“A person needs at intervals to separate from family and companions and go to new places. One must go without familiars in order to be open to influences, to change.”
Katharine Butler Hathaway, Author


Travel Japan and discover the country you’ve always dreamed of, an Asian land both modern and ancient … where a colorful Shinto festival winds its way past neon lights and Tokyo skyscrapers … a modern bullet train speeds past a farmer tending his rice paddy … a well-dressed businessman stops in a Buddhist temple to light incense … majestic Mount Fuji provides a beautiful backdrop for Hakone, where locals and travelers alike relax in volcanic hot springs.

Join us as we explore more than 2,000 years of Japanese history and culture, from ultra-modern Tokyo through the former imperial capital of Kyoto, and all the way back to Kanazawa’s unique samurai architecture. Along the way, we’ll stay in a Japanese-style ryokan inn, visit local markets and craft workshops, partake in a traditional tea ceremony, and travel by rail just as the Japanese do. Welcome to Japan—GWT style.

DAY 1 - Depart U.S.

Depart the U.S. today on your overnight flight to Tokyo, Japan.

DAY 2 - Arrive Tokyo, Japan

Arrive at the Tokyo airport in the late afternoon or early evening today. An OAT representative will greet us at the airport and assist with the transfer to our hotel in Tokyo, where we'll meet our OAT Trip Leader and fellow travelers, including those who arrived early for the optional Tokyo pre-trip extension.

DAY 3 - Tokyo • Afternoon at leisure

We have breakfast at our hotel, followed by a briefing about our upcoming days in Japan, then we set out to explore fascinating and frenetic Tokyo on a tour that takes us to some of its most famous sites. We'll enter the seventh-century Asakusa Kannon Temple, which—according to legend—was founded after two brothers fished the Kannon statue out of the Sumida River. They threw the statue back in the river over and over, but it always returned to them, so they built the temple to house it forever.

We'll pass by the Imperial Palace—which still serves as the home to the emperor of Japan—on our way to the Ginza district, famous for its high-class shops and glitzy galleries. Following our explorations here, we’ll have time for lunch on our own before we return to our hotel mid-afternoon. The balance of the day is free for you to explore independently. Perhaps you’ll get an overview of Tokyo’s history at the massive Edo Tokyo Museum, or stroll the streets of Old Tokyo. We'll regroup this evening as we gather for a Welcome Dinner at a local restaurant.

DAY 4 - Travel overland to Hakone • Japanese language lesson

We start our day with breakfast at the hotel, then board a motorcoach for the trip to Hakone, located about 50 miles west of Tokyo. As we drive, our Trip Leader will lead a discussion on language, giving us a lesson on practical Japanese that will help us in our explorations. We'll stop for lunch at a local restaurant, then ascend halfway up the slopes of Mount Fuji by bus (weather permitting), enjoying a scenic drive around this iconic, snowcapped mountain.

Afterward, we resume our journey to Hakone, arriving in late afternoon. After checking into our hotel, the rest of the day is at leisure. If you wish, you can try bathing in a Japanese onsen (hot spring) before we enjoy a Japanese banquet-style dinner at our hotel.
OVERNIGHT: Gora Asahi Hotel or similar

DAY 5 - Owakudani Thermal Springs • Cruise Ashinoko Lake

We start our day in Hakone with breakfast at our hotel, then embark on a tour of this scenic city. Blessed with a beautiful volcanic setting, Hakone is beloved by the Japanese for its hot-spring resorts, mountains, lakes, and historical sites. We begin with a drive around Hakone, and then drive to Mount Soun high above the surrounding hills. Here, we ride in an aerial gondola to the thermal springs in the Owakudani Valley (the Japanese consider eggs boiled in Owakudani’s bubbling lava pools a treat). Then, we cruise Lake Asahi from Kojiri to Hakone-machi and have lunch at a local restaurant. Here, weather permitting, you will have tremendous views of majestic Mount Fuji.

After lunch, we set out on our return trip to our hotel. On the way we will visit the Hamamatsuya, a workshop specializing in wooden handcrafts. Here you can see the creation of the elaborate woodwork of Hakone Yosegi Zaiku, a special product of Hakone featuring complex inlaid designs. We arrive at our hotel in mid-afternoon for some free time, and enjoy dinner at our hotel this evening.

Please note: Alternative activities may be substituted for some of the visits described above depending on weather conditions.
OVERNIGHT: Gora Asahi Hotel or similar

DAY 6 - Bullet train to Nagoya • Express train to Kanazawa

We have breakfast at our hotel and then transfer to the train station, where we board our first bullet train—the legendary high-speed train service pioneered by the Japanese.

The Japanese call this train the shinkansen. It is one of the world's finest quick-transit trains, and still amongst the fastest trains in the world, traveling at speeds of up to 200 mph. For boarding, be prepared to stand at a precise location indicated by your coach and seat accommodations. The train stops exactly where indicated and sure enough, your coach is right in front of you. Our trip on the bullet train takes us from Odawara to Nagoya. Lunch is on your own today and we suggest doing as the Japanese do—buy a packed lunch (called eki-ben) in the station and enjoy it on the train. Eki-ben lunches are one of the attractions of train travel in Japan.

We'll then board the Limited Express train for our ride to Kanazawa, enjoying a view of Japan's rolling countryside and modern cityscapes along our route. We arrive in the afternoon and check into our hotel. Dinner tonight is at a local restaurant.

DAY 7 - Kanazawa • Visit Omicho Market

Explore Japan and tour a sake brewery We have breakfast at our hotel and then begin our exploration of Kanazawa with a guided tour of this historic city.

Between the 16th and 18th centuries, Kanazawa was a prosperous castle town in the domain of Kaga, ruled by the Maeda Family, and it has been one of the cultural centers of Japan ever since. Located on the coast of the Japan Sea, Kanazawa was spared much of the destruction that World War II brought to the country. It is famous today for its unique architecture, its exquisite Kaga-style handcrafts—including silk-dyeing and lacquerware—its delicate regional cuisine, and the Kenrokuen Garden, one of the most beautiful in Japan. We start our tour with a morning visit to this garden, which was opened to the public in 1875 and is one of the most visited garden spots in all of Japan.

After the garden, we'll visit one of the many houses of Kanazawa where the samurai—Japan's famed class of noble warriors—once lived. Several former samurai homes still stand on winding streets, and many are still in use as residences. We'll enjoy a closer look at what constitutes samurai style when we explore the 18th-century Terashima House, home of a samurai who was also a painter. Later we'll tour the Higashi-Chaya district with its old wooden structures. We'll also visit Kaikaro, a 190-year-old ochaya—a teahouse where geishas perform. Here, we'll admire the teahouse's decor, which is a true fusion between modern and ancient Japan.

Then, following lunch at a local restaurant, we visit the Omicho Market (closed Sundays and public holidays). This 300-year-old market, known locally as Kanazawa's Kitchen, is a very busy gathering place, and brims with exceptionally fresh vegetables, fruit, and fish offered for sale to households and to private restaurants. By browsing the many stalls here, we can get a good idea of what the local diet is like and see the range of foods that create the local cuisine. We might see some of the traditional specialties of the region, such as fish pickled in rice bran, fresh crab, Kaga lotus root, seaweed, and a variety of sweet treats.

After walking through the busy market, we'll uncover more local traditions by visiting a gold-leaf workshop. These thin sheets of gold have been produced in Kanazawa since the 16th century, and are used to decorate everything from handcrafts to Buddhist alters. In the workshop, we'll learn more about how gold leaf is made and what significance it still holds in Japanese culture before returning to our hotel. Dinner tonight is on your own.

DAY 8 - Day at leisure • Optional Shirakawa-go & Gokayama tour OPTIONAL TOUR

Discover Japanese mountain villages on a guided tour Today you can spend a day at leisure in Kanazawa, making your own discoveries in this historic city.

Or you can join us for an optional full-day excursion to Shirakawa-go and Gokayama, mountain villages—and UNESCO World Heritage Sites—in the forested countryside outside of Kanazawa. Because of their relative isolation, these areas developed independently of Japanese society, resulting in a unique culture and lifestyle. In addition to creating their own dances, festivals, and traditions, residents developed a distinctive architectural style known as gassho-zukuri. Characterized by steeply pitched thatched roofs that are both striking and elegant, these dwellings are considered to be some of the most efficient farmhouses in Japan—and we'll discover why as we explore the houses of Ainokura this morning. Then we'll visit a workshop to see how washi—a thick, fibrous paper made from mulberry bark—is created. Afterward, we'll head to Murakami House, which was built in 1578 and is the oldest ghasso-style house in the area. During our visit here, we'll learn more about the history and culture of Gokayama, enjoy a traditional dance performance, and savor a traditional lunch of soba (buckwheat noodles) at a local restaurant. This afternoon, we transfer to Shirakawa-go, where we'll learn the art of mochitsuki, or rice-cake making, with members of the local community before returning to our hotel.

Dinner is on your own tonight.

DAY 9 - Tea with local family • Train to Kyoto

Following breakfast at your Kanazawa hotel, we set off to visit a local family for tea and to get a firsthand glimpse of Japanese life at home. This is a wonderful opportunity to talk with a family and experience a bit of their daily routine. After this unique opportunity, we'll enjoy lunch together before we transfer to the train station and board a train bound for Kyoto.

Encounter local Japanese culture at a Home Hosted Meal Kyoto was Japan’s imperial capital through the eighth to 19th centuries. It remains an important cultural center—and has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site—and we’ll have five full days to explore its many wonders. We arrive at our hotel in the late afternoon, take a short orientation walk around the neighborhood, and enjoy dinner at a local restaurant tonight.
OVERNIGHT: Aranvert Hotel or similar

DAY 10 - Explore Kyoto • Discover Kinkakuji

Among Kyoto's many wonders are some of Japan's most impressive Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, and we'll have a chance to discover one after breakfast, as we visit Kinkakuji Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The striking architecture of Kinkakuji, also known as the Temple of the Golden Pavilion, dates from 1397, when it was built by the third shogun (military commander) of the Ashikaga Shogunate. The reflection of the pavilion on the water of the adjacent pond produces a breathtakingly beautiful and world-famous view.

Next, we visit Nijo Castle, which was constructed between 1601 and 1603. The castle, shrines, and 17 temples here are designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Although meant to represent power, it appears more a royal estate than a military post fortified with weapons. It was built by Tokugawa Ieyasu, founder of the Tokugawa shogunate, and became a meeting place for the shoguns. The largest building on the grounds is Ninomaru Palace, intentionally built with squeaky floors so an intruder would be heard advancing through the room.

After lunch at a local restaurant, we continue on to Sanjusangendo Hall, built in the twelfth century and containing an impressive 1,001 statues of the thousand-handed Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of mercy. Finally, we explore Kiyomizu Temple, another UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its “leap of faith” veranda and wooden terraces once used for sacred dances. Resting at the foot of the Higashiyama Mountains, this temple—which dates back to AD 778—offers a sweeping view of Kyoto and a spring whose waters are believed by some to have a curative quality.

This evening, we return to our hotel and enjoy dinner on our own.
OVERNIGHT: Aranvert Hotel or similar

DAY 11 - Day at leisure • Optional Nara & Fushimi tour OPTIONAL TOUR See two UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Nara

After breakfast, today is free for you to explore Kyoto on your own.

Or you can choose to join us on an optional tour to Nara and Fushimi. This excursion takes us to the distinctive city of Nara, which was the capital of Japan before Kyoto. We will visit two UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Nara: Todaiji Temple and Kasuga Shinto Shrine. As we approach Todaiji Temple's Daibutsu-den Hall, you will first be impressed by its massive size, as it is the largest wooden building in the world. It is also one of the major historic temples in Japan and contains valuable artifacts. Here, we'll admire the Daibutsu—an impressive 52-foot Buddha statue. As we continue to explore Todaiji, we'll likely notice another charming feature of its park area: its tame, free-roaming deer, which were traditionally regarded as the messengers of the Shinto god Kasuga. If you want a close-up introduction to them, you can purchase shika senbei (special biscuits) to feed them, but be prepared to be very popular with these lovely creatures when you offer them food.

We'll also visit the Kasuga Shinto Shrine, which dates back to AD 768. Here, we'll stroll along the shrine’s wooded paths, admiring its impressive collection of 3,000 stone lanterns. After lunch at a local restaurant in Nara, we'll continue to the lovely town of Fushimi, where we’ll visit one of the most popular shrines in Japan: Fushimi-Inari.

This evening, you can seek out a local restaurant to have dinner on your own.
OVERNIGHT: Aranvert Hotel or similar

DAY 12 - A Day in the Life of traditional Japan • Optional Japanese Traditional Music tour OPTIONAL TOUR

After breakfast at our hotel, we'll depart for A Day in the Life of traditional Japan—a full day of activities that aim to give us a closer look into the lives of the Japanese people. First, we'll take a boat to Senkoji Temple, which is supported in part by funds from Grand Circle Foundation. At this 400-year-old temple, we'll have a chance to practice Zen meditation.

Zen is a branch of Buddhist thought that believes divine wisdom resides in each person; meditation techniques are used to reveal this inner divine nature. Typically meditation consists of simple sitting and breathing practices that are meant to calm the mind and allow the practitioner's focus to shift away from the mundane. We'll be in expert hands for our brief session, under the guidance of a Buddhist monk.

While at the temple, we'll also explore another aspect of Zen influence by partaking in a simple Japanese tea ceremony, called sado. The monk will teach us how to create the beverage by placing a powdered tea called matcha in a teacup, covering it with hot water, and whipping it with a bamboo whisk until it foams slightly.

After our temple visit, we journey to Kameoka, a city in the countryside near Kyoto, where we'll visit Heki-tei, a 300-year-old house where a famous samurai once lived. The house is now owned by the Heki family, whose ancestors were notable property owners in Kameoka. Here, we'll prepare and eat makizushi (rolled sushi) for lunch with the help of local women, who will give us insight into their daily lives as we eat.

After a satisfying homemade lunch, we'll return to Kyoto, where you'll have the rest of the afternoon to relax independently and enjoy dinner on your own.

Or round out today's discoveries with an optional tour that celebrates traditional Japanese music and architecture. We'll travel by taxi to a performer's house to meet a musician couple who still practice on traditional instruments. Some of these, like the three-stringed shamisen, have histories dating back to the 16th century. We'll learn about the history of this art form before being treated to a brief concert—perhaps you'll try out an instrument yourself. Then we'll depart by taxi for the Higashiyama district, in the heart of Kyoto's Gion District, where travelers can take an evening walk along charming cobblestone streets that evoke the romance of old Kyoto with their traditional wooden buildings. We'll stroll past shops, merchants' houses, and ryokan (Japanese-style inns) before stopping for an included dinner at a local restaurant.

Please note: Travelers on select departures will not have a sushi-making lesson, and will instead participate in an alternate activity as part of their A Day in the Life experience.
OVERNIGHT: Aranvert Hotel or similar

DAY 13 - Kyoto • Day at leisure • Optional Arashiyama tour OPTIONAL TOUR

Today, continue exploring Kyoto on your own. This spiritual city is home to a tremendous number of religious sites—nearly 300 Shinto shrines and 1,700 Buddhist temples—for you to discover. Or, for a look at some of the artwork these ancient religions have inspired, you can view Shinto and Buddhist art at the Hosomi Art Museum. And if pottery is your interest, you can browse an enormous selection of bowls, vases, sake cups, and other items fired by local potters at the Kyoto Ceramics Center.

Or join our optional tour to Arashiyama. On this excursion, we'll take a walking tour of two of the most beautiful gardens in this region of Japan, renowned for its bamboo groves and Togetsukyo Bridge spanning the Oi River. We'll gather after breakfast for a walk down to the train station and arrive in the Arashiyama neighborhood, where our first stop is Tenryuji Temple. The primary temple of the Rinzai school of Zen, it was originally built in 1339 and has been destroyed by wars and fires and rebuilt many times. Most of the structures here now date from the late 19th century, but the exquisite Zen garden—which includes a large pond, elevated rock groupings, and delicate cherry trees—is many centuries old. Next we'll see Okochi-Sanso, a lovely garden located on top of a hill, providing a peaceful glimpse of the quiet Kyoto environs. Here you will be served Japanese tea and cake. We'll return to our hotel in the early afternoon.

Tonight enjoy a Farewell Dinner at a local restaurant.
OVERNIGHT: Aranvert Hotel or similar

DAY 14 - Return to U.S. or begin post-trip extension

Today, you will fly home from Osaka on an afternoon or early evening flight.

Or, if you're continuing on our optional post-trip extension to Hiroshima, you'll transfer to this coastal city by bullet train today.


Pricing Information

View Specials & Promotions
Arrival DateSingleSharedDouble
May 6, 2019 $4,995 $4,995 $4,995
Your Savings* Past GWT Traveler?
For further information call (866) IM GUTSY (464 8879) or
email reservations@gutsywomentravel.com.
24/7 booking capability is available via this via the "Request to Book" button listed above.

Be sure to mention booking code G9-25972 to receive all the Gutsy benefits!

*Discount and savings are subject to change, please call reservations (866.464.8879 for the actual price. The discount is not valid on all itineraries and will be verified at time of booking. The discount is valid for guests who’ve traveled with Gutsy Women Travel within the last five years. Other conditions apply. Every effort has been made to produce this information accurately. We reserve the right to correct errors. All prices are subject to change.

In order to qualify for the GWT Past Traveler Discount of 5% on the land portion of the trip, you must advise the reservation specialist at time of depositing on your 2019 trip which GWT trip you traveled on (date/name of departure and year) over the past 5 years.

We limit our trips to small groups so we suggest you deposit early to guarantee your spot. View information regarding Air Travel & Transfers here.

Please note this departure is not exclusive to women but will be comprised of Gutsy Women Travel participants co-sharing the overall trip capacity with members of OAT resulting in a larger group size compared to the traditional Gutsy Women Travel trips designed exclusively for women.

This trip will be operated on behalf of Gutsy Women Travel (GWT) clients by award winning Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT). There are 5 Twin bedded rooms and 6 single accommodations rooms with no single supplement blocked on this trip. Once single rooms are sold out, women can secure a guaranteed share in a twin room accommodation. This trip is designed for GWT clients however if room block is not sold by 120 days prior to departure date, the trip can be opened up to OAT clients and will be co-ed. However the group size will always be capped at no more than 16 participants. There will be a dedicated OAT licensed, local travel director assigned to this GWT group block departure.

Single Room - one person, traveling solo in single accommodation
Double Room - two people, traveling together in same accommodation
Shared Room - one person, traveling solo who would like to share with another passenger and pay the per person "Double" price

Air travel arrangements for Gutsy Women's trip participants are made independently as most women are traveling from various gateway cities within or outside North America. Gutsy Women Travel includes a group transfer (if travelers purchase airfare from our operator) or individuals can book private transportation if desired.

For further information and reservations call (866) IM GUTSY (464 8879) or
email reservations@gutsywomentravel.com.
For online 24/7 booking capability is available via this website.

Please note: Every effort has been made to produce this information accurately. We reserve the right to correct errors. All prices are subject to change. Departure dates and prices shown may be updated several times daily, and apply to new bookings only.